Saturday, July 13, 2013

Burlap Bust

So I bought some burlap recently to make some sacks for a baby shower. I made one sack then thought, maybe I should wash it. I remembered something from Pinterest about washing and cutting burlap the "right" way, so I went with it. This is what I ended up with:

You're supposed to add some bleach, wash, and then lay it out to dry. Well, I followed the directions and ended up with that mess. I don't know if it's worth saving--what do you guys think? Try to work it out and make something of it (I'm no longer going to use it for the baby shower) or just toss it?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Bucket List (in progress)

I was watching Tosh.0 a few minutes ago and they were all riding unicycles. I was all, that's awesome. And it got me thinking about my bucket list. This'll be ongoing.

1. Learn to ride a unicycle successfully
2. Walk on stilts
3. Do the splits all 3 ways

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Everybody but me--but that's okay

At the moment it seems like everybody in the world is:
1. Getting engaged
2. Getting married
3. Getting a job
4. Getting a house
5. Getting pregnant

....except me. Granted, I've already done the engaged and married thing, and I technically have a job (just not the one I have a degree for), I am a LONG way from numbers 4 and 5. At the moment me and Bob are just happy enough to be able to afford all our bills AND student loan payments without being in the red every month.

You might have read those first few sentences and taken it to mean that I'm unhappy, that I feel stagnant, that I want things to move forward, but rest assured--we are very happy without the responsibilities that come with home and child ownership. We don't have to cut the grass. We didn't have to replace the roof three weeks ago. We don't have to pay for daycare or formula or 56 boxes of Easy-Mac a week because the child is like me and won't eat anything else. All we have to worry about right now is ourselves.

And for me that's plenty. Job hunting is stressful, especially when you've been doing it for over three years. It's especially stressful when you have clinical depression, generalized anxiety disorder, and OCD. But guess what? A lot of other people have those things, too, especially here in the blogosphere. THAT'S WHY WE BLOG. We can tell anybody anything we want to while staying at home in our pajamas eating ice cream out of the carton with two-week-old mascara flakes scarring our corneas because we haven't removed our contacts in so long (haha, yeah right, like I wear mascara.)

In reality it's not that bad, at least not since I've started ingesting hideous doses of caffeine in order to stay awake. I feel a lot better--if a little hopped up--when I'm not sleeping 18 hours a day like I was two weeks ago. If I ccan get into the normal human routine of sleeping at night and staying awake during the day, instead of the reverse, I'll be a LOT happier.

But I will still have anxiety and depression and be prone to irrational thoughts. But there is a book I've been using that I love, and it's "The Relaxation & Stress Reduction Workbook." Sixth edition. By several people. It's available here. I've found it to be useful across the spectrum of anxiety disorders, and I've taken the liberty of typing up my own copies of some of their worksheets included in the book. I'll provide an explanation for them as needed. If you'd like a copy of them, I can email you the PDF or Word format. I don't know how to do all that fancy stuff on here yet.

*DISCLAIMER: I AM NOT A DOCTOR. These forms are not to be used as medical advice. They are reproductions from the book linked above and for private use only.*

This one, the stress-awareness diary, is pretty self-explanatory. You track your day and write down the time of an event, what happened, and the symptoms you experienced that made you view it as stressful (anger/fear, sorry, muscle tension, headache, stomachache, sweating, etc.) I altered it to make it two-a-page and more environmentally-friendly.

Number two is a record of tension. You're supposed to write down how you feel before your relaxation session, and how you feel after it, with your comments. There are a lot of methods to help you relax in the workbook and if this is a problem for you, I urge you to get the book and research the methods. But I included this form and a scale at the bottom for how you're feeling.

Finally, I reproduced the sheet on irrational thoughts. When you're depressed or anxious, it's easy to think that something small (like a broken crayon, missing ingredient in a recipe, or spilled milk) is the end of the world. When you're absolutely convinced something is an indisputable tragedy, use this sheet. It helps me spell out what I think, why I think that, and whether or not it's true (hint: it's not.)

Again, I'm not a doctor. But I do recommend the book. It's an interesting read and if you like making lists and you're introspective and you like learning about yourself, it's a great asset. Check it out of your library if you like. I love it.


Saturday, May 18, 2013

Odd number of Tylenol in the jar....

