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.