Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Now Playing Second Base...

I'm in the midst of testing second graders this week and it's getting a little monotonous, to be honest. I test them individually and they each have to do the same thing. Fortunately it's only a few minutes for each child, but it can still sometimes be rough to make it a little exciting.

I start out by talking to each child for a minute or so. A few of my questions have been, "So how's second grade going this year?" "What do you think of Mrs. (insert teacher's name here) ?" "Would you like to stay in second grade again next year or go on to third?" "Any plans for the summer?" "Do you know where the library is?" "Do you think that mom or dad or grandma might take you to the library to get some books this summer?"

One little girl was extremely talkative and she would have told me her family's deepest, darkest secrets if I would have asked her to. She's as cute as a button, but even told me that her mom and dad tell her that she talks too much. I told her that it was okay, because I tend to talk too much too.

After the little chat session, I tell the child that they will be reading a short story for me. I tell them that while they are reading, I'll be taking notes, and my notes won't mean anything to them, but will mean a lot to me and their teacher. I also tell them that if they have trouble with a word, I'll tell them the word, so their fluency remains consistent. (Yes, they know what that means. I tell them from the beginning of the year that we will be working on fluency, and what it is and what we'll do to work on it.)

Then I tell them to read carefully because when they're finished reading, I'm going to ask them to tell me about what they read.

The story is called The Tent and it's very simple. The main character's name is Maria.

This talkative little girl that I spoke about earlier began reading the story to me. When she got to the name "Maria" she hesitated only a second and said "Mariah" very matter-of-factly.

I corrected her and said it was "Maria" and then said, "You must be thinking of Mariah Carey."

She said, "She's on my softball team!"

And that's when I lost it and just burst out laughing.

Somehow I just can't see Mariah Carey playing second base with dirt all over her, bubble gum in her mouth, and pounding her fist into her glove.

Can you?

Then I told the little girl that Mariah Carey was a singer and I don't think she plays softball. The little girl started to giggle and said, "There's a girl named Mariah on my softball team and she's in Mrs. Martin's room! That's who I was thinking about."

It just really struck me as hilarious and I laughed about it for the rest of the day.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Joe Gibbs

I've mentioned Joe Gibbs before. He is the former head coach of the Washington Redskins, with two different tenures at the job. He also owns Joe Gibbs Racing in Huntersville, NC and has three top notch drivers working for him: Tony Stewart (my personal favorite!), Denny Hamlin, and Kyle Busch.

In a nutshell, I was able to meet him one June morning when we stopped at his shop on our way to Myrtle Beach, SC. He was SO kind and thoughtful! He took a couple of minutes to talk to me and made me feel as though he was hanging on to every word I said. He looked in my eyes the entire time we talked. He is a true Christian too.

Joe's grandson Taylor Gibbs was diagnosed with leukemia in January of 2007, when he was only 2 years old. Something like that can really bring a close family even closer. Although Joe was back to coaching the Redskins and had another year remaining on his contract, he decided to retire again. He wanted to spend time with Taylor and his other grandchildren.

Yesterday, before the NASCAR race began, ESPN apparently showed this video. We didn't see it as we were busy and unable to put the race on until it was almost half over. However, on Taylor's CaringBridge site, his daughter-in-law Melissa posted a link, and here it is.

Joe and Mrs. Gibbs are wonderful people and have passed on their traits to their children and grandchildren.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Our Super Intelligent Pepina

Pepina, our 2 year old calico cat, is very smart.

She's bi-lingual, or as much as she can be, given that it's been many many years since I had high school Spanish! I swear she knows exactly what I'm saying when I call her in English and in Spanish. She can understand the short phrases I use in both English and Spanish too. I would like to learn a little Italian, so we can communicate in that language too, but we'll see.

Pepina can also tell time. We have a BIG clock on our wall, over the fireplace, and she likes to look at it occasionally. Ted took it down to clean it and adjust the time last fall. (It was designed to change with Daylight Savings Time all on its own, but "the powers that be" decided to change the dates of the time changes, so we've had to change it ourselves, then change it back when the time really does change.)

So when Ted took the clock down, she looked up at the big empty space on the wall and meowed a lot. She kept staring at it and was looking for a way to climb up there, but she couldn't find one, thank goodness. The jumps would have just been too big. You could see the relief in her eyes when the clock went back up.

Recently I was sitting in the recliner, going through the mail, and she was behind me in the kitchen. (Our living room/kitchen/dining area are all open to each other.) I heard a noise, and turned around. Pepina was up on the bar of the island and had moved a pen, trying to attract my attention. She was sitting there, prim and proper, staring at me, with one paw on the little box where we keep the cans of cat food. She just stared at me.

I turned around and glanced at the clock. It was exactly 5:00 pm. We feed "the girls" at 5:00 pm. She was telling me that it was time to eat.

She's so dang smart.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Anatomy 101

Yesterday at lunchtime I was sitting in our principal's office, helping her put labels on our Achievement Tests, and packing them up. Our kindergarten kids, along with the first and second graders were outside for recess. Into the main office comes one of our kindergarten teachers who had been outside on playground duty. She is a soft spoken woman, and in all the years I've worked with her, I've never heard her raise her voice.

Not only was she speaking loudly to a child, who happens to be one of her students, but she was also telling him how we do NOT do things like that here at school. She said a few other things along the same line, and Mrs. J (our principal) got up to see what the commotion was about.

The teacher told Mrs. J that Jimmy (not his real name, of course) had pulled down his pants AND his underwear on the playground and was showing other children his "private parts" AND seemed to be very proud of what God had given him.

The teacher then went back out to the playground (there were two other teachers out there on duty too, so the children outside were NOT left unattended) while Mrs. J spoke to Jimmy.

Then she told him to stay right there in the outer office while she called his mom. She came back into her office, and just shook her head, and asked to no one in particular, "Will this day EVER end?"

We are dealing with a personnel issue at school right now, and an employee's adult daughter has chosen to get involved, even though she doesn't have even a fourth of the facts. There has been additional fallout among some members of the teaching staff in regards to this issue. And then there were also concerns about how to pack up certain Achievement tests due to extenuating circumstances. And the icing on the cake was that Jimmy decided to show the boys and girls on the playground his PE*IS.

