The Author

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I am a high school English teacher, and mother of two charming little ones of my own. I teach in a high poverty urban charter school, while I live in a typical American suburb that has frequently been rated one of the safest cities in the country. It is a paradox I struggle with constantly, but it is my life.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Pregnancy Update

So, I am about 6 months at this point, and I am remembering how much I like this stage. I am not feeling super exhausted any more during the day, just tired at night earlier than usual, but that's kind of okay because I am nearing the end of the school year and have been able to go to bed earlier. Overall, this is a relatively symptom free point, and even my asthma is not getting to me too badly anymore like it was at the beginning, so that is nice. I think the baby turned or something too, because I have my normal appetite back finally too. I still can't eat a whole lot in one sitting, but more than I was able to before, which is definitely more fulfilling than the "5 bites= heartburn" that I was experiencing a couple of weeks ago. The only thing I wish is for a bit more endurance with things like exercise. Although I did manage to walk around Universal Studios all day on Tuesday without feeling too beat that day, Wednesday I felt like I was going to fall over and Thursday I was not ready to do it again at a convention with the kids, but I got through it, and I actually wasn't sore yesterday, just sort of wiped out.

I am starting to get big, which is not totally great, but it is better than the prior point, which was too big for all of my regular clothes but swimming in most of my maternity clothes. Now I actually fit quite well in my maternity clothes (oddly, there is still a box of my favorite items lost in the garage somewhere, but I did break down and buy some more). A stranger even offered me a seat when we were waiting in a restaurant the other day (which really, I was fine standing, but still). I would think that perhaps this was a coincidence, but then she even went ahead and asked, "How far along are you?" A bold move, considering that she could be wrong- I would never ask, just in case- but in this case she was right, and I guess that means I am really showing now, because people don't usually ask if it is that risky.

We have also really officially decided on a name- Tiana Lisette. This is really it, for real. We were leaning towards Gianna prior to this, but I really, really, really hate the nicknames associated with Gianna, particularly Gigi. Plus, the name is rising in popularity. Gianna is in the top 100 right now, and it is a personal goal of mine not to name my children anything in the top 100, because I don't want them to endure being one of three kids with the same name in their class (story of my life). So, I need a common enough name that it is not like, "How do you say that?" but not so common that everyone has the same name. So, as a result, I have been hunting for a new name lately. The other day, someone overheard me and thought I said, "Tiana" and I was reminded that when we first mentioned Gianna to Vinny, he thought we said "Tiana" and wanted to name her Princess Tiana, after the heroine of the new Disney movie. I don't know why I didn't take him more seriously in the first place. Realistically, it was a GREAT movie, probably going to go down as one of my favorite Disney movies of all time, and for a Disney princess, Tiana definitely racks way up there among my favorites, especially since she is not all frilly and perfect. She's got an attitude and well, spunk. If she is going to be named after a Disney princess, that is definitely a good one to be named after. (It is also nice that the movie is set in Louisiana and she is basically a Cajun Queen, which pays homage to Marc's Cajun heritage). Let's face it, she will probably grow up obsessed with Disney princesses.

Tiana means "follower of Christ" which seems like an appropriate name for a pastor's daughter, and it doesn't have any annoying nicknames. The worst it could get is maybe "T," which really isn't that bad. The most common nickname is probably "Tia," which I actually kind of like. I know that the name is rather ethnically ambiguous and diverse... it is a common African American name and the princess is black, plus "Tia" means aunt in Spanish and has a Spanish feel to it, but that sort of represents my mom's family well. On my mom's side of the family, I have cousins who are half Black and I have cousins who are half Mexican, and I truly like that my family is ethnically diverse, so this represents that well. We are going with Lisette in honor of my mom, whose middle name is Elizabeth, since Vinny got Marc's family middle name. We were going to just go with Elizabeth, but since Tiana ends on a vowel, I feel like the middle name shouldn't start with the same sort of vowel sound, and I really like Lisette, so the sound Tiana Lisette just has a good feel to it.

Well, there it is. I am sure that most of this was terribly boring to most of you, but I felt like writing it, so there ya have it.

