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, December 31, 2011

Guess what? We are surviving without cable!

So, we cancelled our cable this week. We got all set up with our Roku last week, but the office was closed by the time we were ready to bring our cable stuff back, so we did it on Tuesday.

Guess what?  I don't miss it. I would definitely miss it if we only had Netflix. Although Netflix has a decent selection, it just isn't wide enough and doesn't meet all of the things I want television for. The other options on Roku make our viewing selection well-rounded enough for me to not miss cable.

So, here is the scoop (since when I was searching, I really could not find this information). What do you really need to pay for on Roku? What is free?  We paid for Netflix ($7.99/month, only includes streaming- DVDs are extra) and HuluPlus ($7.99/month). Everything else we are using is free. There are some interesting channels. I imagine we will explore a greater variety later, but here is what I have loved so far:
1) Tune in Radio. Internet radio- you can pretty much get anything that streams. To be honest, all we listen to is Native 92.5, a Hawaiian station. I love it for several reasons. First of all, they play all reggae. I could possibly listen to nothing but reggae (okay, and maybe The Beatles) for the rest of my life and be completely happy. (Side note... I wonder if there is a station that plays nothing but Beatles music? Anyone know?) Second of all, I love the commercials. I know, I am nuts, but listening to commercials for restaurants in Kihei and stuff like that just makes me happy. It is kind of like I can pretend I am there or something.

2) TED Talks. I practically cried tears of joy when I found the TED channel. If you do not know what TED is, you are SO missing out. TED stands for Technology Entertainment Design. Their motto is "Ideas Worth Spreading" and they have conferences all over the world where they invite some of the greatest minds in the world to speak about technology, entertainment, and design to, well, spread their ideas worth spreading. I love, love, love these and have used these in my teaching for years. Among my favorites are Carmen Deedy's "Spinning a Story (hysterically funny Cuban woman)," Birke Baehr's "What's Wrong with Our Food System?" (smartest 11 year old I have ever heard), and Ken Robinson's "Are Schools Killing Our Creativity?"

Anyhow... so there is a TED channel with thousands of TED talks on it, and I love them. Some are TED minis, which are 3-10 minutes long, and others are full length, meaning 18-22 minutes long. A new favorite is this TED mini about Life Edited that impresses me so much. My sister would totally love this guy.

3) NBC News. My mom will greatly appreciate this one, and it has been my favorite during Tiana's naptimes this week too. You know how sometimes you just want light tv, little clips you can watch that you don't have to get completely engulfed in? Like something to have on while you do chores or eat lunch?  The NBC news channel has the Today show, among other things, for free. I like the Today show a lot. The female hosts kind of irritate me, but not enough to stop watching.

- Sports
They do have Roku channels for pretty much every major league sport, but they cost money. On average, about $4.99/month. This was too much to be worth us subscribing too, at least right now, but we are not huge sports people. If there is a big game on that Marc does want to watch, I will have no problem with him making plans to hang out with friends at a sports bar.

- Amazon Instant Video
Honestly, Amazon Instant Video has practically everything you could ever imagine wanting to watch. You can rent or purchase movies individually on here, which is very much like pay per view on regular cable, only for the cost of renting on there, you usually get to purchase the digital copy on Amazon.

However... they do let you watch almost everything for free if you are a Prime member. As of now, I am only an Amazon Mom Prime member, which was free, so I do not have access to this; however, my Amazon Mom rights are expiring in about 2 weeks (gasp), and I don't know what I am going to do. I think I am going to have to pay for the $79.99/year membership free. This would pay for itself in 20 shipments, and I ship almost 20 things per month, let alone per year, so this is probably going to need to be a necessity.  I guess at least if I will be paying for it to get the free shipping, at least it comes with free instant video access.

So.. overall, we do not miss cable. I know that next month we will most certainly not miss the $145 a month bill. Our total cost now for cable internet only is $45. Add to that the subscriptions to Hulu and Netflix and we are still saving $84 a month! 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Just goes to show...

My children are so adorable and so unique in their own ways. Tiana loves shoes and loves walking around the house in my shoes. Vinny... well, Vinny is not your typical 5 year old. While I hear stories about other 5 year olds having to decide between the 3 or 4 sports they love best, Vinny is having a hard time deciding between dance, gymnastics, and theater. While most little boys are building dragons out of legos or climbing on trees, my son thinks he is a rockstar.

