Friday, February 29, 2008

A slow, rolling boil

I taught for seven years in Milpitas, Ca in the Bay Area. My first two years teaching, there were threats of teacher layoffs because of the downturn in the economy. The tech bubble had just burst and we were feeling the squeeze. Everything worked out, but it was no fun.

Now, I work in Elk Grove, and I moved here just as another bubble burst--the real estate/development boom. I was not entirely surprised when we started hearing about budget cuts in my district and the "remote" possibility of layoffs.

Now remote has nothing to do with it. My principal pulled me in yesterday to inform me that the district is cutting 9th grade Class Size Reduction in English and Math. While that doesn't affect my site directly, there is the distinct possibility of me being "bumped" by a teacher from another district with more seniority because his or her schedule was reduced. I will be receiving a pink slip in March and there is a distinct possibility that I will not be asked to return next year.

Today the district released its projected cuts and they include eliminating over 50 kindergarten teachers, almost 30 high school English and Math teachers, and special education teachers. We have to cut $25 million, so I understand that tough cuts will be made.

Now here's where the boiling comes in. I am pissed off that millions will be stripped from programs that directly affect kids. However, we are only projected to cut 1/4 million from management's budget. No administrators at the sites or at the district level are projected to be cut. They're not cutting sports or extracurriculars...No, English and Math. Because that makes sense.

The more I think about this, the angrier I become. And not for myself, necessarily. I am scared about losing my job, but I know things work out. What makes me angry is that I have a sneaking suspicion that this is a stunt for the media.

Today my school had a big press conference with the State Secretary of Education and huge education big wigs. I am not sure what was said, but I was told it was a big show of opposition against our governor. Our school's scores have been rising, but the majority of our students are African-American and poor.

I feel resentment about having my students being used by politicians to make a point. I really hope that the district is really serious about helping students succeed and isn't trying to make a big, splashy political point during an election year. That would do nothing to benefit the education of our most needy students.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Two years ago

My fantastic husband and I were married two years ago on this day, and here is how it went:

The Pre-Show
We decided to get married in a small family ceremony on Lake Tahoe. It would be freezing but beautiful. I booked the wedding in less than 20 minutes (I was pregnant and not into deliberating), and my husband rented a cozy cabin.

Day One--Thursday
After two straight days of me getting my nails done, waxing my face, practicing with make-up, Justin and I drive up to Tahoe from San Jose. We are going early to spend some quality time at the cabin. We get there and it's perfect: a nice big kitchen, fantastic beds, and cute little bear decorations all over the place.

We go out to dinner at a local Italian place. While I'm feeling a little tired, the restaurant has a great ambiance and I have manicotti (I don't forget food.) We go back to the cabin for some snuggling.

Day Two--Friday
Friday starts out a bit rough. It turns out that I'm not tired; I'm dehydrated. I wake up in the middle of the night with contractions (not that I know they're contractions.) We got to labor and delivery early in the morning, and luckily we are out in the early afternoon. It's a pretty rural hospital and it seems rather quiet. It turns out that I probably shouldn't have gone to Tahoe at 20 weeks pregnant because of the elevation, but my doctor okayed it. After some IV fluids, I'm weak but ready to go get married. (It seemed for a couple hours there that we would have to get married in the hospital.

Family starts arriving, and we get ready for dinner in town. My parents host a beautiful rehearsal dinner at a fantastic lodge. The food is really fancy, they have a roaring fire place, and everyone is in good spirits. The party includes my parents, my sister, my best friend Ali, Justin's parents, his sister and brother-in-law, friends of his family, and his best friend Jerome.

Day Three--Saturday
Saturday, February 25th, 2006 is my wedding day, and I wake up very excited and focused. We have a yummy breakfast, and my sister starts on my hair. I do my make up and get into my dress. I wear a gold nugget necklace from my grandmother and my mother's pearl jewelry. The most interesting part is being 20 weeks pregnant and putting on the something blue garter (real sexy.) I considered my unborn daughter my something new (she was still called "Squishy" at this point.)

We head out to the lake. When we get to the site, we realize that we have to walk to where we are getting married in serious snow pack and in serious heels. We do okay, but it's pretty ridiculous looking with us ladies using our heels like clamp-ons.

During the ceremony, I am most aware of my husband's warm hands and warmer brown eyes. He looks at me with such love and patience, particularly as I shout my vows (I get loud when I'm nervous.) The whole time I am so excited about beginning a life with him and our new child. Once wed, we head back up the snow-covered hill, which is a hilarious disaster.

Back at the cabin, my sister-in-law begins dinner with my parents. She puts on a fantastic feast, which is topped off with a fantastic chocolate cake. I have a great time laughing with my family and friends (they are enjoy real French Champagne that Jerome brought, so they are very happy, which is delightful to watch.)

At the end of dinner, as things are winding down, my sister-in-law announces that she is also expecting a baby. I look at my new husband, who is overcome with emotion, and I begin to see how much our world will change.

Our wedding took some time coming. We were together five years before we decided to wed. We constantly were looking for the perfect time to get married, and no time seemed right. Eventually, that perfect day found us. I have the best little family and so much to celebrate today.

Friday, February 22, 2008


I just got the email today that I made it into the Administrative Credential program! (For those not in education, that means I'm in grad school to get my masters to one day be an administrator.)

This is very exciting news because I have been waiting for almost a month to hear if I got in or not.

