Sunday, November 04, 2007

Sunday, September 30, 2007

In the Immortal Words of Ms. Cynthia - "Yo' Boy Can Dance!"

video

When They Talk about the Salmon Running, I Don't Think This is What They Mean

video

Sammy the Hammy does Halloween

This weekend we went to Raleigh to see Owen's mom off back to Michigan. After we dropped her at the airport, we took some time to visit the Crabtree Valley Mall. Now, it is normal policy that we do not enter the Disney store, however, we were interested in pricing the Little Einstein videos. (Much cheaper to TiVo and then burn to disk). While we were there, we noticed that their Halloween costumes were on sale and that we could turn Sam into a fantastically cute Nemo for just over $20. So...we bought it. Owen is working on how to upload the video of him playing in his costume to the blogs. He absolutely loves to wear it and had a complete tantrum when I took it off so he could go to bed last night. Here are a couple of still photos. You will notice the quality is awful...this is because he wouldn't stand still for a second and I had to catch him on the move.


Friday, September 28, 2007

Hello, world!


Baby #2 has made a surprise appearance at the doctor's office. I went for my first appointment thinking they would just confirm I'm pregnant. They did that, took 6 vials of blood, showed me 2, 3 and 4 D images of the baby (we even saw him/her moving!) and told me that I'm almost 11 weeks along. I'm officially due on April 20. Once again we miss Grampy's birthday (4/21) by just a smidgen. More pictures as they become available.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Sammy the Hammy

Sam started his new daycare today and, already, he is doing much better. He loves Miss Cynthia and I'm sure that's due in no small part to the fact that she took him to MacDonald's today. Her comments to Owen when he picked him up:

"Your boy can eat!" (He ate a whole Big Mac for her. Never mind the fact that he won't eat ANY meat for Owen and I...at all...period.)

"Your boy can dance!" (He loves to dance all day, every day. Music optional. Clapping mandatory on all fronts.)

So Sam is officially out of a center-based daycare and back in the home and it is a welcome change for all of us. He has made a new friend with whom he is just about inseparable and, more importantly, he didn't cry all day like he did at his last place. Most importantly, they don't make him go 6 hours between diaper changes.

Tonight, we don't go to bed dreading the moment when we push the Center doors open and he becomes the human equivalent of a barnacle on our legs, at which point we would normally pick him up and carry him into his room (because he refused to walk) and then hand him, a now snotty mess of tears and screeches, to a woman who doesn't effectively communicate to any one of the three of us that this bothers her in the least. This also means that I will no longer begin my day wiping the tears from my eyes as the Center door closes behind me.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The #1 reason we keep asking my mom to help us move...


And...some pictures of the truck that tried to kill Owen's dad by first giving him a concussion which then led to heat stroke. Needless to say, it wasn't exactly a vacation.


My Classroom






Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Welcome to...um...your new home?

Well...after two days and many "adventures" (i.e. screw-ups) we are here. Our trip began with an "emergency" stop at Wal-Mart in Gaylord for an iPod car charger where upon we discovered that Sam had figured out how to escape his car seat. Man that kid has a devilish sense of timing. And that was the good part of our trip.

Stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic just north of Ann Arbor, the Nissan overheated and had to pull to the side of the road to cool down. As the traffic was not moving, we elected to "borrow" an illegal turn-around and head back to the first exit to follow an "alternate route" (i.e. short cut/get lost) and, while following a detour because the road we were supposed to follow was closed. discovered that the oil light in the Nissan was flashing. It burned up all its oil overheating. We are now 2 hours behind schedule, have not left MI yet, and I am sitting under a tree because I cannot have the car or the A/C on. Shit. (And...and honorable mention goes out to my brother, Matt, who not only risked trouble at work by taking my call to his cell, but who answered my questions about what had happened and who explained some things to watch for and some things to try, and who also called twice more that day to make sure we were running okay.)

We managed to make it as far as Charleston, WV, where we spent the night - all 6 of us in one room. It was snug!

Today, we began the day with a call to the trucking hub to find that our stuff would not be arriving at the house today, despite the 90% assurance of the delivery at the time the truck took off. If we had wanted to assure delivery today, it would have been an extra $400 - too much.

So, Owen and I took off with Sam because we had an appointment with the realtor at 3 and so were on a pretty brisk schedule. We arrived at 3:05 and signed the lease and then were at the house by 4 to meet with the cable installer. Unfortunately for Tom, who was driving the Nissan, it overheated again in the 105-degree heat and so he had to drive through Fayetteville with the heat on and the windows down to keep the engine cool. I swear, if Owen asks for any more repairs to that car, he's going to be buried in it sooner than he'd like! Anyway, Tom gets the platinum traveler award.

Sam gets the golden traveler award for being generally good-natured the entire trip and for never throwing one of his balls at the driver. He traveled exceptionally well. I also have to give an assist to Grammy's hand-held DVD player and the Wonder Pets, without whom/which we would have likely left Sam with the hitchhiker in Tobaccoville this afternoon (that is actually the name of a place - I did not make it up to be offensive. I don't have to make things up to do that.)

