October 29, 2008

Ben's Rayhawk

While watching the TB game on Monday night I made a bet with Ben, who was positive the Rays would lose, that he had to wear a 'Rayhawk' until the team lost. Well, as you probably know, the game was rain delayed, so my brave little Ben wore his new hairdo to work yesterday. It looked so funny! I wanted him to paint it blue but he said no way and I was too tired to go to the store to buy the stuff. He was so embarrassed by all the strange looks at work that he shaved if off this morning. I'm not happy about it, but at least I got one full day of him wearing his Ray Hawk. Good ole' Ben!

October 28, 2008

Cool Cousin Kody

Ben's cousin, Kody, and his wife, Jenny, and their 13 month old daughter, Ashton, came to visit this past week. Kody loves to kite surf so we went down to Ft. DeSoto at the South end by the Skyway bridge and watched him surf. The wind was a little too light for him but he was out there for an hour or two. It was very entertaining to watch. He straps himself into a harness and connects a 12 foot kite to it and off he goes. I'm always concerned the wind is going to pick him up and not put him back down but he told me it wasn't that dangerous. I'm not sure I believe him, though.

After kite surfing we went to the nicer beach and I watched while they played in the water. Ashton went running for the water and dove right in. She must have been in there for 45 minutes or more and the water was freezing!!! Kody found sand dollars and sea urchins while snorkeling, and brought them to the shore to show Sadie and me.

The next day we met Ben's Aunt Nancy and Uncle Richard for lunch and then went Kayaking in the Hillsborough River. Mike and Sarah showed us this drop off spot where the alligators are plentiful. It makes me a little nervous, but I stayed on land with Sadie anyways. Ben and Kody disappeared for an hour and when they returned Ben was soaking wet. He had gotten out of his kayak in waist deep water to lift it over a log so they could keep going down a narrow part of the river. It probably wasn't the smartest thing in the world do to but I frankly forgave him.

Here is a picture of Sadie watching from shore. She loves to be outdoors and watched in wonder at the stunts of her cool cousin Kody.

October 21, 2008

Hired x 3

Well, I knew when I quit my full time job that I would have to find some part-time work. It was important to me to stay in the educational field, because I really want to go back to work in the school system one day. My goal was to get hired through Florida Virtual School, but after months of rejection I finally decided to branch out. So, in the past month or two I have found a couple other jobs.

JOB # 1 - Tutoring elementary school students in reading and math. This is a great job and I really enjoy it. However, I was only assigned 2 students!!! Also, this job is very 'seasonal'. I'll probably only tutor the kids until February or March. So, I went back to the drawing board and found....

JOB # 2 - Online teacher for Educate Online, Inc. This job I can do from home, but I am on the phone during the teaching session so I'll only be able to do it on Saturdays and weeknights when Ben is with Sadie. With this job I had to commit to at least 10 hours a week. The pay is not great, but I feel like the potential for advancement is high. Also, the reason I've had so much trouble getting a job with FLVS is due to my lack of experience. With this job I am considered an online teacher, not just a tutor. Not bad, right? Well, the paperwork takes 4 MONTHS to process! So, I was contacted by another company saying they had a need for online tutors....

JOB # 3 - Online tutor for Tutor.com. I'm pretty excited about this job. The way it works is almost like you are instant messaging a student online with a cool 'whiteboard' area where you can draw and demonstrate principles/pictures. I've had quite a bit of training in it already and it's really impressive. Hopefully, I'll start this one in the next week or two.

I was a little discouraged that after years of education and two degrees the best job I could get was as a tutor, but you can't put a pricetag on the flexibility they provide which allows me to be at home with Sadie. And, from what I've done so far, they're pretty stress-free and suprisingly fun. When the paperwork from job # 2 goes through I may have to reevaulate what I can handle, but if it's not overwhelming I'd really like to try to stick with all three for a year or two and see if (1) I get a promotion with one of the companies or (2) the experience allows me to get hired through FLVS. Time will tell....

October 13, 2008

Melt My Heart

Sadie had, what I think is, a HUGE milestone this past weekend. She may not know what it means, but after 8 and a half months of me mumbling, "Ma-ma-ma-ma" at her she is finally saying it back. That's right, Sadie is almost, kindof, without knowing it saying my name. I never imagined I'd be this excited about it but I feel like it is a huge accomplishment (as much for me as her). She has always been a chatterbox but it has gotten even worse lately. The only time she stops talking is when she's sleeping. Ben has Sadie trained that when he pats her mouth quickly she starts 'awwing' and she moves her pitch up and down and then laughs at herself.

She is really changing a lot lately. Luckily her hair is starting to grow. I still can't really do anything with it other than the 'spike' hairdo but at least I know there's hope for the future. Sadie also got her third tooth two weeks ago. Her top ones still have not poked through and I hope they won't for a while because she is SO unhappy when she's teething. Sadie has zero interest in crawling, she won't even lay on her belly. However, she is standing really well. I usually stand her up in her crib while I fold her laundry and she holds on unassisted for a couple minutes. She loves to stand! In fact, when I go to sit her down she'll lock her legs and refuse to sit on her bum. Maybe we should just skip all the effort of getting her to crawl and try to teach her to walk. Some people say that experts say (although I've never seen it printed) that kids that never crawl have developmental problems. But several people have told me they never crawled and they're all really smart. Should I be concerned?