So I have a really bad headache on one side, and I just went to get a couple more acetaminophen and an ibuprofen (that's right, I use the generic drug names because I know way too much about OTC medications and what you can combine and what you can't--if you're not as educated in legal pharmaceuticals as I am, acetaminophen is Tylenol and ibuprofen is Advil/Motrin) and I noticed that THERE ARE ONLY THREE WHITE ONES LEFT IN THE JAR.

People, Tylenol is a drug meant to be taken in two's. ALWAYS TWO. Unless, I guess, you're taking it in combination with--never mind, that's too complicated and I don't want to explain it and it undercuts my fundamental belief that THERE SHOULD NOT BE AN ODD NUMBER OF TYLENOL IN THE JAR.

Also, I just realized that when I write "an odd number of Tylenol in the jar" it runs through my head to the tune of "She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain." Let's see, the second verse could go, "Take two Tylenol and some Advil if it's bad," and then the third verse could be like "Don't take Advil and aspirin together, you'll get sick." And then the last verse would be, "If you still feel bad, a prescription's where it's at."

There you have it, that's my OTC pain reliever philosophy summed up in song. Which is so NOT really the original topic of this post but it's MY BLOG and if I want to go off topic I CAN SO BACK OFF.

Anyway, the problem that started me thinking is that there were three white pills left in a jar that should ALWAYS have an even number of pills in it, because you are supposed to take them in two's. A pair. Dos. Deux. And given that the jar started with 500, there is no excuse (except for the one I refuse to acknowledge because it changes my theory) for having an odd number. This is probably going to bother me for awhile, just like it bothers me when Bob takes two Sudafed, and then two more, but instead of taking all 4 out of the same blister pack he takes them all out of the top row, so that now TWO SEPARATE BLISTER PACKS have been compromised.


This is why my anti-anxiety medication comes in a bottle with the instructions to take one a day. That way it doesn't matter how many are in the bottle even if I miss a dose because at one pill at a time, it doesn't matter if there are an even or odd number. There's only a problem if the number is zero. Much like with cookies. Or eyes. Cause unless you are completely blind then even if you only have one eye you can still see, at least a little. If you have two eyes, congratulations, you're normal. If you have more than two eyes, you're not normal but you can probably see better than I can. Most people can see better than I can, though, so that doesn't say much. If you have zero eyes, though, or if all of your eyes are blind, then that's pretty much universally considered a problem. Maybe I should call the manufacturers of acetaminophen (ALL of them) and ask them to change the directions from "Take two" to "Take one, and then take one more." That would solve a lot of MY problems, or at least make them less obvious.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

So, some Tuesday ramblings....

Several interesting things happened today. Not necessarily things that were interesting in themselves, but the context made it so, or the way I thought about it did, or something like that.

1. I was driving home and passed a guy and a girl walking along on the sidewalk. The girl was wearing really short shorts and my first thought was, "She needs more pants." Not longer, more. And the more I thought about it the funnier it got. I'm sorry if it doesn't make you laugh.

2. Later on the drive--I left really late for reasons I'll explain in a minute--I was going through the ghetto and saw at more than one house a group of people gathered on the porch, just hanging out and talking. Old people, little kids, whatever, just hanging out on the steps. I thought it was nice.

3. State testing is going on this week, so the kids are naturally crazy. This afternoon the third grade teachers took their classes outside to the track (we don't have a playground, and "track" is really a loose interpretation) to run around. I had brought two of my kindergarten special ed kids outside with a basketball and a football to play, not knowing the big kids were out there. All the big kids immediately greeted my kids and started playing with them--really playing with them, talking to them, not just taking the ball and running away, no games of keep-away..... Just kids being kids. School doesn't really let them do that anymore.

4. One of our autistic kids has started mocking the other autistic kid. The mocker is a repeater anyway (as in, you tell him, "Say thank you!" and he says, "Say thank you!" in the exact same tone of voice.) The mockee is much more verbal, and most of his talking is questions ("She musty? She got her shoes on? Where the rainbow at?") or demands ("I want choc'it cake!") So now the mocker has taken to repeating his most common phrases, and starts cracking himself up every time he does it. Thing is, we're not sure if he's making fun of the other kid, or if he thinks the kid is being funny on purpose and he's laughing along. So we don't know if we're allowed to think this is funny or not. (But it is.)