So...we are here, in a suite at the Comfort Inn because a.) we have no furniture at the house yet and b.) it was so hot today that even after running for close to 5 hours, it was still 85 degrees in the house. The low tonight is 80 - not exactly window weather.

The invitation is still open - come and visit! and don't forget to email me if you need my address.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Sod off...I mean, shove off...

Our current plan is to peel out at apx. 8 tomorrow morning which, I'm not trying to pick or anything...but in my family, with Grandma Alice at the helm, it's about 2 hours to late from the getgo. But...I imagine we will still survive. We are a ragtag caravan: my Chevy (read: shitty) Cobalt; Owen's love of his life, the Nissan (I swear he will be buried in that car when he dies, so they can be together forever in the afterlife); and Tom and Cathy's zippy little blue Mazda. I don't know if I will be able to post updates every day but I will as it is possible.

We have just found out that we have been giving out the wrong zipcode for our forwarding address so, just FYI for you it's supposed to be 28314.

Please, my peeps, email me and ask me to send you my new address in whole. I don't want to post it here because who knows what kinds of unfortunate rifraf might stumble upon this paltry excuse for a blog.


Oh! Also! Flickr is coming! We will be posting oodles of pics as often as possible.

And now. sleeping pills have kicked in and are making it difficult for me to punch the correct key, and so I must skedattle. Send us good karma, positive energy, good chi, lotto tickets and whatever the hell else might seem appropriate.

Love to you all - each and every one. We will miss you but will keep a room lovingly decorated in shades of mauve and eyelet lace, awaiting your compulsory visits to chintz hell!

Houston: we are ready for takeoff!

Friday, August 03, 2007

And we're off...

The vast majority of our stuff is now on its way to Fayetteville, NC, our future home. The truck carrying apx. 1800 square feet of our furniture/junk/treasures took off this afternoon. We used a company called U-Pack that delivered a semi trailer to the house where we loaded it. Then, they picked it up and drove off with it. We will see it again next Wednesday when it is delivered to our new house in NC, ready to be unloaded and fashioned into a home.

Incidentally, anybody needing our new address should shoot me an email. For the time being, our cell numbers will remain the same.

What can I say? The kid loves veggies...

Our impending move has been more traumatic on Sam than I ever would have guessed. Who knew that a 16-month-old would wig out seeing all his things put into boxes? Anyway, it has been and )I think) will continue to be a rough next little while for him.

Perhaps this is the reason he has seemingly begun to attach himself to strange objects. He needs something to cling to. Literally. On Tuesday night, after a day of packing and hauling, we came to Owen's mom and dad's house for dinner. After dinner, while preparing to return home, Sam discovered a basket of veggies that had just been picked for the garden and, in true Sam fashion, began to unload the basket.

One zucchini in particular gave him a hard time, but upon throwing his entire body weight behind it, he pulled it out, and it became his new best friend. He carried it around with him, petting it and saying "niiiiiice" as he does with cats and dogs.

When it was time to leave, he began to get upset and so Cathy gave him the zucchini to take home. He snuggled it, talked to it and petted it almost all the way home. As he got a little more sleepy, it slipped from his arms and fell on the floor and into my purse. When we got home and I went to get my purse from the car, I found Sam's new best friend, seemingly cast aside and with a a few chipmunk-sized bites taken out of the top, the material from which I later found spit out in the car seat.

You know, sometimes the best way to get to know a new friend is to take a little nibble from his/her/it's head.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

It's official...

We have a destination. After months and months of anxiety, job fairs and interviewing, we have finally come to a conclusion about the fall. In a couple of weeks, Owen and I will be moving to Fayetteville, NC, and will both begin working in the neighboring schools. I will be teaching 5th grade and he will be a teacher assistant in a pre-k room. The tremendous upside to this is that we will both have the same breaks and, hopefully, will be able to come home for summer.

Of course, we are heartbroken to leave home and our families. Even the idea that we will be an hour and a half from the ocean all the time, though fantastic, is not enough to make us happy about going. We will dearly miss all our family and friends.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Classroom wish list

As you may imagine, I have begun to try to figure out what kinds of things I will need this fall as I set up my first classroom. To the best of my inexperienced ability to brainstorm, I have come up with the following list of things. If anybody has any of them lying around the house and would like a good cause upon which to dump them, I'm your gal. I'll even come get them if necessary (and reasonable). You can contact me via email to set that up. Items with an asterisk are more acute needs. Without further ado, here is the list:

Used printer cartridges*
Books of any sort whatsoever (preferably young adult reading level, but ANYTHING goes)*
Storage containers, any size (Rubbermaid, etc.)*
3-ring binders*
File folders*
Regular folders
Post-it notes*
Pens - especially colors other than black or blue
Pencils*
Erasers
Highlighters*
Gift cards (I can figure out how to use one for practically any store)
Paper - any weight and color
Crayons
Markers
Stickers/labels - any size and style
Magazines (home decor, family and/or science magazines are better - not as many risque ads)
Wrapping paper
Used greeting cards
A current desk calendar
Stacking trays (in-box type things)
Magazine organizer boxes
Page protectors
Clip boards
Index cards
Library book pockets
Hanging file folders

Some of you may be experienced teachers, in which case I would love any suggestions you may think of that I have not listed.