She has a really funny, entertaining personality and she keeps me laughing all day. It's really funny to 'rough house' with her. For instance, when she's sitting up on my bed I'll push her over and she laughs and laughs! It sounds mean, I know, but she loves to play aggressively and be pushed over. I should probably give her more independent time but she is so entertaining that I could sit and play with her all day and not get too bored. Whether she's chasing the dog, chattering like she has some juicy gossip to tell me, or eating in the bathtub she always has a mischievous grin and is quick to giggle. This age is a lot of fun!

October 10, 2008

Never Try to Get Negative Attention!

I went by Adams Middle School today where I spent two years of my life trying to trick teenagers into learning about stuff they weren't interested in. Teaching was exhausting and I complained about it a lot but I really loved it and miss it in many ways. It is so rewarding to build positive relationships with students that have never had good role models. And I loved having a creative outlet to come up with interesting hands-on activities and fun experiments. Also, some of the best people I have ever met are teachers and administrators in the school system. The people I worked with give me confidence that the educational system can't be too bad if there are people like them working hard every day.

Anyways, after I took care of the business for which I had stopped by, I went visiting around campus. My fear was that I would run into my students and not be able to remember their names. Sure enough - it happened. What was interesting was that I remembered all of the names of my 'good' students and had a total mental block remembering the names of my 'difficult' students. One student whom I had for 6th and 7th grade and was an especial terror had been completely erased from my mind. Surely I knew his name because I had written it on so many referrals but I had a total mental block. And yet, the 'perfect' students that I had spent much less time working with and worrying over I had a sharp recollection of their names, interests, comments, projects, ect. This pattern was repeated over and over again as I ran into probably 30 or 40 of my students.

This was a very simple observation but I thought it was really meaningful. First off, I think our minds have a way of holding on to positive things in life and purging itself of stressful or negative memories. I have also noticed this in regards to childbirth. Watching Sarah endure pregnancy has reminded me of all the forgotten discomforts I went through. Now, I only have a slight recollection of the pains and aches that seemed so debilitating at the time. That's really amazing to me and something I should be more grateful for! Second, I realized that although most of my students were acting out for attention and they at times received it, in the long run it had the opposite desired effect. That can be likened to life in many ways which I won't bore you with. Lastly, it reminded me of the scripture where the Lord says if we truly repent He will no longer remember our sins. That always seemed incomprehensible to me but I think maybe I understand a little more now, in a way.

In the end, it was hard to say goodbye, yet again, to so many friends. Teaching full-time is positively out of the question but it made me hope that I could find a less time consuming way of working with kids and feeling like I'm contributing. Funny, that sounds a lot like seminary. Very interesting....

October 03, 2008

Family of Four

We all say and do things that we regret. So, I may have accidentally promised my parents EIGHT YEARS AGO that if they got me a dog I would take him after I graduated college. What parents would actually enforce a promise made that long ago? I also said that I was going to be an astronaut and marry Tom Cruise - nobody is holding me to those statements. Why, for some strange reason, they thought I meant it when I told them I would take Shadow is beyond me. Nonetheless, here he sits, at my feet as I type.

Shadow is no ordinary dog; he has a mind for mischief. Last year, when we were dog sitting, Ben had made 16 cupcakes on the eve of my birthday. When we woke up the next morning there were only six left. We never found a crumb! He ate the wrappers and all!! TEN CUPCAKES!!! Once he ate half of a ham my mom made when we were about to have a general authority visit for dinner. That was stressful. On another occasion, he pulled a jar of peanut butter down off a shelf in the cupboard, somehow got the lid off, and licked the entire jar clean except for the last inch because his tongue couldn't reach. We frequently find snicker wrappers in his 'remains'. I was really mad at him when he ate the two boxes of tagalong girl scout cookies my mom bought for me. He has a desperate need to dig and does so any chance he gets. He thinks that beds were made for his comfort and that the trash can is his dog bowl. Are you starting to see the picture? I could go on....

Don't get me wrong, we love Shadow! He is part of the family. I just want to visit him instead of live with him. However, one good thing in all this is that Sadie adores him. Her little neck is always whipping back and forth in search of him. She chases him all around the house in her walker. She's getting pretty good at it too. She has figured out how to get up speed and then she rams him. Poor dog. He hides under the table now when he sees me head for the walker. The only thing he likes about her is that she drops food on the ground.

Hopefully, we will all survive our time together. And in closing, may I say that I have learned my lesson and will no longer make promises that I haven't thoroughly thought through. I hope my parents will put into practice what they have always taught me: forgive and forget! PLEASE!!!!