Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Vacation--Moeckli Style

Well, it is just 10:00 am and I am the only one up. Both my husband and three-year old are still sleeping.

Yes, we Moeckli's know how to relax.

This week so far has been a combo of relaxing and organizing. We got home from 29 Palms on Sunday to a mostly clean house, but then we had all the fun unpacking/laundry to do. Coming home from a trip is always onerous, but it's especially so when you have to sort and put away Christmas presents. However, we somehow managed to go to Target that evening. But we got pizza. Surprise!

Monday we slept in super late, which was nice. Justin and I attempted to go to work, which was a resounding FAIL on both accounts. Justin couldn't even get into his classroom, so he drove to Stockton for nothing. And I brought Em, who had both a poo and a pee accident. Nice. The day wasn't a total loss, as Em and I went out together for a mommy/daughter lunch.

Yesterday we took Em to see Princess and the Frog. I'm not entirely sure if she is ready for movies. She seemed to like most of it, and she definitely liked the popcorn, but she got really upset when a character got hurt. Yeah, it might be awhile til we see the next one. Plus, it's dang expensive. We had a gift card, but still, ouch. I saw huge families at the movie, and I don't know how they could afford it.

We finished off yesterday by organizing Em's toys. We bought her a new shelf with buckets and we categorized her stuff. This is part of my new effort to teach her how to clean up after herself. Talk about the blind leading the blind. :)

Today we are going to hang out with some friends. As soon as I'm done with this, I will hop in the shower and then head to the store. I am in the mood to bake. Uh-oh.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Heading Back Home

We have had a very pleasant Christmas, especially the last two days.

On Christmas Eve, we headed to my brother-in-law's step-dad's house that he shares with his new wife. Craig's mother also came along. This was a situation fraught with potential akwardness. However, everything went very smoothly. Craig's dad and his wife were incredibly gracious, and the evening was nice. We ended it with driving down "Candy Cane Lane," one of those streets where everyone goes bananas with the lights and holiday decorating.

Christmas Day was very nice and relaxing. We started with breakfast. Haley and I knocked out sausages, eggs, fruit salad, and egg-nog french toast. (Very tasty by the way, but I recommend using low fat egg nog.) And of course, there were plenty of champagne drinks. :)

Emerson cracked me up because both Justin and I were up before her, but once she got up, she was very excited. She played with her stocking toys for a good hour. Got to love the one-dollar section of Target. Eventually, after breakfast, we got to the present opening. She was very excited for her Hello Kitty items. The Madeline book I got her...not so much.

Later that afternoon, we drove the hour to Palm Springs and had some appetizers and drinks at a restaurant that had booths that were big swings. Odd, but fun. And the appetizers--fried green beans and bbq pork flatbread--were delicious. The mango mojito was not too bad either.

We drove back to 29 and enjoyed a ham dinner. For the first time in my life I had the traditional green bean casserole and sweet potatoes with marshmallows. We ended the evening sitting outside by a fire drinking Mexican hot chocolate. If anyone wishes to try this, I recommend using Ybarra's and tequila and kaluha. Very tasty.

Today we are heading back. It will be a long drive (ugh), but I am happy to head home. Time to rescue my cats, get back to a reasonable diet, and do that wacky thing I haven't done in so long...exercise.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Traveling Christmas

This year we are spending Christmas with my family, and we decided to do things a little differently. We are spending the week in 29 Palms with my sister's husband's mother.

Keeping up?

Last Friday, my husband and I were packing and wrapping monsters. It seemed like an impossible task, but somehow after a crazy long week of teaching and running around, we were able to pack up, wrap a mound of gifts, make four salsas (that was Justin, of course), and clean the house all in time to leave on Saturday morning.

Saturday we headed to my mom's for her family's early Christmas Eve party. The party is a tradition that we have been doing for years, but this year we had to move it up a bit because of our trip. And Justin and I were able to actually GO out. In public. At night. Without Emerson. Whoa...

Sunday was a pretty relaxed day. Justin helped out my mom a bit with her yard work, and I played with Emerson. I actually got to take a nap. Sweet. I had to watch Cars AGAIN, but that's a small price to pay for some quiet toddler time.

Monday was another flurry of activity again as we got ready to make the nine-hour car ride down to 29 Palms. The morning was a bit unpleasant, but once we got in the car, things were fine. Justin actually drove the whole way down. I was not complaining, as this provided me more napping opportunities. Emerson watched movies on her portable dvd player (THANK YOU Rachel and Gary!), so she was happy. And she got fast food and twizzlers (cherry sticks to her.) Hello, 3-year old dream land!

We got to 29 Palms in good time to have dinner with Jody, my sister's mother-in-law. It's always a little weird to stay at someone's house for the first time, and it can be doubly interesting when you have a toddler in tow. Will she sleep? Will she go potty okay? Will she be a complete brat? Etc. So far, everything has worked out okay. Em is a little off her potty routine, but she is sleeping great.

Yesterday we drove through the Joshua Tree National Park and went on a hike at a place called Mecca Hills. Again, I was a bit nervous about how Em would do on a hike. I was not terribly surprised when she dropped down and said she could not walk anymore. So I stayed back and we played with rocks, lots of rocks.

Today, Justin accompanied our brother-in-law on a golfing trip. Justin is not actually golfing (we are barely passable at video game golf), but he went along for the ride. Can't wait to hear his report. Should be interesting...

We will be here til Saturday and then it's back to home for us. I'm sure the cats will have left things a mess and the tree will be mostly dried out, but I'll be excited to head back. Even if it means watching Cars AGAIN on the way home...

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Thanksgiving Pics

This year we had Thanksgiving at our house. It was a wonderful, long weekend.

Halloween Pics

I am a little behind posting pictures. Oops.

It's been awhile...

Since I have posted anything. I have been busy, true, but that is almost always the case. In fact, July tends to be the only month in which I am not impersonating a tornado.

But I have remained quiet for different reasons, one being I don't have a whole lot to say. The other being a need to be quiet and alone.

I noticed feeling this way particularly when I got home. The only thing I'd want to do is turn on the t.v., watch three hours of Ghost Whisperer, and go to bed. I had very little interest in hanging out with Justin and Em.

This went on for about three weeks--the time between Thanksgiving and my holiday break. I could see that Justin was worried; he tried to get me to engage more, which only made me feel irritated. I struggled with post-partum depression after having Em, during which Justin was super supportive. However, that last time I went too long before getting help. Since that situation, Justin seems to pay more attention to my mental health.

But now I feel I've actually snapped out of it. There were a couple things that helped me feel more engaged. One was getting ready for the holidays. It is so dang fun to buy presents for a three-year old, and she is way into all the decorating and songs, etc. Second was getting the opportunity to apply for a vice principal job. Even if it goes nowhere, it is exciting to apply and imagine myself in a new position.

I could tell I felt better and more myself because I decided to blog. Now, I'm not sure if blogging can be considered a good indicator of mental health, but oh well. :)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Real Sick Day

About a month ago, I took a day off to be with Emerson and a friend and her daughter. It was a lovely day. We went to the Folsom Zoo, hung out at a park, and had oodles of snack foods. The lovely day was made even lovelier because the next day I had class, so taking off a Friday added a day to my too-short weekend. A perfect day.

Today was not that kind of day.

I dragged myself out of a bed a bit late, but managed to make coffee before Justin had to make his way to work at O'dark-thirty. The morning was puttering off to a regular Wednesday start...until I was starting my make-up routine and heard a cough.

A yucky wet cough from Em's room. Rut-ro.

Sure enough, I went in and Em had a 101.4 fever. Too high for day care.

Luckily, today is Wednesday, so there's a little more wiggle room in the morning. I was able to call in my sub and send a lesson plan (though not stellar) to my school.

Em and I spent the morning watching cartoons, which was nice but it got old fast. Then, I hit upon a new issue as the mom of a sick three year old. They get bored. And a sick, bored three-year old with a yucky cough is a bad deal. She kept wanting to run around and play, but then she'd double over with her cough. Not fun.

So we played dollie, painted, read stories, and even played around with mommy's scrap booking materials. Eventually, I relented and we watch Barbie Fairytopia, which is really bad, but Em sat memorized.

Needless to say, Em was less than pleased when Barbie completed her journey and finally got her pretty, pink wings, but she mostly willingly complied with taking a nap. She's still sleeping, a sure sign that she's sick.

Justin should be home soon, and I'll head to class in a couple hours. Tomorrow, it's back-to-work time. I'm more than a little scared about what happened with my 1st and 2nd period freshmen, but at least there's only two days of this week left. And tomorrow Justin's on Emy duty.