Update

Well...as of right now, I am looking at two job prospects. Of course, #1 is the job I have been offered in NC. Owen and I have both verbally accepted positions there. The only thing that could knock us off track now is an offer from a local school where I just applied yesterday. I am almost positive I will get called for an interview due to some family ties, so we'll see what happens.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Update: the job front

Well...since I have promised so many people that I would keep them posted on the job happenings, I thought it might just be easier to post it all here. So, here goes:

North Carolina: I have officially been offered 2 jobs. One, I have turned down in favor of the other one. This one is currently my best offer but I would like to have as a backup. The principal and I have struck an agreement that I have until July 17 to make a decision. In the meantime, she has pulled out the big guns to help sway my mind. On the table so far: a job for Owen (he has been officially offered a TA position from a principal at another school), the ideal position for me (5th grade double block - I would teach only English and Social Studies), new technology (including a digital projector and a smart pad) and, a facility that was just built last year. Despite the fact that this school is the district's pride and joy, it remains an official backup for me because a.) I desperately want something in MI if at all possible, and b.) the pay is pretty pitiful - especially for Owen's job. On the other hand, the cost of living is much lower as well.

Florida: I have a couple of leads here. One is a job in Miramar that I have been called to set up an interview for. I will schedule that on Monday. They have agreed to accommodate me with a phone interview. The other is with a school district near Sam's godfather in Manatee County. I have applied but have had no word from them so far. We like these possibilities because the pay is better than in NC and, if we had to leave MI, we would at least still be near friends and family.

Kentucky: I have had a preliminary interview with Jefferson County Schools (Louisville) and am on hold until their staff return after the 4th of July from their summer holiday.

MI: Chances here remain somewhat slim. I have applied for jobs all over the state but have yet to hear anything encouraging from any of them. I am holding out hope for a junior high position in Marcellus that Owen's sister tipped me off about. But competition here is very stiff with the current state of our economy and its effects on public education. I am beginning to feel desperate.

That's all for now....bedtime!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

So...this is what hell must be like...

Sam has been sick since Friday. Sick with what was, until yesterday, some random, unidentifiable crud. He wouldn't eat, he wouldn't drink, he had a fever and was very lethargic. Also, when not asleep, he went into what I like to call "siren mode," continually shrieking and disrupting interplanetary communications as far away as Alpha Centauri (about 25.8 trillion miles away). Perhaps you heard him? (He is doing it at this very instant.)

On Sunday we took him to the walk-in clinic because we were beginning to worry and, frankly, we were worried about long-term hearing loss. The P.A. we saw was unable to determine the problem, but gave us a prescription for antibiotics and told us to make sure he saw his pediatrician soon.

Translation: "Um...I don't know. But here are some antibiotics so you don't feel like you wasted your money coming here and, since it could actually be something serious, you should make sure he sees somebody who actually knows what he's talking about."

Upon seeing the pediatrician yesterday, not our regular doctor but one of his partners, she informed us that, because of his symptoms and the time of year, she believes he has the Coxsackie Virus. I know...this sounds very strange and exotic. It is the more scientific name for Hand, Foot and Mouth disease. I have been telling everybody he has the Coxackie virus because nobody knows what it is and Hand, Foot and Mouth disease sounds too much like Hoof and Mouth disease that pigs and cows get and it just sounds dirty and unsanitary to me. (Actually, it is distantly related to Hoof and Mouth disease in the same viral family.)

Anyway, he has been home from daycare since then (except for half the day today at which point Owen called me and begged me to come get him) and we have been "bonding."

Translation: he cries and wants to be picked up, put down, picked up, put down, picked up until I finally put him in his bed and he sleeps for more than 3 hours at a go.

I'm not exaggerating and I would be lying if I didn't admit that I live for these moments of peace and quiet, rare as they are lately. Because of the ulcers in his throat, he is in pretty constant pain and is taking both Tylenol and ibuprofen on a staggered schedule. This makes the nights very, very long. At least his fever has broken, though.

Owen said these were the days that would remind us why we wanted to have a baby. At the risk of sounding like a horrible mother who deserves to lose her mother of the year award, I told him that, actually, these were the days that made me wonder what I was thinking in the first place. Also I told him that I was a damn fool if I ever thought I could make it as a stay-at-home mom.

Those women are freaking AMAZING...and I say that without the slightest hint of sarcasm.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

One of the best books I have ever read...


If I Am Missing or Dead
By Janine Latus


My mom bought and read this book and then gave it to me and told me that I had to read it and pass it on to my sister. I finished it last night night before bed, and just laid there, in my bed, crying for a little while after I'd finished. It is, perhaps, the saddest book I've ever read. Where this woman got the courage to share her story, I don't know. It's amazing...and it will blow your mind.

