Tag Archives: Work Horse

Day 22

What was your worst job?

At first, I was all, “I don’t think I have had a job that I didn’t really like! I am so lucky.” I mentally went through the list: Old folks home, Drug Town, Kindercare, Nanny, Video Village… but then, I remembered a gem. When I first started college at Cornell, my dad insisted that I do a work study program. I didn’t really know what that meant, except that the college would give me some job that promised to work around my scheduling, classes, etc. So not that bad, right? The library, the front desk somewhere, making phone calls, filing papers, whatever.
Well, I was not nearly lucky enough to get assigned one of those jobs. Instead I was assigned working in Marriott. Not just setting out food, oh no. I was supposed to work back in the bowels of Marriott.
I am pretty sure I cried immediately. I know I called my dad right up, and begged and pleaded to have him say it was okay for me to back out. I promised to not ask for any money, to find a different job somewhere else, not eat, ANYTHING!!
He, of course, being the man of character that he is, said I had to go once. I had to try it, and then if I needed to quit I would have to tell them and quit the appropriate way.
Ugh. I went once. Oh my disgusting. It was bad. It was hot and steamy from the dishwashers, you had to touch people’s half eaten food, and the smell was unlike anything I had ever imagined. In fact, it kind of gives me the throw up feeling just thinking about it now.
You bet I quit after that day. I promptly called the people and told them the job wouldn’t work with my class schedule, didn’t mention a word about wanting to vomit.
… And told my dad they had no problem with me being a wuss and not being able to handle the smell.

Day 17

What can you celebrate today?

There’s lots to celebrate right now…

Derek and I both have jobs we enjoy, we have insurance, a house to live in, are able to spend time traveling together, we both have good health…

But, specifically speaking, on huge celebration that came in the mail earlier this week was a letter from Iowa Student Loan. There is a federal grant available for people who have student loans before a certain time, within a certain amount of money, have taught as a highly qualified teacher in the areas of math, science or special education and have taught in a low income area for 5 years. I applied for re-imbursement, as this was the end of my fifth year teaching (along with all those other stipulations) and I just got my letter back saying that I was approved!

Woohoo! The government paid $17,500 of my student loans! Which means, they essentially paid for my entire master’s degree! AMAZING!!

Totally something worth celebrating!

… and completely worth sending thank you notes to the folks over at Iowa Student Loan!

Day 9

Japanese lore suggests that if you fold 1,000 paper cranes, your wish will come true. What would your wish be, and what would you be willing to do 1,000 times to get it?
I am pretty sure this is a new way of describing my job.
How many times do we say, “H, “hhh,” hat?” How many times have we sang (and acted out) If You’re Angry and You Know It? How many times have we worked on automatically recognizing the words “the” and “of?” How many times do we practice walking “quiet like mice” to the cafeteria?
Probably not 1,000 times… yet. But, do remember that I have the same students from kindergarten through 2nd grade. So I am sure we get to 1,000 at some point.
Would I change that? Never. How boring would our world be if we could teach kids something one time and never again?
And it’s the feeling, around that 1,000th time, when something finally catches, and my kids don’t pause when they see the words the and of, they remember not to hit or throw things, they walk by themselves to the cafeteria or have no problem remember what H (or any other letter of the alphabet) says. And my wish of getting them just a little closer to healthy, productive members of society is granted.

Day 8

I feel like some of these prompts are things I have already covered on the blog before… but, here’s a little reminder with today’s prompt: You’ve just been given a million dollars. You are not allowed to keep it or give it to anyone you know personally. What do you do with it and why?
Last May I wrote a post with seven (times seven) things about me and one of the lists included what I would do with large amounts of money..

