Friday, March 30, 2007

This is the stuff they don't teach you in school

On top of everything else that's been going on in my personal life (see below), not to mention various things back home (mostly with Katey, her family and her kids--well, one of them), this has been two of my most emotionally challenging weeks of teaching. I had two students come to me: a student who was being abused by her alcoholic father (7th grade) and one who had been raped (6th grade).

Part of the reason I was the one who found out about these things is because, out of the middle school teachers, I'm one of the youngest female ones--so naturally, they probably felt more comfortable confiding in me. However--and maybe more importantly-- I'm also their writing teacher...and, as I'm sure you can imagine, a LOT of personal shit comes out in writing. That's how I found out about both situations. Needless to say, I've spent a LOT of time down in the guidance counselor's office, and I even had to type up a testimony for the 6th grader who is having an emergency court guardianship hearing tomorrow (apparently, her mom ALSO abused her at home AND left her alone till 2 in the morning to feed, bathe and put to bed SEVERAL younger children--mind you, this girl is ELEVEN....however, the worst part was when she told us that she told her mom that she had been raped--and WHO had done it--and her mom "didn't do anything about it." This girl's essay talked about how she felt like "no one cared about her" and "sometimes I wonder if I should even spend another day on Earth." Yeah, try getting THAT essay as a first year teacher.)

Anyway, I thank God that both girls were strong enough to reach out for help in the only way they knew how, and I'm grateful that I wasn't too caught up in my OWN troubles to recognize their own cries for help...but it also breaks my heart that they've had to deal with these kinds of issues at such a young age.

Here's the thought that REALLY keeps me up at night, though.: these are only 2 out of 125 kids. It makes me wonder how many more are struggling silently.
So THIS is what a broken heart feels like....oh, wait, no, that's just bronchitis

This is another post that began as a reply to a comment, but I figured it was entertaining enough that it deserved it's own spot.

This thing with Dave was actually, for a few days there, a whole new level of pain for me. In fact, I actually went for two FULL days without eating. (And for ME, that's saying a lot.) =-) It was shaping up to be my most painful breakup ever (other than Cam, but what with the whole coma thing and all, that had a whole different set of issues). Anyway, it was weird, considering we were together for such a short period of time, but there was just something ABOUT, it's amazing how close you can get when you actually LET someone in and not push them away all the time.

HOWEVER, I'm glad to report that after a phone call last night (he called ME, thank you very much--mostly because, due to my lack of willpower, I deleted his number from my phone) and several emails, it sounds like this might just be a temporary thing rather than permanent...which makes me incredibly happy. He has some things to wrap up with his ex and the house in the next couple of weeks, plus a HUGE certification test at work, and he got to the point where he wanted to take a deep breath, slow down and fully resolve the issues of his OLD relationship before he could truly devote himself to his NEW one. However, I can confidently say that his love for me isn't, and never was, the problem. He's such a great guy.

On a rather humorous note (another one to file in the "Only Jen" category), I've had a hard time breathing since all of this went down--my chest has felt heavy, breathing was actually difficult and labored and I had a general pain in my chest. I wrote it off to, literally, a "broken heart" ("Wow," I thought, "Dave must REALLY be the one! I've never broken up with someone and been PHYSICALLY UNABLE to breathe!")...and then I realized, oh my God, I've been having an asthma attack for like 2 days! I was just so distracted with everything else, and it started at almost the same time that we broke up, so I just thought the "heaviness in my heart" was losing Dave. LOL. I'm such a 'tard.

I finally went to the doc after work yesterday (running down the hall to break up a fight yesterday afternoon literally depleted all of my remaining oxygen reserves and I could tell that I was in trouble) and walked out with--are you ready?--TEN different meds. They gave me breathing treatments, my pulse was REALLY high, my pulse-ox was down--they actually wanted to admit me to the hospital but I'm out of sick time so I told them I'd be fine if they loaded me up. Before I left, I got a steroid shot, more steroids to take home, about 5 different inhalors, etc....oh, and top of that, I have freakin' BRONCHITIS, too (which is disease #7 or something like that for March).

No wonder I felt so miserable the last few days. =-)

I'm a dork.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Frank vs. Sanjaya

**This post applies to Idol watchers only; and if for any reason you haven't watched tonight's elimination show yet, STOP READING NOW.**

Like many people across America, Frank cannot STAND that no-talent, no-personality Sanjaya kid. However, Frank detests him with a hatred normally reserved for mass murderers and child molesters. He becomes downright furious every week that Sanjaya manages to survive.

