Monday, August 29, 2016

Teachers: The Short End of a Stick

It's been more than a year that I have been educating my son at home and we love it. This experience totally works for us and I do feel guilty that I didn't start sooner however, Vincent reminds me that his 4th grade teacher was awesome and he would have hated to miss that opportunity.

What made her awesome? As he explains it, there was no homework unless you didn't finish something in class; he spent the school year learning about the agriculture industry specifically in Illinois and it was hands on; she was fair and talked about taking responsibility when you were not being nice; and she made learning fun through games.
(Though her penchant  for homework ruffled feathers from admin & some alpha parents, she continued to teach her way and has received numerous accolades in her field).

Just like there are a percentage of bad cops versus good cops, everyone seems to ignore the latter. Teachers fall under that same ruling. Yes, I have witnessed some horrible teachers who are there for the paycheck and vacation days. But that's not all of them. There are teachers that have gone to college for the specific objective to receive a degree in a specialization in education. The courses are quite thorough and students learn the latest in research regarding how children learn, what is the best way to teach certain types of children, classroom management, incorporating technology, the list goes on and on. They do the equivalent of clinical hours in a school for almost two semesters and take a state exam for certification. They are professionals.

Now let's take a moment and take a look at the general expectations of a professor at a university. First, they either tend to have a doctorate or a masters (community college) to teach college students. Their boss tends to be a Dean of a school and pretty much the professor has the autonomy to select what materials will be taught in their class and how he or she will teach it (though this is changing). The Dean doesn't get involved. The Dean has a mission for the department and expects each professor to incorporate it in their curriculum. Of course, professors have more flexibility than teachers in regards to their schedule, etc. but my point here is that the treatment of professors should be the same for teachers.

Hence, a teacher should be allowed to create their own curriculum for the classroom and choose whatever materials and resources they want to achieve their goals. If the teacher decides they don't want to use a textbook. Then that's it; they don't. They should have the ability to understand what the school's mission is for each student and incorporate it in their lesson plans.
Instead, they walk in to be stripped from all the knowledge and experience they have learned in college to be told to use a textbook, must adhere to state/federal guidelines on what is taught, use a specific software, and pass standardized tests. They must meet a quota and can't stray from it. And this is only the surface of it.

Mind you, there are teachers that are so organized they can find loopholes to teach their way and make it fun for kids but it is exhausting. So when that Jimmy kid acts up, it ruins everything. You are at your wits end and it really isn't the student's fault.

I read about Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates meeting with principals and administrators and the occasional teacher, on best practices for learning, and then investing money in it. Tsk tsk. What they should be doing themselves is reading on the top research about education and then sitting down with teachers from different cities and different grade levels (focus group anyone?) to find out what really needs to happen. Hell, have them drop in to an average public school and be a substitute for a week. That's right, no warning, drop in, look at a teacher's lesson binder and go. Ha!

We have a long way to go.....

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Turning Japanese: Their poop don't stink! Really.

Yokohama, Tokyo, Japan. This was my first stop. I had a view of the bay where Godzilla comes to save the day.
First few things I noticed was the slippers. When you enter a room, home, dressing room (yeah like in a department store), you have to take off your shoes. Then they have slippers for you to use in the bathroom only. That way your feet remain clean and you don't track whatever you stepped on in the bathroom to the rest of your home. Yep. Bathroom slippers.
When I sat on the toilet, (sorry for the TMI), I noticed my butt feeling warm and a noise come out of a speaker on the wall. It sounded like really loud rain. I was in awe. Heated toilet seats and a noisemaker for when you do #2! This is some fancy hotel!! It had an electronic bidet attached to the toilet.

Turns out, this is standard in all bathrooms including PUBLIC bathrooms! Even the Shinkansen has it. It goes on. The public bathrooms not only have the bidet, heated seats, and noise factor, but the stalls are completely sealed. So there is no peeking allowed! A few of the bathrooms I visited (yes my trip to Japan consisted of visiting bathrooms) had a button on the side for you to raise or lower the toilet seat. That device alone can save marriages. Then there was a liquid dispenser and a diagram explaining how to use it on toilet paper to wipe down the toilet seat. 

Now there are distinct features in a women's public bathroom where you squat to pee. At first, I had no clue which way to face to squat but on my visit to the Nico Castle, they had a diagram and you basically face the flushing mechanism. These types of toilets are more common in touristy areas or in subways where there are a lot of people commuting. It's no big deal and you always have the option of using the #2 toilet if you are older or have a disability. 

