Thursday, January 31, 2008

Birthdays should be fun...DUH!

I have always loved my birthday. I love surprises and cake, so it's a perfect day for me. And I love other people's birthdays too. The whole ceremony just gets me.

Over the past three years, birthdays, however, have become less fun. And it's not because I'm getting older. (I'm only 28 for goodness sake.) I can sum up my new distrust of birthdays in one word: family.

My parents' divorce finally went through this fall, but they've been apart for more than two years. It was not amicable. Currently, my father is living with the person who caused much of the rancor. Well, to be fair, my parents caused most of the rancor, but she's an easy target.

Right before my daughter's first birthday, I came to the conclusion that I did not want to have two birthdays, two holidays, two whatever to appease my parents. And I've stuck by that. If they want to celebrate with my husband and I, then they need to behave like grown-ups. I refuse to go through hoops and extra expense to make them feel better.

This all sounds good on paper, of course. They behave fine during the event, but it's the after that is no fun. My mom still whines about Em's birthday (which was in June), and my dad is non-communicative about it, but he is so stinking awkward when my mom is around.

Now it's my husband's birthday, and we only invited my mom. I wimped out and I feel awful. It annoys me that I let her bad behavior dictate my choices. To be quite honest, I just didn't want to deal with the backlash. Unfortunately, the whole thing makes me feel about five years old. Boo.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Her own person

The other morning I was trying to dress my 19-month daughter, which is always a hoot because she's typically asleep during the process.

So she rolls over and toots. I laugh (cause it's funny...duh!)

Her response is, "Not funny!" and she pulls the blanket over her head.

She's 19 months, not 19 years old. My goodness. I seriously woke up one day to find a person, albeit a small one, in my life. She's not a baby; she's not distracted by shiny things anymore. She has her own thoughts and feelings and agendas.

I really don't miss having a newborn: it was so much work and I felt so out of it the whole time. Also, middle of the night is NOT a good time for me. Just ask my husband--I was a beast between 12 and 4 am.

What makes me slightly sad and anxious about my little girl growing up is the sense that things are slipping away from me. I drop her off at day care at 7 and pick her up at 5:30. When she was smaller, it wasn't such a big deal. She didn't do too much during the day that she wouldn't repeat at home.

Now at daycare, she has a whole world separate of me. She has friends and favorite toys. Don't get me wrong; I think it's fantastic that she is such an independent kid and is so happy anywhere.

There's just a tinge of sadness when she races through the front door at daycare. I remember my mom saying the same thing about me when I was little. And know that my mom loomed large in my life when I was small; she was my world.

My little girl may run off to do her thing, but I will be there waiting to hear her stories and laugh at her jokes. She really is so funny.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Almost 9 on Sunday and it's Quiet

For the first time in way too long to remember, I'm up by myself on a Sunday morning. My husband and daughter are curled up together, sleeping away the morning. I should probably go wake her up, but I'll wait til I finish this post.

We had a little bit of an interesting night. She went to bed a little late last night cause I was a silly mommy and put on the tv show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She loved the music and was dancing around to it; I thought it was really cute and didn't insist on bedtime (I know, I know, bad mommy.)

She eventually went to bed soundly at 9 and all was well until the wee hours of the morning. The rain just came down, and I heard her very happily chatting in her crib, so I went in there. She was pointing outside: "Wa-wa, Wa-wa." Yes, honey, that is water....Now go back to sleep! No such luck.

Her room seems to get the worst of it when it rains or when it's windy. She has a really hard time sleeping through it. She's not unhappy, just unable to sleep. So, I took her back to our room where it's quieter, and she fell asleep.

Not an hour later, she's up again crying. Her tummy was probably hurting her (she was constipated yesterday). So my husband gave her some water and gas-relief stuff and she was down for the night (well, it was four am, but whatever.)

Well, I probably should go get her. I don't want her to be totally off her schedule for day care tomorrow. Ah, so long quiet...