Friday, May 28, 2010


Last night, I went to our school's prom. as a chaperone sort of, but more just to see mu kids all dressed up and have dinner with my co-workers. I brought Marc as my date. It was fun. :-)

The kids were so cute all dressed up. It was kind of funny... there were some dresses that were just classic styles, ones that you could have seen at my prom, and then there were some dresses that were just... well, interesting. One girl had so many huge ruffles up and down her back and shirt, I swear, she looked like a cockatiel. A few other girls had such short dresses I was surprised that their mother's let them leave the house like that. One of my sophomores was invited by a senior, and she came in jeans! Seriously, jeans! And I really thought my "how to dress for the occasion" lecture got through to them, but apparently not, because there she was in jeans with a fancy tank top and heels. Why she thought that was appropriate is beyond me. I mean, I was a tomboy in school too, but even I wore a dress to my prom.

Nonetheless, most of my kids looked amazing, and it was so cute watching them dance and have a good time, even if they were dances I didn't know in a language I didn't understand. It was cute. It's kind of fun watching your kids celebrate a night that they will remember forever, ya know?





Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I need a benefactor who loves reading...

 So, here is what I am looking for...  a very wealthy person who thinks that reading is extremely important and will give money to back it up.  Anyone know of anyone?

So, here is the situation. Many of my students are way below reading level, and our school purchased an excellent program this year to get students reading and get them up to grade level. It has been very successful and there have been great successes. We'd really like to celebrate these successes to keep them on track and send the message that progress in reading is worth celebrating and a huge accomplishment. I am looking for some way to celebrate for them, and while I can do paper certificates or something like that, I would love for it to be something more for those students who deserve to be recognized.

Pizza hut has a cool program called BookIt, but it only goes up to 5th grade. Do they not think that teenagers need motivation too?

Here are some of my ideas, in order from simplest to most idealistic:
- An ice cream party at school ($200-$300?)
- A special luncheon for them, maybe here, maybe at a local restaurant ($500-$1000)
- A Chuck E. Cheese field trip for the students. I know that sounds funny for high school, but I still think they would like it. It is like $7 per student, but we would need money for a bus too, so it would be like $1000.
- An ice cream social, but give them all an awesome, significant gift, like a $25 Barnes and Noble gift card to get them started on books for next year. ($2000-$3000)

So... anyone know someone who would want to be my benefactor?

Monday, May 24, 2010

This is so funny....

... I can't help but blog about it. Vinny has figured out how to look through pictures on facebook. Because Marc works with Vinny's school, he is friends with Vinny's preschool teacher on facebook. Vinny has been flipping through pictures of his recent class field trips to the farm and the zoo. Listening to him is so funny.

This kid certainly has no self-esteem problems. As much as he is rejoicing calling out the names of his friends and showing me all of the fun stuff that they did, he gets even more excited when he sees pictures of himself. He cheers and raises his hands above his head in like a victory motion and shouts, "Me! Me! It is me!"  Although possibly my favorite moment so far has been, "Mommy, look! Do you see the picture of Lauren? Do you see her cute face? Isn't she cute?"  Now, me, having fun and knowing that his friend Zoe has a crush on him, I ask, "Oh, my, who is cuter- Zoe or Lauren?"  Vinny's response, "Um.... Me! I am the cutest."

Uh, yeah, I am raising a little rock star... ego and all.

Not feeling this...

For some reason, the way our semester got planned out this time around, our 10 week report cards came slightly after 10 weeks, and there is not really 20 weeks in the semester this time because of Spring break and other things, and so now, like 3 weeks after 10 week grades, my 15 week grades are due, and I am just not feeling it, especially since I know it is only like 3 more weeks until final grades are due.

I have barely had anything due, so my grades have not changed significantly. I do, however, have a ton of make-up work that students have turned in to grade. I have been chugging along with it for the past week or so, but pushed it a lot of it off, and now I have to get it all done tonight. I really do owe it to them though, if they worked hard to make this stuff up.

Bleh... I am so tired. I really want to finishn my curriculum map for next year too, but grades first.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Buried Life

So... earlier this year, I started watching this new show on MTV, "The Buried Life." It is a total indie show about 4 young guys trying to complete their buried life, things they want to do before they die. I love this show. Their list is not far fetched things like "solve world hunger" but just little things that they have always wanted to do or whatever. Some of them are big dreams, but still... not totally impossible.