I can totally understand why Mrs. J asked if the day would ever end.

By the way, she asked me to stay while she called his mother, and then while she called Jimmy into her office and discussed the inappropriateness of showing off one's private parts at school.

Oh my...TGIF.

(And just to cover all the bases she called our district social worker to inform her of the incident, in case you were wondering.)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Cindi and Ted, Chapter Eleven

Paulie had commented about our needing an apartment so soon and needing things like pots and pans, etc. She mentioned that many things like that were gotten as shower gifts.

Apartments in our area were difficult to find, so we knew that we had to work on that early. Neither one us wanted to be "stuck" with no place to live, and we were NOT going to move into my folks' house (YIKES!!!) or into Ted's dad's house. That's why we began to look right after the holidays. When we found something that was sort of okay, we jumped on it. Ted lived in the apartment. I was living at home with my parents.

As far as bridal showers are concerned, I did not want one. I just have a thing about showers. I don't like going to them, and I don't want to attend one as the guest of honor. It just wasn't my idea of a good time. I hate it when people feel obligated to get someone a gift. I hate it when I feel obligated to get a gift, too. So that was why we got those things on our own.

Now for more of the story....

In mid February we spent a Saturday at our local bridal shop. My mom and I went, along with my three bridesmaids. The maid of honor lived in California and we would be taking care of ordering her dress. Since my mom was a nurse at our local hospital, she had to work every other weekend, and we had to make sure that we scheduled this for a Saturday that she would be off, and that the bridesmaids would be free.

Mom and I got there a while before they would be arriving so we could look at dresses for her and me first. Her dress was fairly easy to pick out. My mom is a woman of simple tastes. She didn't want anything all sparkly and fancy, with doo dads all over. She selected a simple melon colored dress that looked wonderful on her and would look even better once she had spent a little time out in the sun. She tans very quickly in the summer.

***Yes, I know that being out in the sun and having a tan can be harmful to your body, and so does she. However, this is a risk that we are both aware of, yet choose to participate in. I may address this in a future post.***

Once we found her dress, we began looking for one for me. I am NOT a simple size 7, hahahaha, oh my...I'm about as far from it as one can possibly be! Therefore I was limited to dresses that came in plus sizes. THIS WAS A GOOD THING, BELIEVE ME!!

I do NOT like to have to make a decision when I have hundreds of things to choose from! For my dress I was limited to to about 30 choices, and that quickly was narrowed down. It really didn't take all that long to select my dress. I was happy with it. My mom was happy with it. And when the bridesmaids arrived, they told me that they liked it too. Whew!

I had seen a dress in the window that I liked for the bridesmaids, so that was where I wanted to start. I had decided that I wanted a variety of pastels for colors, so once we decided on the dresses I would choose the colors. I had some colors in mind, but wanted to see if they liked what I picked out first.

Fortunately they all liked the dress, or at least they said they did. I liked not only the style of the dress, but the simplicity of it, and the ability to be able to wear it to another function later on. The dress had a blouson type top with a simple lightly pleated skirt. The sleeves were short, but slit, and tied at the top.

The maid of honor, Mary, was going to wear light blue. Barb was going to wear peach, Davene was going to be in yellow, and Melanie was going to wear mint green (her favorite color is green, so that worked out well).

With the dresses ordered, we made an appointment with a woman who designed silk flower arrangements. Our evening with her was very nice. Thank goodness she had a list of everything that we would need, because I didn't have a CLUE! We selected the bouquets, the boutonnieres, the corsages for various grandmothers, etc., the flowers for the church, and reception, and a small bouquet for me to throw. The lady we worked with did a great job helping us out with our selections, and we were happy.

Our local newspaper used to have a section called "Love is..." in every Saturday edition. It included all the engagements, weddings, and "big" anniversaries. On the last Saturday of February of 1980, our engagement was in the paper. Back then the picture featured only the bride-to-be, so that's what we had. Now, they usually have pictures with both the bride-to-be AND groom-to-be, and I like that much better.

(Somewhere around this house is a clipping of our engagement. I wish I had been on the ball enough to find it and scan it so I could include it in this post, but I'm not that organized!)

The next thing we did was begin our meetings with my priest. At the time we got married, I was Catholic (and still am) but Ted was not. This would require us to meet with the priest several times and discuss things with him. Because we were getting married in a Catholic Church, we also needed to attend Pre-Cana classes.

Our Pre-Cana classes were interesting. Fortunately a new session was just getting ready to start at our local catholic high school, so we registered. We attended four Wednesday night sessions, each about 2 hours long, and found them to be somewhat informative. The discussed many aspects of being married with all of us, from finances to household responsibilities to (gasp!) natural family planning. A couple of times we had long questionnaires to fill out, then would talk and discuss our answers.

Our meetings with the priest were just the two of us and him and we talked about a lot of different things. One thing we had to discuss was the form that Ted would need to sign about any children that we might have. In order for the priest to marry us in the Catholic Church I had attended for years, Ted would need to sign a form saying that any children we had would be raised in the Catholic faith. The three of us discussed this thoroughly, and I was NOT going to force Ted to sign anything like that. I think that as long as we made sure that any children we had would not be raised as agnostics or atheists, we should be "good to go" but that's not the way the Catholic Church saw it.

Ted agreed to sign the form, and commented that it was not a problem for him, as long as he was not being forced to become Catholic, and he was not.

After we went through personality quirks and things like that, the priest gave us a small book about selecting readings and vows for the wedding. That was nice to go through together. He also told us that we could have non-Catholics do some of the readings. We were very happy with that, as we wanted one of Ted's uncles to do a reading for us, and he was a devout Methodist.

I had said from the very beginning that I did not want a mass for our wedding, but I would have changed my mind if need be. A portion of the people attending the wedding would be Catholic, but NOT the majority. I didn't want them to have to go through an entire mass if they did not understand everything and know what was going on. I also knew that by having the wedding in mid-June in a church that was not air conditioned, it could possibly be quite warm. A mass would add about an hour to the service, and in the best interest of all our guests, it was decided that we would have a ceremony, but no mass.

