Teaching Math with Life of Fred

By Jeff Gorman

When I learned that I would be teaching math this summer to kids in Grades 3-5, I knew it was time to call on our friend Fred.

“Life of Fred” is a series of math books written by Stanley F. Schmidt, Ph.D.  The books tell the story of Fred, a 5-year-old math genius who is a college professor in Kansas.

Fred sees math problems everywhere he looks, and the students enjoy his life story while stopping from time to time to work on math problems.

The first three books are called “Apples,” “Butterflies” and “Cats.” Figuring those were for Grades K-2, I read “Dogs” to my third-graders, “Edgewood” to my fourth-graders and “Farming” to my fifth-graders.

I read them two chapters a day, stopping the story when it was time to do a math problem on the board. I squeezed in an extra chapter at the end of Week 2 to finish the book.

With one week left, I started each class on the next book, with the fifth-graders moving on to “Goldfish.” So I read about 1½ “Life of Fred” books to each of my classes.

I also incorporated  Fred’s image into the class. I drew him on the board each day with some math problems for students to work on when they entered class. I called it “Fred’s Early Bird Challenge.”

I was going to call the final day’s test “Fred and Kingie’s Super Early Bird Challenge,” adding a drawing of Fred’s doll, Kingie.

However, one of my kids asked, “Does that mean we have to show up super early?”

So I changed it to “Fred and Kingie’s Early Bird Super Challenge.”

I also tried to keep the students entertained by stopping to show them Kingie’s beautiful oil paintings and asking them if they could find the hidden mouse on Fred’s bus trip to Edgewood.

I also gave Fred a squeaky Mickey Mouse voice, Kingie a snobby butler voice and Alexander an Arnold Schwarzenegger voice because he’s so big and strong.

In the future, I would give my students more challenging Fred books, because Schmidt did not write the books to be read once a year. Some of the addition and multiplication facts were too easy for my students, so I had to go online to find them more challenging problems.

But still, the kids learned a lot from Fred and were very entertained. When I asked on the test what was their favorite part of class, many of them said “Life of Fred.”

My Second Week With Three Broken Jaw Bones

On June 19th, I fell out of my wheelchair and broke my jaw bone in 3 places.  I recounted the first week here and then my husband wrote from his perspective.

dealing-with-broken-jaw-boneYes, this is actually me smiling!  Isn’t it just inviting?

I look like I’m in a hospital gown, but that’s actually a loose fitting shirt for me to easily go over my chin.

I’m writing this so that hopefully someone out there might get some inspiration.  I googled “how long to recover from breaking one’s jaw bone” and really didn’t find much content on this vast web.

Day 8 – Talking. Talking. Talking.

This is the first that I’ve been out of the house since coming home from the hospital.  I was nervous, scared and excited!  When Dr. Papas saw me at the hospital he had explained why he didn’t think I needed surgery, but was still unsure and he wanted to give me a quick look over and determine if I’ll need surgery or X-rays.

The day was beautiful!  The sun decided to come out and brighten my outing.  It was a bit chilled in the high 60’s for Ohio.

We arrived and he was just the nicest thing.  He didn’t even have a nurse bring us back in.  After a half hour wait he just popped out and looked at me, we shot the breeze a bit about my father-in-law and was so patient in answering my questions.

He was still inconclusive as to if I need surgery or not.  He wanted us to make an appointment for Monday in a town that’s about 20 minutes away.

As I talked, I started drooling out of the left corner of my mouth where I can’t open as much.  Ok new phenomenon!

We left for home.  The ride was so beautiful, I didn’t want to go home quite yet.  Normally, I’d express that to my husband.  However, I was so scared of getting into a car accident.  That fear seems so out of place though because the jaw bones didn’t break due to a car accident!  Besides, we had a Skype call for the camp I was suppose to teach with my husband and we needed to get home for that.

Very shortly after the Skype meeting, my sub came over and I really needed to go over with her the things I’ve done so that she can start on Monday.

Then the dreaded aloneness happened.  My daughter was picked up to go to her favorite camp.  Kicking Bear a free packed 24 hours of archery and rifle lessons.  Then shortly after that, my husband went off to announce for the Lake County Captains (class A Affiliate of Cleveland Indians)

About 2 hours after he had a left a friend called on the phone and we chatted it up a bit.  I really didn’t want to answer the phone because I’ve been talking more today then the previous week combined!  However, this has been a sweet friend and huge helping during this ordeal.  Taking my daughter to her activities, bringing me soup, sitting with me and visiting me in the hospital.  I really did want to talk to her so I picked up the phone.

