Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I love the smell books

Yes, books. One of the most comforting things in the world to me is to flip the pages of a paperback in front of my nose and take a deep inhale. Same goes for freshly cut wood (like pencils), and lawn clippings. Aaaahhhhhhh, school must have started.

I love my job. Have I mentioned that? I don't usually last more than 2 1/2 years at a job before I get frustrated. Something tells me this one will stick a lot longer than that. At least I hope so. I still get amped up for the first week of real teaching (lets face it, the first few days is nothing but riles, rules, rules, and where to find the pencil sharpener). So far, my students are great. For the first time, I am excited to teach all of my classes. I didn't used to like my foods class, but I decided to scrap everything I have done in the past, and do whatever I want. Other junior high teachers gave me stuff to start with, and I used it because I thought I should be consistent with other junior highs in the district. But as time went on, I realized, and finally accepted, that there is no state or district standards for my subject. As long as I stay within my subject matter, I can pretty much do whatever the hell I want. And I can relate anything to food. I am going to focus on my strengths - health, nutrition, and restaurants, and can things like career exploration and budgeting. No 8th grader I have worked with has any concept of money or what they want to do with in their life, so I figured that is safe to eliminate. I am really excited with the ideas that I have come up with, and can't wait to execute them (the lessons, not the kids).

Plus, it is nice to have something else to think about, and a place to spend my energy. I love coming home hungry and exhausted, and knowing I did something great today. Last night I had a nightmare that I moved back to CO (not the nightmare part) and I never taught again (bingo, right there) because I couldn't find a school that was as great as South Valley. It actually woke me up with a racing heart. It is a huge fear. I am on a dynamic campus. The culture is positive, and energizing. The administration, and 95% of my co-workers are supportive and knowledgeable (there is always those 5% that can suck it). Arriving at work each day poses a new and interesting challenge. And like all dynamic teachers, the kids learn from me as much as I learn from them. I can't imagine a more rewarding job in the whole world. I am a lucky girl, who as had a great week. I am bursting with enthusiasm and energy. You may find it kind of gross, and I don't care. I love it, love it, love it, and wish that no one ever had to work a job that they hate. It certainly isn't worth it.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Race to the Top - Blessing, or Curse?

Maybe you have heard of Race to the Top. For those of you that don't know, it is funding for states that meet certain criteria for education improvement. States have to apply and go through an approval process to even be considered. Last year, Arizona was eliminated in the first round, not even close to considered. So AZ hired the same person that wrote the application for a winning state, and what do you know? Today, Arizona became one of the Race to the Top states, and will receive $200 million dollars to go towards education, allocated by September 2012- 1 brief year away.

As a teacher, I should be thrilled about this. We are ranked 48th out of 51 states for education, even Puerto Rico ranks above AZ. But I live in AZ. Crazy, AZ. There are studies that show that states with higher taxes allot more money for education, and as a result students have higher test scores, and lead more "successful" lives (slightly subjective, I know, but still accurate). I am living in the state with the lowest taxes in the country, hence the crappy education rating, and people here do nothing but complain about taxes. Last spring there was a special vote to add a temporary 3 year 1 cent sales tax to go to education (which passed), but it went to the public because the AZ government likes to cut education funding, and never raise taxes, and wanted to see what the public thought. They had us vote on it because they have no idea what Arizonans really want. A poll was released at the time that confirmed that our state elected are only in tune with 10% of what the residents want to see happen. Let's not forget that they also spent the last year legalizing no need for a permit to carry a concealed weapon, guns are now allowed in bars, and immigrants (legal or not) trying to live the American Dream and make a good life for their families doing jobs that most American citizens turn their nose ups at are being run out of the state in droves at the opinion and actions of one corrupt Sheriff and a bigoted state Congress. I am having trouble believing that they will allocate the funds appropriately. My biggest fear is that they will use this as an excuse to cut regular state funding from the education budget, and simply supplement with the federal funds. (This same state congress also wanted to cut $10.5 of $11 million dollars from Career and Technical Education because they didn't think it was effective in preparing students for the working world after graduation. As a CTE teacher, I can't even begin to wonder how the hell they they can justify that statement. That conversation only makes my blood boil. But if you ever want to have a civilized discussion about this, you let me know. I am OK with agreeing to disagree. I may not like it, but if someone can explain it to me, I am all ears because, frankly, it is currently the dumbest thing I have ever heard.)

