Benchin’ the Bar

It’s been a few months since I shot this video. I can actually do three sets of five with just the bar (45 pounds). If I increase the weight to 50 pounds, I can usually get in one set of five.

Lately, I’ve been using a Swiss Bar (aka a Football Bar, aka a Multigrip Bar). The biggest reason I switched to this is because I want to develop my triceps a little bit. I have a lot of hanging skin from all the weight I lost, and that’s the part of my body that bugs me the most. My brother’s bar is a 40 pound one and I reliably do three sets of five with just the bar. I’ve started adding five pounds, for a total of 50, and that’s going quite well. In addition to working a different part of my arm, it also helps with my shoulder. Almost two years ago, I fell at work and broke my left proximal humorous. My left shoulder has been much weaker than my right, though it’s getting closer to being the same.

Me and My Shadow

A stray neighborhood cat has adopted my brother. He’s such a sweetie pie. I’m a proud auntie.

Billy decided to call him Shadow because he sort of crept out of the shadows and slowly nuzzled up to him.

Shadow will actually come into Billy’s garage/gym and jump up on the bench.

My Classroom

As some of you may know, my initial plan for my adult life was to become a pediatrician. For various reasons, I changed my mind. I decided to go to graduate school to pursue my doctorate in infant cognition and perceptions. Because of illness, I had to give up that dream, though not before publishing my masters thesis.

Then I spent about eight years (on and off) teaching English in South Korea. When I came home, I battled illness, both physical and psychological. An excellent treatment team consisting of the University Hospitals, Cleveland bariatrics program, a general practitioner, a psychiatrist and a psychologist.

Just over three years ago, I applied for jobs in the child care/early childhood education industry. Despite what some may believe, we are not baby sitters. We are qualified educators with requirements to maintain our qualification. Like our K-12 colleges, I have to write lesson plans, do assessments, set goals, have parent/teacher conferences and much more. It really annoys me when someone tells me it must be so much fun to play with babies all day. Yes, it is a lot of fun, but it’s a TON of work, especially with the youngest infants.

I landed a job at a center just four minutes from my house. I began as a preschool teacher. Although I liked what I was doing, it wasn’t just right for me. I spent one summer developing and running the Summer Bridge program to help insure our school aged students didn’t lose too much ground over their long vacation. That definitely wasn’t the right place for me. I have so much respect for my K-12 colleges. I could not do their job. After returning to the preschool for a while, I found my true love, unsurprisingly, infants.

I started working with the older infants, 12-18 months of age. I enjoyed my ability to watch development, in what seems like fast forward. Then COVID hit. Our center closed. When we reopened, due to staffing difficulties, we combined the younger and older infants into one room. We being providing care for infants beginning at six weeks of age. So far, the youngest infant came to me at just under four months. She’s now 14 months old and it amazes me every day how much she’s changed. My little Londynn was basically a blob when she came. I had to feed her, hold her, carry her, decipher her cries. Not anymore. She’s saying single words and even a phrase or two (like “eat eat” when she’s hungry). I’ve been home sick for the last week (scientists don’t need to develop bioweapons, just use baby snot), so she just might be walking on her own now.

That’s a long preamble to post some pictures of my classroom. For those of you who don’t know me personally, I have a bit of a perfectionistic trend. I take great pride in keeping my room fresh and interesting. I have taken continuing education courses on how to set up an effective infant or toddler classroom. When we had our Step Up to Quality visit a few months ago, I received great feedback from the assessor. I’ve helped other teachers set up and enhance their classrooms as well.

Without further ado…

I love displaying the artwork the babies do. I generally have a theme for the bulletin board over the changing table. Currently, it’s summer. In the photo above, we did some tape resist painting using their initials. Other artwork is on the walls using inexpensive bulletin board boarder from the dollar store to frame it. The red, yellow and green posters are pictures of the babies in various activities. One is them eating, another is them doing art and the final one is them reading. And boy do they love to read. The large bulleting board above the play kitchen area says, “What Us Learn… and Grow!” and features pictures of them doing various activities.

As for how they do art? There’s an art to doing art with babies, but once you discover the methods, it’s a lot of fun, and surprisingly not very messy. I have a container and marbles that I put paper and paint in and let them shake, shake shake it. I have a salad spinner that I load with paper and paint and they push the plunger, sometimes with some assistance from me. I put the paper and paint in a plastic zipper bag, seal it up and they pick it up and smush and squish to their hearts desire. The next method is the one with a higher chance of mess, but it’s not too bad. You take your paper and paint (or even wooden forms) and sandwich them between two slices of deli paper (or any other sort of paper bigger than the artwork) and let them pat it, hit or rub it. Peal the deli paper away and your art is left behind. This is how I helped them make their initial. For those who are brave, I’ve done handprints. And for those who are super duper extra dedicated, take their shirts off, put on an art shirt and let them finger paint. There is nontoxic washable paint on the market, or you can make your own using various edible materials.