Throughout all this time, I was fortunate enough to still be subbing quite often and Ted was working as a plumber's helper. We were still able to go out with friends, or just sit around and watch television or whatever. It was a great time in our relationship.

Then one evening I came home, and my mom said she needed to talk to me. I got the distinct impression that this conversation was not going to be a happy one.

To be continued...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

They Tell it Like it is

Jessica (a 3rd grader): Mrs. ***** you have gray in your hair.

Me: Don't worry Jessica. It won't be there tomorrow.

Honestly...the nerve of some people!

(Apparently I'm a little behind schedule with my Clairol Natural Instincts.)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

My Crush

When I was younger, somewhere around my early junior high years, I developed a crush on someone. It wasn't a neighborhood boy or a classmate. It was an "older" man.

I would think about him a LOT, and just stare into those gorgeous blue eyes of his. And then there was his smile. I couldn't get enough of him. Not to mention his soothing voice...ah...when he spoke or sang, his voice could melt butter.

If there was any question in my mind about my ability to simply ADORE this man, it went by the wayside when I learned that we actually shared a birthday! If that's not a sign, then I don't know what is!

I was able to get pictures of him, and they were taped all over the back of my bedroom door. I could close my door, stare at his face, and fall deeper and deeper into "crushdom" and dream about our future...

Of course my parents would never approve; he was 13 years older than me. But I didn't care. I could still adore him in private.

Many other girls my age developed silly crushes on other guys, like Donny Osmond, or David Cassidy, but not me. Don't get me wrong...I liked those guys, but didn't ADORE them like I adored the Man of My Dreams.

Bobby Sherman was the man for me.

Thank goodness for Tigerbeat and 16 magazines. The articles about Bobby and the pictures of him (even some centerfolds!) are what kept me going back in those days.

It's funny how things come and go from your life and you forget about them until something triggers a memory.

Someone recently emailed me a link to a youtube video, and I was thinking about old television shows and wondered if I would get a hit if I typed them into the search box. I started out with Jonny Quest. The theme from the old Jonny Quest episodes was great. Of course it was there, so I watched it a couple of times.

Then I started wondering about the songs that the Partridge Family sang on their show, so I entered that into the search box. The very first hit was an episode that had Bobby Sherman as a guest on the show.

Well, that brought back all the memories, and I just sat here smiling. And then did a search for Bobby. Wow, I found out a lot and found a few links in the comment sections of the videos I watched too.

I was surprised to learn that he was really two years older than what was always told to us, his fans. He's in his mid 60s now!!

He was an L.A. police officer, but now is a deputy for the San Bernadino County Sheriff's Office, at least if the info I read is still current.

He was married for about five years, during which time he and his wife had two sons. But they got married toward the end of "my crush" but I appreciate that the word never got out, or I would have been totally heartbroken. He's never remarried.

His sons are grown, married and have young children of their own, which makes Bobby a GRANDPA!!

Several years ago he did a Teen Idol tour with Mickey Dolenz (of the Monkees) and Peter Noone (of Herman's Hermits).

I had several of Bobby's albums and played them all the time. I swear, I practically wore those records out!

Oh yes, Bobby Sherman...ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Our Niece Holly

Holly, on vacation at Tybee Island, Georgia, with some friends.

Our older niece Holly is entering a new chapter in her life. She's a chemist at a local lab, but has just recently accepted a position with a "major corporation" in the Cleveland area. She spent an entire weekend up there, looking for an apartment, but had no luck. Her second weekend was MUCH better, and she found something that sounds just perfect for her. This coming Sunday is moving day and she starts her new job on Monday.

The biggest concern was finding a SAFE place for her to live. There aren't a whole lot of nice neighborhoods in that area, that are affordable for the non-millionaires. Another priority was finding a place fairly close to her job. She didn't want a half hour commute each way.

She'll be in a gated community, extremely close to a very nice shopping mall. She has two bedrooms, a washer and dryer, a garage, an indoor AND outdoor pool on the grounds...all kind of things that are great about it.

The sad thing is that she'll be leaving the family compound. But that's okay. This is definitely the best thing for her at this time in her life.

Holly, at a Halloween party, dressed as a cave woman.

Holly (in the middle) with a couple of friends at a Christmas party.

Holly is an only child, and it's going to be an adjustment for her parents, not having her within shouting distance, but they know that this is what she needs to do for herself and her future.

Isn't she just beautiful? And she's just as nice and down to earth as she is pretty.

Good luck Holly!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Getting Ready For a Convention, A Man's Version

Ted is leaving early Thursday morning for a work related convention. He will need to wear "decent" clothes, such as real pants and real shirts, NOT jeans or a pocket t-shirt! He will also need to wear his SUIT for a special banquet. He'll be home late Saturday afternoon.

For a fair amount of men, this would probably not be a challenge, but for my husband, it is.

It took some pressure on my part for him to start to get ready this past weekend. First of all, his suit has needed cleaned since he last wore it. And when was that, you may be asking? LAST YEAR'S CONVENTION. So I reminded him several times to get his suit out.

Secondly, since he rarely wears nice shirts, he doesn't pay any attention to the ones that he has until the last minute. He began digging around in his closet and commented that he thought he found one. I told him that was great, but he needed THREE. He eventually found some wrinkled things wrapped around a hanger and jammed into a corner of his closet.

Thirdly, since he has quit smoking he's put on a few pounds. He can get his dress pants on, but they're pretty tight. Since he has to be in the pants all day, he needs to be comfortable. Therefore, a trip to the big and tall department at Penneys would be in order.

Fourthly, there's the matter of dark socks. Alex tends to think that most things in the house are community property, so the six pairs of dark socks that Ted bought a few months ago have dwindled to ONE pair, with the rest of them hiding somewhere in the abyss of Alex's bedroom.

Fifthly, he couldn't find his white dress shirt. Anywhere. Or his tie. "When did you last wear your white shirt and tie?"

"At last year's convention. I hate going to these things."

"Hmmm...could you possibly have left them at the hotel?"

"That's what I'm wondering too. I told you, I hate these things."

"Yes, dear, I know you don't like going to these conventions, but you HAVE to go to get your hours to get your contractor's license renewed for another year. And besides, the boss is paying for everything, so at least you're not going to be out anything financially."

"I know, but I still don't like it."