You will be horrified and appalled...and you will wish you could have done something to help too. When you finish reading it, you will think to yourself that you have to find away to help combat the epidemic of domestic abuse millions of women and children face every day, even if it's something small...take a bad of groceries to your local shelter...donate a gift card for a salon...volunteer your time to help with household improvements or staffing a crisis line.

Everybody should read this book...if you are a mother or father, a brother or sister, teacher, social worker, a woman in a relationship...even a man in a relationship.

Friday, June 01, 2007

A day in the life of a P.E. teacher

Because I am a stunning specimen of health and physical fitness...

Since finishing my student teaching and returning from Florida, I have been working as a substitute teacher. It has been interesting and I have learned a lot. Like, for example, I would rather chew off my own arm than teach kindergarten...or first grade. I love kids, and if all I had to do was play and make art projects, I would be there in a heartbeat. But teach? Meet benchmarks? Those people deserve sainthood, as far as I'm concerned.

Today I subbed for the P.E. teacher. This was also an interesting experience. I had 2 groups of 3rd graders in the morning and then 2 groups of 2nd graders and one group of 5th graders in the afternoon. I think, maybe, by the time the second group of second graders rolled through, I had finally perfected how to give them directions to correctly play my version of dodge ball and I had also finally found the balls that wouldn't send them home missing more teeth than they came in with. It only took me 4 classes! Also, I have never in my life told more kids that no, they did not need to go to the office for ice/band aids/TLC unless they were risking life and/or limb by remaining with us in the gym. In my world, "but I think I can feel the blood pulsating and pushing and trying to break through my skin" means slightly less than "my toe itches." Come on, guys, the secretaries have more important jobs to do than kissing boo-boos. I am such a hard ass...

But my biggest experience of the day had to be dealing with my first physical altercation resulting in a suspension. The 5th grade class was playing soccer - a bad choice on my part. The no-personal-contact game of dodge ball was MUCH better. Anyway, a young man informed me upon walking into the gym that he had been gone for so long he didn't remember which squad to line up with. And I kind of blew it off because kids are always trying to screw with subs and because before I could even address his question, his classmates reminded him where he should sit. I thought it odd that somebody would be gone for that long, but, well...whatever.

So then we began our "friendly" game of soccer. Which, as it turns out, was not so friendly. As I was on my way to speak to the same young man (the same one who did not know where his seat was) about the fact that he was receiving his one and only warning against calling his classmates "whore" (the next time, you're out of here, man), when he went after her, kicking at her shins with such force that both of her legs flew backwards and she landed, head-first, on the floor. He then kicked her again and in my abject terror, I did not see exactly where the second kick landed. I am not exaggerating. And the thing that was so horrific was not that he had just kicked her harder than anyone I have ever seen kick another person outside of the Sopranos. What was so shocking to me was the absolute calmness and placidity with which he executed his maneuver. It reminds me of that scene in Silence of the Lambs when Hannibal Lechter attacks the guards in Memphis (allowing him to escape) and literally beats one of them to death without so much as a facial expression, good, bad or otherwise.

After I had told him to go to the principal's office, he chuckled and smirked as he moseyed his way along. I, in the meantime, was seriously worried we were going to have to call an ambulance. But the young lady seemed to be pretty much okay other than being a little banged up. She went to the principal's office as well, and stayed there for the rest of the class period.

When I was finally able to dismiss the class, I immediately went to the office myself. One, because I was worried about the poor girl (and the office staff, for that matter. For all I know, I could have found him eating their livers with fava beans and a nice chianti.), and two, because I was mortified that such a thing had happened on my watch. I apologized profusely to the secretary (while also looking around for the principal so I could apologize to him too) and told her that I was horrified that this had happened. But she just smiled and waved it off.

"Oh, don't worry," she said. "This is the first time he's been allowed back into gym class in months. He's E.I. (emotionally impaired - and I could have diagnosed him myself. E.I. with a side of sociopathic tendencies), you know, and he does this kind of thing all the time. The normal gym teacher won't even take him if the principal isn't here to come get him when he gets kicked out." GREAT....I think to myself. This is the kid the ex football hero/gym teacher refuses to deal with and you send him back to gym for the first time with a freaking SUB???

In retrospect, I think I am quite lucky that he actually left the gym when I told him to. I wonder how my liver tastes...

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The ill-fated climbing expedition
Just north into Canada about 2 hours.







Jeeping







The best way to end the day? Sharing a Superman ice cream cone with Aunt Rach.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

I hate kindergarten...

but one of the kids said something funny to me today as I was subbing:

"Wow...you're kind of small for a grownup."

This sentiment was echoed later in the afternoon when I moved on to sub in a 4th grade classroom:

"Wow...I'm taller than you...and you're the teacher?"

Well...at least I got a nice little vacation...

So...Florida was a bust from a professional standpoint. The job fair was a disaster. On the other hand, I had a great visit with friends and family!