seven things i would do with crazy amounts of lottery won money:
1. pay off student debt (well… all debt!)
2. buy derek a fancy car
3. get my parents all situated with a nice home, no debt and a true retirement lifestyle
4. visit the seven wonders of the world
5. build a school (and fund the educational processes) in a third world country
6. donate money to autism research
7. visit all the baseball stadiums in the united states
….
But, since this prompt limits what I can spend my money on and only gives me one million dollars I need to cut that list down a little.
I would take the million dollars and split it between autism research and helping to build a school in a third world country. Why?
Autism is something that has been near to my heart for the past six (or so) years.. It started when I worked with Allison, a little gal with autism, during my first year of teaching. Autism is a fascinating disability, and there is still so much research to be done, since it really is a fairly new diagnosis. I can’t really say that I would want my money to support research for finding a cure, as much as I would like it to support enhancing the lives of kiddos who are already diagnosed with autism. The possibilities are endless, especially now that technology is so huge and accessible. I would love to see what could be done to improve their lives.
And as for the funding of a school in a third world country. I was pretty moved by the book Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson, and his Pennies for Peace movement. I believe that every child/person deserves an education, no matter what the socio-economic status is of their country, family, etc. Education empowers people, and helps create a better world for all of us. I truly believe that education really is one of the best investments to make.

Whoa! With that load of heavy… here are 2 websites to check out. You know, just in case you have a million dollars to donate somewhere.

http://www.threecupsoftea.com/
http://www.autismspeaks.org/

Day 1

Prelude to this entry:
I read lots of blogs. Other people’s blogs. Most people I have not ever met.
And I call it “checking my email.”
While checking my email today, I came across an idea that has a blogger post one entry each day. It is part of the National Blog Posting Month http://www.nablopomo.com/ and even gives a writing prompt. I thought it looked like a fun idea, and even somewhat like making a list (you know I can’t turn down making a list). So here goes:

When you were little what did you want to be when you grew up?
Oddly enough when I finished my kindergarten year, I knew I wanted to be a kindergarten teacher. I don’t know if it was the fact that I was madly in love with my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Parmen. (I mean she took us to her house to have homemade cookies and milk!) Or if it was simply because that was the only idea of a job I could truly understand. Of course both my parents worked outside the home, but I could see every day what a teacher was. And I really wanted to be one.
It wasn’t until high school that I started thinking about combining special education with being a kindergarten teacher, and got more interested in teaching early childhood special education. But even then, the idea never swayed from teaching.
Some days I think it’s pretty incredible that I have never thought about doing anything else for a career. I still keep in touch with Mrs. Parmen, and she always reassures me that she knew since I was in kindergarten that this is what I was going to do as well. I have a photo of her and I on my desk, and I like to think she sees what is happening in my classroom. And when days are rough I try and think about her patience and kindness, and get myself back to that mindset.
But, it would be unfair to think that everyday I am so blessed and grateful to be doing my job… because we all know, that some days I really wish I was an office manager; filling out forms with a brand new ball point, blue ink pen.

Even Mrs. Parmen knows that. She is totally not down with me being spit on and called a “punk ass bitch.” On those days, I am almost positive there is an office waiting for me, with her homemade cookies and milk.

holy update.

whoa… its been awhile.
my new year has long since started and things seem to be on a little better note than when the “year” ended.

in with the new.
i have a new job. and while it is true that i miss my kids that i worked with for the last 2 years, i have grown to love my new ones. i terribly miss the kids i used to work with. in fact, i went back to visit them during my fall break and my heart felt so good. (not to mention i felt like a celebrity!) they all looked so big and old… it was incredible. i loved seeing their faces.
don’t get me wrong, the new kids that i am working with are pretty incredible themselves… in fact, i love my new job. not only the kids, but my co-workers, and the entire population of families that i get to be involved with is something that i see myself doing for quite a good amount of time. i have the opportunity to work with some amazing programs, and i am so fortunate to be able to work where i do. it really is a good fit for me, and i am so excited to go to work every day.
speaking of fall break, my new school is an extended year school, so i teach from july to the end of may. i love this schedule! we started around july 18th, had a 3 week fall break at the end of september, have normal breaks around holiday time, have a longer spring break, and an extra break at the end of april. if someone told me that they would give me more summer back in return for fall break there would be no way that i would be up for the trade. not only is fall the best time of year to have a 3 week break, the break also happened to fall on the most important day of october….

