Friday, May 27, 2011


I picked an empty chair in the orthodontist's waiting room. Another check-up (one I did not think was particularly necessary) to make sure that, now that my wisdom teeth are out, have my teeth shifted? and does the retainer still fit? [by the way, everything was fine. She tightened the retainer a little, but I think that was unnecessary ]

I take out my crocheting project and begin. Sometimes the wait is long, and sometimes very short. It all depends.  Crocheting is a mindless activity for me now, I don't need to look at what I am doing very often, so I look around. A mom and her daughter, the girl wearing braces. A man and his son, the son without braces (but probably getting them today). A dad and his daughter, looking at a magazine together.

And then there is this other man, sitting a few chairs down for me. He is slouched in his chair, and looks comfortable, but also uncomfortable. I assume one of his kids are getting braces, because that appointment is a long one. And, the man is sleeping. Not laying back with his eyes shut, but sleeping. 'How can you know?', you ask? Well, he was snoring, too.

Every once in a while, he would snore (it was loud) and everyone in the waiting room would look around at each other and laugh to ourselves. He must have had a particularly early morning. I wondered what he would do when he woke up, but my name was called before that, and I stashed my crocheting in my purse and went in the back for my appointment.

Do you have any stories you'd like to share??

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Code Talker by J. Bruchac

Bruchac, J. (2005). Code talker. New York, NY. Dial Books. 231 pp (Grade Level: 7th+)

            Ned is a Navajo Indian who is sent to a White boarding school. At this cruel institution, the teachers and administrators strip the Native Americans of everything that identifies them as such; including clothing, long hair, their language, and they even give the children new 'White' names. During their schooling, the children are told that nothing good can come of Navajos, and that their language and their identity as a Navajo Indian are useless. When America goes to war with the Japanese when Ned is 16, he wants to help. He wants to serve his country and help the war effort. Eventually he makes it into the Marines, and is given an important, top-secret job.
            Code Talker is written in first person, as a grandfather telling a story to his grandchildren. It was a very intriguing read began a curiosity in me about this era. Although it is a war book, the descriptions of the actual wars and battles were low key, only the sorts of details a grandfather would share with his grandchildren were shared. This would make a great read aloud, except for all the Navajo words in the text that were nearly impossible to sound out. This would be a great supplement for a World War Two unit, or even on early American history and the way Americans treated Native Americans. Because it is a relatively long book, and doubtful that the whole class could read it together, I would suggest accumulating an assortment of books that have to do with the era being studied and let the students browse the books and choose which ones they want to read during silent reading time. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Story From My Life

I don't remember everything, but I'll tell you what I remember. Its a long tale, but its packed with thoughts, descriptions, memories, and what conversations I remember.

The appointment was at 8am. Dad drove me to the doctor's, and I told them who I was, and the receptionist nurse set up a follow up appointment for the next week. I sat down in one of the chairs next to dad. They had given him a PostOp booklet to read, but he set it on the side table. I think he did that for me, knowing there were probably things in there that I wouldn't want to read right before the surgery.

There was bamboo in one of the flower pots. Dad told me bamboo is a grass, not a tree or a shrub. He had learned that just a day or two before in the rain-forest. The ones he had seen were thirty feet tall, and green, and thicker than a coffee mug. We talked about bamboo and his trip with mom to Puerto Rico until the nurse called my name.

I stood up and shouldered my purse to follow.
"Oh, you'll want to leave your purse with your driver." I don't remember much about her, but I'm pretty sure her scrubs were purple.
I turned to dad and smiled, taking my purse off, "ha, you're my 'driver' now"
"Hey now- I'm more than that- I'm your dad!" we both smiled and laughed , and I think the nurse laughed too, but I think she was also a little embarrassed. I followed her to the surgery room.

Honestly, I wasn't nervous about the operation. Wisdom Teeth Removal isn't one of the most dangerous surgery, and there wasn't much risk. I'd panicked a couple times in the past few weeks. But the night before, when I had a small panic attack, I prayed for peace... and suddenly, like in a book or movie, I was at peace, and I could fall asleep.

No, I was most anxious about the IV.

