Sunday, November 21, 2010

I'm Still Here

If you've been a regular reader of AnceStories, or one of my long-time geneablogger friends, I'm sure you've noticed that my posting has gone down next to nothing since October 4th, with the exception of last month's Scanfest and a couple of pre-scheduled posts that slipped through. I wanted to assure you that I am still here. If you are one of my Facebook friends, you're already aware of that fact, since I have remained fairly active over there. So why has my blogging slowed down?

1. I've been busy. October was Family History Month. I taught a three-hour class for Community Colleges of Spokane, two sessions for the Hayden 4th Ward Family History Center's Fall Family History Seminar near Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, and was the featured speaker at the Northeast Washington Genealogical Society's Fall Workshop, presenting four sessions there in Colville, Washington.

I've also been taking a spinning class three times a week since the beginning of October. It's an hour and 15 minute stationary bike workout. I also try to get in some sort of exercise on the weekends. Add in travel time to the class and showering and it takes up a good chunk of my day. It's been well worth it, though; I've lost 18 pounds and dropped nearly two sizes in a little over two months!

2. I've been overwhelmed at work. When people hear that I work with special needs children, I think many of them get a visual image of a bunch of roly-poly, good-natured students with Down's Syndrome. Nothing could be further from the truth. I have never worked with a Down's Syndrome kiddo in my life. My students, for the most part, look fairly normal and you might never guess they are mentally retarded unless you asked them to read something for you or do a simple real-life math problem like read an analog clock or count some change. Because of confidentiality reasons, I have to tread lightly here, but it's not unusual for some of our students to be dealing with mental health issues and/or behavior issues as well as their disabilities. If you knew about the homes that many of them come from, the poverty they live in, and recognized that most of them are second- or third-generation disabled individuals, you would realize that their disabilities are often the least of their worries. Throw in changing hormones and regular teen behaviors--because after all, they ARE hitting puberty--and you can see how chaotic things can be.

This year, we had a number of new students enroll in our classroom that have severe behavior issues, to the point that the district recently installed what is politically-correctly referred to as a "Quiet Room." This is basically a padded, lighted, miniature room complete with a ceiling and floor. It has a door with no handle on the inside and a small shatter-proof window within the door for observation. This room is considered a safe place for an out-of-control student to pull him- or herself together without harming self or any other student or staff member. And yes, we have had to use it fairly often. (There are times when we as staff members would love to have our own Quiet Room!)

Additionally, the paperwork continues to increase. The district went to new software for attendance and grades and the state changed the recording of IEPs (individual education plans - all SpEd students must have one updated every year) from paper to computer. This has created a learning curve on top of the amount of time it takes to record data. My supervisor and both of my co-instructional assistants, by their own admission, are not computer persons by any means, so I have been busy helping them figure things out, technology wise. I've also had my own lesson plans and grading to complete.

3. I'm tired. If the work load weren't enough, I've been having what I will delicately state as "health problems" for nearly four months now. Numerous possible causes (including cancer) have all been ruled out, thankfully, and I am finally scheduled for a minor surgical procedure this coming Wednesday, which should hopefully end this situation. But because of the hormonal effect, I have been pretty exhausted and ready for bed fairly early every evening.

4. I've been depressed. While my fluctuating hormones have certainly been a contributor, it's also just been a difficult time in my life, anyway. My husband has been unemployed for nearly 18 months, and the last six months has not qualified for Unemployment Insurance. This is the third major stretch of unemployment we have gone through in the last 17 years. You can't go through this sort of thing without it affecting your marriage, your finances, and hopes and plans for the future. And please, please, please don't send me ideas on how my husband could find work or go back to school. You don't know all the details involved in this and there's nothing more depressing than getting unsolicited advice, unless it's being asked for the 47th time if he's found a job yet.

Additionally, it's sort of a subclause of Murphy's Law that when you have the least amount of money to work with, that's when everything starts breaking down. It's almost a dark comedy to watch things fall apart one at a time, from vehicles to computers to appliances.

5. But I still have hope. One of the blessings about getting older, I believe, is the gift of perspective. You realize when life throws something--or a few somethings--bad your way that you will survive it. It's still no fun to go through it, but you know it will eventually end. And it makes you infinitely grateful for every good thing you do have, no matter how small or inconsequential it may seem.

So thank you for bearing with me through this long post and through a long dry spell of blogging. I can't guarantee that I will start cranking out daily posts anytime soon, but I have no plans to stop blogging or take this blog down. I owe apologies to all those individuals and institutions that sent me press releases in the last six weeks that I did not post. I also owe Leslie Albrecht Huber a book review on her fabulous The Journey Takers. I'm sorry I haven't been promoting the carnivals and Shades. We'll still have Scanfest next Sunday, unless for some strange reason I don't recover from my procedure as quickly as expected.

To my American readers, have a blessed Thanksgiving; and to all of you, be sure to take some time to think about all the wonderful people and things and values you have in your life.
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