Saturday, May 30, 2009

Good Sportsmanship!

That is the medal I always got in camp when I was a kid. It meant I was a spaz but I did not realize it and blindly followed the rules of whatever game we were playing. Thanks for playing kid! We needed one more on the bench.

I got RUNNER-UP for my hankie!

"In case you were wondering, judges from Singer selected the grand and first prize winners while the runners-up were decided by user votes. Sorry for the delay in the results, Maker Faire prep has overtaken us, but we wanted to make sure these results went out out (just) before the weekend. Thanks again for entering a great Instructable and we hope to see more good stuff from you in the future."

reads the email from the organizer of the contest which ended a week ago. I actually tried to conceal the fact that I already own a clearly superior Bernina sewing machine in my photos. When a packet of needles ended up in the background of a photo, I left it there thinking, a little "SINGER" product placement won't hurt. Ha! This was not in the rules. I was so mad when I got the results of the contest two years ago. This time I know what I am going to do. They are going to send me a little robot tshirt, their cute little mascot and I am going to wrap it around our dartboard and throw darts at it. Eventually, I will hit it too. Many people don't know this but I played darts in a league for about 8 years. That's how I met my husband. I played B division most of the time but The one year I played in the C division, I was the Ladies All Star and I won a plaque. I scored more points (4375) than the other 45 or so women in the division. Of course, in B and A the Ladies All Stars scored well over seven thousand but whatever. The men in B and C who win All-Star usually score over 10,000 points. You see where I am coming from?
Last year as the school year was ending, I asked one of my former students, a lovely girl who came by every day to help me out in the classroom, if she would write a letter on my behalf nominating me for some national teacher award. She did so gladly and even wrote me from camp telling me that her letter won an essay contest. I never heard from those people.
External validation! Why is it so important to me? Where will I truly find it? How is success measured? Here is what is not so high on my list of aspirations: fame, fortune, power. Here is what is: knowledge, wisdom, validation, understanding, comfort, freedom, creativity, and beauty (not personal although it was important until time took over and I realized it was merely a gift or perhaps, a loan from youth).
Yesterday, I decided to let someone else handle a big problem for me in exchange for a large sum of money. I felt relief to turn it over but still fear that I will continue to be misunderstood.
I am out of synch with my environment. I seek harmony!

Oh BTW look for my Moth Away! sachets on sale soon over at
Link to be posted soon.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

They won't announce the winners...

I'm afraid to write in and ask when they will tell us who won. There was some weird voting shift where the day after the contest I was third then the next day I was first. What? I really don't get it. "The Contest Is Over." No one is asking so I'm not going to be the first. The last time I entered a contest it took like a week and then I didn't even get mentioned. I was crushed. There is so much going on in my life right now that I can't obsess about it. I want to teach math. I want my job.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Waiting, sewing, report card writing

There is no more productive time in my life than report card writing time. I become a tidy homemaker, awesome baker of abundant treats, try out new looks with make-up all in the name of doing anything to avoid writing the reports. Have you noticed what a frequent blogger I have become?

The deadline for the sewing contest was yesterday. My last minute plea for everyone I have ever known to vote seemed to help as friends emerged with an out pouring of support. Having dropped to fifth, by the time I went to bed I was back in first place. Alas, when I awoke I had dropped to third. Now it is up to the judges. Of course I would love to win first place - a new sewing machine. The runner-up prize for the next three is also quite nice - a dressmakers dummy that can be re-sized. The two entries ahead of mine are lovely, a pillow and a fabric wall. I don't know what the judges are looking for but if it innovation then...a pillow? The fabric wall, an excellent idea to partition off part of the house to save energy, could be accomplished with a staple gun and does not really need any sewing. Okay, I am done knocking the entries that beat mine in votes just to make myself feel better.

I have made so many Moth Away! sachets that I think I will sell them on Etsy (link to come soon). I also made a bag for one of my tutoring students' birthdays. She has a much younger sister so I felt like I better make her a bag too. Here are pictures: Younger sister bag side 1:I think they came out quite well, no? Younger sister bag side 2:
Student bag side 1 and 2:

Thursday, May 21, 2009

How would you feel?

Let's say you had a job that gave you a great deal of personal satisfaction. A lot of people adored you and told you what a great job you were doing. Then you became disabled with a TBI so you were not as great but still pretty good. But the people in charge said, you can still work here but only a little and in a less important role and nobody you worked with remembered that you used to be good or had anything to offer. They still let you work there and gave you the same amount of money, so I guess you are supposed to feel grateful. But what if you weren't doing it for the money? Not at first, anyway. It was the love and respect and human contact that meant so much to you. Maybe your brain injury left you unlovable, disrespected, and easily avoided. I guess you'd have no choice.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Sewing Contest!

Mother's Day ICE Hankie - More DIY How To Projects

Vote for me please!

Count Your Blessings!

