Monday, March 30, 2009

I guess I'm on the right track!!

So, I think I have shared our newest obsession - we are big Dave Ramsey fans and have drunk the Kool-Aid in a big way. Most of my sentences start with..."well, you know what Dave would say...". I think I'm getting annoying, but hey, it's a gift.

Anyway, we are facilitating his Financial Peace University class at our church and really enjoying it. We started with about 50 in the class, and at week 5 (a gorgeous Spring day here in Vegas, I might add), we had 40 in attendance last night. Not too bad! Dave loves nothing better than a good catch-phrase, and one of his favorites is: "If your broke friends are criticizing you, then you're on the right track."

Well, my friends, we are officially on the right track. I have had more people than I can count tell me that we are in danger of ruining our credit rating, never being able to rent a car again, will probably never again own a house, what will we do in an emergency, and on and on and on. Now, I do not know if those friends are officially BROKE, to be honest, but they are certainly in love with credit and think if I don't share that love-affair, I'm a nut.

The way I look at it is this:
1. You CAN rent a car with a debit card.
2. You CAN get your money back if a debit card is used fraudulently.
3. You CAN have a financial emergency and pay for it with savings (we now have 3 months' worth of expenses saved in the bank, which feels really good, I'll tell ya!!)
4. Your credit will NOT tank as soon as you cut up the credit card.

And as far as buying a house goes - with all of the money we have spent getting in and out of debt over the past 20 years, we could have bought a house with cash.

We are renting here in Sin City, and have decided to continue renting. We may buy a condo or something in the next few years, but not a house. We're saving for our retirement house, and barring giant financial disasters, we will be able to pay cash for said house when we retire. No, it won't be a 4-story mansion with a media room, an upstairs maid and a home gym, but we will be able to afford a nice place in one of the 4-5 areas of the country we are considering. And if the house is too big, the kids might want to come back and live with us, right???

So, as I said - we have drunk the Kool-Aid. We do not have a credit card any longer. We still have a balance...but that will be gone soon. I walk around quoting Dave and his catch phrases and will probably continue to.

"I am an American and I refuse to participate in this recession."
"I'm going to live like no one else so later I can live like no one else."
"Broke is Normal. Be Weird."
"Debt is dumb, cash is king and the paid-off home mortgage has taken the place of the BMW as the status symbol of choice."

And my favorite one of all - and one I hope to scream into the phone on Dave's radio show soon:


Hey one more thing before I jump off my soapbox...if you're at all curious about Dave Ramsey, he's holding a town hall meeting that's being shown at churches around the country on April 23 at 8pm EST. Check out his website to find a location in your area - it's free and it just might change the way you think about the recession. Who knows, maybe you'll decide to join us in not participating in it!!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Paranoia firmly in check once again

When I went to bed last night, my paranoia was running high. Still no jobs on the Clark County website. I was almost certain that I was right. And ready to bust some heads over the issue.

I had a great self-righteous conversation with the head of sub services in the shower this morning. Full of "I did the right thing"s and "you have no right to"s and "you should be
ashamed"s and "I'm calling a press conference"s. I do some of my best work with scalding hot water cascading over my head.

Then I checked out the website when I got out of the shower. Full of boys' PE jobs, lousy with metal shop jobs at the correctional facility and rife with bratty elementary jobs. Luckily, I already had a job lined up for today, so I didn't have to choose from all of those lovely options. But that website told me that I'm not banned.


I know, I know, no one who read my posting yesterday actually bought into anything I wrote. It was nutty, paranoid and out there, but that's how this particular blonde's brain works. When someone says they want to talk to me about something, I ALWAYS immediately figure I'm in trouble and start wondering what random sin I committed. It's funny. And pathetic, but honestly, that's my immediate response.

So, I narrowly escaped death and destruction once again, I'm pleased to say! I live to sub another day... :)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Cough cough wheeze and revenge

So, most of you know, I'm a substitute teacher. But do you know that I have suffered through AT LEAST 9,546 colds since October? Well, I have. And don't challenge my math. I'm a teacher. I'll put you in detention.

I'm getting another one.

You know, I take Airborne. I use hand sanitizer and wash my hands as often as possible. I take obscene quantities of vitamin C. I exercise. I (at least attempt to) eat right. I get 7 hours of good sleep every night. And STILL. I'm sneezing, sniffling, coughing and chewing gum to soothe my stupid sore throat. These little germ factories are killing me!!!

I told you all of that first because I suspect most of you are reading this because it has the word "revenge" in the title. Thought I'd whine a bit while I had your attention...

