Working from home? Or not?

The discussion comes up each time we get a new teacher on staff.

“Can we work from home?”

The answers begin as vague, and end as…well, you’ll see.

“Well, it’s teaching. Of course you’ll work at home sometimes.”

“Um, kind of. I like grading tests on the couch with my laptop. Essays, I’d rather grade at my desk with the two monitors.”

“On snow days, I answer emails from home. That’s all.”

“Work from home? If you call in sick, you’ll use a sick day, but you can keep working at home if you want.”

“Truth be told, you can work from home, but you won’t be paid for it. You’ll still need a sick day.”

And therein lies the dilemma. How much will a teacher do for free? I fell victim to the New Virus on the Block and missed almost a full week of school. But I teach online! I can do a lot of my job from home! And we don’t call subs at my online school (well, most of the time). I don’t have to leave sub plans! So…how much will I accomplish in between medication breaks and naps?

Follow this with a deep sigh and a gulp of whatever fluid is in the glass at my side. I’m really messed up either way. If I dig in my heals and do nothing because, well, I’m not being paid, I will really suffer when I go back to work. If I do too much from home, I’m setting a precedent I may not be able to meet in the future. But if I…and what about…and I really should be able to…oh, heck.

I did what I do: I made healing my priority. I remembered the day in the Emergency Room when the doctor wanted to keep me overnight and I said “No, no! I’m a teacher! I have to leave sub plans!” To make a long story short, I went to school at 10:30 PM on a Sunday night to leave plans. I made appointments for follow-up testing and rested all day Monday. My class behaved abysmally, and I caught hell for it. I vowed never, never again would I put my work before my health.

My home page looked like this.

Translation: 48 items my virtual red pen.

Translation: 48 items my virtual red pen.

I graded a lot, and I replied to a few emails from families. And then, I took medicines and rested. A lot.

I have virtual mountains of virtual papers to grade and a long, long list of phone calls to complete. I will bring fluids with me in the form of Snapple or cranberry juice, and I will pack a large orange in my lunch. If the additional drinks and vitamin C don’t help me recover physically, they’ll remind me that I’m still healing. I’ve been sick for over a week, and it’s okay to spread the catch-up work over the span of another week.

Meanwhile, I’ll make sure Amigo has all the fluids he needs. He’s the next sufferer in the New Virus on the Block.

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Hoarding in a Cubicle

There’s not much room in a cubicle, and mine is slightly smaller than most. Due to a design flaw, I don’t even have a shelf where I should. Currently, my small bookshelf sits on the desk like a hutch. I haven’t decided if I like it or not. It’s working for now.

Some hoard pencils. Some hoard scratch paper. One item I’ll admit to hoarding: facial tissue.

tissue with lotion

tissue with lotion

That’s my good tissue with lotion for allergy and cold seasons. If you turn the other direction, you’ll see this.

a cube in my cube

a cube in my cube

 

This tissue is plain, no lotion. I use it for cleaning my glasses or handing out to people who need it but don’t deserve the good stuff.

extra tissue boxes donated by local credit union

extra tissue boxes donated by local credit union

These boxes will refill the Green Bay Packers tissue cube when it’s empty. I think I’m ready – for now.

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State Count Day – a semi annual event

In a brick and mortar school, State Count Day is simple. Encourage your students to show up, take attendance, and sign the attendance to verify its accuracy.

In a virtual school, we need to document attendance in slightly different ways. I send out an email first thing in the morning (from home! before I get to work!) reminding parents of the numerous ways they can prove that their children are enrolled with us.

  • email, including names of students
  • take online attendance (Mark P for Present)
  • call the school or teacher to verify enrollment
  • Attend a virtual class (I held a homeroom meeting for just that purpose!)

I sent my instructions out with a Read Receipt so as soon as a parent clicked on the email, I received confirmation. We only use those as documentation if we’re desperate.

