Tuesday, January 27, 2009


I've been laying (lying?) awake in bed since 5:30 and I finally decided to get up. I'm not even GOING to the Ron Clark Academy (which we insiders like to call the RCA) until tomorrow--but I'm flying out today!!! Whoo hoo!! I should probably buy some sleeping pills because I'm going to be like a damn little kid tonight. Now you all know that I'm a champion sleeper-inner. Even on Christmas, my favorite day of the year, I sleep like a champ till 11 or so. I won't wake up this early again, giddy with anticipation, until 1) my wedding day or 2) I'm in labor, whichever comes first (and in this family, you never know).

It's kind of cool getting up so early, though. I have all this leisurely time to ENJOY my coffee. Watch the news. Eat breakfast. Finish packing (oh, hell. Who am I kidding? The people who know me the very best read this blog. START packing. I did, however, lay everything out last night).

Did I mention I'm going to see Ron Clark tomorrow?

I did some research on new karate dojos last night. I found one I really liked until I came across a news article posted JUST YESTERDAY that the owner had been arrested for molesting a teenage female student. Crap. So an hour or two of additional research later, and here's a strong second choice: http://www.kurokawakarate.cmasdirect.com/ The style is shito ryu, not too different from isshin ryu, in my vast experience. I'll check them out when I get home.

Did I mention that my younger sister is pregnant again? Yup, child #5. This is not necessarily great news as they're struggling with the ones they have, but whaddya gonna do. She just sent me a picture of what her kid looks like at week 22. (Yes, she's already THAT FAR along. Never mind the fact the WE just found out about 2 weeks ago.) So I leave you with the stock image of my developing niece. (And FYI, she's totally trying to steal my Baby Name: Lexie. It's not MY fault she's already used up ALL the other girl names. Leave me Lexie!!)

Have a great couple of days. I'll be thinking of you guys.

F' it. Scratch that. No, I won't. I'M OFF TO SEE RON CLARK!!!!!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Some sudden and upsetting news

I received an email from my sensei today that our dojo has closed, effective immediately. Apparently, she left her husband--and town. She didn't give any more information.

I'm sad for her personal situation, of course (especially since I was at her house at Christmas and I have to say, they seemed very happy and in love--but of course, you never know what happens behind closed doors), but selfishly, I'm also really sad about the closing of the dojo. Karate students often change lineage/senseis and dojos (and sometimes entire styles)--but I'm a creature of habit and while I have nothing to compare it to, I really LIKED our little dojo. I also appreciated Sensei's style--supportive and firm but not intimidating and too "hard". That approach is sometimes hard to find in the martial arts. Now I have to find a whole new school and possibly a new style of karate, if I can't find a nearby Isshinryu school that I like (and I do NOT want to go to a "commercial" dojo, that much I know already).

I'll start researching a little tonight and more this weekend when I'm back from Atlanta. I certainly wish my sensei nothing but the best. She was my first sensei; she's the reason I ended up getting involved--and STICKING--with karate. I will have other senseis, but I'll always, first and formost, be a student of Sensei Goldwyn's.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Ron Clark, Oprah Winfrey and me

Below is a video of Ron Clark's students performing their new song, "Dear Obama," for Oprah Winfrey. It opens up with Ron telling a story about how he received a check for $365,000 from Oprah on Christmas Eve. (Oprah's been a big fan of Ron Clark since he was on her show a few years back.) As a way to thank her (one of Obama's major supporters), the kids recorded themselves singing this song.

So what does this have to do with me? This Wednesday, I will be sitting IN THIS MAN'S CLASSROOM, WATCHING HIM TEACH THESE STUDENTS. That's right, my long-awaited trip to Atlanta is coming up. Me and 3 other teachers are leaving on Tuesday and flying back on Thursday. It'll be a short trip but probably one of the most meaningful and significant of my life. Maybe you have to be a teacher to really understand, or maybe you guys can fully understand why this means so much to me. It hasn't really "hit" me yet, to be honest, and it may not until I'm actually at his school, talking to the kids and--OH MY GOD--with him. Expect a full report on Thursday night.

