Donorschoose.org Electronic Dictionaries for Students in Special Education

If you are so inclined, I would appreciate you taking a look at the following project I created on donorschoose.org to provide electronic dictionaries for my students in special education. Students in wealthier campuses all have access to electronic dictionaries, however, my campus is NOT wealthy, so we are stuck in the stone ages with paper dictionaries. This is not good for my students, who struggle with even knowing how to use the dictionary.

Even if donating is not your thing, I would appreciate if you’d look to gain an understanding of the problem, and share with everyone you know. Also, donations are being fully matched by a hedge fund for women project builders, so every donation you make will be double! What a deal! We have about $300 to go, which is only 3 more $50 donations! Any amount is very much appreciated. Thank you so much!

Click here to be taken to the project

Dear Students

Dear Students,

As another school year comes to a close, I want you to know how proud I am of you. All of you. Even those of you I butt heads with on a regular basis. In the midst of your mixed-up hormonal lives, you may not see it, but you have all matured both physically and emotionally. It is always my great pleasure to watch you grow from scared new sixth graders to independent and ready-to-soar eighth graders. There are some things I have not gotten a chance to teach you, so just in case we don’t get to see each other next year, I am going to tell you now.

1. You are not your grade. My college professor told us this the first time he handed back papers. “God loves you just the same whether you got an A or an F,” he always said. Powerful words to live by. Just as you are not your grade, you are not your score on a standardized test, nor the number of days you spent in ISS this year.

2. There is so much more to life than the little bit of world you see right now. Many of you don’t get many opportunities to travel outside of this area, or even to the next city over. You miss out on cultural opportunities, chances to view colleges, and other things many children from affluent families take for granted. Trust me when I tell you there is so much more. Find a way to go experience it.

3. I believe in you. Forget about the dumb things you did this year. You are between the ages of 10 and 15. Doing things you regret is part of growing up. Take your experiences and learn from them. You will do a whole lot of growing up over the summer. Come back strong and proud. I know you can do it. I know you will do it.

4. I love you. I am on your back every minute because I want good things for you. I force you to bring your own supplies to teach you responsibility. I move your seat away from your friends because I want you to stop talking so you can learn. I make you call home when you misbehave because I want you to have consistency.

As this school year comes to an end, know you will be missed. Eighth graders – I will think of you often. Seventh- and sixth-graders, I hope to see you next year. If I don’t, please remember, I will also be thinking of you. Some day you will go out into the world and make yourself proud! And, when you play your first NFL game, graduate from college, or receive an award for the great things you’ve done, invite me. I will be there.

Rain, Rain, Please Stay

” Rain, rain, go away, come again some other day. Little children want to play!”

I remember reciting this poem with my father many times while growing up in a sometimes wet and rainy upstate New York State. Rain was known to hinder our plans, and force us inside for yet another day. The thought of running out of rain never crossed our minds.

I live in Texas now. I’m sure, even if you are not from Texas, that you have heard about our drought situation. A combination of hotter than normal temperatures, decreased rainfall, and population increasing every day, has led us into a situation where we must have rain, and lots of it. We are not at liberty to chant it away. In fact, acts like rain dances are starting to sound quite appealing. Some towns are talking of resorting to recycling toilet waste water for human consumption. Apparently this practice is perfectly safe, but it still makes my stomach churn. Talk of another Dust Bowl is common. People are really starting to consider that we will run out water.

It has rained for almost two days straight, and not one person I know has complained. The increased water levels in our lakes is being celebrated; the problem is all this rain is having very little effect on our water levels. Why? The drought is so severe that water is not even making it to lakes. In order for rainwater to make it to rivers and lakes, first the ground has to be saturated. Simply put, it isn’t. Texas is in a serious state of affairs regarding our lack of water resources. So, instead of the traditional tale of wishing the water away, perhaps we should be chanting,

“Rain, rain, oh please stay, and rain again another day. You’ll stay longer, I like to think. Because we need the water to drink.”

You can be anything…as long as society approves

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When my now 13-year-old daughter was a toddler, we bought her baby dolls and strollers, Barney stuffed animals, cartons of books, a play kitchen, a little table, sparkly dress-up clothes, and pretend tools. We have picture after picture of her wearing a pink feather boa, high heeled shoes, and carrying a toolbox to go help “fix the house,” she always said. When she was three, she wanted to grow up to be Bob the Builder. Well, actually, she wanted to be one of the machines, but once we informed her she couldn’t become a machine, she chose Bob. For Halloween that year, she wanted to be Bob the Builder, so she was. Door after door, she was greeted with, “Oh, it’s Wendy!” even though Wendy has an entirely different costume and role in the show. She responded with, “No! I am BOB!”