He really does think he is a rockstar. He has decided to grow his hair out like a rockstar. Since he has never asserted any opinion over his hair before, I am letting it go, even though he looks like a mess.  He got a drumset, a karaoke machine, and a disco light ball for Christmas, and he pretty much never wants to leave his room now. He comes running out this morning, "Mom! I'm doing a concert on tv! Everyone in the whole word is watching it. Are you watching it?" I reply, "Oh... um... yeah!" So he asks, "Was I awesome on that last song?" Hahahahaha. Some day, he is going to be a famous rock star, and I am going to be in the wings, and crowds of people will be cheering him on, but he will still look back at his mommy for my seal of approval, "Was I awesome, Mom?" he will ask.  Sigh. Well, I guess it just goes to show, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. He is most certainly his grandfather's legacy...

When I told my dad that Vinny wanted to grow his hair out, he said, "Well, he doesn't really get to make that decision does he? Take him to get his hair cut." Um, yeah, dad, it doesn't really work that way. He is old enough to care. Yet, this comes from the man who basically let himself get fired from his first job as a supermarket box boy over keeping his long hair.
Food that catches fire is just the best ever!

In other news, I went out with my friend Katrina and friends for her birthday night and had a lovely time at the Melting Pot. It is amazing how good meat can taste just because it boiled in broth for a little while. Yum. My favorite course is dessert though. The dark chocolate fondue is the best. I think I might want to get a fondue pot and have a fondue party.

So... Katrina brought a friend along, Tanya, whom I had not met before despite having tons of mutual friends, and she was way cool and we got along great. I love when that happens. You go out with a friend and mix groups of friends and find that everyone jives perfectly together. :-)   Anyhow... so towards the end of dinner, we are chatting about things and she mentions that her husband taught at Santa Su for years. I said, "Oh, I went there for a year, who is-  wait..... what's your last name again?"  "Levy."

Oh my... her husband was my 8th grade math teacher. I hated math, especially in junior high. Until about May, I hated him too. Haha. By June, I realized he might be okay. I actually have rather fond memories of our 8th grade class trip to Raging Waters. I remember going on that giant raft ride (the one that fits like 8 people) over and over, and everyone wanting to go with him because it flew so much faster with him on it. He was a great sport. I also recall him singing along to every song on the radio on the way back on the bus.   :-)  I have very few fond memories of my junior high years, but that day stands out as a rather pleasant memory.

Well, Tanya and I had a good laugh. Such is living in a small town I suppose. She texted him on the way home and he does remember me (which is kind of funny, because I was only there for one year), but he (jokingly, I think) text her back, "You need to get older friends." Hahahaha. Actually, I am the baby of that group of friends, but I rarely think about it. I sort of think age is irrelevant. We work as friends. We have similarly aged children, and we all enjoy good food and good music and good company.  Life is sweet. Friends make it that way. :-)

Monday, December 26, 2011

Forget Spring Cleaning....

Doesn't post-Christmas really feel like the "Spring" cleaning time?  It should just be called Winter cleaning. Well, I am in Winter cleaning mode anyway.  Tomorrow will be a big Freecycle day. 

We had a very productive day today though. It worked out well that Marc was off today and it was like another weekend day, so we could get a lot done. Fortunately, Tricia and Andy were able to come over and watch the kiddos today, and it worked out really well, since we had post-Christmas shopping rounds to make. It is MIRACULOUS how much we got done in two hours without kids. We went out to a semi-sit down lunch at Panera (courtesy of my aunt Jane, who remembered it is one of my favorite places and got me a gift card for my birthday), bought ink at Staples, made a return at Macy's (necklace Marc got me was beautiful... but too tight for my tastes), went to the post office, exchanged Vinny's broken karaoke machine for a working one and did our grocery shopping. I was amazed that we got all that done in just a little over two hours. I knew that kids slow us down on the errand running front, but wow...  I never realized how much, because that was seriously miraculous, and I wasn't even tired at the end.