One more thing, most of the toilet stalls had baby seat that hold your baby while you use the toilet. They think of everything. 

Overall, Japan is spotless. The people take pride in being clean (reflects their inside) and every job, housekeeper, subway cleaner, retail store, coffee shop, is practiced with pride. Every where I went to eat, I was offered disposable, sealed wet wipes which I stocked up on for the trip. There's no littering. Nothing. They also use face masks to avoid getting sick or spreading illness. This goes for teens too. They present themselves well dressed. No Walmart attire here! It's probably unlawful. As is noise. The motorcycles didn't seem to be so loud. During rush hour, you would hear birds chirping inside the subway to calm people down. 

The people. I can't say enough about them. So kind, so helpful; very genuine. Not trying to screw you. No need to barter. You ask a question; you get the correct answer. No need to double guess. 
It's impossible to get lost. You just have to ask someone or the employees at the public transportation and they will help you. If you don't ask, they won't help. They let you figure it out. They are not intrusive. Oh, and they know basic English. Though I do recommend you learn basic conversational Japanese. Please, thank you, your welcome, excuse me, yes, no, 1-5, hi, bye, etc.

Crime? I saw a little 10 year old girl riding the train, by herself, going home from school. She would text someone to let them know she entered or was leaving a train. Not a soul bothered her or looked her way. My son was ready to move to Japan. It is safe.

Oh, and they have no problem wishing you MERRY CHRISTMAS and decorating with Christmas lights and trees. That's right!! They are not even Christian!!

That's enough for now.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Turning 40: Health

Yoga, mindfulness, meditation, vegan, vegetarian, essential oils, Buddhism, pot, organic anything, alcohol, spiritualism, teas, mammograms, zumba, hormonal imbalance, anti-aging creams...sound familiar. It's great to reach this decade.
God help me. If I could talk to that burger eating, pound cake/ice cream before sleep girl, I would tell her to start then. Why? That way I can have a splurge here and there and not risk some intestinal back up. For example, I had some lovely Rioja last night and I decided to try some Debowa vodka with cranberry juice. Just one. Got home at 5ish and passed out until 8:30pm. It's the Rohypnol of vodkas. I was out. I ended up smearing frankincense oils, swallowing a motrin, eating a grilled cheese sandwich to shake off the hang over effects. OMG.

As I type this, I'm drinking Sapporo Light beer because I'm trying  to avoid bloating but I love beer so....oh yes, bloating, weight gain, and ah, feeling perimenopausal. SO MUCH FUN.

Apparel is different too. I can't get away with low riders...I'm tired of pulling my jeans up! I want comfort but to look sexy. Not an easy combo. Your skin changes too. Makeup doesn't look the same any more so you have to switch to more flattering ahem colors (neutral) to look youthful.

Cardio, cardio, cardio. You can NEVER stop the cardio. It keeps you level headed and feeling good. Coffee alone doesn't do it for the energy, it's cardio and progesterone creams. That's right. I have to smear that stuff on me so I can stop passing out every now and then or to avoid night sweats.

The first sign of my body changing was when I sat cross legged with my son on the floor. Well, I attempted to get up. It felt like my knees decided to nap and was not waking up any time soon. That has never happened to me. NEVER. My entire life was about to change physically and I realized that everything I read but never practiced was about to play some karma.

Don't think twice, just enroll at your nearest gym, get medically violated, sniff therapeutic grade essential oils, partake in monthly facials, and attend as many paint/wine nights as often as you please. You should be fine.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Turning 40: Sensual Goddess

Apparently, Facebook has determined that my name defined is sensual goddess. I laugh. I know what my name stands for and it is NOT that; nor is my sexual behavior any way near that notion. Manipulative, maybe, but you will soon find out my attitude toward bedroom shenanigans.

First, and foremost, this is my personal experience and not everyone's is the same. Reaching 40, I realized that I am very comfortable with my sexuality. I may not be totally happy with how I look naked or in certain clothes, but when the lights are dim, those feelings go out the window. It's time to be selfish and feel great! I wish I were like this in my younger years, so confident and comfortable in my own skin but I guess it's part of trial and error.