I think I am the victim of some nasty revenge from the Clark County School District. Remember the Aide I reported for being mean to the Early Childhood kids? Well, on Saturday, I got a letter that said "At my request" I was no longer able to accept jobs from that school. WHAAAAT? I have a job at that school this Wednesday, this Friday, next Tuesday and another 3 times already in April (with a different teacher - I'm not working with Miss Maggie again). I did not request any such thing. So, this morning, I called the Sub Services office and asked them to fix that. They "fixed" it.

I also noticed that there were NO jobs listed on Saturday. NO jobs listed on Sunday. NO jobs listed Sunday night. NO jobs listed this morning at 6..6:30...7...7:30 or 8. And there are NO jobs now.

Hmmmmm. Call me paranoid, but I've never ever seen a Monday morning where there weren't at least 3-4 jobs listed by 6am. So, I think there are two likely scenarios. One is that they are having trouble with their website. The other is that they have freakin' blocked me completely cause I'm a troublemaker. Now, I don't usually dispute the title of troublemaker, but as a teacher, am I not supposed to do what is in the best interest of the children? Do I not have a duty to report abuse if I see it? And it's not like I called Channel 8 and did a press conference about it on the 5:00 news. I went through the proper channels and did what I was supposed to do.

SO...if there are still NO jobs tomorrow morning, I'm going to trot my trouble-makin' booty down to Sub Services to see what the problem is. I'm not going to take this lying down and they are NOT going to squeeze me out for following directions and doing the right thing.

Say a prayer for me...I'm kinda concerned about this. As soon as I post this, I'm going to check again. Luckily, I'm already working four days this week...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

If you want something you've never had...

do something you've never done.

That was one of the themes of the evening here in Lost Wages, NV. My dear friend Lora is visiting me from Texas, and she is a Director for Mary Kay (ooh, ahh). That means she has lots of bling, lots of lip gloss and (almost) has a CAR!!! While in Las Vegas, she planned to attend a weekly MK sales meeting...and she dragged me along...

In my defense, I told her up front that I wasn't interested in selling MK, and if this was a recruiting meeting, I didn't want to go. She assured me it wasn't, and although the "opportunity was presented to me," it wasn't. No pressure, no guilt and no disappointed looks when I didn't whip my checkbook out to sign up at the end of the meeting.

What was fun about the meeting is that it was completely, 100%, totally positive. EVERYONE got cheered for, hugged, praised and I think everyone left with a present (including me!!)! If you hadn't made any sales during the past week, you were praised for trying and encouraged to keep at it. If you sold $1, then "think of the contact you made in that person!" If you sold $2000, then WAHOO! Everybody's happy. It was almost uncomfortable, it was so positive.

That uncomfortable-ness made me think. And made me evaluate WHY in Heaven's name I would be uncomfortable because other people are positive, cheerful and encouraging. So, instead of feeling uncomfortable, I decided to enjoy it. Enjoy the yummy snacks (loved me a cupcake!!), the free makeup, the smiling women and the joy and celebration all around me. Enjoy the hard work and success being shared by this remarkable group of women. And enjoy that I got to enjoy it for the evening.

So thanks, Lora, for dragging me to a Mary Kay meeting. I'm still not planning to sell MK, I doubt I will return to another meeting next Tuesday night, and I really can't afford to use MK cosmetics right now, but it was a very uplifting, positive and fun evening. And Lora's a great MK lady, so if you need any makeup, call me! :)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

It did not get better.

So, I have had numerous emails and FB entries asking if day 2 subbing with this horrible woman was any better than day 1. Um, I thought yes, but ultimately no.

I thought yes because:
-In the morning, she actually smiled at me twice.
-In the morning, she was amazingly kind to one boy who is in a wheelchair, blind and has numerous disabilities. She was fantastic with him. I was impressed.
-In the morning, she was almost nice...I think twice.

So, I decided that yesterday, maybe her husband had left her for his 20-yr-old secretary, her dog ran away and her kitchen caught on fire. Benefit of the doubt. Everyone has a bad day, right? Yep.

Then came lunch.

Now, let me explain - this is a pre-K class, so they only come half-day. So, we had one group of 8 kids from 9-11:30 and another group of 8 kids from 12:45-3:15.

So, when lunch came (even before the kids arrived...), she became silent again. One-word answers (if she bothered to answer me at all), very little information, leaving the room without saying a single word about when she would be back, scowling, etc.)

I've decided her meds must wear off at noon.

But I digress...

The afternoon was HORRIBLE. She was horrible to me, but you know what? I'm a grownup. I can handle it, and I am aware that (gasp) maybe EVERYONE doesn't like me. (I know, I know, hard to imagine, right???) So, no biggie. The problem was, she was also horrible to the kids. Now, remember. These kids are FOUR years old. These kids are VERY low-income. These kids all have IEP's (meaning some sort of significant learning disability or challenge). THESE ARE FRAGILE KIDS WITH LIFE'S DECK STACKED AGAINST THEM.

