Monday, June 29, 2009
Max. speed: 22.2 mph (downhill, but I WAS at 20+ on my own today :D)
Avg. speed: 12.7 mph
I did a couple of hill repeats at the end. I also was trying to stay at 14-15 mph. After doing passably well on the Katy ride, I'm thinking I might actually want to try for some speed in the Tour de Donut in two weeks. I managed to keep at or near my goal on the way out, but slowed way down on the way back.
I'm recovering from the big ride. My rear itself isn't too sore, but my skin still has some spots that are somewhat chafed. I find myself missing the ride, though, now that I'm back in the real world. I guess that's good, to leave wanting more. And it gives me something to look forward to for next year.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
SUNDAY: We arrive in Clinton. Jeff and Jacob drove me there, which stuck them with about a 9-hour round trip on Father's Day. I have the best husband in the world! After they dropped me off, I checked in and dragged all of my stuff (I took waaaayyyy too much stuff. Next year I'll take about a third of what I took this year.) to where Nancy was camping and set my stuff up. We went to enjoy the a/c and wait for the rider's meeting. After the meeting, I met three other people from my hometown whom I'd never met before. Eventually, we headed back to the tents, to shower, and to bed.
MONDAY: Clinton to Pilot Grove (61 miles)
Everybody got packed up before I did, so I was back in the breakfast line. I made some new friends (who happened to live in the St. Louis area) and then headed out on the trail. The weather wasn't too bad until noon. We had good cloud cover. I caught up with Nancy in Sedalia while she waited for the vendors to set up for lunch and we stuck together more or less for the rest of the day. Monday was a 61 mile day, and I was REALLY dragging by the end of it. The day ended with a couple of long inclines which were pure misery. Possibly the hardest part of the day came towards the end. We stopped at a SAG (kind of like a cyclist's rest stop with water, Gatorade, fruit, bathrooms, and moral support) that was only about 4 miles from the end.
And then the girl there said that we actually had 6 miles left. My odometer was off. I wanted to cry. I know it's "only" two miles, but it was a long darn day.I have never been so glad to pull into a place as I was to see Pilot Grove. My rear was sooo sore, and I was wondering a little what the heck I got myself into. Even so, I was having fun. We got the tents all set up, and then I headed over to the shower truck for the first of many cold showers. I'm sure it had hot water, but after riding all that way in the heat, all I wanted was to cool off!!We had a nice dinner, then I read for a while in one of the shaded pavilions while my phone charged and then went to bed.
TUESDAY: Pilot Grove to Jefferson City (64 miles...or 67 miles if you're insane)
I was ready this morning. I didn't want to be one of the last ones packed up. The second I heard a tent unzip, I jumped up, scrambled to the end of my bed, and let the air out of my air mattress. I hustle back to the front of the tent to start getting stuff packed, and for some reason I looked at my cell phone. It was 3 AM!!!!! So...back to sleep til about 4:15 or so. Then we got packed up and had our first encounter with The Pancake Man.
The Pancake Man has a griddle that's maybe 10 feet long. Maybe it's more. He has a machine that shoots out batter for 4 perfectly-sized pancakes at a time. Maybe it was just riding 61 miles the day before, but I have NEVER had a better pancake (sorry, Mom). We also had fresh fruit and sausage. Then, we headed off. Honestly, I was kind of dreading this day. I was really sore from Monday, the heat was supposed to be as bad, and the ride was even longer.
Somehow, though, Tuesday was much easier. Nancy and I rode together for a lot of the day. The trail was really pretty and had a lot of shade. Maybe Nancy remembers more anecdotes from the day...I just remember it being a nice day.After 64 miles of riding, we had a decision to make. We could either ride a shuttle into Jefferson City or ride an extra 3 miles into town to the park where we were camping. I felt pretty good, so I asked the volunteer at the SAG about the ride in. He said there were a few hills, none bigger than the first bridge on-ramp (there were three bridge/overpasses to cross, including the big bridge over the Missouri River). Well, surely I could handle that, so off I went. Nancy and our friend Randy, being somewhat smarter than I was, opted to take the shuttle.
Well, those hills were miserable!! The bridges weren't too bad, but it seemed like all I did was climb hills after that, too, and the last hill up to the park was a killer. I was about half dead by the time I got there. All I could do was lie on the ground for 45 minutes or so until I could both breathe and stand at the same time. After the recovery time, I was OK. We set up our tents and hung out for awhile in the shelter before dinner. After dinner, we got to hear from both the director of the Missouri parks dept and Jay Nixon's wife. The parks guy was dressed in a suit and tie...in the 90+ degree weather. Probably kept his speech shorter!Tuesday night we got a welcome respite from the heat. Storms off in a distance sent in some nice, cool breezes. We were a little nervous about the storms forecast and the trees blowing around over our heads, but the rain stayed away and we had a nice, comfortable night of sleep.
WEDNESDAY: Jefferson City to Herman (50 miles)
We left Jeff City nice and early. We were on the road by 5:30 a.m. because the ride had a police escort to help us get across the big bridge before rush hour traffic got started. Once we got back to the trail area, the Pancake Man served us french toast (also very good)...and off we went again.Wednesday was a challenging day for me. Instead of pedaling along at my own rate, I chased the back wheels of some of the faster guys. I managed to hang in there for most of the day, only dropping way off once, and they were kind enough to wait for me a the next SAG. We pulled into Herman by 10:40 and got the tents set up.
Once all of our group made it in and got showered, we walked (uphill...I swear, everywhere we had to go was uphill. I hate hills) to lunch at a local restaurant. Not my favorite meal of the trip, but one of the more entertaining ones. I was talking away (no surprise there) when one of the guys with us made a signal that he was tired of listening to me babble. So I offered to not speak for the rest of the meal, AND HE TOOK ME UP ON IT. (Don't get any ideas!!!) I am proud to say that I remained silent for the rest of the meal until he gave in and asked me to please start talking again. Unfortunatly for the rest of the table, the vacuum left by my silence was quickly filled by someone else. I, meanwhile, managed to get my point across here and there with expressions and gestures. I did feel a little sorry for the guy from Texas who joined us after the beginning of the silence sentence. No one bothered to explain to him what was up with the mute girl at the table.
We had dinner that evening at Mt. Pleasant Winery. Beautiful building...uphill, naturally. Up a pretty long, steep hill. And that was supposed to be our storm shelter!! No way would I be dragging myself back up there in a storm, and luckily we didn't have to. After dinner, some of us headed for some ice cream, and I learned that I can, indeed, ride my bike in a sundress. If I'm careful.
THURSDAY: Herman to Augusta (38 miles)
I was pretty beat this day from pushing myself the day before. That 38 miles felt like a long way. It was probably my hardest day since Monday. I don't remember anything too noteworthy from the ride, but at the end we were faced with yet ANOTHER hill. This thing was a monster. Since I was dragging halfway into the 38 miles, I had decided early on that no way was I climbing that hill on my bike...but even walking my bike up I had to stop and take a break. Nancy, on the other hand, rode the whole way up. That woman is something!! I was both proud and amazed. I never could have done it.
We got a fantastic camping spot that night. Great shade, right next to the bathrooms (flush toilets...ahhhhh!) and the air conditioned dining room and just down the street from the shower truck. The only problem was that we had (you guessed it) another hill to go up to get there. I walked my bike up and then went back for my bags. My thousand pound bags. As I was hoisting them onto my shoulders and looking despairingly at the hill, a guy across the street offered to carry them up for me. Oh, my gosh! It was like the sun came out and angels started singing. I definitely took him up on the offer...though I took a lot of grief from my camping family for my "Sherpa". And let me tell you, it was worth every verbal jab!!
The shower truck had some major problems getting parked where the ride staff wanted him, so we all went to lunch just as nasty and stinky as we got off our bikes. We ate at a neat little restaurant, Bella's Cafe, uphill from the restaurant. The food was great, and the waitress, who was seriously harried by the influx, was wonderful as well.Back to camp for a nap and some talk and relaxing before dinner. After dinner, we took a shuttle up to the legion hall for our last rider meeting. Then, we walked back. I had planned to go hit the wineries, but they were closed. We hung around outside talking for a while and then went into the a/c to play some cards.
FRIDAY: Augusta to St. Charles (27 miles)
After the rest of the days' rides, this day was a piece of cake. Right up until my flat tire. Luckily, my riding partner knew just what to do (since I only had the vaguest idea...something that I should maybe do something about) and fixed it for me. As he worked, tons of people passed us by. Once it was finished, though, we were back in business and made up quite a bit of time. Pulling into St. Charles was a little bittersweet. Boy, is my body tired, and I missed my family (except Nancy, of course)...but I had a lot of fun and met some neat people. And now I'll miss Aunt Nancy. :) I can't wait til next year!!
