Thursday, December 31, 2009

Round 2010

Ding! We made through Round 2009. Bruised, bloodied and beaten, let's go back in the ring for another round.

Here's to a KO of a year!! Ding!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Therapy Tool

I would like to introduce you to my new friend. Santa delivered her a few days before Christmas, but I was good and didn't open it til Christmas afternoon. It is a more than adequate replacement for my pitiful desktop that kept spontaneously shutting down while I worked. Not only will this machine stay on, but it's fast, portable and flexible. I can type on it, write on it, drag on it and tap on it. It definitely fulfills my kinesthetic fetish.

This tool will help me attempt a huge feat: A daily blog. My dear friend and inspiration, JSG, managed to do it while working 2 jobs (many days on the road), being a wonderful wife and mother (How can we forget EJG's brain bleeds?), and fulfilling her dream as a performer. It is my hope that this blog will get me through what will be a rough year. No, I'm not being a pessimist, just a realist. This blog will be my therapy, helping me through the hurdles this year will present. I'm praying that the friends and family in my "blogger-hood" will keep inspiring me to press on, especially when things get really bumpy.

I'm sure my new toy, oops I mean tool, will help as well.

Monday, November 16, 2009

What a wonderful world....

Eight years ago, I thought I had it all: a great, new husband, a fun job, wonderfully supportive friends and family, and then......I was blessed with an angel!!

JRR came to us at a time when the world was confused, angry, sad and scared. While I was mourning the losses of 9/11, I was also questioning the world that was here to meet him. I wasn't sure what it had in store for my newborn. Would he live long enough to see peace and justice? Would he see people love and respect each other? Would he see a wonderful world?

Fast forward eight years. My little man, my little OLD man, has made an impact on his world far beyond my wildest imagination. Not only has he seen peace and justice, but he can articulate rhyme and reason behind such causes as "quiet cups" for safety in the cafeteria, anti-smoking in this day and age of "health care reform" (his words), and eating right and exercising to stay healthy. Not only has he seen love and respect for others, he has demonstrated it freely, without provocation. Serving drinks at a dinner for the homeless, getting my friend a glass of water while she suffered through a coughing spell, befriending a classmate who is known to make bad choices. Not only has he seen a wonderful world through his big brown eyes, he has made one as well. JRR's love of others and of the earth at this tender young age is beyond my comprehension. (I know when I was his age, I was busy blowing up GI Joe's with my brothers!) He can walk the walk, talk the talk and beautifully sing the song without fail!

I am proud and honored to be JRR's mom. While I don't know exactly what I did to earn such a beautiful soul, I am thankful for every minute and every day I have him. Gratitude. Isn't that what a wonderful world is all about?

JRR, thanks for making this such a wonderful world. I LOVE YOU, SNICKERDOODLE!!!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Lose For Good!!

I hope to lose enough to feed a Third World country!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Anticipation, Resolution, Maturation, (or ARMing myself for change)

The supplies selected by JOR and SRR were bought, labeled and packed since the beginning of August. MGR had his classroom set up a week before "Hell Week" (teacher work week). I've been at work since 7/29. This house is definitely ready for the school year to begin!

I think all four of us are excited and anxious: What kind of support and ideas can I give the teachers in my nine schools? Will they be accepting of engaging students w/ technology? What kind of class will MGR have? Will they cause him nights without sleep and weekends without a life? Will JOR overcome his obstacles in writing to show off what his beautiful mind is thinking? Will SRR get over the stigma that homework is bad? Will both boys be accepted in their respective peer circles and have the opportunity to continue thriving?

This anticipation signals a "New Year", thus bringing about my usual resolutions: getting healthy, staying within my points, working out more, saving money, maintaining the house, etc. However, this new job as technology integrator puts me in a position to add more:
-To recite the "Serenity Prayer" when dealing with resistant and / or controlling people.
-To avoid negativity and micromanagement.
-To tune out people who like to hear their heads roar.
-To avoid mentioning new and innovative ideas to others. "Never teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig." Why bother?
-To leave work at work!
-Mommy, Wife, that order!!! (First two can be switched as needed.)

This year, year 22 in my teaching career, will start differently. The excitement will be there, but more for my boys than for me. This paradigm shift is due to my boys getting bigger and better and my job getting more frustrating and less important. This small fish in the big pond wants to find a way out of this stagnant swamp and into clear, rolling waters. This swim will take a little planning and a lot of growing. Keeping myself sharp physically, mentally and emotionally will help that growth. Now onto finding that path..... (and some swim lessons!) Happy New Year!!

