Monthly Archives: April 2009

There’s good news…and bad news

The good news is there’s apparently nothing wrong with my colon. So all the fasting and pain associated with drinking 64 ounces of Gatorade laced with 14 doses of laxative to down 4 laxative pills, was basically just medical torture. Sure, I guess since it ruled something out, it did help in some way. But I’m not sure it’s a way any part of my digestive track will forget any time soon.

According to my doctor (who called me at like 8pm and talked to me for a good 10 minutes about my issues), this means more tests. Especially since I’m still getting sick. I had about a month without any problems (which almost made me reconsider the disgusting concotion above), but yesterday right after lunch things started to get bad and they just went down the toilet from there (literally). Gross…believe me, I know.

Now I get to go have a HIDA scan to see if some how my germy best friend managed to slime me with her gross gallbladder cooties. The only upside to this is that unlike my colonoscopy where I was very hungry (and sick of liquids), I am actually commanded to eat a dinner of really fatty foods the night before (I’m debating between a Western Bacon Cheeseburger* from Hardees, a trip to the Old Country Buffet or a chicken taco salad from Cancun). Plus, according to my formally disease-ridden best friend, at the doctor’s office I get to drink something that tastes like a melted vanilla milkshake. That I can get on board for.

What I am less thrilled about is the other test I have to have. Not only does it involve someone sticking a needle in me and drawing blood (I am a HUGE needle baby and really sort of freak out about it), but it is also for Celiac disease. While I know having my gallbladder out will be more pain in the short term, the idea of having Celiac disease is going to hurt way more in the end. There is no surgery or pill I can take for it. All I can do is cut gluten out of my diet and hope it solves the problem. I don’t know if you’ve looked at any product in your pantry lately, but something like 90% of them have gluten. And the ones that don’t are the ones I’m not that fond of anyway.

Oddly, one of my co-workers just found out she has Celiac’s. It’s particularly wierd because earlier this year we switched rooms. She didn’t have any issues until she went in to my old room. I didn’t start to have any issues until construction on my room started this year. Right now, I’m blaming the room for whatever is wrong with me. Unfortunately, I can’t make the room change it’s diet to glutten free. Stupid digestive track!

*Growing up in California, my favorite burger was the Carl’s Junior Western Bacon Cheeseburger. I’m pretty sure I had dreams about them. When I found out Hardees was owned by the same company (or maybe vice versa), I was thrilled! Except they only offer the WBC as a specialty item every now and again. And of course, it figures they are offering it now…while I’m on a diet!

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Lamest toy ever

This will be a quicky since I have promised my husband full computer access to play with his new iPod. It’s only fair seeing as how last night I monopolized it grading research papers. Not as fun as exploring the wonders of a new iPod, but a necessary evil of my life.

Speaking of toys, yesterday while I was putting my son’s clothes away in his closet, he found one of his toys which I thought I had buried away. He’s a clever little monkey and I should have known he’d find it in one of his raids. When he brought it out of his room and started playing with it, I remembered just why I’d put it away in the first place: it is, quite possibly, the lamest toy ever.

It’s a truck. But not a cool truck. As anti-traditional boy toys as I usually am (not for any gender biased reasons, I just think they are stupid in general), I can appreciate the “cool” factor of some trucks: dump trucks, fire trucks, big constructiony trucks. I get why boys want to play with those. Or at least I kind of get it. But this truck, which was a present from one of my in-laws, is a street sweeper. That’s right, a street sweeper.

Now, I have to wonder what genius thought, “hmmm, let’s make a new toy kids are gonna love. I’ve got it! We’ll take the lamest motorized machine on the planet, the one everyone knows does no actual good and serves no real purpose, and turn it into a toy for little kids.” Freakin’ idiot!

The truck even has four push buttons so it talks. My favorite phrase: “Street sweeper…keepin’ it clean.” Wow…lame is not a strong enough word.

Tonight while he’s asleep, I’m going to hide it somewhere. Only this time I’ll do a better job!

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Back on the treadmill, again

So, as part of a weekend of reckless spending, I bought myself another treadmill. I say another because I currently have a treadmill…or more accurately, what once was a treadmill, sitting in my newly refinished basement. In an attempt to get the old one downstairs, my husband took it apart. Only to find out that much like Humpty Dumpty, he couldn’t put it back together again. Not for lack of trying, but he cut some wires and they will not be reconnected.

So, we went shopping and I got a new one. It stands less than five feet from the withered skeleton of the old one.

This treadmill is nothing really fancy. At least not in terms of modern day exercise equipment. We got the cheapest one they had. It still does neat things like take my pulse (I don’t think it’s accurate though), count my calories, track my distance, and it even has several cool work out modes. For home use, it seems fancy to me, but that could be because I bought my old one four years ago, and it was used.

