Friday, June 25, 2010

The Second Week of Summer.

Now, that's what we're talkin' about!

You can't beat staying at the Disneyland Hotel, but apart from that, the Second Week of Summer kicked the First Week of Summer's butt!

Middle Girl and The Boy did soccer camp every morning this week, and loved it! The coaches were all 19- and 20-year-olds from Britain, and they played games, did drills, staged a mock World Cup all week (the kids wore the colors of their team, researched the countries, made flags...), and generally put together a great experience for the kids. They wrote a personal note to each kid about their strengths during the week, which really impressed me. I especially love seeing The Boy when he comes out of his shell, which happened very quickly. They are looking forward to doing it again next year!

Big Girl and I had some time alone together. Times like this are really good for our relationship. We did a little grocery shopping (she wanted to buy every single sweet she saw), visited the library, bought some new music from iTunes, played with the new DSLR camera, and just generally enjoyed each other's company.

In the afternoons we had playdates with friends nearly every day. Three of those were at our house, spending hours in the pool! The kids are already sporting tans despite the SPF 85 we are lathering all over ourselves multiple times a day. (Me, I sit in the shade. I am a shade-loving plant.)

One night we went to a concert in the park. It was the local historic marionette troupe, and we try to catch their show about every other year. I reconnected with a college friend there, who has a busy three-year-old daughter and she was always running off. I remember those days, when you were lucky to string four words together! His second baby is due in August, so things are about to get chaotic-crazy-wonderful!

After the concert, we stopped by the brand-new frozen yogurt place. It's one of those serve yourself places, where you can add any amount of crazy toppings because you pay by weight. That's right, this summer has brought FroYo within walking distance of our house. Dangerous.

Second Week of Summer FTW!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The start of summer

Very uneven start to our summer.

Picked up the kids from their last day of school (early dismissal), then headed straight to an orthodontist appointment. I thought it was one last consultation, so I thought it would be quick and we would be on with our day, which included a sleepover with Big Girl's best friend.

But I was wrong.

The brackets were glued onto Big Girl's teeth, to her horror.

She was completely taken by surprise, and her reaction? DEPRESSION. Many tears. She still wanted the sleepover, since she was feeling so sad and wanted her friend to comfort her. I felt bad for her friend, who really rose to the occasion but didn't have much fun. I hope we can make it up to her.

In Big Girl's mind, she was now hideous and a freak. She was terrified by the though of anyone seeing her. She went to dance class the next morning and refused to open her mouth. At her rehearsal that afternoon, I bribed her to smile. I told her we could make a $5 bet about whether the teacher would say anything about the braces. Big Girl chose the side that the teacher wouldn't even notice. So the bet was: if she smiled during the whole rehearsal, and the teacher didn't say anything, I had to pay her $5. If the teacher did say something, no one would pay anyone.

Good deal for the kiddo, huh? In the end, I had to pay her the $5!

Then we went to a Summer Kickoff party and all of her school friends saw her new metallic smile. She was worried they wouldn't like her anymore. Of course it was fine and none of her friends teased her at all.

Definite highs and lows. They continued.

After the fun party, we went to Disneyland to stay overnight there. It was Big Girl's birthday wish, and it was fun for everyone! I REALLY enjoyed getting to stay there.

During the rest of the first week off from school, there were some errands and playdates, and Big Girl had to have four teeth extracted.

That was a doozy.

The ortho and dentist planned for the dentist to do it. When I made the appointment, they asked if she would need nitrous. "At the very least," I said. "Yes," she said, "I see a note here that she has a lot of apprehension over procedures. Okay, see you Wednesday."

The Hubby and I wondered how the dentist was possibly going to remove four teeth from her head while she was conscious.

We took her in. She refused to sit in the chair. She cried, gnashed her teeth, and wailed.

The dentist didn't even come in. He sent for us to come back out to the front. He told us to go to an oral surgeon, because this kid would need a general anesthetic.

I was able to get an appt with the surgeon for that same afternoon.

No food for the girl.

Success at the surgeon. (Gasp) at the price tag.

Interestingly, she recovered quickly. She was back to normal the next day. Time for our summer to get better! Off to the library we went.

Well, barbra, that was a strange way to celebrate the start of summer. How are you marking the second week?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Unlikely Admiration

An interesting question at The Women's Colony today... Who Would I Be Most Surprised to Know You Admire?

I am a snob about music. Not in the way most people think of musical snobbery, because I like a wide range of musical styles: rock, alternative (esp. punk) and musical theater are my favorite genres (see what I mean?). Obviously I'm not a snob in the high-brow sense!

