Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Repurposed not Replaced

There are plenty of mansions in Sunnyville, houses with more bathrooms than occupants. I do not live in one. So, when Oldest rented an unfurnished house near school last month we delivered all her furniture and belongings. 

People ask me if I'm okay. People say, "It's got to be hard, having all her stuff gone." The truth - it isn't. Even as I type this I can hear testimonials about my horrible parenting. My husband and I strive for all of our kids to reach this stage. Oldest is reaching for her future. Isn't that what we raise them to do? I miss her face, her ranting about atrocities, even watching TV with her, but she is not lost. 

She is thriving and supported. But my house is still cramped. So, her room underwent a make-over. Instead of a drafting desk it shelters castles and fairies. Children's books and games now dwell where portfolios and amplifiers once reclined. 

The room has reentered circulation. No longer do I trip my way through bedrooms to bestow bedtime rituals. The once dormant room again houses laughter and imagination. We will always make room for a loved one, and Oldest can always find her way home again, but for now we will relish the increased square footage.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

My Permanent Record

This will absolutely not shock anyone who knows me well, but I have not always been the stellar advocate for education you know today. Life is a process. 

Maturity and insight do not often dwell in the hearts of 17 year-olds. Which goes a long way to explaining how I found myself leaving a Social Distortion concert about 7 hours before I sat for the SAT. The concession I made to testing was that we did not engage in teen dining at Denny's on the way home. I needed my sleep. Even more shocking may be the insight that I didn't study. For the SAT or my classes. I had good grades and that was enough - I had a life. Someone had to keep track of the happenings on General Hospital.

Fret not, parents of my potential students, I matured. That's what kids do after all. Education became the path to my goals. And I pursued it and my career experiences with gusto. All these experiences are part of what I bring to class with me daily. My connections to curriculum and students stem from my experiences. But the legislature of Florida, in its lack of wisdom, has decided that I should be judged worthy based on my SAT score.

Yes, you read correctly - MY SAT SCORE. From 1990. Of course my evaluation - a composite of my teaching evaluation and my students' test scores (from a newly developed and unproven test) - must be "highly effective" as well, a bland issue compared to this new assault on teachers. 

The idea that a college entrance test should be used as a bar for my bonus 25 years later is so ludicrous it defies explanation. If only I had a Delorian and a flux capacitor, I could tell my past self..."high school never ends."

Let's not even discuss how drastically this has effected already tight budgets in each district... You can read more about the insanity here or here.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

30 Years Late

I was an invincible child. I leapt with abandon from the garage roof, played chicken while crossing the road, ran across frozen surfaces, rode 3 wheelers at break-neck speeds through woods, and even dropped-in with zero idea what in the heck I was doing. I lived. I walked away okay limped in a few cases with little damage.

There was a time in my life when I looked at kids with casts in envy. A trophy of an experience that must have been so amazing, yet was unattainable for me. To walk into class with a clean canvas on my arm or leg, to have kids sign and decorate at recess - how cool would that be?

But due to a vigilant guardian angel or Irish luck it was not meant to be.

Soon I was busy keeping children out of harm and avoiding risks. Hell, I even quit smoking to avoid harm. 

Okay, I did bungee jump, scuba dive, and brave some rope swing plunges into murky depths among other acts of fun as a mother - but largely I have focused on safety.

So either my guardian angel took a hiatus or my luck is running low. How else does a walk across the bedroom turn into this miserable, limiting cast from the tips of my fingers to halfway to my elbow?

You laugh. I know. My own husband laughs. But you try wiping your bottom with the wrong hand. He says "It could be worse." But really, what argument is that? I didn't survive a horrible car accident or shark attack. I went to the dang bathroom! How could that be worse? 

I have less than 2 weeks left until school. This week was scheduled to be busy. Summer cleaning - moving furniture busy. Preparing to neglect my house for a long semester okay whole school year busy. Instead I am waiting for the hard cast to be put on my arm on Monday. 

And the worst part? They aren't even smooth enough to decorate anymore!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

RV - Not the Movie

It seems I can't shake the habit of turning the world I see into narrative.

It started as a hairbrained idea. Instead of driving or flying to Michigan we would make it about the journey and rent an RV. Just me, my sister, and six children. 

Yes, I said six.  
No, we are not currently undergoing treatment for out Pollyanna view on life.

In fact, it went well. So well that I am ready to share some tips for anyone else willing to travel 2770 miles while outnumbered 3 to 1.

~ Prepared Meals: Hungry teens are prone to eating the souls of younger siblings. To avoid this we prepared & froze all dinners at home. This made dinner easy and we didn't have to forgo fun to prep and cook. This and lots of snacks kept the younger ones from irreparable damage.

~ Insurance Cards: Word to the wise - when one child comes down with strep throat, others will follow (50% of the kids). Moodier than a menopausal woman questioning her career and life choices is a tween with strep on-set being teased by her unknowing family. Squash it with antibiotics quickly! Or suffer the glare and tears at your own risk. 
*addendum: It's important to note that a day of antibiotics drastically turns the tide.

~ Ear Plugs: Bring board games and cards. Lack of internet will give kids looking for some down-time a renewed interest in shared activity. Yes, they are loud and playfully arguing over the merits of 3 of a kind versus a straight but they are bonding darnit! What's a migraine to the joys of our children? Keeping them plugged in while driving may be the coward's way, but is a highly effective sedative & noise reduction technique PACK CHARGERS!

~ Develop Codes: Ours was "DOOR DOOR DOOR!" Which means: slow the hell down. 
Well, it developed quite naturally as we pulled out of a rest area and the door to the back began swinging in the breeze... Seems the rear door must be locked while the RV is in motion. A lesson, one would think, once is enough to learn... But we are only human - and to our credit it only happened 3 times...Which seems excessive - but statistically with all the stops and starts, rest areas, and gas stations it's really quite...okay I'll shut-up now. 

~ Plan Memories: We planned stops, outings, and adventures. We did them. Kids laughed and had new experiences.We revisited favorite spots and saw family. But I'd bet $$ that when they are older and have their own kids they will get together and talk about the crazy trip their mom/aunt took them on when cousin J was declared "fine" after an overnight in the hospital because the rope swing broke. Oh well. At least they'll remember something. 

All-in-all our Pollyana view worked-out and we only slept in a scary parking lot once...