apple_pathways: Whatever floats your boat! (Schroedinger's Cat)
I had a minor twinge of agoraphobia in Dick's Sporting Goods today. I went there because I need a new combination lock, and I thought they might have a larger selection than the local hardware store. And I had time to kill. PANIC AT THE DICK'S )

Funny kid, irritating kid: a fine line. )

Going to Chicago this weekend! I'll be visiting my friend Kelly and her new family, my friend Cassie, her husband, and their 6 month old baby Ella, and Miss [livejournal.com profile] evilhippo, my lovely Queen of All Things Meta and Surreal. (We'll work on the title.) The plan is to do the museums and just catch up with friends, but if there's anything super fun or super special I should check out while I'm there, do let me know.

Now, four songs I've had on constant repeat lately: Musique! )
apple_pathways: Whatever floats your boat! (Math Nerd)
(If I ever get around to joining a personals site, that's going to be my headline. [livejournal.com profile] rachel2205, my love, you put up with so much! :P xx)

Spring Into Sherlock over at [livejournal.com profile] sherlockmas is going well! *knock wood* The submissions are rolling in, and I've managed to design things in a way that I don't have to threaten to break any kneecaps if people don't come through with their commitments! (Though I may have threatened the lives of a few anonymous kittens. Hey, whatever works!)

Here's a conversation I had with two students tonight: (Isabelle is 10, Max is 13.)

Max (apropos of nothing): How do you think the world is going to end?
Me (unfazed): I think in a few hundred million years, the sun will expand, and...
Isabelle: You don't think the world will end in 2012?
Me: No...
Max: You don't think the world will end in a zombie apocalypse?
Me: I don't know...what if it did?
Max: I would hide out here! (Meaning the math center.)
Me (scoffing): Are you kidding me? Look at those big glass windows up front! The zombies would get right through that...
Isabelle: I'd hide in the prize case!
Max: I was going to say that!
Me: How would you even fit in there? Besides, it's made of clear glass...you guys really gotta work on your zombie survival plan!
Max: Well, then I'd hide in the trunk of your car!
Me: I don't know...I don't have a very big car.
Max: We'd drive over to Kroger (a grocery store), and eat a bunch of food!
Me: That could be a plan...I could die in a Kroger.

Sometimes, being a good tutor means teaching the kids about life, and not just about math. :P
apple_pathways: Whatever floats your boat! (PiMP)
So, two of my most challenging students have left. Aurora, my little ADHD princess, had her last day at the end of January. She left in a torrent of suffocating hugs and too-loud goodbyes. I am most definitely going to miss her.

The other child I am less sad to see go. Let's call him...Ernesto. He's seven, and terrifically smart: just a genuinely bright and clever child. He's also incredibly spoiled. His mother, though the nicest lady on the planet (she brought me Godiva! Yum!), babies him terribly: getting his book for him, hovering over him while he works (on the days she stayed), wiping his mouth for him. She tries to goad him into being polite, and yet indulges his every complaint: there's a line between making children feel heard and allowing them to express themselves, and teaching them to be complainers.

And while I'm on the subject, here's a tangent for all the parents of clever children: )

Anyway, with my two most challenging students gone, and two others suddenly transformed into model pupils, I should be relaxing and enjoying the relative ease of my job: instead, I'm wondering what type of kid will get thrown at me next!
apple_pathways: Whatever floats your boat! (Math Nerd)
My students really need to stop making me feel old just days before I'm about to be...not 28 anymore!

Camille, one of my new favorite students, was working on some math problems involving change. As an example of what a nerd I am, I told her that when I used to work as a cashier, I used to get excited when I owed someone 41 cents in change, as that meant I got to give them exactly one of each coin from my cash drawer: a quarter, a dime, a nickel, and a penny. It turns out that anecdote was a whole lot nerdier than I thought (YA THINK?), and it had Camille and another boy in stitches.

Once she stopped laughing and regained the capacity for speech, she asked where I had worked as a cashier. I told her I've worked several cashier jobs in the past, but the first was at a department store called Mervyn's. She'd never heard of it, and I explained that was probably because they went out of business about 10 years ago.

Now, how old does THAT make me sound? I noted as such, and that inspired another fit of giggles from her and Beau. "I swear to God, you guys, I'm not that old!" I told them. I don't think they believed me. But then again, they are 13!
apple_pathways: Whatever floats your boat! (Labyrinth (Little Blue Worm))
I ran into one of my old students last night. I don't run into the kids I tutor outside of the center very often, because I don't live around where I work. But, last night I went out for a meal with a friend who lives on that side of town, and I bumped into Taylor, a girl I tutored last year.

