Spring is here. The azaleas and dogwoods are in bloom. The trees are budding out with new leaves. The pine trees are stretching towards the sky as new shoots form and reach up toward the sun. Sandals are on the front row of the closet floor and the shorts, capris and breezy skirts are back on the racks.
And the pollen-induced sneezy/hacky/coughing/watery eyes have begun.
In a few weeks I will have been working out regularly for one year. One whole year. For the first time in my life, I have stuck with it for more than a few weeks or months and can proudly say that I have lost, and kept off, 15 pounds thus far! I had hoped that number would be closer to 40, but I'm willing to count the 15 pounds as a victory. I would like to lose the other 25, but I'm not obsessing over it.
Rob needs to lower his cholesterol, so our entire family is eating healthier (except the pickier members, who still turn their noses up at most of the vegetable group). We have switched to whole grains completely, including pastas and rice, added more veggies into our meals and cut out some of the sugary goodies. Some, not all. PMS would be a nightmare for everyone in our house without at least a little bit of chocolate. My favorite treat now is a handful of semi-sweet chocolate chips or a bowl of Raisin Bran.
Yesterday I tried this new workout:
image courtesy of google images
It kicked my arse six ways to Sunday. I figured 20 minutes of intense workout would be a piece of cake as I've been doing a kickboxing cardio program since April. Wrong. Five minutes in and my heart was pounding, sweat was beading and I was sucking wind like an octegenarian on a mountain climb. Which means it was a good workout of course. Might be just what I need to kick start the second year of working out.
If I can manage to not trip myself with my own feet in the grocery aisle that is.
J.T. is doing well in school. He even made the honor roll last nine weeks, an honor we didn't dream of early in his educational career as he struggled to focus and got a slow start learning to read. At the teacher conference on Thursday, we learned that he is a grade level ahead in math AND reading.
Grammar is still a struggle. Tracey's Apostrophe Man would be getting an exhausting workout dealing with our 's issues. Now that he has discovered the apostrophe, he wants to use it whenever he sees an s! The flexibility of the rules in grammar, all of the 'exceptions to the rule', confuse him.
The other chief topic of the conference was attention. He isn't paying any. He's not disruptive, hyper or struggling to stay in his seat. Instead of listening to the lesson, he is re-creating Star Wars battles, inventing new characters for his imaginary games and in general daydreaming. His teacher does a great job of prompting him, giving him cues and working with him to keep him in the flow, but it is a constant battle. I know how hard it is as I keep saying: "Put on your shoes. Please put on your shoes. Do you have your shoes on yet? We can't leave until your feet are inside a pair of shoes! Shoes, shoes, shoes. Now, now, now!"
For a child who is easily distracted or bored, the current state of our education system means we are absolutely dependent on lucking out with an understanding teacher. If J.T. doesn't have a patient teacher, we are going to be in big trouble next year. I have a degree in education and was trained to be as flexible as possible in dealing with students with different learning styles and personalities. Multiple-choice test was a dirty word and worksheets were avoided like the plague.
Our government, regardless of party, thinks that standardized tests like the CRCT are the only and best choice for assessing skill mastery. Portfolios, group assignments, projects, experiments and other forms of applied learning have fallen by the wayside in favor of memorization and worksheet after worksheet. Instead of teaching a few things at a time and teaching them well, teachers are expected to juggle multiple concepts at a time, moving forward after minimal achievement. J.T. has worked on addition, subtraction, double and triple digit addition and subtraction, geometric shapes, quanities, multiplication, area, estimating (concrete thinkers, which means most 2nd graders, find this very, very hard to understand), measuring, etc. For the most part, there has been a total of one week instruction per concept... not enough for this age group.
It frustrates me that these 'smart' people cannot grasp that memorization isn't learning! Merit pay for teachers doesn't work!! No one gets into teaching for the money... it is insulting to think that politicians assume that test scores are falling because teachers aren't working hard enough. Are there bad teachers? Yes. Bad policy is what is strangling our educational system. Shoving facts in and asking them to be regurgitated back out in the form of an a, b, c, or d test shouldn't be considered shooting for the stars.
I am working on plans for hands-on, thinking activities for the kids to do this summer. The feeling that we must desperately supplement their learning gnaws at the back of my brain. I'm very concerned that a generation is coming along that won't have been given the best opportunities to develop their talents and knowledge into satisfying life and career choices.