Real rough job, btw. :)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Oh, Right...I'm a Nerd

For my past two graduate courses, I have not been feeling super studious. In fact, I have been a horrible student. Always rushing to finish my homework at the last minute, I managed to scrape by in the last two courses. But it was a close call.

It's not that my classes this year haven't been interesting. Well, one, the course on categorical programs and special education, was mildly interesting. But the other one, my fiscal class, was a bear.

Mostly, I have just not been interested. I have made a good-ish effort in participation: I bring my materials. I attend class. And I try to raise my hand at least once per class. Again, a good-ish effort, but not stellar.

But today I started my last credential course, and, surprisingly, I really like it. It's my foundation of school law class.

Actually, I shouldn't be surprised that I like it. The course is right up my alley: tons of information, new words and concepts, and even better--Latin. Awesome. I love Latin.

While I am tired, and I will not be crying tears of sadness when my class is done on December 12th, it is nice that my last course is on a subject I'm genuinely interested in. I took four pages of notes today...and it was fun.

Sick, I know.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Is Halloween the New Christmas?

There are certain events that I don't really remember pre-child. Halloween is one of them. I know I used to do things for Halloween before I had a kid, but my memories are a hazy blend of drinking, questionable costumes, and too much candy.

Now, as a mother, Halloween has become a paramount event. I'm not quite sure why, as Emerson still doesn't really get it. But for some reason I now get really excited. Here's the tale of our Halloweens so far as parents.

First Halloween
As I was still in the haze of early motherhood and Em was only 4 months old, this was a quiet evening. It was a Wednesday, so there wasn't a whole lot of action. We dressed Em as a jalapeno, which she hated, handed out candy, and had a couple beers.

Second Halloween
This is where my mad desire to make Halloween special began to surface. I don't know if I was feeling homesick or lonely (we had just moved to Sacramento the summer before), but all of a sudden it became really important to capture the magic of the holiday. So we carved pumpkins, dressed Em as Yoda, and attended my uncle's church's "Trunk o' Treating."

Third Halloween
Last year, Halloween was a bit truncated. We had to leave that evening to drive to Redding. Also, Em was NOT into having a costume at all. At first I was really bummed, but then I came to the realization that Halloween was not about me, but her. So I made sure to do things she likes. Em really loves all things pumpkin. So we went to a harvest festival with my mom, carved pumpkins, and bought a veritable family of little pumpkins.

Fourth Halloween
Last night, we celebrated a full Halloween. Em dressed as Super Girl, which she only mildly hated. That evening, Em and I went with friends to a Waldorf School "Pumpkin Path", which was a very sweet, calm alternative to traditional trick o'treating. Afterwards, we went back to our friends' house and had Em's first sleep over, which was partially successful. She fell asleep okay but in the middle of the night she woke up scared. We took her into the living room with us. Then, the real sleep over began. She kept us up all night wanting to play. Needless to say, this morning hurt. But we remedied the situation with a greasy breakfast in a bar/restaurant. Nice.

So I seem to be over my must-make-Halloween-special disease, but I am struck by a weird post-Christmas like feeling I have after every Halloween. My mood reminds me of being a kid, having opened all your presents and eaten way too many cookies, and thinking "what now?"

There's always Thanksgiving...

Saturday, October 31, 2009

More Pics of Fall Fun

A Saturday To Call My Own

I'm in my final year of my administrative credential program, and it's starting to wear thin. Very thin.

I have struggled to stay focused during class; constantly checking the clock is my new pastime. In past classes, I would raise my hand often and participate fully. Now, I say one or two things just to make sure my professor know I do indeed have a heart beat and then I sit quietly and try to nod at the right places. I have found that entire huge chunks of time will pass and I will realize I haven't been listening. Yikes.

Needless to say, I was very excited to see that we didn't have a class scheduled for Halloween (today.) I was even happier that my family and I had no scheduled trips this weekend. It has turned out that every weekend I don't have a class we have gone to visit family. First, it was visiting my mom and grandma, then visiting my dad, and finally last week we went to Redding.

This week we have nada planned. Awesome.

We spent the morning carving pumpkins. In fact, I'm still in my pajamas, as is everyone else in my family. Em is watching her Barbie movie (of course she loves THAT one), and I have considered showering.

Tonight we will dress Em up as Super Girl and head out to a Pumpkin Path activity with our friends Janet and Chris and their daughter.

Tomorrow I plan on another peaceful, quiet day. I have no grading to do and no where to go. Again, awesome.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Taking Time

This year, as with most, I have been running at full speed. Since August I have had 10 to 12 hour work days at least four days a week. This is a snap shot of my typical work day:

5:45 Wake up, after Justin takes a shower. Feed cats, make coffee, and do my best to do full make up, hair, and professional dress by 6:30

6:30 Get Emerson up and dressed, teeth brushed, hair controlled

7:15 Drop Emerson off at daycare

7:30 "Work Day" begins

8:00 Teach/Be Ring Master for two hours with adorable, but energy-sucking Freshmen

10:15 Honors classes begin--40 kids in each class and they ALL have questions, difficult questions

11:30 30 minute lunch, time to enjoy my delicious Lean Cuisine

12:00 Honors bonanza begins again

2:30 Ahhhhh, prep period. Spend an hour running around like crazy person

3:30 Teach 8th period for juniors and seniors who failed English 9 or 10

5:00 Pick up Emerson from daycare. "Work Day" officially ends

6:00 Exercise, feed Emerson, speak with husband about teaching, sit on couch and stare into space

7:30 Either bathe or read to Emerson.

8:00 Pick one of the following options: check and answer student/work emails, grade work, work on Advocacy lessons, or do homework for my master classes

9:30 Drag self to bed

On Wednesdays, I have class until 8. And most Saturdays I have class all day.

So needless to say, I've been a little worn around the edges. Just a bit. So today I took a day. Today I'm hanging out with Emerson. We're going to spend time with friends, putter around the house, and just have a day together.

I'm very excited.

Friday, October 16, 2009

What's Next....

I have felt incredibly restless lately. It's not that I don't have lots to do. (I always have lots to do.) For some reason, I actually felt bored this week.

I think my new-found boredom comes from being back in the class room this week. Don't get me wrong--I really do like my kids and I have the best teaching schedule of my career. I'm challenged by my 2-hour freshman block in the morning and teaching honors has been something I've always wanted to do. And I haven't had the last period as prep since my first year teaching over eight years ago.

Still I'm kinda bored.

I really liked being in the office last week. Unfortunately, I feel pretty stuck. Because of the current budget, there will not be a whole lot of admin jobs in the near future. While there should be a ton of retirements in the next five to ten years, it is still going to be a long wait for my vice principal job. Sigh.

Oh, well. I suppose I should enjoy my duty-free evenings and weekends. But I really miss that walkie-talkie...

Friday, October 9, 2009

Day at the Zoo

Here are pics of Emerson and Justin when they spent a day at the zoo.

The Good, The Bad, and The New

This week I started a new adventure at work. My principal asked me to begin training as Teacher-in-Charge, a position that is mostly like a Vice Principal (just not paid like one.) Our current TIC, as they are so affectionately named, is pregnant and will be out in March. While it has not been decided if I'll be covering her when she leaves, my principal thought it wise to train me in the ways of high school administration.

So here's my first week of admin experience:

Monday: I had a really hard time sleeping Sunday night, which is typically the case when I'm starting something new. I arrived work freshly ironed and made up, but feeling quite lost. I really didn't have an office, and I had no idea what I was going to do. First thing, I sat through two admin conferences. Unfortunately, my new adventure ended early because another teacher needed my sub so he could pick up his vomiting daughter from daycare. Back to the class room I went.

Tuesday: I spent the full day in the office. I handled a few suspensions (mostly for cell phones...ugh), but spent most of the day talking to kids about attendance and behavior. It was a rather uneventful day, and actually I don't remember a lot of it.

Wednesay: I was back in my room because my students had To Kill a Mockinbird presentations. The only bad thing about being out of my class this week is that it was the end of the quarter. This means that all my students' projects and tests, etc had to be graded this week. Big ugh. My principal asked me to TIC on Wednesday, but I needed to be in my room to make sure my kids were on track. This was a challenging day.

Thursday: This day started weird and just continued. I cannot go into a whole lot of details, as these are sensitive issues pertaining to students, but I will say that these topics were covered by my day: condoms, handcuffs, counterfeit money, and public urination. Sigh. Needless to say, I ate my lunch at 3:45.

Friday: Today was my last day for the foreseeable future in the office, and it was a busy one. This week was Homecoming, so we had a minimum day and a parade outside our school. It was a fast-paced day, but things went really smoothly. And (big deal pause here), I figured out how to use the walkie-talkie finally.

