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.