When it was revealed that Sanjaya wasn't even in the bottom three--AGAIN--Frank jumped out of his chair, and, wild-eyed, spewed a fountain of filth not normally heard outside of truck stops and prisons. I can't type it all here, but it began with, "That f*cking c*ck-sucking mother f*cker" and ended with "I hope he catches gonnorhea and dies."

I might be going to hell, but the only time I've even cracked a smile in the last couple of days has been during Frank's Tuesday and Wednesday Sanjaya-induced aneurysms.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Another lesson learned

So Dave and I broke up. It was a hell of a 6 weeks, though. Like with Tyson, it helped me see that there are good guys out there--and it also showed me how truly happy and content I can be.

For those who haven't heard, he's been dealing with some fallout from his divorce. He went last night to take care of some stuff, and he said it was in doing so that he realized that he wasn't ready to be in a new relationship when he was still dealing with the financial and emotional ramifications from the first one. He said he loved me but he "didn't expect to find me so soon." And he said, many times, that he didn't want to "ruin another person's life."

When he came over at lunch this afternoon, I cried, and HE cried, and he said he was sorry but that his "head wasn't right." He wished he had met me a month or 2 down the road. I was like, "Well this is stupid, why don't we just take a break while you wrap up this house and money stuff" and he said that THAT was the easy part; the emotional loose-ends were going to take a bit longer to deal with. When he walked out, he said "I know I'll never find you again."

So yeah, I'm crushed, especially because he WAS such a good guy. I should have listened to my instincts about dating someone freshly divorced. I was the first person he really dated post-divorce, but I asked him quite a bit at the beginning if he was SURE he was ready, and he kept saying that he was. And I decided to believe him. (Plus, at the time, I think he meant it, until his ex found out he was happy and dating again and started calling him, crying, telling him what an asshole he was and how badly he had hurt her--even though it was HER who pulled the plug on the marriage. I think that's where all this "I don't want to hurt someone else" thing is coming from. )

So, here's what I learned: one, don't be the first relationship post-divorce--because when he says he's ready, he's probably either lying to you or to himself. Two, if there's still drama between two people, then it's not truly "over"--at least not where it counts. And three, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

My big-girl bed

When I first moved down here in July, all I had to sleep on was an air mattress.

Eight months later, I was still sleeping on that air mattress.

Maybe I was busy. Maybe I was lazy. Maybe I was a poor teacher. Maybe said air mattress was just really, really comfortable. Whatever the reason, I never made getting a "real" bed that big of a priority.

For various reasons, Dave is going to be spending more nights over here for a while. Since he wasn't too keen on the whole air-mattress thing (although he did acknowledge that it is, in fact, pretty comfy), he bought me a bed on Tuesday. (Well, TECHNICALLY, it'll eventually go into the guest bedroom in our/his new house. For now, though, it's for me.)

We slept GREAT on Tuesday night.

And then I fell out of my big-girl bed on Wednesday morning.

I forgot that I was sleeping in an actual, raised bed, and when my alarm went off, my bleary-eyed self rolled over and off the mattress, like I've done for the last 200+ mornings. This time, though, I dropped about 4 feet--which doesn't sound that far unless you are half asleep and come to a crash landing on your hands and knees.

My knee was bruised and rug-burned (needless to say, the other teachers didn't believe my "falling out of bed" story); my left wrist hurt for a couple days, too. My knee still looks pretty bad, but the rest of me has stopped aching.

And I have to say, it's pretty nice to be on a real bed again.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Happy Birthday
I know this is way overdue, but I was unable to post since Jen switched to the new blogger. Anyway, Brent turned 6 on February 24th. I can't believe he's SIX already! Some days feel like they're lasting weeks-- the days I'm counting the seconds until bedtime-- and others go by way too fast. And the YEARS... it seems like only yesterday I was puking my guts out morning, noon and night for 5 months and then having the worst acid reflux in history for the remaining 4 :-)

On his actual birthday, we did presents at our house. That occured at about 7:04 a.m. Here he is in the Batman stuff he wanted so badly and hasn't put on since :-)