Oh yes, and then there's the SIXTH thing. I do not iron very well. It can take me 45 minutes to iron ONE shirt. My mother, on the other hand, can iron extremely well. And besides, she offered to iron his shirts for the convention. Since she was kind enough to offer, I certainly didn't want to give her the shirts at the last minute.
Maybe men just don't think ahead.

If I hadn't put the pressure on, Ted would have waited until tomorrow night to get his things out. But I knew that it was going to be a NIGHTMARE if that happened.

So Sunday night we discovered that the suit still needed cleaned, the dress shirt was missing, the pants were too tight, and the socks were in hiding.

Alex was sent into his abyss to find socks. After only 5 minutes, he returned with 2 pair.

Fortunately we an assortment of ties around here, so at least that wasn't a problem.

The plan for Monday was to take the suit to the cleaners, go to Penneys and get another white dress shirt, two pairs of dress pants (he can wear jeans on Saturday), then drop off the new pants, the new shirt, and the shirts he already had at my mom's so she could iron them.

Tomorrow he has to pick up his suit at the cleaners and the other clothes at my mom's. I'll get all that stuff in the garment bag so they don't get wrinkled and the rest of his stuff is packed. It's amazing how much space two pairs of size 14 shoes can take up in a suitcase!

Anyway, hopefully he'll make it out of here in one piece on Thursday morning. In the past I've had to make sure that certain shirts are on the same hanger as certain pants, because he has admitted that he knows ZERO, NADA, ZILCH about matching clothes together to make an outfit that won't make you squint your eyes and say, "WHAT?!?!"

I may do that again for him. Anything to help.

But the worst part of him going to the convention is that I'll miss him. A lot.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Cindi and Ted, Chapter Ten

By January, our biggest concern was finding a place for a reception. We checked out every single place we could think of, and only one place was available. The unfortunate side was that it was extremely expensive, and I didn't want to pay that much. I was trying to pay for as much of the wedding/reception as I could. I didn't think that it was my parents' responsibility to pay for everything, since I was the one getting married.

I graduated from college on December 22, and right after Christmas break I was able to start substitute teaching. It was rare to find a full time opening in the middle of the year, so I thought that subbing would be just fine. I put in several applications and waited for the phone to ring.

I didn't have to wait long. I began subbing immediately after the break, and worked an average of 4 1/2 to 5 days a week. At that time, subs were making $30/day in the district I lived in, and $28/day in a nearby district. Times have changed soooooo much! I was saving every penny that I made, as was Ted. It was so nice for me to actually be working in my chosen field and making money while doing what I really enjoyed.

Each day put me a day further away from my awful student teaching experience, and I was extremely grateful for that. I was learning much more by being in a classroom and seeing how different teachers did things. I took notes on every sub assignment I had. My notebook was filled and it was great. I was able to meet different principals and let them see how I taught. One elementary school was near our house and it seemed as though they began calling me at least 3 days a week. I was very fortunate.

By the beginning of February, I commented that I just needed ONE day off to work on the reception situation, and lo and behold, it worked out that I got an afternoon free. The people at all the potential reception sites were only available when I was working, so it was difficult to talk to them. Ted was really trying to help, but it just wasn't possible. This was something I needed to do because I had all the notes and the names of the people I talked to. HIS job was to find us a place to live.

So the afternoon I had free worked out great. The one place that had been available before, was still available, AND the first guy had given me the wrong price. It was actually a little LESS expensive than what I was told originally! They reserved it, and I told them I would be there at 4:00 the next day to pay for it. They were willing to have someone wait around until I got there, so that worked out too. Things were definitely looking up!

In the evenings, Ted and I were calling about apartments and going to look at them. There wasn't much out there that was ... let's see, how do I say this ... there were few apartments available in our area that would meet our standards. Actually, there weren't any. We had to lower our standards. A lot. Neither one of us was happy, but we didn't have a choice.

In mid February, we found an apartment that was the upstairs of a house. It had a big living room, 2 big bedrooms, a bathroom, and a small kitchen. It wasn't great, but it was okay for a temporary place. The guy who owned it was nice enough, and the price was right. Ted gave him a check for the deposit and first month's rent. He said that he would stop by some evening when he saw the lights on to have us sign a lease, as he didn't have one with him.

Before we moved Ted in that following weekend we went out and bought a color console TV. Back then, black and white TVs were still available, but we didn't want to go that route. Appliances came with the apartment, so that was good. But we also needed to buy a bed. We had decided that we would get a queen size mattress set, so off we went to the furniture store to take care of that too. We were spending money right and left, but it was on things that we needed.

We moved all his stuff in over a weekend, and tried to get it organized. We didn't have a washer and dryer, so he was going to go to his dad's to do laundry. I went grocery shopping and tried to get him everything I thought he would need. There are certain grocery things that you need when you first set up housekeeping, and that initial trip can cost a fortune. Things that you don't need to buy very often, but you need to buy them all at once at first might include salt, pepper, all other spices that you normally use, flour, sugar, and all kinds of other goodies. Not to mention other things, like salt and pepper shakers, canisters, pots and pans, plates, silverware, pot holders, a toaster, etc.

The one part of the apartment that I felt really needed some work was the bathroom. The walls needed something, but we weren't allowed to paint or paper. Washing them didn't help. So I did the next best thing. (I still can't believe I did this.)

I went to a cheap store and bought several vinyl tablecloths in the same pattern. I put those tablecloths up as wallpaper, using a stapler. I had no other way of getting the tablecloths to stay on the wall. I didn't want to use nails, so I tried my stapler and it worked! Well, as long as you didn't touch the tablecloths too much, at least. I had a lot of things to cut around, like the window, doorway, bathtub, lavatory, toilet, pipes coming into the room, etc. but it all worked out.

Things were starting to fall into place...and it was time to go pick out my dress.

To be continued....

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Every Single Day

Not a day goes by that I don't think about this. At first I thought it would only last for a couple of months, or maybe even a year, but no, that's not the case.

It's always right there, ready to jump right back into my thoughts the second that it goes to the back burner, and I'm really getting fed up with it. I'm tired of thinking about it. I'm tired of it always being there and feeling like it has to take center stage in my life. Enough already...please.