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Jeff is taking me to Clinton, MO, tomorrow (almost today) afternoon. I'll camp there and then depart the following morning. If the forecast holds true, Monday's high should be near 100 degrees. I will be drinking A LOT of water and Gatorade!!
I am very excited and a little intimidated by this undertaking. It will definitely be a challenge. I've done a lot of riding in preparation but have never ridden as far as I'll ride any of the first 4 days. I'm also excited because I realized last night (during insomnia-induced web-surfing) that I am actually going to have "free time" after the riding portion is finished each day. I'm not entirely sure I'll know what to do with it, but hopefully it'll all come back to me!
If you're interested in seeing how it's going or what I'm up to, you can go to this link during the ride. Each night they'll post pictures and info from the day. Wish me luck...and pray for good weather!!
Thursday, June 18, 2009
We really needed to ride at about a 15 mph pace to get back in plenty of time to pick up Jacob from VBS. The pace would be a stretch for me, and I ride regularly. In addition, Daniel hadn't, it turned out, eaten much. A good reminder for me that, despite the fact that he's 16, he still needs his mom. lol. It was also the hottest day I've ridden this year so far (my bike computer said 105, but I think that was pretty high. That's the heat index I heard, but we only had a forecast of 95. Anyway, it was hot. Having learned my lesson in the past, I made sure to drink lots and lots of water.
Daniel ended up needing to slow down, and finally I had to leave him behind in order to get home in time to pick up Jacob. Not long after I left him, Daniel had a flat tire. Since our van is currently awaiting a new engine, I had to get his bike home using my little car. Thankfully, my brother lent me his bike rack before he left for Iraq...I just had to figure it out on the fly. My positive take on the afternoon is that this flat tire is God's way of giving me some tire-changing and repair experience. Hopefully I don't need it next week!
Distance: 17.52 mi.
Max. speed: 23.4 mph
Avg. speed: 12.7 mph
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
I had a couple of stretches on the way back where I worked to keep my speed over 15 mph and did well with that. I even (triumph!!) managed 15 mph going up the killer hill at the end of the trail. Yea!
Distance: 8.229 mi
Max speed: 21.7 mph (downhill)
Avg. speed: 12.3 (which tells you how pokey I was the rest of the time. This actually surprised me a little. I thought I'd have had a higher avg.
Time: 40.09 min
I'm hoping I can manage one big ride tomorrow, and then I'll be packing for my Katy Trail ride. Very exciting! =)
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Then, we went camping with some old friends this weekend, and on the way home, the engine in our 2005 minivan blew. It is, in the words of the mechanic, "toast". So we get to replace our engine.
And today, I went online to pay one of our credit cards only to find that our credit limit has been slashed. I think this is for the best, but all the sudden our financial crunch is very real because we have no credit cushion.
Whew. I've shed some tears lately.
In the end, I think all of this will work together for our good. I certainly am reminded over and over again that I am no better than anyone. I am a deeply flawed person who makes plenty of mistakes. I know in my head that God loves me anyway, but getting that into my heart and really the fullness of my being is a process for me.
As far as the car, well, that's just a flat out miserable situation. BUT, it did give a chance to really shine a light on our wonderful family. My sister-in-law made the 5-hour round trip to tow our camper back home. My mother-in-law's boyfriend first made the 5-hour round trip to pick us up and then went back with his brother then next day to tow our van back on a trailer so that we didn't have to spend $400 to have it towed home. My brother was willing to make that same drive if he could have come up with a trailer. No one wants to spend their weekend afternoon/evening making that drive, basically for nothing, but they all did or were willing to out of love for us. That was very touching.
And, finally, the credit cards. I have known for some time that we really need to buckle down and get our finances in line. Now we have to get serious about it.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
He is one sweet dog, but boy, is he high energy! We are signed up for obedience training though, and I am really looking forward to Wednesday night--his first night there. It should be a noisy first half, though, with all those dogs (well, maybe 4-5) meeting for the first time! When I called to sign him up for the training, I told them his breed, and the lady I was talking to said, "OH, yes!" At the vet, too, the nurse/tech/assistant (whatever the term is) said that every labradoodle she'd seen was the same way: sweet as can be, smart, very high-energy and no attention span.
I guess a lot of people are pretty into the breed, or cross, to be more accurate, because they're supposed to be more hypo-allergenic and shed-free, but even the dogs who are those things (Berkeley isn't...oh, my goodness, the amount of hair he sheds!) are very energetic. The people we got him from (for free) got him from a breeded, so I'm sure they paid quite a bit for him. The ones we see listed in the paper are priced from $550 into the $1000s. That's a big investment to lose.
We love him, and we're happy with the decision to get/keep him, but we had a rough beginning as those who've read my blog for awhile know. More buyer beware--I did do some research before we got him, but I just paid attention to the things that confirmed what I already thought (the George Bush school of research, LOL).
I trust her advice on clothes, but not on movies anymore! Not that it should come as any surprise that a 12 y.o. would have different taste in movies than someone who's 33...When the movie In Her Shoes (Toni Collette, Cameron Diaz, Shirley MacLaine) came out, Kels went to see it and wasn't impressed, so we never saw it at the theater. A week or so ago, though, my bargain-crazed husband came across the movie in a $3 DVD bin and, remembering that I had wanted to see it at one point, bought it. We picked it at random the other night (truly at random...he actually held 3 movies behind his back, mixed them up, and I picked top, middle, or bottom), and ...
I LOVED IT!!
What a great story! After it was over, I missed the characters. It was just the way I feel when I've read a book that I love. I had the best feeling at the end. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it!
Now Jeff, on the other hand? He slept through the last half and thought it was somewhat slow. Of course, his idea of a good movie is Friday the 13th or Saw, so obviously we aren't that movie-compatible. (But what a good guy to try and watch it with me anyway! )
Jacob and Jeff caught one fish together, then Jacob pretty much lost interest. It was pretty hot out there, so we weren't upset to pack up and head back home (to the air conditioning!).
We just got home from a trivia night. It was the first time these people had run one, and it went REALLY late. Plus, we were sitting in the middle of a bunch of kids who were treating the evening as a fun night out at a bar...made it really difficult to hear the questions, and they were cheating (!), texting their friends for answers. (And yes, I'm sadly aware of how old and crabby I sound here!). When one of the guys at are table said something to them about toning it down, one of them told him to "F*** off!", which didn't sit well and touched off a heated moment. I wanted to head to the other side of the room...I'm not at all comfortable with conflict. And who goes to a trivia night and gets into a fight?
But, on a good note, we placed 4th out of 40 teams...not too shabby!
Yesterday was Nathan's 12th birthday. He's with his dad this week, but they had decided to go to Six Flags to celebrate and invited me along. Usually any "whole family" events are planned by his wife and/or myself, but this time it was actually my ex-husband's idea. Very nice. If you'd told me 6 years ago that we'd be getting along well enough to invited each other (and each other's new families) to family events, I'd never have believed it. Time heals a lot, as does happiness with my new life and the fact that his wife is wonderful!
Anyway, I didn't see that much of the older boys since they were off riding rides with their dad, but we had lunch together and I got to hang out with Kim and their little ones. They're right around Jacob's age, so it made for a nice little group. It was good for Jacob, too, because usually we spend most of our time following the older kids around and he doesn't get to do much, but yesterday I made a point of doing a bunch of things HE wanted to do. He's growing up so quickly...I'm glad I have these summers to spend with him.
Today after breakfast, Jacob and I took Berkeley to the dog park. I'm so pleased that our town has one. Until we have our fence built (which, between trying to figure out the town's crazy fence regulations and working on the basement too, might just be this side of never!), it's nice to have a place where we can let Berkeley off the leash so he can just run. He definitely needs it! After about 1/2 hour, we moved from the dog park to the playground. Jacob pretended to drive me to Six Flags (guess he had fun yesterday! ) and had fun on the slides. AND he was actually cooperative when it was time to come home!
We've finally started Berkeley in obedience class. I had to sacrifice Wednesday night volleyball, but hopefully it will be worth it. I really need some guidance in training him, because we want to be able to take him along when we camp, etc, without him acting like a maniac. The instructor seems very confident that we'll see marked improvement by the end of next Wednesday's class, so we'll see...I just want him to come when I call him! Wednesday night he got out because I had forgotten that our garage door was open and let him follow me into the garage...of course, he ended up tangling with two SKUNKS (when I saw them, he was on his own because I wasn't getting anywhere near them!). Luckily, he didn't get a direct hit, but he has smelled subtly skunky since then (as do our garage and stroller now, as well!), so tonight is bath night. Right now would be the perfect time, but I promised Jacob that I'd wait for him.