So next week I'm back in my room. This is comforting, but I am looking forward to my next office adventure. I enjoyed the change of pace and new skills. However, I could really use a beer.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Adventures in Potty Training, Part 2

It's actually been over a month since we started this wacky potty training thing, and I can't believe how far we've come. It has not always been smooth (I have a new cheek wrinkle since August), but I am immensely proud of my daughter. And, heck, I'm even proud of myself.

Potty Training, Week 1
Things went ROUGH. In fact, I considered calling it quits many times, but I kept hearing my mom's voice in my head--BE CONSISTENT.

Well, the only thing consistent about that first week was my constantly being covered in pee. Or cleaning up pee. Or watching Em's bum like a hawk.

We survived because of great friends and their support. Luckily, Em and I have a friend (WMDS on this site) who recently went through this with her daughter. She was very understanding, even when Em unloaded a gallon of pee right in front of her. Nice.

PT, Week 2
We had a couple challenges this week. First, Em had a birthday party to go to without me. The same patient friend from week 1 was willing to help out and take Em for me because I had a wedding. I was seriously considering smacking a diaper on her, but then Em brought a tear to my eye and a hope to my heart with the words: "Mommy, I have to go potty." And she went potty. It was glorious.

And short lived. Later that night, she totally whizzed on the carpet in front of my sister and brother-in-law. They were fine, but I think they started to understand my pain a bit.

PT, Week 3
I was actually very excited for week 3 because Em was going back to day care. Cherie, our provider, is super helpful and gives fantastic advice. I was a little nervous because I didn't want to overwhelm Cherie and cause her unnecessary clean up. I mean, if it's your own kid, it's one thing, but someone else's...not so great.

Em used pull-ups at daycare and underwear at home. We still had a ton of messes at home, but slowly but surely she started to use the potty.

PT Week 4/5
Em went another week in pull-ups at daycare and then Cherie said the magic words: "Underwear is fine." So Monday morning I dressed her in underwear and we really haven't looked back.

That's not to say everything is honky dory. I had an unpleasant, messy morning. Number 2 is not going well. But we went away a couple weekends ago and Em had zero accidents. She even used a diner potty. And this Friday, we were at a restaurant and she grabbed my hand and asked to go to the potty. Amazing.

I knew this day would come. I just wasn't sure how. Now that I can almost say we are potty trained, I am not ashamed to admit that I am more than a bit proud of myself. But I am really amazed by my wonderful, ever-growing brave little girl.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Oh, Wow

I cannot even remember the last time I blogged, or what I blogged about.

Here's why:

* It started last Wednesday, with an all day meeting in which I actually had to be two places at one time, so of course I screwed two major things up. Yay. Then I had class all night.
* Thursday I had Back-to-School Night, and I don't mean to be Ms Snarky-Pants but I HATE BTS. No parents ever show (oh, excuse me I had 20 this year), and it makes for a really long day. When parents come they only want to talk about their specific kid. I think that a parent-teacher type thing would work better, but I don't see school officials rushing to give up the old tradition of BTS.
* So then, Friday I had to rush home and pack super quick for a weekend trip to Fort Bragg for my dad's birthday. I was very excited about the weekend, but not so much about the four hour plus drive. That excitement quickly turned to uneasiness when I realized what a twisty road we would take. And sure enough, 2 hours outside of Fort Bragg, Em puked. Lovely. Nothing like cleaning out the car at a gas station in a little town that has to be in the running for Meth Capital of California.
* Once we moved past the vomit, the actual weekend was a lot of fun. Maybe too fun because Justin and I got home and realized how much work we had to do this week. Four day weeks seem like a good idea, but one always has to get the same amount of work done in fewer days.
* Tuesday and Wednesday were painful blurs, but Thursday sure sticks in my mind. During the middle of the night on Wednesday, my number came up for getting sick. Really sick. I have been tremendously lucky and have not been sick in years, but I guess my time was up. So I missed school on Thursday. And really I was okay with that.
* Today, Friday, was a little rough, but I made it through. I did what I had to and cut back on what I could. Couldn't get out of the 100 degree football game duty, and I had to bring Emerson because Justin got sick, but we made it through.

After this little recap, I have two things planned: a beer and bed. Ahhhhhhhhh.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Five Things I Learned This Week

1. I need to buy better shoes.
My new position of Advocacy coordinator (the person in charge of the homeroom curriculum) at my school requires me to run around the school quite a bit more than I am used to. I have a couple pairs of Clarks and Aerosoles from when before I was pregnant, but I need to buy a pair ASAP. Your work should not make you limp.

2. If I calm down, my daughter will learn.
During the summer I was a little intense about Emerson potty training. Now that I am too busy to be super worried about it, she's basically potty trained. I never thought that would happen, but this experience shows me to relax and let things happen as they may. It's much more enjoyable now that I am not following Em's bum with my eyes in a high panic.

3. There are no useless educational experiences.
I'm in my third and final semester of the administrative credential. While I am definitely tired of attending class on Wednesdays and most Saturdays, I am impressed with how much I have learned. I know so much more about my school and district, and I feel like I can really contribute intelligently to conversations about things like school budgets and educational programs. In addition, I have made great friends and I don't feel so isolated at my school.

4. Fried foods are not my friends.
I had fried fish tacos on Friday and my stomach is still mad at me. Enough sad. :(

5. My husband is amazing.
My husband is working at a rough school. He has a completely non-ideal teaching assignment and his room is wrecked. Most people would lost it in the environment he is in. But not him. He takes things as they come. He is truly unflappable. His patience, kindness, and appreciation for the small things in life are immeasurable. He stuns me.

So there was my week in number form. Now to go make coffee.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Looking for that dang glass...

The last time my sister was here we were talking about that old saying: "Are you a "glass-half full or half-empty" person? My sister, who's always been a bit pessimistic, said that her glass would be broken.

Personally, my perspective switches quite a bit. I can alternatively see the best in people and the world and I can quickly lose all hope and direction. This week I am trying to see the glass half full (and not cracked, dirty, or out to get me.)

Surprisingly, it's working.

We have had some great news. Justin got offered a job in Stockton. It would be easy for me to get really upset about the commute, the not so great school he'll be working at, and the fact that the principal has yet to contact him. Yet I am not upset. I have found myself floating above all those worries. I am just so happy that Justin's hard work has finally paid off.

I applied for the v.p. position at my school and did not get called for an interview, even though the principal said he scored my paper work high. Honestly, I was more than a bit angry about not getting an interview. It's not that I thought I'd get the job, but I wanted the chance. However, I have a great teaching schedule this year (English 9, Honors 10, and seventh period prep). By the end of the week, I noticed my mood was changing. I started to realize that I could enjoy this school year.

Surviving last year has taught me a lot. I never thought that my family would survive on one income with Justin and I both in school. Yet we did. This year will bring its own frustrations and struggles--Justin's first public school job, my last year in the admin credential program, and Emerson's potty training. (I would happily write someone else's masters thesis to not have to do that last one.)

While I'm nervous, I'm actually feeling pretty good about all the things I am going to do this year. Hey, look at that water filling the glass...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Here We Go Again...

Tomorrow, I begin my ninth year of teaching English. I actually started working last week, but it never seems really until I'm eyeball to eyeball with students. Well, tomorrow it will be as real as it gets.

There are certain constants to the weekend before school starts. My "weekend" before doesn't always look identical to the previous years, but I do have certain traditions.

Back-to-School Traditions

* Cleaning out my closet. I am really hard on my clothes, so I really can only wear things for two years. Every year, the week before school starts, I go through my closet, getting rid of things that are ratty or don't fit. I have a strict policy on limiting how many clothes I keep that I may one day fit into. If I didn't, my closet would be out of control. I already have every size from 2 to 10. I got rid of all the 12's so that's something.
* Back-to-School Shopping. I am not much of a shopper, so I try to do as much shopping online as possible. This year I don't really know my size and I can't really afford the stores that I normally frequent online, so I will be going shopping today. Yesterday I did my yearly make-up run at Target. I don't wear make-up a lot, but I tend to during the first couple weeks. My make-up drawer would seriously distress most people (okay, all) I know, so this year I actually cleaned it out and organized it.
* Organizing my room and first week of lessons. Custodians tend to rearrange the furniture of classrooms after they clean them. This has never bothered me because I love rearranging my classroom. I try to make the room fit the students I have and my plans for the next couple weeks. My students will be working in pairs quite a bit so I have them sitting with a partner. The first week of lessons tend to be a little more difficult to arrange. I'm comfortable with the 2nd day on, but the first day is tricky. I really don't like to go over my rules or expectations (seriously, by 7th period the kids are DONE), but I don't really want to go over content either as kids will move classes a bunch.
* Sunday evening rituals. I have set up a certain list of rituals for the Sunday night before school starts in the vain hope that I will relax and sleep well. I rarely do sleep well, but I try. These activities include doing my nails, shaping my eyebrows, picking out my outfit for the next day, arranging my lunch, and taking an evening bath or shower. After nine years, these traditions have stayed pretty constant.

