Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happiness is...

... getting the new Super Mario Wii for $5.62 because the cashier screwed up the 'turn in two games and get it for 9.99' offer, and decided that he didn't care and gave it to me anyway!

... having five whole days off with the kids with no rushing around, no lessons, no rehearsals, NOTHING!

... having a family move to the neighborhood with their three kids, two girls who are already friends with Josie and a boy who is already friends with Patrick! The girls are the first of Josie's age in the neighborhood, which is chock-full o' boys but no girls - until now! The three girls ran around together all afternoon, and it was a joy to see!!!

... having twelve children sponsored out of twenty (so far) for the Elf Project!! Most parents only got the sponsor letters sent home yesterday! There are many generous people out there, including you all, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for offering to help. Hopefully, I won't have to take you up on it, but I love knowing that you all are out there!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Wishin' and Hopin'

(I love that song!)

The letters looking for sponsors went home with all the kids at the school today. I'm up to seventeen kids, plus one teacher has identified another family that she wants to sign up to receive help.

I am so nervous. What if the whole thing falls flat on its face? What if no one calls, or only a couple of people do? I will be so humiliated if that happens, not only because I offered help to people and then couldn't get any, but also because that would make me part of a community of people I wouldn't be very proud of.

I'm also so excited! What if it goes so well that every child on the list gets a sponsor, and I have a few sponsors to spare? I will be so thrilled and overjoyed that I could do this, and so proud to be part of our school community.

Come on, phone. Start ringing.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

I Partied, I Drank, I Came Home (*not necessarily in that order)

Let me start out by telling you that I downed a Mike's Crantini (hard cranberry lemonade martini yumminess) before we went. I do think it helped.

I got through the party. There *were* a lot of people there, and I *was* uncomfortable, but then, I think a lot of people were, because there were people from several sides of the family there, plus some friends of theirs who looked totally lost and who were introduced to no one. We stayed until around 5:30 (it began at 3:00), which was just after the cupcakes were had.

Kathy was nice to me, Shawn didn't speak to me, and I made no effort to speak to him, either. It ended up not being a big deal, since he spent most of the time outside working on their new addition. Because, that's what you're supposed to do when you invite a large number of people over for your kids' birthday - ignore them in favor of construction work. Right?

Here's something - they didn't open the gifts people had brought. Maybe they did it after we left, in all fairness, since there were still a lot of people there when we got in the car, although several were also making sounds about needing to get home. But... whatever. We got them two adorable sets of footie jammies and two flip-books apiece, so it wasn't like we'd brought the Taj Mahal or anything, anyway.

One thing we did notice was that it was a LOT cleaner in there. As in, I could actually smell a cleaning product in the bathroom for the first time EVER. So, again, progress.

I will see them all in a few days again, and this time will probably not be able to avoid Shawn, since he won't be at his house, so he can't go and do random construction jobs. However, there is usually wine at Thanksgiving, so I can get half-sauced and maybe it won't matter. In fact, I'll bring my own bottle of wine, just to be sure. :)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Phew... THAT's Over!

I had my interview with the grad admission staff this week. It went AWESOME! I was so nervous, especially because one of my interviewers was the advisor who has been screwing me around all this time, but she didn't say anything about it (although she knew who I was), and neither did I. They seemed to have only a tiny knowledge of my portfolio, because they were only briefly looking through it when I went in, which was frustrating, but it turned out that it *was* helpful that I had put it together, because all the questions they asked me correlated directly to what was in there.

The best part was, as it turned out, everything I have ever done in my life has led me to this. Every job I have had has either involved my learning something new, my teaching other people something new, or my working with people in education. The fact that I do a lot of volunteer work helped a lot, too. Anyway, they were laughing by the end as they tried to write everything down, and told me that they were exactly what the program was looking for, and I shouldn't have any problem getting accepted (it's a competitive program, with only so many slots). I'm not going to count my chickens quite yet, but it certainly was encouraging!