OK, well, with that said, I'm going to get going and try and tackle some of this mess!
Can anyone tell me why the plants we WANT we have to work so hard to cultivate and nurture, while the weeds and volunteers thrive with inattention? That monster plant you see to the right of the garden? Volunteer. I'm guessing it's a pumpkin plant. Jeff thinks watermelon, but I don't remember having watermelon last year. This is what happens when your compost doesn't get hot enough but you still dig it into your garden after a year or so, I guess. Speaking of compost, I have some monster potato plants sprouting in mine right now! Way better, as a matter of fact, than the ones we planted last year.
We kind of half-a** most things, and the garden is a good example. I shouldn't say "we"...it's me who does that. Jeff is good about taking the time to do things the right way. Me, not so much. In fact, the stakes you see marking the different plants in the garden may or may not have the correct vegetable on them because I just went ahead and planted everything thinking I'd remember what was there. And, of course, didn't remember where ANYTHING was, LOL!
I did manage to do more weeding this morning. Jacob has been wanting to have picnic breakfasts at his little picnic table, so we took our pop-tarts (breakfast of champions!) outside to eat. Then, we played together and tossed a ball to the dog for awhile to wear him out. After that, Jacob drove his little car around the yard (just one that you move with your feet, not one of the cool, battery-powered ones that I know he'd love but we haven't found cheap enough at a yard sale yet!) while I weeded the garden. After being gone for a week, I have a lot of catching up to do there!
We spent two nights in Marietta, GA, with my aunt and uncle on the way down. That was really nice. My family always went to visit them for summer vacation when I was a kid. Back then, they lived in New Jersey. We had a wonderful time there, and they had a pool, which was a big deal to us--we could have spent the entire vacation in their back yard and had a blast!--so I have never shared in that disdain that so many people seem to have for New Jersey. Lots of happy memories there. But I digress. It was really nice for my kids to get some time with my aunt and uncle. They all got to know each other a little better, and now I think that my kids have an understanding of why my aunt and uncle are so special to me. And my aunt and uncle got to know the kids, as well (and liked them!! ), so it was good all around.
We spent the rest of our vacation camping at St. Andrews State Park in Panama City, FL, apparently also known as the "Redneck Riviera". There were certainly a lot of southern license plates in the campground, but I've always thought of "redneck" as being more a state of being than a physical location, so I'm not sure the nickname works for me. We had a wonderful, relaxing trip. We spent every day but one at the beach. Everybody got plenty of sun, but with liberal use of sunscreen and forced wearing of t-shirts for those overly pink midwestern bodies, we managed to avoid any major sunburns.
Jacob LOVED the beach. His beach. Every day when we pulled into the parking lot, he would get all excited and say, "It's my beach!! It's right over there!" Of course, that love for the beach made for some more difficult scenes when it was time to leave... The state park had a beach within its boundaries. It was about a 5-minute drive from our campsite, which was nice. The beach was actually along St. Andrews Bay, but the bay runs into the Gult of Mexico right next to our swimming beach. The water was SO clear!! And that white sand...just beautiful, and it didn't burn your feet!
So, we spent 6 days relaxing in the sun. The water was protected by a jetty, so it was pretty calm, and it was plenty shallow for Jacob to go out quite a ways with no problem. Of course, one of us was always right there with him. He had a great time wading, splashing, hunting for seashells, and building and destroying many a sand castle. It was good for the older kids, as well, because as the water got deeper (but very rarely over where they could touch), they could swim, snorkel the jetty, splash each other, and try very hard (and without much success) to master the skimboard.
We also rented a pontoon boat one day, which was surprisingly stressful. Neither of us had ever piloted a boat before, and the depth of the bay varied quite a bit. We were both worried about running aground and damaging the motor somehow, but we managed the day without any problems. We spent the boat day exploring Shell Island. We did some snorkeling and shelling on the bay side and then hiked across the sand to the Gulf side. Oh, my goodness. It's just SO beautiful over there! And the beach that we stopped to swim at had maybe 10 people in sight!
All in all, a great trip, but I'm glad to be home, around my own things, my own bed (well, the bed in the camper is ours, but it just isn't the same!), and --of course!--my computer again!
Jacob entertained himself much of the day or played with his cousins. My FIL has a huge sandbox next to the court for the kids, and Jacob had a ball there. Last year, we had to have someone watch him whenever we both played, but this year he was pretty self-sufficient. Of course, we and all of the rest of the family were right there, but he was happy as a clam playing by himself or with the other kids.
Back to school tomorrow for 1 1/2 more hours! My classroom is approaching ready for the summer...have some cabinets and my desk to clear off, but I'm far ahead of where I was last year at this time. Well, last year at this time we were already OUT of school, but I wasn't finished with my room until after the last day. Of course, for our poor custodians, the work is just beginning. Until I began teaching, I never realized how much work takes place over the summer at a school! I spend quite a few days at school over the summer preparing for the next year, and they are always there. Things to fix/build, walls to paint, floors to strip, etc. It's quite a process!
"If You Give a Mom a Cookie" by Julie Tilsner
~inspired by Laura Joffe Numeroff's book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
(saw this in Parenting magazine and thought it was cute enough to be worth typing up to share!)
If you give a mom a cookie,
She's going to want a latte to go with it.
But before she gets a latte, she has to find her toddler's pink ladybug boots.
To find the ladybug boots, she has to venture into the playroom.
When she tries to straighten up the playroom, she finds Daddy's left shoe, the salad b owl, and an open package of graham crackers. She also finds her cell phone.
So she'll yell at her toddler about the cell phone and wake up the baby from his morning nap.
But as she goes in to pick up the baby, the cell phone will ring.
Whe she answers, it'll be the doctor's office reminding her that she had an appointment this morning and would she like to reschedule, say, sometime in November.
While she's trying to mentally recreate her calendar, the baby will start to cry.
Then her toddler will run to see what's the matter and find the graham crackers.
When she finds the graham crackers, there'll be crumbs all over the playroom.
So the mom will get the broom from the hall closet and notice that Daddy forgot to buy diapers last night as she asked.
But she will find her toddler's pink ladybug boots.
And when she finds the pink ladybug boots, she'll remember her emergency stash of diapers in the car.
So she'll wrestle her toddler and her baby into their car seats and drive to the store to buy more diapers and more milk.
While she's buying the milk, she'll remember that she wanted that latte.
And if she manages to order her latte without a tantrum or poop episode from eiother of her kids...
Then she deserves another cookie!
Isn't that cute?? Of course, if it was me, I wouldn't bother straightening the playroom (AKA our living room), wouldn't have gotten around to making the dr's appointment in the first place, and wouldn't have eaten just one cookie to begin with! LOL
Saturday, June 6, 2009
Anyway, today's details...
Distance: 34.448 miles
Max speed: 23.4 mph (downhill, but I managed around 18 mph on my own steam later on)
Avg. speed: 11.4 mph (lame, but I spent a lot of the ride talking with a friend via text message, so I couldn't ride as fast and still be safe. P.S. I was riding on a bike trail, not a road.)
Time: 3:02:04 (again, blaming it on my friend)
Temp: low 80's
Calories burned: 1,212.6
I am also sporting a nice little sunburn. I wore bug repellant, but I skipped the sunscreen in the hopes that the trail would be shady enough to prevent a burn. It wasn't. I'm fairly pink right now. Plus, I have a nice white stripe on my left arm from my iPod armband. I won't be skipping the sunscreen again.
I felt really good once I got going. Another gorgeous day, and the breeze wasn't too bad most of the time. The couple weeks off definitely hurt me in one way, though. I'm going to need a butt-sized ice pack. I had pretty well toughened up with all the riding since the spring; I would hurt during the ride but not after. Now I'm back to during AND after. Oh, well. I'll get there again. Hopefully before the two back-to-back 60-mile days!
Incidentally, and nothing to do with my bike ride, today is the 11th anniversary of my first date with Jeff. My older boys, who were 5 and 3 at the time, have basically grown up with him in their lives...and are blessed by that. :)
Friday, June 5, 2009
On the other hand, while I miss them a lot when I can't be with them, I'm not a very good stay at home mom. I'm not good at accomplishing things around the house or planning quality things to do with the kids. Some moms put the rest of us to shame; I'm not that mom. I'm more the one you compare yourself to so you can feel better about yourself.
I'm really making an effort this summer (of course, I say that 3 days in...we'll see what the summer holds). While I'm still not good at planning beneficial Activities (and how can I not be...it's my job!! But still...), we're keeping productively busy. We aren't doing big things, but the things we do are together.
We baked cookies for Jacob's day care staff on Wednesday, took a long scoot (Jacob)/walk (me) and played at the park Thursday, and went to the bike trail for Jacob to ride today.
