baby development

Saturday, August 26, 2006

My hubby is a HOSS!!!!

Hubby took Thurs. and Fri. of this week off of work to torture himself in the kitchen remodel. He has worked endlessly for the past three days and I can honestly say there is visible, measurable progress being made. He has been at it right now for about 12 hours straight and is still hard at it as I'm sitting here on my rapidly broadening behind just typing away.

Today he tiled our kitchen backsplash and is currently grouting it. In the middle of all that he went over to my parents house and helped my dad move his built in oven-microwave unit. (My folks are also remodeling their kitchen.)

He's not to thrilled about the outcome of the tiling but he's also his own worst critic. I think when all is said and done my kitchen is going to be fabulous!! I can't wait to see then end result. I hope he's as proud of it as I am of him.

This is NOT the man I married. He's a million times better. I LOVE YOU BABY!!

I survived! . . . And I'm not sure that's a good thing.

I survived the first week of school! Just let me say, "Wow, that was with out a doubt the longest week I can ever remember." Starting on Wednesday I kept thinking it should be Friday. So, I'd have to say, so far, it's been less than stellar. There are a few reasons for that.

First of all, the elementary school I work at was rated "academically unacceptable" by the state of Texas due to our TAKS scores. If you don't know, TAKS is the "Texas Assesment of Knowledge and Skills". The test it's self and it's implications have become so ridiculous that some teacher in Texas created this little bit of satire to express his/her feelings.

Forget TAAS! Forget TAKS! Here comes the new wave of testing.
Since the average life of previous state-wide tests (TABS, TEAMS, TAAS and now TAKS) has been 5 years, we have decided that it is not too early to plan for the next test.

The new instrument will be the Texas Assessment of Cognitive Operations(TACO). It will have a remedial version (Soft TACO), a regular version (Hard TACO) and advanced version with many more pages (the Gordita). It will be graded on a normal curve (the TACO Bell). Districts will be graded/offered a report of standings, the Summative Administrative Assessment Survery - SAAS (pronounced SAUCE). Ratings are excellent (TACO Bueno), satisfactory (mild SAAS) or unsatisfactory (Hot SAAS).

Districts receiving the lowest scores will be put on probation with a Basic Educational Appraisal - Not Satisfactory (BEANS). A second low rating earns the dreaded supplement: REmediation FactoR for Individualized Education Deficits (REFRIED BEANS). This rating will cause a lot of hot air at campus faculty meetings. If a campus makes changes that significantly affects performance, then the low rating is raised a half level due to Remediation Improves Campus Efforts(RICE) so that the supplement title will now become (REFRIED BEANS with RICE).

Any campus experiencing less than satisfactory performance on the new TACO tests will need to submit a summative report of Factors Affecting Jumps In Taks Assessment Scores (FAJITAS).For fast and informative news of upcoming changes in assessment andaccountability, please sign up for our weekly e-news - CHanges IMminent In Classroom Happenings And New Guidelines AttachmentS (CHIMICHANGAS).

Believe it or not, this actually sums up the way many teachers in the state feel about this test. My school, which was graded on 8 different sections of the test recieved an "exemplary" rating on 2 sections of the test, a "recognized" rating on three areas of the test, an "acceptable" rating on 2 areas of the test and an "unacceptable" rating on the 4th grade writing portion of the test. We were only "unacceptable" by a margin of two students on this test. That brought our WHOLE CAMPUS to an "unacceptable" rating? I don't get it.

Anyway, needless to say this has created a less than desirable atmosphere on our campus. We're trying to implement a new program campus wide called "Capturing Kids' Hearts". The basis of this program is the positive attitude of the teachers. Somehow, these two things are not working well together. Our principal, who we all love, has told us that if our campus is not rated "recognized" or "exemplary" (which he pronounces "exemplar-ary") next year, he won't be returning as our principal. That makes us feel eeeeeeven better!

The second little issue is that our district has adopted a new policy about paid leave. The state of Texas gives us 5 paid personal days each school year and the district gives us 2 paid sick leave days each year. My school district decided this year that we have to work 18 days to accumulate 1/2 of a personal day of leave and 36 days to accumulate 1/2 of a sick day. If you have days left over from the previous year you may use those at any time. Well guess what, after having a miscarriage last year and being diagnosed with diabetes I used all of my days last year going to dr's appointment after dr's appointment. And now here I am 7 months pregnant, I still have to go to dr's appointment after dr's appointment and every half day I take off is going to cost about $101 out of my pay check. Needless to say, this is causing me stress. Not to mention I think it's going to be really bad for our school because teachers who don't have accumulated leave are going to be coming to work sick because they can't afford to take off thus making the children sick. This will begin a self-perpetuating cycle that is just going to SUCK! So, again not how I really wanted to start my school year.

The final thing causing me stress about this school year is that our kindergarten numbers are way up this year. We have 20 students in each of 3 classrooms resulting in 60 kindergarteners. Because the PE teacher and myself teach a class and a half at a time that means for 50 minutes, I am expected to provide a musical education to 30 kindergarteners at one time. Most of you who know me already know that I don't do my best work with the little ones. The endless shoe tying, "teacher he touched me", nose wiping, and bathroom needing of 5-6 year olds gets on my nerves. Now, don't get me wrong, individually I enjoy each and every one of them, their take on the world is priceless. However, when you put them in a group of 30 with one teacher this is the end result

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(If you've ever seen the Disney cartoon recess then you'll understand when I tell you that I believe that cartoon has more accurately captured the nature of kindergarteners better than any thing else I've ever come across.)
Notice her frustration? Notice that she's resigned herself to their wild nature? Notice how happy the little suckers look? Yep, given time I truly believe that the natives might actually conquer me this year. So, if ever there's a day that you have a moment between 12:10 and 1:00 please say a little prayer for me.

So, as far as I can tell here are the expectations laid out for me by my district this year (a) do your job better than you've ever done it before (b) bring up test scores (c) sit through faculty meetings during which you will be constantly reminded of the low test scores and the horrible consequences if they aren't brought up (d) keep a positive attitude (e) don't ever be sick (f) capture kid's hearts, and (g) capture them 30 at a time. And they tell us not to set our students up for failure . . .

All I have to say is 5 days down, 175 to go.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Sleepless Nights

Well it's one o'clock in the morning and I'm laying on the couch, lap top in lap, wishing, hoping, begging for sleep. For the 2nd night in a row I can't sleep and it's making me crazy. Usually staring at the computer screen makes my eyes tired which in turn makes me feel sleepy. No such luck tonight. Well, I hope everyone else had a better night's sleep than I did. Please let me know if you have any nifty tricks for getting to sleep. Just remember, I'm 7 months pregnant so drinking myself to sleep is not an option and neither is downing a handful of sleep inducing drugs. Happy sleeping everyone!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Friends, presents, and fun!

Saturday, my good friend "J" gave me a wonderful baby shower. She did an awesome job of putting the whole thing together. It was held at a local restaurant and I had lots and lots of friends and family that attended. Getting great gifts and eating yummy food was fun but having so many of my friends and family together was even better. There was even a surprise visit by our friend "B". So, thanks "J" for the wonderful baby shower. It's great to have such wonderful friends! And thanks also to everyone who came, and everyone who sent gifts. It was a wonderful shower and baby boy will have lots and lots of neat things when he gets here. The Cake

The Party Room

Getting lots of great presents for baby boy.

Friends and family.

Following the shower J and B came over to the house and we spent a great afternoon and evening hanging out with hubby and oohing and aahhhing over cute, cute baby things. Hubby was sweet enough to take the three of us to dinner and a fabulous time was had by all.
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