Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Dear SRA

Your set up for Reading Mastery Plus, Levels 1 and 2 are a nightmare.

I stayed late at work recently, trying to get a set of Reading Mastery plans done. I'm the only one in my building who has to adapt the lessons from the original layout (there are about 7 or 8 people who teach it), but for me, it's a necessary thing. You have Presentation Books with both the letters and words that the students need to look at, mixed with the text that I am supposed to read, along with each move I need to make AND how the students are to respond.

(Yes, I'm shaking my head here. How "they" are to respond? And if they don't respond how they are SUPPOSED to? I need to "lead" them in the right direction. Can you tell I'm not a huge Reading Mastery fan yet?)

You also mix fonts, size of text, color of text, italics, and bold. Talk about confusing. It's no problem for most people, but I think I must have a type of learning disability that makes it extremely difficult for me to follow all of this without getting confused. PLUS, totally scripted lessons are challenging for me. And, I think it's distracting for the kids to be looking at the big letters and words, AND all the stuff that I'm supposed to say and do, etc.

Anyway, I make copies of things, cut them out, tape them on a blank sheet of paper, then copy them again. I also copy each lesson's story from the reading book that goes with the program and cut out each page, tape them to another blank sheet of paper, cut out the questions I'm supposed to ask, along with the answers that they HAVE to give me and tape them onto the sheet where I'm supposed to ask them. Then I recopy all of this. I also have make a copy of the actual lesson and highlight what I'm supposed to SAY in one color, what I'm supposed to DO in another color, and what the children are supposed to say in yet another color. So, YES, I go through a lot of paper for each lesson.

If you're still with me, just know that it's totally confusing and takes me about 45 minutes or so to prepare for each 45 minute lesson, and I teach one lesson per day. You do the math.

Surely I'm not the only teacher out there in the USA who struggles with the way you have the program set up. I sure wish you'd ask for feedback from the teachers who use Reading Mastery on a day to day basis, because I'd give you an earful.

How late did I stay to work on my Reading Mastery lessons? Well, teachers normally leave around 3:00. I left at 8:45. And I really didn't get as far as I needed to get in preparing the lessons. Thursday is the day I choose to stay late because I certainly don't want to stay on Friday. Since I work on plans for the following week, staying late to work on Reading Mastery earlier in the week just doesn't quite work out for me.


Monday, September 28, 2009

I Hate Being Sick

When something doesn't go according to plan, my comment is usually, "It could always be worse."

Well, I've been sick, could have been worse.

Last Thursday I stayed late at work to get some things done. I left there around 8:45 pm, came home, took a shower, ate a little something, talked to Ted, then got ready for bed. As I walked into the bathroom (the older you get, the more quality time you spend in the bathroom), I suddenly felt a huge chill come over me. When I came back to the bedroom, my teeth were chattering and I had goosebumps all over me. I went to bed with two extra blankets on me and eventually fell asleep.

I woke up at some point and Pepina was asleep on my shoulder. I was also suddenly very hot. Then I started really feeling crappy. I took my temp and it was 101.7, which is pretty high for me. I rarely run a temp, and my normal is anywhere from the upper 95s to the lower 96s, so I was about 5.5 to 6 degrees above normal.

I went to the recliner in our bedroom and just laid back and moaned (now I think it's funny, but it sure wasn't then). When Ted got up I asked him if he could get me a glass of ice and a can of Cherry 7 Up. I needed something cold, but something with a little flavor. I took my temp again and it was down to 101.5. I alternated between freezing and burning up.

By then it was 5:30. Ted said that I was NOT going to school. Duh, I knew that. I could barely move because I was so achy and sore and with a high temp, they'd turn me away at the door. Ted told me that I looked awful. I can always count on him to make me feel better.

He said he was going to call my principal and tell her I wasn't going to be in. Last spring she moved and got a new landline phone number, in addition to a new cell number. Her cell number was in my purse, so I told him where it was and he called. He had to leave a message, but I told him he had to talk to her in person.

The problem? My phone tree sheet was sitting on my desk at work. I'd planned on making some copies of it on Friday so that I could put one by every phone in our house. Little did I know that I would need it that morning.

Ted called Kris, the other reading intervention teacher, to get our principal's phone number. Fortunately we're good friends, so she didn't mind a call from Ted at 5:35 least not too much, hahaha.

Thank goodness she had the number and Ted was able to make the call to my principal. He got ready for work and left. I just continued to moan and groan and try to get comfortable. (FYI, you can't get comfortable when you don't feel well.)

A few hours later my temp was down to 101.2, but then I got a terrible headache. And dizziness set in. I was a mess. I was finally able to doze off for a while and when I woke up the dizziness wasn't as bad, but I still had the headache. Finally I felt like I could tolerate taking acetaminophen and that helped my temp go down.