And to these children, she said (all of these were either yelled or spoken in an icy, cold, you're-an-idiot tone of voice):

"What language do you even understand??"
"In Kindergarten, no one will help you open your milk or your lunch. You will have to do it all by yourself and not be such a baby."
"Hurry up!" (yelled over and over and over and over and over...)
"Why aren't you listening?"
"Go put that in your cubby. GO. Did you hear me? Do you understand? GO PUT THAT IN YOUR CUBBY!" (again, over and over and over to children whose mental capacity is extremely low and who barely understand English.

She NEVER said please. NEVER. She ordered the kids around all day in a stern voice.

She was completely annoyed all afternoon. She treated the kids (and me) like they were stupid. She constantly shouted at the kids for not doing things quickly enough.

The bottom line. While she never laid a hand on the kids, she beat them all day with her words and her tone. She is an unkind woman (after lunch). By the end of the day, the kids looked terrified and couldn't do a single thing without looking at Maggie to see if she approved.

So, I am going to the Sub office today to tell them and ask them what the protocol is for reporting her. She needs to be taken out of this class before she does any more damage to these precious, fragile, delicate and already-damaged children. I do not like confrontation, and I am terrified that this will be one. But sometimes you have to stand up for people who can't stand up for themselves. I teach that to Chase every day, and it's time for Chase's mama to practice what she preaches. This could go badly for me...but I hope clearer heads will prevail and she will be dealt with and removed from this class.

Say a prayer for me - I'm a peacemaker and this is not easy for me but she clearly hates the afternoon kids and something has to be done to protect them.

Monday, March 9, 2009

I mean, I'm a friendly gal!

Today, I subbed in an early-childhood class. There was an aide (yay!!) and we'll call her Maddie. The regular teacher was there when I arrived at school, and we chatted a minute, then she introduced me to a woman saying, "And this is your wonderful aide. Maddie is so wonderful - I just love her!! She knows all about the routine and knows the kids, and will be soooo much help to you!" I'm thrilled - never have I disliked a class when there was an aide. So, I shook Maddie's less-than-enthusiastic, limp-wristed hand, introduced myself to her down-trodden face and accompanied her slower-than-a-turtle's-pace walk to the classroom. Where she sat in her chair. So, I sat in the chair at the desk opposite her and looked at her, expecting to have a conversation about when we get the kids, how we get the kids, how many kids there are, what to watch out for, what we're studying, or ANYTHING. I saw the top of her head.


Ain't met nobody yet I can't carry on a conversation with, so I started...

Me: So, how many kids do we have?
Her: 8
Me: How many are boys?
Her: 4
Me: What time do we go get them?
Her: 12:40 (I subbed half day today)
Me: What are we studying this week?
Her: (saying absolutely nothing as she throws a set of papers at me with the lesson plan on it)
Me: Oh, the letter P! Are we asking the kids to tell us words that start with P? I have a funny story of when my son Chase was in pre-K, they were learning the letter P and he...
Her: (completely interrupting me) No.
Me: O...K... so what do we do?
Her: (again saying nothing, but looking at me like I'm an idiot as she shook her identical packet of paper at me)
Me: O...K... (so I study the lesson plans) Do I read the book first or do circle time first?
Her: (again with the idiot look) whatever.
Me: Well, I want to do it right so the kids have their routine...
Her: There's no routine. Like I said, do what you want.

So that's how the day went. Me trying my very best to be cheerful and get the kids to talk (collectively, they maybe spoke 20 words in 3 hours), to play with them while getting them to learn, etc etc etc, all of the things I have always done when subbing in an early-childhood class. If she spoke at all, it was to reprimand ME for helping the kids. "They're not babies. Quit helping them, miss!" I must have heard that a thousand times. So I started standing around watching the kids as they silently did whatever they were doing feeling useless and stupid. When the schedule said it was time for recess, I asked if it was time to start getting ready to go outside. She said, while again, giving me the idiot look, "If YOU want to take them, YOU can I'm NOT taking them. It's too windy." (20-30 mph winds do not constitute forcing 4 year olds to stay inside in MY book, so I took em while she glared at me.)

When I turned the CD player on, she yelled at me that I was pushing the tape buttons (I wasn't) and that it was a "C-D, NOT A TAPE" and again with the idiot look.

If I tied a kid's shoes so he wouldn't HURT HIMSELF, I got reprimanded.

If I attempted to help clean up a spill, I got reprimanded.

When I zipped up a kid's jacket, I got reprimanded.