Saturday, July 4, 2009


Hi! My name is BJNR and I'm a slacker!!

While sitting on my deck, I ponder the fine art of doing nothing. Just for today, I am a lazy wife and mother. (That is, if you count only 2 loads of laundry being lazy.) It really isn't a bad thing. Or is it?

Society has put this enormous pressure on me to be in a constant state of doing: work out for 4 hours, take the kids to 30 places and buy them $700 worth of toys and other junk, cook a 9 course meal, wash all the linens, etc. While I can do some of these things some of the time, there are days like today when I just need to put on the brakes!

I am enjoying this downtime for the most part, but I feel that pressure gnawing at me: take the boys to the pool, clean my office, go for a run, work on my course, and so on... These little voices are making me crazy. Have I been so programmed by the 21st century that I can't relax anymore? What a horrible thought!

The mother guilt is the worst. While I dream of replicating last year's mountain excursion, finances and time were against us. Today, while many moms and dads are taking their kids out to do things, we stayed home and let the boys be....boys! They played with the neighbors, drew pictures, read books, rode bikes, ate snacks, and just let the wind take them today.

You know what? They not only survived, they had fun! They were creating games, getting exercise and using their brains. A great time was had by all!

Leave it to children to teach me yet another valuable lesson: It's OK to do nothing 'cause you end up doing something and this anything will mean everything in the long run!

Perhaps today I should declare my independence from doing......

Now, where was I? Oh yeah. My name is BJNR and I am a slacker!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Technology vs. Momology

Tomorrow, most of our technology integrator team will depart for Washington D.C. to attend the National Educational Computing Conference. I am looking forward to the experience, as I haven't been away to a professional conference since March, 2000! The conference, which lasts from Sunday to Wednesday, will feature the latest and greatest in technology education, both in pedagogy and product.

The professional in me is chomping at the bit to go, but the mommy in me is hesitant. The boys have already expressed their sadness due to my departure, especially my SRR, whose nickname "leech" has really stuck this weekend (pun intended). They both have been very clingy the past two days, saying how much they are going to miss me. While I know they'll be in great hands with Daddy, I will miss them terribly! This will be the longest I've been away from them. (My Noah's Ark trip to Chicago was only 3 days.) Hopefully, I can bring back some knowledge (and maybe some goodies) to help them get over my absence. Someday they will understand why I had to go and hopefully reap the benefits from my trip. Maybe a new Web 2.0 tool or piece of software could spark their talents. Maybe they can put Bill Gates to shame. Maybe I can retire early. Maybe I should stop the libations.....

Until next time......

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Let's Dance!

Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass...It's about learning to dance in the rain.
This week gave me lots of opportunities to dance, as life handed me a deluge!! My dear friend had emergency brain surgery Sunday, SRR had an asthma attack Monday morning, work was hectic, and tonight we hosted my nephew's graduation party. My emotions ran the gamut of worry, gratitude, pity, relief, anger, disgust, frustration and euphoria.

Alas, some of the storms have left the area while some are still here, but are less intense. EJG is better, but not totally out of the woods yet. SRR's asthma is under control (no more bouncy places for him!), only four more weeks of work, and the graduation party was a hit.

You know what? I'm still going to dance. Why? Because I can!! I have a beautiful family, fabulous friends, food, clothing, shelter and good health. I cannot ask for anything more!! Crank up the music, I'm cuttin' the rug! Care to join me?

Monday, May 18, 2009


Not what you think. He's not in trouble (not at home anyway!). As a third grade teacher, he is charged with starting his students on their long journey through test-taking land. Third graders are the first victims in Virginia's Standards of Learning (SOL) tests. They are tested in language arts (reading and writing), math, science and social studies.

At this point, I don't know who is stressed more: the students or their teacher! Don't worry Honey. You did your job and did it well. The rest is up to your kids! Hang in there...3 weeks to go!!

Sunday, April 26, 2009


This poor plant. It was buried under wet leaves. When I finally got to raking last weekend, this little plant caught my eye. It was bright green at the top and ready to thrive once the heaviness of wet, dead foliage had been lifted.

I can relate to this plant. For about four months, I have been suffocating under the heaviness of uncertainty: downsizing, finances, etc. While suffocating, I managed to grow, or shall I say grow up: questioning unnecessary spending, cutting back of "frills", being more frugal, finding ways to save money, and so on. Surprisingly, I have turned out a better person because of this heaviness. It has helped me to thrive and survive while being buried.

