Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Win Some Great Art!

The artist who is illustrating our upcoming children's book is having an art giveaway contest. Go to her site and let her know what you are doing to get points!

Here is her message:


I'm doing a BLOG ART GIVEAWAY!!!! Enter for a Free Custom Portrait or fantasy piece =) And if you Tweet About it or Post and forward this you will get extra entries so just let me know when you do.

Details are here: http://www.mazzyblue.com/2010/09/the-end-of-september/


Cheers,

Selina xoxo

Amen

Dalai Lama For the rest of your life to be as meaningful as possible, engage in spiritual practice if you can. It is nothing more than acting out of concern for others. If you practice sincerely and with persistence, little by little, step by step you will gradually reorder your habits and attitudes so as to think less about your own narrow concerns and more about others' – and thereby find peace and happiness yourself.

Brief Autumn Poem

Hiking in autumn--
at once moody,
melancholy,
sad,
exhilarated,
grateful.
I return.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast


Stealing from Lewis Carol and Flying Pink Elephants, I thought I would make my list of six impossible things I have done before breakfast:

1. Got up just a few minutes after my mosque alarm clock went off (complete with loud chanting setting the tone for the day)

2. Recalled a Carol-ian dream of being in the hospital and having someone dump tons of marbles in the laps and on the legs of all the patients lined up in beds on a grassy hill (I was one of them and thought it marvelous...still do.)

3. Felt like my stomach had flattened a little (maybe it was the marble dream)

4. Somewhat balanced the home budget in my head without panicking

5. Pondered the mysteries and possibilities of life including my job options

6. Corrected my own spelling mistakes without using a dictionary

I will now shower and be off to work with some of the most amazing children in the world.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Homer Simpson Has Nothing on Me



It's time for a self-indulgent post. I've had absolutely no spare minutes over the past few weeks, and it has taken its toll on my writing psyche. Of course I have written newspaper articles and posted on Facebook and dropped a few meaningless items into this blog's inbox, and I made a PowerPoint for a course I taught and printed out handouts for another course and I finally submitted my novel to a potential publisher, but I've not had a brain dump in awhile. Picture not having time to use the potty for a couple of days and you get a good image of what has been piling up in my brain.

How have I been (more specifically) spending my time, you might ask if you are remotely interested? (And if you are not, that's okay, too. This entry is about my needing to write, not needing a fascinated audience.) Well, I have started teaching at night for the Adult Education program in my county. My beginning ESOL students are lovely, funny, enthusiastic human beings from all walks of life. They are hard workers...and extra credit goes to the woman from Viet Nam who wrote in her journal that I am beautiful. Talk about a great job to have, huh?

I was so worried I wouldn't be able to teach outside of the virtual world. It has been ages since I've been in the classroom in front of people, and not only did I manage it at night, I managed it on Wednesday as well when I did a seminar on my book. It's amazing how teaching can come right back to you--not like riding a bike at all because it's much better than that. I felt empowered instead of scared, a huge improvement since the last time I tried to teach in the classroom--a GED class in 2006, and let me tell you, trying to review even basic math was more than my nerves could take. It's about content in some respects. Trying to teach something you don't know is a prescription for an anxiety attack--at least for me. There are probably people out there who can fake it, but I am not one of those people.

So meanwhile, I have spent my days subbing as an assistant in the elementary school, working with the intellectually disabled kids grades K-5. Those kids are simply amazing. They are mostly non-verbal, but a good many of them can sign when they need help. They are affectionate and earnest. Their levels of learning are very basic, but when they accomplish even simple tasks like lining up, you feel this connection with them, the kind of victory you might only feel after winning a race.

Funny I should use the word race, because I had to engage in one last week. Two kids took off down the hall, and I literally had to sprint after them. It's true what they say about adrenaline kicking in when an emergency arises. I haven't run like that since I was about 20 years old.

Afterward, I wasn't sure if I should laugh or have a nervous breakdown. Since no one was hurt and the kids thought it was funny (they actually thought I was playing a game of chase with them), laughing seemed like a more appropriate response once my heart slowed down.

The job is also physically exhausting since diapers have to be changed, some kids have to be restrained in the hall for their own safety and once in awhile, the little ones (and we have some tiny cutie pies in there as well as some big kids) have to be lifted. Carrying the kids is something we avoid because it does not help them be independent, and it's not good for the back, either. But I am getting a great workout, and the gym is a blast for them and for me. When was the last time I got to play basketball or try out the hoola hoop?

Now if only the temperature would drop more into the autumn range, everything would be in order. Have I mentioned I hate heat? I am completely heat intolerant, and running around with the kids has necessitated my bringing deodorant and a change of clothes to work. I sweat like a race horse. It's gross.

I've had to re-arrange my schedule, however. I thought I could work five days at the elementary school, teach at night, write for the newspaper and take care of my own kids' needs. Bzzzz. Wrong. Superwoman has ceased to live in my body, and reasonable balance had to be restored. In a few months, I might have to decide about my schedule again, but that's okay. For now, I just have concentrate on doing the best I can for all my kids of all ages and in all settings.

