Thursday, March 22, 2012

Transplant House

They told us that when Joe gets his transplant he will need to be here for a month.  A month!  At $100/night for a hotel plus eating out, there is NO way we could afford that!  No way.  Well, they know that and have a plan for us.

About ten years ago, a family donated land adjacent to the Mayo Clinic campus.  The clinic then built casitas and named them The Transplant House.  They are available for transplant patients and their caregivers for a small donation.  They come with a full kitchen and laundry facilities.  They have large communal areas, so you can fellowship with others who are going through the same thing.  The only bummer is that the boys will not be allowed, as everyone there has lowered immune systems.  Joe probably won't even be able to see them for a month.  That will probably be the hardest thing for him.

Click here to see the website.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Requirements of a Kidney Donor

Quite a few of you have expressed an interest in donating.  Here is what is required:

  • You must be blood type O as Joe is type O.  Positive or negative don't matter.
  • Our insurance will cover all the medical costs.  There might be other costs, transportation, lodging, and meals, and we will try to help you with that, but money is VERY tight right now.  I can't promise that we could cover all those costs.
  • You cannot have diabetes.
  • You can't have a history of kidney stones.
  • If you just had a baby, you must wait six months after delivery.
  • You can't have high blood pressure.
  • Ages: no one past 60 years old.  Anyone in the 50's would have to be a really good match.  Anything less than 50 is ok.  
I recently read an article about the health affects to the living donor.  You can link here to read the whole article.  Basically, it says that donors have the same life expectancy as non-donors.  After the kidney is removed, the remaining kidney compensates and will be working at 85% within 2 weeks.  The rate of donors who themselves end up with End Stage Renal Failure is much lower than the general population.  If it does occur (usually for family genetic reasons), those patients are moved to the top of the wait list for a kidney.

If you do meet the above criteria, you can call the donor line.  The number is 480-342-1010.  Ask to be transferred to Mindy's backline.  She is helping us find a match for Joe.  If she is unavailable, you can say that you are a potential kidney donor.  There is a phone interview that takes about 10 minutes.  It's basic medical history stuff; pretty much the things I mentioned above.  They will need your name, social, and date of birth.  Organ donation is highly regulated by the government.  They want to make sure that people are not paying donors for their organs.  Or that donors are being threatened into donating.  They will then review your numbers.  A nurse will call you back.  When she calls you back, she will have you take a blood test.  This can be done long distance.  The test will even determine your blood type.  So, if you don't know it now, you can still do these steps and they will tell you your blood type.  After you have passed the 10 minute health history part, the blood test part, then Mayo will need you for 3-5 days of testing in Scottsdale.  The tests are similar to what Joe did.  Blood work, urine, EKG, ultrasound, stress test, etc.  

The timeline goes like this:
  1. Joe goes through all the testing to determine his health.
  2. Next Tuesday, a committee will go over his results and vote on if he would be a good candidate for a kidney transplant.  They will call us immediately to let us know.  If not, he would have to continue life on dialysis.  This is VERY hard on him.  Please pray that he would be a candidate for transplant.
  3. Our insurance will need to clear everything.  
  4. Joe will go on the wait list for a cadaver kidney.  
  5. We begin the search for a live donor.
*****UPDATE****We have cleared steps 1, 2, 3, and 4.

That's where you come in.  Maybe.  We realize how enormous this decision is.  HUGE.  Let's face it; it's an organ.  If you have thought about it and have decided to not go ahead, we understand.  If you do still want to proceed, you would need to call the Mayo Clinic.  We are not allowed to call for you and they are not allowed to call you directly.  

Thank you for your time.  Thank you for your prayers.  This is an amazing journey we are on.  It has made us realize the fragility of life.  Every day truly is a gift.  

Friday, March 16, 2012

Sticker Game Boards

I've mentioned before that I am not a clever person.  However, I am pretty good at seeing good ideas and making them mine.  Sticker game boards are a perfect example of this.

A co-worker showed me his sticker game board and explained that he uses it for Vocabulary review.  A light bulb went off in my head.  My students will review ANY concept, if I call it a game.  I usually call our Vocabulary review "Vocabulary Pictionary".  They take turns drawing pics and flipping through their vocabulary journals.  I can turn almost any Math concept into a dice, card, or bingo game.  And over the years, I have bought several board games for classrooms.  But this......this.........this takes it to another level.

Spring Break is next week and I know that the kids will get bored at some point during the 9 days.  I have always sent home "break" homework packets, filled with word searches and math worksheets.  But this year, the students made their own gameboards.

A pen pal recently sent us a care package with tons of goodies.  St. Patrick's Day pencils, buttons, stickers, napkins, paperclips, and foam shamrocks and hearts.  I instantly knew what we were going to do with them!

Some of them were not finished when I took the pics, but you get the idea.  I just LOVE the different ideas they all had!  Some decided to make them into Math games.  Some made fact or opinion games.  Some made multiple choice cards.  My non-reader made his for practicing his sight words.  In the end, they had fun AND created a board game to play over Spring Break.  Thanks Isaac for the idea and thanks to Jean for sending the care package.

Field Trip to Basha's

Every year, I take my students to Basha's (the local grocery store).  I give them a real-world scenario where a mom is sick and has handed you (student) twenty dollars to buy dinner for the family.  The dinner (meat, veggie, drink, and desert) must be healthy.  She is so grateful that you have helped her, she lets you keep the change.  The winner in this scenario is the one who has the most "money" left over.  My kids did great this year.

 Comparison shopping.

Look, that one is cheaper!