After we got home, we headed straight for the U.P. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. We had a lot of fun. Drove to Canada on Saturdday so Rachel, Jeff, Matt and Owen could do some rock climbing. The rest of us just tagged along 2 miles back into the woods to take pictures. That ended in a bit of a quagmire as well.

It turns out the bugs were REALLY BAD. Taking Sam into the woods was a horrible idea and so Joseph (my 11-year-old nephew) and I took Sam back to the car to wait it out while they climbed. It was also pretty hot and so I passed Joe the keys from the backseat where I was sitting with Sam and asked him to start the car. The air come on and so did the music and there we sat, enjoying snacks and drinks and the cool, bug-free air. That is, until the car quit. And wouldn't start.

I panicked and told Joe to run back through the woods and get his Papa and tell him the car quit. Being 11, he chose to do it the 11-year-old way which involves standing at the edge of the trail and yelling back into the woods. It took a little convincing, but eventually they came and determined that Joe hadn't actually turned the car on all the way. He'd just turned the key far enough to power the dashboard. Crap.

Luckily, we had left Rachel and Jeff's Neon back at the road, and so the 4 of them ran back to get the car. It took about 45 minutes because the Neon kept bottoming out on the 2-track. But eventually we got the car started and headed home.

The next day we had a great time running through puddles in the limestone quarry with Owen's new Jeep. It's a 69/72 hybrid with big old tires and a lift. I imagine at one time it was quite the rock crawler but it did okay by us on Sunday. We had a lot of fun. Pictures coming soon (as soon as I can download them from the camera).

Monday, May 21, 2007

Waaay too much spare time...

I didn't have much to do today because yesterday I rode down to TC with my mom and dad in order to save gas by not driving myself down today. (I fly out from here at 7 a.m. tomorrow.) So I spent the entire morning at the house with nothing to do, which is an experience I've not had in a really long time. No school work, no homework, no housework and no baby. It was so weird.

So I found myself watching home improvement shows on the Fine Living Network - a new one to me since we don't have it. I love those shows. I love to imagine what I would do to decorate if I had a house. Anyway, as often happens when watching TV, a commercial came on and, since my parents don't have TiVo yet (it's still on order), I was forced to actually watch the commercials. And this commercial for a bagless vacuum came on.

It was so pretty! It was mesmerizing to watch all those shiny glitter particles flying around and around looking like what might happen if the Tasmanian Devil had babies with a disco ball. I found myself thing that Owen and I should have a pretty vacuum like that.

And then it occurred to me that it probably isn't nearly as pretty watching cheerios and dust bunnies flying around like that. In fact, there's probably very few things less appealing to watch than hair-covered, shriveled up pieces of hot dog and dill pickle flying through the air with the greatest of ease.

So, unless I am planning to start feeding Sam glitter (which may also make chaing his diapers a more pleasant experience), a bagless vacuum is totally out of the question. I mean, the whole reason we vacuum things up anyway (apart from the fact that it feels vaguely disgusting to step on them) is because we don't want to see them anymore. We certainly don't want to keep seeing them at 500 rpm.

It's a darn good thing we don't even need a vacuum. Also...I am beginning to think that having TiVo is actually saving us money.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Bittersweet

Well, after 3 ½ years of evening and weekend classes, I am finally finished with school. Friday was my last day student teaching in room 3-P. Now, as soon as I can find a job, I can finally call myself a teacher. (As one of my kids wrote in a farewell letter, "Mrs. H. I hope you get a job as a real teacher someday.")

I am surprised I didn’t cry on Friday when I opened my gifts from the kids. I got very emotional for a minute and then talked myself down, thinking that I didn’t want them to see me cry because I didn’t want to upset them too. But it was a bittersweet moment. I was so happy to finally be finished but was also so sorry to have to let them all go. I told them they were one of the best groups of kids I had ever been lucky enough to work with and that’s the truth – they are amazing.

It’s been a strange week. This is a huge accomplishment for me…and for my family. I feel like I am finally in a position where we might finally be able to get our sh*t together. 4 years ago when I finished college, my mom had to persuade me to have a graduation party. I didn’t feel much like celebrating. Yes, it was a big accomplishment since I had left school after Owen and I got married. But I knew I wasn’t finished - it was only a short-term victory. It didn’t seem worthy a big celebration. I knew I wouldn’t yet be able to begin my career and so it didn’t seem like much of a big deal.

Now I am ready. After 10 years of “post-secondary” education, I have finally finished and am ready to begin my career. I feel ready. I know I am well prepared. And I can honestly say that my “taking the long route” has better prepared me to be a good teacher. But this too has been a bittersweet ending. Finally, I feel that I have made a tremendous accomplishment. I have finished…this is huge. I am now able to have a real career. This means big things…HUGE things…for Sam and Owen and I…and yet I feel unable to celebrate it because…

And all that remains is for me to get a job and this is the very difficult part. The market for teachers in the state of Michigan is beyond horrible. Many schools are laying off employees and, in some communities, they are closing. As of right now, there isn’t even any guarantee that schools will receive the rest of the funding to finish out this year, let alone hire more teachers next year. Many schools seize the opportunity presented by retiring teachers to thin down the staff. This is a tremendous opportunity for them reduce their staff without having to buy out contracts or pay severance packages.