I think Andy and Tricia kind of enjoyed it too. Andy helped Vinny paint and build a birdhouse that Vinny got for Christmas, and Tricia played dress up with Tiana with all her new clothes. Fortunately, Tiana actually likes getting dressed. When Vinny was that age, he would kick and scream because he just hated the fact that he had to stop playing long enough to do it, but Tiana is pretty okay with it. And Tiana's new clothes are really cute. She's such a girly girl already. She loves clothes, purses, and shoes. I don't know what I am going to do when she grows up.

For dinner, we decided to run to the new Freebirds burrito place in town, hoping to get there early enough to beat the line. Well, we still had to wait in line, but it was worth it. Yum, yum, yum. It is not that much different from Chipotle, but I think I like the flavors better and the myriad of choices is very cool. Plus... that place is so my vibe. :-)

A Beautiful Christmas

It was a beautiful Christmas. We spent Christmas eve with my in laws. We had a wonderful time opening presents, eating too much delicious food, and just spending time together. My sister-in-law, Tricia, gave Vinny an elf hat, since he is so obsessed with the movie elf. He had fun being an elf all day. I spent much of the day chasing Tiana around, since so much of my mother-in-law's house is, well... fragile. Tiana managed to almost break one picture frame, but we did avoid any real casualties.

It was a rather loud Christmas morning at our house, since Santa Claus brought Vinny a drumset and his grandparents bought him a karaoke machine. We got Tiana and my niece Isabella both this adorable musical cat keyboard. Can you tell what our family's gifts are?  :-)

We spent Christmas day with my family. It had been such a long few days for Tiana that by dinner time she was just completely melting down, kicking and screaming and laying on the floor crying for no reason at all. An after dinner bottle and some cuddling with grandpa meant that Tiana fell asleep at 5:00. Oh well. At least we got some peace, and Isabella got to play with her keyboard without her bossy cousin butting in.
All in all, it was a beautiful, beautiful Christmas. :-)

Happy Birthday to Me

Having your birthday 2 days before Christmas is not ideal, but it does make for an especially exciting December. This year, my friends decided to really surprise me by having a party for me two weeks early. It was way fun. We went to my favorite Mexican restaurant in Burbank (strongest margaritas ever and best enchiladas I think I've ever had) and then to my favorite karaoke bar, Dimples. Woo hoo!  Dimples has live streaming feed on the internet, which sort of made it especially fun, since friends who didn't come were able to make fun of my husband via the internet. Hahahahahaha. Everyone was a great sport though, and my dad had an awful lot of fun. I had been waiting years to get my parents down there and was so glad they finally came. 

On my actual birthday, we had a low key day, since there were still many holiday preparations necessary. I do have to tell a super cute story though. Vinny decided to make me a birthday card. Vinny made me a "Target card," because I do so much shopping at Target. HAHAHA. He gave it to me and told me I needed to go buy myself something at Target. He is so cute. So I did. I went to Target that morning and bought myself some picture frames to finish the photo wall in our kitchen (okay, the shopping trip was planned before I received his card, but he didn't know that). He got quite the look of satisfaction on his face when I returned that morning and showed him my purchase.

We went to lunch with my inlaws and the kids. Tiana ate several bowls of salsa. (Weird, right? A friend told me it was probably because I ate so much Mexican food while I was nursing her and flavors like that do seep into the milk, so she really loves spicy food). My in laws gave me a very generous Amazon gift card that I have been dreaming about spending ever since. I am seriously giddy about the Amazon shopping spree that I will be having soon. I'm thinking Mishka CDs, maybe a necklace, some books, a new hand mixer, some candles, hmmm... what else? 

That night we had dinner with my parents and they gave in and did not get me a cake. See, I love to bake, but I only kind of like cake. I do like cupcakes, but I only like them with homemade yummy buttercream frosting and stuff like that, which is a pain. So, instead, they got me a chocolate pie from Claim Jumper. Yum!  I love chocolate pie. Probably my favorite dessert ever. 

My parents got me a canning pot, which I have been wanting for quite some time. I borrowed a friend's pot a year ago to make applesauce and I have been dreaming about canning my own sauces and such ever since. 

Overall, it was a nice birthday.   :-)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Deep Things...

Have you ever tried to explain faith to a child? Vinny has been undergoing a rather interesting spiritual process lately. He asks questions about faith related issues on a daily basis. It has really stretched me in my faith and my concept of faith.