What always strikes me about Taylor is how mature and poised she is! She's 14 years old and in high school this year. I hesitated to go up to her, as kids can be awkward when they see you out of context. (Miss Amy exists outside of her job? She has a life, and friends? Impossible!) However, Taylor came right up to me and gave me a hug, and we had a nice chat about how she's doing in school this year. Instead of going into algebra, she dropped back into pre-algebra. At first she was kind of shy about telling me that, but when I assured her I thought it was a great idea, and said it must feel really good to be where she needs to be and not be playing catch-up all the time, she was much more enthusiastic. She has an A in the class, and got 100% on their last test. It was great to see her so happy and confidant. (I marvel when I think of how awkward and insecure I was at her age!)

Another example of my kids doing me proud came from Kyle on Thursday.

I was trying to teach Rory, my little ADHD princess, how to add decimals. This was my second attempt, and so far it's still a disaster. I tried to demonstrate with the base ten blocks: nothing. (She was much more interested in playing with them than in listening to my demonstration.) I tried to demonstrate using coins: nothing. I tried fraction pieces and explaining how 1/10 and 0.1 related to each other and were the same: NOTHING!

Now, she could very well start adding decimals without understanding exactly what they are and how they work: all she'd have to do is follow my instructions about "lining up the decimal point" and then add as usual. But she refuses. She goes to one of those expensive, touchy-feely schools that encourage kids to 'use their words' and 'explore' and whatnot, and she doesn't want to even try to solve the problems before she understands them.

UGH. Anyway, there was lots of tears and flailing and an epic display of drama that only my little Rory can perform. I told her that she doesn't need to get this on the first try, and that she can take as long as she needs, and that I only want her to try the problems; sometimes you need to learn how to do a math problem before you can understand why you do it a certain way.

Finally, after about 15 minutes of temper tantrum, Kyle gets up from his seat and comes over to us. I don't know everything about Kyle, but I do know that he is deaf and has a Cochlear implant, and also that he takes ADHD medication. I am guessing there might be some other developmental deficits going on there, but his mother never told us, and I don't need to ask. He's about 10 years old.

He comes over to Rory and says (paraphrasing): "Hey, it's Ok! Don't be upset! You can do it. Look at me: I'm deaf, and sometimes things are hard for me, but I don't let it make me sad. You shouldn't be sad either, because you can do it!"

My heart melted. Not only did he help make Rory feel a little better (even though, drama queen she is, she never did try those problems!), but he helped to remind me to be patient. I was getting frustrated with her, and though I think I did a good job of hiding it, his little speech went a long way in reminding me that these are little kids: they don't come equipped with all the skills and maturity they need to manage their frustrations, and keep at a difficult task until it's done; that's something that has to be taught. And it's part of my job to teach it.
apple_pathways: Whatever floats your boat! (Christmas - Child w. Reindeer)
Friday I finished my Christmas shopping: I ended up buying Smart Wool hiking socks and an Adidas ClimaWarm (or something...) winter hat for my brother. For the FSIL, I bought a very cute Reebok jacket on sale:

Jacket! )

Also purchased: squishy-warm socks to finish off gifts to the besties, wrapping paper, long-sleeved t-shirt for me, and cleaning products for my aunt's church. (They give them out to families starting over in new housing.) Made it out of the stores and back home just in time to avoid low blood sugar crisis.

Friday night: went out to dinner at Vicente's, a Cuban restaurant in Detroit with my family. Had two (very strong, and VERY tasty) margaritas. I'm not a big mixed drink person (I prefer beer and wine), but I love a good margarita.

For tapas, we ordered goat cheese with tomato sauce, empanadas (chicken and beef), and a dish of shrimp, scallops, calamari, chorizo, and mushrooms in a garlic lemon sauce. They were all fantastic! For dinner, I had roasted pork with mojo de ajo sauce. My mother gave me a diamond and tsavorite garnet ring: green and white, my school colors. (Garnet is also my birthstone.)

Saturday I took my bridesmaid dress in to be altered.

This is my dress: )

The only alterations necessary were to have the straps shortened. Straps on things are always too long for me...I don't know why.

I also bought shoes to wear with the dress. Erin specified we should wear silver shoes (WHY IT'S A FLOOR LENGTH DRESS WHO CARES WHAT COLOR MY SHOES ARE???), and I don't have any (every other color in the world: YES), so I was a bit annoyed to have to buy some. However, I found a really love pair on clearance at Payless, where I also had a 20% off coupon. HUZZAH, $6.40 shoes!

I spent the afternoon tromping through the snow at the park with my brother's dog.