Then another friend had stopped by.  It was preplanned that she was going to keep me company for a few hours while my husband was away at work.  She brought over the most delicious potato soup!  I really hadn’t eaten much, but man did this hit the spot.

After speaking with her for awhile, my broken jaw bones had had enough!  My front teeth started separating and I couldn’t find a comfortable way to put my head or jaw to keep them together.  So we just had our soup and watched a movie.

Day 9 It’s Officially Cracked

The night was miserable.  I couldn’t find a comfortable way to sleep.  It’s dark.  My daughter is camping in the rain.  I so hope they are having fun.  My husband is home working away at the camp he’s about to start on Monday; teaching 3rd, 4th and 5th grade math.

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Bumps in the Road

DABVCuTlQ38Bumps in the road are rarely this literal.  To go from full-time husband to full-time caregiver of the wife I love, definitely took it’s turn.

One week ago, my wife broke her jaw while going down a hill at the park. Here’s her detailed account of how her week has been.

As for me, this has not been an easy week. But if I’ve learned one lesson from this experience, it’s “don’t complain.”

If I’m hungry, I shouldn’t complain because my wife can’t eat anything!  She just has to sip through a bendy straw.  Even soups can’t just be pureed they have to be liquify.

If I’m tired, I shouldn’t complain because my wife is having a hard time resting comfortably.

If I have a headache, I shouldn’t complain because my wife is experiencing about 10 times more pain than I am.

On a daily basis, my biggest concern is how to get all of my work done by the end of the day. Now, I have a lot more on my plate, since I am now my wife’s primary caregiver.

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My Week With Three Broken Jaw Bones

On June 19th around 3 pm my family stopped by a local park where we heard they rent out boats.Photo on 6-22-15 at 12.34 PM

I wanted to find a place where we can have a fun “back to school” day with our family later in August.  I thought renting out a boat would be a lot of fun and relaxing way to enjoy God’s waters.  I surely wasn’t going to go swimming!  (I don’t swim ~ too scared of it.)

After parking the car there was an inviting hill that beckoned to be traveled.  So as a lot of manual wheelchair users do, I started down the hill to enjoy the ride – much like a roller coaster.

I was traveling quite fast.  Faster than I was comfortable with.  Then with my bare hands I started fighting the wheels, much like you would do on brakes of a bike.  However, the friction was getting so hot, I stopped and the wheels just kept going faster.  I said to my husband; “Hurry catch up!” in fun.  I don’t remember what he said back, if anything at all.  Then I said, “What if something happens to me!” Not being serious about it.

Before I knew it, BAM! My front wheels hit the debris from the storm of the night before and I was flat on my chin.

I don’t know if I blacked out.  If I did it was for the slightest moment.  I do know, I heard this long loud ringing in my ears.  Then I felt blood coming out of my left ear.  I envisioned this long white waves extending from my ear drums to beyond where my arms could reach.  My first thought, “Oh no, I’m going to be deaf.”

It took agonizing moments for my husband to reach me.  He knelt down and wondered what he could do.  I said to pick me up.  He sat me up, I bent over and let all the blood come out of my mouth.  I was spitting blood and fragments of teeth out of my mouth.  The blood wasn’t going to stop.  My lips felt as if it had split into a Y shape.  My husband took his shirt off and gave it to me.  There was now a dividing line between my 2 lower front teeth.  They were so loose I could put my tongue through the newly found space.  My lower back right tooth kept jiggling around.  I heard some kids yelling from the bottom of the hill, “Mom, mom”.  I thought; “Oh no! Did they get hurt too?”  Then 2 strangers – whom I’ve never seen their eyes – came and asked if we were ok.  Wanted to know if my husband needed help to get me into the wheelchair. The gentleman tried to help, but my daughter said he does this all the time.

They followed us to the car.  I was so scared of my husband hurting me to get into the van because I was holding my lower jaw in place.  I couldn’t assist him in my usual manner.  He wanted to put me into the van and I told him to let the guy help him because I’ve already lost my teeth and didn’t want to get hurt more.