When it comes into my head I do all I can to get it out of there. I think about other things. I distract myself. Nothing works. I'm ready to pull my hair out.

It's that terrible disease....CANCER.

Nutshell version for those readers who may not know. In August of 2005 I had a nasty stomachache, and ended up in the ER. I found out I had colon cancer. During surgery they removed a golf ball sized tumor, 15" of my colon, and left me with a colostomy. In September of 2005 I began my regimen of chemo and dealt with that until the end of January of 2006. In February 2006 I had surgery to reverse my colostomy. There are a LOT of details I left out and I even started to write about them here, but never quite finished the story. Maybe I should someday. Maybe that's what my subconscious is waiting for.

Yesterday I had a little bit of a stomachache, but it was nothing like what I had back in 2005. It was just enough to bother me and make me not feel very good. Last night I had a dream.

The beginnings of my dreams are always a little hazy, and this one was no exception. I remember that I was told that if I started to lose my eyesight, it meant that my cancer was returning and I would have about 2 days to live. It was a Saturday afternoon in my dream, and suddenly I could only see a little out of one of my eyes. One of my eyes would open up and I would see something in a thin line, almost like extra thin letter box format of a movie. The other eye would open up all the way, but I only saw darkness. I was so upset because I wasn't ready to die. I didn't want to have to face this yet. I was trying to be brave so that my family wouldn't be upset, but all I could do was sob uncontrollably. In my dream, I slept through Sunday completely, woke up Monday, and realized that my vision had returned to normal! I was hoping that it meant that I would NOT die that day, and I was soooooooo relieved.

Then I woke up. And I had no way of knowing if I was going to live or die.

It's just not fair that it invades my waking life and NOW my sleeping life too. Yes, the dream ended up alright, but it was still traumatic.

I sure hope that sometime down the road all the cancer thoughts leave my head.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

I'm Still Shaking My Head

I really vowed that I would not let this blog become "all about" one thing, like being a mom, being a daughter, being a wife, being a cancer survivor, being a teacher, being a "cat" person, etc. HOWEVER, some things just lend themselves to being the topic of the day.

Yesterday I commented on the continents and second graders. Well, today we have yet another educational type entry.

I teach reading intervention to second and third graders. I also teach some other stuff in the afternoons, but that varies so much that I don't consider that my primary responsibility. Each morning I spend half an hour with 3 different second grade classes and 3 different third grade classes.

As we are quickly approaching Ohio Achievement Testing Week for the third graders, I have been working on test taking skills and practice testing materials with those children.

Today we had this question:

(5) "He helps" me with my homework.

In sentence 5, "He helps" should be written —

A He were helping
B He have helped
C He help
D as it is

I explained what letter D meant (to leave the words "He helps" as they are written), then told them to read the question carefully, and eliminate one incorrect answer. After a minute or so, I had them eliminate another incorrect answer, then a third.

By this time, they only had one answer remaining (gee, that's a shock) and I had them circle that one they had left to indicate that it was their choice.

I had a total of fifteen third graders this morning. I was absolutely AMAZED that five of them got this WRONG!!

And then I read the sentence FOUR times, each time replacing "He helps" with each answer choice.

He were helping me with my homework.

He have helped me with my homework.

He help me with my homework.

He helps me with my homework.

The kids who got this wrong, still did not know why it was wrong!!! I stopped for a minute, and took control of myself. And then I began...

I looked at each one of them and told them that when they had grammar back in first grade, in addition to second and third grade, they should REMEMBER what they are taught AND they should USE it throughout their everyday life. When they go home they should use proper grammar. They should use proper grammar when they are outside for recess, in the cafeteria, during a specials class, in any other class and most importantly WITH THEIR PARENTS.

They were also reminded that we just don't use reading skills in reading class. We don't just use science skills in science class. We just don't use math skills in math class.

The sign of a great student is when a child can take what they've learned in any class and apply to it to anything else in their life.

I knew I was heading down a path where I needed to be very careful, so I was watching how I worded what I said next.

I told the kids that it is the parents' responsibility to help their children to correct their grammar at home, because proper grammar will ALWAYS be noticed. I told them that I do not permit my own children and husband to use the word "ain't" in our home or around me. I also told them that I correct the improper grammar of my children, even though they are 17 and 21, because they need to speak properly.

I also reminded the children that I model fluent reading for them at school, so they can hear what it sounds like, as their parents should at home. Additionally, I reminded them that their other teachers and I model proper grammar for them, and their parents should be modeling THAT for them also.

Then I went on a tangent about making a good first impression on people as they get older and how they only have ONE chance to do that and they shouldn't blow it. I also told them that when they are in their 20s and 30s and they have children of their own, it will be THEIR RESPONSIBILITY to model fluent reading and proper grammar for their kids.

What irritates me is that there are some parents out there in the world who have no idea how much they influence their own kids. They don't care what their children hear, see, or have to deal with. They don't care if their kids learn things properly.

And what is even MORE irritating is that I know there are so many other women and men out there who would give everything they have, and more, to become parents, and have not yet been able to travel down that path. And those are the people who would make sure that they raise their children in a strong, loving, caring, "doing what's best for them" type of environment.

Life can be so darn unfair sometimes.

The answer is D, for those of you who still may not be sure.

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Wanderlust

My Aunt D is a world-wide traveler. She has been on every continent except Antarctica, and she still may venture there someday! You just never know.

(Quick! Name the seven continents! With my second graders today, that just fit right into the lesson I was teaching, and they really struggle with knowing them. Sooooooooo, are you smarter than a second grader?? I'll put the answer at the end of the post, for those of you who just aren't quite sure.)

Aunt D retired from a MAJOR airline a few years ago. She was the best administrative assistant in the company. She even knew shorthand! That always amazed me. I tried to learn it, but never could. I had a book and tried to teach myself. That's probably not the best way to learn it.

Anyway, as an airline employee she had some travel perks. And she took advantage of them. She has always loved to travel and visit new places. She can make friends with anyone and can learn to get along in any foreign country, even if she doesn't know the language. She still gets travel perks too, as a retiree.

She is single and therefore, doesn't need to "check" with anyone about a convenient time for a trip. If she wants to go somewhere, SHE GOES, and she can do it when it's convenient for HER. She travels with friends, family, and by herself. She has no qualms about that.