What I am a snob about is singing ability. Even as far back as 4th or 5th grade, I would not stand for a successful musical artist with a so-so singing voice. Even if their act was primarily style or shock, I was obnoxiously loud in the "SHE SUCKS!!" department. I just felt (and still do) that there are so many talented singers out there who ALSO have the big personality. Why are there so many who don't ever get their "big break" while these other hacks are packaged into superstars?

Everyone who has known me for any length of time has heard far too many of my tirades about the music industry's machine. "Pop music is a joke!" "It's all a farce!" "They are treating American consumers like fools!" The first artist that inspired my tirades was Madonna. "Does no one else hear that SHE CANNOT SING?" And it continued... through Britney... even now with that Kesha person...

Since I regard Madonna's famous antics with eye rolls (at best), most people would be pretty shocked to hear that...

...I think Lady Gaga is pretty great.

Sure, she strikes me as "hey, look at me! look at me!" just like Madonna always did, but THAT GIRL CAN SING.

So I find myself cheering her on as she has become a worldwide superstar so quickly.

Sing It, Weird Girl!

People who knew-me-when would also be surprised that I, of the I'll-never-watch-American-Idol-it's-the-pop-music-machine-on-display-and-it-makes-me-sick, am completely impressed with the kids on American Idol.

That show is rough. You have to be really good to make it through that process. The Internet is brutal, and the judges' comments on the show itself are pretty harsh. I wish the judges would make those kinds of comments about the guest artists who perform on the show! That would really demonstrate how hard they are on the contestants!

Some of them are SO talented, and I am rooting for them now that they're off the show and out there giving it a shot!

Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Hudson, Carrie Underwood, David Cook, Adam Lambert... they all have AMAZING voices! LOVE!


Monday, May 17, 2010

BOSSY's back home

She swoops in, like some sort of fairy godmother, waves her magic pixie dust over the people she has gathered, and friendships are created.

She's BOSSY, ladies and gentlemen.

She's back home now, her 42-day (No)Book Tour has come to an end, and I can imagine how happy her beautiful family and enormous dog are to see her again. I just feel lucky I got to spend a few hours with her during this, another one of her big adventures!

The first time she ventured out on an Excellent Road Trip, I had no idea what to expect. I had a few butterflies walking into that restaurant. But do you know what happened? I met some terrific people, and after keeping up with them through their blogs for two years, I was really looking forward to seeing them again! This time it was more like a reunion, and we were so busy catching up, and feeling so comfortable, that we all neglected to take pictures!

That BOSSY, not only do we never see each other without her coming into town, but she manages to get the only photos!

There's Heidi and Suebob and Smacksy and Tootsie and (me) and Kelly and Jason and BOSSY and JCK and Aunt Snow and Shayera! Hi guys!

Here's BOSSY's post about our meet-up.

It was a really nice evening. I just wish I could spend even more time with all of these bloggy friends, including BOSSY herself! But she had to move on to the Bay Area. I guess I can share her.

Too bad she couldn't stick around the following day, because Heidi and I decided to spend it together. I think BOSSY kinda wished she had time to join in! (Next time, BOSSY!) I love spending time with Heidi, she is just the loveliest person! We walked around my little town a bit, and stepped into a craft shop full of the strangest trinkets. They are for artist who incorporate a collage style, I'm guessing. Buttons and TV tubes and bottle caps and matchbooks, you name it! After our short stroll, I tried to take her to the yummiest lunch spot in town, but it was really busy. We did alright with another little cafe, though. Then I picked up my son from preschool and we went over to the fancy shmancy museum. My son was very interested in finding Picassos. He was a well-behaved 5-year-old boy in the museum (what a relief), and he talked about Heidi all the rest of the day!

All in all, I sure am lucky to have met some special people through this blogging thing. And I'm only a sometime-blogger!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Hopefully there will be ice

Tomorrow is the bridal shower for the first grade teacher! As Room Parent, I have been very busy coordinating all of the parents who will be making the party happen. It's been email city around here! In fact, I just now responded to a text on my cell phone - and have no idea who it was from. But I asked them to bring ice...

At the same time, this week has involved several phone conversations about the possible teaching job for next year. I think that we pretty much have everything hammered out now; just one or two more phone calls should do it. I am still feeling conflicted about it, but moving forward I will focus on the positive. That's pretty much my way in the world: acknowledge the feelings but focus on the positive.

Hopefully tomorrow I will feel like I have a moment to breathe. After I allow myself that breath, I'd love to tell you about last weekend! I had a great weekend and got to spend some time with really special people. It's quite likely that one of them was YOU!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Decisions decisions

I recently finished a three-month teaching assignment.