Basically, college life is where you really party. I'm not sure how in the world I partied until 5am and maintained my part time job and school work. No clue. I have to say I had FUN. Lots and lots of FUN from this continent to Europe and back. I'm surprised I'm still able to function as I do. Occasionally, my neurons pop and I forget where I am at, or forget what I was going to say, and I attribute it to my 20s. During that time, Madonna was breaking rules and there were movies like Basic Instinct to tantalize our imagination.

Now there's 50 Shades of Gray and Magic Mike. Blah. I get it for those that never had a wild youth or limited experimentation into the "dark" side. Thinking about Shades exhausts me. I am in no mood to be submissive. Nope. Not going to happen.

I guess I have been pretty fortunate that I was never coaxed into doing something I didn't want to. Maybe it was my very verbal stance on certain areas of intimacy. I really didn't have a partner that pushed the subject on let's say, anal sex. I made it loud and clear, "You want to have anal sex? Sure! I will just whip out this dildo and you can bend over." Silence. Oh well.

Then, there's good ol' menage a trois. Me with Daniel Craig and Henry Cavill. Heaven. Or how about the male members of the Avengers or better yet that program the Vikings! Holy cow would that be fun!! Oh...did I disappoint you? You had another idea? Hmmm. Sorry dude, not interested in women. Never have been.

I have been approached by the same gender in the past with comments like, "once you try it with me, you will never go back." Ugh. Blah. I like tall, brawny men. Let's just leave it there.

Yeah, I'm a sensual goddess alright!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Turning 40: Marriage

It was early October when a tornado entered my life. 20 years in the same constant relationship and then poof, gone. I had no clue who he was or what was happening at that precise moment. Literally, my husband's head was spinning so fast it snapped from his neck and took off somewhere. I don't dare to look for it. It seems that the domestic life was not for him. He wanted to be alone. Midlife crisis? Male menopause? PTSD (USMC combat veteran)?
I had no clue; but it was BAD. All I could think of was our son and using all of my strength to wrap him up in a force field. I was going to use a hurricane as metaphor but there was no eye of the storm. Not one bit. It was chaos all over the place...strewn to pieces.
Thank God for friends, neighbors, and psychotropic drugs.
Being in my 40s, I realized you can't control what people choose to do but you can make choices. You want to be alone? Fine. Before he could blink, we were divorced. Snap.
Now what?
Out of curiosity, I signed up for Ugh. In less than five minutes I had 27 hits! Notifications about winking and emails....OMG. STOP! I terminated the account. Maybe I need to be alone as well.
When I had to break the news to our son, well, I knew it wasn't going to be easy, but I didn't expect him to yell at me...he wouldn't let me finish what I was about to say. His face convulsed and he screamed "I don't want to hear words like change or new!!!" I can hear myself apologizing to him over and over again while he stormed upstairs into his room. I was a mess. I called my neighbor across the street and he came running to take our son over to his house. Needless to say, I enrolled him in therapy. I had "graduated" from mine and thought it would be great for him too. It was.
On my own, I learned to caulk my bathroom tub, install plumbing under my sink, patch ceilings and walls, redo stairs, and it felt GREAT! I was moving forward and I had this new book, no not a chapter, but a book with blank pages that needed to be filled.
One day, Vincent, who also graduated from therapy, said to me. "Mom, they are raising tuition at school again!" "Why are we giving the school that money when you can teach me. You're a teacher!"
He was right. Dead right. My brain raced with the opportunities that it would entail. Freedom from time constraints, social politics, homework, the list goes on and on. We can travel! Anywhere!!
I even started looking into traveling in a camper all over the US homeschooling (big movement if you didn't know).
My ex and I struggled a bit with the weekend child custody thing. There were times he would invite me to join them, but I stuck to my guns and said no. I have a new life now, go and enjoy yours.

Then, he had a lobotomy. He wanted me back. We attended couples counseling and I began to realize that I was part of the problem too. I was not treating him like a husband but as a child and in return I didn't feel like a woman but a mom to two kids. We had strayed...disconnected...lost our paths. We were fighting a lot and not listening. When we tried to begin a conversation that was genuine and nice, it was construed the wrong way because of so many years of bickering. The therapist guided us and we saw the potential of making this work. And for the first time, when he looked at me, he saw me. My worth. It caught my breath. Is this really happening? Sometimes things just need to crumble into so many pieces so that you can't fix it, but start over with a new set of eyes. That love you have when you first get married is so cliche. This is real. This is much deeper, much more mature.
Will we remarry? Not right now. I like the way things are in this chapter. It's kind of fun!