Anyway...enjoy the video. I know it won't reflect many of your political views, but I know you will still appreciate what he's doing with these students. He's an inspiration, and in just a few short days, I'll be able to tell him so myself.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Fun Run

We had our Fun Run today. I ran an amazing 34 laps--Word. And I seriously RAN, too. I had like 7 sports bras on (and a few kids STILL got hurt), but I did it. My students were great, too. Any time I even thought about slowing down, they were right on my ass. It was funny. And once I realized that--holy crap--I could actually HIT my original goal of 30, I started speeding up. It was awesome. Once I hit 30, I almost hit the wall, but I figured hey, let's see how many more I can bust out. (Not TOO many, as it turns out, but I kept going.) Considering I was in the ER on Sunday night, I think I did pretty well.

I'm already stiffening up beyond belief and I'm exhausted, but I have to say, running actually felt kind of good. Is there a new hobby coming on?....(that's probably just the Crazy talking, but we'll see.)

Oh--and I was down 3 lbs this week for Biggest Loser. Oh yeah! New and Improved Jen is on the way!

(PS--I DO need to reset that damn smoking counter again....but I'll keep trying.)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

And by the way...

See below for recreations of my infamous ocean and forest habitats (from a couple of posts ago).

I TOLD you I couldn't draw, yo.

Yeah, I'm alive

I've gotten a couple of "Where the hell are you?" emails in the last day or two, so I figured I should check in. I'm out here, just busy and--as I'm sure you will all find shocking--sick.

1) We had grades due for our report cards at the end of last week, so I was working on that for a few days. Report cards go home tomorrow; I expect to hear from Crazy Parent again by tomorrow evening. Yay.

2) I somehow ended up at the rodeo on Saturday night. A friend and I actually were on our way to the Monster Truck show, but we decided that that wasn't QUITE redneck enough for us. (Just kidding. The Monster Trucks actually sold out, but--lucky for us--there was a rodeo like half a mile up the road, so we figured hell, why not. (No, seriously. I even have the Tshirt--and the confederate flag shot glass--to prove it.) And I'll be damned if it didn't turn out to be a lot of fun. It would HAVE to be, with "cow tail decorating" as an actual event. Hellz yeah!

3) It was around this time in the weekend that I started to feel really, really crappy. One not-so-short visit to the ER later and, whaddya know, I have bronchitis. Awesome.

4) Some of my kids came running in this morning with the news that New Kids on the Block IS COMING TO FORT MYERS!!!!!!!!! (It was funny, too--a whole bunch of former students even came down, because they know of my love for the Kids.) I missed them in the "big cities" of Tampa and Miami in November...so now they're coming to ME. Tickets go on sale Saturday morning. Holla!!

So...that's about it. I'm off to bed now.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Just go with me here

Today in science, we were talking about communities and populations. In scientific terms, a community is a particular area (forest, pond, ocean, whatever) and populations are the groups of living creatures that live in that community (squirrels, fish, dolphins, etc).

As I was teaching this concept, I drew an ocean on the board. Now, if you've never seen me draw, you should know that I still have the same artistic ability as I did as a first grader--so my "ocean" consisted of a series of wavy lines. Then I had to draw the populations that lived in that ocean. I managed a decent starfish (which I chose due solely to the fact that it IS easy to draw), a banana (aka a dolphin) and a shark (which looked more like a goldfish cracker). As the kids mocked my artwork, I kept saying the same thing, something I repeat EVERY time class instruction requires--unfortunately--drawings: "Just go with me here." (As in, "that's a DOLPHIN?")

Next, I attempted a forest. Now, I can do an okay tree. "How about a bird?" a student suggested.

Hey, great idea! I can TOTALLY draw a bird. (You know, a "W" up in the sky.)

And after that, the little sh*ts just started messing with me.

"A rabbit?" came the next idea.

I added a "rabbit."

"A squirrel!!" said someone else.

That one gave me pause. I thought for a minute, and then added the saddest-looking squirrel you've ever seen.

"A deer!"

Crap. I added my deer.

It was when I heard "a beaver!" that I realized what they were doing. They were purposely choosing animals that they knew I'd have a hard time drawing.

And I have to tell you, as I looked at my "forest," I had to laugh along with them.
Isn't "Fun Run" an oxymoron?