So in less than a day I will be facing students again. I'm pretty excited because I'm teaching two new subjects this year. I have a prep period again (I did not last year and it was quite exhausting), and one of my classes is a double period. All in all it will be a good year...I hope.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Yet Another One Bites the Dust

This weekend officially marks the end of my summer. Sigh. I don't technically start work until Tuesday, and I don't start teaching until the 17th, but I have a bunch of work to do.

And I'm so excited about it I can hardly stand it.


This summer, as with most, had its high and low points. But the one thing I can say about it was my family did a lot.

What Happened Over My Summer Vacation

* Taught summer school (I doesn't sound like vacation, but summer school is waaaaay easier than regular.)
* Celebrated my daughter's 3rd birthday with a HUGE family party
* Gave my husband a grill for Father's Day (hey, any successful shopping experience is a big thing for me)
* Went to Long Beach for a conference (had my very own room and everything...very cool)
* Surprised my in-laws in Redding for 4th of July
* Worked with my husband during summer school (a little strange but it was so nice to see him working)
* Interviewed for a Teacher-In-Charge position (didn't get it; was a little more than disappointed, but learned from the experience
* Finished a major part of my admin credential project (still have forty thousand parts to go...)
* Traveled to San Jose to say good-bye to a good friend who's moving to Texas
* Hung out with family and friends and started to feel at home in Sacramento/Elk Grove
* Visited with friends from high school (whoa, high school!)
* Began potty training Emerson (sheesh, that's FUN)
* Got to my pre-pregnancy weight

Things to Look Forward to This Fall

* More potty training adventures (yay)
* Teaching my first Honors English class (those kids won't know what hit them...)
* My husband getting a teaching job
* My last semester of my admin credential program
* Implementing a school-wide curriculum (pray for me people)
* Celebrating my father's birthday in Fort Brag
* Fun autumn activities like Harvest festivals, Halloween, and Thanksgiving
* Losing five more pounds
* So You Think You Can Dance (don't mock--it's AWESOME)

I have many things that I am anxious about. The job market for my husband is awful right now and our finances are beyond tight. But we have always found a way to make things work in the past. I know things will get easier (at some point they have to, right?), so I'm trying hard to stay positive. I have great friends and a wonderful family, so I have lots to be happy about.

Well, it's time to put on pants that zip and shoes that aren't flip flops and get back to work!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Adventures in Potty Training

Note to Readers: An alternate title to this blog was going to be "Don't give me advice about potty training", but I thought that was too harsh. Don't get me wrong; I have had fantastic advice from all my friends, and their support has been wonderful. I have used many tips and suggestions. However, my cuppeth overfloweth. I'm good. And I am a wee bit sensitive at this point. So, please refrain from advice-giving. :)

Thursday: Right before bed, Em utters the fatal words "I don't want to wear diapers." I jump on that with the ferocity of girlfriends "sharing" a slice of chocolate cake. I make a plan. Okay, this weekend, we are POTTY TRAINING.

Friday: Potty training begins. I change Em into her panties. She is very excited. I am nervous. We talk a lot about things I never imagined discussing with another person: our favorite underwear, how to use the potty, what we can do on the potty to make the time more pleasant. Em takes her first sit after breakfast. I let her get up after a bit. 10 minutes later, I hear screaming. Em is in her room, standing in a puddle, very upset. We get cleaned up, change clothes, and refocus.

Later that day, friends come over for dinner. Very kind, understanding friends who have a recently potty trained daughter. They make me feel much better, especially when Em has not one, but two accidents that evening. She hadn't gone all day since her first accident, so these displays were quite impressive, so much so that I had to change outfits. Awesome.

Saturday: Being at home is getting a little stale, but I don't feel comfortable taking Em out and I don't want to confuse her with diapers. So we hang out at home. Within one hour of waking up, I am considering throwing in the towel. Em has two accidents. She just doesn't seem to know when she has to go.

My mom comes over and is very supportive. She expresses a lot of excitement to Em about using the potty. Still, we have a BIG accident right before dinner. Ugh.

While I am frustrated, I am learning some valuable lessons:

* Emerson is not motivated by candies or toys
* Reading books to her was a great suggestion made by many friends; she'll stay on the potty much longer if I read to her
* I really need to pay attention to my instincts
* My daughter is a camel (she never pees)
* Perhaps I need to make sure Em drinks more
* I have no idea how people do this when they don't get weeks off at a time during the summer

Sunday: I decide that we need to get out, so my mom, Justin, Em, and I head out to breakfast. We (mostly me) are not ready to go out without a back-up plan, so Em is wearing a pull-up. She had a dry diaper in the morning and did not go pee during breakfast. I was sure she'd use the toilet when we got home, but nope.

During her nap, Emerson does go in her diaper. Justin and I are a little concerned that she is waiting for her diapers to relieve herself. However, she went the whole day without an accident and actually sat on the potty of her own accord once. Hey, I'll take that as progress.

We are pretty much home-bound this week, so I think we'll continue to work on the potty training. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

S.I.V. 6

8:30 am: Sadly, I had to set the alarm today, but I knew if I didn't, Em and I wouldn't wake up in time to drive out to IKEA. She was a little sleepy, but she perked up once she saw our friends.

10:00-1:00 pm: Hung out at IKEA with friends. It's actually a great place to take little kids. And the food is great and CHEAP! Em had macaroni and cheese and I had swedish meatballs (of course, come on, I was at IKEA.)

2:00-4:00 pm: Our afternoon was not as relaxing as I would have liked. Emerson refused to nap. Justin and I discovered that we had unpaid parking tickets. Very expensive unpaid parking tickets. And that I can't register for classes until they're paid. I was about to lose it, but then I checked the mail and found a retroactive pay check from my district. Whoo-hoo!

5:00 pm: I worked out. I didn't really want to, but it was one of those things. If you do it, you'll feel better. Additionally, I got my lab results back from my diabetes test. While my sugars are lower, they are still not low enough. Sigh. They are much lower, so I am trying to feel positive about that.

8:30 pm: Read Em stories. She asked for "Where the Wild Things Are" (surprising; could have sworn that one scared her), nursery rhymes, and "Llama, Llama Mad at Mama" (that one is a popular request.)

9:00-11:00 pm: Watched cooking shows (highly ironic considering that I don't really cook.) Went to bed, but had a horrible time trying to sleep, as the stupid tree kept scratching and squeaking against the house (think nails on chalk board.) Urgh.

Work Cheats: Read stupid emails. Ignored stupid emails.

Monday, July 27, 2009

S.I.V. 5

6:00 am: Well, it happened. I had my annual panic dream about school. The kids won't listen. I'm in a room I don't recognize. I'm teaching something, but I'm not sure what. I wake up panting, sweating, and dreading going back to work.

9:00 am: After my back-to-school nightmares, I fell asleep again and woke up at 9. Miraculously, Em was still asleep, so I had to wake her up for breakfast. I experimented with using a cookie cutter to make teddy bear shaped scrambled eggs. After two tries, I got it.

12:00 pm: I took Em to the local pool for a couple hours. We had a great time. We waded in the kiddie area, had some ice cream, and unfortunately I got a little burned. Em's okay, but I'm a little toasted. She wasn't thrilled when we left, but three hours in the hot sun is enough for me. :)

4:00-5:30 pm: Scrap booking. Chugging along on my niece's scrap book.

6:00 pm: Worked out and then had a delicious dinner. Justin made a great pasta sauce and I enjoyed a glass (2) of wine.

8:00 pm: Put Em through her bed time paces, and am now catching up on In Plain Sight episodes. Justin is talking about watching a movie, but I think I may head to bed early today. I have a big day tomorrow. :)

Work Cheats: Read work email. Did not respond to anyone's stupidity. Yay me!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

S.I.V. 4

9:00 am: woke up. Thankfully the idiot next door did not feel the need to blow leaves around today. My new sleeping habits are seriously starting to annoy my big cat, Ripley. She has needs after all.

10-12 pm: House underwent brief cleaning. My dad came over, and it was necessary to extend some TLC to the carpet, as Ripley expressed her irritation excessively this morning. Poor carpet. Such a hapless pawn in Ripley's revenge scenario.