We determined we were going to the emergency room.  The gentleman helped us to find one and the closest one was 12 minutes away.  Twelve agonizing minutes with stop lights and traffic.

When we got there, my daughter went in and said my mom has broken her jaw and she’s coming in.  My husband then brought me in and then the usual ER proceedings happened.

Later that night, after several CAT Scans, they admitted me to the main hospital.  At midnight I received stitches on my chin to cover the hole that was there.  They said the lips would heal on it’s own.

Day 2 Did I Lose My Teeth?

My bottom lip was 40% better.  It still wasn’t determined if I had lost all my teeth or not.  I’ve always had great teeth.  They weren’t the perfect pearly whites, but they were good strong teeth.  If I went a few days without brushing, cavities was never an issue for me.  (Oh come on! You seriously are going to tell me “EWWWW”? I’m sure you’ve skipped a day or two brushing your teeth before!)

My teeth were still split down the middle, but I found out if I held my head a certain way then my bottom teeth would come back together.  When they would transfer me, my body would go into shock and my teeth would chatter which scared me to death because I felt ~ if I didn’t lose them, then surely chattering will knock them out.

It was still undetermined as to the nature of the injury, so they did a 3D CAT scan of my jaw to get the best idea of what had happened.

The rest of the day was filled with sleep and heavenly pain meds.

Day 3 Rhondeen!

That was a bit of an adrenaline day.  I woke up feeling good.  Had rounds of pain meds in my system and actually felt up to having company.

My entire in laws were in town on a preplanned event.  So they had planned on coming by sometime after 1 or 2 pm.  By noon I was getting quite nauseous and wasn’t up for company.  I didn’t have the heart to say no because my husband was so looking forward to even a brief moment with his family and it was Father’s Day.  He really wanted to see his dad on Father’s Day.

So I just let it happen.  When they came and spoiled me with gifts, I smiled – the best I could anyway, listened and fell asleep while they visited.

My fantastic nurse – Rhondeen – is a nurse everyone should have!  Most of the nurses I had were just “OK”.  This one – God sent her to me on the day I needed her most.  Rhondeen isn’t one of those nurses that just says “It’s Dr.’s orders.” Oh! Don’t get me wrong! She does listen to the Dr.’s, but she listens to the patients more!  If something isn’t working with the patient, Rhondeen goes and figures out what can work and calls the Dr. and tells them!

Here’s an example, my pain medicine (Dilaudid) was making me throw up.  I hadn’t actually had a problem with it because they were giving me Zofran to cover the nausea.  I guess somewhere on Day 2 someone decided that Dilaudid was going to be administered every 4 hours as requested by me and Zofran every 6.  This was not news to me.  When I woke up on Day 2 and asked for the pain meds, I received both because I hadn’t had any all night.  The next time I had requested for the meds, I was only administered the Dilaudid and not the Zofran.  I had asked why the nurse then dispels the schedule to me.  I wasn’t happy but thought it’d be ok.  I was so wrong.  I threw up two times.  Each time I told the nurse and “OK” was all that was said to me.  The next day, when I had Rhondeen I told her I’d wait on the pain med because I really needed the Zofran with it because it made me throw up twice.  She said and I quote, “Let me see what I can do about that.”  Sometime later, like magic, she got the schedule changed just by calling the Dr.!

Another thing Rhondeen did?  I was supposed to take Tylenol.  The only thing I can do is liquid.  It was GROSS!  I couldn’t do it.  She didn’t let me monkey around with it much, a few minutes later, Tylenol Suppository voila!

She was so kind about everything.  Definitely a patient’s nurse.

I had a real battle with nauseous that day.  My blood pressure was extra high and I was given medicine to bring that down which caused problems with nauseous.  After she did all this work for me in getting me evened out, I slept for a few hours.  Woke up feeling my(hurt)self again!

Day 4 All I Want Is Just This Broth

I missed Rhondeen!