I don't know all of the details of the funding, so maybe I shouldn't be saying anything until I do a little research. But I have list all faith in AZ politics (is it coincidence that the state government is pretty much all Republican?), and hope they don't destroy something that I love and believe in. I always try to see the positive, and do the best I can in any situation.  Every day I wake up and giggle in delight that I am a teacher, even in the future. I feel like I blush every time someone asks what I do for a living. I consider it my biggest accomplishment, and I am proud every day to be involved in education. Going into my 3rd year, I am more excited than ever by the possibilities of making learning fun and helping to shape kids into positive contributors to society. And (to toot my own horn) I am good at it because I love it. Tomorrow is another first day of school, and I can't wait to see what the year brings. I can only hope that the buffoons that have been voted into my state congress will make smart decisions regarding this extra funding, and don't do a disservice to the children of our future by cutting regular state funding for education.  We are already behind the curve and have a ways to go to catch up and become competitive. These kids will be making decisions when our government representatives are senior citizens and need to be taken care of. Lets make sure teachers get the resources they need to help develop our kids into innovative, creative problem solvers who can read, write, and understand math and science.

And I think my political rant may be over. To be determined. Thank you for your time.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


I am a sleeper.  It is what I do. Some people have expressed to me that they think it is necessary, but a waste of time. They feel guilty that they aren't up and using their for more productive things. I, however, have never felt that way, nor do I think I ever will. To me, sleeping is therapy. It is the best way to avoid the world's realities. And if you have ever seen me on a day when I have received less than the minimum 7-9 hours of required shut eye, I am intolerable. Even to myself. Naps require at least 2 hours. I have never been able to arouse myself graceful after only 20 minutes, even though studies say that is all you need. twenty minutes! Hardly worth it. I would have to set an alarm for a nap if that was the case.  And if I wake up with that groggy, pain behind the eyes feeling, going back to bed is a must because it doesn't go away all day.

So you can imagine what a shock it is to me that for the last 4 nights, I have barely slept. I have awoken promptly in the 3 o'clock hour only to battle the gut feeling that I will not be returning to slumber anytime soon. Some may say that I do not have insomnia. But let me tell you, 5-6 hours of sleep for me is not nearly enough. I am exhausted, but my body won't cooperate. Yesterday I managed to sleep for a couple hours late morning. When I woke up at noon, I felt incredible, but the day was almost over. And I had a sheet mark on my face that looked like a giant scar. Two hours into running errands, it was still on my face. Yes, 2 hours. My body is out of sync.
It is hard to concentrate on anything when I am this tired. My rate of production has been cut in half, like everything is happening in slow motion. The most baffling part is I don't know what is going on with me. Some say stress, but I think that is crazy. If I am stressed, I sleep to ignore it, which results in a repeating anxiety dream where I am back in the restaurant industry and the only person in the restaurant waiting tables. I always wake up feeling better because I realize that things could be far worse. This has always worked for me.

I had a friend suggest a super hot bath with ginger in it, and then straight to bed. I think she may be right. But I am going to hit some home remedies and turn it into a full spa evening. I think a manicure, and facial will be part of the process. I will drink some Sleepy Time tea and read my newest vampire series to try and settle my brain. I hope that does the trick, or it is long to be a long week.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Serging Ahead

As I move on from fertility woes to focus on the next school year, my mind is wild with ideas and lesson plans and how to bring more money and quality donations to the classroom.  It is no secret that my favorite classes are my Fashion Design/Clothing Construction classes. I love to see the light bulb go on in a child each time they do something as simple as sew their first straight line. So when I saw the possibilities in the latest Sew, Mama, Sew! giveaway, I about fainted! They are giving away this Husqvarna Viking s21 Serger (retail value $1199)!  All you have to do is write a blog on why you should win. So here it is:

I fell instantly in love with my very first sewing machine which was a Husqvarna (the Husky Star, as a matter of fact). I still pull it out and work on it because I love it even though it doesn't have any bells and whistles. I did not have the same sort of instant attraction to my serger. My cheap, $100 used, (never taken out of the box) not-so-quality brand serger was used when I took a class at the local community college on how to use it, and then promptly put on the shelf and never used again. Even after service, I can't get it to have a balanced tension, and abandoning it seemed a healthier option then deal with the stress and anxiety of it. 

Fast forward a few years, and I started teaching, I was thrilled to see that my classroom had fancier versions of my first love. Could I also love the classroom serger? No, because there is no serger. How on earth do I teach a future generation of fashionistas anything without a serger?  It is an integral part of the fashion industry, and telling students to flip up the hem of their T-shirt to see the difference between a serged seam and a zig-zag seam doesn't make a very big impact.  And, of course, the school district doesn't have funds for one. Money rarely gets dumped into Junior High Electives. The big money goes to the high schools. So I often have to suck it up and make do. But "make do" doesn't sit well with me, and I try to tackle all sorts of outside resources for quality stuff to teach and bring creative learning processes to the kids.