my birthday.
this year my birthday was a little more relaxed than normal, but not any less celebrated. because i was on fall break, i was able to spend a little time in marion with my family. my mom was able to take some time off work so we could do some serious birthday shopping… love. a couple days before my actual birthday derek took me to my favorite restaurant in des moines, sage. we had a great meal, as always. on the actual sweet day of my birth, i was treated to a massage before we had a little birthday party at taki. i had a great time and am so thankful for the friends and family who were able to make it out. the rest of the month continued with various birthday celebrations, which of course i enjoy… no sense in cramming it all in on one day when we have the whole damn month to celebrate….

our anniversary.
this was another fun little celebration that derek and i enjoyed in october. we ended up between two different restaurants. (dessert is a serious thing in my life and if one place can’t offer what i want, don’t worry we will just go somewhere else.) we ended up having a really great evening (“fucking sweet” as described by my romantic husband). derek and i debated for a bit about what we could each other for gifts. we are not really “anniversary gift” people, but since this years gift to give (celebrating the 2nd year of marriage) is cotton i was trying to think of something funny to buy him. instead i got a little distracted with some other news and we decided to just get a couple of new knees….

for our dog.
well we knew that ninja had been having some hip issues for awhile, but we thought that the issues had been pretty well managed with a little diet and one ascriptin a day. but a few weeks ago when i was outside with him i realized that something else seemed wrong and he was having a terrible time getting around and putting any weight on his left leg. of course i was a wreck thinking about what had happened. fast forward through a long story and about 2 weeks later, we found out that he tore both of his knees (the ACL). we took him to ISU to get a consultation done with the vet hospital there and they clearly recommended surgery. luckily, my dad loves our dog as much (well maybe not AS much, but loves ME enough) to help pay for these new knees for ninja. the vet made it seem like a pretty simple surgery that would take a significant amount of healing time, but it definitely seemed like something that we could manage…. that i am still deciding on. we were able to pick him up and bring him back home this last sunday. but he ended up having 2 staples ripped (it is questionable that they weren’t ripped before we actually even left the hospital… fucking cyclones.) so we ended up having to take him back to the hospital that nite and that is where he still is staying. i am so sad to not have him at our house. it is terrible to not have him greet me at the door, sleep on my feet at nite, or wake me up with millions of kisses. hopefully he will be able to return home soon. if it gets much worse, i am not sure how easily i am going to be able to deal with this same surgery on the other knee in december. maybe he will get to leave the hospital the same day as our new family addition…

my nephew.
derek’s sister and her husband had their first baby on november 2. daniel christopher was born a toddler (close to 10 pounds!) but is doing well, as are bre’anna and chris. they are very excited to finally have him… i know this role as great parents is one they each were born to excel at. on the other hand, derek and i are trying to decide on a time to visit them… when the baby is not quite so fresh… you know sometime around his 14th birthday….

which i promise not to be the next time that i update this damn website.

possibly out of character.