She recently got back from the Galapagos Islands. Sometimes I have to look up the places that she travels to, because I don't know where they are. As far as the Galapagos Islands, all I knew is that they were somewhere near the equator, and on either side of South America.

But now I know just a wee little bit more. They are a series of islands just to the west of South America, in the Pacific Ocean, and they actually straddle the equator. They are known for their tortoises that inhabit the islands. The islands are made almost totally of volcanic rock. The nature and wildlife are absolutely incredible. Aunt D was there for a couple of weeks.

Last fall Aunt D went to Africa, along with my cousin and her husband. They were gone for about 3 weeks. They started off in Kenya, and traveled around parts of the continent. I wish I could recall the specific countries they visited, but it escapes me now. I saw my cousin's pictures and they were great, so interesting.

Aunt D also went to China about a year and a half or so ago with another aunt and uncle. Her pictures were amazing. There were so many things I didn't know about China and it was so interesting to hear about them from a person who was actually there, rather than a textbook.

She's been to Italy several times, Hong Kong, Micronesia, and so many other places. Over the years she has gotten me things while on her travels, including some jewelry, and that means a lot to me. She loves to travel, and I think it's wonderful that she just up and goes places.

I've always been in awe of Aunt D and her travels. I used to think to myself, "Gee, I wonder if I could handle doing what she does?" A few years ago, I tried it for myself...but I started out SMALL!

I decided to go to Las Vegas. Alone. As in all by myself.

I asked Ted if he wanted to go, and his answer was, "Noooooooooooooo thank you!" So I told him that I would still like to go, and he encouraged me to do that, so I did.

Aunt D lives near the airport in Cleveland, so I went to her place the night before I left. I spent the night and she dropped me off at the airport the next morning. And I was on my own. Wow. I would have no one else to rely on, but ME. Could I do it? Could I handle a trip by myself? I was going to find out.

I flew out to Vegas, found out how to get around (thanks to a couple of books I bought beforehand, and actually read!), got to the Mirage in one piece, then settled in for a little vacation.

Not only could I do WHAT I wanted, but I could do it WHEN I wanted, and HOW I wanted. It was great! One day I took a taxi (my first taxi ride) back to the airport and rented a car, ALL ON MY OWN. I kept it for the entire day, and went to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and checked out a few other things along the way. I also stopped at a Catholic Church (it was a Saturday) and attended the 2:30 pm Visitors' Mass (as they referred to it as) and it was so crowded I had to sit in the balcony! I returned the car around midnight that night and the strip was lit up like it was the middle of the day! I drove past the fountains at the Bellagio and they were awesome. When I got back to the Mirage, I stayed in the casino, playing the slots and other games, until 3:15 am.



I got back out to the airport and made my flight back to Cleveland all in great shape. My Aunt D picked me up at the airport that night, I spent the night with her again, then drove home the next day.

And I learned something. I CAN count on myself if I need to. It was a very liberating experience. I'm not sure I want to do it again, but I had an absolute blast. And I did it alone. And I loved it.

I don't think that Aunt D has anything to worry about though....she can remain the world traveler of the family, because although Vegas was great fun, I have discovered that it's a lot of trouble to make sure everything will be handled at home while I'm gone, and get packed, hoping I haven't forgotten anything.

Happy Travels Aunt D!

The seven continents are: North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and Antarctica.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Cindi and Ted, Chapter Nine

I was actually engaged to be MARRIED!! I was going to be spending the rest of my life with this one particular man that I absolutely loved and adored. I would get to use the word husband!

We spent the summer just talking about the wedding occasionally, as we knew we had a lot of time to get things planned. Way back then, you didn't need to have everything planned out, ordered, arranged, etc. a year beforehand like you do now. Besides, I had a busy fall coming up.

Since I had taken a few summer classes, I was going to be able to graduate a semester early from college and would hopefully get a little headstart on getting a teaching job. The college I went to was in the process of switching from quarters to semesters, so there were still a few little quirks to work out. I would have a 5 week block of classes, then a week off, and then 10 weeks of student teaching that would take me right up to Christmas vacation and then I was DONE!!

The five week block was pretty tough. I believe I had four classes at that time and they were long, 5 days a week classes. They were basically being done in the same time format as summer classes (yuck). Fortunately my grandparents lived about 8 miles from the university, so I stayed with them for that time, and just drove over to school. I wasn't able to get an apartment for just 5 weeks, and dorms weren't available for only 5 weeks either. So it was either stay with my grandparents or drive back and forth from home each day. Some people did that, but it certainly wasn't my idea of a good time to spend two and a half hours on the road each day!

The 5 weeks went by fast, but I missed Ted. A lot. Then I had a week off. That was really nice. However, I used that time to buy some clothes. (I do NOT like to shop, but I needed some professional clothes to wear for student teaching.) I also had gotten in touch with my cooperating teacher and spent some time in the classroom with her before I officially started.

Once my student teaching started, things got crazy. My cooperating teacher turned out to be a royal pain. She said she'd never had a student teacher before, so she really wasn't quite sure what to expect. Well, I'd never done student teaching before, so I didn't know what to expect either. She told me that I needed to have three copies of each daily lesson plan: one for me, one for her, and one for the principal. Back then we didn't have copy machines to use, so I wrote them all out on notebook paper with carbon paper in between. Each half hour lesson that I would be teaching had to have a THREE page plan, in triplicate! That also including the opening activities at the beginning of each day, along with the closing activities of each day. For each lesson, I was to not only include any and all supplies necessary, but the name of the text book, if I used one, the chapter number and title, the lesson number and title, my method of instruction AND list all the questions that I would ask the students, and the answers I was hoping to elicit from the class.


I spent much more time doing lesson plans than teaching the lessons. It was terrible. But the worst part of all this lesson planning was at the END of my student teaching experience when I found out that NO OTHER STUDENT TEACHERS in my group had to do this. They only had to use a lesson plan book issued by the school district and fill it in appropriately. They did their entire week of plans in less than 2 hours. Heck, I was spending hours and hours each and every night.

