Friday, January 9, 2009

Sick Day

I've been home the last three days with a sick child. Obviously that means that I've had to take a few sick days from my job to stay at home to take care of my child. Sometimes I wish every day were a sick day. Not that I really want my child or myself to be sick, but I find that I get so much of my household work done while I'm home on a sick day, chores that are otherwise left to the weekend or put aside until some undetermined time.

In-between dosing out medicine, rubbing her back, and holding her so she's comforted, I've managed to fold a load of laundry, put in another load to wash and dry, wipe down the kitchen counters, pay a few bills, pick up the living room floor of toys, sort through holiday cards to pull out the pictures, and wash a sink full of dishes.

I wonder when I'm working when I actually find time for living, not that doing chores is real living in the sense of the big adventure, but it surely helps to keep me sane if my house is fairly organized and clean and everyone has clean underwear to wear!

When I first starting teaching almost twenty years ago, my principal was very big on "mental health days", encouraging us to take a day every once in awhile when we weren't sick to do something for ourselves. She wanted us to make sure we were healthy and happy and not burned out and sickly and then missing a week of work. It made sense to me then, and while it makes sense to me now, sometimes it's harder to justify that mental health day for myself when I have that little one that may need a sick day here and there.

In the meantime today, I'll keep loving on my cranky little one, wiping her runny nose, and soothing her cries while the dishwasher runs in the kitchen, there's a casserole in the oven, and the cleaner works in the toilet waiting for me to come scrub it.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Baby, It's Cold Inside!

The Monday before Christmas was a teacher workday for me in my large suburban district. I had two options: 1) take an annual leave day and enjoy my day off or 2) go to work and mark some items off my "to do" list. I decided to go to work.

Too bad our school district decided to turn the heat off to all its buildings on the students' last day of school, the Friday before the workday. The half dozen or so of us that ventured to our school building found frigid temperatures. Even though our custodian hit the override to turn the heat back on, the temperature never seemed to make it above 60 degrees.

Am I overreacting when I ask that the heat be turned on -- on one of the coldest days we've had so far this winter -- on a day that I am expected to go to the "office" to work? Am I making too big a deal out of the fact that this just seems like one more of those little things in the list of things where teachers find themselves being treate unprofessionally?

When stumped with such a question, I result to the the "education vs. corporate world" question: what would Bill Gates do? Would Bill Gates expect his employees to work an eight hour day in unacceptable temperatures? I don't think so!

When we talk about teacher working conditions, facilities certainly play a part in what we expect to be appropriate and professional. I don't mind a smaller than usual classroom. I can deal with having no windows, if I have to. I can make do with concrete flooring, even though my feet may ache at the end of the day.

But I've got to have heat!

Please don't Google search!

One of our teams is starting a big project on Africa. Each student chose a country to research and will create a product (brochure, flyer, etc.) with a travel itinerary. It's an okay project, giving kids the chance to hone their research skills and some autonomy and creativity in choice of product and presentation.

Today was their first day in the media center. Today you CANNOT do a Google search!

Why is it that folks see Google as the be-all-end-all in the cyberworld search?! Yes, it is an intuitive search engine for the most part, finding the most likely hit for which I'm looking. But then I use pretty good search terms with some boolean search strings, too. Most of our kids aren't that savvy....yet.

But they are getting more savvy. They were able to tell me some specific websites that they might visit to find factual information. Imagine that?! Facts! Most ended up pulling up the CIA World Factbook for their country overviews. Nice place to start, guys.

But don't forget the books! The kids need to include their country's flag in their final product. We have a whole set of books, Flags of the World, that includes color images of the flags and a few facts about the country. I also directed kids to Junior Worldmark's Nations of the World. And we actually have about 60 books on various African nations.

It was a good day not to Google!

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Year of Skinny

During our Christmas celebration with the family, my parents said they had an "offer that I couldn't refuse". At first they made no other indication what this offer was or what the whole sordid deal was about, but the conversation soon turned to my constant battle of the bulge!

Yes, I've been overweight most of my adult life. Chalk it up to bad eating habits learned in college and late night paper-grading sessions with snacks close at hand. Or maybe it's the desire to feed others -- the way to their hearts is through their stomachs -- and the constant supply of sugary baked goods and rich casseroles and other less-than-heart-healthy fare that I have been known to cook for family and friends.

After three rounds with Weight Watchers where each time I was successful at counting my points and tracking my food and weighing and measuring, I'm not sure I want to go back there. Each time I would fall off the wagon. Mostly I was like the schizophrenic or the manic-depressive who decides he feels great; therefore, he must not need his medicine. After a year or so, I would decide that I did not need the meetings, the journaling, the counting, the weekly money out of pocket, and I would abandon the way to a healthy lifestyle.

But I turned forty on Saturday -- the big 4-0! And I need to get healthy. My foot hurts lately and my knees aren't doing much better and I just seem to have that general "falling apart" feeling all the time. I know in my head what to do. I'm just not sure why I'm so scared to do it...

....and while there were no specifics about "the offer I can't refuse" -- they want to see some results first -- I know what price I may pay if I don't lose weight. I just don't know what price they'll pay if I do!