In addition, we are bit by bit working to reclaim our house from the disaster it became during the crush at the end of the year. Jacob started out very resistant, and while he hasn't entirely come along to developing a love of cleaning and organizing (and frankly, neither have I!!), he has become much more cooperative and pleasant about it over the past few days.
None of this is earth-shattering, but it's been nice. I've found myself enjoying our time together a lot and feeling even closer to Jacob than normal. (And I'm not ignoring my older boys in this post...they had school longer than I did, have been busy with their friends and end of the year fun, and been with their dad all day today).
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Max speed: 21.7 (downhill)
Avg. speed: 12.6
Calories (my favorite detail): 762.0 (even if you factor in the 200 calories worth of Gatorade I drank, it's still a nice calorie burn.
I so didn't want to go for a ride today. I would have much preferred to sit home and relax, but knowing that my big ride is coming up in just 18 days was good motivation to get out. The first day is 30 miles longer than my longest so far (34 miles), and I haven't ridden since the weekend before our anniversary (mid May).
I'm definitely going through a motivational dry spell exercise-wise. It's very hit or miss during the school year because there's so much going on, but now that I have the time I don't have much desire. Yesterday I went to the gym despite having no desire to and felt great afterwards. Today I feel good after my ride. Let me remember that feeling when I don't want to go.
This relates so much to things I've been reading and hearing in church and in an Andy Stanley podcast series I've been listening to on marriage. We can't rely on our feelings but on what we know to be true. Keep walking out what you know to be true no matter how you feel. Don't keep off the treadmill (or whatever) because you feel tired. Once you're finished, you usually have more energy. Don't stop doing things for your husband because you feel bored. Living out and ACTING OUT your love will build it.
Oh, let me remember this. And even more (and here's where I generally fall short), let me apply it in my life.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
She believes that her autism, and the very visual way she organizes information (in fact, one of her books is titled Thinking in Pictures), enable her to excel in her field in a way that would be difficult for someone without her particular strengths. She talks about her ability to see things from an animal's perspective because animals are very visual, sensory creatures rather than language-based, as we are. I saw her at an event where she was promoting her most recent book, Animals in Translation, which made for a funny intersection between my work life (teaching children with disabilities; this year, in fact, I had 3 students with autism-spectrum diagnoses) and my home life (trying to figure out how to deal with my behaviorally-challenged dog).
It was so interesting to hear Temple speak. She was much funnier than I had expected, riffing on Cingular wireless, which was particularly funny to me because I'm a Cingular customer and have had serious phone issues...which may be more related to my LG phone rather than the carrier, but still! She talked about ways that she has had to learn to accommodate for her autism, things like creating a deep pressure machine, taking anti-depressants to deal with her panic attacks, translating words into pictures in her head, creating and modifying scripts for interaction with others.
The audience was very interesting, as well. I'd say it was at least 2/3 people who are involved with people with disabilities and 1/3 people who were involved with pets with "issues". During a Q&A session, she remarked several times to questioners that she needed them to be more specific/detailed so that she could get a picture in her head...which makes sense for everybody, really--if you say your dog is acting like a maniac (something I've said a time or two about mine!), what does that mean? Biting, barking, running around in circles? I guess for her, though, it was even more important to get specifics.
Possibly most interesting of all to me was ways in which, despite her great successes, she is still working to deal with the effects of her autism. Her voice and appearance were somewhat "different"--nothing huge--and she seemed to have some difficulty during the Q&A "hearing" the question. That is, she could physically hear it, but she a few times answered a different question than the one that the person was asking, and once interrupted a woman several times in answering what I think Temple THOUGHT was the question when the woman hadn't quite gotten to her question yet.
I really had just wanted to go home that evening, even though I was the one who'd mentioned to some people at work about the event and gotten the ball rolling. I had been away from Jacob all weekend and worked all day...really just wanted to be home with my family. I'm so glad that I went. Not only did I get to meet someone HUGE in my field, but I really came away with a new dedication to really looking for the strengths in my students and working even harder to try to see things as they do.
I got to spend some time today with my class from last year...well, the ones who are now 2nd graders and with another teacher. I was at our school carnival with Raphael, who is in my class now and is by far the most oppositional child I've ever met! He drove me crazy the first few weeks he was in my class...still does, but he completely has my heart. Somehow it's the real stinkers who stick with you.
I had most of my "old" class for both K and 1st grades. I see them in the hall every day, and I miss them so much. They were a really neat class. Even after a year, they come up and give me hugs all of the time. Justin actually came up at the school carnival and gave me a big hug. Then, they all wanted me to stay out there with them. Couldn't since I was heading in with my class, but it's really nice to be that loved a year after they were with me.
Most of them were annoyed with Raphael because every time I tried to get their picture he would jump in front of the camera -- which resulted in a big grin on his face. Now I know the trick for school pictures (during which it was like pulling teeth to coax a tiny smile out of him!)...I'll just try to take a picture of someone else!
I am usually exhausted at the end of the day, I never feel like I have enough time (although I think that's a universal thing; certainly not limited to teachers!), and it can get REALLY old dealing with behavior all day long and then at home, too, but I sure have a lot of love in my life, too. And to know you're making a difference, both at home and at work, to possibly change someone's life, is huge.
Of course, I'll have to reread this post many a time next school year, I'm sure, to remind me just why I work! Like when your kids are sleeping, it's a lot easier to think about how much you love your job when you have a break!
It wasn't bad leaving Jacob since he actually left US...my SIL picked him up. Much better than us having to drop him off and leave! Berkeley did fine with my brother as well, although his unhealthy affection for their dog continued. The older boys were fine, as well, but that's to be expected since they were with their dad. I never imagined when I was getting divorced that it would be such a nice arrangement. It's like having a free babysitter every other weekend!
Friday night we got into the park near nightfall, since it took us so long to get everybody with their respective caretakers. We set up the popup pretty quickly. You'd think we would miss the extra help that the 3 older kids give, but not so much. We made quick work of setup without their (and Jacob's) distraction. After a nice, hot (which can't always be counted on in a state park campground!) shower, we headed to bed.
Sadly, I couldn't sleep past 8:30 the next morning. I was SO looking forward to sleeping in...I mean, 8:30 is sleeping in for me, but I wanted to REALLY sleep in! No such luck. We got up, ate a quick breakfast, and ended up spending the next 10 hours and 350+ miles driving around Missouri trying to get the Central region of our passport filled. I am proud to report that we did...one region down, 5 to go!! (Missouri has a state park passport, modeled on the National Park Passport, where you can get a stamp from each state park you visit. If you visit a certain number in each region, you get a patch for that region. If you get all of the patches, you get some certificate and 5 free nights of camping. It's become something of a quest for us, though between the number of miles we have to drive and the high gas prices, we'll end up spending considerably more that the $75 the free camping is worth!)
We saw a lot of neat parks. Arrow Rock, near Columbia, Missouri, is a historic settlement. We'd have loved to spend more time there. Another neat place was Rock Bridge S.P. We had planned to bike on the Katy Trail but ran out of time. We also saw some parks we do NOT need to return to; for example, Finger Lake S.P., which, while a nice place, is one of only 2 MO state parks set up for ATV use...not really our thing. We're more the hiking, floating, climbing type with the occasional cave thown in!
Sunday morning it RAINED! Thought we were going to have to pack up the camper for the first time in the rain (though FAR from our first wet camping trip..one of the main reasons we got the camper!), but it stopped raining around 11 (conveniently a half hour after I woke up! ) and everything was dry when we left.
On another note, school is almost over. Unbelievable that another year has passed. As much as my first graders (whom I've had now for 2 years) have been driving me crazy, now I am starting to miss them already. Crazy! I'm SO looking forward to just having some time with my kids, though. I feel like I haven't seen them for 9 months!
Took Berkeley over to my brother & SIL to meet their dogs. That was an experience! They have 2 big dogs, a greyhound (female) and a Lab (male). Berkeley (our male dog) spent the entire time trying (and occasionally succeeding) to mount their Lab. It was a little embarassing and pretty funny (he was quite determined and enthusiastic!), but I think it offended my brother's sensibilities that our dog kept trying to molest his! Hopefully, Berkeley will tone it down a little after being neutered! Otherwise, they had a great time chasing each other and playing. I think both "boys" were worn out by the time we went home. Crossing my fingers that this weekend goes OK with the dogs, or we'll be looking for a new place for B. to stay while we're in Florida!
Gotta go pack, but I'll make sure to post some pictures when we get back!
If you want to play too, here are the rules; leave me a comment here & I'll give you a letter. Then you post the results & these instructions in your blog. You use the letter you are given and make 10 things from it.
