One Year Ago

December 2016

 

One year ago, I was diagnosed with Lyme.

lymeheadAnd I still can remember all the difficulties I faced as my Lyme progressed from annoying symptoms to full-blown pain, brain fog, dietary issues, weakness, and exhaustion, and finally, being out of work for six months.

I can remember early on, trying to keep a semblance of routine at home and make my daughter’s lunch for school. That 10-minute job caused me extreme exhaustion, and a return trip to bed for two hours.

I remember trying to exercise on the advice of medical doctors, which never went well.  Later on in that winter, I tried vacuuming a 5×7 rug. I needed a three-hour nap after that.

I remember starting what I call my Lyme Bible.  It contained sections with each doctors’ contact information, copies of my blood work reports, diagnoses, as well as my food diary and symptoms tracker.  DataScientistJobDescriptions

I remember my husband asking me one morning, “Where is the jelly?” And I literally did not know. I couldn’t tell him, and I got upset because I knew my brain was literally fading a way bit by bit, and there wasn’t anything that any medical doctor was telling me that was helpful or hopeful.

I remember being frustrated listening to people with MD after their names giving me any number of diagnoses: Lyme, not Lyme, fibromyalgia, coxsackie, EBV, a virus…and even, “Yes, you have Lyme, coxsackie, and EBV in your blood work, but we don’t know what is causing your symptoms. Just eat right and exercise.” I’ve got letters that I’ve started that I intend to send to all these medical professionals to both ease my conscience and anger, but also potentially change how they actually address a patient’s course of treatment when they have Lyme disease.

I remember hearing about a holistic practitioner that helped a cancer patient who had tremendous results after major health issues. At that point, I was ready to find a new avenue that didn’t lead me to another medical doctor whose hands were tied against me.20160413_103853

I remember thinking during my first appointment, his methods seemed so strange and out of the box in terms of medical treatment as I knew it, and yet, after only 4 months, I was back at work full-time and able to conquer my full teaching day without turning into a puddle by 10:30 am!

I remember feeling so tired from work, I was in bed by 5:30, and still not rested to face the next day. Squeezing the shampoo bottle in the shower bothered my right thumb, and drying my hair with the hair dryer made my elbows hurt tremendously. Even driving would bother my elbows.  And reading…forget it.  After ten minutes,  I could feel my mind drifting away from the words on the page.

I remember a time last year when I didn’t put the my prized under-the-counter radio on when I was in the kitchen.  It’s presence changed from a comfort to just noise. The feeling of wanting music on had left me, and it didn’t bother me for many months that I didn’t put the radio on to keep me company.

Tonight, I connected my Bluetooth Pandora on my phone to that radio. I listened to a Martina McBride holiday channel, and I sang along to almost every song. It was  like a drug to me; I realized how much I had missed my music and I finally had the chance to enjoy it again.  I had to force myself to turn it off and go sit down when tiredness of the day trumped the music.

As I am writing this, I am thinking of how fortunate I am that my health has returned almost to normal and I am enjoying things that I couldn’t do a year ago.

What a difference a year makes!

Yours In Lyme Adventures,

TWL

 

 

 

 

 

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Kindergarten Classroom Summer Olympics

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I officially went back to work on Thursday, August 25, 2016.

It was my first day of school since leaving on January 15, 2016.

And it was great.

It was like I never even left, outside of all the hugs and well wishes and “So glad to see your smiling face!” greetings. Even sweeter was a post it note from my new principal that he left in my classroom the night before, saying how welcoming everything looked and how happy he’s glad I’m able to return.

Prior to our “official” start date, I participated in the Kindergarten Classroom Summer Olympics.  Usually, it can be a five-day or longer event .  This year, due to scheduling issues, it was a 3 day affair with multiple-tiered activities.

I engaged in all sorts of games that had been previously set up by the individuals in my room, both adults and children,  while I was out on sick leave. And let me tell you, they did a wonderful job of challenging me! I tried my best to complete each game to the best of my ability. Some of them were more challenging than others, but all in all, I think I represented my Kindergarten colleagues quite well!

