Monday, December 28, 2009

Doing Absolutely Nothing

I'm still here.

Doing nothing. Well, maybe not nothing but it feels like nothing.

Last week I spent 3 days doing nothing all by myself! All the kids were in school and at the babysitter during those days. I ran errands (slowly and without dragging kids with me) and only went to the stores I wanted to. Then I came home, put on my pajamas, and took naps every day. Blissful!!

Here are some other nothings that I've done on this vacay:
  • started knitting a scarf
  • am reading the new Barbara Kingsolver book The Lacuna (am enjoying it so far)
  • took the kids to the aquarium after the husband had a behind-the-scenes tour; also saw the new show which the kids really liked.
  • tried to read Julie Powell's new book Cleaving and absolutely HATED it. sorry, but no one needs to read hundreds of pages about dismembering meat OR about how much she hates her husband/the affair she had
  • found some good deals at Walgreen's, Jewel, etc.
  • went to Unique 2x
  • watched a million episodes of House Hunters (I am seriously obsessed)
  • fed my friend's cat

That's the rundown.

Oh, and here's a quick Baby M update:

  • at 14 months she has about 5 words-mommy, daddy, mine, uh-oh, ow.
  • on Sunday she threw my slippers in the toilet. of course, those got thrown out.
  • she doesn't like to be left behind-whatever her sisters do, she wants to do
  • she has 4 molars, 4 front teeth and nothing in between
  • she is attached to a blanket that my mom knitted, when she sees it she puts her thumb in her mouth and lays her face on it-it's super cute.
  • she has great receptive language skills-she can follow directions; when we say go upstairs she goes to the stairs and starts climbing up

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

My opinion

A few posts ago I mentioned that I went to the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center. I started writing this then and am attempting to finish it now. These are strictly my own opinions and my thoughts are still continuing to evolve.

Firstly, this is the second time I have been there. I went last spring as a chaperone with the 7th graders in my school. At that time I was impressed and pleased with the way they approach this topic with children. They have an interactive video game (has to do with strong v. weak) using animated frogs. I'm not describing it well but the message reached the kids. They heard a survivor speak (not of a concentration camp but he escaped the war as a young boy-do you use the word that way, I'm just curious?), and watched a movie about genocide as it relates to the world. I DID NOT see the main exhibit -it wasn't finished yet so I can't speak to that.

The recent time I went I did not see any of the museum, but was there for a professional development on the differences of Eastern v. Western Europe at the time of the Holocaust. The presentation was very well done and I learned a lot of facts that I previously did not know.

Now come the issues.

They provided dinner for those who attended the class but had NO KOSHER FOOD. I asked specifically and was told they served a "kosher style" meal and I was told that I could purchase a sandwich at their cafe-they carry some kosher sandwiches. I understand that most of the people who attend those meetings and go to the museum aren't Jewish or don't keep kosher, but what about those that do? Of all places I expected to be respected for mitzva observance. I mean my husband gets treated better than that at his work! They allow him to bring in kosher food for everyone, pay for a separate meal for him, etc. And he works for corporate America.

But all this food stuff led to a bigger issue in my mind. I am truly not trying to offend anyone, so I apologize in advance if I do-I know this is a touchy subject. It just really seems that they have removed the Judaism from being Jewish. Our belief system. Our religion. Where is that recognized? Are we a race, a culture only? Personally, I don't believe this to be true. We might be those but we also have a belief system. Other races (African-American, Hispanics, etc.) are all defined by cultural similarities but they don't all believe in the same ideologies. In order to identify yourself with Judaism (really and truly-not just by birth) you HAVE to have the belief in one G-D. That belief is a significant reason why we have been persecuted throughout the past. And that doesn't seem to be a focus. This Museum and Education Center has made this all about history. Their approach is intellectual, not emotional. And while I guess that has a place, I think that is a gross inservice to those that experienced the horror of that time.

As I have stated previously, these are just my perceptions. They do not reflect anyone else's views. Even though I started writing this post weeks ago, I am still feeling pretty emotional about it. It still just doesn't sit right with me.

What do you think? Am I way off in left field? Or do I make sense?

Monday, December 14, 2009


Even though it seems like I forgot about this blog, I really haven't!!