1:00-3:30 pm: Spent the afternoon at the Children's Discovery Museum on Auburn. New discovery--Em is not into bones. Took her a bit to get passed the opening display. However, she loves turtles and frogs, so their little animal shelter is just her speed. I, however, did not enjoy the hissing cockroaches. And based on their hissing, they did not enjoy me either.

4:00 pm: Had a tasty lunch at the Tower Cafe in Sacramento. It's a little pricey, but my Thai salad was very scrum and Justin seemed to like his burger, even though it had grated jicama on it. Had a really nice time hanging out with my dad.

5:00 pm: Emerson made her Grandpa read pretty much every super girly book she has. Fancy Nancy, Little Mermaid, you name it, he read it. Such a champ. :)

7:00 pm: While Em watched the "Move it, Move it" movie, I scrap booked. Rough times.

8:39 pm: Slowly finishing up the bed time routine. I'll tuck Em in soon. Justin is getting dinner ready for tomorrow. (We relax SO differently.) I'm looking forward to a night of t.v., reading, and sleeping, glorious sleeping. Waking up alarm free is awesome!

Work Cheats: Checked email, was annoyed by a co-worker, replied to an email. Moving on.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

S.I.V. 3

7:30 a.m: Apparently, I have one of the rudest neighbors ever. He does not seem to realize that while his family is up before 7, the rest of the world may not be. So, he used his leaf blower pre 8 am on a Saturday. Not cool. Not the end of the world, however, because I went to Em's room and feel back asleep.

10:00 am: Finally got out of bed and made breakfast. Em "helped".

1:00 pm: Went to Nugget, where husband bought many tasty things. So happy I don't have to cook any of them.

3:00 pm: Hung out with friends. Very relaxed. Had a very nice dinner.

8:30 pm: Got hiccups. Urgh.

9:30 pm: Will try to stay up. Will probably fail.

Work cheats: checked work email. Did nothing. :)

Friday, July 24, 2009

S.I.V 2

9:00 am: Getting better at the sleeping in thing.

10:00 am: Made cinnamon toast for Em for the first time. She enjoyed it. And I enjoyed the lack of "constructive criticism." (See SIV Day 1 for info.)

12:00 pm: Togo's lunch. Elk Grove Park. Way aggressive geese and ducks. But we still have a nice time. And once someone else brought McDonald's, the geese bothered us no more. Wait, did I just get rejected by a goose? Sad.

2-4 pm: Mad Men, season 2. Enough said.

5:00 pm: Scrap booked for the first time in months.

7:00 pm: Realized childhood dream of having hamburger helper for dinner. Realized I had lame dreams as a child.

9:18 pm: Blogging. Planning on finishing Mad Men, season 2 and bugging husband about how I want champagne saucers.

Work Cheats--checked emails, responded to none, planned no meetings.

Self-Imposed Vacation (S.I.V) Day 1

S.I.V Day 1

8 am: It annoys me that I cannot sleep in.

8-11 am: Incredibly slow morning routine, which includes discovery that I, according to Em, have the "wrong" brown sugar. Right.

11 am: Cheapest.Target.Run.EVER (well, probably not, but we got only the essentials.)

1 pm: Play date with very cool, relaxed friend and her daughter. Snacks. Pool. Good times.

5 pm: Working out. Sigh.

7 pm: HOT DOGS! (Turkey, yes, so not as fun, but still...yay!)

9-12:30 am: Mad Men, season two. Went to bed half drunk and half blind.

Work Cheats--checked email, responded to email, planned more meetings. :(

Self-Imposed Vacation

Last week, I mandated a complete week off from work-related business for myself. You might be asking yourself, Wait a minute; aren't you a teacher? It's still summer, right?

Allow me to explain.

I just finished summer school, and I'm not technically "on the clock", as my contract does not begin until Aug. 11th. However, I was noticing that all these "opportunities" were popping up last week.

They start innocently enough, with an email from my vice principal: "Hillary, we'd really like your input on collaborating with the Special Ed department." Sure. And BAM! I now have a half a day meeting. Again, "Hillary, we would love for you to teach English 10 Honors." Wow, that's nice. BAM! A day long meeting.

What the frick?

Around last Thursday, after being bamboozled into my second non-scheduled, non-paid-for meeting, my snark started to show.

My colleagues came to these meetings all fresh faced and ready to share ideas. I am in no condition to share anything. In fact, it's probably a good idea if I just keep my mouth shut. You know the adage: if you can't say something nice... I think this saying should be extended to my face also, as I have turned eye-rolling into a marathon sporting event.

So I came to an important, potentially life saving (not mine, btw) conclusion. Yes, I have things to do. Yes, I have items to prepare for work. However, Ms Harrell is not available. I am on a self-imposed vacation. From this Thursday to next Thursday, I will do no "work." No school work. No grad work. No work.


I will scrap book. I will blog. I will sit on my get the idea. So, no blogs whining and moaning about teaching. Vacation begins NOW. (Well, technically yesterday, but I was so relaxed, I forgot to post this.)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Who is Steering This Thing Anyways?!?

Teachers often have to rely on somewhat corny (sometimes totally corny) catch phrases to get their points across. I have several I have developed over the years and they vary in their levels of snark. Here are several of Ms H's catch phrases:

* "Hey, am I your Mommy? No, then clean up after yourself"
* "Keep talking; it gives me more to write down"
* "I don't need 15 year old friends. I'm good"
* "How may I help you, Star shine?"
* "Go outside, come back in, and try that again."
* "And repeat after me: Thank you Ms Harrell"
* "Don't make me pull over this minivan" (love this one; throws them off, but they get the point--Not the Mommy!)
* "You are the captain of your own destiny"

Now that last one--yes, corny. Yes, effective. Yet I had forgotten it applies to me too.

This summer I taught summer school and I slogged through the first term. It.Was.Torture. And really that was all me. The kids, with the exception of some *darling* freshmen girls, were fine. But I was bored. Therefore, my teaching was boring. I was probably more "by-the-book" than I have ever been during my career.

In addition, I was procrastinating BIG time. I kept putting off this huge project I needed to do for my administrative credential. I felt lost and stymied by my predecessor's lack of organization. (Now people who know me may scoff, but when it comes to the writing process and my saving system, I am highly organized.)

In short, I spent most of June whining. A true joy to be around, I'm sure.

But then term 2 of summer school started and I snapped. I couldn't do it. I couldn't go through each chapter of the book, read stories, do a packet, and give a test. Not gonna do it.

So I didn't.

I taught Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet in 14 days. It was awesome. I did everything I could think of doing. I taught about the history of Shakespeare, Elizabethan literature and life. I read sonnets with the students. The students read the play as a class, taking parts and in small groups. I even made them act out scenes in front of their peers. We watched two of movie adaptations and did an in-depth analysis.

It was a great kick in the butt.

After months of indecision, I finally felt motivated enough to tackle my project. I gave up trying to make my predecessor happy and I wrote lessons that I felt good about. I through out pretty much everything from last year and started from scratch. It was scary, but it felt good.

One often hears in education: "Try not to reinvent the wheel." Many times that is true. Many times things can be built upon slowly and improved over time.

But sometimes what we need is radical change. We need to change our own outmoded expectations about things before we try to get other people on board. My students weren't going to stay motivated day in and day out for six hours a day if I didn't get my act together and do something I cared about. And people at my school aren't going to care about the homeroom lessons I've written if they don't truly reflect my passions and convictions about teaching.

So, message received. Just call me El Capitan.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Summer Pics

While we have been super busy this summer with summer school, we have fit some fun and family into our weekends. Luckily, the weather has been super mild and Em is always game for some poolside fun.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Something Unexpected This Way Comes

My last blog discussed how weird it was to work with my husband. I would like to use the same forum to state that I was completely wrong, wrong, wrong about working with my husband. It wasn't weird; it was great! In fact, I think my husband getting his teaching credential was one of the best things to happen in our relationship since Emerson was born.


Last summer, Justin and I went through a rough patch. I felt really cut off from him emotionally, and I felt he had no idea how the stress of our new life in Sacramento was wearing me thin. Though I'm not a therapist, it seemed like he was going through some sort of depression.

We didn't talk. We just sort of orbited around each other, only coming in close contact to argue.

But this year, our relationship experienced a positive change. We started talking about things non-house, non-Emerson related for the first time in years. We talked about students, teaching, and Literature.

That talking has continued and grown throughout this summer. We are both teaching English 9, but at different schools. I always thought I'd feel threatened if he taught the same thing as me. No, he's a very gracious teacher, very willing to share ideas and listen.

I'm excited about this upcoming year for more than just the fact that we will have two incomes again (I won't lie though; that will be AWESOME). I can't wait to find out where our conversation leads.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Leaving My Mark

In college, both my husband and I were English majors. Remarkably, we never had a class together even though our department was quite small. This I was fine with.

