The called meeting was to prepare us, not really to soften the blow. Our principal told us that there were more cuts coming to the budget in the schools this year and most likely for the next few years. The younger teachers looked around the room to see if they fell into the “last hired, first fired” group. Those closer to retirement were concerned that their life plans after decades of teaching would have to be put on hold for another few years. Three more furlough days would be taken from our pay and more may be on the books for the Fall (BTW, Georgia and Hawaii are the only 2 states in the Country that are taking furlough days from their teachers). Fulton county’s tax digest has fallen tremendously in the past year with the economy tanking and this is what the bulk of our funding comes from (+68%). Federal dollars are few and far between for a county that is considered “rich” by Georgia standards. We are 106 million in the hole for next year and no program will be untouched.
I have an appointment Saturday that cannot get here soon enough. Like everyone else, I have been trying to cut corners and save money whenever possible. My hair budget was one of the first things to fall under scrutiny and I could not, no matter how hard I tried, justify spending more than a hundred dollars every six weeks maintaining my “born blonde” color. My baby blonde headed to the dark side in my late teens and a bottle blonde was born. But vanity is not a necessity, so to the chopping block went the salon last summer.
The teacher pushed play on the CD and the opening beats of an old Jackson Five song came to life. It was like a siren call to the five little boys in the room that dropped their legos and cars and scrambled to the carpet where their teacher waited. I perched on the corner of a low table with two of my colleagues as we were treated to the “pre-rehearsal” viewing of our special needs Kindergarten class dance number for the annual Spring music show. Each class of our North metro program, a program for students with significant disabilities including autism, would perform a musical number with the assistance of their teachers and peers. The SNK group was not going to miss out on this extravaganza and they were apparently ready to get their groove on.
I had the wonderful opportunity to become involved with World Vision this past December. At my church’s Christmas Singles event, the featured speaker, Donald Miller ( donmilleris.com ) talked about a tie in to sponsoring a child in a third world country through World Vision. I made my way to the table to check it out, calculating to see if I could afford to add another mouth to our virtual table. As a single mom with a teenager and a tween, I crossed my fingers that my grocery budget could grow to include feeding a small child for a year somewhere. The numbers groaned and squealed in my head as I shifted them and beat them into submission, but it worked! I headed toward the crowd to peruse the photographs of children in need of help.
Despite the fact that he left the evidence sitting in the middle of the living room floor instead of shoved under the sofa table, I knew pretty quickly who the culprit was. A trail of tiny red and pink sugar hearts dotted the floor across the kitchen leading to the empty box in the living room. When the Zaxby’s chicken tenders went missing a few months ago, it took me a good thirty minutes to find the remnants of his crime and I had even begun to doubt whether the chicken had actually made it home with me at all. He was good, but a little sloppy on this counter top assault.
I took a trip to Home Depot the other morning before Winter Watch 2010 struck. No, not for salt or snow blowers, but to look for a new water heater. I had gingerly peeled back the ancient thermal wrap from the water heater in the garage to find the model number. It was so old it appeared to be written in Roman numerals. Okay, not really but it was the original unit from this house built twenty years ago. I was a little amazed it hadn’t completely given out yet but my tub would only fill up about a third of the way before the hot water ran out, so off I went.
My youngest son, Eric, asked me a question about a Geico commercial he had seen with Elmer Fudd. I can do a mean impression, honed by years of working as a speech therapist of said Fudd. It got me thinking (I know, a dangerous thing) about the Looney Toons of Saturday mornings. Not only Elmer Fudd but a whole lot of other cartoon characters are defined by how they talk, many with speech impairments. Think about it.
That was the greeting I got from my former sister in law Shannon when I joined facebook. I had resisted for a quite a while thinking it was just a college thing until my twenty something co-worker urged me to take a look. Besides, she said, all the younger people were moving to twitter and my space. Ouch. I logged on and found a whole new way to waste days hours of my time and take a cyber-peek into the lives of my friends and family. The status posts made me wonder if people were really that excited and pithy (Hola! Parasailing over Cabo!), or did it take hours of brooding over the keyboard to peck out fifteen words to summarize their life in a bid to make people jealous? I guess I prefer those posts over the vague gloom and doomers (is feeling like nothing is good…) or the share every little detailers (just made a bowl of cheerios!). My favorite posts are friends sharing good news or comments that make me laugh out loud.
I was flipping through the channels the other morning as I was riding my stationary bike. The AM shows were featuring many people espousing how to find true love on Valentine’s Day weekend. I tried to pedal faster to get away, but I forgot my bike didn’t go anywhere. The remote landed on an interview with the Millionaire Matchmaker, Patty Stanger. She was giving a pep talk to singles about how to find love and what people were looking for in a relationship. She recommended single women head to the sports bars on Valentine’s night as the single guys were there, crying in their beers to the bartender. I flipped the channel to my usually safe CNN and it was yet another interview on finding love for singles. Sigh.
My favorite Valentine’s present from one of my students was a small teddy bear with a tag that read “Dear speech To Mrs. Speech Teacher”. I have had him as a student for almost a year and see him three times a week, but he couldn’t remember my name for his mom to write on my gift. I smiled as I read the card, thinking of this particular little boy. An impish grin crinkled up his eyes the first day I met him, and not a word did he say. He came to me from a preschool speech program and his primary goals were building his language from single words to two word utterances (go home, eat cookie). This was a far cry from the typical hyperverbal language you see in most kindergarteners, but it was a place to start.