I hope you enjoyed

Parma Walk/Run for Pierogies

Yesterday, I was supposed to do the 5K at the Parma Pierogi Run/Walk. Unfortunately, I hurt my knee a few weeks ago.

Actually I think it might just be an arthritis flare. About 10 years ago, Gidgette scratched my leg and I ended up with a blood stream infection and septic arthritis in my knee. They went in and surgically debrided it. Since I didn’t have any insurance, I wasn’t able to get physical therapy afterwards. The knee has never been the same.

Regardless, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to go 3+ miles yesterday. I turned off at the 1 mile walk mark.

I ended up doing the mile in 18:45, which isn’t too bad considering I didn’t stress my body too much. I’m totally happy with it. Mainly because I DID IT!!!!! It was my first race.

Before the Race!

I’m going to get an orthopedist appointment in the next few weeks. I really like the guy who treats my arthritic shoulder. Hopefully he does knees too. If not, I’ll gain another orthopedist to go along with him and the back specialist (years of being beyond obese wrecks havoc on joints).

I really do want to do a 5K. I signed up for the Cleveland Marathon 5K in October.

Back to Work…

First day back after a long break. My anxiety level was climbing all weekend. It was so bad last night, I ended up taking a Klonopin. I even needed to take one this morning. My anxiety is usually much more controlled.

Once I got back, I got back into the groove. All the babies were glad to see me. L reached her arms up as soon as she saw me. I picked her up and she just giggled. I said “Hey D Man” to D and he turned and gave me a huge smile.

When I left, A was rocking back and forth on his hands and knees. Now he’s properly crawling.

There’s so much development that happens in two weeks when you’re talking about babies under a year.

I found out this morning that I don’t have to do any office work. I don’t have to enter notes for the other teachers. I don’t have to answer the phone in the afternoon. Well, from 5-6 I do. The school age teacher is holding onto the phone until she leaves at 5.

I really think the owner is afraid of losing me. She really can’t afford to lose any staff. And she needs my degree to move her star for Step Up to Quality. It feels good to be needed. But not for the cost of my mental health.

Therapy Thursday

Today’s discussion centered around feelings.  The one observation I had was I know how to label the basic emotions; happy, sad, angry.  But I can’t label things that are more complex.  I like labels.  I like to know what things are.  Sometimes the hardest question to answer is “What are you feeling?”.  Sometimes I throw around names such as jealously or anxiety.  I’m not always sure that that’s what I’m feeling.

We also talked a bit about automatic thoughts.  Things that I jump to so fast that I don’t even think about it.  Two of those thoughts are guilt and responsibility.  I jump and don’t even know it.  I’m trying to challenge those thoughts after jumping there.  I’m reminded of a passage from “The Magic Tollbooth” where the dog flies out of the car and onto an island by jumping to conclusions.  That’s me.  I jump to conclusions about the abuse and who’s responsible.  No more.  I’ll jump but not land.  I won’t be perfect, but trying is the key.

Out of Left Field

I love ER.  I have since the first day it aired.  Now I found in syndication and it cheers me up; at least for an hour it does.

Tonight was not one of those nights.  The plot and the characters weren’t important.  But seeing them examine a 6 year old to confirm sexual abuse was out of left field.  I guess I should start reading the blurbs that DirecTV has.

It wasn’t the exam part.  I never went through that.  It was the thought of the little girl being violated that got to me.  I got pretty close to that flashback spiral.  It didn’t hit me so hard that I couldn’t control it.  I went out to the kitchen immediately and took my PRN anxiety med.  That helped.  I got out of my room so I didn’t have to deal with the bedroom stuff.  That helped.  I turned to a mystery novel to get my head in another place.  It helped.

I have a feeling that Dr. D would be proud of me.  I did the right things to keep my head in the present.  And that’s been hard for me all along.  I can only take one day at a time.  I made it through 19/20 radiation sessions with that attitude.  I know this is a long trek for me and I will have bad times.  Right now the bad seems to outweigh the good.  But I’ve got friends who support me.  I have a fluffy white kitty on my lap right now and another mutt hanging out under the blankets on my bed.

Baby steps.  Just remember baby steps.

Freedom

If all goes well, I’ll sign a contract with a new school on Saturday.  I’m getting away from the Wicked Witch of the East

I was told our incompatibilities was due to the fact I’m the first American teacher they worked with.  They just didn’t want to pay their fair share and I would have lost almost 2 grand over the course of the year.  Plus they thought I was going to pay 300 bucks a month in health insurance when, if they followed the law, I would have paid more like 40.

So overall good news.  And, despite the bed being broken (for a month now and after numerous requests to fix it) I slept like a baby last night.  So much so I’m up at 7  AM.