The rest of the day was pretty much a blur, except that Pepina would not leave me. She either slept on me, or sat on the bed and stared at me all day long.

Saturday wasn't much better. In fact, when Ted got up Saturday morning, I felt him reach down and hold my wrist to check for a pulse. He said, "What would the neighbors think if I just got up and went to work and left you dead in bed?" Gee thanks. I never thought of it that way.

Saturday night I didn't sleep more than about 2 hours total and that was rough. The fever was still coming and going. Sunday started off a little better, but by the afternoon it was all downhill again. I called off for Monday because I knew I still had a fever. We are to be 24 hours fever-free without Tylenol before coming back.

The last time I took Tylenol was late Sunday night, and I've had no fever today, sooooooooo, tomorrow I get to back to school! I still don't have many sick days accumulated since I used them all up for my cancer stint, then in the past few years I've had a serious bout of bronchitis, threw my back out, and a few other illnesses that required me to take time off. I don't like to use sick days unless I absolutely HAVE to, so I'm glad to be able to go back to work.

The REAL downside to being sick the whole weekend? Alex was home and I really couldn't do anything with him and only talk to him from a distance. I sure don't want him getting sick.

So how could it have been worse? I could have had vomiting and "bathroom issues," if you know what I mean, AND I DIDN'T!

Hopefully this will be my one and only sickness for the school year....from my keyboard to God's ears!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Can Guys and Girls be Best Friends?

Alex and Erica are best friends. They refer to each other as such. They graduated from high school together and spent a lot of time together this past summer.

We had planned on taking Alex to dinner the night before we took him to college. Totally and completely unbeknownst to him, I'd spoken to Erica and asked her if she would like to go with us. We were going to Bravo (our current favorite restaurant) about half an hour away.

Erica lives pretty close to us, so when Ted, Alex and I left, Ted nonchalantly asked Alex where exactly Erica lived. He told us which street it was on, and Ted turned down the street. I asked which house, and Alex pointed it out.

As Ted turned into Erica's driveway, Alex went CRAZY!

"You can't just pull in here!"

"She's not even home! She's at work!"

"Her parents are going to think I'm stalking her!"

"Dad, what are you DOING??"

It was quite humorous to hear Alex go off on his little tirade.

Then Ted told Alex that Erica was going with us. Alex replied, "She can't go! She's working tonight!"

The look on his face as Erica walked around from the back of the house was absolutely priceless. He was shocked, but so happy. They were both grinning, ear to ear.

Then he said, "If I'd have known she was coming along, I would have gotten dressed up."

We laughed like crazy then, because Alex takes longer to get ready to go anywhere than anyone else in the house. And he already looked just fine, as you can see.

If you look closely, you can see that they both have on orange "friendship" bracelets.

Usually Alex is the one complaining as I say I'm going to take a picture, but not this time. He happily sat down and smiled at the camera, as did Erica.

I think it's so sweet that they say they are each others' best friends.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Joe's Thoughts

By this own choice, Joe opted to attend college at our local branch of a major Ohio university and not leave home.

By now you all know that Alex did, in fact, chose to attend a college almost an hour away and stay in the dorm.

On "move-in" day in late August, Joe helped us. He sat on one of the beds to rest for a minute, and I took his picture.

His thoughts? "Since Alex is gone, at least now our bathroom will be clean."

Joe doesn't pull any punches, and tells it like it is.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Aren't Weddings Great?

I enjoy weddings and wedding receptions. They tend to remind me that no marriage is perfect and that it takes work and commitment to make it a successful union. I think that most marriages have their good times AND their bad times.

We went to a wedding reception recently and had a nice time. The wedding was at noon and it was an hour away. The reception was at 6:00 pm. Since we would have had nothing to do in between the two events (and remember, I am NOT a shopper), we opted to go to just the reception. One of my male cousins was getting married to a very sweet, beautiful girl with the most gorgeous smile.

You may recall that my mom and I went to a shower for Carrie in July. It was very classy (given by two of my classy cousins, so what else would you expect?) and the reception was very nice too.

Patty, above, was one of the "classy cousins" who threw the shower for Carrie. Isn't she pretty?

I only took a few pictures, but I'm still going to share them with you.

These next two are definitely for Kris, the other reading intervention teacher. Kris is a food connoisseur. She might weigh 100 lbs, soaking wet, but she loves food...especially good food. In fact, when I showed her these pictures, her first comment was "You took those for me, didn't you?" And we laughed.

The salad was served to us and was very good. The italian dressing wasn't too tangy or bitter, but just right. I loved the mix of the greens.