It had been over nine years since I last taught 7th grade science, and I wasn't sure if I still had the skills. The fact that it was my old teaching assignment, in my old classroom and office, led me to predict that it would feel pretty weird being back after all this time. After all, I'm so different now! I left when my first baby was born (literally- I worked the very day I ended up going into labor; she was born at 4 am the day of graduation). So, I was once the young, childless teacher often mistaken for one of the students, devoting every minute of every day to my teaching. Now I'm a mom of three who has spent quite a bit of time working with really young children and thinking about parenting. Aside from my short stint as an aquarium educator, I hadn't done much science in the intervening years. And let's face facts, I would not be able to devote even a fraction of the time I used to give to my teaching, with all of my kids' activities and mommy-time. I wondered if I'd be any good at it anymore!

When my old school called, in need of a long-term sub for the current 7th-grade science teacher who was going on maternity leave, it seemed like the perfect opportunity for me to find out. It was only for three months, and the teacher would leave me the plans (more on that later). I was familiar with the type of students at the school, and the teachers who knew me were very excited to hear I would be back. Those things really helped. On the other hand, some procedures and many technologies were different, and the daily schedule was COMPLETELY different, so it would be a curious mix of familiar and new.

No small issue was preparing my family for this big change. Three months feels long at the start. The girls were both in school from 8-3, so it didn't impact them much. They needed to be ready earlier in the morning and we had to develop a back-up plan in case I didn't make it by the end of pick-up time. Of course, they needed to help out more around the house. But my boy had the most to deal with. He had to go from being at preschool MWF 9-11:30 to being there MTWThF 9-3:30 or 7:45-11:45 (alternating days). My school was on a rotating schedule, so it was not the same every week, which was confusing for both my boy and the preschool.

It turned out that this was the hardest aspect of the whole experience. My precious boy did NOT like being dropped off in a different room, with different teachers, and he did NOT like being at school on Tuesday and Thursday without his friends, and he did NOT like having to stay four hours later than his old pick-up time. There were many tears shed, and his teachers told me he wasn't playing, but standing off to the side missing his mommy. I always put on a brave face for him, trying to exude a feeling of confidence that it would be a good day at school. But as soon as I was back in the car, driving to work, I often burst into tears myself.

But how was it once I was at work?

In short, it was good. It didn't take me long to find out that I "still got it." The students were funny and smart (by and large), and we connected quickly. It was great getting to know my new colleagues, and I found that not only did I remember the subject matter, it was a good excuse to learn more about the topics.

Earning a paycheck felt pretty darn good, too!

But teaching is VERY hard work, VERY time consuming. Doing this job and also taking care of a family is EXTREMELY difficult. I found that I simply could not work on planning and grading until the children were in bed, which is also when I would sit down and realize just how exhausted I was feeling. It felt like I would never catch a minute to breathe. I hadn't expected to need to do so much planning, but the teacher left me with very little. I designed a lot of work sheets, lab instructions, and assessments. I had 56 middle school students from whom I was collecting homework and class work. I was underwater, struggling to surface.

I am good at this job. I have a talent for breaking down concepts and tasks into smaller, more understandable chunks, then guiding the students in putting them together to understand the bigger ideas. I am good at, and enjoy, making handouts that explain, reinforce, and practice the material. But I am NOT good at setting boundaries for myself. I am NOT good at protecting myself from burnout. I could always see the light at the end of the tunnel, because this long-term sub assignment was for only three months. Now that it's over, I am positively reveling in being back to my normal schedule. Aaaaaaaahhh. My boy is much happier having days off from preschool and a shorter school day. We have been gallivanting off to fun adventures and let me tell you, THIS FEELS RIGHT.

It was good, but I'm glad it's over. Yes.

Now, the school wants me to come be the 7th grade science teacher for the next school year. My boy will be in Kindergarten, so he'll be at school every day anyway, but only for half the day. The school wants to work my schedule so I only have to be there for half the day, trying to align it with my son's schedule. Quite a decision... On the one hand, it's nice to have a life where colleagues value your contributions and you are getting paid for your work. On the other, it would be a whole year of working myself too hard and not having any time for myself and HUGE HASSLES when one of the kids gets sick and can't go to school (THE HUGENESS OF THIS ISSUE CANNOT BE OVERSTATED).

Oh yeah, and there's this little aspect: financially, our family has gotten to the point where we need me to bring in an income. When you look at it in this light, this job seems like the right situation; my top priorities for a job are having summers off and not working past 3:00 pm.