I sent this out as an email, but I wanted to post it up here, too, so I don't miss anyone. Plus, I don't have email addresses for some of you.

My school kickstarted a new fundraiser today, the Fun Run. This company comes out and sets up a track/course thing, and the kids collect pledges for every lap that they run. The teachers are the "Team Coaches" for their class (or team), there to motivate them, cheer them on, etc. Well, somehow our first "team meeting" took a horrible and tragic turn, and I somehow found myself agreeing to do the run WITH them.

So: I am asking if anyone out there would like to pledge me. The average # of laps is 30 (you have 30 minutes, but they're smaller laps--not like a real track or anything) and you're not allowed to go over 35 laps (so that would be the max--LOL. Yeah, cuz I can totally do that). You can pledge anything from 10 cents a lap (for an average total donation of about $3) to $1 a lap (for about $30)--or more, if you're feeling saucy.

The run is next Friday, I think, and you won't have to send in the money until we see how many laps I actually run (and I use the term "run" very loosely here).

I just want to set a good example for my kids and put my money where my mouth is. If they're going to do it, then--as it appears--so am I. If nothing else, the entertainment value alone should be priceless. I know you all wish you could be here for this event/spectacle.

As a special incentive, I'll email all donors a team photo.

Either way, wish me luck.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Happy birthday, Amanda!

Today, my daughter turned 16.

I just talked to her for a while. I asked her if she felt any differently, and here was her answer (almost verbatim, because it was so funny that I tried really hard to remember it so I could share it with all of you):

"You know what, it's funny, 'cuz I do kind of feel different--like, older. 'Cuz before, if you're at a dance or something, and you're dancing with a guy, and he asks you how old you are, and you have to say 'I'm 15,' well, that's not that great. But NOW, if he asks me how old I am and I say 'I'm 16,' then now he'll be all like, 'Oh, REALLLLY? That's cool.' And I can be like, 'Yeah.' "
I'm a Loser

Today, the school nurse announced a Teacher Biggest Loser contest. If you want to join, you put $5 into the Prize Fund. You weigh in every week (from now until Spring Break, in April). You then have to pay for any weight you GAIN, if you skip a weigh-in, and if you drop out before the end of the contest. The teacher with the highest percentage of weight loss wins all the money in the pot (whatever that may be by April). (I responded to her email announcement of the contest with: "So, are you saying we're all a bunch of heffers then?")

And you know what, we have some shady teachers, too. Our first weigh-in has to be sometime this week, and already she had teachers stuffing their pockets and eating huge meals right before they went to get weighed for the first time. Tactically speaking, there are 2 benefits to that: 1) If you "pad" your starting weight, it will look like you lost more weight than you actually did that first week and 2) The higher your starting weight, the more you HAVE to lose and therefore, you could get a higher percentage of total weight loss (which, again, is how the winner is decided).

I'm going to go in on it, but I wish they'd started this earlier: I've already lost like 15 lbs this school year and now, I'm only aiming to lose another 10 lbs or so. That means that even if I DO hit that goal, the most I would/could lose was 15% of my starting body weight. And some of the other teachers are quite a bit bigger than me, which means they have more weight TO lose and would therefore end up with a higher percentage. (Does that make sense?) In other words, even if I kick ASS, I'm not going to go much higher than 15%, and so some of the, um, curvier/stockier teachers would, in theory, be able to top that. Their max potential is higher than mine.

But, hey--if I DO lose that 10 lbs, then I guess that's all that really matters, right? Even if I'm NOT the Biggest Loser, I'm still a winner.

No, f*ck that. I want the money.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

My new favorite comedian

Daniel Tosh (there's some bad language so be careful--but it's totally worth it. The first 2 are shorter; if you like him and/or have lots of time on your hands, you can go on to the longer ones)

Saturday, January 03, 2009

You know you're getting old when...

* You realize that your favorite movie ever (Girls Just Want to Have Fun) came out 24 years ago.

* You've been best friends with the same person for 26 years.

* You start paying attention to Boniva commercials (if you don't know what I'm talking about, it's because osteoporisis is not yet on your radar. Bully for you).

* You use the phrase "bully for you".

* You refer to that 21-year-old across the street as a "nice kid."