The meal was buffet style and I chose to get roast beef, chicken, potatoes, and pasta. They also had some vegetable combination, and although I liked veggies in general, I don't like cauliflower or zucchini and they were both in the medley.

Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures of the rolls and cake, hahaha. They also had cookies in the "pre-event" room (what italian wedding doesn't have cookies???) but I didn't take a picture of them either.

I have so many pictures of my mom and dad together, however in at least 90% of them, my dad looks as though he's in pain. He's really not, but I just don't think he likes having his picture taken. So once again, I told my folks that they needed to get their heads close together because I was going to take their picture. I expected to get a hard time about it from my dad, but I didn't.

It didn't come out too bad, if I do say so myself!

Then I asked Rick (a cousin) to take a picture of Ted and me together. I really do NOT like having my picture taken, but I'm willing to go through the trauma of it so that we can have a few pictures of the two of us.

Then Ted took the camera and pointed it toward us to take another shot. He didn't do too bad!

Matt and Carrie had a wonderful reception and we had a very nice time. Carrie was a beautiful bride and Matt was a handsome groom. (Too bad I didn't get pictures of them together.)

We wish them the best as they begin their life together as husband and wife!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Just Apologize and It'll be Okay

So all we have to do is apologize and all is forgiven??

This is not a political blog, and I have never shared my views here. Regardless, I have something to say, and what better place to say it? Last week Ted and I watched what our president had to say in regards to healthcare. By now, most of you have heard about the outburst that republican Representative Joe Wilson of South Carolina shouted out "You lie!" when President Obama mentioned illegal immigrants in his speech.

Of course emotions can get the best of all of us. HOWEVER, it is my opinion that one should absolutely NOT disgrace one's self or one's family. I completely understand that he got caught up in the moment, but he should not have shouted out at the President of the United States (or anyone else in public, for that matter).

Rep. Wilson has issued an apology: This evening I let my emotions get the best of me when listening to the President's remarks regarding the coverage of illegal immigrants in the health care bill. While I disagree with the President's statement, my comments were inappropriate and regrettable. I extend sincere apologies to the President for this lack of civility.

And now all should be forgiven because he apologized. Heck, what he said is already "out there" and can't be taken back. We can't turn the clock back to before his outburst. Even though he's apologized, people won't forget about it.

I'm not a big tennis fan, but I know who Venus and Serena Williams are. Apparently Serena had an outburst of emotion at the U.S. Open the other day. It seems as though a line judge called a foot-fault and Serena disagreed. Loudly. Meanly. Soon after the incident, Serena issued an apology: (Saturday) night everyone could truly see the passion I have for my job. Now that I have had time to gain my composure, I can see that while I don't agree with the unfair line call, in the heat of battle I let my passion and emotion get the better of me and as a result handled the situation poorly.

She was fined $10,000, which is a drop in the bucket compared to her net worth. Again, her outburst is "out there" and can't be removed. People won't forget about it. She's in the public eye and everything she does comes under scrutiny.

Last night Kanye West jumped on the "just let me apologize and all will be forgiven" bandwagon with his comments as Taylor Swift received a VMA (Video Music Awards) for Best Female Music Video. As Taylor was accepting her honor, Kanye got right into the microphone and cameras and said, “Yo Taylor. I’m really happy for you. I’m gonna let you finish [which didn't happen] but Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time. One of the best videos of all time!”

How rude.

Of course, Kanye later issued an apology on his blog, ON HIS BLOG (talk about a lack of guts): “I’m sooooo sorry to Taylor Swift and her fans and her mom [Andrea]. I spoke to her mother right after and she said the same thing my mother would’ve said. She is very talented! I like the lyrics about being a cheerleader and she’s in the bleachers! …………………… I’m in the wrong for going on stage and taking away from her moment!…………….. Beyonce’s video was the best of this decade!!! I’m sorry to my fans if I let you guys down!!!!! I’m sorry to my friends at MTV. I will apologize to Taylor 2mrw. Welcome to the real world!!!! Everybody wanna booooo me but I’m a fan of real pop culture!!! No disrespect but we watchin’ the show at the cribe right now cause…. Well you know!!!! I’m still happy for Taylor!!!! Boooyaawww!!!! You are very talented!!!!! I gave my awards to Outkast when they deserved it over me… That’s what it is!!!! I’m not crazy yall, I’m just real. Sorry for that!!! I really feel bad for Taylor and I’m sincerely sorry!!! Much Respect!!!!!”

My personal respect for Beyonce' went up about 500%, and I'm not even a fan of hers, when she later won an award and asked Taylor to come up on stage and give her acceptance speech.

I don't know about you, but I know that I'm sick and tired of people making idiots of themselves and being so disrespectful to others, then thinking all they need to do is apologize and all is well with the world. IT DOESN'T WORK THAT least not in my book.