According to Justin, I am a highly competitive person. He does not mean this in a flattering way. According to me, how can one see always knowing the right answer as a bad thing? :)

Personally, we do very well together. However, as soon as we are discussing a English-major-related issue, we are all nails and teeth. (To be honest, that's me. Justin is all eye rolling.)

Since there are SO many jobs one can find with an English degree (HA!), it was surprising that we both fell into teaching. Not.

Although Justin and I both started teaching eight years ago (good GOD, btw), I taught at a public middle school and he taught private school. Different schools. Different systems. Different cities. Different kinds of crazy. Our jobs were so different that we very rarely discussed, (read: bickered), about teaching.

Then we moved to Sacramento. Justin desperately wanted to find a non-teaching job. No luck. So he started subbing in Elk Grove. This experience re-awakened his love for teaching and kids (and the double paycheck re-awakened our practical natures), so he signed up for the credential program.

Now, Justin has a credential. And he has a summer school teaching job. At my school. In my territory.

Don't get me wrong. I love seeing Justin work. He is a fabulous teacher. Simply fabulous. Probably...maybe....better than me. Ack!

But it is weird having him at my school. I have spent two years building up the image/facade that I am put together, on top of my shizz, etc. One well-place comment by Justin could blow that all to smithereens: "We're really proud of Hillary; she only cried once this week about work" or "You should see Hill's temper tantrums when the cable goes!"

I don't actually envision him saying any of these things. He's much nicer and clever than that. :) But I have found myself out of my element. I never realized how much I have separated my home life from work.

We have a position at my school for next year which Justin is totally perfect for. He would be a great asset to our school. Still, he would drive me completely crazy. Always has.

I guess that's why I love him so. :)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Pics From Em's Birthday!

Here's some photos from last week when we celebrated Em's third birthday. It was a great week!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Birthday to My Little Girl!

We rarely do things "small" in my family. We like our parties big, noisy, and full of family. This was all definitely true this weekend, as we celebrated my daughter Emerson's 3rd birthday. While there were moments I was sure I'd forget something crucial or throttle my husband (I'm confident the feeling was mutual), everything went really well.

The shenanigans began early in the week with me running around town ordering cake, tables, chairs, and finalizing the menu. An added "bonus" was that I am getting ready for a work trip next week, so I had a ton to deal with at work.

On Friday, the family began arriving. First my sister, who was hobbling around because of broken foot, came up from the Bay Area. Haley really wanted to help, but the crutches slowed her down some. Luckily, she helped me come up with crafts and games for the kids. Then, my husband's parents came with his sister, niece, and 3 month old nephew. The little one is darling, but the two girls can argue something fierce over toys. Not a joy.

Saturday morning was the true test. We had to run to Target (the answer to all my problems, I swear), get the cake, and set up the party. To avoid hot weather, we held the party at 11, which works great but one has to be super organized in the morning. Not really my strong suit.

Guests began arriving at 10:45. Sigh. I am so not one of those people. I've had lots of parties with adults, but I'm relatively new to the whole kid party thing. I think it went pretty well. My daughter picked a Cars movie theme (she's way into Lightening McQueen), so we decorated everything with Cars paraphernalia. We had coloring pages out for the kids, squirt guns, stickers, and bubbles. The menu was also kid friendly: hamburgers, hot dogs, cheese puffs--what else can one ask for?

The only somewhat lull was the gift unwrapping. Some people really like to watch kids unwrap gifts, but when the party is so big, the process can take a really long time. It's a lot of fun, but the kid tends to lose interest. And there I am feeling foolish unwrapping My Little Ponies. Awkward.

I was quite tired last night and I ate a ton of stuff I shouldn't have. But it was a great party. For Father's Day, we took Justin and his father out for breakfast. Could have been exciting with three kids, but they were all really good. The girls loved their pancakes and Baby Justin slept through most of the breakfast. Good deal.

Tonight I head to Long Beach for a conference. I have a feeling I will sleep just fine tonight.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

As the Wheel Turns...

One great thing about teaching, at least for my personality, is that every year I get to hit the reset button and start all over again. Some people may find that tiring, but it suits me really well. I have great bursts of energy, but my focus and enthusiasm tends to wane over time.

I added it up the other day, and in my eight years of teaching, I have had 14 first days of school. (Most years I teach summer school, so those firsts count too.) A few things have come to my attention:

1. I never sleep well the night before. Never.
2. Certain rituals have become constant: I always tweeze my eyebrows and do my nails the night before. This is odd, because these tasks are not habit in general for me (though some would argue they should be.)
3. While I'm not known for getting to work early (not a morning person), I feel so much better if I get to work early on the first day.
4. Regardless of what I'm teaching, both the kids and are I nervous. Though in summer school we are together for six hours, so we tend to get over that quickly.
5. The first day always goes faster than I thought it would (and I always plan too much to do.)

Many people raise their eyebrows when I say I'm a teacher. And more than a few (especially teachers) question what trauma has been enacted upon my frontal lobe that would cause me to VOLUNTEER for summer school. Teaching is certainly not for everyone, but I have taken so much value from this job that even if I were to quit tomorrow, I could honestly say teaching has changed me forever.

Lessons I have learned that live beyond the classroom:

* People will always test your resolve
* Nothing is more disarming than a confident smile
* Consistency is key
* The dreams and hopes of young people can erase the worst mood
* Being open to possibility is not just a corny idea
* If you don't provide Kleenex, most people will begin to bring their own
* If anyone truly bugs the heck out of you, it's because you are more similar to him or her than you would like to admit.

Every time I start a new class, I feel more than a bit overwhelmed. It's a whole new set of personalities, conflicts, and strange quirks to get used to. Sometimes I am not sure how long I can do this.

But then a student makes me laugh so hard I actually cry and I know it's totally worth it.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

My Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years

Being a teacher gives me an unique perspective, especially when it comes to the "end of the year." Most people finish their year in December, January, or February. Not me. My year begins in August and ends in June.

While the average American is celebrating the end of the year, nursing a hang over, and making resolutions, I'm too busy to be making plans. My year is in full swing. I've already made my resolutions, things like I will try to grade all essays within a reasonable amount of time, I won't let the kids see me angry, and I won't engage in workplace gossip. Yeah, by April goals like these are toast.

I finished teaching on Thursday and have had some time to reflect on this year, which for the most part was a VAST improvement over last year.

Here's what I am grateful for:

* I have a job. A wonderful, well-paying job with benefits.
* My boss actually took the time to ask me if I wanted to change my teaching assignment next year, and she's giving me time to make my decision. This is rare; typically one is told she is changing assignments.
* My kids took their final speeches very seriously. They dressed up, talked about interesting topics, and not a single one spoke about how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (I threatened them.)
* My husband finished his teaching credential. He did a fantastic job and he seems genuinely excited about teaching again.
* My family is the only reason I survived this crazy year. My husband managed to go to school, work like a dog, and cook on the weekends. Emerson was immensely patient with us and her wonderful, bright, happy personality is what kept me going all year.
* I have been so lucky to meet so many great friends this year. It was great to have "girls' night out" to look forward to.
* Finally, I seem to have someone or something looking out for me. Anytime I thought we couldn't make it financially, a wonderful gift would come our way. My boss offered me an extra period, I got a school loan, our tax return was huge, etc. We made it and that is a miracle.

Now, I don't have much time to contemplate my joys. I start summer school next week. But it was all in all a great year and I have much to celebrate.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

What's Wrong Here?

The past three weeks I've had an eerie feeling I've struggled to shake off. I kept feeling like there was something I was forgetting: an event, a bill, a due date. I rifled through every aspect of my life, trying to find what it was I neglected. I finally decided I hadn't forgotten anything.

Then I figured out what was bugging me--I have had a ton of free time lately. And that free time is pretty much uninterrupted until grad school starts again next fall.


Allow me to explain.

Since the Spring of 2006, my family and I have moved every year:

* Spring 2006: Pregnant. Desperately needed to live in a downstairs apartment with a washer and drier. Complications--on bed rest during move, pretty sure my husband almost died from exhaustion.
* Spring 2007: Tired of living in San Jose and paying ungodly amounts for rent. Decided to transplant to Sacramento area. Complications--one year old daughter decided to learn how to crawl one month before the move. Fun.
* Spring 2008: We made the mistake of moving into a crappy apartment in Elk Grove and the management was jerking us around. We decided to rent a house. Complications--my sister moved the weekend before. My family LOVES us.

This year, however, we aren't moving. And I cannot fully explain how wonderful that is. Our moves for the past three years have always coincided with the end of the school year and our daughter's birthday. By the end of June, we are always exhausted, broke, and, to be honest, a little hung over.