Luckily, it is good fortune that I have my position one more year. I am going to milk it for it's worth, personally, professionally and financially. Learning all that I can, growing all that I can, saving all that I can will help me survive like that poor plant. The wet leaves of doubt have given way to the sunshine that is HOPE. It is now that I also hope for the following:
-that EG's health continues to improve!
-that JG's employment status solidifies and her stress level diminishes. Enough already!
-that MGR figures out his academic future. Too many talents, too little time!
-that JOR and SRR continue to be the happy, healthy kids I adore!!
-that my siblings are doing well! I miss them!
-that my colleagues are in good places next year!
-that the children with whom I had the honor to work this week continue to show their gifts and talents on and off the stage. They are awesome young people!!!

Coda about that poor plant: it had to meet Mr. Lawn Mower. Let's hope my similarities to the plant end before that.....

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Fit Family?

We did it!! The entire clan participated in a fun fitness event. MGR, JOR and SRR ran in the First Market Mile Kids Run. MGR ran with SRR and one of our beloved Fairy Godmothers, LA, ran with JOR. Of course, poor LA had to be the adult in this "Fantastic Four".

Luckily, God was with us as we drove up to Richmond. We found a great parking spot and had plenty of time to prepare for the race. That meant eating for SRR. The only time this boy stopped eating was for the 10 minutes it took him to run the mile. A speed bump in his eating adventure!!

LA and the boys ran a fantastic race! I was especially proud of JOR, as he had some challenges completing a nonstop mile in his training. He did today's race without stopping at all!!! I'm hoping this race will help all 3 boys get the running bug. MGR tried to convince me that his participation warranted an iPod shuffle. Nice try Honey. Maybe when you run more than a mile....

It was now my turn. This is the 6th year I've done the Ukrops 10K, but only the 2nd time running / jogging / schlepping it. The training worked (imagine....) as I took 7 1/2 minutes off of last year's time. Here are some random thoughts / observations / head scratchers:
-Came out of the PortaPotty, the band was playing "Suicide is Painless" (MASH theme), EJG calls me as I see this painted on a building:

Simpatico perhaps?

-Why don't people have directionals and / or brake lights installed on their backs when they stupidly decide to weave in and out of the racers, than stop? Especially in front of the water stop?
-What part of "race two abreast" did you four people NOT understand?
-While there was a slight decrease in intelligence on the track, there certainly was an increase in friendliness, smiles and overall good karma. I think this is what I like best about this race!!

Attending the Expo yesterday, I saw some intriguing slogans:
-"In my dreams, I am Kenyan."
-"This seemed like a good idea three months ago."
But this one is my new favorite:
"The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the Courage to Start."

I hope that my courage to attempt a healthy lifestyle through eating right and exercise will influence my family. That is, after I digest my post-race bacon cheeseburger and ice cream!!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

20 years without him....

People often commemorate the deaths of famous people. Today I write a tribute to a man who, while not famous, made me who I am.

It was twenty years ago today that my beloved father passed away. I can't believe that two decades have gone by and I'm still here, still functioning, still going through life's ups and downs, all without my "Stinky". He was my buddy, my advisor, my priest, and many times, my world. That morning, as I held his cold hands, I said prayers of thanksgiving that God took him and that he no longer suffered. However, my bratty alter ego was trying to figure out how life was to go on and that I wanted my Daddy back!!!

Fast forward twenty years. My world has totally changed since that day. Location, job, family, is vastly different. While I have a few minutes, and a few glasses of wine, I'd like to write a letter to him. Please indulge me as I use this forum for my therapy!

Dear Daddy Stinky,
Well, I hope you're happy. You spent all that time and effort trying to make me a productive member of society. And guess what? I think you succeeded! You now have grandsons who are much smarter than the two of us "dumbells" put together!! However, as they grow older, I am finding myself imparting wisdom that sounds eerily familiar:
-"If you don't have your health, you don't have anything!"
-Pay your bills on time. (They see me struggle with this every month!)
-Pray!!!! The Blessed Mother will hear you!
-If you have food on the table, clothes on your back and a roof over your head, you should thank God for all he has given you!
-Help when you can.
-Do your best.
-It's cheaper if you do it yourself, especially cooking! Why waste money when you can have a good meal at home?
-America's the greatest country on earth!
-Read the newspaper and watch the news.

