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

5K Training

I signed up for a 5K on July 3rd. It’s been a few weeks since I last went out for a walk/run. Things have been super busy at work and I’ve been working late on Tuesdays and Thursdays, not to mention Saturdays.

I had been lifting Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. And then going for a run on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

But between all the crap at work and being under the weather with allergies and my second Covid shot… Well, my motivation and energy were lacking.

I think I only have 2 more weeks of insanity at work. And as long as the weather is nice, I need to at least go out for 20 minutes or so.

Ordinary People and Good Will Hunting

I was browsing metafilter last night and there was a post in fanfare about the movie, “Ordinary People“. That’s a movie that Dr. D (in Austin) asked me to watch. That was roughly 20 years ago (give or take a year or two)

(Gidgette just crawled up onto my lap and is sitting on my arms. It’s making typing on the laptop quite difficult.)

At the time, it was pretty impactful. I remember us talking about it for a session or two. But I don’t remember what we really talked about.

Back to last night. I decided to see if it was streaming anywhere. Turns out, yes it was, on Amazon Prime Video. As I started watching, the plot came back to me. What hit me this time was how much the mother (Mary Tylor Moore) was obsessed with keeping up appearances. It was all about how the family looked to her friends. January of last year, I talked about that idea with Dr. JD (to differentiate her from Dr. D in Austin), but I know I didn’t really explain it well. I know this because I’ve been journaling daily since 1/1/20 and it gives me on this day in history. When that came up a few weeks ago, I wrote that I wanted to talk about it again. But I never knew how to broach the idea. I think I’ll send her a text to see if she’s seen it. It’ll be a good springboard for the topic.

Around the same time Dr. D asked me to watch “Ordinary People”, he asked me to watch “Good Will Hunting” as well. “Good Will Hunting” hit a lot closer to home, so to speak. I think the scene everyone probably remembers is Will (Matt Damon) and Sean (Robin Williams) in his office as Will is finishing up therapy with Sean because he’s turned 21. You can watch it on YouTube. Just hearing the words, “It’s not your fault.” over and over was hard back circa 2000.

Being a glutton for punishment, I actually bought the digital download and watched it. It surprised me how hard that same scene hit me in 2021. The tears flowed just as freely as they did 20 years ago. I actually journaled about this after watching it. The app I use, Day One (iOS and Mac only), lets me record an audio entry. One of these days, I’ll go back and listen to it. Actually, I might do that before “seeing” Dr. JD on Tuesday.

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.

Starting Up Again

It’s been many years since I’ve written here. I decided earlier this week to get back into writing on this blog specifically.

So what has been going on the last 3.5 years? A whole lot. I had a second bariatric procedure and I lost more weight. My highest weight was 440 pounds. I’m now 177. I was down to 164 but pandemic…….

I’m still working with infants in early childhood education. I’m still at the same place, though I’m brushing up my resume. I’m still coloring, though on my own. The meetup group doesn’t meet anymore because, well, *gestures wildly around*. I’m still baking and I’m part of an online baking “club”. “Club” because it’s only two of us. We are still trying to get people to join us.

A while ago, I quit therapy with Dr. D. I’m back working with her again. Dr. W (who I still see) encouraged me to start therapy again. I’m glad I did. The thing that made me walk away was her trying to dive into (what I recognize now as) my social anxiety. I wasn’t ready to tackle it and I was doing well in other ways. The break was good for me.

In terms of meds, I’ve been able to taper off the Haldol, Effexor and Celexa. In a few months, I’m hoping to start getting off either the Zoloft or Wellbutrin.

Last summer, one of the baby girls in my class at work had some possible vaginal bleeding. The way it was handled by my boss plus just the idea that maybe someone was hurting that little girl really messed with my head. At that point, I was seeing Dr. D. I ended up taking a week off to get my head screwed back on. The family left the center and I occasionally wonder what happened to her and hope she’s okay.

A couple months ago, we had a new family join the center. There are an infant boy, a toddler boy and a preschool girl. These children were removed from their mother. The toddler spent many hours just crying “mommy” over and over. The way the building is set up is there is a half door between the infant room and the toddler room. So I could hear every single scream. It broke my heart. It didn’t help that the toddler teacher was getting frustrated and would say “J, please stop crying.”. Let me say, that I totally understand her reaction. She had 6 other kids under 3 and it was overwhelming at times. I’ve been in her shoes. I was told A, the baby in my room, was born to a crack addicted mother. I need to do some reading on what the shorter term ramifications are of that. I’m probably most concerned about B, the preschool girl. She seems totally unaffected. I know she’s older than J, but she’s only 4.

I’ve been dealing with my reactions to those two incidents with Dr. D. After the baby girl, I took a week off to get my head back on the right way. Last week and this week, I’ve been on vacation. There were many reasons, one being the new family. Another is physical exhaustion. I’m still dealing with fibro. Two weeks ago we were so short staffed because of Corona. I ended up working 8-6 with a 2 hour break. It just wasn’t sustainable for me. I’m also the acting administrator for 4-6. Another staff member thinks she’s in charge and was being a general pain in the ass. I told my boss that E can be in charge since it seems that’s what she wants. My boss told me that no, you’re in charge and I deliberately chose you. And then there’s all the BS that needs to be done for Step Up to Quality. I was doing a good deal of other teachers’ work.

It’s definitely been a crazy year.

Hiding

I spent a lot of my childhood hiding, both mentally and physically.  I clearly remember hiding, although I don’t remember a lot about other things.

I used to try hiding from my mom when she was drunk.  I didn’t want to be hit or berated.  I just wanted to be left alone to do homework or read.  Hiding didn’t always work.  I think me trying to hide made her angrier.

Many a night, I tried hiding in my closet.  I sat there hoping that my dad wouldn’t come that night.  But eventually I had to come out and go to bed.  I could only hope at that point I would escape whatever was coming that night.

I spent a lot of time hiding my depression, suicidal thoughts, and anxiety from my teachers at school.  I trusted no one.  I guess I thought it would be more of the same pain.

So Much For That Idea

I don’t know what to do anymore.  I tried to get into the agency that I saw before.  They take Medicaid.  Just not my version of Medicaid.  Then don ‘t advertise that you take Medicaid.  That pisses me off more than anything.  If I had known that I could have put the energy into finding someone who does.

It seriously took all my mental energy to call this place.  I’m sitting here shaking like a leaf, about ready to throw up.  I want to cry, but I’m determined not to.

Maybe I’m taking this all too seriously and personally.  But I can’t help it.  I know I need this.  It’s just disheartening.

I should just go jump off a bridge.