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Take-a-deep-breath Friday

This was the longest four day school week in recent history! Even my students were commenting: "I'm tired and we've only been in school four days." Here's why I woke up on Friday morning thinking it was Saturday (so depressing):

1. Last week was the end of the semester and I graded 110 essays in two days

2. Last week my grad application was due

3. Because of last week, I started on Tuesday with a whole lot of crap to do

4. My grades were due and we had a staff meeting after school on Tues (Mean!)

5. I was out of the class room on Wednesday working on a project a monkey could do

6. We had a minimum day on Thursday for another meeting

7. My husband started night school and I was Parent-in-Charge two evenings

8. My students ask really stupid questions sometimes

9. My co-workers ask really stupid questions most of the time

So, we get to Friday, which was a normal day with no weird schedule or deadline and here was me: Aaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh! I cleaned my boards, replaced paper on my walls, planned for next week, and even considered organizing my desk (that will have to wait til next week.)

The one almost bummer was that I had to supervise a basketball game so I didn't get to go running last night or have dinner with my family. But it was great to see my boys play (they are so big!) and I was the only staff member who showed up to her duty (there were two other ladies signed up), so my boss got to see me be graceful under pressure (always a plus.)

I'm looking forward to a weekend of no obligations and no visits out of town. Hopefully, we can find something fun (and cheap) to do tomorrow.

Next weekend is my husband's birthday and we have a ton of family coming over. His birthday is the official start of our crazy February: his birthday, his dad's, my mom's, Valentine's Day, and our anniversary. So this is my last quiet weekend for awhile: Aaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Completely Drained

When I was in middle school, my dad made me start running. He did this because I lied about my mile time in PE (he's an odd, but lovable man). So one summer I had to run four times a week with him. We got up to four-mile runs by the end of the summer, and it ended up not being a totally awful experience. (Though I whined at the time within an inch of my life.)

He used to tell me at the time that running gives you energy. I believe this to be a lie.

I don't always feel this way, but today was special. I had one of those days where the teacher is out of the classroom working on a project. It's nice cause you don't have to chastise anyone for putting gum under the desk or asking you for the umpteenth time if what we are doing is worth a grade. (Yes, it's always worth a grade.) The bad side: I didn't get any breaks from 8 til 3:30; then I taught an after school class for an hour.

I got home at five, begrudgingly put my workout clothes on and kept telling myself: running gives you energy, running gives you energy, running gives you....well, whatever! Did not work today. It's not that I had a bad time, but I'm really tired now. My knees hurt, and when I got back, my husband told me that the vacuum broke in half today.

I just want to go to bed.

Miss Poopy-pants signing off.

Monday, January 21, 2008

In Honor Of Martin Luther King, Jr.

One of my favorite quotes of Martin Luther King Jr is as follows: I cannot be who I am meant to be until you become who you are meant to be. It is a statement beautiful in its simplicity.

When the school year eventually rolls around to his birthday, I like to put this quote on the board. My students in the past have become very confused by it, and we tend to have a good conversation about cooperation and other symbiotic relationships. Since I teach high schoolers now, I'm interested to see what their take is on the idea.

While I never mind having a day off, I wonder at the wisdom of giving students a holiday for Martin Luther King Jr. I would much prefer coming to school and devoting time to studying his legacy. I know that personally, I've gathered peace within myself by taking a few minutes to think about him and his ideas.

I remember spending quite a bit of time learning about Martin Luther King Jr. in elementary school; I'm not sure if that still happens, what with schools' increased focus on test scores. etc. I hope I am incorrect.

As we look towards a year charged with political rhetoric and inevitable ugliness, I truly hope that we can carry with us Martin's words of peace, change, and hope. I go to bed, and to school tomorrow, with these hopes.

Friday, January 18, 2008

It's so funny

I lived in San Jose for almost ten years and I never really identified myself with that area. It was actually rather accidental that I lived there at all for that long. I went to college there, not really knowing anything about the city.

There are things that I grew to love. I really liked downtown; there are some cool older buildings, parks, and churches. And they are all kind of hidden. So many of the buildings are empty too, so it gives everything a really cool, creepy feeling.

And of course, there's the fact that I met my husband there. Though, I'm really sure we would have met at some point anyways. Our lives have intersected at several points.

I wouldn't define myself as homesick, but I have moments. Fridays can be particularly lonely for me. My old school has a tradition of people signing up to make snacks for brunch. My new school doesn't do that, and it makes me feel isolated.

I always thought it would be things like happy hour or holidays or my friends' birthdays that would make me miss my old life. Nope. Again, it's little things I never truly appreciated at the time.

Monday, January 14, 2008

I need to go back on the pill

I hate the birth control pill. It makes me crazy, I throw up, and I gain weight. However, I'm not such a happy camper now either.