Meanwhile, I taught three virtual classes: a homeroom meeting, my regular Friday morning Social Studies, and my high school music class.

It was a busy day. (hahaha, Captain Obvious, I know)

On top of this, I was starting to run a fever. Chuck has a virus of some kind, and I’m afraid it’s my turn. Neither one of us likes being ill. The one who is relatively healthier cooks up the chicken soup, basically.

In conclusion (I’m already sounding like an English Language Arts teacher), I wasn’t the most pleasant to be around, so I posted a guard outside my cubicle.

Hee. Hee. Hee.

Hee. Hee. Hee.

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Influenza – I spoke too soon.

It’s my turn. I cared for the boys, washed my hands frequently, stayed out of range of their coughing as much as I could — and it wasn’t enough. I’m on my second day home today. Chuck is back at work, but Amigo is still suffering.

In the category of Simple Pleasures, also known as For What it’s Worth, there are some reasons to feel (almost) good these days.

We have a new couch – with dual recliners on the ends. With this set-up, two of us can lean back and relax with the tissue box between us. No one fights over the couch because we can both stretch out.

Spring weather might return late in the week. Right now, none of us want to step outside into the cold air for fear of setting off a coughing fit.

I did the shopping last weekend, and I stocked up on chicken noodle soup. I’ve also thrown together crock pot meals to tempt our meager appetites while not spending precious energy in the kitchen.

Positives aside, I need a nap. After that, I need chicken soup.

 

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The Dreaded Influenza A

Most of my family members faithfully get the flu vaccine each year. Chuck doesn’t. For some reason, he doesn’t seem to be as vulnerable to the annual flu virus. This year, flu season is different.

Flu season this year came later than usual. Here it is April – April! – not November, not January, and both Chuck and Amigo are down with diagnoses of Influenza A. Chuck ended up in the emergency room a few days ago, struggling to breathe. After a chest x-ray, a nebulizer breathing treatment, and a flu test, the official word was Influenza A. Flu. The upper respiratory virus from hell.

Amigo got his a few days later. We were a little bummed; he’d been ill with some sort of virus for about two weeks, and I thought maybe that was his flu. He gets the shot every year, and that might have mitigated the severity somewhat. No such luck; he is currently curled up on the couch with pillows and blankets and a humidifier on high. Well, the humidifier is on the floor nearby. He’s not curled up with it. Yet.

Chuck most likely came in contact with the virus Tuesday night. His symptoms started in the wee hours of Wednesday morning. Tuesday night he was out late covering Ted Cruz’ primary election event in Milwaukee. Governor Walker was there, too. Can I blame Cruz and Walker for my dear hubby getting sick? Maybe not, but I do like to blame the governor for anything and everything possible.

Meanwhile, he brought home the bug and got quite sick, too. I’ve been taking care of him the best I can, treating the symptoms and cooking up comfort foods.

Amigo’s symptoms turned up overnight Friday. His diagnosis was confirmed over the phone with the nurse on call. Once again, we’re treating the symptoms. Chuck was too late for the famous Tamiflu. Amigo couldn’t get an appointment within the magic first 24 hours, and the nurse told me many doctors are hesitating to prescribe it these days. There is some doubt as to its true effectiveness.

Meanwhile, I’m still healthy and knocking on wood and washing my hands and trying not to breathe near either of my guys. If I make it past this week…well, let’s not chance anything.

Readers, I’m feeding the sick ones (and myself) chicken soup and other sources of fluid and nutrition. Advice is welcome – for treating their symptoms and keeping myself flu-free. Add your prescriptions for comfort in the comments.

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Encore: Autumn Garden Chores

Was this really only two years ago? So much has happened since then. I was looking forward to spring, not knowing what awaited me. I still look forward to spring – as soon as I can get the tomatoes indoors for the fall harvest.

I’m looking forward to spring. I know, it’s not even winter yet, but autumn is the season when I pull apart the fading foliage of my garden and take steps to prepare for next spring. Chuck got into the thick of it this year. Take a look.