My real kids--talk about an activity filled year! They will both be taking part in therapeutic horse riding. They are both involved with the Drama club at school. Alex is in a club called Challenge on Friday nights. We are still involved in church as well. To say they are as tired as I am isn't an exaggeration. And you can imagine what the house looks like. I'm surprised someone hasn't called the health department.

Okay, maybe it's not that bad, but it's worse than usual. I better make some time to pair socks or we will all be retro-ing back to the Don Johnson years.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

From My Dear Old Dad

This was a good one I got from Dad over email.
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On the first day, God created the dog and said, "Sit all day by the door of your house and bark at anyone who comes in or walks past. For this, I will give you a life span of twenty years."

The dog said, "That's a long time to be barking. How about only ten years and I'll give you back the other ten?"

So God agreed......

On the second day, God created the monkey and said, "Entertain people, do tricks, and make them laugh. For this, I'll give you a twenty-year life span."

The monkey said, "Monkey tricks for twenty years? That's a pretty long time to perform. How about I give you back ten like the dog did?"

And God agreed......

On the third day, God created the cow and said, "You must go into the field with the farmer all day long and suffer under the sun, have calves and give milk to support the farmer's family. For this, I will give you a life span of sixty years."

The cow said, "That's kind of a tough life you want me to live for sixty years. How about twenty and I'll give back the other forty?"

And God agreed again......

On the fourth day, God created humans and said, "Eat, sleep, play, marry and enjoy your life. For this, I'll give you twenty years."

But the human said, "Only twenty years? Could you possibly give me my twenty, the forty the cow gave back, the ten the monkey gave back, and the ten the dog gave back; that makes eighty, okay?"

"Okay," said God. "You asked for it."

So that is why for our first twenty years, we eat, sleep, play and enjoy ourselves. For the next forty years, we slave in the sun to support our family. For the next ten years, we do monkey tricks to entertain the grandchildren. And for the last ten years, we sit on the front porch and bark at everyone.

Life has now been explained to you.

There is no need to thank me for this valuable information. I'm doing it as a public service.

Blah

Wake up, Katherine. Wake up, wake up, wake UP! There is mucho work to be done.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Photo by my Awesome Brother-in-Law



Thank you, Craig, for taking these amazing photos (and others) at my 41st birthday. You are one talented person!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I think he is speaking to ME

Dalai Lama To familiarize ourselves with the virtue of patience, it is very helpful to think of adversity not so much as a threat to our peace of mind but rather as the very means by which patience is attained. From this perspective, we see that those who would harm us are, in a sense, teachers of patience. Such people teach us what we could never learn merely from hearing someone speak, be they ever so wise or holy.

Monday, September 13, 2010

What someone sent to me because I am now 41

Thanks for sending me this, dear sis-in-law! I had a good laugh--which I have earned for hanging in there for 41 years.

------------------------

When I was a kid, adults used to bore me to tears with their tedious diatribes about how hard things were. When they were growing up; what with walking twenty-five miles to school every morning.... Uphill... Barefoot... BOTH ways. yadda, yadda, yadda


And I remember promising myself that when I grew up, there was no way in hell I was going to lay
a bunch of crap like that on my kids about how hard I had it and how easy they've got it!


But now that I'm over the ripe old age of
forty, I can't help but look around and notice the youth of today. You've got it so easy! I mean, compared to my childhood, you live in a damn Utopia!

And I hate to say it, but you kids today, you don't know how good you've got it!


1) I mean, when I was a kid we didn't have the Internet. If we wanted to know something, we had to go to the damn library and look it up ourselves, in the card catalog!!


2) There was no email!! We had to actually write somebody a letter - with a pen!
Then you had to walk all the way across the street and put it in the mailbox, and it would take like a week to get there! Stamps were 10 cents!

3) Child Protective Services didn't care if our parents beat us. As a matter of fact, the parents of all my friends also had permission to kick our ass! Nowhere was safe!


4) There were no MP3's or Napsters or iTunes! If you wanted to steal music, you had to hitchhike to the record store and shoplift it yourself!


5) Or you had to wait around all day to tape it off the radio, and the DJ would usually talk over the beginning and @#*% it all up! There were no CD players! We had tape decks in our car. We'd play our favorite tape and "eject" it when finished, and then the tape would come undone rendering it useless. Cause, hey, that's how we rolled, Baby! Dig?


6) We didn't have fancy crap like Call Waiting! If you were on the phone and somebody else called, they got a busy signal, that's it!


7) There weren't any freakin' cell phones either. If you left the house, you just didn't make a damn call or receive one. You actually had to be out of touch with your "friends". OH MY
GOSH !!! Think of the horror... not being in touch with someone 24/7!!! And then there's TEXTING. Yeah, right. Please! You kids have no idea how annoying you are.

8) And we didn't have fancy Caller ID either! When the phone rang, you had no idea who it was! It could be your school, your parents, your boss, your bookie, your drug dealer, the collection agent... you just didn't know!!! You had to pick it up and take your chances, mister!