When she got her new “big girl canopy bed,” she wanted nothing more than a Bob the Builder bedroom set. So, we bought her the comforter, pillows, sheets, and decor. And I set out on my first sewing project – making a canopy out of Bob the Builder fabric. When she needed to pick out new underwear, she chose…you guessed it…Bob the Builder. When she picked them off the shelf, it never occurred to her that they were boy’s underwear. She just wanted Bob the Builder. And so, my three-year-old daughter rocked it in her Bob the Builder undies! Some people were shocked that we would let a little girl do such a thing. Why weren’t we teaching her how to cook, hold babies, play with Barbies? The fact is we were, if she was interested. We were also teaching her how to fix things and use tools. Most importantly, we were teaching her that she could play with whatever she wanted, become whatever she wanted, that her gender didn’t matter.

My now 10 year old son came along at the same time my daughter was Bob the Builder. Just like with his sister, my son was allowed to do whatever he wanted without regard to gender roles. Especially having a big sister, he gravitated to things that were deemed “for girls.” He didn’t know, He just liked what he liked.Like his sister, we have plenty of pictures of him in the feather boa and high heels, wearing make up, nail polish, you name it he wore it. His sister taught him how to be a ballerina, and Dora was his first girlfriend. For his big boy room, he wanted Dora. So, we went out and bought the pink Dora sheet, some accessories, and assembled his Dora room. He, too, wanted a canopy, but I couldn’t find a canopy bed at the time. I was secretly thankful because sewing a canopy is no small or inexpensive task! He grew up believing he could be what he wanted to be, do what he wanted to do. Labels like boys and girls are just labels.

Now, at ten-years-old, we have a problem. Other kids don’t agree with our anyone can be anything attitude. He gets picked on for his blinged out NY City t-shirt that he absolutely loves. He got teases for his magenta sneakers. He was told he was too girly when he wore a feather in his hair to school that he had had put in at the carnival over the weekend. It seriously never occurred to any of us that other boys wouldn’t. He paints his nails on a regular basis, but somehow this is considered cool for boys to do. He has multiple pairs of shoes from the women’s department (sneakers and tennis shoes), because he likes the bright colors and the way they fit. He is all about sparkles, flowers, and what feels good.

Even moreso than with his sister, people are downright appalled that we would let him do such things! “Kids will laugh at him!” they say. “Only because their parents haven’t taught them better,” we respond. “People will think he is gay!” my father exclaimed. “We won’t be surprised when he tells us that he is himself. Nor will we care,” we respond. “He’s just looking to get picked on,” one adult leader had the nerve to say, after we reported one of the above incidents.

I tell my son those people who laugh aren’t worth worrying about, but when you are a ten-year-old child, those kids are your world. You are easily influenced, your identity is largely shaped by what your peers think of you. As a mother my heart breaks when my son is drawn to a clothing item or toy, but then puts it back because he doesn’t want to get picked on. I tell him I love him because of all that he is, not despite it. His sister, who normally fights with him like crazy, builds him up, helps him pick things that would be considered more acceptable within his range of likes.

This is just sad. Sad for him. Sad for our family. Sad for society. The message we send our children about gender roles and expectations hasn’t come nearly as far as we think. We, as a society, like to toot our horns and claim we have come so remarkably far regarding acceptable behaviors, but the reality is, we haven’t. Children tease other children because they haven’t been taught any differently by their parents. Children label “girl” and “boy” items because their parents have taught them that there IS a difference. Adults say they are okay with various sexual orientations, but the reality is it still makes a whole lot of people squirmish. It’s time we truly look at where we are as a society, where we want to be, and then take the necessary steps to get there. Before more young children get hurt, just for being who they are.

 

 

Last but Not Least…Daily Prompt

The crowd cheers as my name is called. I walk slowly, in shock, to the podium, and prepare to give my acceptance speech. There are so many people to choose from, but I committed to just sticking to one. The crowd quiets, all eyes are upon me….

“There are so many people I could thank tonight for helping me make it this far, however one person stands out as the one I want to thank for always being there, always believing in me, and always understanding me without me saying a word. My best friend, the very best friend anyone could ever ask for. He knows me better than I know myself sometimes, has stuck with me even when I am sure I was being incredibly obnoxious, has never told me “I told you so,” even when he did. He never tells me I’m an idiot, even when I am. He always lets me think I’m in charge, which we all know, is a great way to handle a woman 🙂

In addition to being the very best friend, he is the very best business partner. His ideas are tremendous, and between the two of us, we could create an empire. His creativity is amazing, and his devotion to continuous improvement is to be commended. He inspires me to work harder and look more deeply at my ideas, even pushing me to think outside the box, or ball, or gnome, depending upon context.