My favorite thing about the show is that it is so real in that they don't always succeed on some of the harder things, but they are just so persistent, it is awe inspiring. Like the episode where they were trying to play basketball with Obama. They didn't succeed, but they got pretty darn close and tried so hard. I loved their persistence. After this episode, I was so inspired, I made my own buried list.

I have always believed that if you shoot for the moon, the worst that could happen is that you'd land among the stars. (Unfortunately, sometimes I do lose perspective and forget that I have landed among the stars, simply because I can't stop gazing at the moon and wishing I had made it there, but this is a personal growth area that I am working on). However... today I just wanted to point out that sometimes it is totally worth it, because you never know when you will actually make it. The only guaranteed failure is not trying, right? Because it just could happen! With enough, persistence...

This was posted on facebook today. See, anything is possible!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I love my super smart kid

Seriously, my son is so smart. I know every mom says that, but really, he is abnormally smart. I got him a set of phonics flash cards. They say 5 and up on the box, but whatever, he gets it. He is so funny. We were going through the phonics cards tonight, and he did so well, but every now and then we'd get to one that he didn't know and he would say, "Mommy, I don't know ALL of them." He sure knew a lot though. He even knew that although "plate" starts with "P" it also has an "l," which he pointed out is "like lion." He says, "P like present, L like lion." Where does this kid come from? Then, when I squished a mosquito in the bathroom, he says, "Mosquito has an 'S' in it. It says, "Skeeto!"

Ah... my funny kid.

Strictest Teacher?

Last year, to my shock and amazement, I was voted strictest teacher in the year book. Strictest teacher? What? Me?

I was genuinely surprised. I don't think I am all that strict at all... but apparently I am. Another teacher here at school has apparently been having some trouble with getting the students to listen to her, so she came to me today for some advice about a particular student. When she told me the student, I was shocked. It is one of my honors students, and a student who I could never imagine talking back to me, yet she is talking back to this teacher very disrespectfully and not listening at all.

Then I started thinking, there are very few students whom I can imagine talking back to me. There are only a couple I can think of who would dare talk back to me in class, and I have them on a very tight leash. They know that it would be one stern warning and then a quick trip to the principal's office if they so much as rolled their eyes at me again. But seriously... that like NEVER happens in my class. I was honestly astounded to hear what is happening in this other class. I think of all my students as such good, respectful kids. Lazy, yes, but disrespectful- no. How then, could they be so different for this other teacher?

I suppose I am a strict teacher... although I don't really know what it is that makes me "strict." I honestly send maybe only 1 or 2 referrals a week, if that. There are weeks when not a single referral leaves my room. Wouldn't a strict teacher be one that is sending students down to administration left and right? It just doesn't happen in my class. It is not like they sit in rows and work quietly all period. They do group projects and discussions, and I usually let them talk quietly while they work, as long as it doesn't get out of hand and work actually gets done. How is that strict?

Okay, I do set high expectations for them, and I do expect them to meet those expectations, but I don't really see how that is strict. I do assign Saturday school if they don't get their major assignments done (not little things like homework, I am talking about major essays and projects), but I'm just being consistent in my expectations that they strive for success. That's not exactly strict.

When she came to me for advice this morning, all I could really tell her was, "Be consistent and just don't take any crap." I don't really know what else to say. I don't know how to teach discipline, because I don't think I ever had to learn it. Can it even be learned?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Three going on Thirteen?

Seriously, I get my three-year-old a big boy bed and suddenly he is acting like a teenager. As soon as he got home yesterday, he went straight to his room. He stayed in his room almost the whole time. He wants to read books and blast his stereo. I can't exactly complain. What am I supposed to stay- "Stop reading those books and go watch some tv?" Yeah, not gonna happen. We asked him to come out for dinner...

"I'm not hungry."

We made him come to the dinner table anyway, but he stayed for about 5 minutes, ate three bites and came up with some excuse for needing to go back in his room. He pretty much never came out. Okay, not true- he came out to take a bath. Then, Marc went to read him a story, and he wanted none of that. He just wanted to go straight to sleep. Marc tried to give him his bear (his security blanket and favorite thing in the whole world up until about 2 weeks ago) and Vinny refused to take it. He wanted it put back in the drawer where he had organized all of his blankets. Oh boy.