Just busy. Oh, and every time I come up with a topic it's usually when I am falling asleep and then I forget about my genius inspiration!! Like the acrostic I was making about snow.

Over the top

I think that was what I thought. But then I thought that I would prefer snow over 7 degree weather any day. I didn't want to dis snow too much. Because that bone-crushing cold that freezes your nose hairs just is too unpleasant!


I might have previously mentioned that my 7th and 8th grade students are learning about he Holocaust. Last week the 8th graders participated in a very moving lesson that the language arts teacher planned. We put a quote up on the board from Charles Dent:

"We in the United States should be all the more thankful for the freedom and religious tolerance we enjoy. And we should always remember the lessons learned from the Holocaust, in hopes we stay vigilant against such inhumanity now and in the future. "

We passed out post-it notes and had the students write 3 ways they could improve or grow (and to be honest about it). I wrote one too. Then the students got up in front of the class and were able to share something they had written. Some kids apologized to specific peers that they previously made fun of. Others talked about taking responsibility for their actions, etc. You get the idea. My main focus on my post-it is that I that I need to learn how to be more assertive with my peers and colleagues. I am putting it out here so I can hold myself accountable. People who know my IRL know that I intensely dislike confrontation. (Funny that I picked special ed, where I confront children all day long-but that's a topic for a different time). I have recently realized that I also don't want to be disliked by others, so often I don't share something that is in disagreement with others. But that needs to change.

I have already had 2 opportunities at work to improve on this character trait. One involved advocating for my students involving a potentially harmful situation. I wrote an assertive e-mail (with assistance!) and that spurred the powers that be to take action. I will admit to feeling proud of myself about that.

The other situation was simply a difference of opinion with a general ed teacher. Which will always be the case-we are coming from 2 different viewpoints. And in a school setting it is good and puts a balance in the system to have both those viewpoints. But I felt uncomfortable speaking my opinion. But I did it. And I am learning not to care so much about what others think of me. (I should be past this at 32 years old, but I guess there is always room to change)!

It's always nice when the topics I am teaching apply to me as well!

I'll end now-I am rushing off to a professional development (tons of meetings lately).

But remind me to tell you my complaint about the Holocaust museum (I had a meeting there last week).

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I promise you will laugh

You must check out this website!!

It is HILARIOUS and slightly disturbing.

Just check it out.

I might have to get me some free entertainment and take a trip to Wal-mart in the near future!

I seem to start but can't finish

I have started 2 posts but can't seem to finish them.

I just am not in the mood to write about deep thoughts.

I am in the mood to curl up under my covers, have stacks of books around me, lots of coffee-hot chocolate-tea (I like all hot drinks), and just read the days away.

Not getting to do a lot of that unfortunately.

I have been thinking a lot about health lately. How grateful I am that my kids are healthy. That they have a stable 2 parent home. How I am able to give them healthy food (and they like to eat it!) How they like to read books and want to spend time with their parents. How even though I like to shop at thrift stores for their clothes, I don't have to. How even though they fight like siblings do, they are essentially polite and respectful children. How they care about those less fortunate than them. I am thankful for all of that.

This thankfulness stems from a meltdown I had at work last Wednesday before Thanksgiving. No, I didn't have a temper tantrum, it was more of an emotional meltdown. I just felt defeated, like what I do doesn't make a difference. In my head I know that's not true, but sometimes it seems like my students just don't care. About themselves, each other, their community. . . And that makes me sad. Just plain sad. When you don't care about yourself, you certainly don't care about other people.

I LOVE what I do. I couldn't do this job if I didn't. But sometimes it is so hard to put all your heart and soul into something and not see growth. I am not expecting perfection, just growth and maturity. Both of which were in short supply last Wednesday. I want so so much for my students to grow up to be successful adults. But I can't want it more than they do or more than their parents want it for them.

It's a week later and I am over the defeat. It's the little things that make a difference. I have seen small steps: 2 students who usually want to tear each other's throat out worked together today, a student that was so difficult last Wednesday wrote me a letter apologizing for her behavior, a student that can't read tapped out the sounds of words AND worked independently! (I actually told my him I wanted to do a jig, I was so happy!) Can you tell I am enthusiastic? I guess I learned that enthusiasm isn't constant, it ebbs and flows.

I am deeper than I thought.