My happiness fully hit me today as I was planning Emerson's upcoming third birthday. We finally get to host her party at our house. We tend to invite a lot of people to her parties; we have a ton of family that we don't get to see very often. So we've had to have her parties the last two years at the park. I do not enjoy. Parks seem like a good idea. They are not.

This year we'll be at HOME. I'm sure we'll be tired (and slightly annoyed at overextending ourselves), but we will be home. Finally.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Torrential Pee

My almost three-year old daughter is not potty trained. Not hardly. And it's not that we don't talk about it. We do. All the time.

Here's a typical excerpt from one of our mommy-daughter potty conversations:

Me: "Emerson, do you wear underwear or diapers?"

Em: "I wear diapers. You were underwear, Mommy."

Me: "Do you want to wear underwear?"

Em: "Yes! Yes! Yes! With Dora on it!"

Me: "If you wear underwear, then you will have to use the potty."

Em: "Oh...No thanks."

Here's other attempts on my part to ratchet up the potty excitement in our household:

1. Em says to me, "Mommy, I'm not a baby; I'm a big girl." I leap on this opportunity with a well-placed: "Well, big girls use the potty. Do you use the potty?" Em considers this and answers: "Well, I'm a little girl."

2. I bound out of the bathroom and exclaim: "I just did the most fun thing ever, Emerson! I went potty!" And she looks at me like I'm a crazy person you smile at and hope they go away soon. (I could see where she gets that idea...)

3. I've made sticker charts, bought toys...the works. And I have bumpkiss to show for it.

However, I don't push. I don't make her, and I'm not panicking yet. Yet.

Unfortunately, there is a new issue related to the potty. That issue would be torrential pee.

Allow me to explain.

My daughter can hold her urine for HOURS. It is seriously shocking and I am a bit worried that it may not be too healthy. However, I have no idea how to convince her to do otherwise. Lately, this holding of urine has cause exploding diapers. No joke.

It starts innocently enough, most of the time at night with a small "Mommy/Daddy, I pee-peed." coming from her room. I stumbled into her room, trying to avoid the 20 pound cat who thinks I could only possibly be awake at 3 am to feed her.

And Em is SOAKED in pee. Head to toe. The pillow. The mattress. The sheets. The toys. Everything. It almost makes me think I didn't put her diaper on at night, but no. She has it on and it is so full of urine, it's actually pulling off her body.

This has happened twice at night and once during the day. It's very messy, inconvenient, and obviously distressing to Em.

My new plan is to not allow any water before bed. We'll see how that goes. But I'm seriously considering covering her bed in gortex.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Sloth

That is my new name.

I have always struggled with extremes. Either I eat like a bird and exercise all the time or I eat nothing but hamburgers and win endurance awards for sitting on my rear. Either I run around my classroom teaching the heck out of everything or I sit at my desk, staring into space, praying for the bell to ring.

Happy medium is a foreign concept to me. Always has been. Just call me all-or-nothing girl. Seriously, that'd be my super hero persona: here she is to save the day...or not. Who knows?

Well, I am currently in the sloth stage of my activity pendulum. Before I ended class last week, I was on fire. I cranked out 70 pages for my master's project, set up meetings, was an email dynamo, and taught the heck out of Julius Caesar and Romeo and Juliet.

I put all my eggs in one basket.

I spent all my nickels at the fair.

I am done.

Now, a measly week later, the Julius Caesar tests still need to be graded. I have a stack of rough drafts to mark up. My desk looks like a paper morgue. And I need to get cracking on a proposal to my principal. I actually have to start implementing all the stuff I said I would in those lovely 70 pages.


This weekend I am going to revel in my slothness. Em is gone with her grandparents. Justin and I are going to try to see Star Trek. I did bring some grading home, but I have a feeling it'll probably stay put in my bag til Monday.

Hey, I can always be active later, right?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Exactly What I Wanted

In terms of Mother's Day celebrations, this day, heck, this weekend was perfect. While my first three mother's days were really nice, they were also really busy. Really busy.

1st Mother's Day: I was pregnant, but my husband was very sweet and took me out to lunch. However, we had just moved, so our new place was a wreck, I was on a horrid diabetic diet and semi-bed-rest, and Justin was exhausted.

2nd Mother's Day: The Friday and Saturday before were consumed by my friend Alison's wedding. It was great fun, but by the time I got to Sunday, I was pretty tired (and honestly, a little hungover.)

3rd Mother's Day: Last year, my husband planned an EXTRAVAGANZA. He bought me a dress, my mom watched Em, and we out to dinner on Saturday. The next day, the four of us met up with my sister and husband at the Davis Whole Earth festival. Very hippie. Very fun.

This year, we decided to hang home. My mom had to work this weekend (boo), and I had class yesterday so we couldn't head up to Redding to see Justin's family. While seeing our family would have been nice, this weekend was super relaxing and perfect.

I got home yesterday just in time for one of Justin's yummy pineapple-chipotle maragaritas. Might sound a little weird, but they're really good. So good I had three. Ouch this morning, but totally worth it.

We had a fantastic tri-tip dinner and watched super hero movies late into the evening. This morning, I slept in a bit (dang that chipotle) and finally dragged myself out of bed for some bacon. I cannot remember the last time I had bacon and it was a wonderful thing.

Justin packed a picnic lunch, wicker basket and checked tablecloth included of course, and we headed to William Land Park for lunch. We had a great time, even if we had to avoid duck poop and errant golf balls.

I got cozy with my OnDemand during Em's nap and then she and I ran some errands. We have a light dinner planned. All in all, a faboo day.

I'll need to remember all this come Father's Day. :)

Saturday, May 9, 2009

A Time to Breathe

As of today, I am officially half-way on my path towards a master's in school administration. It's hard to believe how far me and my family have come since last year, when all I was worried about was whether or not I'd have a job this year.

Now, gainfully employed and on my way to tenure, I have a daunting year in front of me. I have a project to implement, a master's thesis to write, and, of course, 150 students I haven't even met yet.

The nice thing: none of that is my problem. Yet.

Now, I have that oft-sought, rarely received, opportunity to stop worrying about deadlines, etc and actually just live my life. I have lots of things to do, but luckily all seem rather manageable after this past year.

My Upcoming "Life"

* Finish out the school year without incident (please, god, may the weather stay pleasant)
* Plan for the next school year with my department (please, god, may I remain pleasant)
* Celebrate my husband's graduation from the credential program and my brother-in-law's graduation from college
* Celebrate my lovely daughter's 3rd birthday
* Teach summer school (yeah, it's not awesome, but the extra paycheck is)
* Work on my master's project (again, not awesome, but I might as well get something done)
* Spend time with family
* Actually speak to my husband
* Sit on my butt

The school year is winding down, and it's nice to be in a place emotionally to enjoy it. Last year everything was so uncertain and scary. This spring, I am happy to be employed and I'm doubly happy to have tenure next year.

More importantly, this year has been about working for my family. I'm really hoping to enjoy them over the summer. To recharge. To remind myself why every tear, moment of doubt, every headache, and every moment spent working instead of sleeping was worth it.

Monday, April 27, 2009

You Know It's Monday When...

* You forget which way to turn your shower head and alternately burn and freeze the crud out of yourself
* Coffee cannot be made fast enough
* 27 pound child must be carried to car with bag, coffee, and 20-pound cat darting in front of you to get out
* Signs for "Slow down, children present" make you snarl (hey, it's almost May)
* The wrong date is on the agenda board and no one notices until fifth period
* You are inappropriately angry at the "angel" who pointed out the date was wrong
* Coffee was all gone by second period and you look wistfully at your mug throughout the afternoon
* Email does not exist until third period
* Your lesson bores you
* Face muscles actually hurt from all the eye rolling
* Final bell at 3:19 simply causes you to stare into space
* Until you remember you don't have to be there anymore
* Drive home from daycare is completely silent
* Working out is dumb
* You're pretty sure if you hear Jillian from the "Biggest Loser" exercise video tell you again that "abs don't come for free", you will march to where ever she is and eat her
* Dancing with the Stars is actually entertaining
* It is really good there is no wine in the house

Sunday, April 19, 2009

It Only Took Two Years!

For a long time, food was the enemy. During high school and college, I struggled between depriving myself of food and binge eating. I was all about extremes. Either I was running 40 miles a week and eating less than 1000 calories, or I sat on my butt watching t.v. and eating fried chicken.

My pregnancy was overall very positive and exciting, but there was one black mark. I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. I had to eat a hugely restrictive diet and even went on medication when the diet didn't work. Everyone told me my sugars would go back to normal after I gave birth.

They were wrong.