I also discovered yesterday that my prior method for waking Vinny up in the morning, which was scooping him out of bed and plopping him in front of the tv on the couch, no longer works. Now, I can't get him out of bed. I'm pregnant and having difficulty enough maneuvering the ladder without trying to carry him too. I can barely carry him as it is anymore- I certainly can't carry him down a ladder.

So, this morning, I just walked in and turned on the light and started saying, "Good morning Vinny," and just talking to him in general while I finished getting ready in my room. Then I hear a loud bark, "Stop talking! I'm awake!" Geez... Where'd this attitude come from? I wait a couple of minutes and he is still not showing signs of actually getting up so I start singing to him, which is met with an even louder, "STOP!!!" So I picked up the dog and put the dog on his bed and decided I would let Woody have the fun task of waking the little monster.

A few minutes later, my bright-eyed little man descended the ladder, leaving a panicked and trapped looking dog on his bed, which I then had to remove. "Do you want to go watch tv?" I ask. "No, I want to get dressed," he replies. What? Seriously? What happened to my sweet little preschooler? Who is this tiny teenager that seems to have taken his place? I have enough teenagers at school; I don't need one at home. At least not yet.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Today's Project

At just before 10am today, we began a quest to get Vinny a bed. A cousin of mine (well technically, my dad's cousin, so my cousin once removed) saw on Facebook that I was searching for a loft bed and happened to have one that they were not using, so we decided to go get it from them, but it was about an hour drive.

We borrowed a truck, dropped Vinny off at my in-laws, set off to first Ikea to buy a mattress (needed a cheap bunk bed mattress to put in it and that seemed to be the easiest, cheapest solution), and then off to pick up the bed. The bed was disassembled, but they showed Marc how to put it together. After a long drive home through terrible traffic (I HATE the 5 freeway), we picked up my uncle to help Marc assemble the bed (what can I say, I have a big family) and then I set off to get Vinny and let him pick out a new sheet set for his big boy bed.

Vinny was so cute picking out sheets. "I want dragon sheets, NO, Cars sheets! No, Toy Story sheets! No , I want Spiderman sheets!" I spread the several different choices out on the floor and left it up to Vinny to decide. After several exchanges, we left the store with Spiderman sheets. (Mommy also picked up a cheap set of plain green sheets to switch them out for washing every now and then). By the time we got home, the bed was almost together.

I posted his toddler bed on Freecycle (anyone looking for a toddler bed? mattress not included) and straightened up a little bit, and then his bed was done. Vinny and I quickly went to putting all his books on the shelves and his toys in the drawers. He was so excited. He kept saying, "This is a nice room!" My absolute favorite moment was as we were finishing up and he said, "Thank you for helping me clean my room Mommy!" Ahhh... I have raised a courteous boy. Lucky me.

The final product... an awesome bed and a very, very pleased little- er, I mean- big boy!


Friday, May 14, 2010

My Painful Pregnancy Paradox

I have been told by my doctors that I am carrying this baby high. I carried Vinny very low, in fact, so low that he never really "dropped" as they say. I wouldn't think that it would be much different, but let me tell you, it is....

So, I have reached this phase of my pregnancy where cravings are at a peak and food is really, really, really good. Like, I don't think I am ever this happy about eating when I am not pregnant. Everything just sounds so good and tastes so good. The problem with carrying high- very little room for food. I eat like 10 bites and I am full. Of course, I am then extremely hungry like half an hour later. The really frustrating part is, you know how when you are really enjoying something, but you are really full, but you finish it anyway, because it just tastes so good? That was me with my burrito last night. I got full about halfway through it but finished it anyway because it tasted so good. Besides, it was not a big burrito. It was a homemade burrito on like a soft taco size tortilla. Not big.

Of course, I spent all night paying for my decision by feeling painfully bloated and having awful heartburn. Ugh. Then, at like 11:30, as I was finally starting to feel better, a Chili's commercial comes on. By this time, I am totally hungry again, so the commercial about their new bottomless lunch special featuring wonderfully delicious looking soups and salads made me crazy. Obviously, this was not an option at 11:30 at night, so I went to bed. But seriously... yum, doesn't it look good?