It is important to me (and always has been) that I not preach to my children, but let my children discover and decide for themselves, as faith is, by nature, personal. I recognize that, yes, their spiritual discovery process is influenced heavily by Christianity, as this is what we believe is truth, but I try to be careful in how it is presented to Vinny. It is information, and I present it as that. More importantly, I present it in chunks, as he asks for it. As he hears information at church or in life in general, and he asks questions, I answer them. I answer them as completely and honestly as I can, while being as simple as possible, considering that he is only five years old.

Well, last night, I had to clarify for Vinny a common Christian saying that "We nailed Jesus to the cross."  This did not make sense to Vinny, for good reason, as it is merely a symbolic saying, and five-year-olds don't really understand symbolism. In trying to explain the whole "he died for our sins" concept, I found myself thinking, "How can I possibly explain this in a way that will make sense?" As I thought about it some more, I realized, I can't. Because it doesn't make sense.

Messiah. Savior. LORD. What do these things mean? In explaining it to Vinny, I listened to myself and thought, "This doesn't really add up logically." But it doesn't seem to bother Vinny, who accepts my simple explanations and has boldly proclaimed, of his own accord, "I believe in Jesus," and "I love Jesus," and I truly believe he does. And suddenly, what does make a lot of sense is Matthew 19:14, where Jesus declares that the kingdom of heaven belongs to the little children. Because children do just accept what doesn't make logical sense.

It could bother me that my beliefs don't make a lot of logical sense... but it doesn't. Not at all. Because He is my LORD. In Hebrew, LORD meant God's personal name, which he told Moses was just "I am." And that is so true. God just IS. He IS who He IS. And if we could completely explain him or understand him, then, well, in the words of the character I played at church this past week, "Well, then He wouldn't be God, would He?"

Christmas Lights

So, one of my favorite holiday traditions is driving around looking at Christmas lights. When I was little, I used to go with my mom every year.  We would drive around for hours looking at lights and oohing and aahing. This year, my mom and I took the kids out. We drove through Starbucks for Peppermint Hot Chocolate and hit several stops, all while listening to Christmas music on the radio.

For those who have asked, here are some of my favorite ones from this year:

(Obviously) Becker Christmas House
Sycamore Drive between LA and Royal, Simi

The Character House
Corner of Fearing Street and Timberlane, off of Yosemite and LA, Simi

Giant Christmas Tree
Wycloff Ave (South on Yosemite past LA ave, turn right on Damon, right on Wycloff), Simi

Lots of neat ones
Highland Road, top of Sinaloa Rd, Simi

Featured on Fritz Holiday Lights - Entire Neighborhood
Moorpark - Neighborhood near Moorpark High School
Google Timerbdale Road, Cedardale Rd, Pinedale Rd, etc.
Basically, turn left on Countrywood Dr from Tierra Rejada, then left into the neighborhood.
Drive around this neighborhood for a while, as there is something cool around every corner.
Pinedale was my favorite and there was also a person with a horse drawn carriage offering rides around the neighborhood.

Christmas Shopping

For the many of you who have listened to me complain about Christmas shopping in the past week (i.e. Barb), you will appreciate this update. For the rest of you, I will start with some background info. 

I hate last minute Christmas shopping. I hate how crowded the stores get. I hate that the shelves are picked over. I hate cranky shoppers. For this reason, I usually get my shopping done early. This year, I really did not have time to go out Christmas shopping in the past few weeks, with finals for me at CSUN and getting my grades in, and all of the activities Marc has going on at church, it just got busy. However, knowing that this was going to happen, I brought up shopping for the kids with Marc many weeks ago and tried to get him to join me on Amazon shopping. 

I am addicted to Amazon. They have practically everything under the sun, and the prices are usually comparable to retail stores or significantly cheaper. It is so easy and convenient, and as an Amazon Mom, I get free two-day shipping, so it really is just so shopper friendly. I love shopping on Amazon so much, I even buy some of my groceries on Amazon. Anyhow... so I had made both the kids Amazon wishlists with things I knew they would like and was trying to get Marc to look at them, but NO. Marc insisted that he wanted to go to a store, and preferably that we do it together. "Why?" I asked. "Why do you have to go to the store? We can shop together here from the comfort of the couch while our kids are asleep. We get to shop together and we don't have to get a sitter."  But he insisted. 