Despite almost daily searches for available positions, I have thus far found exactly zero positions for which I am eligible in this state. Opportunities in other states abound. In fact, I am flying to Fort Lauderdale on Tuesday and am guaranteed to walk away with an offer. And not just an offer of a job…an offer for THE job I want. No settling for a lower elementary job – a job that would do okay but which I would not prefer to middle school English. This is my insurance policy. It is the guarantee that I need to be able to sleep at night. It will allow me to know that, come hell or high water, I will have a job this fall. We can finally begin digging our way out of the financial mess we have made trying to finish college and working at Blockbuster. I did not work my ass off for all those years to work at freaking Blockbuster for the rest of my life.

But let me make one thing clear: I don’t want to leave. I lived in Florida before and, to put it mildly, I didn’t love it. But things are different for me now. I have a family to take care of…and many, many college loans to pay off. 10 years’ worth, to be precise. And have I mentioned that a job in the Broward County School District would pay $10,000 per year more? I have huge responsibilities…bills to pay…college loans…a child to support…a husband who wants to spend the rest of his life making $12/hr. teaching preschool.

The mere possibility of leaving home has already caused me more sleepless nights than I can count. I cannot communicate how much I hate the thought of taking Sam so far away from his grandparents and the rest of my family. I was so close to my grandparents…and I have always wanted that amazing relationship for him. He adores his grandparents. The thought of taking that away from him and from them breaks my heart. I tell myself that it will only be for a couple of years until the MI economy improves or until I have some experience under my belt and am more employable here. I could work on additional certifications so that I can find a job here and we can come back home. But still, leaving is leaving…for one year or 10…or whatever…and the thought of it makes me sick.

And so I don’t much feel like celebrating…even though I had just made one of the biggest accomplishments of my life.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The rundown: a few facts for your perusal

Just in case you need to tell my story to the Grand Jury:

Fact: Owen had to stay late at work tonight for CPR and First Aid training so it was just Sam and me all evening.

Fact: Fact Owen was joking about Sam's mullet when I went to pick him up at school today.

Fact: Once you snip a little, you have to keep going or it looks funny.

Fact: Just as it is impossible to dig your way out of a hole, it is almost as impossible to cut your way out of a bad DIY haircut.

Fact: Just because you watch Bravo's Shear Genius, it doesn't mean that you are in any way entitled to wield a pair of Cutter Bees (scrapbooking scissors) against the delicate locks of your year-old son.

Fact: Owen does not yet know that I cut Sam's hair, though me may find some evidence on the ground in front of our apartment building because I wrongly assumed that if I shook out the towel off the balcony, the hair would just fly away. It didn't. It's all over our entryway.

Fact: Apparently, I cut off a sizable amount of hair.

Fact: I'm not telling Owen. I want to see if he notices and maybe assumes that Sam was abducted by alien hair stylists during the night. (After all, it could be a family thing.) Or maybe that he has been prematurely affected by male pattern baldness. After all, that DOES run in the family.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Photos of Sam "The Man"

(Sam LOVES to read. It will soothe him when he is cranky or when he falls down. We often give him books in the car. They keep him occupied for a long time.)




(Sam regularly goes into his room and takes out several books and then sits on the floor with them all around him. Often, he has them all open and he takes turns turning the pages,)




(Sam also really loves to swing. His new favorite game is called "Kick Daddy in the Face." Guess how it's played...)


(And, of course, what kid doesn't love bath time? Sam especially likes to try out bubble wigs and bubble moustaches and goatees.)

Ta da!

After significant absence I have returned.

I’m hoping you’re all still lurking out there or that you might have begun to use Google reader and so you’re picking up the new post that way. Or you’re some poor loser who hit the Blogger next button and here you are smacked upside the head with this poorly updated P.O.S.

In any case, dear reader, I’m glad you’re still here!

Here are some updates about us:

I attended a job fair at CMU a few weeks ago and have gotten several job offers, some of which we are considering and some we are not. Our options include: Hoke County, NC; Baltimore, MD; Ft. Lauderdale, FL; Prince George’s County, MD; Louisville, KY. I’ll keep you posted as thing develop.

I have gotten a summer job as the lead teacher for the school-age day cam where Sam goes to daycare. This means that the Harrington family will be doing our part to keep Al Gore from making any more movies (that was a joke – I’ve never seen his movie) by all riding to work/school together every day. Hooray!

Sam is walking. Alternately, Sam is falling. A lot. Yesterday I thought he might take out our sliding glass door. Luckily, it’s still tougher than his head. Owen has taken to calling him “the walking bruise” while I remain attached to “booger face” as he has recently recovered from his first sinus infection brought on, no doubt, by his recently diagnosed allergies. (Could you hear me sigh just then?)