5. My poor baby who is sick and in the hospital--has been for almost two months now--and had fingers and toes amputated, plus dialysis and who knows what else, is doing so much better. He will probably be in the hospital awhile longer, but we are no longer worried for his life. His mom has said he is playing video games, even--he was having trouble using the hand that lost all of his fingers (including thumb), so he just up and started using his elbow, just like that. His language isn't very good so he often doesn't understand what you're talking about or what's going on, so I'm sure he doesn't realize that not having those fingers is going to completely change his life, and I'm so thankful for that. He'll figure out how to do what he needs to do and not give it another thought.

6. I spoke to another teacher today who told me she wished more parents knew that they could choose to OPT OUT OF STATE TESTING. SAY WHAT??? I didn't even know that, and I have never heard it mentioned before. I'm not sure what it takes to opt out or what kind of circumstances it requires or will cause, but look into this. I never had heard this was an option. One of our small-group special ed kids burst into tears today taking his test and he just said, "It's too HARD!" Another one got frustrated and said, "I don't know what it says cause I can't read." I will be the first to tell you that all these kids are wonderful and most of them sweet and they try hard. I don't want to box them in, but for the VAST majority of them, any job they take will not require an ACT or SAT score. It might require a high school diploma, but it might not. These kids are the salt of the earth, the ones who keep the rest of us in line when we get sidetracked by things like whether or not our smartphone has a specific app on it, or that we accidentally locked the keys in the car and have to wait an hour to get back in it. Other things are more important. They know that, so let's let THEM show us how they're going to lead their lives, instead of forcing them into testing that shows nothing they CAN do, and everything they CAN'T do. Cause it's what they CAN, WILL, and WANT TO DO that will help them succeed.

Further on this topic, Bob and I ate at a Cracker Barrel several months ago and the guy who was going to seat us was moving pretty slow, apparently. The girl at the hostess station muttered something about his always being slow, too. When he walked up, I watched him grab the menus carefully, then turn away without meeting our eyes or saying a word. We followed him, and he put our menus and silverware on the table and walked away, still without a word or even looking at us. I kept watching him while we ate, cause I knew that man had to have fetal alcohol syndrome. The facial features, the slow exaggerated movement, the methodical way he cleared tables--it was all there. And it gave me so much hope. Because the baby I see most at school is the one who also has FAS. Let me tell you, that kid can sort stuff. He could sort and roll up silverware, take people to tables, put together menus, bus tables, all that, and he would be good at it. If he can get to that place, he'll be the most successful person I know, not because of the money he makes or the value of the service he performs, but because of all the tiny little successes that will have to fall into place for him to get there.

Okay, that's all. I really had intended this to be funny. Oops. A thirty-minute conversation about amputations, life skills, and kids crying because someone is forcing them to do more than they're able puts one into a thoughtful mood. Maybe the next post will be more light-hearted, but until then, maybe I've helped you see something in a different way, and that is what makes ME successful.

Friday, April 5, 2013

I am not Superwoman....

....but I wish I was. Here's a quick list of the things I see and deal with every day at school, and keep in mind that all of these kids are 11 years old or younger:
-learning disabilites
-developmental delay
-fetal alcohol syndrome, or other prenatal drug exposure
-post-traumatic stress disorder
-unspecified psychological disorders
-DiGeorge Syndrome
-speech/language disorders
-oppositional defiant disorder

Additionally, several of my students have past histories of:
-premature birth
-physical abuse
-emotional abuse
-sexual abuse
-extreme neglect

Many of my kids have or do experience more than one of these, and one in particular, more than half of them. Some have a parent in jail. Some don't know who their daddies are. Some are foster kids. One first grader's mother died a couple of months ago. One has been in the hospital for a month due to complications from heart surgery. One stares blankly into your eyes with no acknowledgement at all that she hears you speaking. Two or three have hallucinations.

Have I mentioned that this is at school, and learning is supposed to happen at some point during the day there? Can you imagine telling a child, "Honey, I'm sorry Satan is following you. Let's go take your spelling test." I've learned a lot about a lot of different kids since August, and it makes me wonder how much has been going on under the radar that I've been missing--especially since many of our kids aren't capable of telling their middle names, let alone explaining their feelings or experiences. Some of them I want to hold and snuggle and listen to all day long, and others I desperately wish had a mute button, and sometimes I feel both at the same time for the same kid. Most of all, though, I wish I could take away all the terrible things that have happened to some of my babies.