What’s In The Cabinet?” was great fun as I discovered all sorts of materials and paperwork out-of-place. Some cabinets I just opened and then quickly shut, while others I cleaned and organized without much fanfare. This multi-tiered event didn’t put me in the running for the gold or even bronze medal,  but my efforts were rewarded with several empty cabinets. I still have several that need to be tackled, but that is for another day.20160830_074637_resized

Container Crash” was not an event I wanted to participate in due to the time constraints I was under,  but it was necessary to complete.  For about an hour, I sorted through the 16 years worth of containers that I have–baskets, boxes, and lids of all sorts of sizes and colors. Some matched, while others remained lonely.  I managed to give away a few of them to some of my co-workers, but I still have a huge store of containers stacked in boxes over the cubbies.  If you need any containers or lids, either matching ones or replacement parts, let me know. I’ll give them to you for FREE! (That is certainly worth a silver medal, right?)

20160830_074800_resizedBook Jam I” was a difficult event.  My trade books were not in any particular order, and I was unable to properly organize them to my satisfaction in the allotted time.   I did ok with the “Book Jam II“, sorting Reading Workshop books into the correct bins and finding my personal collection of board books that I like to use to start out the year with. But the BEST part of “Book Jam II” was when I masterfully placed my outward-facing bookshelves so I actually have TWO book corners this year for my little Kindergarten scholars! I think that event was purposefully scheduled to try to trick me into getting rid of Kindergarten furniture. I get a double gold medal for that one!20160830_074840_resized

Where Are The Spacemen?”  is still alluding me. During writing, we use these adorable spacemen clothespins created by Really Good Stuff for teaching about putting spaces between words.  I can’t find any of them!  They may have gone into Mr. Pail at the end of the year, or they may still be playing “What’s In The Cabinet?” Another level to this game is “Where Is The Smartboard Pen?” I had two pens, and one is missing.  Clearly, no medal for  me for this event.

At the start of “Kindergarten Kitchen Nightmare“, pocket books were filled with toy food, little scratch pads had one scribble on a page, dishes were mixed in with clothing, and the babies had bed head and were all naked.  I had to get everything back in its correct, loving place. By the time I was done, the table was set with a tablecloth and napkins I made over the summer, the babies were all clothed and in bed with little handmade blankets, and the food and dishes were put away in the correct spots.  Another gold medal for me! Sorry, no picture proof of this, but I can honestly say, the kitchen looked wonderful by the time I was done!

Sharpen The 1,000 Pencils” was another non-medal event, sadly.  My TWO electric pencil sharpeners are busted, so I’ll be purchasing one over the weekend. Guess I’ll be participating in that one on Monday morning!

And “What Did I Order?” is a game also still  in progress. I purchased glue sticks prior to the start of the Kindergarten Classroom Summer Olympics while back to school shopping. Lo and behold on Friday, I received two boxes of glue sticks that  I guess I ordered since my name was on them! Ah well…better extra glue than no glue!

Class List Confusion”  is always a challenging event for even the most seasoned teacher.  A new student was added to my class list and I wasn’t aware of this change when the children visited on Thursday, the 25th.  I had to make her crayon cup with her instead of it already set for her at her seat.  But on Friday, I made sure to make the labels for seat and cubby, so she will be all set for the first day of school the following week.

Paperwork Paparazzi” started out as a challenge, but ended up being a silver medal event for me.  Another side-event of “What’s in the Cabinet?”, I found student work and assessments from last year in two separate locations that needed to be sorted, organized, and distributed to the first grade teachers.  I also located behavior charts for students, parent information, and other miscellaneous paperwork that just didn’t find its way into Mr. Pail at the end of the school year last year.  About an hour and half later, all the pertinent paperwork was correctly organized and given to the proper people.

 

Bulletin Board Brilliance” was a gold medal winner for me, for sure!  Not only was the bulletin board I made adorable, it is highly effective in terms of student work placement. I made little cupcakes from bulletin boarders and tissue paper. The flame above lists my scholars’ birthdays. Underneath each one, there is a clothes pin hanging by a tack. Putting up and taking down student work is a snap!  An added bonus: I’ll be putting their photos underneath by the 2nd week of school, so everyone who visits will quickly know which happy little cupcake belongs to which scholar.14054047_10207200523746791_8415621747711157217_n

The best game, though was “Toss It!” I KNOW I won the gold medal on this game!  I had THE biggest pile of boxes, trash, a rug, broken containers, and other unusable items stacked up in three towers of trash. Too bad I didn’t take a picture of my award-winning dump pile! (You can see a bit of the pile creeping out of the hallway in this photo.)