We also gave him his choice of restaurant for dinner. John and I were incredibly pleased that he chose Don Pablos over Mc Donald's or IHOP or something equally disgusting. The closest Don's, however, is just over an hour away. Since we were supposed to have a winter storm later that night, we decided to go for a late lunch/early dinner so as to miss the nasty weather. The weather came early. It started while we were eating, and by the time we left, it was whiteout conditions! It took us over 2 hours to get home. The food was worth it, though, and Brent just watched a DVD on the way :-) When we finally got back, we had birthday cake. Brent has been wanting me to make a Nickelodeon Green Slime cake for the last 6 months or so, and he finally got it. After taking the video of us sliming the cake, my camera was full and I didn't get a still shot of it, and I can't figure out how to post a video!

The following weekend, we went to Michigan to celebrate his birthday with my family. He had SO much fun playing with my cousin's kids; one is 10 months older than Brent, the other is 10 months younger! I don't want to put pictures of her kids on the blog, so here's one of Brent acting silly, and one of he and I reading a card. Why do people even waste money on birthday cards for kids? They don't care about the CARDS! :-)

Many of you know that I like to play Betty Crocker as often as I can. I let Brent choose from 4 or 5 fairly portable cakes to take to MI with us, and he chose this Hamburger Cake. He wanted to help, so I let him mix the batter and put the "ketchup and mustard" on. The ketchup and mustard was a LOT of control for me to give up, but I kept my mouth shut and just let him go after it, at the risk of ruining my masterpiece :-) He actually did a pretty good job, I think!
Almost a month late, but Happy Birthday, Brent!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

How do you spell "fire truck"?

Our spelling bee was tonight. I've been working on this for a couple of months now; as a first-year teacher, this was a fairly major event to plan. So needless to say, I've been pretty nervous/stressed.

I had yearbook after school until 4:30; M.J. (the teacher doing the 3rd-5th grade one) and I ran around till 5:30 or so getting things set up, doing the sound check, etc. The first spelling bee was at 6, so another teacher and I hit the grocery store next door for "dinner" and pretty much ate our sandwhiches as we finished last-minute preparations (let's just say that my "workout" today was pretty much that entire hour and a half).

Finally, 6:00 arrives and we're doing pretty well: we're getting our contestants in their spots (alphabetical order), the audience is seated, medals and refreshments are out--we're ready to go. I had just finished reviewing the list of names (I was the "MC" for the night and wanted to make sure I could pronounce the students names correctly, since these weren't my kids). I turned to the microphone to begin my welcome speech--

--and the fire alarm goes off.

M.J. and I looked at each other like, "Are you f*cking kidding me?!" We knew what was coming next--we had to evacuate. We start emptying the entire cafeteria (with M.J. screaming to the just-alphabetized kids, "REMEMBER YOUR PLACES!!").

Here's the kicker: unless it's a pre-arranged fire drill, once the fire alarm goes off, the fire department HAS to respond. So we knew they'd be on their way. At this point, we still didn't know if it was a genuine fire or if some jackass had pulled the alarm. As we're waiting, we teachers were on our cell phones, trying to get a hold of the principal, dean of students--SOMEONE in authority who knows what the heck to do now.

So then fire department arrives--

(you just KNOW that any school event *I* plan is going to include the sentence "So then the fire deparment arrives," LOL)--

and I brief them as much as I can. They go inside, do their thing and discover that yes, the alarm HAD been pulled--one at the back of the cafeteria, in fact. (Luckily, we have cameras all over the school, including in there, so they'll be reviewing the tapes in the morning.) After about half an hour, we FINALLY get the all-clear to go back inside.

Everything proceeded pretty smoothly after that. Overall, the night was a success. We started that first bee at 6:30 instead of 6; however, since we had given ourselves a buffer window, we were still able to start our second bee at 7:00 as planned. I'm very happy and satisfied with how things went (other than, you know, the arrival of the emergency vehicles). All in all, we pulled it off. Now we get to relax until the state one next month (and there's really not a lot we have to do to get ready for that one, other than send letters home, coordinate rides, etc).

In other news, all is going pretty well. I'm feeling much better after being on meds for a few days now (and Nikki, my health hasn't been THAT BAD lately--it's just the last couple of weeks that have kicked my ass, since I've been so rundown and tired and stressed). Things with Dave are still deliriously good; in fact, for those who haven't heard, he's taking me on a getaway to the Keys this weekend for our big one-month anniversary. (Sure, there's the small matter of being stalked by his ex, but that's a whole different post.)