Before I go on, I need to tell you one thing about the night nurse whom I think I offended.  The night nurses are charged with drawing blood for labs.  She came in early in the morning and told me I was going to get blood drawn.  I asked her are you really good at this?  I said I’m a hard prick.  People can not get to my veins.  She said she’s been doing this for 15 years.  I said yes, but are you really good?  She said I’m as good as any.  I said “I’m telling you I’m a hard prick.”  She went about her business and tried in my hands and couldn’t get the vein just as I had said.  She went for the other side.  I said I don’t know about this and I was quite vocal.  She tied the band around me and looked around.  I went on and on about how hard of a time people have and the only people that can do it are ER nurses and could she get one.  She scoffed and said they won’t come down here to do this.  She said do you want me to get someone else?  I said I don’t want anyone who isn’t good.  I wasn’t giving her the answer she wanted, but I didn’t want to get needlessly poked.  She finally told me that I could refuse. Did I want to.  This was news to me, I had no clue that I could refuse.  I agonized over the decision and woke up my husband and asked him what I should do.  He said try one more time.  Right buddy!  Easy for your sleepy head to say when I’m the one getting poked with no success!  I didn’t make a decision then she said I’ll see if the other nurse could do it.

I waited for hours and the other nurse didn’t come in until almost the end of shift.  I again went through the same spiel with her.  She said she was just going to check and if she couldn’t find anything that she wasn’t going to poke.  Well, again she poked and couldn’t do it.

After shift change they brought in this other lady whom they coined as “the resident blood taker”.  I again went through the same old line of conversation with her.  She said she wasn’t going to poke if she couldn’t find anything.  i said yeah that’s what the last lady said.  She said nope I mean it.  She got some towels, sat down, put my elbow on it, tied the band – tight! Looked for a bit and got it with flying colors.  She said I had good veins – in my arm.  She said that they just need to elevate my arm and the vein will push right throw.  She also said for me to not let them get near my hand that if they try, to tell them to get the H*** out of my room.

So back to Day 4 nurse.  The new nurse was too matter of fact and I was back to “It’s Dr.’s orders”.

Day 2 and 3 I was on full diet – eat what I want just as long as I’m smart about it.  I ordered breakfast and they told me I’m on liquid only.  Shortly after that discussion the Trauma Dr. intern came in and I had told her what had happened.  She said that was me because according to the Plastic Dr.’s order, I needed to be on liquid diet.  I don’t remember what I had said to her but she apologized and got it changed.

The nurse tried to give me the Tylenol and I said I just can’t do it.  She said are you refusing?  I said well I can’t take it.

As the day progressed and other Dr.’s came in, I ordered lunch.  It was the first enjoyable meal I had.  I ordered some kind of spicy and sour soup.  I only ate the broth.  I called to order more, but to get the broth separated.  Found out my diet was changed again.  Called the nurse to find out why.  She had said the trauma Dr. Intern changed it so I wanted to talk to her.  She came back in with the Intern’s answer and I didn’t hear it I just broke down, cried and missed Rhondeen so much.  I knew she could figure it out.  I said all I want was this broth.  She told me the kitchen couldn’t specialize every meal.  I said I wanted to talk to the Dr..  She walked out and said she’ll see what she can do.  The nurse again came in with the Intern’s answer.  I just didn’t listen I was too upset.

Later in the day the Plastic Dr.’s Intern came in and said she heard there was issues with my diet.  I said that Dr. Papas said I could be trusted with it and that’s all I want to do – is be trusted with my own abilities on eating.  I know I’m not going to order a steak.  She gave her Dr. mumbo jumbo then I said all I wanted was this broth.  She proceeded about how the menu was on calorie count and that there’s just certain things they can do and etcetera.  I didn’t say much more, she didn’t say much more then walked out with “I’ll see what can be done.”

Later the nurse came and said that the kitchen is going to strain the broth.

A friend came later and we talked about the situation.  She works for the hospital, but in the marketing department.  She said that the cafe probably serves the same things.  She went down and brought me broth.

The Dr. came in and said I should have the Tylenol because it’ll help with the swelling and healing process.  So when the nurse came later I said I guess I’ll have the Tylenol.  She said so you want it now.  I said not, but I’m going to have it.  She said you’ve been refusing it all day.  I said I haven’t refused it, I just can’t take it.  I took it with my broth and that was it.  I no longer liked the broth.  She said most people just take it with applesauce and be done with it.  I said I’m not most people.  It actually didn’t occur to me until later, but um, if I was on a liquid only diet how in the world was I going to be able to have applesauce?

Goodnight nurse! I was done with Day 4!

Day 5 Desperate Cry of Starvation

This was exit day! Day! Yay! Boo! I was so glad to be rid of the IV! The needles, the constant poking and prodding. I was scared to go home.  The constant care and ability to do things there that make it so difficult at home.