Dreaming big is the way we think. Really Big. Our ideas always start out small, but somehow, by the time they are done, we have the most amazing product, with the greatest potential. I don’t know how we do it. Without my best friend, I would just be a pile of KFC buckets, duct tape, and sponges, with nothing to do.

I’m so proud to be able to accept this award because of the dedication and hard work we have done together. This accomplishment has been years in the making; so thank you!

Daily Post

The shame of it all.

While I have not experienced this with a doctor, I find it appalling. What happened to making great strides with reducing stigma?!

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I had a little, um, incident this week.  Actually, the incident took place about a month ago, when I was caught outside in a rainstorm. I know, it’s been proven that running through the rain doesn’t get you any less wet than walking, but reflexes took over and I took off.  About 20 paces in, I heard a ‘pop’, and something in my knee gave way.  Ouch.

But I don’t have health insurance.  I knew there was something wrong, but since I am paying for healthcare out of pocket I decided I just needed to suck it up and wait for whatever it was to heal on its own.

That worked fine… for about three days.

I was sore, but not too terribly so: until I twisted just right getting my lunch out of the microwave at work.  The knee went ‘pop’ again, and down I went.  A coworker helped…

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I’m sorry – a letter to my children

Dear Children (the things I hold most dear to my heart, even when it’s broken),

I’m sorry. I’m sorry for all the things I can’t be for you. I’m sorry no matter what I do it isn’t good enough. I’m sorry the football team your father signed you up for is no good, but I spend 3 hours a week driving you 20 minutes to practice and sitting there watching you every practice. I’m sorry your games are not fun, but I make you go and sit there watching your every move. I’m sorry that I have a missed a few (as in maybe 10 in 10 years) games or activities because I sometimes need a life of my own.

I’m sorry the house I work my butt off to provide for you isn’t good enough. I’m sorry that even though it is full of Nerf guns, countless footballs, arts and crafts, toy cars, and huge playground, bikes, scooters, sidewalk chalk, and anything else you could ever want or need, that there is “nothing to do” and you would rather go to your friends’ houses because it’s more cool.

I’m sorry I had a knee problem growing up that you, my beautiful daughter, inherited. I’m sorry I can’t take away the pain for you. I’m sorry the medication for it caused painful stomach problems. I’m most sorry you probably inherited my bipolar. I really wish I could take that from you. I’m sorry I let you roller skate one time without your wrist guards, causing a broken wrist that still causes you problems four years later. I’d do that over again, too, if I could.

I’m sorry I ask you to put down your electronics to come to dinner, help clean, or just spend time as a family. I’m sorry I can’t give you the best and latest of everything because all the money I do have goes into providing what you need. I’m sorry kids pick on you because you don’t have name brand shoes or clothes.

I’m sorry kids pick on your for your freckles, but I can’t do anything about that. I’m sorry you get picked on for wearing “girl clothes” as a boy because you love sparkles, pink, purple, flowers, and everything else deemed to be girly by your rude friends. I can’t do much about that either, except tell you that you are the best looking young man I know, freckles included. And that I love you because you love all those things that the other kids deem uncool. It is my greatest pleasure to see your huge smile when you pick out a glittery shirt, or your latest fashion, yellow and pink flip flops because they are pretty and make your feet feel good.

I’m sorry I couldn’t stand living in a loveless marriage anymore so that you could have the life I so wanted you to have. I’m sorry I decided I didn’t want you guys having the same marriage, and that I couldn’t get your father to go to counseling to fix it with me. I’m sorry you have to live in two houses.

I’m sorry I don’t remember where you left your medicine that you didn’t take care of. I’m sorry I can’t keep track of everything. I’m sorry I’m not a gourmet chef, and taking care of household chores is not my strong point.

I’m sorry I need to take naps on weekends. I’m sorry I cannot regulate my sleep schedule due having bipolar, no matter what medications I take. I’m not sorry for sparing you the details of everything I went through many years ago to treat it to make sure I was the best mom I could be for you. I’m not sorry for not even telling you until you figure it out on your own.

I’m sorry I cannot be everything I thought I would be as a mother. If I could change it, I would, but I can’t. I try so hard, but I’m only human.

And, finally, I’m sorry for not being able to take all your criticism and blame anymore and breaking down and crying. Especially on Mother’s Day. I know you love me, but most of the time I just don’t feel it. I’m sorry I’m not stronger so that I could tolerate it more. I hope some day you’ll forgive me, and understand that I truly love you more than anything I could ever express, even if I can’t be perfect.

Love,

Mom (the one who is proud of you in ways you will only understand once you have children)