Sunday, December 30, 2012

Proud of you Boys

One plays music all day every day and one plays ball all day long.

Illinois Blizzard

I have not seen much weather since moving to Illinois from Buffalo in 1996, but last week, I had a little scare.   On Wednesday night (December 19) we were hearing tell of a 2-4" snow fall coming in Thursday afternoon. Thursday was the last student day at my school, and the last day of finals.  They rearranged the schedule so that all finals were taken first and second block of the day, and a 1:45 early dismissal was announced.  No problem, I thought, I lived in Buffalo 7 years and survived a few weather incidents.

I drove to work Thursday morning in a light rain, pretty tame. The day was really busy and I wasn't looking outside to see when it started but sometime in midmorning an announcement was made we would now be dismissing students at 12:45 and staff could leave 10 minutes after that.  Maybe about noon I looked out and it was snowing, still no big deal... At 12:45 Pat called me from Macomb to ask how things were in Galesburg because they were pretty bad in Macomb. Honestly, that shook me up when Pat said I should get out of town.  I split and got just ahead of the school busses.  Even then it must have taken 10 minutes to get up to the corner of Henderson St. (3 blocks).  On Henderson, the traffic was really slow and roads snow packed already, and slick. I finally got to the entrance ramp to highway 34 and I was moving at about 40 miles per hour, though there were white outs and it was scaring me somewhat. Also, my windows were full of slushy snow and it was overall very hard to see. I kept the radio on as it was better company than my own thoughts. I was about 2-3 miles down the road, and without warning there's a truck jackknifed about 1000 feet (?)ahead of me and blocking the road. I could see another truck and cars past that spun out and off the road. Luckily I was just at the last exit back into Galesburg (Main St.) so all traffic was exiting.

Time for a quick decision: re-enter the freeway, or pull into town and spend the night.  Into my decision went the following:
I might make it to the next town, where I had a feeling I would be stuck in a motel, however, the visibility was terrible, I am not fond of white outs, and my windows were not clear.
I have a friend in Galesburg who has offered me respite anytime I need it, but she would be coming from her job the way I was going.
I had less than a quarter tank of gas, not enough to keep me warm all night which I considered a distinct possibility.
I had work the next day.
I called Pat with all these things running through my head, and he agreed with my assessment to just stay put.
I pulled off the freeway and back around to the first motel I saw.  At that point, the driving was just getting worse.  I called my friend from the parking lot (in case I had to secure a room) and she was on the road and said it was horrible, but I could stay there whether she made it or not> After buying some pajamas at Target, I proceeded across town and pulled into McDonalds near her house. I had now been mucking around for about an hour.  The snow was piling up and people were taking shelter, there was slipping and sliding everywhere.  Very dangerous even in town.

Val got home around 2:00 and I brought her and her son some food, and we had a whole afternoon and evening ahead.  It seemed really weird. Normally, if I stay there it's 5:00 or so when I get there.  She asked if I like to sew and I said "not really" but she showed me a pajama pants project she was working on for Christmas presents. I sewed on the cute puppy dog buttons while she ran the machine. We watched a really sappy made for TV movie, which I kept making sarcastic remarks about, but I think she really thought it was good, and it did keep my interest. After dinner and newspaper reading, I went to bed.

Got to work a little late, in my same clothes. I was told at noon that the road home was still closed, but I didn't believe it and left shortly after lunch.  I counted 7 cars still off the road on highway 34 and 35 cars off the road on 67.  Apparently, on that second stretch there was a pile up that caused people to indeed spend the night in their cars or makeshift shelters, who were not lucky enough to get rescued by the state police.

So, I have to say my judgment was good, and thank goodness for my generous friend who put me up for the night. It was quite an adventure!

And Dad, you do have exclusive permission to edit and print this in the Family News, as you see fit.

The F Word

Here is my rant for the evening, and I'm only picking on rappers because I'm listening to a song a friend was listening to on Spotify. I've found a lot of good music this way, I would not have otherwise run into. Can't Dr. Dre, every movie I've seen in the last 10 years and the kids on the basketball court and the hallways at school be a little more creative?  My dad has confirmed that the F word has been around since at least the Korean War.  So, it's not really that impressive to say it all the time. Apparently, it is just another word used liberally in the youth vernacular. For myself, besides embarrassing my children and getting fired, my main reason for refraining most of the time from saying it myself is not that I'm particularly offended by it, but that overuse reduces the impact of saying it.