Saturday night: My friend Fai wanted to take me out to celebrate my graduation. I thought it would just be me and her. Apparently, she had been planning a surprise party since the fall. I was duly SUPRISED, though the shock came slowly, as when we entered the restaurant I caught my friend Lauren coming up the stairs. She said she was sorry to ruin the "big surprise", but my response: "I'M NOT!" Seriously, I'm glad it came in small doses, as I genuinely had not expected anything and didn't know how to react. I was suddenly all quiet and shy for the first 15 minutes (around people I've known MOST OF MY LIFE!) until I ordered a nice, strong margarita to overcome the shock!

Then everyone had me crying at the table over the sweet things they wrote in my cards. People should know, if you're going to say nice things about me: expect tears. LOTS of tears! We had a lovely dinner (Cuban again! What are the odds? But no complaints from me: I had a burrito stuffed with shrimp and Mahi Mahi), and then went back to Fai's for a lovely spread including lots of cheese, fruit, chocolate, and wine.

Sunday: Family Christmas party for my mother's family. The family is HUGE, though three cousins and their respective partners hadn't made it this year. On this side of the family, I have 13 first cousins, and many of the older ones are married with children of their own. Plus my uncle's fiancée's three kids. Plus my cousin's girlfriends two daughters (and they have on daughter together). Plus all the cousins' +1s. Etc. Etc.

Highlights from the party )

And now I should be off to bed: too much food, too much wine, but many, many good times!
apple_pathways: Whatever floats your boat! (Ten Duck Hunt)
Day 7 of The Cold That Will Not Fucking End.

The lungs have staged a mutiny. God help us all.


UGH! Bronchitis. I haven't had a decent night's sleep in DAYS due to a dry, hacking cough.

On the upside, my students continue to be sweet and adorable. Beau, 13, asked me if I was feeling better when he came in. That's right: A TEENAGED BOY WAS ABLE TO NOTICE AND EXPRESS COMPASSION FOR SOMEONE OTHER THAN HIMSELF! I wanted to hug him.

(Parents and anyone else who works with children will know why this is such a big deal. Kids are, by nature, rather self-centered. I can go for days asking my students how they are, how their day went, what their plans for the weekend are--before one of them will even think to ask me the same. I used to have a student who regularly asked me how I was. (ONE!) I miss her.)

I was asking Maya (also 13) if she had any fun plans for the weekend, and she said reluctantly that she didn't. I assured her that I didn't either, and I'd probably just be laying around coughing and doing homework. She said that this next week for her was going to be a "lady week". At first I didn't think I'd heard her correctly, but she confirmed what I'd heard: "lady week". I wasn't sure if this was something at her school, or some other phenomena I'm unaware of, so I asked for clarification: she said that's what she says when she has her period. ♥♥♥ SO ADORABLE! I don't know why, but that made me smile for the whole time I was cleaning up to go home.

I am definitely going to be saying "I'm having my lady week" from now on!

ETA: my first Nerds-induced coughing fit of the evening did not stop me from finishing the box. Now excuse me while I scrape my lungs up off the floor...
apple_pathways: Whatever floats your boat! (PiMP)
'Cause that's what this entry is.

First things first: sign-ups are going on now at [livejournal.com profile] sherlockmas! They continue until the 14th, so hurry hurry to give (and get!) the gift of Sherlock this holiday season. :) From the fun we've been having in the comments, I can tell this is going to be a very lively exchange!


I may be getting more hours at work, which is good! (I am BROKE, yo!) It's also bad, because I am exhausted.

Cute things that happened today:
♥ Max (the student who asked if atheists are allowed to celebrate birthdays) spent a good five minutes trying to convince me to drop out of university so I could stay and be his math tutor forever. "But you're gonna leave, and you're gonna forget all about us!" MAJOR warm fuzzies! (And believe me, I could never forget this kid!)
♥ Aurora (my little ADHD diva) behaved like an ANGEL today, and began her hour by giving me a big hug.
♥ Joseph, a seven year old, told me a rather long and complicated story about an inside joke he and his little friend came up with in art class that involved a play at school that is (apparently) titled Honk, Jr. He was laughing so hard I could only understand every couple of words.
♥ Less cute and more disgusting: Enzo (also seven) treated me to a rather long and informative monologue on the benefits of mucus, in honor of my lingering cold. (Apparently the germs stick to the mucus, and the white blood cells come and kill them.) He then went on to describe the phenomenon of "ear mucus", which might be the most disgusting concept ever. (It turns out he meant ear wax.)

(I googled it: apparently, there IS a play called Honk, Jr!)

apple_pathways: Whatever floats your boat! (Franny)
Yoinked from the journal of new friend *waves* [livejournal.com profile] katyscarlett76, it's the A-Z Meme! Which means I get to talk about myself and pretend that it's a fun game for you all to enjoy! Whee!