* Your doctors are now younger than you.

* Your arthritis starts acting up in cold weather and on airplanes.

* Actually, the fact that you have arthritis at ALL.

* Spicy food gives you heartburn.

* Your joints pop when getting into various karate stances (not to mention various OTHER positions...)

* You start to think that some of the Golden Girls' outfits are actually kind of cute.

* You are now ENDING a night out at 10 pm, not beginning one.

* You get excited when their Match.com profile actually lists a COLOR under "hair," instead of "none"

These are all true stories, my friends.

Feel free to add your own.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Billy Blanks don't play

For those of you who would like to lose weight, exercise more or just improve your general health in 2009, you need to go buy Billy Blanks' Tae Bo Total Body Fat Blaster--right now *.

Several years ago, when I first lost all that weight (about 30 lbs, if I remember correctly), a large part of that was due to tae bo. I've tried many at-home fitness videos, and that was the only one I ever stuck with. It about killed me at first, too. I started with the beginning video and I remember only making it through the first 15 minutes. I hung in there, though, and when I was able to complete the entire beginning workout in a respectable amount of time, I moved on to the advanced workout--and had to start all over again.

I was in WalMart the other day and saw the Fat Blasting DVD. I've lost about 15 pounds in the last few months, but--with about 7-10 lbs to go--I feel like I've hit that plateau. I'm still walking 3-5 times a week, but I've been doing that for so long that I absolutely need to shake things up again. Not to mention the fact that I need to combat the almost-inevitable weight gain that often comes with quitting smoking. Enter Billy Blanks.

I just used the DVD for the first time and, once again, I only made it through the first 15 minutes before I was dripping with sweat and about to collapse on the ground. I am so excited to start my tae bo regimine again. Tae Bo is great because it's actually FUN--plus, he changes up the various exercises so often that you can't get bored. One word of warning: the people in the DVD look so damn strong and badass doing these moves, and you WILL feel (and, chances are, LOOK) like a straight-up jackass when you first start. (I refuse to do the workout unless I'm home alone.)

Trust me, though: I know it'll be totally worth it.


* You can get it used on Amazon for about $4 for the DVD, plus shipping--an amazing deal.

Introducing...The Bachelor

This is what our fridge is reduced to when I go out of town.

Apparently, my roommate has been living on fruit cups (top left), cheese slices (drawer) and celery sticks (middle right) for the last 12 days.

Thursday, January 01, 2009


I'm one of those people who becomes very reflective around the New Year. I definitely take stock of what I've accomplished in the past year, the failures I've had, the challenges I've faced, and how I'm going to take all of that with me into the next year. What are my personal strengths and weaknesses? And how can I become a better ME?

Oooh, hang on, I'm going to order a pizza...

Okay. You know, I'm not impressed with Dominoes' online ordering system so far. I always end up calling the actual store. This time, the price on the online coupon I had and what I actually had in the cart wasn't matching up.

Um, where was I? Oh, yeah. Deep thoughts. Personal reflection. Spiritual growth.

Therefore, around this time of year, I don't make "resolutions," although I guess that's what they are. I just focus on the 2 or 3 things about me that I think are holding me back the most. (#1 key to resolutions: don't make too many of them, which lowers your chance of success. Just focus on a few things each year). Without further ado, here are my personal goals for 2009:

1) Quit smoking
* Ah, an oldy but goody. In my defense, this one hasn't appeared on my list in a few years, either because I just didn't WANT to quit or because I knew it probably wasn't going to happen. But you know, it's freakin' time to try again. Nikki quit, which is inspiring. Plus, it recently occured to me that I have now officially been smoking for half my life. Yes, half of the years I have been alive have been spent as a smoker. Also, I have asthma, so continuing to smoke is just pure stupidity. Not to mention all of the usual health and beauty reasons to quit. I really don't need to explain this one, so I'm just going to ask for your thoughts and prayers as I embark on this journey AGAIN, as it'll be a bitch. (And so will I, LOL.) FYI: I've chosen the gum as my aid.