Since we are often told not to complain without offering a solution (or three for my new boss), I would recommend people who like to swear make up a new word.  Here's what I'm thinking of saying to students whom I overhear using it, as we are supposed to somehow stop it, "hey this is an educational facility, and we've all been educated on this word a long time ago, can you think of something else to say?"  My third solution is well, I don't have one.  Maybe I could write to Matt Damon and ask him to help start a campaign in Hollywood to eliminate the F word.

Don't get me started on the N word and the G word either...but i am open to suggestions for response to "that's so gay."  Usually i say something like, "You think it's happy?"  I'm glad you think it's happy.

New Year's Eve

I'll just make this quick, since I mentioned Miss M.  I invited her over for New Year's Eve (she's been asking to visit in the evenings when I am usually too exhausted to be much company).  After poking around on the Internet for ideas I came up with this plan. The only drawback is, she will keep asking to do this again and again and frankly, it's a little more effort than I am usually willing to exert.  I know this because when I did the first treasure hunt around the house and yard she kept asking to do it again. I did not oblige until our last visit before Christmas when I incorporated her gifts into the hunt.

So, here's the plan:  We will have envelopes labeled with every half hour from 7:00 - ??  Kind of like a countdown thing with fun stuff to do in each envelope.  This is what I have so far:

7:00 Scavenger hunt
7:30 Uno game with automatic card shuffler borrowed from my mom (she loves that thing)
8:00 Bake cookie stuffed cupcakes
8:30 Manicure and hand massage
9:00 Time  Capsule

9:30 Help Susan put away Christmas decorations (this will be about the time she'll ask to go home, hopefully)

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Miss M and me on 12/16 the day we made ornaments and cookies.  She gave me my gifts, gourmet coffees, homemade cookies and a gift card!  Too much!  Oh yeah, we discovered we have matching shirts (in different colors) so we wore them on this day.
I am looking for "fun activities for New Year's Eve" to do with her. So far, I have Scavenger Hunt, maybe a time capsule, and making a food item.
I haven't posted a picture on this blog in forever, because I basically forgot how to do it.  I think I found a new way but it will probably only post at the beginning instead of inserting it wherever I want.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

This is really just for me, so I can't recommend anyone reading further.  I have been reading a lot of YA (young adult) fiction lately, and even a fourth grade level book.  I've been researching selective mutism, a disorder one of my student has. It causes a lot of people frustration, because they know she can talk in some situations and not others. This makes them believe it is a conscious choice or even a game. I have even been guilty of some of these feelings. 

The first book I read was called "Cut" by Patricia McCormick.  A teenage girl is situated in a therapeutic inpatient treatment center because she had been cutting herself, and has gone mute. In this case, she is not talking to anyone and it gets a little awkward in group and individual therapy, but she is really having a difficult internal struggle.  Come to find out she has blamed herself for her brother getting sick and almost dying, when in fact her parents were rather negligent, one having gone to a bar. She slowly realizes this and begins talking and making progress, before abruptly running away from the facility. She calls her dad and they have a come-to-Jesus, and she goes back, determined to work harder on her recovery.  What I liked most about the book was the author's voice and candid humor about the treatment center and the characters there.  I also was interested in how therapy was handled.  Lucky for me, my student is able to talk to me.

I'm about half way through "Speak", the story of girl who enters high school after busting up an underage drinking party over the summer. She is now outcast from any social group, but it is a little more vague about her inability to speak. No one is confronting her about it, or making problems in school over it, it is more hinted at.  She does speak at home, and with a new girl she meets. Again, the descriptions and characters are humorous and spot on sketches on the life of a teenager. 

I often think of a boy Cal knew in daycare whose parents invited him over expressly because he was the only kid Mikey talked to. He wasn't speaking in daycare and not sure how much he spoke at home.  I wonder what became of him.

So, I'm concerned with my midde age paunch and recent weight gain, 10 pounds over my former limit.  On the plus side I do the following activity weekly:
Aqua Fit class, 45 minutes, 3x
Walk, 45-50 minutes, 2-3x
Lift weights, 30 minutes, 1-2x
Elliptical, 40 minutes, 1-2x
Yoga, 10-15 minutes, 3x

I eat a healthy breakfast everyday: Greek yogurt and a banana on weekdays, oatmeal with cranberries, splenda, and skim milk on weekends.  I bring my lunch most days (leftovers or sandwich) and cook at home nearly every night.

Problem areas:
Binging on sweets mainly in the evening
Snacking nearly all the time, anything from kettle corn to apples, oranges, granola bars.