Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Rage Tears

You all know I teach high school math in a public school here in Maine. I've occasionally voiced my frustrations, both with what public school is and has become, and the idiosyncrasies of my particular school.

I don't have the emotional energy to get into it all here, but I left work today in rage tears.

Below is my Facebook post about it.  Comment if you are curious, and I'll write more. This is far, far too important to ignore, but most people are so far removed from what actually happens in schools that all they know is what they see on TV.  That is to say, folks see angry unions against angry politicians. There's no honest dialogue because there's too much name-calling and too many agendas and egos in the way.  All most people know about schools right now is spin, and that there's this thing called Common Core.  People have mixed opinions, if any at all.

I am not political. I can't say anything about my ego -- that's for you to judge.  But I'm in the schools, and my voice is SILENCED because I need a job.

Well, screw it. I need a job, but I also need to do what's right for kids.

Here's my Facebook post...

Feeling incredibly, ridiculously discouraged after a meeting about the Smarter Balanced assessment. It's not our school, it's not our kids, it's the exam. The implementation idiosyncrasies on top of all of it will make me lose my mind. I have a moral problem with setting our kids up to fail, and that is what this test does. I can not defend that *to anyone.* I can not, in good conscience, put my head on my pillow at night when I am one of many cogs allowing this to happen. When good people do nothing, evil prevails. That is what is happening, people. In the meantime, my colleagues think I am crazy. This isn't just poor practice. This is BAD FOR KIDS, and those of us to try to stand up to stop it risk losing our jobs.

Then, someone commented, and here are my two replies:

I wanted to quit. I was crying rage tears. Mick says it is time to be LOUD and attach my name to it.

That doesn't even get to how much instructional time we lose to practice for these and how my AP class keeps getting time taken away, including time to take these tests PRIOR to our AP exam. When I already only see them every other day. RAGE TEARS.

--Jen

Sunday, September 7, 2014

New Kicks

WHM's super-fast Spiderman sneakers had a blowout this week.


To be precise, that happened on Tuesday, exactly one day after the BOGO sale ended at Stride Rite.  This photo is when he showed me the issue while he and I had dinner and waited for CAM's ballet class to end. (Side note -- I am so excited that he and I get to have "dates" every Tuesday while CAM dances!)

Our nearest Stride Rite is precisely 60 minutes away, at the Stride Rite Outlet in Kittery, Maine.  That's okay, because I prefer to shop the outlet and it's a nice excuse for a drive to Southern Maine. Sometimes we wander the outlets in Kittery, sometimes we go to Portsmouth, NH, and sometimes we meander our way back to Central Maine and stop at the mall in Portland or at Stonewall Kitchen in York, or any of a million other beloved detours.

In any case, WHM can't go to school -- especially since this past week was full-on July weather -- without sneakers.  He can't exactly wear dress shoes and shorts, or snow shoes and shorts.  And sandals are not allowed.  So, we promised him we'd buy new sneakers on Saturday, when we could most easily head down to Kittery.

He went straight to the superhero shoes again.

Mick and I were really trying to get him to go with lace-up sneakers, so he could learn and practice tying his shoes.  In fact, before he had Spiderman shoes, he had lace-up sneakers.  (Also, for some reason we don't quite even know ourselves, we'd been steadfastly opposed to superheroes, cartoon characters, anything like that on shoes.  CAM never had a pair, and WHM only had Spiderman because the last time we went shoe shopping, I was without Mick and was, apparently, a softie that day.)

In any case, Mick and I tried everything yesterday.

"Mommy, I wealllly want theeese."

"But, WHM, these are so stylin'."

"No, but these hurt."

"No, they don't."

"But I weally wike this style."

"Daddy would like you to try some big-kid shoes, like his ... and CAM's, and mine ... see this super-cool color?"

"I don't wike that color."

"What about these?"

"I don't like those bottoms."

"What about these?!  Super awesome with red and black! And check out the bottoms!  Spikey! Come on, WHM, we really want you to get a pair that has laces.   You need to learn how to tie your shoes since you're in kindergarten!"

"Mommy, I want these.  With velcro."

"Let's just try these on, okay? Let's see how they look. You USED to have a pair with laces, you know!  A pair just like these!"

"Those hurt."

"They only hurt when they got too small.  We'll get your right size and they will feel great!"

We tried on the black-and-red sneakers, but they were a half size too big and even Mick regretfully admitted that they were not a good choice.  Too big is almost as bad as too small, especially with our little fall-prone man.

At this point, the Ironman shoes were not coming off his feet.

"Come on, WHM, those sneakers are just like the Spiderman shoes you already have. Let's try a new style."

We found an adjacent pair in a style we could live with and Mick chimed in: "Look!  These have laces AND velcro! Look how the velcro goes across!"

But WHM sat on the floor and pointed to the shoes he wanted, and said "Wook. These have velcro and it doesn't just go across. The velcro on this one goes here and here.  These are just like my Spiderman shoes and I already know I wuv this style."

Suffice it to say, the day's negotiation went to WHM.

Before:

These were well-loved and were on my "replace next" list, anyway.  The blowout forced the issue.


After:  (Note the similarities in velcro and style!)



We have also been informed that these shoes are EVEN FASTER than the Spiderman ones, and that it was a very good decision to buy these.

Thank goodness.

