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Monday, June 29, 2015

Tutoring at Hope Ministries

Hope Ministries (the former Hope Rescue Mission) sends out a newsletter periodically.  The last one mentioned a need for tutors in their Learning Center.  I sent an email to Laurie, the administrator, and heard back from her immediately.  We arranged to meet and she described the options to me.  I was happy to work with anyone at any level.

Laurie said that my email was an answer to her prayers.  She had been discouraged about some issues in her own life and at work and she had asked God to give her one sign that he had heard her prayers.  And then I emailed!   It felt good to be the answer to someone's prayers--and a bit awesome to be what she considered a sign from God!

T, my student,  and I have worked together four times.  We are focusing on math skills preparing for her to take the Test of Secondary Completion--the new GED in Indiana.  We began by diagnosing her errors on the TABE (Test of Adult Basic Education) and have worked from there.  I have been happy to use again--an online program developed by one of my former colleagues, Jay Snyder. 

T is quick and accurate (grade level 11. on math computation) but I need to be careful not to push too fast.  There are unexpected gaps in her skills--like knowing what a rectangle is or how many ounces in a pound.  As always, it's a balance between being efficient about our time together but giving her a chance to assimilate the knowledge and review.

This has been a very good experience for me and a way to use the skills and experience I have had in adult education for many years.  Working with just one student and only two hours a week is easy but rewarding.

However today I had a reminder of the frustrations of adult education.  T is unable to meet with me this week due to a death in the family and an emergency pass to travel out of state to a funeral.  Will she come back to Hope afterwards?  Will she be affected strongly by one more death in her family? Even if she comes back, will she forget what she has learned because of the time off? 

I am disappointed but know this is so typical and sad for those who live life on the edge in this way.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Work-Life Balance

Today was a good day in the life of a retiree.  I no longer need to even think about work-life balance or work-life integration or whatever the term might be.  But I do like to think about a balance of activities of exercise, sociability, and service.

I had a good hour long walk at 9 am with a friend.  Time goes fast when you walk and talk.

I checked on my garden plot at our church garden and did some weeding and thinning of the zinnias which were thriving from the seeds I planted two weeks ago.

After a shower and a quick lunch, I went downtown to Hope Ministries where I met a resident who needs to improve her math skills in order to pass the TASC exam--Test of Adult Secondary Credit--the new GED.    She has proved to be a quick learner and we are trying to be as efficient as possible in a limited time.  I really enjoyed using the experience I have had over the years in this limited situation.

While I was downtown anyway, I browsed at the library bringing home four books which I may or may not read.   Years ago I taught a GED class at the library and was happy to hear someone call my name and greet me warmly.

Home again for a phone conversation with my sister, some time reading and napping, fixing supper, and enjoying it with Jim.  Laura's nanny sent me a great photo of two of the boys and two other friends emailed with photos and news.
The evening--maybe the Cubs, more reading, a crossword puzzle, checking Facebook--all pretty relaxed and easy.
And then such a good day was followed by a night of poor sleep for whatever reason--maybe a short nap that was too late in the afternoon, definitely the sore hip  that is often a problem, maybe some difficult memories.  It doesn't help to analyze the situation.  I am glad today is a day without a schedule.  I have no obligations.  Today that is good.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Home again!

I am sitting quietly on the couch in our own family room drinking my coffee.  I am thinking about the morning routine at Laura's house where I spent the last week.  It's almost time for Jasper to get on the bus.  Laura is probably out there with him now.  The nanny has arrived and is helping with the other children who will be home all day.  Michael is probably on his way to work in Philly--unless he has another longer trip planned.  By this time the baby was probably nursed hours ago and has had his morning cereal.  It is not quiet there at all!

Laura and Michael needed another person to cover the gaps with the kids last week.  Laura had two events in NYC to launch her latest book and one TV interview, Michael had an overseas trip, and R had eye surgery.  Plus Laura ran a half-marathon yesterday.  I did lots of A holding and feeding and took charge of all four when no one else was around. 

There were good moments and not so good moments.  I wrote earlier about my solo time on Tuesday night. 

I had lots of one on one with A, the baby, who is so smiley and responsive--unless he is hungry and tired.   Food and sleep solve that.  You just have to read the signals.  He learned after a day or so of hesitation to open his mouth with a smile when I came near with the spoon full of cereal.

R  is strong willed and very aware of what her brothers are doing.  If J wanted a toasted bagel, she wanted an bagel that was not toasted.  She was very brave about her eye surgery but afterwards the pain or discomfort left her in a state beyond reason.  It was hard on everyone!  But by the next day, she was playing imaginatively with her dolls in her room telling them that she understood that if they didn't like carrots, they did not have to eat them for supper. I wonder who else does not like carrots?

S  was so good with the baby and pleasant company for me. The nanny had written one little story in the new notebook I gave him and he was happy to have me write several more.  He read them over and over again.  It's an exciting break-through for him.

J was at school every day.  When he was home, he was often on his Kindle with ear phones so it was difficult  to get his attention.  I was able to get in one good walk and conversation with him when we left S's tee-ball game early. 

I pray for strength for Laura and Michael and that they make time and energy for each other too.  I prayed for stamina for me--especially in light of the difficulty I have had with insomnia lately.  I was able to sleep enough to have the strength I needed--and it takes a lot of energy to deal with four little ones.  Now I am very thankful to be home. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Grandma Mary is Going it Alone

Mustache Monday for Spirit Week
Grandma Mary has been on her own with four little ones for 4 hours now and counting.  In 10 hours, Promise, the nanny will  open the garage door and we will all greet her warmly.  I know I will greet her warmly.

Laura is in NYC launching her latest book and doing TV and radio interviews.  She should be home at suppertime tomorrow. Michael is in Geneva for a conference on vaccines.  I am filling in the gaps.
Last night A, age 5 months, was awake from 4-6 am.  Then R, age 3, fell out of bed.  Last night those were Laura's problems.  Tonight they will be mine.

Supper hour had its issues..  I broke a plate and J walked barefooted over the pieces--right after I warned him not to.  We had a picnic outside and it started to rain.  A was good through supper and then fell apart.  It was too early to put him to bed, but that was what he needed.  He fell asleep on his bottle and I put him down at 7:15.  J, age 8,  needed help with his shower and I couldn't figure out how to turn it on.  R couldn't find any stuffed animal she liked for bedtime out of the twenty or so in her room. S, age 5, is in bed in his clothes because his pjs are in the baby's room and we forgot to get them out.  So it goes.

I texted Laura shortly after she left at 2 pm asking her which bottles of wine were off limits--not that I was starting immediately.  Just wanted to know.  I did enjoy a glass in blissful quiet after all four kids were upstairs in bed, sleeping or not.