2) Get my finances in order
* Good God, my credit sucks. And I'm talking the crack-whore-in-the-ghetto kind of sucks. I'm behind on ALL of my major bills. I could blame it on the economy (which has hurt a LOT of people) or my BP (because there was that brief period this year where I did go a bit "up" and spent quite a bit of money that I couldn't afford to spend) but really, it's just me. It may take bill consolidation, but I am going to be sitting down and making a list of my debts (not counting student loans, because I'm not technically behind on those right now; I was in school so no payments were due. And yes I KNOW that I should, at the very least, continue to pay interest, even when no official payment is due--but seriously, I need to focus on the bills that I'm really, truly behind on first, the ones that are hurting my credit TODAY). I really do think that I'll need to go the credit counseling/consolidation route. (And yes, I know there are a lot of scammers out there, but I've done my research and I know the organization I'll be using. If you're not familiar with the whole debt consolidation process, check here: http://www.cccsfl.org/crisisManagement/debtmanagement.jsp . It's not a loan, it's just a way of paying down debt a little more effectively. I won't be debt-free by the end of the year, but I will definitely be on my way.

3) Romantic life: WTF?
* I met Shawn about 14 days into 2008, and he's been, in one way or another, a part of my life pretty much since then, either as my best friend or my boyfriend. (Yes, that's right: it's the world's Worst Kept Secret and I know most of you know this already, but Shawn and I are...well, I don't know what we ARE, but he's back in my life. And yes, I know: I pledged that you would NEVER hear me talk about him again, that I was done with him, that I had finally found my pride and dignity and was breaking free. I lied.)

This year, I'm going to figure out this love stuff. I don't know exactly where I'll be by the end of the year, but I see myself in a happy relationship. Will it be with him? I don't know. And yes, I know that you don't NEED a relationship. But I want one. I'm just happier in one. I'm a "relationship person." That does NOT mean, though, that if I'm not in a relationship by the end of the year, I'll consider this particular resolution (oh, I'm sorry: personal goal) a failure. I'd sure like to be, but hell, I'll settle for "recognizing my own self worth and valuing myself enough to not let others treat me like crap."

And I'm getting there, regardless of what you may think. I know that I've gotten in my own damn way more times that I can count, I often settle for much less than I deserve, and I sacrifice WAYYY too much of who I am and what *I* really want, just to make a relationship work. Trust me, I've learned a lot of lessons along the way, and I continue to learn them every day.

I know you guys may look at me and think that I must be legally retarded due to many of my decisions and actions, but I know that every single experience I've had, decision I've made and person I've met have all been for a reason. And as stupid as this may sound, maybe I HAVE to keep making mistakes when it comes to Shawn, because it's going to make me really recognize and appreciate The One For Me when he does come along. Maybe I have to keep fucking up right NOW so that I don't do it later. Maybe I have to admit what I really, truly want and experience how it feels to love someone so much but yet hurt so badly when you KNOW it could be great, IF ONLY the other person would give as much as you are and care as much as you do and want to be with you as much as you want to be with them--maybe I have to experience THAT in order to really be able to receive...whatever's coming. Do I WANT to be with Shawn? Yes. Do I really, truly recognize the fact that he may NOT be the one? Yes. Do I want to give up on him, and us, yet? No. (Although, just for the record, I AM dating other people, ad as I said before, if I met a great guy who KNEW that he wanted to be with me, then yes, as sad as part of me would be, I would, and will, be able to walk away.)

I DO know that I'll be truly happy some day, and not just because 2 psychics have told me so. See, the bottom line is: I'm not stupid. (No, seriously, I'm NOT.) I'm just the kind of person who has to get burned by the flame a BUNCH of times before I realize that it hurts and maybe I shouldn't do that anymore, as opposed to the person who can learn that very same lesson the first time--or the person who wouldn't do it in the first damn place because fire is freakin' hot, dumbass, and what did you THINK would happen?

Ha. That's a good analogy.

So...yeah. Those are the 3 things I'll be working on this year. I figure that if I can improve in those 3 areas, then I'll be able to call 2009 a success--and myself a better person for it.

What about all of you? What personal goals do you have for yourself?

And now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go mainline some nicotine gum. (Seriously, today has been TOUGH. But, unlike many of the last times, I actually WANT to do it this time and am not looking for just the merest excuse to run out and buy a pack.)