Apparently, I am pre-diabetic. I heard this news several months after Em was born and it was devastating. But did I start losing weight and exercising? Nope. I kept eating crap. Total denial.

Then, at the end of the school year two years ago, I walked a couple miles with my students to a park and literally gave myself road rash because of my thighs rubbing together. Not cool. I weighed myself and was shocked.

So, I went on a reasonable eating and exercise plan ( and lost 20 pounds. It felt great. I lost the weight in time for my sister's wedding (and strapless bridesmaid gown), and it was a great feeling.

But it wasn't motivating, so I gained all the weight back by the next summer. Every stinking pound. And I took a glucose test and yup, I'm still pre-diabetic.

This fall I tried to focus on exercise and I did lose five pounds, which I promptly gained all back during Christmas.

February (Ash Wednesday, actually), I hit bottom. I had to go to the doctor for something unrelated. They weighed me and I saw in pure black and white that I was right back where I started. I had 30 pounds to lose again. I broke down and was inconsolable.

For one day. And then I snapped out of it.

It took me over two years, but I finally figured it out. If I want to lose weight, I have to change how I eat. Exercise is great, but diet is what gets me.

Over the last six weeks, I have lost ten pounds (I gained a couple back and re-lost them along the way.) More importantly, I have figured out some key truths about my weight:

* Food is not a reward...EVER
* Being a little hungry won't kill me
* Boredom is the enemy
* Vegetables are not the enemy
* Either are whole grains
* I can lose weight if I want to

I have another 15 pounds to lose, and I'm about to enter uncharted waters. As of Friday, I am officially a weight I have not been since my first trimester. This scares me. What if I fail?

I think the key is not to think at all. Just do. Just put one foot in front of the other. Put one more carrot in my mouth. I'm at a new place. A place where I can see myself healthy again.

Monday, April 13, 2009

At Long Last--My Spring Vacation

It felt like a long time coming, but I finally had my spring vacation last week. While I was not super excited to get back to work today, I did feel more relaxed and less snappish. (Truth be told, it is motivating to know I have three minimum days next week because of STAR testing.)

Last week included some highly diverse activities. Some slightly unnerving. Some tiring. All highly enjoyable.

Vacation, Part I

After a SUPER relaxing start to my weekend, which included a long nap and dinner out with my family, Em and I headed to Redding for our "just girls" portion of the week. My sister-in-law just had my nephew, so we headed up to lend a hand and give my 2 year old niece a much needed companion.

At first it felt a little odd to be in Redding without my husband. My niece had a bad cold and really only had eyes for her mom. I felt that I wasn't going to be a ton of help.

Monday rolled around and I gained a little confidence. I took both girls to the park, and they did great. I ran them ragged by chasing them through the park in a large loop. (By the way, running around a park for 45 minutes with two toddlers is fantastic exercise.)

We got back to the house, and I shocked the heck out of myself. While my sister-in-law went to a doctor's appointment, I watched all three kids. Now, yes it was naptime, but this is an accomplishment for me. The only toddler I've ever really been responsible for is my own daughter. I handle teenagers great, but little ones give me pause. (Turns out they are more similiar than one would like to know.)

Tuesday included a new first. All three kids and Summer and I piled into the car for story time at the library. Things went smoothly, but both us moms were pretty excited when nap time rolled around.

The rest of the visit went smoothly, but everyone seemed a bit frayed (girls included) by the end of the week. My in-laws all caught Elizabeth's cold, and everyone was dragging by Thursday. It was a great time, but Em was thrilled to be heading back home to see Daddy.

Vacation, Part 2

Unfortunately, Em only got a couple hours with Justin before he had to head to class. She and I tried to find an Easter dress that she wouldn't totally reject (we were only somewhat successful.)

Later, after a much-needed break watching Cars, my dad came over with his girlfriend to pick up Em for the weekend. I knew everything would be great, but it was sad to send her off. However, Justin and I had plenty to do to get ready for Vegas.

The next morning, I actually woke up and did my make up and blow dried my hair. This is huge for me. I typically spend no more than 10 minutes getting ready, shower included.

Justin and I headed to Vegas, enjoyed an uneventful flight together, and actually engaged in adult conversation (keep it clean, people; it was about teaching!) We met my mom and my sister's mother-in-law at the airport. My sister and brother-in-law joined us later at the Trump.

We had a great room. The Trump is right off the strip, within reasonable walking distance, and the rooms are nicely appointed. My favorite was the HUGE bath with jets. Took two baths. Yes, I did. It was awesome.

The highlight of the trip was going dancing with the entire group. My mom doesn't drink, but she boogied with us until 3 in the morning as the rest of us acted a fool. It was a really fun night, which we paid for a bit in the morning. (Hey, that's what "hair of the dog is for!")

The next day, my sister arranged for a 30-year-old-themed scavenger hunt and decorated my room with 80's/90's memorabilia. It was totally sweet! And the hunt gave us things to do as we waited for food and walked around Vegas.

Saturday night was a little more subdued, but we still had a great time. We went out for a nice dinner at Diego's in the MGM Grand (I highly recommend, by the way.) And Sunday, Justin and I said our good byes and made our way back to Sac.

I really missed Em by the end of the weekend, but it was great to have so much time with my husband. It'll be awhile, I imagine, before our next trip, so I'm glad I had such a great time.

Whoo-hoo! I'm 30! :)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

My New Nephew

Here he is: Justin Allen Shettell. Born March 26th at 8:30 am. We are so happy to finally meet him!

Lo Hicimos!

Or in non-Dora language: We did it! My family and I made it to Spring Break. I feel a little rough around the edges, but all in all, I am excited to have a week off.

Basically, the last couple months have been a blur, which is awesome because all my activities haven't been super fun.

A little recap:

January--The beginning of second semester for both my students and for myself. I started probably the most difficult class in my whole graduate program. It wasn't that the subject matter was that hard; I was just pretty wiped after three courses. It didn't help that the class was taught by the superintendent of my district and one of the most powerful people in my district.

February--This is a bonkers month for family reasons, but work and school certainly did not help. I got a couple days off, which was lovely, but I had family obligations up the whazoo. Here's February in our household--my husband's birthday, then my father-in-law's, the Valentines' Day, then my mom's birthday, and then our anniversary. After all the celebrating, I was bummed to find out I had regained all the weight I lost in the fall.

March--One word sums it up: diet. I refocused on losing weight (AGAIN). I've made some head way and hit a goal. But I am a little concerned because I'm at a weight that I haven't been able to get past since pregnancy. I really need to. My health depends on it. I do not want to have Type-2 diabetes.

What April Has in Store--

* Spring Break (Thank God!)
* My 30th Birthday
* Testing for my students
* Final grad class for this school year
* Beautiful weather (hopefully)

I have a lot of things to accomplish this month, but this weekend I am happy to slow down, spend time with my family, and meet my new nephew. It should be wonderful.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Best Gifts Cost No Money

Now, it's been awhile since I've received or given a gift that did cost a lot of money (or really anything over 20 bucks), so my perspective may be skewed. But as my 30th (ugh) birthday looms in the not-so-distant future, I am becoming more aware of the small, cost-free gifts we can give that can make a huge difference in our happiness.

The best free gift I can think of: time.

The months after winter break are always a challenge for me. The daily grind really starts to get to me. My energy is low, but I still have a ton of work to do even though all I want to do is go home at 3:30 and hide under my covers. This winter/spring has been particularly challenging because I've had two super intense graduate courses (taught by superintendents of my district...yikes!). And Justin's getting home later and later. Em is a roller coaster of total toddler bliss, whining, and nap skipping. I feel every extra moment is scheduled and accounted for.

I've been scrambling all over the place, begging for some time for myself. Well, this weekend, I got my wish. But it was rather by accident.

My sister-in-law gave birth to my nephew on Thursday. I had class this Saturday, so I couldn't go up to Redding. I was sad when Justin and Emerson left on Friday afternoon, but as I was moping around the house, an important realization dawned on me.

I have never spent an evening by myself in our house.

The last time I was alone was last autumn when Justin took Em up to Redding for a few days. After I made this connection, I started to enjoy myself. I channel surfed, listened to music I like, and took a nap.

Saturday was even better--after class I went to Trader Joe's, bought some appetizers, cleaned up the house, and had two great girl friends over. We chatted way late into the evening. After they left, I watched some bad t.v. and crawled into bed around 2. The best part: I didn't get up until 11. I cannot remember the last time I did that. And it will probably be a long time before that happens again.

Justin and Em will probably be home in a few hours. And I have missed them a ton. I can't wait to see them. But I had a great time relaxing and I felt totally refreshed.

Time. Finally a gift I don't have to send a thank you card for. :)