I started to realize this week that our schedules were not allowing ANY time for us to shop, not only together, but even alone without the kids. We pretty much are trading off the kids this week because of busy schedules. So, last night, I tell him to decide what he wants to get them, and I will go to Toys R Us after I get home (late, like 10:00, but TRU is open 24 hours until Christmas eve). But NO. Marc wants to shop, because he hasn't done any of the shopping yet (including for me, I assume, but he is on his own there). So, he says he is going to bring Tiana with him and go. He insists that he will somehow manage to hide from her what we are getting her. 

Now, shopping with Tiana at all is a challenge, let alone trying to prevent her from seeing what is being purchased. She is not like Vinny. She does not sit still in the cart. She tries to climb out, or rather, not quite climb, just stand. She likes to ride the shopping cart standing, like a surfer catching a wave. No shopping car restraint system can contain her. I prefer not to do ANY shopping with her, but he could not be dissuaded, so I made a list and wished him luck. 

When I got home from the movies with Vinny last night (we went to see The Muppets at El Capitan in Hollywood, more on that another time), Marc said he went, but he didn't buy anything. He said the store was a disaster, the people were cranky and rude, the prices were high, etc. He had a cart with a few things he had grabbed, but ultimately, shopping with Tiana was too difficult anyway, so he left.  Finally... he agreed that we could shop online. 

An hour of Amazon browsing later, we had found great deals on presents for Vinny, Tiana, Isabella (my niece), and a bunch of other family members we still had to shop for too. As we checkout, Marc says, "That's it?! That was so easy! I like Amazon." Geez... this could have been done weeks ago, and the presents would already be here for me to wrap, instead of showing up on Friday for me to rush and wrap. 


Saturday, December 17, 2011

No more alarm clocks for WEEKS! Yea!

So, so, so happy to be on break. I don't have to set an alarm clock for several weeks. The next time I set an alarm clock will probably be in New York with my drama kids. I can hardly believe that I do not have to teach again until January 31st. YEA!

Time to get in Christmas mode. I have pretty much been on "Christmas can wait" mode for the past 3 weeks. At least Christmas break came pretty early this year and I have an entire week until Christmas. There are so many exciting things going on. Tomorrow is an exciting day at church. I am doing a Christmas monologue at church tomorrow morning (that I actually still don't really have memorized, but I will work on it today), and Vinny's Sunday school class is performing Christmas songs.  This week my dad is in an interactive show called "Back to Bethlehem" where they recreate Bethlehem the night Jesus was born. He is a tax collector. I'm not sure what night we are going yet, but it is free, so if anyone wants to go with, let me know.  We will probably try to go early so Tiana isn't too cranky.

I also still have a ton of Christmas shopping to get done. I have only got a couple presents each for the kids (although we aren't really going to get them a lot this Christmas, but I do want to get them each a couple more things). I still also need to shop for our families. I rarely ever do Christmas shopping quite this late, but it just was best for me to put Christmas on hold this year, and I managed to get ALL my grades completely done on time with only one night up until 2am, and that was only to get my CSUN final done, so this has been a good thing.

There is so much I want to do with my kids over the next couple weeks too. I want to set up playdates with Vinny and his friends (I confess this is also because I want to hang out with my friends while Vinny is entertained by their children. This works particularly well with Tina, since Logan and Tiana somewhat entertain each other too). I want to take Vinny ice skating, since he has never been before. I want to take Vinny to the see the Muppets movie. I kind of want to take him to the one at the El Capitan where there is a sing a long before the show. It is a bit overpriced, but I've always wanted to do one of those shows with him (we never have because the movies are always 3d and my eyes don't do 3d, but this one is not).

Next week we are going to take the plunge and cancel our cable television. We ordered a Roku on Amazon, which should be here by Wednesday. Then... I am going to drive our cable box down to Time Warner and save $100 a month. Yes... $100 a month. Is that insane or what?  I am very, very nervous about life without television, as I am a little addicted to some of my favorite shows, but from what I understand, we should be able to get our favorite network shows for free with the Roku, and we'll subscribe to Netflix so the kids have plenty of choices. We'll survive. We'll have to. $100 a month goes a long way.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

7 alarm clocks 'til break...