All in all, I think I fared pretty well in this year’s Olympics.

Now, let the learning games begin!

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

TWL

 

5 “Needs” To Be Ready For Kindergarten

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Welcome to Kindergarten, my new friends!

Here are 5 things you need to be ready for Kindergarten!

BRING A BACKPACK that you can carry that has your name on it.

 

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BRING ONE lunch box with your name on it to hold both your snack and lunch. More than one lunch box makes it hard for four and five year olds to figure out what to eat when. Also: be sure your child can open any food containers you send without assistance. If they can’t do it on their own, then it should not be sent to school. NO peanut/nut products or candy at school, please.

WEAR sturdy shoes and play clothes! Shoes should be close-toed for safety on the playground. NO LIGHT UP SHOES, JEWELRY, TOYS, OR TRINKETS, PLEASE.

 

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BRING EXTRA CLOTHES TO KEEP AT SCHOOL. We get messy, have accidents, or get wet at the fountain. We want to avoid calls home for replacement clothes, so please send in clothes to keep at school. Please include an extra plastic bag to send soiled clothes home in and supply replacement clothes should the bag come home.

 

BE WELL-RESTED AND EAT BREAKFAST BEFORE SCHOOL EVERY DAY! Four and five year olds need 10 to 12 hours of sleep a night! We are busy learning from day 1, so it is very important to get to sleep early, eat a good breakfast, and be on time for school.

 

I can’t wait to see you on the first day of school!

Three Ways to Help Your Custodian

 

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Have you ever tried to wash and wax your kitchen floor in 90-degree heat? Most logically-thinking people would say, “Of course not! The floor will never dry!” Most people wait for cooler temperatures to wash and wax floors, since high temperatures directly impact how easily and quickly the task can be done.

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And yet, that’s what our faithful custodians in my school must do every summer. The teachers pack up as much of their classroom materials as possible in June, storing things in cabinets, closets and cubbies. The custodians then remove all the furniture and any supplies and materials that didn’t fit in the classroom storage areas to the hallway. The floors are then washed and waxed, then the room is reassembled according to a map left by the teacher. Once all the rooms are done in the wing, then the hallways are done. It’s an exhausting, heat-infused, time consuming job. One wing in our building has at minimum 10 rooms. Multiply that by 4 wings…it’s a lot of work.

This year, we had both summer school and a preschool program running in our building, which impacted when the custodians could do their yearly summer routine. Since our summer school and pre-k programs weren’t completed until August 12th, it left only two and a half weeks for the custodians to get their work done, as our new earlier start date this year is August 29th. The classrooms in the wing that was slated for summer school were washed and waxed prior to summer school starting, but that still left the hallway to be done as well many classrooms left untouched until the Pre-k program let out.imgres-4

When I went in on the one day in August that the school was open to start working in my classroom, (Yes, teachers DO work in their classrooms over the summer to get ready for their new scholars!) the three custodians were busy all over the building. One was waxing the upper floor in my hallway, and the other two were in another section of the building, unloading classrooms and beginning to wash and wax those floors. It’s a thankless job made more stressful by the fact that school is set to open in two weeks.

This madness got me thinking of a few solutions to make their job a little more bearable in 90-degree temperatures with no air conditioning and possibly make the summer cleaning schedule a little more productive.

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  1. Start school after Labor Day if summer school and other programs must run through mid-August in school buildings. The extra few weeks will give the custodians ample time to do their work without having the pressure of school starting at the end of August.
  1. Hold summer school in a different town building, like a Recreation Department or Community Center, freeing up the school buildings for custodians to use the months of June through August to work and get the schools ready for another school year.
  1. Set up a schedule for all custodians to rotate through all the schools over the summer, helping to move all the furniture and clean the classrooms and hallways in each building, so there are more people to assist at each school and get the buildings ready sooner. A team of three custodians in each wing for a week could get more done than merely 3 per building. Many hands make light work, right? 

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I intend to send an email to our Superintendent about this issue once school starts. My hope is that those who make the school calendar for next year take into account the hard work of the custodians over the summer months, especially those who have to work around summer school and other educational programs. Without them and their efforts, we wouldn’t have the sparkling windows, doors, and floors that greet the children and staff every year.

What type of job do you have? Can you just leave your office at the end of the year, or do you have to pack up and set up each work year?

 

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

 

TWL