YAY ME! I'm going to celebrate with a girl scout cookie. :)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

I should know better

My daycare lady is going on vacation next month, so I sent an email to family members who offered to help watch my daughter in these situations. Well, now I'm in a mess. Partly my fault, yes, but a mess nonetheless.

So here's the email I sent to my daughter's grandparents (all three sets):
Hi Everyone!

I hope everyone is doing well. We are having a quiet weekend after Justin's big birthday bash.

Emerson's daycare will be closed the following days: March 10-18th and April 21st. We wondering if any of you would care to watch Emerson for us on any of those dates. This would be a great help to us because Justin will be able to sub and I won't have to use any sick leave.

Please let us know if you are available. Also, she is taking off a week in November too, the 3rd through the 7th.

Thank you so much! Talk to you soon!

I thought it was a reasonable email, but still we have issues. My husband's mom emails me and says that she'll take Emerson the whole Redding. And she volunteered my sister-in-law (I'm pretty sure this will be news to her) to watch Em during the day. First, I'm not ready to spend a whole week without my daughter. Second, my sister-in-law has her own daughter, and I don't want to be a burden on her. They just bought a house, etc.

So I'm a big girl, and I email my mother-in-law and say that I just don't feel comfortable with Em being gone the whole week. Could she stay at our place half the week and in Redding the other half? The response I got: "I'd get cabin fever staying in your apartment." And that was it. So I have no idea where the situation is. I see an uncomfortable phone conversation in my future.

What makes it worse is that my mom also wants to watch Em (which I did not anticipate cause she's watching her the weekend before.) And my mom is not enjoying my mother-in-law right now, so I don't really want to tell her the whole situation. I don't want to give her a reason to bad talk my husband's mom. (My husband will lose it.)

I've evaluate this situation and come to the conclusion that I need to be much more specific: ask one person for a couple days and another for the rest and be clear that I want Em to be at home. I'm sure I'll get through this okay, but I just HATE confronting women. I'm so intimidated by them and it's so unpleasant.

Ugh. I just feel really stupid about not anticipating that this would be the result. It's ironic to me that when family offers to help, it ends up being about the opposite. Boo.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Winter is the devil

I used to be thin. The problem is, I didn't know it, and so I didn't enjoy it. I didn't wear sexy tops or short skirts. I didn't have potato chips and I only ate cake on birthdays. In addition, I killed myself with working out, which eventually lead to a very embarrassing butt strain.

When I got pregnant, I went bananas. Meaning, I ate no bananas. I decided being pregnant and feeling like dog-doo gave me license to eat whatever I wanted. Meaning, I ate hamburgers. Evil, bad bacon-and-cheese covered hamburgers. So delicious.

At the end of my pregnancy, the scale was higher than I ever imagine it could be. Surprisingly, I wasn't worried. (It's amazing how becoming a mother realigns one's priorities.) I began walking and lifting weights, but I didn't sweat it.

A year later I weighed myself and I actually weighed more than at my six week check up. This was a big wake-up call and I got real with myself. I changed my eating choices and I began working out in earnest.

Everything was going smoothly until about October. I had lost 15 pounds (I wanted to lose 28 total), and people had finally stopped asking me if I was pregnant. Then, I got stuck.

I haven't lost a single stinking pound sense October and I blame winter. I am running a ton more, and I'm lifting weights and doing Pilates. Yet, I lose no more weight. So frustrating.

Now, here's the point where I'm honest with myself. I am not exactly Speedy Gonzalez when I go running. And I'm not doing so hot on the diet part too. I have issues eating vegetables in the winter. In the summer, I can eat a salad for lunch and dinner and not give a fig. way!

I am trying to stay positive, so here's what I can be happy about:
1. I have maintained my weight loss
2. I am now in the healthy weight range for my height
3. I fit into a pair of pre-pregnancy pants (whoo-freaking-hoo!)

I do have goals for the near future:
1. To wear a sassy dress for my anniversary
2. To buy a new bathing suit this summer that does not have a little skirt

Still, I can't wait for the weather to get better and the vegetables to be more tempting.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

So exciting

I find most political conversations to be pointless. Most people just want to hear their own opinions and be told how smart they are. I know this is true for myself.

There are, of course, exceptions, but I haven't found too many. I had a friend at my old school who grew up in Michigan, and while we had similar views, she always brought a new perspective to my awareness because she grew up in a different state with different issues than California.

I'd love to have more people to talk to who truly gave me a fresh perspective on things, but also valued my opinion. While I haven't found adults like that so far at my work (which is really the only place I am besides my home), I have found an unexpected treasure of insight from my students.

I had the most intellectually stimulating conversation today with a student of mine. She just came in to talk about the election. She wasn't entirely sure about how it worked, so she had some questions about the primary process. She listened very carefully to my answers, but the next part was the best.

She had truly insightful views about what our country would possibly be like with a female president or a black president. (She's black herself, as a sidenote.) She actually knows quite a bit about Bill Clinton. (She was born in '92, so that's impressive.) She was able to express respect for Hillary, and eloquently state her reasons for liking Obama.

She had areas of lacking knowledge: she told me that she would never want a Republican president again because they're all crazy white guys who want to go to war. I told her that she might find a different case if she were to look at more GOP candidates more closely, and she conceded that I might be right. (That's a big deal when you're 16.)

I am so excited about this election, and this ten minute conversation today confirmed my excitement. I love when the democratic process brings people together for conversation. Cause really, democracy is all about everyday people having everyday conversations about how to change our world.