Not all of them have such sad stories, and some whose stories start sadly have have bright spots, such as adoption from foster care. But their problems are not over. I love and appreciate all of my students, including or in spite of their quirks; however, it's hard not to wonder what could have been without the head trauma. Without the drug exposure. Without the neglect. Without the things that could have been prevented. I want to take away the hurts, make the flashbacks and nightmares and hallucinations and doubts and fears go away for good. These are my babies, and I want to hold on and never let go. I want to protect them from the world and from themselves.

When you ask me what I'm doing this weekend, don't be surprised to hear me say I'm going to nap. When you ask me what I'm reading in my spare time, don't be surprised to hear me list books on child psychology. Don't be surprised to hear that I don't know how many weeks, days, or hours until school is out--we go one day at a time. Don't be surprised to see a snot stain on my butt. Don't be surprised to hear me go from 0 to Teacher Voice and back before you can bat an eye. And when you ask when I'm going to have kids, don't be surprised to hear me say I already have 23.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Jerks are jerks, I guess....

I came across the following photo of a receipt found in a grocery store parking lot recently:

The photo was posted on Facebook and shared by a woman with whom I went to college. I commented (innocently enough, I THOUGHT) that that amount is equivalent to roughly 100 meals' worth of ground beef from Sam's for Bob and me, which is true. A female who I do NOT know seemed to find it horrendous that we were judging the owner of this receipt based on their purchases--after all, it's not OUR food stamp money--and made the following comment, I assume based on mine before: "Are we at the point where we are critizing what people buy with their food stamps? None of my business.but at least their kids aren't starving."

I take issue with this for a couple of reasons. First of all, I can't help but think Mountain Dew, lobster, and porterhouse steak were NOT meant for children. Additionally, there is no evidence at all that a) there are children or b) any possible children are being fed appropriately. This is not WIC, it's food stamps. They are not the same; food stamps allow you to buy whatever crappy, or exorbitantly expensive, food you want to buy, which is a separate issue entirely. I responded to the girl with similar thoughts, and if you're afraid this might be one-sided, first of all it's my blog, and secondly, my exact words were this:
"That stuff doesn't look like it's for kids. Food stamps are supposed to be for people who can't afford to buy basic nutrition, of which lobster, steak, and Mountain Dew are not a part. A modest splurge occasionally is one thing--this is nowhere near modest."

Now if you have a lot of money, or at least enough to keep you off of a welfare program, it is quite your business what you spend it on. You have worked hard and earned that money; you were paid to do a job. You have the right to use YOUR money any way you would like, and if you would rather live on Ramen every other day of your life so that you could have lobster once a week, that's your right. If you receive public assistance, though, it is my opinion that you should use that assistance responsibly. Having said that, it is still your right to take advantage of the money that has been taken from me so that you can buy food that I can't afford on my salary, even though you make less than I do. If I had food stamps and SOMEHOW found I had an excess, I would splurge by buying organic produce, grass-fed beef and free-range eggs (also currently can't afford), but again, that's a choice. This is less about food choices and more about the response I got on Facebook.

Anyway, after my rebuttal to her comment about "critizing," she responded in a clearly sarcastic tone, "Yeah. I'm sure we would have been happy if they bought lunchables and cereal. Ridiculous."

Again, I see NO evidence of children on that receipt. I never mentioned once that I assumed the person was choosing indulgence for him/herself over feeding children. Also, I'd just like to say that Lunchables and breakfast cereal WOULD be, in my OPINION, a more responsible way to spend your food stamps, especially if there were children involved (although there are still healthier choices that could be made.) In fact, I highly doubt the dude who found this receipt would have bothered to take a photo if Frosted Flakes and Lunchables had featured as prominently as lobster.

I'm really angry about this, and I'd love nothing more than to take this chick outside and tell her, calmly and respectfully but quite firmly, my exact views on this topic. However, it has been my experience that arguing with people you don't know rarely works out very well, and I have yet to see anyone concede that perhaps he or she was wrong. So instead of defending myself and my reputation to someone who seems ridiculously intolerant of me to be so tolerant of paying for someone else's porterhouse steak, I figured I'd blog about it and most likely find a more reasonable audience who can have frank and honest, but still respectful, discussions about important and controversial topics.