Straw bales and repurposed boards

Straw bales and repurposed boards

Another Angle

Another Angle

Rather Awesome, I'd say.

Rather Awesome, I’d say.

Yesterday and today I took to the task of harvesting all tomatoes that could ripen indoors. The herb pots are already inside. Next, I pulled all the tomato plants and tossed them on the brush pile at the back of our yard.

We’re adding leftover potting soils to the new patch as I deal with most of the containers. If weather permits, I will dig out compost from the base of the brush pile and from the base of the compost bin and fill in what I can of the new patch. It’s going to be a raised bed, built inside the repurposed lumber that Chuck assembled so nicely. Whatever I don’t fill this fall, we’ll build up next spring.

It’s another experiment: straw bale gardening. As long as we were expanding the once-triangular plot, we decided to try the bales. A year from now, when the growing season is done, the straw-based soil will become compost for the future. Planning ahead, we are.

But stay tuned, folks. There are still piles and piles of green tomatoes ripening indoors. I’m sure there will be stories.

So, readers, what kind of autumn tasks have fallen your way? Leaves? Lawns?

 

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Awareness? I’ll show you Awareness.

Every year in October I see the NFL all decked out in pink accessories and it bugs me. Bugs me no end. I could post an encore, but instead I’ll show you awareness and take it up a notch and recognize the real heroes here, and they’re not the guys with pink Gatorade towels.

The real heroes are the women who faced breast cancer straight on and won.

Women like this

Women like this

Women who’ve beat breast cancer and women who have tried are the real heroes, the real role models, the real people to put on a pedestal. That pedestal doesn’t have to be pink, either.

Awareness? Bah, humbug. That’s just another excuse to throw pink around a football field. It’s time to put the money where it makes a real difference: let’s see the NFL donating directly to organizations that fund research, testing, and research.

 

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And again, the pharmacy

Dear Pharmacy that Shall Not be Named;

Once again, it’s the system, not the people. The staff was as bothered by the mix-up as we were. The exact same mix-up had happened at least once in the past. It wasn’t new.

I overheard someone checking into the computer saying, “It looks like both were ordered, but only one printed out.” So you’re saying it was the call-in system that messed up? Okay, I’ll take that explanation. But now let’s look at a true fix: how to prevent this from happening a third time or even more.

This is the toughest kind of problem to solve: the problem that doesn’t start with a human. Since it seems to be a systems error, there will have to be a solution that changes the system. In this case, someone at the top will need to call someone in IT and say, “Can you modify this code?”

Yeah, you’re right. I doubt it, too. And the Pharmacy That Shall Not be Named was doing so well. I haven’t written a Pharmacy post in ages. Their customer service has improved greatly. Now, the challenge rests with the folks who run the system. Pharmacy That Shall Not Be Named, can you fix the system? We’ll wait in suspense for the answer.

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Serious Depressive Episode

“Co-pilot concealed mental illness.”

“Co-pilot suffered a ‘serious depressive episode.'”

When will the stigma end?

When will people suffering from depression feel they can seek treatment without secrecy?

When will treatment for mental illness become as readily available as treatment for physical illness?

That’s all for now, but this bothers me. It bothers me on so many levels. Readers, expect to hear more.

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Thinking Spring

Last year i posted Spring Fever related material more than ever. Our cold weather seemed to last forever. I started seeds, but they were ready to go outside long before the outside temperatures were ready for planting. I ended up in the hospital in late April, an experience that left me in pain and easily fatigued.

This year:

  • the seeds are started
  • the garage is emptied in preparation for its demolition and replacement
  • compost (some) is spread
  • so far, I’m healthy

It’s a short list, but it’s a good list. Come the end of April, I will have made it a full year without a hospital stay or surgery. That might just be reason for celebration, no matter what the weather.

 

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