The Lydster, Part 124: the acrostics

Expectations for

acrosticThis past year, for spelling, there was this predictable pattern for the homework of approximately 20 words.

Monday: put the words in alphabetical order. Sometimes tricky when you have six words starting with st
Tuesday and Wednesday: write ten sentences each night, using the spelling word. The sentences, more often than not, involved the cats; “Perhaps Stormy and Midnight will be friends.
Thursday: take one word and make an acrostic out of it. This is something I never had to do, but she got into it.

With her permission, nay, insistence, some of The Daughter’s acrostics, in no particular order. All (c) 2014 Lydia Green.

Ends where it begins

A dwarf can be
Rough but

Umbrella at
Midnight in
New York
(Stormy my cat)

Hears everything
Ears perk up
Rapidly runs from room to room
Sometimes very quiet and cuddly
Eyes glow in the dark
Loves to be crazy
Fears Midnight

Horses jump
Over the fence
Running free
Satisfying the crowd
Eating hay
Saves the day

Expectations for

Entree with a side of

Crayola presents all new colors:
Aqua blue
Orange and
Neon green

There are others, but those were the ones I could find easily.

Stress, and time management: related

No, I don’t like doing things at the last minute. Don’t like rushing to the airport, to the train or the bus, or to get to the movies on time.

stressNew York Erratic, who needs to blog more – just noting – wrote on March 20, 2014, at 7:29 am:

What was the greatest job stress in the last year?

And the answer had I written it at that moment would have been: “IT’S RIGHT NOW!”

I’ve alluded to The Daughter’s mysterious ailments, which have been largely mitigated and only partially explained, and would take a lot more detail to discuss, involving talks not only with doctors but with school officials about making accommodations for the fact that she missed so much classwork.

The math and spelling homework she kept up with, in large part, because I was writing it for her; she was doing the intellectual work, but the pain in her upper arm made her handwriting/printing totally illegible.

As if my concern about her were not enough, I had my own stuff to do. Let’s throw in another NYE question here:

What do you do about time management issues?

In general, I like to do things early. If I have a deadline of a month, I like to do it as soon as possible. There are two basic reasons: 1) I’m enthusiastic about it in the beginning; later, as I muddle through it, I get bored and unfocused. 2) I get stressed about approaching deadlines. It weighs me down.

I had three specific things I needed to do in the month of March. In the usual course of going to work, doing some of it at lunchtime, or after work, it all would have been completed weeks earlier. But the last week in February, I missed at least two days of work. There were 21 workdays in March; I went to work all day only five of them, taking a total of 7.5 sick days (only 0.5 related to me, the rest to The Daughter), and two vacation days, neither of which were purely used to vacay.

Item #1: I had agreed to take the minutes of the February 24 meeting of the Friends of the Albany Public Library. If you’ve ever taken minutes for a meeting, you recognize that that the sooner they are done, the better. I could not pawn them off on someone else because of my cryptic shorthand. On March 17, I’m being asked for them, and I just throw up both my hands in despair. Not having a usable computer at home at the time, and not having time to go to the library to use a public machine, I had no real options.

I FINALLY finish them on March 29, just before the March 31 meeting, too late for anyone to actually review and read, or to act on the items that minutes remind people they’ve agreed to do. Not incidentally, the minutes I took for the March 31 meeting were done on April 2.

Item #2: I had agreed to give a talk at the Community Loan Fund on March 27 about business reference resources that are free or cheap. I so infrequently get out of the office that I was really looking forward to this. The talking part was not the issue; it was putting together the handout sheet. We had one from about three years ago, but some sources had changed, and new ones needed to be added. On March 24, I’m STILL working on the sheet. If it wasn’t for my colleague Alexis, I never would have finished it.

Sometime around March 18, one of my sisters called me, and I was telling her about all of this stuff. She said, unhelpfully, “Why don’t you postpone some things?” I obviously had not made clear that ALL I HAD BEEN DOING was postponing things for – at that point – the past three weeks. She thought I should reschedule my dental appointment the next day; I thought that was a terrible idea; by not taking care of myself, I’d be unable to take care of my daughter.

One of the things I HAD postponed, from February 24, ostensibly a vacation day that began The Daughter’s ailments, was getting a haircut. I FINALLY got one on March 22, so that when I went to my March 27 gig, I didn’t look like Grizzly Adams anymore.

Item #3: I had this reimbursement program for medical expenses in 2013. I had put in $2500 because we kept thinking The Daughter was going to get braces, but she didn’t. So we had to get reimbursed whatever receipts we could find. We also had $1800 for the afterschool money to get back. I mailed it on March 27, and it was received on March 31, the very last day of eligibility, or we would have been out all of that money.

No, I don’t like doing things at the last minute. Don’t like rushing to the airport; the debacle of June 2009 STILL rankles me. Geez, I just reread what I wrote there, and I left out what inane thing we were talking about; I wrote about THAT months earlier. Don’t like rushing to the train or the bus, or getting to the movies on time.

I should make the distinction here between avoidable and unavoidable problems. I’m OK with the stuff you wouldn’t reasonably anticipate; things happen. Tree falls in a storm, blocks the road: unavoidable. Someone gets sick: unavoidable. Power outage: unavoidable. Trying to squeeze in one more task that makes everyone late: totally avoidable.

Are there some non-work activities that take precedence, and, if so, which ones and why?

I check my e-mail. I get blog comment notices that needs approval, bills that need to be paid, my sisters’ and nieces’ posts to Facebook, news and weather and traffic bulletins, info from the Daughter’s school district, ideas for my work blog.

Obviously, taking care of The Daughter trumped work in March.

I TRY to take off one day a month for mental health, but that’s not always been the case. February 24, as noted, I tended to The Daughter. March 31, I went to work to fax the last of those reimbursement forms.