1. Liars- Can't stand them! My pet peeve is being lied to...of course, being a parent, teacher, and ex-wife, I've heard my share LOL! Luckily, my kids have never been able to continue a lie to me for long...a mean look and growl of "Don't you lie to me!!" makes them fess up quickly.
2. Labradoodle- Breed of my dog...and make no mistake, he's MINE! I loved dogs when I was a kid, of course, that was when my parents did all of the work. Now I'm the parent doing all the work--at least my husband splits the work with me! More than the work part though, I've really gotten attached to him.
3. La Fonda- My favorite local Mexican restaurant. Reasonable prices and within walking distance. Going there, or to any Mexican restaurant, reminds me of our honeymoon in Playa del Carmen...almost 4 years ago now!
4. Love- Amazing how many different kinds there are, and how loving a new person doesn't diminish the amount you have for the others in your life. Love is the only thing I can think of that, when used, grows rather than diminishes.
5. Library- One of my favorite places. Our town library is beautiful, an old Carnegie-funded building which was renovated 10 or so years ago. I probably provide half of the library's funding through my late fines!
6. Lent- My least favorite Church season. I don't enjoy sacrifice (which is the point, I suppose, or it wouldn't be sacrifice!) and hate fish. Those meatless Fridays were the bane of my existence as I grew up because my parents insisted that we clean our plates at dinner and fish
was frequently on our Lenten menu. Now that I'm the mom and I choose what's for dinner, it's not so bad, but BOY do I miss being able to have meet for those Fridays!!
7. Leisure- Something I desperately miss! Before Jacob was born, we were childless every other weekend. Now, we always have someone on the weekend (yes, I was spoiled)...and with 4 kids in 4 different sets of activities, seems like our "free time" is filled with taxi service!
8. Lonely- Yes, in some ways I am. It's a lot harder to make friends once you're out of school, and it seems like the people with whom we spend the most time are family, but it's mostly in "family" events rather than just doing things together as friends. Part of me wishes for those close friendships that some women seem to have...the other part of me can't imagine what time I could spend on them! I have so little time to myself that I have a hard time spending any of my alone time on someone else.
9. Let-down- My Mother's Day was kind of disappointing. I was really hoping to get to sleep in today but didn't get to...and then, everyone but Jacob slept in until 10:30, leaving me to take care of Jacob, the dog, and clean the whole house for our Mother's Day brunch by myself! Yes, I could have woken them up, but instead I chose to just keep going, get more annoyed with them, and stew until someone came down to help. Not very appealing, nor was it the right way to handle the situation. And, I should say, Kelsea and Nathan did most of the cooking last night...and Jeff is normally the one who's really on top of getting things together, so this was an isolated incident...but it still upset me.
10. Lunch/Left-overs- (a two-fer!) I usually take left-overs from the previous evening's meal for lunch at school. Since I only make meals that I enjoy, anticipating lunch always makes me really happy (probably the sign of a sad life or misplaced priorities LOL). When we're home during the summers, I have a really difficult time coming up with varied lunches, and I don't really care for cold meat sandwiches or much of the "easy" stuff. I have a friend who, any time she has me over for lunch, always has something relatively quick and easy but good and DIFFERENT. I guess I should consult with her!
Not that he doesn't need to improve his manners...but I'm reading a great book (at least, it sounds great, we'll see if I put any of the good advice into practice LOL) called Good Owner, Great Dog by Brian Kilcannon. That's always my solution to a problem...read a book about it! Then I'm not so good about implementing advice, so we'll see.
Now that we've made the decision to keep Berkeley, we're on to the expenses...neutering him, building a fence around our 1/2 acre lot, etc...I'm sure he'll be worth it. Of course, I imagined that with all the extra exercise I was getting walking him at least twice a day I was going to lose weight...HA! I think I've gained...all the stress of the first week, and I'm a real stress eater. I'm going to hate the pictures we take on vacation in Florida next month!
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Sad, sad state of affairs in this part of the country. Lots of depressing stuff in the newspaper. Two stories which have really caught my interest are below. In the first, a bunch of 1st and 2nd graders sexually assaulted another classmate on their school playground. Staff members have been disciplined for lack of attentiveness, and the boys who committed the assualt have been, I believe, expelled. I'm sure that most people reading the story were/are shocked that kids so little would do something like this. I was, too, but not completely.
That behavior comes from somewhere. It's astounding the things my first grade students have seen...movies I wouldn't let my teenage son watch! Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Scary Movie...the list goes on and on. Or the kids who come in and tell their teacher (and, make no mistake, they tell us everything...things we never wanted to know!!) about their mom's boyfriends and having to go over there and sleep on the couch while mom was with her boyfriend. Don't have their homework because they left it at the boyfriend's house because they were asleep when mom brought them home in the middle of the night. Or the heartbreaking number of kids who've been sexually or physically abused. They are everywhere. Kids learn from everything they see, do, and have done to them. And then, too often, they perpetuate that circle of violence.
In the second story, a teacher has been arrested for the attempted murder of a high school student. Left her for dead in a field with a broken neck for 30 hours. Many facts aren't clear. It appears that they met when he student taught in her class; he was not currently her teacher, but they had recently reconnected. Lots over email. I'm sure that the story will be increasingly sordid as more facts come out.
Thank goodness, there are lots of GOOD things happening in education, most teachers are wonderful. But boy, bad week in the news.
Kelsea was in the concert choir portion of the program, and their songs were beautiful. Daniel did concert choir and show choir. Show choir both sings and performs. They had a couple of songs from "Wicked" (which I saw and loved, and I thought, though prejudiced, that the kids' performance wasn't that far off!), a song from "Phantom" (which terrified Jacob), one from "Rent", and quite a few other numbers. Daniel was part of the dance group for "It Don't Mean a Thing if it Ain't Got That Swing", and their dancing was great! He actually tried to teach Jeff and me the dance they did so that we could show off at the wedding, but we aren't real quick studies. It was all we could do to learn the jitterbug for our wedding...and then I couldn't do it anyway in that long dress!
The kids really put a lot of work into this performance, and it showed. Daniel had two days last week when he was at school for 14 hours between practice before school and after school. I'm glad that they could see such a great return on their effort. And that WE could be there to enjoy such a great show! I've seen several of the performances before when Daniel and Nathan were in band, but the choir performances are MUCH more interesting when it's your kid on the stage LOL.
Jeff videotaped the wedding for Kyle, so I had to be the picture taker. Usually I like to just be there, rather than worry about taking pictures, but I got into it today. I took tons of pictures...those digital cameras are dangerous like that--we have thousands of pictures that we've taken since getting the camera before Jacob was born. And where are they?? All stored on the computer! At least the DSL connection has enabled me to upload many of them to internet storage so that it's easy to share them with others.
Kyle and Sha Sha (his new wife) had originally planned a very small destination wedding. She's originally from China, and her family was unable to attend the wedding due to visas, etc. She seemed OK with it, but I'm sure that it was sad for her to take such a big step without her family around her. Barb, Kyle's mom, seems to have taken her under her wing, though, and Sha Sha had a lot of friends there around her.
Of course, it made me think back to my own wedding, as all weddings do. What a wonderful time that was! We have our 4th anniversary coming up in less than 2 weeks, and it seems both amazing that we've already been married 4 years and as if we've always been married. Our wedding day was also beautiful (after a depressingly rainy, ugly day before the wedding), but it was chilly. The men in their tuxes were delighted. The girls in their sleeveless dresses were less happy about the temperature. Me? I was just happy the sun was shining on my wedding day. I'll have to post those pictures one of these days...I truly felt beautiful that day!
Ooh, I forgot to mention earlier...I read the best book yesterday! It was called Blue Diary, by Alice Hoffman. Highly recommended! It's the story of Jorie, who has been blissfully married to the man of her dreams for 13 years before learning--along with her entire town--of a terrible crime in his past. The story explores how Jorie and, indeed, the entire town deal with the discovery that this wonderful man wasn't always, the way that people and their perceptions change, the varied and difficult relationships among families, the ways that people deal with grief. There was a lot there!
The book really spoke to me...it just seemed like almost every other line was A Truth, IYKWIM. I have 4 kids, work full time teaching, administer a website...and I read that book in one day! Couldn't tell you the last time I did something like that--but I'm sure it was during summer vacation before Jacob was born!! I read on the ride to school (carpooling due to the price of gas!...and that carpool is definitely the subject for another blog!), during my lunch period, home in the carpool, in the bathroom while Jacob was drawing all over my face with his bath crayons (luckily Jeff noticed my blue mustache before I left the house!!), and in bed until midnight, never mind that I'd sworn to myself that I was going to sleep by 11 so I wouldn't be falling asleep as my students read to me today! It was that good!