9) We didn't have any fancy PlayStation or Xbox video games with high-resolution 3-D graphics! We
had the Atari 2600! With games like 'Space Invaders' and 'Asteroids'. Your screen guy was a little square! You actually had to use your imagination!!! And there were no multiple levels or screens, it was just one screen... Forever! And you could never win. The game just kept getting harder and harder and faster and faster until you died! Just like LIFE!

10) You had to use a little book called a TV Guide to find out what was on! You were screwed when it came to channel surfing! You had to get off your ass and walk over to the TV to change the channel!!! NO REMOTES!!! Oh, no, what's the world coming to?!?!


11) There was no Cartoon Network either! You could only get cartoons on Saturday Morning. Do you hear what I'm saying? We had to wait
ALL WEEK for cartoons, you spoiled little rat-bastards!

12) And we didn't have microwaves. If we wanted to heat something up, we had to use the stove! Imagine that!


13) And our parents told us to stay outside and play... all day long. Oh, no, no electronics to soothe and comfort. And if you came back inside... you were doing chores!

And car seats - oh, please! Mom threw you in the back seat and you hung on. If you were lucky, you got the "safety arm" across the chest at the last moment if she had to stop suddenly, and if your head hit the dashboard, well that was your fault for calling "shot gun" in the first place!

See! That's exactly what I'm talking about! You kids today have got it too easy. You're spoiled rotten! You guys wouldn't have lasted five minutes back in 1970 or any time before!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

They Say it's my Birthday

Why not celebrate 41? Got a party yesterday and will get wined and dined today. Lucky me!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Happened Upon This Old Post--Well Documented

In reading an interesting article this morning, I happened upon a post I did awhile ago, one that sums up (okay, rather at length) my experiences with Union Institute.

The difference is, this post has documentation attached to it.

Have I mentioned I have a box of physical documentation in my closet, documentation that has taken me years to accumulate and review because it involved so many agencies that have let us--the taxpayers and the commoners--down?

I sent this documentation to the accreditation agencies. I highlighted the portions of their accrediting criteria that Union Institute violated. I did the same to the Department of Education and the various states where Union Institute violated the law. Yet, I am still holding the bill.

I think I should at least be paid for all of the work I did...THEIR work.

Same goes for the Department of Education.

Only fair, don't you think?

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

What I'm listening to



One of the best songs in the world, I would argue.

Sound of Silence
Paul Simon


Hello darkness, my old friend,
I've come to talk with you again,
Because a vision softly creeping,
Left its seeds while I was sleeping,
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence.
In restless dreams I walked alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone,
'Neath the halo of a street lamp,
I turned my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence.

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more.
People talking without speaking,
People hearing without listening,
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dare
Disturb the sound of silence.

"Fools" said I, "You do not know
Silence like a cancer grows.
Hear my words that I might teach you,
Take my arms that I might reach to you."
But my words like silent raindrops fell,
And echoed
In the wells of silence

And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made.
And the sign flashed out its warning,
in the words that it was forming.
And the sign said, "The words of the prophets

are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls."
And whisper'd in the sounds of silence.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

The end and the beginning

Ladies and gents, the kids are back in school as of today. And as of today, I have been given a brand new beginning, an adventure, an opportunity, an honor and a challenge.

And that is all I will say for the moment except that I have been very blessed.

Peace to one and all.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Approaching the first day back to school...

Since the first day back to school is roughly 40 hours away, I thought I would post something apropos.

Happy Labor Day! Enjoy it, kids. "The end is near."


First Grade
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE


Until then, every forest
had wolves in it, we thought
it would be fun to wear snowshoes
all the time, and we could talk to water.

So who is this woman with the gray
breath calling out names and pointing
to the little desks we will occupy
for the rest of our lives?


Thursday, September 02, 2010

Deep Thoughts, None Handy

I feel like writing, but I don't feel like writing. It's kind of like when I feel like scrap booking but all I do is stare at the pages and think how much work it will be. Then I tell myself how much I love to do the work and how much I love the product, but that still doesn't get me to do what I like to do or even want to do. So then I feel guilty that I am too lazy to do the things I want to do.
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Follow-up:

Ironically, I did laundry and paired socks after posting this. Not sure how that came to pass, but no one is complaining.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

School Supply Contest--Enter Now!

This is not only a great contest, it's a fabulous marketing idea. Barbara is one smart lady!

I've seen a similar contest to promote a charity (I think it's still listed at the top of my blog). Maybe it's a trend?

In any event, win some great school supplies (much cooler than the ones I usually buy for my kids because supplies are so damn expensive) just for posting information on the contest. Visit http://networkedblogs.com/7nNPE.

Here is what you will win:

1 green Office Max drawstring bag
1 white with purple hearts Office Max clip board
1 Office Max pencil with erasers set - 13 count
1 Office Max spiral notebook
1 yellow Office Max folder
1 purple hard back Office Max 3-ring binder
1 green Office Max soft back 3-ring binder
1 yellow Office Max 7 pocket expanding file

Happy Back to School, kids and teachers!