Tomorrow is a big day. Final projects are due in both of my classes. I just finished my last paper and sent it to my partner to check. And now, I am blogging to help myself process the anxiety in my head.

It has been an unbelievably hectic time for me. I feel like Christmas is whirling on around me while I watch. I did manage to go to the Travel Town Santa Train with Marc and the kids and my parents this weekend, which was very fun, but other holiday type stuff is just passing me by. I don't think I have ever been so passive about the holidays before in my life, even the year I was a junior in college during my first trimester with of my pregnancy with Vinny. (I am not sure how I managed to get through that month at all. I was a leading role in a Christmas play during finals week- and I was taking a full course load of 15 units, plus working 30 hours a week, while terribly "morning" sick 24 hours a day).

This is the infamous Christmas "bush"
It lead to me insisting on coming on the tree shopping trip each year
We got our tree last night, since I didn't see when we would get it otherwise, and I really like to have a say in the tree. That year I was pregnant with Vinny, I let Marc go get a tree, a small one that would fit on an end table, and I made many jokes about how ugly it was. I called it our Christmas bush.

Anyhow, so we got our tree, and while I frantically graded essay revisions (I am completely caught up on these now, which is a wonderful feeling), Marc put on the lights. All of our ornaments are sentimental, since they are all keepsakes that Marc's grandma bought him, my mom bought me, or we bought the kids. Each has the year, and each has memories, and I usually very much so enjoy the process of putting them up and thinking about the people they represent- people like my sweet first grade teacher who made me a hand-painted ornament the year I turned 6, and Marc's grandma- who was an amazing woman and Marc's best friend. She passed away 4 months before Vinny was born.
Vinny's decorating prowess

But this year... I just don't have it in me. I wouldn't enjoy the process, so I was glad that Vinny enjoyed doing it with my mom. She let him get on a chair and decorate the top of the entertainment center all by himself. It is basically a pile of garland mixed with decorations, but he is very proud of it, and we are NOT allowed to touch it.

The tree turned out very nice, even if my mom did add a strand of white corded lights on it (Come on Mom... white cords for white walls, green cords for the tree). Baby proofing it worked out relatively well. We opted not to use the entire superyard, so it wouldn't be so obtrusive, which means Tiana can still get relatively close to the tree, but no breakable ornaments are at the bottom and she loves being close to it, so I think it is okay. Besides... Vinny is SO protective of the tree, he sounds the Tiana alarm any time she reaches for anything, yelling, "NO!!!" It looks pretty good, for all its baby-proofed awkwardness.

Vinny is rather particular about things this Christmas. I let him help me design our Christmas card online. I normally have these done and mailed by now, but the thought hadn't even crossed my mind until other family members started asking me for other family members addresses. (Sorry that I replied to no one, I have not had a chance to dig up the address book, so I imagine you coped without me). I realized that I would end up paying ridiculous prices for same day service if I didn't order soon, so I ordered them online tonight. Vinny and I decided on pictures from our Hawaiian vacation and decided we didn't like any of the ones of the whole family, so we ended up with a collage card. We had many arguments about which ones would make the cut. I wanted the cutest ones, but of course my class clown wanted the ones where he looks "funny." We compromised. There is one cute one of him and Tiana, and one funny one of me and him. We agreed on the one of Marc and Tiana, since I think it is adorable and he thinks it is hilarious. When did my son get so darn opinionated?

Tomorrow is Vinny's big Christmas performance at school, and he is very, very, very excited. My little performer could not be more excited to be getting to sing "Christmas in Hawaii," given our recent vacation and his current obsession with Hawaii. His teacher told them to dress in festive colors, and he is insisting on wearing the red Hawaiian shirt he got in Maui, since it is both red and fits his favorite song. Sadly, I will be missing this performance. My eyes are tearing up just thinking about this. Although I have worked full time since Vinny was 2, I don't usually miss this stuff. I even took off during finals and had a PE teacher cover my final exam when Vinny's preschool class did a performance when he was only 2 years old. I take off work for all of the important stuff, but when I saw the date of his performance, my heart sank. This week is Amnesty International's Write for Rights Write-a-Thon campaign, and my students' Write-a-Thon is today and tomorrow (different classes each day- we have block schedule). I cannot miss this. It is extremely important I am there and extremely important to my students, and I genuinely believe in what we are doing. So... I will be missing "Christmas in Hawaii." My mom, my dad, and Marc are all going. I hope they are able to get a semi-decent video.