I've got some thinking to do, although it does seem like a very good arrangement for me. The feeling in the pit of my stomach is sadness that I wouldn't have as much freedom to help out at the kids' school as I have been wanting. With the girls, I had younger children to take care of, making it hard to be at the school. I always thought, "when The Boy is in school, then I won't have anything keeping me from being there!" Letting go of that makes me grieve a little, to be honest.

Overthink things? Why yes, I resemble that remark!

Friday, April 2, 2010

a meme to get me warmed up again

Wow. It's been so long since I've been to blogger that it no longer automatically pops up in my explorer window when I start typing it. sheesh.

When I started my back-to-work-temporarily experience, I thought it would get me blogging again. I thought it would be so interesting to chronicle my experience being back in the classroom "full-time" after over nine years of being a SAHM.

And it would have been.

But I found myself absolutely SWAMPED and sleep-deprived by the experience, and blogging just didn't happen.

I had my last day of work on Thursday, March 25. I was immediately swept into a big brouhaha among the other first-grade parents over a bridal shower we are planning for the first-grade teacher. I am the Room Parent, so am responsible for all of the communication and most of the planning. Thought you would have a minute to blog after all this time? THINK AGAIN, SISTER.

I feel like I have so much to say, and it's daunting. Sometimes getting started is the hardest part.

Then I saw this meme at blackbird's, small town mom's, and Hotfessional's (a few of my favorite people!), and thought this just might do the trick. A meme just might be the perfect trigger to getting on blogger again!

So here's to the future!

1. Do you like bleu cheese? Yes. Especially because it makes me think of The Hubby and his cooking. He loves to add bleu cheese to things.
2. Have you ever smoked? No. Not even one little puff. Is it called a puff?
3. Do you own a gun? Absolutely not.
4. Favorite type of food? Dessert. or Thai food.
5. Favorite type of music? Favorite, punk-ish rock. No, musical theater. Girl-singer-songwriter. Lately I've been listening to country, but that's only because I fell in love with the sound of Josh Turner's voice when I heard it on NPR.
6. What do you think of hot dogs? I think they taste best when you're at a baseball game.
7. Favorite Christmas movie? I'm a sucker for It's a Wonderful Life.
8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning? Mimosas! Whee! but I can't remember the last one I had.
9. Can you do push-ups? Only a few "girl" ones. :-(
10. What’s your favorite piece of jewelry? My wedding ring. My current jewelry obsession, though? A bracelet with a forget-me-not in it and a pair of dangly claddagh earrings. Santa gave me both last Christmas.
11. Favorite hobby? MUSIC!
12. Do you have A. D. D.? No.
13. Do you wear glasses/contacts? Yes.
14. Middle name? It's unusual. My mom has the same middle name, and I passed it on to my Big Girl.
15. Name three thoughts at this exact moment: "What's that beeping?" "How many kids are playing in my house right now?" "How many hours of Wii has The Boy played today?"
16. Name three drinks you regularly drink: Water. Red Gatorade. Tequila.
17. Current worry? Will I finish writing this?
18. Current hate right now? The politics of hate.
19. Favorite place to be? On stage.
20. How did you bring in the new year? We went to bed early because we had to be up before the sun to get a spot to watch a certain famous parade.
21. Someplace you’d like to go? Costa Rica.
22. Name three people who will complete this. blackbird, small town mom, hotfessional.
23. Do you own slippers? yes. what a weird question.
24. What color shirt are you wearing? what color is this? dark blue-green? teal?
25. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets? too slippery. high-count cotton, thank you.
26. Can you whistle? yes, weakly.
27. Where are you now? in the den.
28. Would you be a pirate? That really doesn't sound like "me" at all.
29. What songs do you sing in the shower? I love to sing in the shower. I sing everything! Rock, pop, country, opera...
30. Favorite Girl’s Name? I don't have a favorite anymore.
31. Favorite boy’s name? Ditto.
32. What is in your pocket right now? Nothing, as usual.
33. Last thing that made you laugh? 2 seconds ago, Big Girl whined that "the other kids don't want to play with me! I think it's because sometimes I get bossy." Then I laughed. (it's funny because it's true)
34. What vehicle do you drive? Honda Odyssey. boring.
35. Worst injury you’ve ever had? Thankfully few injuries. My worst was from childbirth. enough said.
36. Do you love where you live? YES!!!!!!!!!
37. How many TVs do you have in your house? Three.
38. How many computers do you have in your house? One.
39. If you changed your job, what would it be? Famous Marine Biologist
40. If you were granted three wishes, what would they be? I would wish for grand things. World peace, freedom from worrying about paying for health care, and that everyone would care about protecting the environment. Stuff like that.