Yesterday, I picked up the forms that the 'needy' families filled out for the Elf Project at the school. There were six forms, with ten children, and I knew of another family that was for some reason not included in the office's list, so I called them up (I know the mom well) and asked if she'd like a form. Of course, she said yes - they have four kids and are basically living on food stamps and local Food Pantry items. So, we will have seven families and fourteen children, if no other forms trickle in next week. I hadn't thought about it, but of course the families included younger and older siblings on the forms, kids who aren't in the school. I don't know how supporting families will feel about that, but I'm going to change the letter that will be going out on Monday to mention casually that they have the chance to support their children's 'classmates and siblings' rather than just the classmates, and leave it at that. With fourteen kids total, it shouldn't be too hard to find enough people to help out, but I will make sure that the school kids are taken care of first, and any siblings afterwards.

Tomorrow is the first birthday party for my twin nieces. I've pretty much decided that I'm going to go. DH and the kids were always going, but I wasn't sure if I could stomach my SIL and her husband for yet more family time this week, since I'll be seeing them all at Thanksgiving, too. My original, official excuse was going to be that I had a trig exam tomorrow, but that's been moved to after the holiday. The rest of the family won't know that, so I could still use that excuse, but I would feel like a really bad person. As disconnected from those kids as I feel, I should be spending all the time with them I can to try and establish some kind of relationship before they're old enough to sense that on of their aunts really isn't that interested. That's not a person I want to be. So, hate it or no, their Auntie will probably be there tomorrow, even if it *IS* with irish-cream-spiked-coffee in a travel mug.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

You Got It!

I *was* thinking of Nemo in my last post, but CK pointed out to me that it's also in Jaws, and now I'm not sure which is more appropriate!

I just got my last recommendation via email; I finished the rest of the porfolio this afternoon, so once I do a page for this one, I'll be completely done! I'm probably going to do it tonight so I can drop it off in the morning. Thank heavens, because this has been a HUGE load on my mind. Now all I have to do is get through the interview on Wed, and it will all be out of my hands. I think it's funny how interesting and wonderful a person can look on paper. I'm nothing really out of the ordinary, but on paper I look pretty good! :)

The last rec that came today, though, makes me a little squeeged inside. It was from a friend of mine, who is also the mother of Josie's best friend. I work with her at the school, to, and have subbed*for* her with one of my favorite kids, an autistic boy named A. Anyway, it's taken her forever to get me this letter, in which I was hoping that she would mention how I've worked for her, and been with A, since I talk about how I have really liked working with the special ed kids - it was why I asked her to write one for me in the first place. She didn't mention any of that, but that's OK.

What makes me feel all twisted up inside is that I ended up posting quiet hints to her twice on FB to get her to give it to me, like 'hooray, I'm all done except for one page, time to get back to worrying about trig!', that kind of thing. About an hour after I posted that (the second quiet prod in about a week), her letter came over email, and now I feel like I had to 1)drag it out of her, and 2) she didn't really want to do it in the first place, but just felt like she had to do it since we're kind of intertwined in all these areas. So, I feel hugely embarrassed and twisted up inside that I asked her to do it, that I ended up pestering her a little, and that it was kind of obvious that she wasn't sure what to say. I hate asking for help; it makes me feel like I'm making a bother of myself, and when I get the feeling that I'm dragging that help out of someone, it makes it 100x worse. Crap. I really like her, and I feel like I've made an ass of myself.

BUT, at least it's almost done. Math is kicking my ass at the moment, and I'm really scared that I'm going to blow the chapter exam next week. I have a quiz this week, but they're only worth ten points apiece in the grand scheme of the class, so it I mess it up, it's not a huge deal; if I can't get a hang of the whole thing in time for the exam, though, I'm going to be in trouble. Each problem has so many parts, and so many sign changes and square roots, that there are about ten ways to mess up on each section of the problem. Ugh. Only one more month, and I can't wait. No more math, EVER AGAIN, in just 32 days and counting.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Just Keep Swimming....

That line (which, five points if you get the movie, which should be easy for all you parents out there) runs through my head almost constantly lately.

I have to have my portfolio turned in by Tuesday at the latest for review by the Pope, or someone, at the admissions office of the grad school I'm applying to. It's almost done, aside from two reference letters I should be getting this weekend and a couple of divider pages I need to make. I'm a little pissed, though, that the scrapbook I bought, which is navy silk-covered, has a scrape on the front that I didn't see because the "protective" cover apparently only procected the mark from my view rather than the book from the mark. Crap.