And I missed Ted. IMMENSELY. We could talk on the phone during the week, but only for a little while. I had way too much to do. We both realized that it was only a temporary situation, but it was driving us crazy. On weekends we were able to see each other, and one Sunday we had a full day planned.

We were going to Cleveland to see the Browns play the Steelers! We were going with Tim and Patty (his brother and sister-in-law) and Peg and Mac (his sister and brother-in-law). I knew that my plans weren't done for the following week, so I took as much of my stuff with me as I could and worked on them in the car on the way up and the way back. We had a wonderful day together...we all had a great time! But when I eventually got home, I knew I was going to have to pull an all-nighter to get my plans done.

That didn't happen. And I had to face my cooperating teacher the following morning and tell her that all my plans for the week were not done. She was not happy. She dug out her plans from the year before and turned those in, and would teach the lessons. She asked me if I learned anything. I told her that I had....I told her that I learned that I could do absolutely NOTHING besides school work until I finished my student teaching. Then she told me that that wasn't true. She said that relaxation was important and I would just need to manage my time better.


I was coming in at least an hour early each and every day, doing her bulletin boards (which were extremely important to her!), and I was staying anywhere from an hour to three hours after school to grade papers, set up the lessons I would be teaching, reading things in the small professional library they had at the school (you couldn't take things home). When I got home I would take time to change clothes, then work on lesson plans until almost midnight every single night, taking a few minutes out to eat dinner, talk to Ted on the phone, and take a bath.


Basically, in my humble opinion, she was NOT a good cooperating teacher. After the entire experience she told me that she would never again have a student teacher. She thought it was too much work. I just shook my head and chuckled to myself on that one.

Sooooooo, all the wedding plans we were hoping to make that fall, didn't really materialize. We had notes about things, but nothing official. Right before Christmas I called the photographer and arranged for him to take the engagement photos between Christmas and New Year's. We had begun talking about a guest list too. My mom was working on the catering part of the reception and my dad knew someone who was going to be able to supply the beverages at a good price. So by this time it was getting to be a matter of making things official and coordinating it all.

But what we really needed was a place for the reception. And THAT turned out to be one of the biggest problems of all.

To be continued...

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Happy 21st Birthday Joey!

Our oldest son Joey will turn 21 tomorrow. We are so proud of him! The years have absolutely flown by since he was born. He is officially a MAN now. Oh my, my first baby has grown up.

His birth story....

Joey was due on April Fool's Day. When I found that out, I just shook my head. It took a bit of work to get to the point where we could talk about a due date with this baby, so it was just so ironic that it would be April 1.

I had an absolutely wonderful doctor. I think the world of him and his staff. Most of his staff is still the same as it was when I was pregnant with Joey, and that alone says a lot for this man. The only thing that bothered me just a teensy weensy bit was that he would NOT tell us what the sex of the baby was. When I'd ask, his answer was always the same: "That's not why we do ultrasounds." And I'd always respond with, "I know that, but if you happen to notice anything while you're looking, can you just tell us?" And he'd laugh.

Throughout the entire pregnancy, however, I just had a feeling it was a boy. I even referred to him as Baby Giuseppe. By the time the end was in sight, we had a couple girls' names picked out, but no boys' names. My mom would call me each and every morning during that last month and say the same thing. "Did I wake you? And do you have a boy's name yet?"

The answers were all pretty much the same. "Yes, you woke me and no, we don't have a boy's name yet." I couldn't sleep well all night long, but as soon as Ted got up for work, I could finally fall into a deep sleep, so I slept best from around 6:30 am until her daily phone call around 8:30 am. And we really did discuss boys' names, but just couldn't make a decision. Nothing we came up with really thrilled us.

The day before I was due I had a couple of questions for Dr. D, so I called his office. It would still be a few days before my weekly appointment, but he had always told me to call if I had any questions, so I did. When I asked the nurse (I don't even remember what the questions were now!), she put me on hold and the doctor himself came on the line. He was all excited and immediately asked if I was in labor. I told him I wasn't, but just wanted to know a few things. He answered my questions, then told me to just come on over to his office so he could check me out. He knew that we only lived a few minutes away.

So off I went. I didn't bother to call Ted at work because I would be back home before he got home. Or so I thought.

The nurse looked at my hands and ankles, then took my blood pressure. She let out a long "hmmmmm" and then took my BP in the other arm. She said she'd be right back. The doctor came in, poked at my hands and ankles and then took my BP. He sat down and looked at me and said, "You're the third one today."

I said, "The third one what??"

"The third one I'm going to admit."


I looked at him and said, "Ummmm....why?"

"You're retaining a lot of water and your blood pressure is pretty high."

I thought about this for a minute, and then he jumped in and said, "You've gotten this far, and we're not going to do anything to jeopardize either you or the baby. You need to be on bed rest."

So I told him I needed to go home first and tell Ted, then we'd go over. He said he was going to get the orders ready.

When I got home, Ted was there and in a panic. He said that he went to the bedroom and saw that the phone book was open to the Ds (for Dr. D) and that his number was circled. He had no idea WHAT was going on. I told him what Dr. D had said, then I said that I was going to take a shower first, because who knows how long it would be before I could get up and move around since I was going to be on bed rest.

We got over to the hospital that night and went through the admitting process and they put me in a private room since I was not in labor. They only had two private rooms, so one was going to be mine. Thank goodness.

Ted stayed with me for a long time, but eventually left around 11 pm. My mom was a nurse at that same hospital, but in a different unit. But either she or I knew most of the nurses in OB. That helped.

They had given me something to sleep, but it didn't help. I tossed and turned all night long and in the morning I was sitting up in bed, reading a magazine, when they came in to tell me that a student nurse would come in to help me with a bath and all that fun stuff. I started to put up a little fuss because I wanted to take a shower, not a sponge bath, but the nurse was adamant that my orders said complete bed rest and that's what I was getting. I'd been getting up throughout the night to go to the bathroom, but no one had said anything. I didn't ask permission, but they never asked me either. At this point I was willing to do almost anything to get potty permission from Dr. D when he came in to see me. The only problem was that he wouldn't be in for a couple of hours yet.

After breakfast and the bath, they took me to ultrasound to check on the baby. Once they got me back to my room, the strict nurse told me that I was to lie down on my left side because that might help my BP to go down, so I did.