--Jen

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Some Afternoon Photo Fun

I love that we have essentially this same pose in countless photos in the past seven years.  This is CAM at play, deep in concentration in her chalk art. 













WHM only wanted to make silly faces to start. He's been hamming it up all day!












Wednesday, August 27, 2014

First Day of School 2014

WHM is in kindergarten.  I think because he did full-day Pre-K last year at the same school, and because I am working full-time, I don't feel the "empty house" blues as much as some of my friends have. My little man is giddy, and so I am, too.

CAM is in second grade!  She is beside herself with excitement about school, and I love that.

We moved here with a toddler and a kindergartener!  Oh, my!

--Jen





I am so upset that this is blurry. I didn't want to mess with the camera and don't trust myself well enough to shoot manual, so I let it ride on "auto," and am punished with a focal point on a basket.  Oh well.  Do-over later!


p.s. I am back to teaching again, still at the same place I started when we moved to Maine. My first day is also today, but I have made a "tradition" (three-years running) of taking my own kids' first day off so I can do drop-off and pick-up. The rest of the week will be "early care," but today? Today's special.  (Besides, today is only freshman for me, and I only have an advisory group. Tomorrow is the day all the rest of the students arrive. Tomorrow is "go time" for me. Today is "frantically-clean-the-house-because-you-won't-get-this-chance-again-for-ten-months" day.)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

DVR Makes Us Better Parents

When we moved to Maine, we re-organized our lives in a lot of ways. One of them was to take a much stricter approach with our finances, and that meant (among other things) that we scaled our cable bill way back.  Got rid of the premium channels, got rid of DVR... we cut it all out.

Until yesterday.

Yesterday, Mick swung into* our local cable place to ensure that we would have the SEC Network the second it comes live on the air.  While he was there, he worked some Mick magic and we now also have a DVR again.  Best of all, our bill went DOWN!

Man, this week keeps getting better and better!

(You want to know what else awesome happened?  I just sat down to eat some Chinese food leftovers and bit into a bonus water chestnut!  WHAT?!)  

My week is made.

In any case, last night Mick and I were watching Suits last night when, about ten minutes into it, CAM came out from her bedroom.  Her head hurt, her tummy hurt, she felt sick and wasn't sure quite what was causing it.  She kept talking and we kept ssssshhhhing her ... until we realized we could PAUSE to listen to her woes and then REWIND to catch anything we missed.  We then became more attentive and interested in her various problems**.  See?!  DVR makes us better parents!

--Jen

* are you a college football fan? We are. Our kids were born in Tuscaloosa, for goodness' sake.  The idea that an entire network dedicated to our beloved conference could exist and we might not be able to watch it was terrifying.  As it is, not too many folks in Maine care about college football and we are our own little island of Alabama here on Saturdays. We weren't going to be left out of the television element, too.  This was not a mere "oh, let's check."  This was a well-planned-out, let's-give-them-a-couple-of-days-in-case-something-is-wonky visit to ENSURE that we would have the SEC Network when it goes live today.

** for the record, she had all sorts of "ailments" because we had told her to go to bed and that she could watch Suits On Demand tomorrow (now today).  Once we said she could stay awake with us, she was healed! Her problems were solved!  It was a USANetwork Miracle!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Update to the 101 Things Update

My mom, who reads this blog faithfully but prefers to call or email me her comments, has informed me that my last post was lacking in two places.

First, I didn't link to the 101 Things list, and since I only named the items by number and not description, it was a bit tricky to navigate.

I've updated the post in that it now includes the link to the list, but I haven't gone back to give the descriptions (yet).

Second, there was at least one place where we arguably have accomplished the goal.  I went back through the list, and wherever that was true (there turned out to be a few places), I've updated the list to reflect that.

In doing so, I discovered one item that we can legitimately cross off:

#86: Swim in the ocean with the kids

DONE!  Not only did I take the kids to the beach a few times this summer, but we also went as a family last summer. Since the objective for most of the items on the list is that we do these things as a family, this summer's Mick-less outings might not count.  But last summer's outings definitely DO count, so that one is DONE!

--Jen

Monday, August 11, 2014

101 Things: #9, #27, #44

You're tired of hearing me use "the move" as an excuse, so I won't. I'll just say that while it made some things easier (for example, #9), it has also made some things more challenging.  (I have no idea, for example, where my cake pans are. That's two years' of baking that didn't happen!)

It's pretty clear to me that we won't cross of anywhere close to all of our things on this list, but we've done a lot, and there are still a fair number we can finish by October...

... and then we can make a new list!

101 Things in slightly more than 1001 Days!

--Jen

Oh, what are the things, you ask?  Here you go:

9.    Get CAM and WHM on skates! Done! Fall/Winter 2013-14 WHM started, and CAM followed with figure skating lessons Winter 2014 and they both did a hockey clinic at the start of summer 2014. They love it, and hockey will likely be in our lives for some time to come!

27.  Unpack/sort/file every box – no piles, no boxes to go through later Done! August 8, 2014. 

44.  Take the kids to the movies – six separate times  #1:  The Lorax, April 20, 2012; #2: Pirates Band of Misfits May 1, 2012; #3: Brave, June 25, 2012; #4: Monsters University, June 20-something, 2013; #5 and #6 -- drive-in movies here in Maine Summer 2013. (Planes, Despicable Me 2, Smurfs 3, and Monsters University (again, part of a double feature!))