Three or four years ago I yawned my biggest yawn ever- and my jaw slid out of place, locking open. I dislocated my jaw with a yawn (talent- I know). Long story short, I had to go to the ER. My muscles were too tight because I was so tense and anxious and they couldn't slide it back into place. So, they gave me an IV with something in it to relax my muscles. I was scared to death when dad told me what the nurse was going to do- I don't like needles very much. I didn't want the IV, but my mouth was stuck open and I couldn't speak to protest. I bawled, sobbing, holding my dad's hand as he tried to calm me and tell me it would make things better.

I walked into the operation room where two nurses waited. I sat in the beige operation chair. They leaned me back, explaining the monitors they were putting on me-  one on each of my wrists, one on my pointer finger, and a blood pressure monitor that seemed to randomly check my blood pressure. Somehow, I remember hearing one nurse read my blood pressure to the other nurse, 120 over 80 I think, and I tried to recall from my gen bio class if that was a good/reasonable number.

Then, one nurse sat down and told me it was time for the IV. I took a deep breath- it was going to be ok.
"This is just going to be sugar water- like lucky charms," She said. I think I smiled.
Don't look at it, self, look away- at that corner where the walls and ceiling meet. Keep breathing normally, its going to be ok, keep breathing. She told me to lay my arm flat on the rest, and to open and squeeze my hand. Self, don't look at the drop drop drop of the sugar water from the IV bag into the tube that lead to my bloodstream. Keep breathing, its going to be ok. Rubbing alchohol. "Hold your fist tight." Remember to let out my breath.

A pinch, a breath, it was over. I could sort of feel the IV in my arm, but it didn't hurt, it was just a little uncomfortable.

"That was the part I was most anxious about," I confided, letting out a breath.
"Aw, it wasn't so bad- it didn't hurt, did it?"
"No, I hardly felt anything," I almost laughed.

They monitored some other things behind me, came in and out of the room, wrote things of pieces of paper paper-clipped to manila envelopes.

One nurse asked me what I had done for mother's day, and I gave her the highlights. Then, she relayed a story or two of her own. Then:

"Ok, we are going to switch you over to the anesthesia in a minute. The doctor is about to come in, do you have any questions for him?"

I didn't, so they switched the IV. I'm not sure how exactly, because, like I said, I wasn't looking in that direction. I could still hear the beep beep beep of the monitors relaying my pulse. Everything got fuzzy, the lines of objects becoming less defined. I was a little dizzy, but not really. Part of me thought this was going awfully fast, and part of me thought it was sure taking a long time. I decided to start saying my memory verse for the week in my head, while I waited. I got to 'Matthew 4:19, And he-' and then I was out.

And just as suddenly I was awake and in pain. I cold see three heads, each wearing one of those whitish blue doctor surgery hats, and I felt a horrible pain in my mouth. I don't exactly remember the pain now, but I remember it really hurt. I wasn't sure what part of the surgery this was, but I guessed it was the end because it felt like dear old doc was putting in the stitches. I'm pretty sure I started shaking, and crying. Then I was out again.

Then I was conscience again. No pain. Nurse telling me to swing my feet over the side of the chair. Helping me stand. Walking me down the hall, into another room. I sat in another big cushioned chair. I don't remember if dad was in the room before me, or if he came in after, but he was in one of the regular chairs. I wasn't sure if I'd imagined the part about waking up, but it never occurred to me to ask. When I walked down the hall with the nurse, and into this other room, I was holding a Kleenex with wet spots on it, so I'm pretty sure it happened.

The doctor came in and said some stuff. I'm sure it was very important stuff, but all I remember is 'No Straws!' A nurse came in and showed me how to change the gauze. Then I was standing again, the nurse helping me, then she handed me over to dad, and she lead us to a side door with a sign over it was was printed off the computer. Dad thought that was the funniest part because it said "Surgical Exit", so that PostOp patients don't scare other patients in the waiting room. Genius.

