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End of Feb... beginning of spring?

Saturday, February 26, 2011
Just because we have had unbelieveably beautiful weather that makes everything burst forth in glorious bloom, don't think we are really done with wearing long-johns and wool sox: we have March to get through yet!

I had two sub. jobs this week, both in Kindergarten as a para. pro. Not so bad, as far as the experience goes - the teacher had everyone pretty well in hand. But the thing is: some of those kids seem to have already fallen through the cracks, and they are not even six years old, not in 'real' school classrooms. One of the little people I spent some time with on Friday was so far behind what the other kids in the classroom were doing, she could not even spell her own name. It is so heartwrenching to see them struggle, and wonder if they are not getting any support at home, where apparently there are not family members who take any time to read, converse, explain, reinforce anything that goes on in the school.

I know there are many reasons why kids can be struggling to meet minimum standards that are required for yearly promotions, including physicall problems like vision or hearing issues, as well as more subtle disabilities that require experts to diagnose. But when I see them struggling, or even worse, not struggling: already saying 'I can't', or 'I don't know how', it makes me so sad to see such a young child at her age already so far behind. And me wondering if there is anyone in her life willing to devote any time to making her feel confident and capable.

On a different, but similar note: I am going to start a little volunteer project on Monday that will go on for a couple of months. I will be going into a school on the south side of town, along with other volunteers, lined up for each day of the week. Working one-on-one with some first graders that are struggling with literacy skills. Helping them develop both abilities and confidence in their reading/language. With various and sundry 'breaks' for CSU and MCSC spring breaks, I guess it will go on until early May, though I thought it would be just Feb. and March. Kinda slow getting up enough volunteers to get started, so will apparently be doing this on Mondays until near the end of the school semester.

I know there are so many little people who do not get the encouragement/time/attention that it takes to make them literate, just little things like talking about what's on the cereal box at breakfast or street signs. I am looking forward to this little opportunity to have an impact.

I'm fully recovered, thankyouverymuch....

Wednesday, February 23, 2011
I guess I have completely gotten over the 'fun' of working in a floral shop over Valentine's Day. I took a substitute teaching job for today, and with my whip and chair, went back into the elementary school classrooms. Since I had worked with this teacher before (I was the sub. for the para-pro.) I felt like I pretty much knew what I was getting into.

And it was not so bad: especially since there is a new assistant principal in the school who has gotten the awful noise in the lunchroom under control. After leaving there with a pounding headache from lunch dutyon my last day of working at that school, I was fearful (went equipped with earplugs and a supply of tylenol!) of what an hour in the enclosed environment of 200 kids shouting in the cafeteria would be like. And got in hot water with another aide, who was clearly disapproving of the fact that is was so quiet in there I was able to walk the floor, occasionally eyeing the students and read my book at the same time. She did not like my book reading at all, and was pretty plain spoken about it... Funny: how other schools encourage the kids to actually bring their library books into the lunchroom and use the time after they finish eating to read, which is a Great Idea that keeps them quiet in addition to all the good things that independent reading does for kids and the rest of us as well.

I have another one lined up for Friday, but will continue to check with the computer to find something I might like better than the one I have committed to... (meaning better pay than what I will get as a para-pro. subsititute - a couple of the jobs I took before my V.Day break were so onerous I'd pretty much decided that the work should pay at least $400 a day to make it worth the misery of having to be cooped up in a room with 20 or more of the little rascals.)

happy V. D. to all, & to all a good night

Monday, February 14, 2011
I went to work at Publix at 7:00 this morning, and clocked out at 7:12p.m. It was a really loooonnnng day, and my feets are reallly tired. But as the day progressed, I realized that when you are busy, and don't have the time to look at your watch every thirty seconds wondering: 'is it time to go home yet?', time seems to sprout feathers, and it is not such a chore as when it seems to do when you have lead weights tied around your ankles and the hands on the clock seem to be going backwards.

I don't know if the boss will think it was a 'successful' day (and thankfully the way they judge 'success' is vastly different from the way I desire to be remembered in history!) but at one point the dept. manager walked by and told us that our receipts as items scanned through the registers exceeded the amount that had been sold by the meat department: and you cannot eat roses, either the cash'n' carry variety or the 'dozens in a vase'. So I guess the management will eventually evaluate it as a profitable day, for which I am thankful, since it is the P&L/make-or-break day for floral sales.

I told them when I left, after putting in over twelve hours that all I wanted was for them to remember, and appreciate that I was there when it was Crunch Time.