I went to the bank yesterday to deposit my reimbursement check for my recent sojourn to the NCTM conference in Washington DC. A very successful trip in many ways, BTW. For my 3 night stay at the hotel, I was upgraded to the Presidential Suite at a top hotel because they were overbooked. I paid the previously agreed on rate for a $3000 a night five room suite with Bose surround sound, a fully stocked kitchen, dining room, living room, guest bathroom, personal bathroom with jacuzzi, shower and a sauna that could fit 5 people (I did not partake because the titanium plates in my head do seem to conduct heat better than regular skull bone), dressing room, 3 tvs, and amenities galore.
Standing behind me on line at the bank were a mom and daughter of maybe 8 or 9 years old. The daughter was fascinated by the coin counting machine (the one behind the line had broken down and was being dismantled by an employee so it was open, revealing sorting channels and large bags of coins). Relentless in her pursuit of understanding, she asked her mom many questions in rapid succession about what it was and how it worked. Mom was distracted by her banking needs and had semi-tuned out her daughter's words. A teachable moment like this could not be resisted by the impulsive, altruistic, know-it-all in me and as I had already filled out my forms and had five people in front of me on line. I addressed Jamie directly saying many people have jars of coins that sit around at home getting full. I immediately got mom's attention because although she was not engaged in discussion with her daughter, she was keenly aware of her movements and safety. "Just like us" she said.
"Well, people bring those jars of change in and pour them in the top and the machine counts and sorts the coins. Then you bring the receipt to the teller and they give you the value in paper money. The machine also gives you a chance to guess how much your change is worth and if you are correct within a certain amount, you win a prize."
"What is the prize?" Jamie wanted to know.
"I don't know because I've never won."
Jamie's reply, "I would put in a penny and then guess 1 cent."
"Wow! That's very smart. Your daughter is very smart," I tell mom.
"Yes, when it comes to money, she is very good."
"The problem is you would still have to go to the counter with the piece of paper to get your penny back. You could bring your jar of change and count part of it, then put it in, make your guess, win your prize, and then do it again."
We discussed the many ways of outsmarting the machine and then Jamie asked, "What would happen if you cut a penny in half and put that in?" (The CutCo guy must have been at their house recently."
I explained how the machine sorts out the foreign coins, paper clips, keys, and other stuff that finds its way into people's coin jars and rejects them.
"That's what sometimes makes the machine break down like that one."
Jamie bemoaned the fact that she could not try her experiment to win the prize immediately. I pointed out that there was another machine on the far side of the bank that no one was using. Mom insisted Jamie wait, stay next to her, they would get to it. (I was identifying with the mom, trying to protect her curious daughter, take care of her banking, satisfy her daughter's need to learn.)
Then it was my turn to see the teller. As luck would have it when I finished, Jamie had just arrived at the coin machine and mom was at the teller just feet away. I helped Jamie interpret the directions, watched as she put in a quarter, a penny and then another. She was prompted to guess within $1.99 to win a prize so she carefully typed in $0.27. Mom came over just as Jamie pressed DONE. The machine congratulated her on saving so much, and issued a receipt for 26 cents and her prize.
Mom said, "I guess it lost one of your pennies."
I was already squatting down, as teachers learn to do when talking to smaller people, so I pointed out where the coins that did not make it through came out. The mom and I simultaneously noticed that there was a lot of change already in the slot. A lot!
Mom said, "Wow, I guess we'll split it," to which I replied no way, that her daughter should use it and try again.
Before I started to give her the coins , I couldn't help myself. I had to add a caveat.
"Just remember this day when something bad happens. Some days you are lucky and some days you are unlucky. You have to remember the good days when the bad ones happen."
"It's true," mom agreed. She had earlier accepted my presence, comments, interference, and dialogue as benign, for which I am deeply grateful.
I handed Jamie handful after handful of change and she fed it into the machine. Mom was as excited as we were and had taken over pressing the buttons. When it came time to guess the amount, Jamie said seven dollars. Mom said no way it was more like two dollars but compromised and typed in $3.
Out came the message: "Wow! You sure saved a lot of money. $5.70. Take this receipt to the teller to pick up your money."
No prize for the second round but mom was right, Jamie is very smart when it comes to money. Her daughter's estimate would have won. Jamie looked a little disappointed but I said you still have your receipt for the prize and now even more money. For a 27 cent investment, Jamie got a prize and $6.01 back. I wanted to stay to see what the prize was but I resisted and just said goodbye. The mom thanked me and I left.
The Instructor Strikes Again! ridding the world of misinformation and bringing knowledge to the minds of the curious.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Universe is Reminding Me How Lucky I am

I got into the TBI research program at Mount Sinai so I will get the treatment I need at no cost. The people are excellent and understand TBI. My job will continue to allow me to work there with the flexibility of getting the therapy I need. I can work with great kids and continue to learn and grow. I have parents who tell me that they will do whatever they can to help me because I have made a huge difference and their kids enjoy learning. It is a lot of work to reach all the kids. I feel strongly that no matter what a student needs it is my job to figure it out and help them get it. I am grateful that I understand that kids all need different stuff and juggling those needs is tough but important. The strongest students do not need nor deserve any less than the weaker students. Take each one and find the potential and then nurture that growth. At the end of the year if each student feels great about his or her progress, I have done my job. I have a vision of a school where students learn because they love to learn and teachers teach because they want to facilitate that process.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I think that's my stapler...

In this economy, do I fight for my right to do what I do best or do I allow them to send me to a tiny room where no one will see me and do a pretend job? I feel completely demoralized.