Speaking of my students reading to me...what a day! It was a much better day than the last few (whew!), and during Reading class, I was working with a group of two 1st graders, and you should have heard them read!! Jordan, who has given me fits for 2 years (lots of emotional issues with him), was so involved in reading, and as he got to words he didn't know, he was sounding them out like a trooper! Usually, if he needs help with something, he gets really upset, but when I'd point out things he was missing (like the silent "e" at the end of a word to make the vowel long), he'd say, "Oh, OK, let me see, what will the i say?..." and figure it out!! Two years of WORK are paying off...for both of us!! While I am ready for most of those guys to move up to a new teacher, I am really proud of all we've accomplished together, and I know they've got a good foundation.
I am currently cursing my lack of organization. (Not an infrequent problem around here!) I have finally decided that I HAVE to get to the dentist. I am the biggest chicken, because you know my kids go regularly but I hate going! Plus, for a long time they had dental insurance through their dad but I didn't have it through my job, and God forbid I pay for work that needs to be done! I mean, it's not like we can't pay our bills, but it's just another excuse to put off something I don't enjoy (and no, haven't had my yearly exam from my GYN since Jacob was born, either!). So now, we have dental insurance from Jeff's job that he started last Sept. and I've finally sucked it up that I'm going to go...can I find any of the provider info???
ARGH! On the other hand, though, I did find the property information that Jeff needed to get the fence permit, so all isn't lost! At least, not lost permanently...I should just start looking for something else I desperately need, and the insurance info will probably pop right up!
I did find some information online, but not everything I wanted. And I know that it was me who put away the insurance stuff...if only I knew where... I'm still dreading going...it's like Confession..."Bless me, doctor, for I have sinned...it's been 7 years since my last dental appointment..." How is that possible? I know better! I guess there are just so many other things to take care of that preventative things take the backseat. Not smart. I should get better about that.
Very little going on...that seems to be a theme of mine. The new dog is driving us crazy...definitely not a well-thought-out decision to get him. Tom swears that it'll get better, that his dogs were terrible for the first couple of weeks...hopefully he's right. I think that Jeff is leaning further towards calling the people we got him from and offering him back. We promised to offer him to them before any further change in "custody".
I don't know, we'll see. He's definitely a good exercise program, as I usually walk him twice a day. I can't get up early to do yoga, but he's a little more motivating. And the evening walk is a nice time for Jeff and I to talk...seems like there's never a chance to during the day!
Finished two books this week, neither all that great. One by James Patterson, whose books (the early Alex Cross ones, in particular) I used to really enjoy, and one by Mary Higgins Clark--Night Time is My Time, I think. I started one about Edgar Allen Poe, but that was a little more effort than my poor brain has to give at the end of the school year!
OK, I'm going because tonight is the night Jacob is in bed before 8:30. Time to wash up and read our two stories, unless he cons me into more (as usual! ). He's very into The Three Billy Goats Gruff, and it's the funniest thing to hear him "read" it to himself! Deep voice: "Who's trapping over my bridge?" High voice: "Oh, no, don't eat me!" Quite possibly the cutest 2 1/2 yr old ever to live...not that I'm a little prejudiced here!
It would definitely help to get to bed earlier. (so why are you up at 11 p.m. blogging, Kate?) Or if the kids were more help with the dog. Not likely, and I remember being the same when I was a kid. I have more and more respect for my parents with the way that they handled all of the typical kid BS they had to deal with from us. And I never felt anything less than fully loved. I worry sometimes about how the older boys feel. I hope that, even when they know I'm completely frustrated with them, they know that I really love them.
Jeff actually brought up whether or not we should keep the dog. I hate to say, "Oops, we took on something we couldn't handle," and I think that Berkeley is better off with us, getting plenty of attention and etc. It's just US who are worse off. Hopefully this is just an adjustment process. He's improved in some ways...not so barky now, is doing better about not jumping all over people. We will, however, still be investing in obedience classes once I'm out of school for the summer!
Semi-nice day, otherwise. After getting up with the dog at 7, I went back to be once Jeff got up with Jacob (it was my day to sleep in...tomorrow is his). Slept until 10:30. Ahhh!! Would have slept even later, but Heather called about going for lunch. I'm really glad to have that friendship developing. I like her a lot, and it's been such a blessing to get to work with her! This year, I have a fabulous team...everyone does their job and more. Big improvement over the past two years!! Of course, I can take some credit for that. I had the WORST aide in history for two years...and the second year, I actively worked to either change her or make sure she wasn't rehired. She didn't improve, so she wasn't rehired.
I learned my lesson, too. At the beginning of this year, I had another terrible aide. Just didn't get it. This time, I really worked hard from the beginning to educate her about expectations and what to do to fulfill them. Worked hard in vain, because she was very neglectful of her duties. This time, instead of feeling frustrated and letting her make me look bad because I didn't have the balls to deal with the situation, I documented every problem with her and everything action I took to remedy it. No way was I dealing with things the way they were for the whole school year this time. Both I and my students deserve better than that! And then, she did me the favor of having a bench warrant out for her arrest in another state which showed up on her background check...so she was fired!!
I watched my mom be miserable for years due to other people, people whom she supervised. She ended up quitting a job she'd had for 16 years because she couldn't deal with those people anymore, and now she has to work 2 jobs because she isn't making near (in $ or vacation time) what she did at her old job. I worked hard for my degree, hard for my job, and I'm not going to let someone else chase me out. I'm a lot like my mom, too. It's a lot easier for me to complain to other people than it is for me to talk to the person who is causing me the problem...but other people can't fix it for you! It's a lot easier to confront the problem-- no matter how uncomfortable that makes you--than it is to be miserable for years because you can't stand up for yourself!
Ooh, that was a long digression from my day! Anyway, after going to lunch (at Krieger's--didn't care at all for the chicken deluxe sandwich...alfalfa sprouts were all limp and yucky, and the chicken didn't have much taste), I took the dog for a walk and then we headed to Six Flags. We got season tickets this year for the first time, so we'll see how that goes. Most other years, the kids have each gotten a free ticket from the school reading incentive program, but this year Daniel was too old and the other two didn't do it. Plus, Daniel and Kelsea have to go on Friday with school for their chorus concert, and their tickets were going to cost $24 each. We'll certainly go at least once during the summer and once during Fright Fest in October, so between the 3 trips, it made sense for us to just get the passes. Hopefully we'll get lots of use out of them...it helps being off in the summers.
We didn't plan to stay long, but we ended up being there for about 3 hours. It was not at all crowded as the weather was pretty cruddy. Cool, windy, and drizzly. We still managed to ride quite a few rides. Jacob loved the big train, and the bigger kids got to ride the roller coasters several times. Ate dinner out, dropped the boys back off at their dad's, and came home to walk the dog (I'm definitely getting more exercise now...somehow not losing any weight, though ...probably all of my stress eating is doing away with the walking benefit LOL). And now, I'm heading to bed!
Jacob is still loving the dog. He particularly loves to throw the ball to the dog, but he can't throw too far, so it probably isn't that exciting for Berkeley. The dog also loves to pop bubbles, and Jacob gets a kick out of that. The older kids (you know, the ones who HAD to have a dog, would do ANYTHING to help out, would take care of it, etc, etc) have too busy with schoolwork and after school activities to really help out much. Lucky that we weren't counting on them to help!! (Though we were HOPING)
Berkeley is a 10-month old chocolate Labradoodle (cross between a Labrador Retriever and a standard poodle. You don't see much poodle except for in his tousled hair. He's sweet and friendly as can be, and boy does he have a lot of energy! He may have met his match today, though, as all 3 of the older kids were dying to play with him. Hopefully they keep up the same interest level once the newness wears off. Our cat, sadly, is not as excited about our new friend as the kids are. Hopefully, time will lessen his anxiety.
So tomorrow, off I go to start on the last month of the school year with one more responsibility and a fence to push back the work on our basement even more. Oh, well, life certainly stays exciting!
What is your favorite children's book?
Mine is The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein.
My 2-yr-old son's is currently No, David! by David Shannon, though Are You My Mother?, the Dr. Suess books, and anything Bob the Builder are also biggies.
Wow, what a rough day! One of my students, a great kid, did not have his meds for his ADHD, and boy did it throw off the entire day! He was a mess today...crawling all over his desk, scrawling all over his work, picking and poking at the other kids (who, bless their hearts, were trying their hardest to ignore his behavior and do the right thing!), teasing and calling names in line, and then ended up the day by hitting another student in the stomach!
Now, I am not someone who advocates medication as a cure-all for attention problems, but I am really frustrated by those who are knee-jerk opposed to medication to help students with ADD/ADHD. Now, in the four years I've been teaching special education PLUS my year of student teaching, I have had less than five students who took medication to help address their attention problems, and none of those were because we as a school pushed for the medication.
