Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Crochet Therapy

A Works for Me Wednesday tip.

I love to crochet. I find it calming, centering, soothing. I taught myself when I was a child, by looking at the pictures in one of those "how to" books. I have crocehted baby blankets and clothes for my own children, neices and nephews, caps, purses, vests, all kinds of things. Recently I read about the Prayer Shawl Ministry, and although I have not formally participated, I have appropriated the idea behind it.
As I crochet, I envision the person for whom I am making the article.
Before Christmas, I made scarves and shawls for all my girls. As I crocheted, I kept a picture of the person in my mind. With each stitch, I prayed for that person. I prayed for inner peace, for God's mercy and grace, I thanked Him for that person and all that she has meant in my life, and for everyone she loves.
I prayed that as she wore the scarf, she would find love in her heart for everyone she met.
I prayed that I would be a better mother, grandmother, aunt, sister, friend to her.
I prayed that I would be used in her life.
I thanked God for her.
I lifted her up for God's blessing.

I can't say how they for whom I crocheted have felt wearing these gifts of prayer.

I can say that I have been blessed in more ways than I can express by all those hours of prayer for these ones that I love.

Don't know how to knit or crochet? Wal-mart has a book to teach yourself, easy enough for anyone who can read and look at pictures.

Works for me.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Things I've Been Mulling Over

Mulling. Isn't that a great word? Not necessarily thinking, but ... oh, say considering, meditating on, wondering about ....

1. Why do we have to work five days, and only get 2 days for relaxation? I wish it were the other way around, don't you?

2. Would anyone find, or look for, or having looked and found, actually read a blog about low carb recipes?

3. Why does my daughter think that when she confesses something on her blog I am not going to read it, when she knows that I read every word she writes?

4. What did I ever do to be so blessed, in family, in friends, in my job, and in my marriage?

5.How can it already be almost Lent? I mean, Ash Wednesday is *next week*, y'all, and I have not given any thought at all to what I am going to do for those 40 days, during which I usually try to have more conversations with God, which actually means listening more than I talk, which is what I tend to do (keep talking instead of listening, I mean), because sometimes I don't want to hear what He is telling me.

6. Could I have gotten any more words into that last sentence without taking a breath?

7. How much longer is it going to be before we have some springtime weather?

Well, I guess that is enough of my random thoughts for now.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Romancing the Flame

Today is a "Works for Me Wednesday" tip, and co-incidentally Valentine's Day

Today is Valentine's Day. TV, newspapers, magazines, flyers, posters, billboards all urge us to spend lots of money (that we don't really have) to show how much we love that special someone.
Is money what it takes to say I love you?
Not really.
Oh, yeah, if you have the money, the jewelry, the dinner out, the huge box of chocolates, or the Vermont Teddy bear are all nice.
But if you don't, that does not mean the romance is gone.

Here's how to romance your darling on a non-existent budget.

First, put all the little people to bed.

Second, take a warm shower (together, if so inclined...if not, not).

Third, have warm towels (take them fresh from the dryer) for your beloved.

Fourth, clean pajamas, nightie, robe (if you have little ones who may pop out of bed).

Fifth, spread a cozy quilt on the floor and pile up plenty of pillows.

Next, light a cluster of candles, of various heights, if you don't have a fireplace.

Pour a drink for each of you--in my case, diet Coke with plenty of ice works even better than vintage wine.

Set out a small plate of cheese, a few chocolates (snag them from your school age kiddies' Valentine goodies), a bunch of grapes, a handful of crackers, some shelled nuts.

Lie on the pillows, gaze into the flames, hold each other gently, and talk.

Talk about all the stuff you used to talk about before you had kids. Remind each other why you fell in love, and why you have stayed together. Flirt. Touch. Kiss. Talk. Kiss some more.

What happens next is up to your imagination, your inclination, and your population of little folks.

No matter how long you have been married, no matter how many children you have, no matter how tired you are, keep the flame alive. Romance the one you love. Act as if you are still in that starry-eyed first stage of romantic love. And you will discover that you still are.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Works for me.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Teacher Training, revisited

It has been brought to my attention that although I titled my last post "Teacher Training," I didn't really talk about the training--just the getting there, and about the school where it was held.
So...for those of you who really want to know about the *training* it is.

I spent a whole day of my life learning how to read compositions written by students with Limited English Proficiency.
I learned that the compositions must be classified as Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, or Advanced High, and I learned how to do that.
I also discovered that I will have to take a test on line to prove that I was actually paying attention, and did indeed learn how to do these things.

It's always been a point of interest, confusion, and irritation, that when teachers are being told how to teach, we get a lot of demands for student centered learning. Interactive learning. Hands on learning. Learning activities to appeal to all kinds of learners, not only the visual/auditory, but also the kinesthetic/tactile, the musically talented, the mathematically inclined, etc. etc. etc.