I am feeling a little sentimental now.
This usually does happen to me around this time of year… my life never seems to run years from January to January, but instead the beginning of each New Year happens in late August and the end happens sometime around the beginning of June.
(Never mind the month of July that one is just for fun… one whole month of recovery and preparation.)
This happening is naturally because of the fact that I have lived the “School Year Life” since I was 5 years old. I remember being in 5th grade and signing yearbooks on the last day of school. We took photos of our crushes, and our favorite teachers. That is the first time I remember this sentimental feeling beginning in the dreaded season of summer. This feeling became a little intensified each year… with the end of 7th grade being especially emotional. It is comical to think back on now. But, damn. At the time, that day was so terrible. I don”™t really know what the point of being so emotional was, I knew that things would change briefly but not indefinitely.
Fast forward to the end of my freshman year at Cornell… after my room had been packed, good byes had been said, and my parents were already on the road home with the majority of my stuff. I sat in the parking lot sobbing. Did I know that I would see most of these people again? Of course I did. But the change was so overwhelming for me.
A few years later Derek left college. A year later, graduation, and we all left Cornell.
Always happening at the end of my year…
But as it turns out, those celebrations of “out with the old year and in with the new” have not ended terribly. I have not completely lost anything. The important has stood the time and for the less important, there are good stories.
Again, fast forward to the end of my year now… a few things seem a little more permanent. I am leaving my first teaching job. My grandpa is leaving us.
The first of which, leaving my first teaching job, might seem less important… but actually has turned out to have a pretty significant emotional impact. Turns out, I am in love with my students, and I would love to find a way to keep them with me in each school setting that I was in from here on out.
The second of which, my grandpa dying, is not second by importance. It is second by my ability to process the event at this point in time.
Again, happening at the end of my year…
It is interesting to think that both of these things are happening around the same time. My grandpa would understand my sentimental approach to leaving my kids. A long time ago my dad told me that my grandpa knew I would be a good teacher because I reminded him of his mom who was also a school teacher. I hadn’t ever thought about what my grandpa’s thoughts of me being a teacher were, but I do remember thinking that was such a good thing for me to know.
I suppose there is some odd comfort for me in the timing of things at the end of this year.
Or maybe that is just easier to say…

job security.

today i was planning for an IEP meeting to have after school.
actually it turned more into daydreaming about the IEP meeting.
never have i been more excited to have an IEP meeting. J has met his goals, and will have new goals set at grade level. he also will be exiting out of his behavior goal! J’s behavior has changed 100% since i first met him last august. i could not be more proud of his progress. he started out as one of my favorite students because of his naughtiness, and continues to be one of my favorites because of his desire to be a better person.
i knew his mom was going to be overwhelmed. she has always believed in J, and although she isnt around a lot, she is one of his biggest supporters. i couldnt wait to tell her this wonderful news about her son’s progress.
today i want to do nothing with my life besides teach children.
this is why i love my job…

before i could get too far into my daydream, my rosey thoughts were interrupted by a loud, “help! G is stuck! he will never get out! we need your help, mrs. brooks!”
sure enough, G had his head stuck between two wooden rods in the pavillion outside.

“mrs. bwooks! look! my head is stuck! haha! i cant get out! my head’s stuck! haha! isn’t that just nuts? haha! just cwazy!”

and i go right back to that place..
this is why i love my job!

Thankful.

One of the assignments I gave my students this week was to brainstorm some things they were thankful for, and why. (Naturally this is what an elementary teacher assigns that short week of Thanksgiving!) As they came up with some pretty creative ideas, including “Aunt Julie’s apple pie and the sweater that grandma made,” I was working on my own little list of things I am thankful for and I was reminded not forget the little things.
I am thankful for my health. Working with kids for so long has created this super immunity system in my body and allows me to never have to take a sick day.
I am thankful for Derek. The friendship I have known with him is unlike anything I have every experienced. I am grateful that I have his love, support, laughter, and awesome underwear-flicking abilities.
I am thankful for my family. I am so very lucky to have such a good relationship with both of my parents and my little brother. Although there are times when I wonder if I am not truly obsessed with them, beings how I talk to one of them at least once a day, I have come to realize it is a mutual obsession — and we are all okay with it.
I am thankful for my baby, Ninja. With his warm, 93 pound, body sleeping on my legs at nite, my feet are never cold. Also, the loyalty my dog shows me makes me feel like royalty. How can you not be thankful for a companion that loves you more than his own b-hole?
I am thankful for my wonderful friends. Because of them, I have many great memories (that often turn into ridiculous stories.) With these friends I am reminded that while time does continue to move forward — good friendships always last the distance and change.
I am thankful for food. Lord (and the poor waitress at Chilis) knows that I would be a sobbing wreck without it.
I am thankful for Derek’s family. Although I know they don’t always agree with me, (something about using the “F word” too much!) I am grateful that they have always accepted me and appreciated the love I have for their son/brother.
I am thankful for my education. (And so is Iowa Student Loan Liquidity Corporation — I am providing their Christmas bonus checks this year!) As the psychology of a teacher continues to unfold, I realize more and more how much I love to learn, and I am very grateful that I have the time and ambition to continue.
I am thankful for my students. They continue to enlighten my life every day. I learn so much from each of them, I can’t imagine not doing my job. I mean honestly, who knew that you clean a desk with just a little pee on your shirt?