These are just a few. I wish you could see those boys. They look like you sometimes (especially when making a "stinky" face), and act like you, especially when they are causing trouble! Your namesake will put on a little paper hat like the one you used to wear at Cappy's and the resemblance is amazing!!! The little one would eat you out of house and home, so I know you and Mom would have had him over every weekend! All in all, we are doing our best to raise them with the values you tried to give us. MGR is a wonderful husband and daddy, so don't you worry. He and I are a great team!! It scares me how much he acts like you, and he's not even a relation! Think of all the tricks you would play on Mom. 'Nuf said!

It's amazing how much fun those boys are. Spending time with them reminds me of all the fun we had: jamming in accordion / piano duets, working in the yard or on the plumbing ("Pinky get me a hammer!"), going for our weekly trip to the dump or the hardware store. The ice cream runs after Monday night Novena were great, as were the trips to Pierre's bakery after Mass. The Sunday afternoon barbeques as we listened to the Yankees games will never be forgotten.

The times and food were great, but the quality of time spent with you was even better. We discussed everything: religion, politics, neighborhood gossip, the lottery, etc. You gave me a perspective that I would not have recognized and wisdom and knowledge that I had not yet achieved. When facing a major decision, I always try to find your voice and hear your thoughts. Please be really loud the next few months, as lots of decisions may have to be made!!

Well Stinky, that's all for now. I just wanted to tell you how much I love you, how much I still miss you and how much there is of you in the next generation! The boys ask questions about you and Mom all the time and when I answer, I get such a warm feeling inside. Little do they know how truly wonderful their Dziadek was. Give my love to Mommy (if she's talking to you this week) and I hope we will all reunite someday. In the meantime, would you please send us some winning lottery numbers?

Love always,
Basi Pinky

Sunday, March 8, 2009

What a difference...

....a week makes!! Last Sunday, we were raiding the grocery store to prepare for the impending storm. Today, MGR and I almost finished chopping the entire broken limb and vacuumed up all the leaves in the front yard. It was close to 80 degrees, sunny and lovely. We even had dinner outside!! I love my grill!!

I'm not sure if I want winter back or not. As much as I loved the snow, I think I'm ready to begin the outdoor clean-up.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Flakes...inside and out

A beautiful sight awaited us this morning. Pristine snow blanketed everything. The powdery substance gave the world a chance to stop in its tracks, its muting power silencing the chaotic symphony known as life. We had an excuse to just pause and enjoy Mother Nature in all her glistening glory.

Then I got out of bed.

When are we going outside? What's for breakfast? He hit me! I'm telling! He took my game! I was playing with it first. Why do I have to go to time out, he started it. Can you fix my video game? I can't find my boots. He took my hat! Ewwww, he's got snot everywhere! Can you zip my coat? I need a tissue. You never told me I couldn't throw snow in his face. Why can't we go in the street? You still didn't fix my video game. Why do we have to bring our sheets down. What's for snack? Do we have to empty the dishwasher? Is it time to go outside?

We did the obligatory frolic in the snow. Then I went back to bed.

The snow is beautiful, a little on the powdery side, so snowballs took effort. We lost part of a tree, split due to the weight of the snow. It's resting in the street, since the frozen shed lock prohibits me from getting the saw out. There are a few other trees getting ready to split as well.

The schools are closed again tomorrow; roads are predicted to be icy. However, my 11 month status dictates that I go in two hours late tomorrow morning. Of course, this could change....


Maybe I'll go in two hours early.

Here are the loves of my life in full snow bunny attire. If I didn't love them, I'd have to eat them!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The light in the darkness....

OK, they just closed ALL schools and offices!

Time to celebrate with a little merlot and time with Hubby!

(BTW, this is a picture of our little tree in the front yard. SRR says it looks like white broccoli....)


The jammies are inside out, the ice cubes down the toilet. It worked!! The three boys get their first snow day!!!

Mom's luck is different. Since I'm an 11 month employee, I was told to report 2 hours late. God has a warped sense of humor!!

Time to get the jammies out and ice cubes ready. I NEED A SNOW DAY!!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Angels vs. Demons

My little JOR is truly an old soul. A dear friend of mine came over tonight for a visit. She had a coughing spell (probably due to the dust breeding in the house). Unbeknownst to any of us, the little angel pulled a chair over to the freezer, filled a cup with ice and cold water and surprised my friend with a class of water. He makes us proud!


SRR continues to make us laugh!!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Oh Me of Little Faith!

Another restless night. Very little sleep. People perceive integrators as "useless". Possible job loss. How am I going to pay the bills? I need to convert that DVD to WMV and no software to do it. Would I be allowed to use a blog with the students? OMG, I'm scheduled to run 3 miles today, after missing two trainings while sick. Didn't have much time to practice the music for choir. Do I have enough points for dinner?