The only way we'll ever really know if someone is sorry for what they've done is if they never do it again. And that takes a LONG, LONG time to happen.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

It All Comes Down to Time


Such a simple word.

But its meaning? Intense.

There's not enough time at home. I just spent an hour and a half cleaning off the kitchen countertops, the cooktop, the microwave, the front of all the other appliances, and emptying the dishwasher. I'll give it half an hour before the countertops become cluttered and a little dirty. I finished up all the laundry Thursday night. There's a lot more in there now. When am I going to do it? I need to clean the bathrooms. Maybe that will get done yet today. Maybe not. (If I were a betting woman, I'd say probably not.)

I have sooooooo many magazines to read. I subscribe to a few and they are in a stack next to the recliner in the bedroom. Will I ever get them read? Hmmmm...I should probably read the ones from late 2007 first, then go from there.

The living room needs straightened up, as does the den. Maybe I'll do that tomorrow.


Yes, work sort of gets in the way.

Speaking of work...part of my job is to administer several different types of tests throughout the school year. We (the other reading intervention teacher and I) spent the first two days of school testing kindergarten students. Then we spent the next week doing a computerized reading assessment test on every child in the building. Last week, we tested most first graders, second graders, and a few third graders on yet another test. We still have to do more third graders and a small number of fourth graders.


The computerized test we administered during the first full week of school? Well, as the system was backing up last weekend, it crashed. YES, IT CRASHED. As in, all the data was lost. They tried to recover it, but to no avail.

We have to test all the kids in the building with this computerized test again, as soon as our tech coordinator gets every child in the district re-entered into the system.

When are we supposed to do this? I can't wait to actually start TEACHING this year.

Time, more specifically, the lack thereof, frustrates me greatly.

And on a personal note, just as we were getting ready to go to a wedding reception (about an hour away) yesterday late afternoon, Alex came home for the first time since he left for college. We got to spend a wee little bit of time with him, then we had to get ready. After we got home last night, he and his best friend Erica came back to our house and we all spent time together then. Today he's off "doing his thing" and we'll take him back to school this evening. I wish we could spend more time together, but he'll be home again in a couple of weeks. Hopefully then we can schedule some time.

I still want 36 hours in my day. Or Alice from the Brady Bunch.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I'm Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!

Yes, I'm finally back to the blogging world! Throughout the last few weeks, "life" has somehow taken over my....well....LIFE.

We got Alex settled into his dorm room at college. It is sooooo tiny! I knew that no matter what I did to organize his stuff, he would change it the minute I walked out the door. So, I made a decision NOT to organize it at all. I am well aware that I can be a controlling person sometimes, but this was one time I tried my hardest to put that aspect of my personality on the back burner. I think it worked. At least a little!

I did pretty well with things until about a week into the process. After a day of meltdown after meltdown, I think I got it out of my system. And things are SO much easier these days than they were way back when I was in college. We text, we facebook, we IM, and we call each other. Surprisingly, he calls home more often than we call him. He seems to be very happy there and I'm thankful of that. At the end of his first week of classes he was asked to write for the college newspaper, so he was excited about that, especially since he's a journalism major.

Joe started his final semester of college here at home. I've tried to back off as much as possible from this "mothering" gig and not pester him about getting his books, working on assignments, studying for tests, etc. He's an adult and it's time for me to let him actually BE one. I'm just hoping that come December, he'll be in the midst of interviews for some kind of a job. With the current state of the economy, especially our local economy, it's going to be rough, but we'll just have to see how things go.

School started for me, and it was totally and completely BUSY from the first second. We've barely had time to take a breath along the way. The other reading intervention teacher and I have done nothing but test, test, and test since school started. We were hoping to be finished by the end of this week, but it's not looking so good right now. I can't wait to start working with kids on a regular basis.

Ted has been working a lot lately, and although it limits his time at home, it's okay. It just means that the plumbing shop is really busy right now, and that's something to be thankful for. Since he's been so busy at work, however, a lot of things are being neglected here at home. We'll get back to them soon though!

I made an executive decision to have our pool closed in the next week or so. I was in this past weekend a few times, and even though the pool is heated, the air temperature just wasn't warm enough to make it comfortable. It's not been a great summer weather-wise around here, and it's time to just let things go until next spring. I just need to call the pool people and make the arrangements.

Our wonderful kitties are doing great, but Marina and Pepina seem to think that since Alex is gone, they need to sleep or walk on me during the night. A few times we've closed our bedroom door at night, but it's hard to just shove them out, then slam the door in their pathetic little faces. For some reason, they don't bother Ted, just me. I guess I should feel honored, hahaha!

I'll be back to commenting on posts very, VERY soon...I promise!