‘Tis the season for reflection.
Happy Thanksgiving.

“Judgy-wudgy was a bear…”

Alright. I’m riled up.
What’s new?
I know… I know…
But bear with me on this one. (or these few…)

So, in class last week our assignment was to respond to this question:
“If you HAD to have a child with a disability, what disability would you choose and why?”
WHOA!
That’s a pretty loaded question…
First of all, isn’t that taboo, politically incorrect, or at the very least just jinxing yourself?
Nope. That’s the question. Come back with your thoughtful answer.

(Now, before you start asking other questions such as, “Is it my first child?” “Am I married?” “Do I have a good job/any money?” Just get those questions out of your mind. You don’t get to ask them… just answer the original question.)

Initially what I thought about while making this decision were two things:
What disability could I have the most effect on?
What disability do I think I could offer the most as a parent for?

Naturally, I thought of a behavior disorder first. What I believe most about behavior disorders is that they can often be somewhat controlled given the most accommodating environment. Not to sound overconfident here, but I do know that I have a high interest in behavior disorders, and I also know that I have made many connections with children suffering from behavior disorders… connections that I feel are pretty beneficial. I think that as a parent I would be able to use some of those success strategies in my own home and possibly enhance the life of a child with a behavior disorder.

And then my mind got the best of me and I kept going… I went on to think about the students that I have worked with in my years of working with disabled children… and I thought about the situations that many of them are in, and in the most drastic of those situations how would I be of any benefit to that child? Basically thinking, (of specific students) and wondering if they were mine, what I would do differently.
(You can go ahead and save the judgment lecture… you know the one, about how I am not a parent… blah, blah. You know the line… “Some people do crafts…”)

Back to thinking like a parent, long story short, I thought about how having a behavior disorder is often times in correlation with having another disability, which also got me thinking about having a child with autism. As I mentioned in a previous blog, I work with a student with pretty severe autism, and she most definitely has a long, hard road ahead of her. But, ultimately do I think I could offer something to a child with autism? Yeah. I know I could. Do I know that it would ultimately benefit my life having a child with autism? Yeah, I am pretty sure of that.

Now, fast forward to class tonite… We have to “share” what disability we chose.
“Dyslexia.”
“ADHD.”
“Dyslexia.”

Hold on! What the fuck are you talking about? ADHD? Dyslexia? Seriously? Well, people go on to say, “I was just thinking about what would be least invasive for my child.” Or, “I was just thinking about what I could actually deal with as a parent.”

Alright, I’ll give you thinking about what is least invasive for you child. Call me selfish, I was thinking about what disability I could have an effect on to help my child. But, what you can deal with as a parent? Really? First of all, is ADHD a disability? Hmmm… And what kind of disability can you deal with? Are you here in this class to become a special education teacher? Because that might cause some serious conflicts of what you can “deal with” as well.

And this is what I hear in return, “Well, you aren’t a parent… so obviously you would have a different outlook than us.”
Hmmm… I’ll just leave this one blank and let you guess how I responded to that.

And just when I thought I was going to blow, this is what I hear from the guy who showed up 47 minutes late to class:
I would choose to have a child with Down Syndrome, because you know… they all are just so happy all the time!”
Yeah, and that’s the rant of the next blog… being a graduate student having to sit in class with undergraduate fuckwits who are just looking for an “easy major.”
(Go back to your crafts… I am most certainly judging now!)