Meanwhile, God laughs....

Worked a 10 hour day. Screw perception, I was too busy! Money was "found" in the budget, maybe some jobs saved. Got an e-mail request to cover for another church organist (grocery money for a week). Got another e-mail about another possible part-time job. Went to the main tech. center and lo and behold, there's a piece of software there that converted my videos. Blog might be approved for student use. Survived my sniffly, snotty 3 mile run, under 38 minutes, with no lung capacity whatsoever! Got through choir rehearsal, thanks to guitar chords! Dinner is over and I still have 4 points left over.

When will I learn?

Monday, February 9, 2009

Sick Haiku

I hate being sick!
Stuffy, runny nose, no sleep
Need energy now!

Saturday, February 7, 2009


Let the cuts begin....

Non-instructional staffing
$11,939,250 reduction
22.8% of total reduction
30 deans/AAs
$1,902,200 • eliminate all deans at high schools and all administrative
assistants at middle schools
35 integrators/MCAs
$2,478,800 • reduce integrators from
55 to 30
and eliminate
10 microcomputer analysts
11 math/literacy coaches
$806,000 • eliminate the 8 math coaches
and 3 literacy coaches
7 support services
$490,900 • eliminate 2 social workers,
4 psychologists and
1 educational diagnostician
38 elementary secretaries
$1,235,000 • eliminate an 11-month secretary from each elementary school
31 facilities positions
$1,955,350 • eliminate 31 positions and custodial/trades overtime
3 library clerks
$408,700 • convert all library clerks to lib-rary aides, providing 1 at each elementary
3 elementary APs
$232,200 • eliminate additional assistant principal at schools with 900 students
5 special education coordinators
$323,600 • eliminate special education coordinators at 5 elementary schools
23.5 administration
$2,106,500 • eliminate 23.5 positions
and cut $389,000 more from administrative departments
Classroom resources
$1,358,400 reduction
2.6% of total reduction
School allocations
$875,000 • reduce all budgets by 20%
Special education
$150,000 • reduce special education
per teacher allocation
Specialty centers
$118,200 • reduce specialty center
per student allocation
Program changes
$215,200 • eliminate elementary
IB program, delay elementary world language expansion, reduce music equipment purchase and repair

Then the hatchet came down on the "instructional" areas:

Instructional staffing
$15,724,600 reduction
30.1% of total reduction
111.4 teachers in grades K-12
$6,036,400 • an increase of 1 student per teacher in grades K-12
64 instructional aides
$1,233,700 • provide an average of 4 instructional aides per elementary school
58.5 reading teachers
$3,755,500 • eliminate additional reading teacher initiative begun in FY 2008
47 pool positions
$2,215,300 • eliminate 37 general education teachers, 5 special education teachers and 5 special education aides from the vacancy pool
12.8 ESOL teachers
$646,400 • reduce ESOL staffing to required SOQ levels
28.1 instructional positions
$840,600 • eliminate differentiated funding at 5 schools (21.5 aides, 3.6 teachers, 3 other positions) and materials
17 instructional positions
$996,700 • eliminate some exceptions to staffing standards (3 assistant principals,
2 administrative assistants,
11.6 teachers, 0.4 librarian)
Non-classroom programs
$5,987,300 reduction
11.5% of total reduction
Support programs
$1,771,500 • reduce funding for safety net programs, eliminate central specialty center funds, eliminate grants to high schools for vending loss, eliminate playground equipment funding, reduce freshman transition funding, eliminate
K-2 math workbooks, reduce secondary field trip allocations
$514,700 • eliminate AP tests funding and majority of funding for industry certification tests
$511,100 • eliminate elementary lead teacher stipend and reduce summer secondary stipends
Department budgets
$2,340,000 • reduce by 20 percent, eliminate funding for policy support
Tuition reimbursement
$850,000 • eliminate tuition reimbursement

Since when did I become "Non-instructional"? I spend my early mornings and late afternoons training teachers on what's available on the technological front and in between these sessions I'm working with students and teachers, integrating technology into the learning process.

I don't know which is the most insulting: being deemed "non-instructional" or possibly losing my 21st century job in this, the 21st century.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Take this, W !!!

Give 'em hell, Rahm!!

We have chosen hope!

May God continue to bless the United States of America!!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Runner's High and Eater's Low....

Kudos to J & E for their stunning accomplishment in the WDW half-marathon today!!! They are an inspiration to me....

Meanwhile, I smell onion rings. Time to go.....