I ate breakfast this morning, but I am still thinking about Chili's, and now, a little over 2 hours since breakfast, my stomach is grumbling again and begging for something delicious. It is just an evil trick though, because it is not like I could finish anything. Then, my kids bring me in this flier for a taco sale they are doing next week with pictures of delicious looking carne asada tacos on them. Oh the temptation. How not fair! Like I am just supposed to look at this and wait til next week. I am totally going to have to get a taco after work. Of course, I will want to order 3 tacos, but I will only be able to eat one before feeling to full to move. This is an awful cycle.

Of course, this awful cycle probably has a lot to do with why I have only gained a whopping total of 7 pounds so far, but I am not enjoying it at all.

Then, I saw someone's facebook post that said something about cupcakes. I really want a cupcake right now. A big yummy one with fluffy icing. Yumm....

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Motivated? Well, not yet.

I wish I could say that I somehow found the motivation to get through a bunch of stuff today, but I didn't. I didn't open my school bag yesterday after I got home. In fact, I didn't even bring my laptop home because I knew I wouldn't do work. I did read my son a new Dr. Seuss book I bought him, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut.

Today, based on a brilliant suggestion from my mom, I did finally start getting through a major assessment I needed to do that had gotten very messed up. I had these masks that the students had made to reflect what their character presents on the outside. It is sort of a complex concept, so I had them make masks to show it and write an explanation on a note card to accompany it. Unfortunately, with lots of students and a choir of 4th graders in my room over the weekend, they got mixed up. I couldn't tell what card went with what mask, and I didn't want to spend the time matching them up, so today, I had the students just go find them, and then I went around the room and graded them on their desks while they did a worksheet about malapropisms. Brilliant. Should have done this weeks ago. Then during 6th period my TAs created a pretty neat display with the good ones on my wall. Yea. I like having cool work on the walls. Too bad it is almost the end of the year.

Today, I actually left school at 4:00p.m. It felt great! I haven't done that in forever! The pile of papers on my desk is getting smaller, which is a wonderful thing. I talked to my administrators and I am not totally stressing finding a sub now, especially since they pointed out to me how many English teachers there are looking for work (they have a stack of over 50 resumes to look through for one position... and that is after some narrowing it down). I am not going to find someone right away, but by August there will be people who don't have a job yet, and one of those people will be happy to be my sub.

Tonight, I really am going to force myself to get things done. At least start writing that unit. Ugh... why is there so much to do?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Confession... Trying Hard Not to Mentally Check Out

I do not know if there are any other teachers out there who read my blog, but if so, perhaps you can empathize with me.

We are nearing the end of the year. The California Standards Tests are right around the corner (we start testing on Monday). The end of the year is right around the corner (June 18th). When I look at my schedule, considering the days of testing when I will not get to teach my classes at all, the two minimum days for other reasons this month, the field trip I will be taking my drama students on in a couple of weeks, the Friday and Monday off for Memorial day, and a business trip to Houston for which I will be missing a Friday, plus finals week... I have only 13 regular school days left within which to finish everything I need to teach them this year. How in the world am I going to do that? I really don't know (Okay, I do have a plan... I just feel like they haven't learned it all, and that is frustrating to me).

In addition, counting up all the days that I will be on campus between now and finals (taking into consideration that many of those are testing, field trips, etc.), I have only 20 days left to finish everything I need to finish for work on a personal level too. SO not going to happen, which means that I am going to have to do a lot of work at home between now and then if I want to get everything done. What is everything?

- BTSA. Ugh!!! BTSA is a dirty word in my vocabulary these days. It is a teacher induction program that is a total pain in the butt. It is a TON of paper. Basically, it is me proving to the State of California that I am actually a good teacher. That is sort of what a credential program is for, but once you have your credential and start teaching, they want you to prove that you actually are a good teacher before they make your credential permanent. New teachers get a temporary credential for 5 years. BTSA takes two years to complete. I am nearing the end of year one and I have a HUGE pile of year one paperwork to get ready no later than June 9. Given the picky nature of the BTSA coordinator at my school, I should probably have it done before that, since I got a 30 minute lecture for turning it in on the last day last time.

- I have a stack of papers to grade that I need to catch up on because I put off a lot in order to get through the play without losing my mind.