I am glad that Christmas break comes relatively early this year so that I can have some time to enjoy the season without school on my mind. And... hopefully help my best friend move into her new house too!

Sigh.... 7 more alarm clocks until Christmas break.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Papers and Parenting

      It has been a long time since I last blogged. Life is eating me alive pretty much. I don't know what I am doing blogging right now, actually. I am way behind on papers that needed to be graded from our last unit and from revised papers the students turned in. I love that they revised their papers... but I am not in the mood to grade them. I have final projects in both my CSUN classes due on Thursday. What am I doing blogging right now?  Trying to vent and feel some sanity I guess.

     Marc's new job has been an adjustment for us, as his schedule has changed significantly. It is so nice that he goes in later and that he can get off at a decent hour when we want him to. He was able to come to Vinny's parent teacher conference this week, and he has been coming home earlier, which is great, since we didn't use to be able to eat dinner til 6:30-6:45 at the latest. That was hard since Tiana goes to bed at around 7. Having time to play and just hang out as a family between dinner and bed has been wonderful. Marc is out more nights now and busier on weekends and actually had his first of many trips out of town this week, so I do spend a little more time alone. I sort of felt like it would stink not having him to help with the kids when I have so much on my plate... but honestly, Vinny is a pretty independent kid and finds stuff to do, so when Tiana is asleep, I can actually get a lot done without the temptation to chat with Marc.

     As I mentioned before, we had Vinny's first parent teacher conference this week. Marc warned me, "My teachers always complained that I talked too much and needed to pay attention."
     I laughed and assured him, "Vinny never gets in trouble in school! He's more like me. I never got in trouble for talking in school." I ate my words.

     Vinny's teacher had a lot of wonderful things to say about him. He is coming along wonderfully academically. He is very much like me... academically. He is making great progress towards reading and sufficient progress towards math, just like my elementary school report cards. He also got the trademark "N" in neatness that was characteristic of all of my childhood report cards. It isn't that he rushes. I understand this more than anyone else. It's just that fine motor skills don't come naturally to me, or apparently to him. In preschool, it took him longer than pretty much ever other kid to figure out how to use scissors. He just doesn't have control of his fingers. Sigh. Its why I never learned to knit and still have to take my time and really focus to write neatly on my white board. However... I do love that his teacher gave us a bunch of tips for him to develop his fine motor skills. I never thought about how picking up small things makes a difference, but I will now. Last night, I busted out the Lite Brite. (Blast from the past, right? Marc picked it up at a garage sale).
This morning he is sitting on the counter so Tiana doesn't eat the pieces

     Anyway, so he's a smarty pants, but sure to Marc's prediction, his teacher says, "Vinny really likes to talk." With carefully chosen words, she proceeded to explain that Vinny is the class clown. She didn't call him that, but she did say that he loves to make the class laugh and that he has the uncanny ability to get the entire class singing. He sings that Neon Trees song Animal so much that apparently all he has to do is sing, "Oh oh," to get the entire class joining in on "I want some more."  Ah... sound like anyone you know?  Yes, that would be my darling husband.

     He is a sweetheart though and so funny (Vinny I mean. Well, Marc is too, but I am talking about Vinny). As much as I was dreading the holiday season this year, Vinny has made it such a joy. He talks about Christmas and Santa Claus pretty much non-stop and derives so much joy from Christmas movies. Plus, he is finally getting old enough to appreciate some of my non-animated favorites. We sat and watched A Christmas Story last night, which he totally got into, although he could not understand why the heck they actually bought the kid the gun. Later, we started watching the Jim Carrey Grinch on tv, but I woke up at 10:30 with Vinny snoring by my side and my computer on my lap with half an APA citation on my screen.

How does one fall asleep mid-citation?

     As one of my CSUN classmates lamented, "10 more alarm clocks to winter break."

December 16th cannot come soon enough.