 Looking for veggies.

 Shopping for "dessert".

 Doing math in a grocery store.

Sitting outside, adding up their totals and then subtracting from $20.  

I have done this field trip for YEARS.  A few things I have noticed:
  •  In the early years, the kids used to go to the canned veggie aisle.  In the latter years, they walked to the produce section.  
  • In the past, students would "buy" one chicken leg (to feed a family of 4).  Now, they select enough meat to feed the whole family. 
  • No matter the temperature, they still complain about being hot and complain that they can't possibly walk another step.  The distance is 1.27 miles each way.  I tried to explain that I run that distance, there and back, daily, and I'm WAAAAAAAAAAAAAY older than they are.  They are not impressed.  This humbles me.....quickly.
  • I love my students.  Past, present, and future.  One year, two past students (3 years ago) joined us on the walk.  I love hugging past students and realizing how short I am and how much they have grown when my chin hits their shoulder.  Good kids.  

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Field Trip to the Library

Our field trip to the library finally became a reality. You have heard the phrase, "like a kid in a candy shop". It should be "like a kid in a library". They were sooooooooooooo excited!

The few students who had library cards were able to check out books. But there were 15 who had no card and those 15 were so forlorn. The cards cost twenty-five cents and they all came with a quarter. One boy even brought a dollar, so 3 of his friends could get cards too, yet cards require a parent signature and they didn't have their parent with them. Do you know how hard it is to look at a kid with big, puppy-dog eyes and tell them they can't check out books? Heartbreaking.

 The librarian must have felt my pain and she offered that I could check out the books under my name, but that would make me responsible for the books. I took the risk that a book may get lost. But, if I have to pay $20 to replace a book, yet in the process was able to inspire 15 kids to read over Spring Break, it was worth it!

When we returned to school, they begged to have time to start reading their books.  I could see boys huddled together, discussing a non-fiction book.  Girls sat and read novels.  One girl finished an entire novel in one hour!  Such avid readers!  Like kids in a library............

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Post-It Note Pass-Off

Every once in awhile, I stumble on something that works.  Really works.  

Post-it Notes work.

I wanted the students to read a section of their books and jot down the main idea.  Our dry-erase markers were drying out in my classroom and I didn't want to waste a whole piece of paper for just a sentence or two.  I brought out my yellow post-it notes.  I handed one note to each student.  Then, the magic happened.  

They wrote the main idea.  In perfect, whole sentences.  And then they wanted another post-it note, to do the next section.  And the next.  I have struggled with main idea for  years, and now this simple, little piece of sticky paper made the lesson so engaging.  

It wasn't long before they started asking for more sticky notes to write down the major characters and their traits.  It also wasn't long before I used up my supply of boring, yellow sticky notes.  I had cute, shape sticky notes saved for special occasions.  Don't ask me what special occasions, because I never used them.  Seriously.  I had cupcake shaped sticky notes for 2 years that I had never used.  Every once in awhile, a family member sends me sticky notes in the shape of a school house or a bus.  I had pink, purple, green, blue, you name it!  I tentatively put them in a cute basket at my guided reading table.  What do you think happened?  The kids came running to guided reading and couldn't wait to find out what they would be writing about today!  Really?!  You mean I have been coercing kids to write for 9 years and all it took was sticky notes?!  Told you, post-it notes work.  

I have a pretty good supply now.  At the current rate, I have enough to last me 2 weeks.  I started to scour my desk drawers.  
I found note pads with 2 sticky notes left.  Throw that in the basket.
I found a boring, white pad from a hotel.  Throw that in the basket.  
I found note pads at home from.....wait for it.......12 years ago.  Seriously.  Twelve years.  Throw that in the basket.  
Guess what?!  The kids don't care.  They act like university students with mechanical pencils (really, one of the best inventions ever) and sticky notes.  

So, here is where you come in.  Do you have pads with 3 sticky notes left?  Pads from hotels?  Pads from 12 years?  (oh, that's just me).  Do you have cute pads that you are waiting for a special occasion?  If so, would you consider donating them to my classroom?  The color, size, shape does not matter.  I will take pics of the basket when done.  It looks sort of like this now:
Thank you!
Post-it Note Pass-Off
Susan Rodriguez
107 N. Comanche Dr.
Pinetop, AZ 85935 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Reading is Fundamental

I might have mentioned once or twice that we have the best pen pals.  It's true.  My students are paired up with adult professionals all over the country.  It's through a program called In2Books.  The adults and my students read the same books and then type pen pal letters back and forth, talking about the book.  Over the year, the pen pals develop a friendship that goes beyond the books.  For my students, other states become real.  Careers become real.  I can mention a pen pal specifically if we are talking about a geographic location or a specific career and tie that in to why it is important to learn fourth grade material. As a teacher, I highly recommend the program to any third through fifth grade classroom.

Recently, a pen pal whom works for a large, very well-known company was asked to brainstorm some ideas for charitable donations.  She immediately thought of our school.  I had mentioned that we like to offer RIF (Reading is Fundamental) to our kids, but the money would not be funded in the future.  Her company made a large donation to ensure that 600 students got new books!  Six-hundred students!

Here is a pic of my class with their new books!  Most of them chose poetry.  They are such budding writers.
We called each grade-level at a time into the gym.  They watched a power point presentation about how to select a "Good Fit Book" from the Daily 5.
Then, they were allowed to "shop" for a new book.  You would think that letting 75 4th graders look at books would be chaotic, but they were so well-behaved.
Look at all the choices:

More pics coming soon!!!!!!!

where Glory meets my suffering