- My classroom is still kind of a mess. There are props, make-up stuff, and crafts supplies scattered throughout the nooks and crannies of my room. I may be moving rooms next year, and besides that, I am going through the teacher version of nesting and stressing about what a sub is going to make of all this when I leave for maternity leave.

- Maternity leave... that's another sore subject. I haven't found a good sub yet. I tried one out, but he wasn't so great. I ideally would like to find someone who has a degree in English, all the sub stuff cleared, and appreciates my teaching style and will follow what I have set out. I also ideally want someone who the students aren't totally going to walk all over. I don't know if I am going to find that.

- While on the topic of maternity leave... OMG, I am going on maternity leave! I have two choices- give the sub general objectives to accomplish and let him/her do whatever or provide detailed daily lesson plans for each unit to cover while I am gone. Obviously, I would prefer the latter, but do you know how much work that is? Even though I will be having the sub repeat units I have taught before, I don't exactly have daily lesson plans written for these units. I have unit plans... but I need daily lesson plans and I really wanted to get it done before summer break. I would love to have the opportunity to go over them with my department chair/mentor/friend Alicia (not that she won't give me time in the summer, because she will, but I'd rather not take her time in the summer for that), and I would also just like to be done and have a break. My break is not that long (only 5 weeks- we are not on a standard school calendar) and I will be in Washington D.C. for a conference for school for a week of that, so I really am going to want to spend that time relaxing.

- I am on a team of English teachers for the International Studies Schools Network (hence the traveling in the upcoming months) and I am supposed to be writing up a unit for other ISSN schools to pilot. I know which unit it is, it is well-planned needing very little changes, but I need to actually write it up in a way that it can be distributed to other English teachers. I will get paid extra for this, and I am excited about doing it, but nonetheless, it is another thing on my list of stuff to do. I really need to get it done before I go to Houston on June 4, like way before, so that means like... this week.

Given my current feeling about all of this, I have to admit, I am mentally just yearning for vacation. As much as I am logically saying to myself, "Need more time to get all this done," there is this other very exhausted and somewhat disenchanted part of myself that is saying... "Poke me with a fork; I'm done." I am so ready for break. I am longing to go to the beach, lay out by the pool, make nice dinners, take Vinny to the park, go on play dates with Vinny's friends. That's really all I want right now. When I look at the piles on my desk or my list of things to do, I am having a hard time enthusiastically working through the piles. Instead... I just want to put them all in a box somewhere and sit here doing nothing until June 18th. How do I get past that point of mental "check out" and get to work?

I don't know. I really don't know. Maybe a Frappucino would help.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Why is clothing making me cry?

So, I am not the type who likes surprises (except at Christmas), and I am definitely not that mom who doesn't want to know the gender of my baby, so I found out as early as possible. By the 2nd ultrasound I was told it is definitely a girl. I was excited for something new and to have one of each, and a little freaked out because... well, I think I do pretty well at the mother-of-boy thing and mothering a girl is a whole different ball game.

Then my mind drifted to the 20 some odd boxes of clothing in my garage. No, I am not exaggerating. I have at least 20 boxes of clothing that are all stuffed to the point of bursting. They start at preemie (Vinny was on time but only 5 pounds) and go all the way up to 18months. Vinny had a TON of clothes when he was an infant and toddler. Hmmm... now what?

I am not the type of mom who is going to want to dress my little girl in all pink dresses. In fact, it is just the opposite. I hate pink. Really, I despise pink. I kind of like pink and black or pink and brown, but overall, the idea of dressing my daughter in frilly pink dresses makes me cringe. However, I also don't think that Vinny's blue striped onesies or corduroy blue overalls are really what I will want to dress her in either. I have visions of purple sundresses and white cherry print outfits.

My mom and I had thought it might be a good idea if I found someone to swap with. I mean, someone has to be in the same situation as me and have tons of boxes of girl clothes that they aren't going to use, right? But how do I find this person? And how do I know if what they want to exchange will be all frilly pink dresses? After some searching, I found this GREAT website (and I promise, this is not a shameless promotion for personal benefit- I am not getting anything from mentioning the site) called Thred Up. It is basically a very modern clothing exchange. You pack one medium flat rate USPS box stuffed full of clothing all in a specific size range and gender and you post it on the website. You list a general idea of what is in it (which means I can pick boxes with purples and reds and whatnot, instead of pink frilly dresses). Another member chooses your box of clothing and then pays for the shipping ($13.00, which includes a small service fee for the site). You get sent a label and you ship it out. Then, you get to pick a box of clothing that you want from the site. You pay the shipping for that box. For each box you give, you get a box. It really is a fantastic idea. If I make sure to get equal amounts of each size, then I really could have a completely wardrobe for this baby for like 2 years for next to nothing.