WARNING: Slap-happiness ahead! )

ETA this story:

I just had to come back and add this amusing and perplexing story from today:

I was talking to one of my favorite students, Max, who is 13. He is African American and lives in Detroit, and his family is rather involved in their church. He just transferred this year from a school run by his church to a private school in Birmingham, which has a large Jewish population. The week before he had gone to a classmate's Bat Mitzvah, and asked me if I knew what it was. I said I did, and he asked me if I was Jewish. I told him I wasn't.

Max: Do you want to be Jewish?
Me: *laughing* No, I'm rather happy without a religion.
Max: Oh, so you're an atheist?

I was surprised he knew that word, and a little nervous he brought it up, since I knew his family was religious and it can be a touchy subject. However, his mother and I get along very well, and we always chat when she comes in, and why shouldn't I be honest? So I told him yes, I'm an atheist. He then had a perplexing series of questions:

Max: So you don't get to celebrate your birthday?

I think he had atheists confused with Jehovah's Witnesses! I explained that yes, I get to celebrate my birthday, as it's not a religious holiday. (And really, I celebrate religious holidays, too; I'm not really limited to the secular ones only!) He then asked if I was allowed to have a Sweet 16. I explained that wasn't religious either, and I COULD have had a Sweet 16 party, but I didn't, because I was very shy when I was 16 and didn't want one.

It's so funny the ideas kids get into their heads!
apple_pathways: Whatever floats your boat! (Three Patch Problem)
I started off the day in a bit of a grumpy mood. I took my mother in for her post-op appointment, and it was screwed up and was supposed to be in a completely different office and the lady behind the desk was annoying and I had to stop myself from "making a scene" and finally it got sorted and I was very polite and blah blah blah, then we had lunch at Olga's. (I've decided to adopt the storytelling style of the little kids I tutor; how's it working for me?)

So then I got to work (I tutor kids in math), and one of the students was there ten minutes early, and I don't let them in until 3:30 ON THE DOT. So he started pawing on the window and I had to "politely" remind him that he needed to wait five minutes until we were open, and PLEASE DO NOT PUT YOUR FINGERS ON THE GLASS! (I am getting tired of cleaning that window.)

And I had one of my "favorite" students. She's one of my real and truly favorites because she is very sweet and funny; she is one of my "favorites" because she is also ADHD and a drama queen. She had her whiny diva face on today, and was throwing a fit over the problems she had to do. So I had a little talk with her, and she said, "Yeah, but my pages are just really frustrating me today!" I told her that was Ok, but we were going to work on her managing her frustration. I told her everyone gets frustrated, and we just have to learn how to do deal with it.

She said, "You never get frustrated! I have NEVER seen you frustrated!" Oh, my darling; you, of all people, have most definitely seen me frustrated! But thanks for the awesome reminder of why I try to keep all that under wraps; it really pays off!

My motto for working with kids? "Never let'em see you sweat!"
apple_pathways: Whatever floats your boat! (Default)
Yesterday, while I was working with a student (he's 9), out of nowhere he turned to me and said, "You know in Antarctica they buy things with rocks." I asked him to clarify, and he said, "Yeah, people who live in Antarctica use rocks for money."

I explained to him that people don't actually live in Antarctica; just a handful of science-type sorts studying penguins and climate change and such.

He said, "Yeah, I'm pretty sure it's Antarctica; Antarctica, or Poland." At this, I nearly choked with laughter; being part Polish myself, I'd heard a lot of "dumb Pollack" jokes, but this was entirely new. I told him it was definitely not Poland he was thinking of. "But how do you know?"

That's always the question, isn't it? I said, "Because Poland is a developed nation (like he knows what that means...); of course they have their own money!" I asked him where he picked up this tid-bit, and he told me his archery teacher had told him that the eskimos used rocks for money.

Now, this is way off the topic of math (which is what I was supposed to be teaching him), but this is the sort of "teachable moment" one can't quite ignore. I picked up some paper and a pencil and drew a circle. "You know how the earth is shaped like a ball?" He nodded. "Ok, so Antarctica is here, on the bottom of the ball, in what we call the "southern hemisphere". The people your teacher calls eskimos, who actually go by many different names, live up here on the top half of the ball in what we call the "northern hemisphere", near what's called the Arctic Circle."

At this point, he had completely lost interest in my explanation; he'd only brought up this topic because he wanted to have a discussion in which we would speculate whether or not one could become rich by hauling a truck full of rocks up into an eskimo village and buying out the town. I asked him what he imagined he would buy from a society that used rocks as currency, but he didn't understand the question.

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