When teachers are being taught how to teach, what do we get?
Sit there in your chair (sometimes without even a desktop space on which to prop a notepad) and listen while the overhead projector flashes slides of the handout we have in our hands, which reproduces the often fuzzy slides in type so tiny even a gnat would have trouble reading them without a magnifying glass.

I love to be read to.
I love hearing stories read or told aloud.

I hate having a set of slides read to me, if I already have a copy of the slides in my hand, and they are also posted on an overhead screen.

I get tired.
My back hurts.
I get bored.
I get thirsty.
I get hungry.
I get sleepy.
I get cranky.

All the ailments my students complain of during a 45 minute class, with at least three different planned activities, I suffer for 6-8 hours, while sitting and listening.

Fortunately, I don't have to ask for a restroom pass. I just get up and go when I feel inspired to do so, or when my sitter gets numb, or my feet go to sleep.

Usually we are allowed to bring in a drink. Rarely, we are offered some kind of stale snack, or a cup of lukewarm coffee with that powdered cream substitute gunk that reminds me of spackling.

If we are offered real food, that tastes good, that is a training to remember and recommend to friends.

Sometimes the room is cold. Sometimes it is hot and sweaty. Almost always, the chairs are hard and uncomfortable. Seldom do we find a pencil sharpener. So I dress in layers and bring a shawl. Unfortunately, although it is always possible to put on more clothing, it is not always possible to take off enough to be comfortable.

I bring several pencils, pens, and highlighters, as well as my own writing tablet, aspirin, Sucrets, bottled water, gum, and mints, as well as a brown bag lunch, just in case there is no cafeteria. In fact, I have a big tote bag that goes with me to training. Sometimes, I wish I had one of those carts on wheels, with a handle, sort of like a rolling suitcase, because I haul so much stuff with me. I've never quite worked up the nerve to bring a pillow, but have often wished I had one.

Always, I leave feeling cheated somehow. I don't mind being required to go for training. I know that I always have room to grow as a teacher. Occasionally I learn something that gets me excited, and I can't wait to get back to my classroom and my kids and share it with them. I understand why we are required to go to training.

But please, please teach the teachers the way you want us to teach our students.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Teacher Training

If you are not a teacher, don't know any teachers, or never went to public school, you can skip this one.
Because it is about teachers. and training.
Yesterday I was sent to a training session in a suburb north of here for a day-long training session. Now by miles, it is only about...umm...well, about 15 miles, I guess.
But time-wise....that is a whole other story.
I left home at what I considered to be a reasonably early hour, 7 a.m., especially since I was not due at the training session until 8:00.
However, highways and traffic being what they are, it took me an hour and forty five minutes to get there.
No, I did not get lost.
Yes, I had a map.
The problem was the traffic. When I got onto the highway, traffic was rolling along at a reasonable 55 mph. Before we reached the first exit, it had slowed to a crawl. I mean, I can walk faster than we were moving.
And I am not a fast walker.
I was behind an 18 wheeler, when I noticed that he was ever so gradually drifing into the next lane. Figuring that he must know something I did not know, I followed him.
And as we rolled past at a brisk 5 miles per hour, I saw the first of our problems--a small car dead to the world, not even blinking his hazard lights.
As we crept along toward the next exit, I began to see flashing red and blue lights, so I figured we were approaching a wreck.
I saw lots of flashing lights, but no wreck. Either it was totally camoflaged, or imaginary, or already cleaned up except for the police cars, or I just missed it as I whizzed by at 15 mph.
To make a long story short (I know, too late) I spent an hour and fifteen minutes to make what should have been about a 20 minute trip.
Then I got to the school.
Oh. my. word.
For the love of all that is educationally holy.
And holy is the operative word, since the training was being offered at a private parochial school.
The kids were in uniform. All of them.
The kids were quiet.
During class time, there were no students in the hall. None.
They don't have a cafeteria. They have a dining experience. Complete with chefs in tall white hats and spotless aprons. No little old ladies in hairnets here.
The floors and walls were immaculate.
No graffiti.
Even the student work on display was in glass cases, like artwork, instead of hanging crookedly with masking tape from the edges of doorways.
It was quite an experience.
The training? Oh, no, that part was pure yawning boredom.
But the school, and its students, were a vision of what school can be. least....if you are not teaching in the lowest performing school in the district.
Now at least I can dream....

Friday, February 02, 2007

Share the Love

Somebody likes me!
Somebody reads me!
And somebody nominated me for an award!
Of course, the Jeana Likes Me Award, my first, is incomparable, but it is nice to know that someone besides my daughter reads my blog!
If I sound a bit giddy, it's because I am. It's so exciting to know that I'm not just talking to myself here, and that someone out there not only reads, but wants to keep on reading my ranblings. Thank you!!!

Now that I have all that out of my system,
Go Vote!