Since some of Vinny's clothes were relatively neutral (the yellows, greens, white onesies, etc.), I realized some sorting must happen. What will stay and what will go? I don't plan on having more after this. Since this is potentially a very overwhelming process, I decided to do one box a night. I started last night. I went and found a small box labeled 8-12 pounds. As I began pulling things out of the box, at first it was going okay. Blue onesie in the bag, white t-shirt back in the box. Then, I pulled out a preemie hat from the set my dad bought Vinny when he came home from the hospital and we realized nothing I had fit my little 5 pound skinny baby. I looked at the little giraffes and elephants and tears filled my eyes as I placed it in the "keep" pile (it is mostly just white and green after all). How did this happen so fast? It seems like just months ago I was cradling this baby that literally fit in the palm of one hand, and now, he is reading me "Hop on Pop." It all went downhill from there. As I pulled out his little blue and red jumper with teddy bears playing baseball. I LOVED putting that outfit on him. As I looked at this tiny little piece of clothing I remembered it just swimming on his skinny little body and could hardly believe he had been so small. As I went to put it in the "send" bag, I started bawling. I just couldn't take it any more.

One box was certainly all I could handle in a night. I don't even know why I am finding this process so emotional. It is not like I miss him being a baby. In fact, I LOVE him being a preschooler. If I could hold on to this stage forever, I might, but I certainly don't miss sleepless nights with an itty bitty crying baby. Yet, for some reason, I cried...

As much as I have been dreading the sleepless nights and the poopy diapers, perhaps in some ways I am looking forward to holding a tiny little baby again.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

I love directing for THIS feeling

So, last night was the opening of our show. It was the second full-length show I have produced and directed and the first musical I have produced and directed. I must have lost my mind trying something this complicated for the first show. I thought I was going the easy route picking a show that came with a director's guide and an accompaniment CD (so I wouldn't have to hire/find/rely on a live orchestra) and a guide vocal CD and all sorts of other goodies (which did truly make it easier), but seriously... do you know how many different settings Beauty and the Beast has? In case you are wondering... like 9. My theater has NO wings (really, I mean NO wings, it's a joke how little space there is backstage. It is almost ironic to call it backstage). Have you ever thought about how to turn a man into a clock? a woman into a teapot? a 9 year old girl into a teacup? Or an entire choir of 4th and 5th graders into forks and spoons? I hadn't ever thought about these things... and I am not that creative... but there I was with hundreds of dollars of scripts and materials and the very expensive rights to an amazing Disney show, and doggone it... I was going to direct it.

Luckily, although I am not that creative, I am surrounded by these amazingly creative teenagers with great ideas and great enthusiasm, and I work at a school with this wonderfully collaborative spirit. The music teacher jumped right in to direct the music and one of the elementary teachers that has a music volunteered his choir for flatware and trained them amazingly. Then, it turns out that the chemistry teacher has experience with choreography. The mother of the "beast" is a seamstress who did a great job on our more complicated costumes, and my students had great ideas for everything. The show came out wonderfully.

It stood up to the toughest critic... my son. Vinny was actually scared of the beast and even told my mom during the library scene, "He's gonna be nice now." The transformation happened for my 3 year old. My mom said that the 5 year old girl sitting in front of them whipped her head around the watch the mob march off to "kill the beast" and had a look of genuine alarm in her eyes. IF we can make the little kids believe it is real, then we have done our job. People were genuinely entertained, and I could sense that they were really excited for Belle and the prince when all were "human again." There is NO better feeling than seeing all your hard work result in genuine entertainment.

I thought that there was no feeling that could compare to being on stage and sharing the magic of theater with an audience... but there is. The feeling of sitting in the back of an auditorium and seeing your vision come to life to entertain a completely packed house. Now THAT is magic!