Have a great weekend--I know I will.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Teaching is making me sick and tired (literally)

(Note: this started as a comment to my last post but, once I saw how long it was becoming, I decided to go ahead with a whole new post.)

First: Yes, Nik, my busy schedule HAS cut into my drinking time. Coincidentally, I've also lost about 5 lhs. Hmmm. ;)

Plus, I just got hit by a health double whammy, which has definitely been affecting my appetite. Last week, i got this cold thing and was out of school for 2 days. I rested over the weekend (spent it here with Dave but we didn't do anything major, though he cooked me the best steak EVER) and by Monday I was feeling great again...

...Till Wednesday afternoon, during yearbook, when I started feeling kind of achy. By 4:30, I was home with a fever, chills, aches, slammed with a 24-hour flu. Didn't want to call in since I had been out the week before, so I dragged myself in (told the kids, "Just stay in the room and don't kill each other"). Came here Thurs. night and Dave took care of me. (Yes, he has seen sick, Afro-haired, whiny Jen and he STILL LIKES ME.)

I'm over the main flu part but still feeling pretty yucky in the head (lol, don't say it, you know what I mean). Got up at like 3:30 am because I couldn't sleep and didn't want to keep Dave up (he had to go into work this morning for a few hours and was getting up at like 4:45). He finally woke up and wandered out here to the den.

"Well, I've been doing some research online," I began.

"Yeah? What do you have now?" he asked good-naturedly. (He's already used to my tendency to "self diagnose" myself with rare, random diseases and actually seems to find it rather endearing.)

"I've got it narrowed down," I told him, "to either a sinus infection or tuberculosis."

"Ah," he said. "Need me to stop at the store on my way home for either sinus or tuberculosis meds?"

He's great.

Anyway, I'm not surprised that I've been getting sick so much lately. First, it's the season--even here in beautiful, sunny Florida (high in low 80s today). Second, due to my afore-mentioned busy schedule, I'm tired and run-down so of course my already-less-than-stellar immune system is even lower. I've been getting less sleep, due to stress and things just being so crazy. Plus,--and this is an epiphany I had whilst talking to Renee on Friday--as a middle school teacher, I see 125 kids every day instead of 25. No WONDER I get sick so much--I see five times as many kids as "regular" teachers, thus increasing my chance of picking up some kind of germ. (Seriously, next to nursing, there couldn't BE a worse profession for yours truly.)

So there you go. And now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go. That Nyquil is kicking in again.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Checking in

Things have been very busy lately. Last week, we had the FCATs, the big standardized test here in FL. They're a BIG deal around here, as it determines how we're doing as a school, our rating and even our funding (to a certain extent).

We're done with those now (at least middle school is), but now I have yearbook keeping me busy (it's supposed to be done at the end of the month, but I have no freakin' idea how we're going to get it finished in time since kids keep dropping out for sports, etc); the school spelling bee is next week (I'm the middle school coordinator)....oh, and I just realized that the BIG spelling bee, to be held across the state in April (the one that our top 3 finalists from next week's school bee will compete in, along with students from all over the state from different schools in our charter school "company") is the same day as the March of Dimes walk that I signed our school up for/organized a team for. Oops. (I HOPE I can get one of the other teachers to go with my middle school kids to the spelling bee, but since that probably won't happen, I'll have to contact the other walkers and say, "Okay, I know I got you all to sign up for this walk, but now I won't be there because of the spelling bee....will you still do the walk anyway?" Then I'll have to contact those who pledged me and see if their contribution can still be applied to my school's team, assuming we'll still have one, or if they would like a refund if I end up not walking.

We also have other things keeping us busy this week and next--parent conferences, report cards, etc--but these are the main things on MY plate. Oh, and not to mention getting started back up with Pure Romance and trying to get parties book so I have a head start for the summer (not to mention money for NOW).

Oh yeah, and there's still my work with Soldiers' Angels.

And seeing Dave quite a bit, mostly on weekends.

What's up with all of YOU?

Sunday, March 04, 2007

"Want to get to heaven?...

...See us for flight traning."

From a sign outside a local church that made me giggle.