I'm thinking of doing an in-depth study of phrases used in our household. I'm curious to see where this one ranks:
"But it was an accident!"
The following "accidents" have happened recently 'round our place.
J.T. "accidentally" opened the playroom window, pushed the screen out, and dropped Abby's fave Barbie cell onto the ground. Where the dog was thrilled to find it, even more thrilled to have a cranky lady chase her down and wrest the much slobbered upon plastic from her.
Abby "accidentally" poured all the decorative pebbles out of the candle jar in the guest bathroom. Then "forgot" how to pick them up.
J.T. "accidentally" poked Abby in the ribs and she "accidentally" pushed him back.
There was an "accidental" splashing incident at bathtime, an "accidental" meeting of blue marker and armchair, AND an "accidental" chocolate chip cookie theft.
Do you have these kinds of "accidents" at your place?
Ms. Abigail has suffered the undignified female response to an antibiotic regimen, necessitating a trip to the grocery store to restock our yogurt supply. Guess what I did, right in the middle of the dairy aisle at the Bi-lo?
Coordinated, ever graceful me, managed to fall down. Luckily I caught myself with my FACE and my right knee.
Was the floor wet, you ask? No.
Did someone spill something, a coke or a glass of sweet tea? No.
Some small fry wrapped around your leg, greatly inhibiting your ability to balance yourself? No.
Remember those lovely black peep-toe pumps I purchased last summer? They're a death trap. Doing nothing more complicated than walking, I managed to get the heel of my right pump caught in the insole of the left one. Which meant the stupid laws of gravity and momentum carried me face and knee first into the floor. Talk about embarrassing. Luckily nothing more than my pride was damaged beyond repair. My knee, however, is swollen and I am using it to my advantage. While I sit here typing with an ice pack on the bruised appendage, Rob has already bathed the boy and cleaned up the kitchen. Our washer broke this morning, so he is taken the half-washed load over to his mother's later.
I would love to sign up for one of Stomper Girl's tap classes. But can you imagine the disasters awaiting me in a pair of tap shoes?
Mother has finished her chemo! She has actually been done for about a month and a half. Her hair is growing quickly and is lovely, chic and short right now. Thick and a little wavy.
It is so exciting for us. Of course it is most exciting for her. No more sticks, pokes, prods, blood work and tests. She has her Thursdays back! She has all her days back. We have her back.
I have said the words 'thank you' many times over the past year. We have had so many to thank. Kind friends who have visited, delivered food, mailed cards, taxied to and from appointments and called with words of encouragement and support. Someone else once commented that on our toughest days, we are carried by love. That is how we feel. Carried by love.
The following Monique Duval quote is one I read on another blog today. Another dear friend is facing a struggle and I hope she is carried by love as well. And that this quote strikes a chord with her as it did with me this morning.
"Then swing your window open, the one with the fresh air and good eastern light and watch for wings, edges, new beginnings...” - Monique Duval
We're back! Healthy, for the most part. Rob is still feeling the lingering effects of his sinus/cough/icky illness. Abby is definitely back to 'normal'... normal for her anyway.
This post was to have been a lovely little video of the Abster singing (yelling) "We Will Rock You!" Blogger doesn't like our wmv file though. Perhaps the 60 MB size was too much for google to handle? Perhaps blogger sensed that you would be traumitized by the graphic nature of this little home movie?
Here's the verbal trailer: "Abby, fresh from the bath, freshly gowned, hair still wet from the tub, opens our show with a unique rendition of the classic Queen song, "We Will Rock You!" Our heroine follows up this number with an encore performance of "All Summer Long," by Kid Rock, (yes I'm aware that this qualifies as child abuse and I will probably burn for it) featuring backup by her glamorous female parent, all dolled up in yoga pants (okay, they're pajama pants, but yoga pants and pajama pants are nearly identical, so why would you pay money for yoga pants when pajama pants serve the same purpose and you could spend that money on trashy paperbacks, hmmm?), workout top and sneakers, no makeup and a hairstyle that can only be described as, post-workout slick. An image that might actually inspire a spontaneous chorus of "Fat-bottomed Girls".
Southern accents abound and you are sad that you did not get to hear these performances and a couple of Hannah Montana electric guitar solos. Which were made all the more fabulous by the fact that the battery was dying. Perhaps the cats could have done backup for those? The effect probably would have been the same. Look out American Idol.