HOWEVER, there are some students who TRULY need that extra help that the medication gives them. My student, E., is a great kid. Normally, he is one of the ones I can count on for a good answer or at least a good try. He tries his hardest on his work, and he's one of the better behaved students. No angel, for sure, but a good kid. You sure wouldn't have guessed it today! Mom forgot to give him his meds before he left for school. It's just so sad that he had to suffer through such a lousy day. Knowing what the problem was, I really did my best to deal with his behavior within the classroom, but you can't push aside hitting someone else. As rough as the day was for me, I know it was even worse for him.
When I was student teaching, one of the boys in the 5th grade class I was assigned to had ADD with inattention. With him, as well, it was blindingly obvious when he'd missed his meds. Unlike E., this boy would just drift off. I could be standing right next to him, redirect him when his attention wandered, and you could tell he was just STRAINING to attend...and then he'd be gone, with me still right there. And these are kids who typically got/get medication. I truly feel for those children with severe attention deficits who do not have the opportunity to see if medication would be beneficial (and for some it won't be, or the benefits won't outweigh the potential side effects), because many of them are being deprived of the chance to fully benefit from their educations. You wouldn't tell a person with cancer that they just need to deal with it, work through it...why are we doing that to students with diagnosed attention problems?
So my day didn't have a good start, and then it got more frustrating. I am lucky enough to be able to sit in on the IEP meetings for the students who are moving up from Early Childhood Special Education to Kindergarten. It's a great opportunity to learn more about the students and their families and to help make decisions about the best scholastic placement for them. One of today's meetings was for a little girl, C., with serious behavioral and academic concerns. I had observed her in her classroom earlier in the month and talked with the Speech Therapist who works with her. When we voiced concerns about her ability to thrive and learn in a regular education classroom of 25 or more students (as opposed to a classroom with half of the students and a great deal more individualized attention), her parents were completely opposed.
I said my piece, described the concerns and expectations of the regular education classroom, and they were just convinced that C. will do just fine...she'll "rise to the demands of the classroom". Well, I truly hope that she does, but she hasn't yet managed to rise to the demands of her 8-student classroom with a super teacher and 2 teacher's aides, so I'm very concerned about her ability to learn in a class of 25 or more with one teacher!
It is frustrating and upsetting to be the teacher that people don't want their child with. That special education stigma is alive and well...and I don't know about other schools, but I do know that, in my school, there is not a stigma among the kids in the primary wing attached to special education classrooms. Our school's studetns move among so many different pull-outs--speech, occupational therapy, special education, medical intervention, social worker, not to mention going to different classrooms for art, music, PE, computers, and library--that it's no big deal for kids to come to my class. In fact, often my student's classmates stop me in the hall and ask when THEY get to come to my class! I try to do a lot of "PR"...fun activities that my students can invite a friend from their regular class to...so that my room is seen as a fun, positive place, and my students are the lucky ones to "get" to go.
Parents still see things very differently, though. I know that it is out of love and concern for their children...I have no doubt about that. Often, though, their fears seem more related to things they've seen on TV or misunderstandings about the special education classroom (my students, despite E.'s bad day, are not a roomful of drooling kids who have to ride the "little bus" or who are delinquent behavior problems! They're just kids who need extra help to learn within their unique learning abilities). And, hey, I get paid the same no matter how many kids are in my classroom...in fact, my job is much easier with fewer students...but I see what happens to the kids who don't get the extra help that they need, and it's heartbreaking.
One of my students, a first-grader, was able to pass kindergarten. Her teacher had some real concerns about her academically, but since she wasn't failing she didn't qualify for extra help. Well, by the time that she WAS failing, 6-8 weeks into first grade, then the process gets started. First, before a special education referral and evaluation, a student goes before the school START team (non-special education intervention). So, you try the START interventions, and if the student doesn't progress, then you go into the special education referral process. Once that starts, you have about 2 months to complete the process. By the time she got to me, she'd been floundering for 1 1/2 years...just not badly enough to get help!! Well, she's pretty well given up. She is academically lower than the majority of my KINDERGARTENERS (and she's in 1st grade!), and usually shows little to no effort. And who would after 1 1/2 years of learning that you really can't do any of this?
On the other hand, my students this year have made fantastic gains, especially compared with some of the students in their regular education classes. I have had the kind of year that really tells you that you make a difference in the lives of kids! There are just a LOT more who need help.
The first party I went to I spent WAY more than I expected to, and--my party or not--I think that tonight will be pretty much the same. I always do this...get into some new hobby and buy out the store! If only all these cute things MADE themselves, too. I'm trying to be better about this. I've actually made cards for every family birthday that's happened since I received my stuff. I'm usually terminally bad about getting around to sending cards, so that's a big improvement for me.
This party stuff is exhausting!! With all the cleaning we did (OK, I admit, my wonderful husband did nearly all of the cleaning AND went to the grocery store to get snacks...don't know what I've done to deserve him!), buying groceries, and stressing out about having people over, I'd probably have done better to just go to somebody else's party and buy like crazy! With the list I have, it would probably equal what was spent tonight by my guests. But it was probably good for me to do something social. We get so wrapped up in work, kids, and caring for the house that we rarely do much with other people except for family birthday parties.
On another note, I was dreading getting back to school, but it hasn't been too bad. My first graders (normally a handful) were WONDERFUL yesterday! It was a really good way to start back. This will be a busy 2 weeks with going to meetings on the kiddos who are coming my way from Early Childhood next year as well as reviewing the progress of the kids in my class now. Thank goodness I have an amazing pair of aides who work with me.
What did I accomplish in nearly 10 days off (counting weekends, of course)? I did our taxes, and we owe an exciting $36 to the great state of Illinois, but Missouri is sending us back $15! I read two books (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and The DaVinci Code, which I had actually bought to send to Jim in Iraq but figured I really should read it first!), sent Jim a package of goodies to make life a little nicer in the beach with no water, and did plant some perinnials to liven up a dark corner of the yard...oh, and add a couple of entries to my blog! So I guess I did manage to get a few things done, huh? List the positive things, and it all looks better.
We made sure to get lots of pictures of Jacob and Kelsea with their Easter baskets...obviously couldn't get dressed before checking them out! It's been so unseasonably hot here that Jacob has been sleeping in his diaper. Crazy weather for April! We really should have waited to have them check out the baskets until after breakfast, because once Jacob had a bite of candy, it was all over for the healthy food! We had a lovely fit over the removal of the basket until after breakfast. I did finally manage to get him to eat, though, but telling him not to eat! My little oppositional darling...I'm sure we're setting ourselves up for trouble by feeding into it, but sometimes the only way to get him to do what you want is to tell him not to. Of course, then it probably won't hold much water with him when I yell, "No! Don't go into the road!!", but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. Oh, and his favorite thing was the "David" book we got him (he loves the book No, David! by David Shannon...I was going to buy it for him, but the bookstore only had it in hardback, and I'm not spending $16.00 on a book that is in for some rough times with a 2-yr-old! So I got him one of the board books instead.)
The demon child was an absolute angel in chuch, though! He was SO good! We even had compliments about his behavior. He was just a doll...looking around for Father (he loves priests!), reading his books, playing peek-a-boo with the people behind us...it was a lot of fun. After Mass, it was off to my MIL's house for Easter. My extended family celebrated at an uncle's house 2 hours away, and my MIL pretty well expects that we WILL be there for every holiday with her. I love my in-laws, but that expectation (demand, really) rankles. Seems like my family usually comes in second. Jeff is really good about supporting going to my mom's, but he was really not wanting to miss out completely on his mom's house.
Thank goodness my mom isn't demanding of our time. She's always happy to have us there, but if we chose to celebrate only with my in-laws, I doubt she'd say a word. She told me once that she'd watched her sisters-in-law get pulled to pieces between two sides of the family, trying to keep everybody happy, and promised that she'd never do that to us. And my family is very different. Three of the four of my brothers and I have lived a significant distance from home at one time or another and had to miss holidays due to distance, jobs, etc. My MIL has never had her kids live any further than 20 minutes from her.
As frustrated as I get about the holiday shuffle, I know how lucky we are to have two sides of the family who are close, get together regularly, and want us there. I can remember being 4 hours away from my mom's house at Christmas, sitting in my then-MIL's house watching cable television and eating frozen pizza, in tears because I knew that my family was together at my mom's house celebrating together. Quite a few of my aunts and uncles still come to my mom's house for the holidays, so they are kind of like mini-family reunions.