School is flying along. Thankfully, I have only one more test in bio before the final, which she said will be take-home like the midterm. I have a 98 average in the class. This means that I could literally fail this next test and still get an A in the class. Guess who's not going to bother studying too hard??

I think the grad school has FINALLY decided that I don't need to take any additional writing or math classes. It has been over TWO MONTHS since I started fighting that particular battle, people. I don't know what their problem is, but I hope this isn't going to be a reflection of the entire school experience with them.

The community college registration procrss for spring was a nightmare. It started at 6:30am last Saturday, and guess what? I was locked out of the online system. The tech dept was closed until 9am. The school was closed up tight. There were no advisors on duty for the whole weekend. Once I finally got into the online registration, guess what else? Remember that awful advisor I saw in August, the one who called the prof an asshole, etc? Yeah, she never entered my pre-requisite info into the system. I had to go in on Monday, only to be told that they were missing my grad transcript from UMD, and couldn't register me without it, even though it had no bearing on my pre-reqs, even though I'm already IN classes that REQUIRE the pre-reqs that the science and psych classes I need are looking for. I basically started to lose my shit, which finally the attention of a manager, who came over and fixed the whole thing in about thirty seconds. Forest for the trees, much? Sheesh.

I'm hoping to start catching up on everyone's blogs soon. I miss you guys!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

An Exciting Development!!!

Guess what? I've talked to the school secretary and nurse several times over the past few weeks about starting a program that pairs up able families with needy families at our school for holiday and seasonal items. I've participated in this kind of thing at other schools, and it's been wonderful. They really weren't interested, and used the excuse that it couldn't be done due to privacy concerns.

SO, since I'm also the PTA VP, I took it to the PTA meeting on Monday night, broached my idea and how it would be run, and what do you know? The principal was there, and thought it sounded good, and everyone was totally on board!

So I'm going to run it myself! HA!

I wrote up two letters, one for Participant families (ie families in need) and Supporters (donating families), detailing the project. I made up a spreadsheet for the participant families to fill out with their kids' names, clothing needs and sizes, what books and authors they like, and toys they would enjoy having. I stressed to the supporting families that they would be able to anonymously help children that sit beside their own kids at lunch, and that at school events, they would actually be in the building with families whose lives they have personally improved.

The school secretary (who is a very nice person, just not into starting things, I think) is going to distribute my participant invitation letter to the children whose names appear on the Thanksgiving basket list (PTA gives food baskets to needy families each year), and the ones who are interested will return it by next Friday. The following Monday, a Supporter letter will go home with every child at the school, telling anyone who is interested in supporting a family to call me and I'll match them up with families, whose names will be removed and replaced with numbers (ie, Smith family with Jenny,8, and Jacob,5, will be replaced with Family 104-8G and Family 104-5B). They will then shop, and in Dec there will be an evening where I will accept donations from 5:30-7, and hand them back out 7:30-8:30. I will be the only one who will have the list of participants' names, and only myself and one or two other people will be at the school accepting and handing out.

I am SO EXCITED. This is going to be GREAT!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Two Firsts (And Almost My Fists)

First #1 - Josie has strep. If she's anything like me, this will be the first of many, many of these lovely infections.

Also for the first time ever, I had to raise a stink at the doctor's office.

We saw someone new, which was fine, and after looking at C's throat, Dr. said she'd be shocked if the test came back negative - but they had to send it to a lab because BCBS won't pay for in-house strep tests. (Why am I paying for this crap insurance again?)

Dr. said it would be back in the afternoon. Whatever. Then the Nurse came in, and asked where I'd be TOMORROW, and looked at me like an idiot when I told her that the doctor had said the same day, because duh, it takes 24 hours. So, I asked how much it would be to just pay for it to be done there, and it was only $20, so I said to go ahead and do it. (Seriously? It's cheaper for BCBS to pay for it to get sent to a lab, tested by someone else, and sent back? I doubt it.)