It is nothing compared to the super fancy treadmills they have at the gym I am still a member at. Now, I know it seems like the height of American decadence to have home exercise equipment and a gym membership, but I swear this is not just because I’m a lazy, over indulgent American (although I do admit to being one). I got the gym membership with the best of intentions. I was even faithful (well, three times a week) for several months. But then my workout buddy got sick. And work started piling up. And it was cold. And I was tired. And then I got sick. The list just keeps going from there.

I enrolled at the gym because it’s pretty close to my house. But even as close as it is, by the time I get my workout clothes on, drive over there, work out for at least 30 minutes (anything less seems a real waste), and drive home, it’s at least 45 minutes. Plus, I need my wind down/cool down time. Plus, since the gym has cardio machines AND weights, I felt obligated to do more in order not to waste the trip, so my average trip took me more like an hour.

This may not seem like much, but on a night like tonight, when I had 20 some odd research papers to grade, an extra hour to work out just isn’t in the cards. I finished grading around 9:45 and the thought of going out to exercise was out of the question. By the time I could sink in to bed it’d be after 11. The young me may not have minded, but now I get up at 5:30 and every moment of sleep I get is precious.

With the treadmill right downstairs, I threw on my pj bottoms and hoped on for 20 minutes. Now, I realize 20 minutes isn’t much. At the gym I’d have gotten an hour. But given the time of night, there is no way I would have gone to the gym. I would have plopped on the couch and read or watched TV. It may have only been 20 minutes, but because I have a treadmill, I exercised instead. That’s an extra mile I wouldn’t have walked, a heart I wouldn’t have stimulated and probably at least the calories in that big handful of goldfish crackers I needed while grading (I had serious hunger pains and salt cravings). Plus, tonight was the third straight evening I walked on the treadmill (the other two nights I did 30 minutes),  which even in my heyday I never did at the gym.

Sure, it’s a real waste to drop a couple hundred on a treadmill and a gym membership, but at least I’m using one of them. And I’m pretty sure my gym membership will be up soon.

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They joys of being adequate

We made AYP this year. Sigh (the big relieved kind). For those of you not familiar with every acronym out there, AYP stands for adequate yearly progress. It is part of No Child Left Behind, and therefore, the bane of my existance.

Although AYP doesn’t exactly impact me directly, my school hasn’t made the cut off for the last couple of years. We were on some sort of super secret probation as a result. Well, I guess it wasn’t really secret as each year at about this time, the numbers come out and school names get posted in the paper. I think last year we were the only school in our district who didn’t make it. That wouldn’t be so bad, except that at our corporation wide meetings, the superintendant praises every school that does and the principals smuggly gloat at their greatness, even though when we get the same kids at the high school level, they are barely able to write their own name. Sigh (the frustrated kind).

But according to the latest scores, we made it! And, this year the bar was set higher than in previous years. In fact, two of our three elementary schools did not make AYP. Only two high schools in our county did make it. And several schools, including two of the top 20 public high schools in the state (which happens to be right down the street), didn’t make it.

Now, I’m not bragging here. I happen to think those two schools are pretty darn good schools. I don’t think we are somehow superior educators (well, except for me), and I know we don’t have the financial or building resources some of our surrounding schools do. What we do have is a faculty and administration worried about not passing and therefore doing everything in our power to pass. The other, more affluent schools, who had always made it, may have gotten a little comfortable.

Or then again, it may have been they got screwed by the system. It is a very flawed pass/fail system where failing even one of the categories means the school fails the entire process. I’m not quite sure how that makes any sort of sense. After all, if a student failed one assignment, there is no way we could justify having them fail the entire class. Even colleges are not that rigorous. And yet, not meeting just one of the criteria for AYP, means your school is inadequate.

The criteria for passing pretty much boil down to state test scores and graduation rates. It’s not enough to meet the state pass rate for the test (which we always do). With AYP, all sub categories of students, must meet the state pass level. These sub categories include minority students (focusing primarily on African American scores), students who live in poverty and special education students. Every year what holds us back (and what held one of those top 20 schools–they missed it by 1 kid) is the percent of our special education students passing state mandated tests.

This is ludicrous. Some of my special education students are so low functioning that they cannot spell simple words like hidden correctly (I got it with one d, and it was not a typo) or write paragraphs with more than three or four sentences. I mean, sure, they can load paragraphs with things that look like sentences, but they don’t have the subjects and verbs to actually make them sentences. And no amount of individual attention seems to help some of them understand why those “sentences” aren’t sentences. Of the four special education students in my remedial English class, all passed the class (which moved at a painfully slow pace), but only one of them passed the state mandated test.