We were in the car, soon, and driving to McDonalds. Dad told me the operation only took thirty minutes, which I think was pretty good. Then we were home, and I took my special medicine, leaving the malt in the freezer for later, and lay down on my bed and fell asleep.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

The View From Saturday by E. Konisgsburg

Konigsburg, E. L. (1996). The View From Saturday. Scholastic Inc. 160pp. (Grade Level: 5th- 7th)
            Mrs. Olinski is not sure how she chose the four members of the Academic Bowl team, but she knows that they are each very intelligent, and work well together, and continue winning even when the odds are against them. Each member is able to look back at their life, the journey that lead them to be a part of the team, and from that past glean the answers to the questions the Quiz Master asks. The four members are interconnected and know each other outside of school, they are such good friends they came to name themselves 'The Souls'. But they did not start out as friends, a certain journey brought them each there.
            The format of this book is interesting, and works well with the premise of the book. The first chapter starts off at the beginning of the last Academic Bowl of the season, up until the buzzer sounds when the first student is ready to answer the first question. The next chapter goes into detail describing how this student came to know the answer to the question. The book toggles back and forth like this, between the Academic Bowl, and the lives of the students on Mrs. Olinski's team which are more intertwined than you would think.
            This book tells the story of four sixth graders who come to know each other, starting with a tea party at four o'clock. As for diversity in the book, there is one boy with Indian heritage, and even religious diversity. Mrs. Olinski is also a paraplegic,  and in a wheel chair because of a car accident that took place before the book started. This book would be good in the classroom as a read-aloud. The chapters can be lengthy, but they are interesting. Each chapter about the student is told from the student's perspective, and in a different tone. Writing tones can be discussed in class, as well as format. The questions asked at the Academic bowls would be interesting to discuss, and the answers are in the back. Students could be asked to write a reflective essay about how they learned about something outside of school, the way the students in the book did.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Can You Do It?

Saturday was beautiful. This would be the first time I had roller bladed in years. I'm doing pretty well, I think, for someone who hasn't roller bladed in a while. But then, up ahead, I see some small rocks scattered across the paved path. Last minute, I try to avoid them, but my movements were too sudden and I lose my balance. I fall backwards, landing on my hands.

My right hand has it worse, the skin was actually cut open a little. I just have pavement looking bruises on the heal of my left hand. But my right hand hurts, a lot. It stings, and somehow my wrist feels thick when I try to move it. Thick like something is trying to keep it from moving. I make it back to the dorm on the roller blades, and don't risk climbing the stairs with them on. I manage to take them off only using my left hand. I run cold water over my right hand, and elicit help from my roommate and my friend, both of whom are nursing majors.

They buy me a wrap, and ice my wrist. They both say it is sprained, and my RN aunt gives a third opinion that says the same thing. A sprain. In my writing hand. The weekend before finals. My timing is impeccable, no?

I've had to do a lot of things without my right hand, and now I challenge you:

things I dare you to do without using your dominant hand

read a book
ride your bike
brush your teeth
 eat a banana
turn a key and open a door
pay for something
use a computer mouse
eat a banana
turn on your car
shift gears in your car
take a bubble test
wash your hair
change your clothes
put on socks
tie your shoe

how many were you able to do?

The Book Of Three by L. Alexander

Alexander, L. (1964). The book of three. Henry Hold and Company. New York, NY.  pp. 186. (Grade Level: 4th-6th).
            Taran dreams of being a hero, but all he knows is helping around the farm and being the Assistant Pig-Keeper, a title given to him half in jest. When the pig, who can foretell the future and is therefore important, runs away, Taran begins a journey to find and rescue the pig. His task soon becomes greater than he had anticipated and the safety of the entire country of Prydain lies with him and some interesting friends.
            This novel provides the perfect opportunity to discuss heroism, and what it truly means. It is a great context for discussing responsibility, and for discussing the battle between good and evil. While the book seemed slightly juvenile to me, I was surprised to see it had been published about fifty years ago; while reading the novel I could not tell it was so seperated from me in time.
             The Book of Three qualifies as high fantasy by fulfilling five of the fantasy attributes. There are several characters who can perform magic, as well as a prophesying pig. The story is set in another world called Prydain. There is a strong fight of good versus evil, and the line between the two is clearly drawn. Heroism is a central topic, and qualities of a hero are discussed indirectly. And there are fantastic objects, including a harp whose strings break when its owner stretches the truth, a cursed sword, and an enchanted history of the world called The Book of Three.