I can't believe it. He SEES me and I'm happy.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Turning 40: Relationships

This was a kicker for me. In the world of family dynamics, I'm the one that bends over backwards to help out. Mind you, I love helping others...whether its cooking a meal, cleaning up, helping to run errands, needing favors, it's a bit of a high for me to help someone in need. However, it took me a long time to realize that I was being sucked dry with no recourse. I mean, I would be told that I was a spoiled brat, selfish, overreacting....what?? I just cleaned up your kitchen and picked up your kids from school?? I was the only one with you at the hospital?
A friend of mine introduced me to Narcissistic Personality Disorder and later another friend introduced me to Empaths and I was transported to reality. I was surrounded by it! Holy cow!! Enough is enough. I started cutting off ties with family members as their greediness came to light. I think their retaliatory behavior validated my decision to sever ties. When I had a miscarriage, I would get passive aggressive remarks about why that happened to me? Meaning because I had cut them off I was being punished by some higher forces. When my dad past, that was the hardest on me, my confidante, my advisor was gone and I had to take everything I learned from him and really put it into practice. I started caring less about what people thought of me, and I started to say "no". That was a big one. Just grow some balls and say NO. It's ok. People are adults and can figure out their own problems, you need to focus on yourself and your family!! That's what I started doing for the first time in my life and I was in my 40s. In the course of that time, I became stronger, much more self-confident, and much more relaxed.
I wasn't running around trying to figure out Thanksgiving, Christmas, and whatever other holidays but doing what I wanted to do. F*ck it. I felt great!!
I am much more careful now when I meet new people. I guess I am more reserved in a friendly and social matter. My efforts now have a limit and that's ok. My eyes are wide open and seeing and living the moment before me. I am mindful.
Regardless, I am grateful for my life because it has shaped me for who I am today and I love me.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Turning 40: the sh*t has hit the fan!

This is a subject I keep trying to figure out how to write about it but there are so many aspects to it, I didn't know where to begin. I may attempt different stages in different blogs because one would be WAY TOO LONG.
When a friend told me that turning 40 is no big deal, that we were like a bottle of wine, the older the year the better. Now I know about wine, and there are various kinds that the older they become, the more rancid the flavor. Ugh.
Generally, I am a positive person (half full) but this 40 crap took me on a tail spin. It's either an epiphany or drowning in the ninth circle of Dante's inferno.
First and foremost, you wake up. I mean really wake up. For me, I knew exactly what I wanted, who I was, and my self confidence was sound. There was no wishy washy anything. If you offer me grapefruit in the morning, I will tell you I can't eat it. That's it. Stop telling me how organic the fruit it and that it hails from the soils of central Florida. I'm NOT GOING TO EAT IT.
Clearly I know what I like and dislike. You also see others as being relatively ignorant aka stupid. However, you are more tolerant and realize that they haven't lived that many lives and need to continue to learn. On the contrary, I'm prehistoric when it comes to that so I'm not going to sit and hang with you. Maybe pre-40 I may have attempted to explain things to you OVER and OVER again thinking you would have insight but that's over now. NEXT.

Here you are, 40, you know who you are and guess what you find out about yourself? No, not that you are surrounding infinitesimally by ignorant people, but that you will not lose the weight you gained! That's right. You can't just go take your dog on a brisk walk or skip that pizza slice. OH NO. Whatever weight you gain it sticks.

If you want to look good in a bathing suit, well you have to change your diet and exercise routine. COMPLETELY. Diet has to change because you will become bloated like a puffer fish when you eat carbs and certain foods. Then certain foods like fried delicious chicken or bacon will give you a horrible upset acid running down your intestinal tract. Dairy..ha! Forget about heavy creamed soups or dips, because you will have to buy stock on antacids. Everyone is a bit different but not by much. You are screwed. Best diet....honestly, a vegan one (lots of fruits, vegetables) and the occasional animal protein. Sorry. I'm not lying. [Sigh]

Workout! I'm at the point that I walk my dog briskly almost every day (maybe about 20 min). I swim 25 laps at the gym pool twice a week and I do yoga once a week. I thought that would be enough but it only maintains your weight, health and firmness. But weight loss? Enter Shawn T. Yep, I started the T25 workout. 25 minutes of uncontrollable sweat dripping down from unknown places. Sadly, its working. Cardio is a must after 40. You can't get away with not doing it, if you do, weight gain is ominous.

I'll stop now...there's more later-- relationships, family, sex, drugs, etc.