Finally Dr. D came in. Before he even got over to my bed I told him that I wanted to be able to get out of bed once in a while, especially to go to the bathroom and take a shower. He said that was fine (thank you Dr. D!). Then he said that the best place for me was right there in the hospital, and even though it was my due date, he didn't plan on anything happening that day. He said he'd be in the next day and he'd check me. If I was inducible, he'd induce. If not, then we would have to do a c-section. He said that my BP was so high and that I was so full of fluid that we would need to get the baby out the next day.

The next morning, he checked me and I was NOT inducible, so he said, in a very sensitive manner, that we would need to get the baby out and the only other option was a c-section. He was so sweet about it. He talked to me as though he felt that he really needed to express to me the importance of getting the baby out and taking care of my pre-eclampsia. I just looked at him and said, "Let's get the show on the road!"

Little did I know how quickly things were going to move. Ted was there, so he made the phone calls to the different family members and then the head OB nurse came in to start my IV.

THIS was not fun. The nutshell version is that they couldn't get it started on my arms or hands, so I had to sit on the edge of the bed and they looked at my ankles and behind my knees for a good vein. I had never had an IV before, so this was all new to me. The head OB nurse was not very kind, and I was trying to be nice while talking with her. Then she said, "It's a good thing this isn't an emergency."

I said (oh so innocently), "Why is that?"

"Then we'd have to do a cut-down."

"What's a cut-down?"

"We slice open your arm and lift out a vein."

Honestly, those were her exact words. I'll never forget them. Just what you want to hear when you're getting ready to have your first baby.

They called Ted out of the room for a minute, and then someone called the head nurse for the entire hospital. She came in, and Ted followed. Brother Bob from our church was with him. Brother Bob happened to be at the hospital and heard what was going on, so they called Ted out to ask him if I would want Brother Bob to come in and say a quick prayer. Ted thought it was a great idea.

Up until this point, an entire hour had gone by and there had been TEN attempts at starting my IV, by four different people. So anything would help, and I happily welcomed a prayer by Brother Bob. The nurse said that she was going to keep looking at my veins and she might try while we prayed. She thought she saw something and as Brother Bob was praying out loud, she got in a vein, HALLELUJAH!!

Then the anesthesiologist came in and told me that they were going to give me a general anesthetic and I said that was fine with me. Shortly after that we went down to surgery, and a while later I woke up in the recovery room, with a nurse telling me that I'd had a boy!

I mumbled, "I knew it was a boy. Does he have any hair?"

Now why on earth I was so worried about his hair, I have no idea. She said that OB would be calling with specifics at any moment, and she was right.

Less than a minute later the phone rang and as they told her about him, she told me. He was 20 1/2 inches long and weighed 8 pounds, 9 ounces. He had ten fingers and ten toes. Then the nurse said that I wanted to know if he had any hair. I heard her laugh right after that and she hung up. She said, "They said he needs a haircut and it's very dark hair."

With great relief that all was well, I fell asleep for a little while. They kept checking my BP and heart rate and all that other stuff, and eventually they took me back to my room up in OB. I kept asking to see my baby, but I couldn't see him until almost 5 pm when they brought the babies out for feeding time.

Ted was with me and I was sort of drifting in and out. I was pretty sore too. I'd never had any surgery before, so I didn't know quite what to expect, but I knew that I had a belly full of stitches and I was having trouble trying to just sit up.

Finally I heard a few babies crying and I knew they were giving them to their mothers. I tried to wait patiently, but it was hard. Finally I heard a squeaking cart and saw a cart come around the corner into my room. All I saw was all this white from the blanket that he was wrapped up in, and this really dark spot. It was his head! The nurse gave him to Ted and Ted gave him to me. I looked into that adorable face and fell madly in love.

I was no longer in any pain or discomfort, just pure contentment. This is what we had prayed for for so long, right there in my arms.

The next day we really talked long and hard about a name, and when he was two and a half days old, he was given the name "Joseph," which was really ironic since Giuseppe translates to Joseph. Ted pushed for the name Joseph, and I agreed as long as he was called either Joseph or Joe...none of this "Joey" for me. HA!!

Four days after Joey was born, we came home, and the true journey into parenthood began.

It's now become even MORE apparent that I need to spend some time this coming summer scanning the older pictures into the computer. I didn't realize that some of my post prized photos of the kids are only available on hard copy, somewhere in the bowels of a closet....somewhere!

This is my dad holding Joey on our front porch, on a summer evening.

This is Joey, being held by my mom, celebrating his first Halloween.

Here is Joey, when he was 7 months old, enjoying the leaves in our front yard.

This is me holding Joey after his bath, when he was a baby.

Here are Joey and Daddy, playing in the "Three Little Pigs" toy house.

Here are Joey and Alex visiting my Grandma in the nursing home.

This is still one of my favorite pictures of Alex and Joey, taken one beautiful fall day.

Here Alex and Joey are in South Carolina, fresh from a day on the beach.

Here are the men in my life (except for my dad!) at Jacobs' Field (now Progressive Field) in Cleveland, getting ready to see a great baseball game!

The four of us on the South Carolina beach one evening.

And Joey again, while in South Carolina.

Here he is, in a middle school English class. Apparently it was pretty boring!

This was New Year's Eve 2004.

Joey discovered a hat that Grandpa Gene had in the closet, as we were cleaning out his house.
Happy Easter Joey, 2005.
Happy 18th Birthday Joey!
(I guess he really liked that shirt!)
Ah yes, getting ready for high school graduation.
And then actually graduating!
This was taken at my parents' 50th wedding anniversary party in November of 2005.
Right after we moved into our new house in March of 2006, Joey wanted to make sure the computer was working properly.
Happy Easter Alex and Joey, 2006!
Here's Joey trying on a new robe he got for Christmas in 2006.
Joey's best friend from grade school stopped by to visit on his leave from the Air Force in December of 2006.
New Year's Eve 2006.
Here's Joey holding his cousin Michael in July of 2007.
Here's Joey holding Cousin Michael again in October of 2007.

Alex and Joey on New Year's Eve at a local restaurant.

Joey, holding Pepina, just a few days ago.