Now a few pictures from "behind the scenes"

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

I miss my family...

It is a really good thing we went on the cruise this past weekend, because since the cruise, I haven't seen my family barely at all. Vinny has been in bed by the time I get home every night. At least tonight he was in bed but still awake and I was able to give him a hug and say good night. I laid down next to him, and he looked at me with such loving eyes and smiled and just wrapped him arms around me. He is such an amazing, wonderful person.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Field Trip!!!

So, today was our much anticipated field trip. I took my students to see Much Ado About Nothing, and out to dinner before hand. A week ago, I was angrily cursing whomever it felt appropriate to blame for the number of students who ended up on the "no field trip" list that our school creates for poor work habits. However, today, I have to say, I am sort of glad that certain students were not able to go. (My heart is still truly grieved for several whom I wish could have come, but nonetheless am grateful about some other ones).

When people compliment my students, in a way, I feel like they are complimenting me. I had about four different employees at the restaurant tell me how impressed they were with my students. It is true... they are impressive. It was only Buca Di Beppo, nothing super fancy, but my students were perfect angels. They all dressed appropriately and acted like civilized adults. They said please and thank you, they never yelled for the waiters, they waited patiently for each course to be served- even if their table was last. They politely asked, "Excuse me, ma'am, which direction is the restroom?" They were great. I was so pleased with them, I felt like a mother, beaming with pride as people complimented us on what a fine group of young people we have. Yes, we certainly do.

I also loved that the kids loved the food. I wanted it to be special for them, and I think it was. Then... they even like the show! They seemed to get the jokes and buy in to the emotional scenes. One student even told me, "Wow, this is so much better than the movie." I was glad to hear that, and even a little surprised, because personally, I was having a little trouble letting go of my affection for Kenneth Branagh's portrayal of Benedick. I think that they just loved it so much because for many it was their first time experiencing live theater. They had never before felt what it is like to experience the energy of the actors right there, live on stage. I really can't wait to see what the atmosphere is like in my classroom tomorrow. Plus- I have a WAY cool lesson planned that the kids are absolutely going to love. It is one of my favorites I did back in 07, so I am SO excited to be doing it again.

It has been a really long week (I haven't gotten home before 9pm so far this week, and probably will not until next week), but it is all worth it.


I teach English. However, because I teach teenagers and I teach in a high poverty area, I also kind of teach life. I teach them how to address envelopes, how to speak to college professors, how to behave on a job interview, etc. Today... I taught etiquette. More specifically... how to dress.

If you know me to any extent, you know that I am not exactly a fashionista. The girls from Sex in the City would definitely give me dirty looks. However, I am not exactly in danger of showing up on TLC's "What NOT to wear" either. I am somewhere in between. My preferred dress is California casual, but for the most part, I would say I know how to dress to any given occasion. My students, on the other hand, do not know the nuances of many different dress codes. I found this out when I asked them to dress business casual or professional to tonight's field trip (dinner and a play), and many of them came to me later, "We are supposed to dress formal, right?" They think of two different types of dress- formal and casual. There is nothing in between in their eyes. So today, we had a little talk about the different types of dress.

They really had no clue what business casual dress is. They planned on showing up in fancy party dresses... or jeans. Explaining that there is something in between and the nuances of these "in between" areas was quite challenging. Getting them to see that jeans and a t-shirt is not okay, but jeans and a button up with tie and blazer and dress shoes, is okay, was complicated. Explaining that a polo shirt with slacks is acceptable, while just a polo shirt with jeans and converse is not so much, is not an easy thing to explain. It took about 20 minutes.

Then you integrate in the fact that what is acceptable "casual" in California is not necessarily acceptable on the East coast, and things really get complicated. I went into that a little bit, and boy were they baffled. They honestly thought I was kidding.

My favorite questions today...

"If I color the soles of my Converse black with a sharpie, is that acceptable?"
"I brought shorts, but they are polyester and I am going to wear them with panty hose and heels and nice tank top. That's okay right?" (My thought- Sure, if you are trying to get a job as a cocktail waitress)
"If I wear some nice slacks and a vest, it is okay if I wear a t-shirt underneath that, right?" (Oh no, what have the Jonas brothers done?)