That is where this giveaway comes in.  I think this serger would be the perfect compliment to my classroom's existing 25 Husqvarna machines. If I won this serger, I would take it straight to work, and allow the students to use it, and learn from it. It would be nice to have a brand the kids are already familiar with to aid in the learning curve. I already have the perfect place for it. It is also a stellar (yes, I said stellar) machine. And it would not be that terrible of a burden for me to take it home in the summers to make sure it stays in good running condition. It is a machine meant for sharing after all. Even if it is with the teacher. And I would have to keep my skills up to be a better teacher. I can't imagine a better recipient than the youth of America. Corrupting junior high students one pair of pajama pants at a time.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


It's official.  Miscarriage.  Best of the worst case scenarios, I suppose. I have had people ask me, "Are you really OK?"  Yeah, why not? Moping and getting all worked up doesn't change  any thing. Honestly, I spend more time being annoyed and irritated than upset.  When I think of all the things I could have been doing this summer, that bothers me. But that was the choice I made, so I live with it. Knowing is far better than the day to day confusion of "What the hell is happening?" So we move on. I have to have a blood test every week until I get 2 consecutive negative tests, then wait 30 days, and then we can go again. For the time being, no more shots, and plenty of liquor. Juvenile, maybe. Therapeutic, absolutely. Where I went wrong was allowing myself to get excited and really believing this one was different. Next time, I am not going to read into my gut.
The last couple weeks have been highly unproductive. The last few days especially.  Focusing has taken great strength, and has not come easy. Work starts in 2 days, and now I will be able to concentrate on something else. I don't know if it was a better situation or not to have this experience in the summer. Obviously, the outcome didn't matter.  And it was tough to not have other things to focus on. It pushed me out of my comfort zine, that is for sure. I think I liked the process better when I had other things to do. And while I am still figuring out the delicate balance between being busy and overextending myself, I think it is unhealthy for my personality to try and have no other stress in my life. I sort of live off of stress. Otherwise obsession kicks in. I stayed relatively calm through this whole thing, but inside, I know my mind was in a million directions. I was never forced to think of anything else, and I think my stress levels were elevated because of it. As we continue, I think there is a little more stress each time. I don't believe it is possible to be completely stress free.  But I think there are different ways to manage it for each person.  Though it is tough to figure in all of the appointments during the school year, I think that is the way to go for me. And I am going to try to remain optimistic as we continue to keep our eye on the prize.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Hello Heartache, how I have missed you.

Yes, here we go again. I have felt great, and should have known that that wouldn't last long. I started spotting Thursday night. Nothing crazy, but that is always how it starts, and always a few days before my scheduled ultrasound. It has continued, on and off the last few days. And slowly, some of my other symptoms have begun to lessen and/or diminish. I called the doctor each day just to report in. They decided that I needed a blood draw this morning to see if my hormone levels are on track.  When I arrived, he said that he wanted to do an ultrasound as well. Okey-dokey.  Up on the table I went. 
The sonogram didn't indicate anything bad, but it didn't show anything good either. There was no indication of an embryonic sac anywhere. It is still early, but he said that he should have seen something. On the plus side, he didn't see anything that could indicate ectopic. They drew my blood, and I have to get another blood draw tomorrow as well, to see what is happening. If my HCG levels are dropping, then obviously I have miscarried (the best case scenario, considering). If they have spiked, or keep rising, we probably have a "problem" pregnancy. Meaning ectopic, I would guess. I hope it is just a miscarriage, and that it will be determined before I have to go back to work on Thursday. I haven't cracked open a bottle of wine, yet.  But it is ready and waiting for when I get those blood test results.
Might I remind you, that as disappointing as it is, I am OK with miscarriage. In my mind, it is the way my body says it was not going to be a healthy baby. I am not torn up, only annoyed, and ready to move on.
I don't know what this means as far as going forward. I have a lot of questions about why I can't seem to hold on to a pregnancy past 5 1/2 weeks. Most of which they probably won't be able to answer. I have large cysts form the last cycle that will need to go down, and healing from the egg retrieval surgery that will need to happen before we do our last IVF cycle in our package. It will, once again, interfere with my work schedule which irritates me. But we will do what we have to do.