Nurse came back in a few minutes later with the swab and informed me that SHE doesn't test HER daughter until she's been complaining a week, because she doesn't get a really red throat and she wants the poor kid to try and fight it off herself, anyway - her tone implied that I was being ridiculous for insisting that my kid, who has been sick since Saturday, be treated.

Then, she got out two of the big swabs, and Josie's eyes got huge. She asked if Nurse was going to put them down her throat, and the Nurse said no, and the next thing we knew she had literally stabbed Josie in the throat with them!!!!!! Poor Josie almost threw up and burst into tears - and you know's my three-inch-scar-on-her-leg girl is tough. I was SO PISSED!

Nurse walked out like nothing had happened at all right after she did it, so I didn't have time to ream her out then, but once Josie had stopped sobbing, I went out into the hallway where she was scornfully telling the billing staff that 'the lady wanted to pay for the test, so you'll have to bill her for it', again, like I was an idiot. Once she had turned around (surprised to see me, I think), I told her that in the future maybe she could be more gentle, because she had made my daughter cry. She said, 'oh, sorry, but I have to do it fast' and walked right on past me. She never apologized to Josie, nothing!

When the doctor came back to tell us it was positive (duh), I explained what had happened, and asked if there was a way to have it noted on the chart that we didn't want that particular nurse ever again. Thankfully, *she* at least seemed upset and apologized several times, and said that she didn't know anything about making a note on a chart, but to talk to the office staff about it. She also told me that the Nurse was usually very good, etc, and I said that perhaps she was having an off day, but I still don't trust her near my children again.

I ended up not really bringing it up to the front office staff, who obviously already knew what had happened and are never exactly sweet, anyway, but this time were positively frosty. Whatever. When I see the kids' regular doctor again I'll mention it to *her*, and I'm sure she'll put it in the chart for me.

I know they have to be fast, but seriously, there was no need for that crap. Josie was obviously already in pain, and Nurse knew she had no idea what was coming. It's not like she's three, and would have cried regardless - for a 10yo to cry, it takes a lot more than a casual poke. >:< If I didn't like her regular doctor so much, I would never go there again.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Stressing Out

As part of my application to grad school, I have to make a portfolio. This has been described to me as like making a scrapbook of things that pertain to my getting an education degree. It is entirely freaking me out.

1. I am not a teacher. I have never created lesson plans, attended teacher retreats, or gotten any certificates from seminars / study programs that would have any bearing *at all*. I have looked online all over the place for ideas, and can only find portfolios made by students who are graduating their programs - hence, they actually have things to put in one. This is why I'm GOING to school for my degree - so I can get some stuff to put into an educational portfolio!

2. I am NOT a scrapbooker. I hate that stuff. I went to AC Moore today to get a scrapbook, and nearly hyperventilated at the dizzying array of choices. The very idea of making a scrapbook about anything work-related seems so unprofessional and ridiculous to me that I can barely get my mind around it. It's not like I'm applying for an art degree. Am I really supposed to use those little sticky-flair things in something that's supposed to be professional?!

3. I am now thirty-six years old. Scrapbooking to prove my worthiness as a student sounds like I'm in kindergarten. I want to be a respectable, creative adult, not an old lady at a craft fair.

4. They gave me a list of things to include, like a resume and ideas for educational practices and whatnot, but what the hell do I know??? That's WHY I'm going to school! What if, in my ignorance, I write something completely moronic for a philosphy?? I don't even know how to craft such a thing, since I HAVEN'T LEARNED IT YET.

5. I love substituting (generally speaking). I love seeing the kids every day, I love that so many of them are;" happy to see me, and I really want to have my own classroom. If I screw this mysterious project up, I will jeopardize my chances of getting into school, all because I have no idea what they're talking about. I could lose my chance to do what I am loving because I failed an art project that has no direction, and be doomed to be forever Just the Substitute.

People, I am practically in tears over this. I have to submit it in about two weeks, and because my mother is coming next weekend (more on that later), and school and whatnot, I really want to do it this week and get it over with (schools here are closed M-T, and I'll be out Fri to get my mother at the airport, so I'm just taking the whole week off, probably, to do schoolwork and this Thing).