Actually, what I am thinking is: what is wrong with those guys? Don't they know we would rather have the $20 or $30 or $40 to spend on ourselves than have something that will be in the trash by the end of the week? What is it with guys?

more of that substitute teaching?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011
I've had several days of sub. teaching in the past couple of weeks that have been really good experiences, and several that have been 'way far at the extreme other end of the spectrum: enough misery to make me question why I do it? Am not sure that I have figured out the answer to that... it's hard to say. Mostly because it's very difficult to know in advance what the day will be like. For instance: I have been in classes that I thought would be challenging, and found them to be well-behaved, well-run, easy to manage students. And have been in situations that I thought would be a breeze and found myself in the center of a tornado/hurricane/tsunami. It's impossible to predict.

One of the jobs I had last week gave me a chance to sit down and talk with a couple of other teachers while the kids were in a computer lab. They were discussing a cake another teacher had the kids stir up to cook, with plans to eat the finished product at the end of the school day. It sounded very intriguing, so I asked for the recipe. The houseguests made it today, and I took it to share with community group who were very impressed (but they will eat most anything, so I would not consider that crowd 'particular' or particularly 'discerning' in their tastes!)

CrockPot Chocolate Cake
1 box chocolate cake mis
8 oz. sour cream
1 pkg instant choc. pudding
1 cup choc. chips
4 eggs
3/4 cup oil
1 cup water
Mix all ingredients together. Pour into lightly greased 5 quart crock pot. Cover. Cook 3-4 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low.

It's understandably Very Rich, and very good served warm with vanilla ice cream(according to the group who ate half the cake.) I am pondering how to change enough ingredients to make it not chocolate, since I do not eat chocolate cake, but I did taste it, and it is more fudgey/brownie like than actual cake. But then again, if it is chocolate, that will keep me from hearing it calling my name.

I am also pondering giving up chocolate for Lent, so I need to go ahead and eat up everything around here that would be a temptation during the forty days I don't want to be 'lead astray'.

I was at Publix today, and will be there through next Monday, so you won't be reading about any more horror stories from the school district here for the next week!

forgive me for being so self-righteous, but...

Thursday, February 3, 2011
I am so pleased with myself for finally, after over a month of dragging my feet, going to the YMCA and swimming today. I have been riding my towel and suit around in my car for weeks, and somehow not actually getting there: either having a hard time getting going in the mornings, having other commitments during the hours the pool is available for laps, or (most likely) not being willing to take off all the multitidinous layers I wear and strip down to get wet/COLD.

But I went and was not nearly as chilly as I had dreaded/anticipated (after the first shock) and swam laps for nearly 45 minutes. It was good, hard work. After I showered and dressed, I came home and walked three miles, so planning to sleep well tonight.

Have a sub. teaching job tomorrow, and lots of hours on the Floral Shoppe schedule next week due to the approaching 'roses and chocolates' day in mid-February.

commuting? to decatur....

Wednesday, February 2, 2011
I've been to Decatur twice in recent days. I am not actually 'commuting' or even remotely interested in finding any more employment than the occasional/haphazard/sporadic stuff I find myself currently involved with. Though I do have a couple more volunteer positions I will soon be squeezing into my weekly schedule in the near future.... but I will save the telling for another day just to keep you reading here!

The drives to Traffic-snarl-Land were specifically for the purpose of finding Columbia Seminary. The houseguest, Cheryl, had to be there last Saturday to pick up an assignment that is a portion of requirements for Ordination in the Presbyterian Church. She had to answer questions, complete an essay (I think similar to providing enough research and documentation equal writing a sermon), and return the completed paperwork by 9:00 am on Thursday. So we went back today to hand deliver the 15 pages she wrote over the weekend to the proctor who will post all the documents to Louisville before 10:00 tomorrow. I know she is hoping for a good outcome, having taken the same/similar exam twice already, and ready to move on to the next phase of her life.

Had a good lunch with sweet folks, and got back on the road for Columbus by 1:00, home by 3:00, making my neck crunchy from all that driving, and giving me a stress headache from having to pay such diligent attention to loony-tunes drivers.

Too bad I cannot put the little Toyota on auto pilot, and I know people who daily make such a long, brain and backside-numbing drive often think the same thing. It is about the same distance as driving to Valdosta, but I think the misery factor should be adjusted by about 12 to account for having to cope with the twelve or fourteen lanes of whizzing traffic that everyone deals with in the 50 miles surrounding Atlant