I am in my last week of student teaching and am having major separation anxiety about leaving my kids. Yes, they are “my kids” now. I find I am listless and without direction most evenings, having completely forgotten what life is like with no papers to grade. I am also fairly well dying to know what grade I will be teaching in the fall so I can start planning my year and gathering materials.

Well…I know that’s not much of an entry, but it’s something, right? I’m planning to post a few pictures of Sam here in the next day or so.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Ladies and gentlemen, please direct your attention...

...to Owen's blog. I realize many of you had given up on him, but he's posted again. Why, you ask? What should I go see? Why, one of Sam's first birthday portraits. It's not to be missed! Something very interesting "developed."

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Birthday Boy

Enjoying a little birthday ice cream...

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Similie Study

This week we have been studying similies. I asked the kids to write some similies about themselves. Here is what I got:
Translation, for those of you who don't understand third grade spelling and grammar:
I am as mad as a bear.
I swim like a fish.
I am as huge as a tiger.

Get your minds out of the darn gutter....jeez....they're THIRD graders!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Third grade word of the day:

Cowomperation: (n.) The act of physically persuading your group-mates that you really do get along and that they have a physical need and desire to agree with whatever you say.

Friday, March 16, 2007

The future is now...

I’ve been feeling badly about neglecting what little readership I have, and so I have decided to make an attempt to play a little catch-up with everybody.

School keeps me insanely busy. I am there by 7:30 every morning, and don’t usually get home until sometime between 6 and 8. I try to get home before Sam goes to bed whenever I can but Owen has been a champ about bringing him in for little visits.

The class I’m with is incredibly diverse. There are very few average kids. We have some very, very high kids, and some very, very low kids. The issues I had to deal with this week included: bullying, a 3200 Abuse/Neglect report to Child Protective Services, an abused child who is now wetting his pants regularly (this is NOT the 3200 kid), a child who will be retained next fall, a child with a 150 IQ and enough social problems to drown a fish, and all the “regular” gunk associated with parent/teacher conferences. I am physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted and it is well earned. Proof: my adviser has told me, “Sarah…I pray for you every night…you’ll be okay.” All that said, I absolutely love teaching and am very excited at the prospect of having my own classroom next fall.

For those of you who don’t know as much about Sam as me, his first birthday is next month. I can not believe how quickly the year has flown by. I see little newborns now and I can hardly remember what it was like when he was that little. I’m looking forward to having another baby at some point because I think I can do better this next time around. Looking back, I see how hard it was for me those first few weeks and how much I struggled. People who say you can never be ready are right.

Speaking of birthdays, if you know me (and aren’t just a stranger from the internet who was so unfortunate as to have been mistakenly directed to me) and are interested in coming to Sam’s first birthday party on April 7, please give me a call. If you know me, you know how to get ahold of me.

Sam is growing like a weed. He’s very tall and lean and, because of that, looks a lot older than he is. He does not have the chubby baby face. He stood for the first time this week and the only reason I know is because Owen decided it was better to tell me and let me cry because I missed it than to not tell me at all. And, I didn’t cry, actually/amazingly, I was just bummed I missed it.

Owen left his job with TLC to work at Sam’s daycare. He took a bit of a pay cut, but it slowly making up the difference with freelance technology work. Also, I get paid to sub every now and then.

All in all, life is good here in the northland. I’m very excited about our upcoming move, and only wish I knew where it would be too. I am optimistic about getting a teaching job and am willing to work at any school in order to do it. I told my mom this weekend how exciting it is to be on the cusp of an actual career as opposed to working in a job where I know I have no future. My future is finally here…

Monday, February 26, 2007

Pictures for Grammy

Grammy has been on vacation for almost 2 WEEKS now and is missing the Sam-o-rama. So, here are some pictures to make her smile.






And here is one I found when I went to get the others off the camera. It's Sam and daddy, waiting for the nurse to come get Sam to have his tubes put in.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Excuses, excuses...

So…worst blogger in the world…I know.

BUT – I have a good excuse. Here’s what’s been going on:

On February 8, I developed major abdominal pain. I called the surgeon who operated on me in October to make sure that it wasn’t some kind of a complication from that surgery and, they thought it might be so they told me to come into the office. BUT – it’s a 1 ½ hour drive down there and by the time I would get there they would be closed. So they told me to go into the ER and have the on-call doc for their office paged.

Long story short: I was hospitalized with gallstones. I had a procedure called an ERCP to have two stones removed from my common bile duct – they were causing blockage and the pain and nausea. Basically, they knocked me out, put a scope down my throat and then used electrical current to cut a small hole in the bile duct to let the stones out. They also told me that I would need to have my gallbladder removed.

Flash forward to yesterday when I was taken back for surgery at 11 a.m. to have the gallbladder removed. It’s outpatient surgery, so I’m home again but I’ll be off for the next week recovering. Because I’m allergic to steri-strips, they GLUED me shut!