I actually had to get Dr.’s orders to take a shower and was that a trip!  I couldn’t believe I needed orders and I couldn’t believe how long and difficult it was to get the orders.  I said to my husband if they are afraid of falls wouldn’t they want me to shower there then at home?

After much ado and a shower, we finally checked out at 4 o’clock.  My husband made a quick pit stop at work which didn’t take too long, then we headed over to my in-laws to pick up our daughter’s things.  We ran to the pharmacy only to find out they didn’t have everything we needed.  So I had him ask if there was another pharmacy that did.  After some calling around, she said a neighboring one did.  We went over there and dropped off the prescriptions then had to make a safe mad dash to home because I had ordered a hospital bed and it was to be delivered by 5 O’clock.  After that was set up we went to the grocery store to get me something I could have.  I was miserably famished at this point.  We went back to the pharmacy and I double checked everything to be sure we had what we needed.  I asked for the Tylenol Suppository and she said there was no script for it.  So we called the Dr.’s number that was on the script for the other item that was ordered the same time.  He called and said he never ordered it.  Well it was his intern that did.  We tried to call Dr. Papas – who is quite reasonable and knows my father in law!  He called back, but the call was dropped. The problem was the reception was so lousy.  My husband said that the other pharmacy will have it so why don’t we drive there and get it ordered there.

So in the parking lot of the first pharmacy we made the call and waited for his return.  After he did, I reminded my husband of the two things we needed.  He went inside the pharmacy and handed the phone to the Dr.

It’s now 9 o’clock and my smoothie I got wasn’t satisfying, I really hadn’t had much at all that day and was quite upset.  I was alone, tired, starving and in so much pain.  Crying, I posted this on Facebook:

Today is NOT a good day. i’m sitting here @ walgreens paring lot TRYING to get my medication straightened out. got out of hospital around 4 and it’s currently 9 pm. still haven’t gone home. I’m’ starving and i’m crying b/c I’m so hungry. i’m on liquid diet only. nothing tastes good. the pain is so bad. the pain med @ home is not the same pain med at the hospital. i opted to come home instead of a rehab place. i DON’T do sweets on a normal basis and everything liquify is just so sweet. its not filling my belly. i praise God for a hospital bed at home for tonight but i don’t know if insurance will cover it. i praise God for a GREAT husband. I can’t but help to think of women who get beat up by their husbands and experience THIS pain I have. I feel so bad for them. I’m so hungry. I”m trying so hard to drink my banana strawberry smoothie . the nerves in my teeth hurt b/c 1. i’ve cracked it and i can’t see the dentist until this other stuff gets fixed. 2. i think i’ve lost a filling.

My first reply back was 15 minutes later with a friend stating she feels for me and she’s going outside right now to pray.  17 minutes later that deep pain of hunger dissipated and I was able to survive again even if just for a moment.  I was still hurt and weepy, but no longer feeling as if I were going to die of starvation.

Eventually we got home, did the meds thing and went to bed.

Day 6 Just One Prayer Request

I was dealing with hunger, but had enough energy to go on a search.  A friend had given me a website on liquid diets for jaw surgery patients.  It gave me so ideas, but it was too taxing to manage at the moment.  Another friend reminded me of coconut oil and avocado.  So that sparked some creativity.avocado-smoothie

I asked my husband to put 2 scoops of vanilla ice cream, 1 Tb of coconut oil, 1/2 avocado.  HEAVENLY and filling!

I was reminded of a prayer a friend always prays so I asked her about it.  Lovely it is!

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.[a]
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”

Psalm 91

I just kept going over those  lines throughout the day.

I had went on Facebook again and asked for just one prayer request for the day:

the swelling behind my front lower teeth dissipate for good! Bye Bye Please.

Other than being emotional, it was fairly a good day.  By nightfall, the swelling had gone down to over 50% and was no longer throbbing.

Day 7 Here We Are

If you made it this far, you deserve a gold medal!  This post has taken quite some time to get here.  Currently over 3k words.

Last night was most uncomfortable with pain and sleeplessness.  I tossed and turned all night.  That’s no easy feat with the pain involved.  Not being able to use my body muscles to move around, other than my arms, makes for a very uncomfortable and painful time.  To turn I depend on my arms and neck muscles.  Because the chest and back muscles just don’t exist enough to handle that activity.

Here is my husband’s perspective on the account.