Whew...the blog is almost as long as the day!! Probably the last long entry until summer break...the end of the school year is such a push...trying to make sure that you've taught the kids every last thing that you can possibly manage, assessment, field trips, classroom parties, end-of-the-year activities, etc. And, since I teach Special Education, annual reviews to go over each of my students' progress for the year in detail and implement a plan for the next year. It'll be crazy, but I can't imagine a job more rewarding unless I was paid to parent my kids!
I'm so grateful that they're OK, and I'm really sad for her. They have insurance, so hopefully it will cover the damages, but they just can't seem to catch a break.
We managed to color eggs yesterday...it was looking like it wouldn't get done before the boys left for their dad's house for the weekend. It took some persuading to get Daniel to participate (getting too old at 13 to color eggs, I guess!), but eventually everybody was there. Nathan, Kelsea, and Jeff took their time (I guess 11, 12, and 40 are just the right ages to color eggs!), and Jacob...well, he liked dropping the egg into the dye and watching it splash all over the table. That's not all! He liked eating the eggs, too. If they dried before he was cracking them, we counted ourselves lucky.
I bought up Target yesterday, too, getting stuff for Easter baskets. I was pretty horrified at the cash register when I saw what I'd spent. I bought quite a few things for my brother in Iraq and a candle each for my mom and my mother-in-law, but still...part of the problem (with the excessive spending) is wanting it to be special for Kelsea with her dad gone and then needing it to be "even" among all of the older kids.
We're having a small Easter egg hunt tomorrow with our kids and the older boys' half brother and half-sister. They have THE BEST stepmother ever! She is reason enough to have married my ex-husband originally. Who would have thought that I'd meet one of my closest friends when she married my ex-husband? Anyway, her daughter from her first marriage and then my boys' half-sibs will come join us. It works out pretty well, because her older daughter is around the same age as the older kids and the little ones are within a year of Jacob.
It's nice for the boys to be able to have their whole family around them during holidays...and something I never imagined would happen when we divorced. His wife really is a gift; she is very upfront and a good communicator, so she has really eased things between the two of us. Of course, now it's us against him!
We went to the zoo today, and what a perfect day to be outside! Absolutely gorgeous. What has stuck with me, though, is something that I read in the bathroom. On the inside of the stall door (at a perfect reading height LOL) was a small poster about dung beetles that said something like "dung beetles are so effective at their job that Australia has imported more to help deal with an overabundance of dung". Is the bathroom not the ideal place for this topic??
It got me thinking, though...is there a reason we couldn't use dung beetles in our sewage treatment plants? A natural solution to a natural problem? I'm sure there's probably a good reason not to, but doesn't it just sound like a match made in heaven?
Yes, deep thoughts shared here!
Jodi Picoult is one of my favorite authors; her books are always challenging and thought-provoking. One of my less favorite of her books is Mercy; one of the plotlines revolves around a cheating husband and since I've been there, done that in my first marriage, I'm not really interested in infidelity from the OTHER point of view. But I digress. The main plotline deals with a mercy killing by a husband who deeply loves his terminally ill wife. The husband, Jamie, in talking with his cousin's wife, says something that really stuck with me:
"Then you're the one."
Allie blinked at him. "The one what?"
"The one who loves more. You know it's never fifty-fifty in a marriage. It's always seventy-thirty, or sixty-forty. Someone falls in love first. Someone puts someone else up on a pedestal. Someone works very hard to keep things rolling smoothly; someone else sails along for the ride."
Isn't that something? And true, I think, at least in the relationships I've had. In my first marriage, I think I was the one who loved more. I didn't have that feeling before we married; rather, I had even thought that if one of us ever cheated it would be me. Not that I would ever do that, but he was so devoted to me that I KNEW he never would. After we married, though, he withdrew. He was there but emotionally absent. In retrospect, I think that maybe since his parents were never married, his ideas about love were pretty well formed by TV and movies. He knew a lot about the wooing but didn't really know what to do once the wedding was over. And I probably pushed him away as I kept moving towards him and he pulled away.
Hopefully I've learned from that experience. Not sure about him, as he's on his third marriage (ours was his first). He remains good at the wooing! This time, though, I think maybe he's found someone who can teach him more about the marriage part. I hope so...his third wife has become a good friend of mine and is a great partner in raising our kids.
In my current marriage, things are different. I would say that my husband loves me more. When we say our "I love you"s at night before going to sleep, he will often even say, "I love you more." The first time he did, it gave me a start: does he feel it, too? I hope not. I would hate for him to feel the way that I did with my ex-husband, like there's always something or someone more important than you, that you aren't the priority.
I love him completely and am absolutely committed to our marriage. I recognize that he is an absolutely wonderful man, husband, and father. I think that part of the difference is that he lives his love more, is a more selfless person than I am. It's funny, too, because I'm the one who fell in love first and chased him. And now that we're married, he's the one who lives it more.
Part of it, too, is that I have a greater need for "alone" time than he does. You know how people when they're dating want to be together constantly? He's still largely like that, but I need more space. We have very different jobs. He works with one partner and they are pretty much on their own doing their job most of the time. I, on the other hand, spend my entire day taking care of others, between getting the kids up in the morning after he leaves to teaching a roomful of kindergarteners and first graders all day. There is no time in my day for solitude, something I desperately need, until our kids finally go to bed. Unfortunately, that's also the only time we have to spend time alone together. How do you fix that?
Luckily, he is patient. I think back to my first marriage and can see how lucky I am compared to how my ex-husband was. When HE pulled away, I chased and got upset. I thought it was a reflection on my and our marriage rather than just his adjustment to married life. I'm sure that I pushed him further with my need. Now, I don't think that was the only issue, but my current life makes me see that part of our history differently. And it encourages me to be careful in how I fill my needs so that I'm not abandoning my husband's.
Marriage is a real adjustment. Anyone who's ever been married knows that in a way that, with all the words in the world, you can't convey to someone who's never been married. My husband and I have many similarities and many differences, and after nearly 4 years we're still learning how to reconcile all of them so that we can both be complete, happy people. I think that the biggest differences between this marriage and my first are maturity and commitment. Neither of us is going anywhere, both of us are conscious of treating the other with love and respect, and we're both grown-up enough to be able to wait and work at things.
I had the sad realization this weekend that my mother's curse has come to me full force. My oldest son is so much like me...in most of my negative ways! I don't know how I made it through adolescence, because I know (now, though I'd never have recognized or admitted it then) that I was one smug, selfish little b****. And I don't believe my mother ever slapped my face, which I found myself fantasizing about doing to my son. I guess this is part of enduring a teenager, huh? And I know that he's a good kid...he's very responsible and smart, and he has moments of wonderful-ness...but they were in short supply this weekend!!
Other than large amounts of bickering among the oldest 3 and large amounts of whining from Jacob, the weekend was wonderful. I'm sure we'll look back on it as a good one...much as women look back on childbirth as a beautiful experience!! Great pain to endure, but worth the results.
We stayed at Babler State Park, outside of St. Louis. We'd never been there before, and since it was April, didn't figure we'd need reservations. Wrong! Every electric site was taken...except one. Thank goodness, because Sunday we checked out the next state park down the road (Robertsville) and weren't impressed by the campground at all. The campsites at Babler were nice and level, paved, and ours was pretty private. The bathhouses were state park bathhouses, but they were clean and the water was hot (my own personal heaven, a hot shower!).
Since we arrived late Saturday morning, we had lots of time to set up and explore. We went up to the visitor's center first thing to get our passport stamp (that MO passport program is going to cost us a lot in gas money this summer!) and then hiked a 2-mile trail. We hadn't eaten lunch, so after the hike we headed back to the campsite and made dinner (hamburgers, corn on the cob, and leftover cheesy potatoes from the other night...what, no vegetable? as my mom would say). It was very strange for us to finish eating, clean-up, and smores before dark!! Little Man didn't care much for the smores, but he is a certifiable marshmallow fiend!
Sunday we had a pancake and bacon breakfast, courtesy of Nathan, who cooked. After clean-up (ours, of course...not the kids), we went to Purina Farms for their Easter festivities. It was neat to see the animals up close. We got to pet piglets, lambs, bunnies, dogs, and chickens as well as seeing horses, cows, sheep, goats, and ducks, but I wasn't floored by Purina Farms. What do you expect for a free attraction, though? Shouldn't complain...it was a nice afternoon.
We through Robertsville State Park after getting lunch. There wasn't a whole lot to see. We did find one 1-mile hiking trail. Little Man walked most of it, much to the chagrin of the older kids, who needed to use the bathroom and weren't interested in a backcountry experience! After that, we headed back to Babler. I was pretty proud of dinner. I made a chicken recipe I'd found on popupexplorer.com, and it turned out really well. Chicken, spaghetti sauce, onion, zucchini, red pepper, and noodles, all cooked in foil.