Before I had a kid, I had regular, lovely, short periods. My cycle was EXACTLY 30 days. No joke. I actually took the pregnancy test 12 hours after I was late and it popped up "PREGNANT" in less than a minute.

Now my periods are totally not predictable. My cycle is totally off: 27 days one month, 33 the next. And the, is all I can say.

I actually just took a pregnancy test. And it's broken, so I have to go to the store and get another one. Dang it.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Beyond Guilty Pleasure

Friday evenings I am pretty wiped out. Last night was no exception. I planned on going to a basketball game because several of my boy students are on the team at Valley High. However, by the time I was done working out, my gosh-darn pajamas looked too stinking good to pass up. So I decided to stay in and watch really bad television with my husband.

The really bad (but really satisfying) television I'm referring to is Moonlight on CBS. If you don't know about it, it's the show about a vampire private eye with the heart of gold. It's so dang campy, but so much fun. My husband and I make up dialog over the actors and physically act out the more ridiculous scenes. I highly recommend it to anyone who refuses to use any brain cells on a Friday evening after 8 pm.

Hey, I can always go to the basketball game next week.

Friday, January 11, 2008

One week down, one more to go

The first semester at my school is rapidly coming to a close. It's been such a hectic time, but every day this week I fell more and more in love with my kids.

First of all, we just got back from break, so that's always rough. On Monday, I felt I had to speak really slowly and use short sentences. They were just not keeping up. But they stuck with me and we actually did a group project the first day back, and it wasn't a total disaster.

The other thing that warmed my heart was how many of them really care about doing well in my class. I've been letting kids come after school to retake tests that they didn't do well on. The first day I only got a couple kids, but today I had almost 40. It was actually a lot of fun to hang out with them after school. I made pop corn and we snacked as they took their tests. And they did so much better the second time around. I got home after 5, but I felt totally okay with it.

The last thing that reaffirmed my affections toward teenagers was that my wallet got stolen. Now, I know that seems weird, but it turned out fine. A kid stole it from my desk, but it wasn't the kid I thought did, and everything was still in my wallet. I gave a big guilt-trip speech in the class where I knew it was stolen, turned my back to the class for a minute, turned back around, and it had "magically" appeared on the book shelf.

What made me feel closer to my students was realizing how many of them have been victims of petty left. I had many really great conversations with kids who had never talked to me. All in all, it was a great week back.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Winter Break is So Over

It became abundantly clear to me that my vacation was over on Friday. I drove down to the Bay Area to visit with friends, which was an awful idea given the nasty storm we had. The visit was lovely, but the almost three hour drive back to Elk Grove was not.

Upon arriving home, I found my husband sick with the flu and our apartment suffering severe water damage from the storm. The maintenance crew ripped up the carpet in my daughter's bedroom and left, leaving lovely rusting nails exposed. After a day of getting no response from the management, I left a terse (but polite) message that clearly stated the words "health department." Lickety-split, we were temporarily moved into another apartment for a couple days.

Now we are back in our apartment, and the damage is repaired. I'm cringing for the next storm, which is due soon. Hopefully, everything inside will remain dry.

The first day back to school went okay, but I was so pooped at the end of the day that I didn't even try to get organized for tomorrow. I just headed straight to my daughter's daycare. A mother of two girls at the daycare gave my daughter play-do for Christmas, and my daycare provider SWEARS that Em doesn't eat it. I'll have to see that to believe it.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

I heart vacation

It's ten o'clock on a Tuesday night and I'm watching a new episode of Law & Order. I'm not feeling guilty about staying up or dreading going to work. Cause I don't have to go tomorrow. I'm not trying to gloat (too much), but it's such a good feeling to be on vacation.

Don't get me wrong; I genuinely like my students and my job. Just a couple days before winter break, a particularly difficult student of mine met my daughter at our school's basketball game. This girl is ROUGH: fifteen, big 'ol cross tatoo on her arm, lives with her great-grandma cause neither her mother or her grandmother is suitable. My daughter walks straight up to her and within minutes, they are as thick as thieves. My student shared her chips with my daughter and they hung out during the whole game. It's times like this that I know working in education is the right path for me.

That all said, it is sweet to have two weeks off for the holidays. I'm really looking forward to spending time with my husband and daughter. Today we sat at home and did nothing but laundry and unpacking. I stayed in my pajamas until it was time for me to go running. Not a bad way to spend a day.