At one point, she simply walked out of class. Didn't say, I'll be back in a sec, I'm on my break, I'm going to the bathroom, I'm going to go commit several felonies, NOTHING. Came back in about 10 minutes and reprimanded me that we weren't supposed to be reading books at this time. Couldn't I follow the schedule?


By the end of the day, I was at the end of my rope. All I could get (if anything) out of her were one-syllable answers. Yes. No. And that's basically it. It's REALLY hard to have a conversation with someone who will only give you very basic information. So, we got the kids ready to go, and I said "Do all of the kids ride the same bus?" She said:

(you guessed it) No.

And we walked on to the busses.

Finally, all of the kids were gone, and I turned to say goodbye to her. She said, "See you tomorrow!" with a big smile and walked away.

...because I signed up for a two day gig (and tomorrow is ALLLLLL DAYYYYY). I'll NEVER do that again!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Adventures in subbing take...oh who knows?

I subbed in a middle school English class yesterday. Am I crazy? Um, there's a distinct possibility, but that's really a topic for another posting.

They were doing their standardized testing this week, so the kids were nuts, the schedules were equally nuts and nothing was business as usual. Since I haven't been trained in the fine art of reading directions, handing out booklets and sharpening pencils, they told me I can't proctor the test, so they had me roaming the halls and helping out by escorting kids to the bathroom, watching the class while the teacher had a bathroom break, taking notes from teachers to the administration, etc. etc. etc. It actually was a lot more interesting and exciting than I thought it would be. First of all, I got paid to walk non-stop for 2 hours. Exercise bonus, right?? Plus, as I have divulged in an earlier post, I LOVE to solve people's problems, and for two hours, I was an official problem-solver! YAY!!! Then there was a teacher whose ex-husband is apparently stalking her, so I got to run to get security, tell them what I saw and heard which was all very exciting!

So, after the testing was completed, I started to follow the lesson plans for the remainder of the day. As usual, some classes were good, some classes were awful, but nothing really exciting happened...until we heard the announcement that we were now in "Shelter-In-Place" and for the teachers to prepare the classroom appropriately. (It's basically lock-down for the school and since they didn't say drill, although I figured it probably was, I was mildly alarmed at this point...)

Luckily, I am paranoid about these drills and have been told that they love to pick on subs during these drills. So, I had already found the emergency backpack and looked through it, mentally getting ready in case a drill (or worse) should happen during my day. I hopped to, put the green card on the door saying all students were accounted for, locked the door and told the kids to calmly continue working. The Asst Principal came to my door, smiled and gave me a big thumbs-up. YAY! And yes, it was a drill. Whew!

So, then the principal came in at the end of the day and asked me if I would stop by his office before I left. I said sure and mentally went over what I could possibly have done wrong...cause that's the kind of paranoid person I am... then decided it was probably about the stalker.

I was right, but as I walked into the principal's office, he greeted me solemnly and closed the door behind me. Gulp. Cue paranoia again. Anyway, it was about the ex-stalker dude, and after I gave my statement, he thanked me and I left. On my way out, I walked right into the middle of a fight between two kids. (sigh) Thankfully, the school administration was already on it, so I merely ducked to avoid blows and ran to the sanctity of my car.

Have I mentioned that subbing is definitely an adventure? Yesterday was, in spades!!! Can't wait to see what next week brings...

Thursday, March 5, 2009

DST woes

Oh my - it's been a LOOOONG time since I posted! In my defense, I've been subbing a lot lately, and it really takes it out of me! Sorry to my loyal readers...are there any left??? Were there any to begin with?? :)

I HATE when the clocks change in the Spring. I absolutely cannot believe it is time for that horrible event again already! Seriously, I just got used to the Fall one.

DST drives me nuts because my inherent sense of what time it is is thrown all the way off. I mean, honestly. It could be 4pm or 3am. I got no idea after this Sunday. And am I alone in the opinion that the Spring one makes every day loooooonnnnnggggeeeerrrr? When you are a sub, that's the last thing you want! Maybe I could only sub in the Fall and Winter? Um, probably not.

I've read and read about what this silly DST is all about, and it seems like it's about farming. Um, universe? I ain't a farmer (ewww bugs and wormy stuff). So, can I skip it already? We live in Nevada, and that's pretty close to Arizona (especially when you live in Vegas - AZ is in our back yard!!), so I think I'll just skip it this year. This is America, right? If we can teach our kids that there's no such thing as absolute truth, that everyone should win an award or no one should and that 1+1=3 is correct if it would hurt your self esteem to say you are wrong, then I should be able to say NO. I'ts not 2pm, it's 3pm and class is over. GO HOME NOW.


I hate DST...