The only reason they passed the class is because they worked hard and showed real improvement. They put there all into the class. They wrote and rewrote essays. They studied for tests. They asked countless questions and got one on one attention. And yet, their ability levels are so low that even after six solid weeks of pure test prep activities, they didn’t pass the test (I don’t yet have their spring scores…but I have my fingers crossed for one of them).

I won’t even go in to my rant about the completely ridiculous nature of compulsory standardized testing (especially with really flawed tests), nor the exhausting (and unachievable) goals of No Child Left Behind on the public education system. I will, however, say it depressed me greatly that I am excited we are finally average, especially when we are a really good school with very high expectations that the majority of our student body rise to meet.

Believe me, I’ve taught at bad schools. I know what they are like. We are not merely adequate. Too bad the government has no clue.

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I’m getting too old for this sh*t

I am not now, nor have I ever been what you might call athletic. Despite being pretty tall, much to my father’s dismay, I was not born with anything resembling coordination. During my freshmen year of college, I stepped off a curb on my way to work (at the dinning hall across the street) and managed to pull all of the ligaments in my ankle. I crutched it around campus for the next several weeks. It was misery.

My lack of athletic prowess is not only well known among my friends and family members, but also among the students and faculty at my school. So when our student council sponsor sent around an email asking for volunteers to play in the charity basketball game against students, I thought I’d be cute. I offered to be the best bench warmer she could ever ask for. In spite of the fact she KNOWS I am a klutz in any sporting arena, she not only put me on the team, but put my name first on the list.

Being the fairly good sport I am (unless it’s a board game), I decided I’d do my part. That included going to school today in sweatpants, an official charity b-ball shirt, tennis shoes, Nike swoosh socks and best of all, my hair in two very short pigtails. Once I got to school, my room was freezing as usual, so I added my hooded sweatshirt to the outfit. My first period class was VERY amused. One of my students passed me later on in the hallway, looked at me, started laughing and said, “no way.” She repeated herself several times, each time the laughter got a little louder.

I was not offended though. This is exactly what I expected.

When game time came, I felt fairly confident. The teachers’ team had far more players than bench space. I thought my spot as benchwarmer was solidified. Especially since most of the other teachers seemed to actually want to play. One of my dear friends (who actually still holds records in her town for her mad basketball skills), made me do some sort of shooting drill as a warm-up while the kids were filling up the gym. I think I missed the point because I just kept grabbing the ball and shooting it (I made half my shots, but I was really close and no one was trying to get in my way). I guess I was supposed to be running up, getting a ball and throwing it to someone else. It was all very confusing.

The first quarter looked good. We were up by 4 or 6 points and the guys were sweating, but handling it. I was safe. All the really good players were showing off and having fun. I clapped a bunch and even did the wave whenever we got a basket.

The second quarter was also great. I sat, drank some water, and clapped a whole bunch.

Third quarter was when things went seriously wrong. In an act of utter betrayal, my teammates decided I needed to go in. I immediately reminded them I wasn’t very good. To which one of the guys said, “no problem, we’ll play zone, ok?” I nodded at him, no doubt with a blank look on my face. “You have no idea what I’m talking about, do you?” I shook my head vigorously. He pointed to a spot on the floor and told me to stand there. That I could do.

As it turned out, I did not, in fact, get to stand there. I had to run….a lot. I only got to stand in that spot when we had the ball. And even then I had to run around that spot more than just stand in it. Unfortunately it seemed every few seconds the other team got the ball and I found myself hauling ass down to the other side of the court. I ran up and down. And up and down. And then up and down some more.

We had a time out called and I was offered a chance for a sub. But my pride was up a bit and I was still feeling pretty good. I think I had one of those adrenaline rushes I’ve heard so much about. So, like a fool, I stayed in. I played (and ran) as hard as I could. Not that it did me much good. I never even got to shoot for a basket. But, I was a warm body running around the court.

When the buzzer rang, I fell into my seat and downed my remaining water. We were down by about 6 points, so the big guns went back in. We ended up winning with only five seconds left in the game, thanks in part to a free throw by one of the former basketball coaches and an excellent layup by another coach (of a different sport, I think).

I managed not to fall down or get a ball in my face (not everyone was so lucky), so I call the game a success. However, as I sit writing this, my back is aching in places I didn’t even know existed and although it’s barely after 8, I’m exhuasted. I think next year when they ask for volunteers I will keep my fool mouth shut and my butt on a bench cheering where it belongs!

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Teeny, tiny, tax boo-boo

I think I may have made a little, teeny mistake with my taxes. I’m really hoping the federal government (and the state one for that matter), won’t mind too much. I don’t think it’s the kind of mistake that’s going to land me in the clink like Al Capone. It’s not tax evasion. More of a mix-up of forms.