The Daughter’s homework keeps me awake at night

This is NOT her father’s fourth grade math, and not only do I love the subject, I am good at it; she, conversely, is learning to HATE it.

When I indicated I was having trouble sleeping, someone suggested telling myself a story. This doesn’t work for me, because my head is already filled with stories that I want to let out, i.e., blog about. But I have not the time to do this. And while there are a few reasons for my busyness, none of them has more of an impact than my daughter’s homework. It takes us, and I do mean US, an AVERAGE of 90 minutes per night.

So if I’m spending an hour and a half doing THAT, by the time I’ve washed the dishes and done other chores, it’s 10 p.m. Should I write or should I go to bed? If I write, I may get overtired; if I go to bed, the mind continues to write narratives that I can’t offload.

I’m writing this because I can churn it relatively quickly, but when do I write my feelings about FantaCon or the musical Ghost, both of which took place LAST month? Or the ABC Wednesday pieces that I USED to write three or four weeks ahead, but I only have the immediate next one written? Important anniversaries coming up, and remain unaddressed.

And much of the homework involves math problems from the so-called Core Curriculum, or Common Core that I think are quite challenging for a fourth-grader, especially since New York has deigned to start on the process BEFORE it really trained its teachers in the methodology.

You have questions asking about the number of footballs, when it’s told you about the total number of balls, and the number of baseballs, and that the number of basketballs is a certain number less than the number of baseballs. The process means one needs to subtract to get the number of basketballs, then add them to the number of baseballs, then subtract that sum from the total number of balls. And these are four- and five-digit numbers.

This is NOT her father’s fourth-grade math, and not only do I love the subject, but I am also good at it; she, conversely, is learning to HATE it.

Then one gets a question such as this one:
“In the 2010 New York City Marathon, 42,429 people finished the race and received a medal. Before the race, the medals had to be ordered. If you were the person in charge of ordering the medals and estimated how many to order by rounding, would you have ordered enough medals? Explain your thinking.”

I discovered, after talking with two colleagues, and after a couple of hours, that the second sentence is the source of the utter confusion, and by excising it, then what is being sought in the question becomes clear.
If one rounds 42,429 to the nearest 10, it’s 42,430 and you have enough medals.
If one rounds 42,429 to the nearest 100 or 1,000 or 10,000, it’d be 42,400 or 42,000 or 40,000, respectively, and it would be an insufficient number of medals.

This is not the only bad question, only the most egregious one. It’s become a challenge to motivate her to do the stuff that has actual value when it’s so heavily laden with rubbish.

Attacking these questions is perceived as not wanting to “challenge” or “enrich” the students. I think the IDEA is fine; it’s the EXECUTION that I think is faulty.

The Lydster, Part 110: vacation homework

In general, the hardest seems to be how to MAKE CONNECTIONS to her own life.

It’s been a LONG time since I was in school, but I don’t recall having homework in third grade at all. And I’m fairly certain that I didn’t have homework during school vacations. Things are different, however, for MY third grader.

These days, they gave to read chapters from a book, and then write a REVAMP. Revamp, of course, means to renovate, make new, patch up, redo.
Thus, she and her classmates must:
R READ a section of the text, note the page numbers
E ENCODE the text by telling the gist (main idea) of your reading in your words
V VISUALIZE the text by drawing a picture of your reading
A ANNOTATE the text by writing down important details, ideas, words, or quotes
M MAKE CONNECTIONS by telling your personal experience or what it reminds you of
P PONDER the text by asking questions, making inferences, or predictions

For the winter break, the Daughter procrastinated so much that we (and I do mean we, not just she) was working on it the Monday morning she returned to school, which is unsettling and exhausting for both of us.

During the spring break, she was to encode The Indian in the Cupboard. Also during that period, she and a friend went to the Kopernik Observatory & Science Center in Vestal, NY, two hours away; the Wife took them to this Girl Power science activity.

When they returned on Friday, they’d only done one REVAMP chapter of the book, though she’d read five chapters. Saturday, we did two more. The ENCODE is fairly easy, but the ANNOTATE is difficult, especially if you have to go back and remember the specific section. This means I, who did NOT read the book or see the movie, end up having to skim through the chapters myself.

But, in general, the hardest seems to be how to MAKE CONNECTIONS to her own life. I throw some possible examples out there – “Did you ever get hurt like the Indian did?” – which she will accept, or reject (mostly reject) until she finally comes up with one of her own.

Thus, the entire Sunday afternoon after church, we are doing homework, when I could be reading the paper, or vacuuming, or doing any number of things.

I HATE vacation homework, and it isn’t even MINE!

The Lydster, Part 92: Homework

I had no idea how much HER schoolwork would impact on MY time.

When Lydia had homework in first grade, it was manageable. She would get a packet of eight sheets on Monday, and they were due on Friday. It became easy to pace the work. If Lydia had something going on one night, we could work around it.

But in second grade, she gets homework each of the first four weeknights of the week, PLUS a weekly spelling assignment. Monday night, in particular, is a real pain.

Lydia has to fit in dinner, her ballet class, her daily nebulizer, plus the usual ready-for-bed routine she goes through, in addition to the homework. Sometimes she and I were working on homework Tuesday morning, just before school. But with the new, earlier bus schedule for me, that is not feasible anymore.

The week of Halloween, she had no homework all week, because of some school testing. It felt almost like a vacation, not just for her, but also for me, who is the one generally helping and/or prodding her to finish her assignments. I had no idea how much HER schoolwork would impact on MY time. And it’s got to be tough for those students whose parents who DON’T participate in their children’s education.

I relish her school breaks more than she does, I do believe.
Happy significant natal day, ZN.

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