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!