See, last year I got some money when my aunt died. Having only a basic working knowledge of taxes and fearing actually finding myself behind bars for putting a decimal point in the wrong place, we decided to take our taxes to professionals this year. It’s the first time anyone except my grandmother has ever done my taxes (and she only did them twice–oddly enough, it was the only other time I’ve ever owed money). The accountants did their math magic and found out that not only would we not be getting a refund this year (I had little hope of that), we actually owe the government a hefty little chunk of change (at least for us).

Not the end of the world since the inheritance covers it (although I’m still a bit bitter that I have to pay taxes on money my aunt already paid taxes on just because she had the gall to die and leave it to me). The accountant made up these little payment coupons for us to send in with large checks. I guess there were four in all. The first one I just wrote checks for and my husband took them to the accountant. The second one I sent in early (or at least I thought it was early). The other two I filed away to be paid closer to their due dates.

Now, here’s where I made that little bitty mistake. I think I misfiled the third and fourth quarter payment slips (read might have thrown them out). However, I have two payment slips in my filing box, so I didn’t think much of it. I even was very careful about checking their due dates so I wouldn’t forget to pay them. One said April 15 and the other June 15. Cool. I had plenty of time. Except as it turns out, they are copies of the originals that I already sent. The date I thought said 2009 actually says 2008. Ooops.

The actual third and fourth payment may have been due in November and January. I paid the third one (yesterday) and have the fourth one waiting to mail. I have to call the accountant tomorrow and explain my miniscule foul up.

I don’t think it can get me in too much trouble. After all, since I’m just doing my 2008 taxes now, it’s not like the money’s actually due before April 15th. If I hadn’t done the prepay thing, the money would have just been due next week. Or at least that’s what I’m hoping. I really don’t have time for a jail sentence, nor do I have the money to pay any kind of penalty (they really did tax the heck out of that inheritance).

Wish me luck….I may need it.

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Sleep Nirvana

Tonight my years of tossing and turning all night end. No longer will I be woken up when my husband drops in to bed hours after I have been visited by the sandman. My mornings of waking up with some sort of krick in my neck will be mere memories. Tonight, I enter sleep nirvana.

Or at least that’s what the sales guy swore to me.

Despite the doctor’s warning not to enter in to any contracts since I was still coming out of sedation, we went shopping for a big boy bed. While visiting my parents earlier this week, my son learned a neat new trick: he climbed out of the pack n’ play, which was the only thing for him to sleep in. I heard him crying in the back room and went to check on him. He flung himself at me, very upset that the door was closed and he couldn’t get out. So, I spent the next 20 minutes laying next to him on the very uncomfortable full size bed, waiting for him to drift off. He did, but I knew this was just the start of my troubles.

Luckily my husband hadn’t been able to get the time off of work, so it was just me and the little guy. That night we had to sleep in the same bed together. I do not know how families who “co-sleep” do it. I got almost no sleep. Not only was I terrified I might toss and or turn on to him, but I was equally worried he’d roll off the bed (much like me, he’s a tosser). He didn’t, but only because I was ultra vigilent and woke up about every 30 minutes. He did roll in to the headboard (twice) and kick, roll on and slap me multiple times in the night.

When we got back home, I noticed he was hiking his foot up onto his crib rail. This made me nervous, so I decided it was time for a big boy bed.

I had no idea where to look for a bed. We got a new bedroom set by calling some number we saw on a sign stuck into the ground near a stop light. We left a message and then got a call back from a guy named “Gino” who invited us to come see his warehouse. Well, not his warehouse. He was helping out a friend, which I’m pretty sure means we bought furniture from the mafia. It’s nice furniture though. We didn’t buy a new mattress, even though Gino had those. We’ve been using my husband’s, which he’s had for something like 14 years now.

Anyway, I remembered hearing commercials for Today’s Bedroom One, so I looked them up online. It turns out they are going through a court ordered liquidation, so we rushed on over. They only had three beds for little boys (not being sexist here, but the others were like glittery, neon pink girly), and one was a nice wooden bunk bed. We got it, and the two mattresses for like $400. While we were there, I casually mentioned how I’d like to have a Tempurpedic mattress (rather than the chinzy generic foam topper we currently have). Our salesguy got right on it. He showed us a whole room full of Tempurpedic mattresses. After laying on about a dozen different beds, we found a winner. And for an AMAZING discount. It retailed at $3200, but the price had been slashed in half. Since we were supposed to be getting a floor model, it was going to be 30% less than that. We were jazzed, and signed on the dotted line (my husband even got a Tempuredic pillow basically thrown in).

Today he and a friend went to pick up our booty. When he called to confirm our pick up, he found our our salesguy had made a mistake. He wasn’t selling us a floor model…we were getting a brand new mattress (and box spring), which wasn’t supposed to get a discount, but since they’d already sold it, we still got it.

It’s all put together and waiting for me. And even though I know that when I rest my head on it, it means the end of spring break, I’m really looking forward to it.

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