Also, I have a prescription for some pretty good pain killers which, surprisingly, I don’t need nearly as much for my abdomen as I do for my shoulders. According to Owen, they pumped me full of about 2 liters of CO2 for the laparoscopy. A lot of this gets absorbed into the body tissues and it takes a couple of days for it to work its way out. In the meantime, it migrates to the highest point in your body, which is fine when you’re lying down, but when you sit up, it travels into your shoulders and it very painful. And, wouldn’t you know it, sitting up is the best way to get rid of it. So you just have to kind of work through the pain with deep breaths, which also helps get rid of it.

So that’s my excuse/story. I could have gotten a note from the doctor excusing me, but you’re not the boss of me…

Sunday, February 18, 2007


This is a "vintage" photo taken of Sam at daycare.

Monday, January 29, 2007

What do you want first? The good or the bad?

First, the funny part:

Today at school the kids had some free time and so a group of them were engaging in a rousing game of Outburst Junior. The category for this particular round was "Body Parts You Can't See" and the kids were throwing out answers left and right. As the time for the round grew close to running out, the moderator began to give hints by sounding out the beginning of the words/phrases, such as s....sk...skel....skeleton. When she began to give the hint n....ner... one of the kids jumped in and yelled "Nerple!"

And now the shitty part:

Sam now has his 7th ear infection since September. We took him to an ENT on Thursday who informed us that he will need to have tubes put in his ears. That isn't so bad because we were kind of expecting to be told that. I had them twice when I was a kid for the same reason. However, they called today to let us know that they had checked with his insurance carrier for coverage and they are considered "out of plan." So....we will have to pay a $1,000 deductible AND a portion of the total for the procedure AND the fee for the doctor for the procedure which has to be done as an outpatient procedure at the hospital because Sam is an infant and will have to be anesthetized. And...have I failed to mention that we're on one income until May?

Yes...we sent paperwork to DHS today to see if he will qualify for MI Child. Otherwise we will have to reschedule his procedure.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

two things...

Two little tidbits for today:

1. Due to my frenetic schedule, I have lost 6 pounds this week. I am so busy that I don't have much time to eat and am too busy to realize that I'm hungry. The upside of this is that I don't have time for Tae Bo and, apparently, don't need it. I suggested to Owen that we celebrate with cake. He thought an "I-just-lost six-pounds-and-need-to-gain-it-back-pronto-cake" was not such a great idea. I suggested cupcakes instead.

2. Humorous third grader comment of the day: "Excuse me, pardon me! Adult coming through! I shave EVERY DAY!!!"

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Update...

I must apologize for my recent lack of blogging. As it happens, I have been quite busy leaving my job to be an unemployed student, something I have not had the privilege of enjoying since 2001.

My days last week were filled by listening to voice mails of last-minute requests from my boss and then performing whatever task that she didn’t want to have to do herself or that she wanted to put off at least another month. Not that I can blame her. If it was so great, I never would have left.

On Monday I began my first week of student teaching. The kids are fantastic – caring, nurturing and very well-mannered. They also represent a huge diversity in ability levels. There is one little boy, cute as can be, who is testing at high-school level with logic problems. There are also 10 children who receive Title 1 services, 2 who receive special education services, 1 who gets speech therapy, 2 who have mentors and 2 who have high school “buddies” to help them. Of course there is some crossover among these kids, but not nearly as much as anybody would love to see. All in all, it is a very diverse group.

Here are some of the things I have been told so far this week:

“Older people make me nervous.” (“Am I an older person?”) “Um…yeah…I think you’re about…39.”

“You smell nice…(child leans uncomfortably close to me, her face right into my neck)…I think it’s your hair.”

“It’s okay Ms. H…I drop things all the time too.”

“My sister has a boyfriend. My mom says that she better quit seeing him or she’s going to go to prison.”

So far, I have been to a staff meeting and teacher mentoring meeting and tomorrow I will attend a Title 1 meeting with my CT (Cooperating Teacher), the principal and the Title 1 teacher. When I asked my CT where the meeting would be, she told me it would be in the P’s office. This made me instantly nervous because I have only ever been to the P’s office twice before: once in HS because he wanted to know how to say my last name at graduation, and once in 4th grade because I had the audacity to laugh during silent lunch hour in the cafeteria.

This was by Mrs. Stratton, of whom I distinctly remember my mom saying, when learning that she had been a kindergarten teacher, that she must have taught kindergarten at a military academy. She was ornery as hell and used to make us eat lunch silently in the gym. I actually ran into her last week at the salon after treating myself to a facial. She looked the same, almost 20 years later, which gives you some indication of how frumpy she was back then (think: the grandmother from Flowers in the Attic).

The next 14 weeks promise to be filled with memorable moments (i.e. our upcoming field trip to the nursing home) and I will share when I can. At the moment, I am becoming very, very busy with school, but I love every minute of it. I hope my feelings won’t fade as my workload becomes greater. For now, I am struck by the poignancy of a quote a I heard a long time ago. I have no idea to whom it should be attributed: “Do what you love, and never work another day in your life.”

Also, my apologies for missing Blog for Choice Day. I didn't have time to put together anything as well thought-out as last year's piece. Some of y0u may remember last year's piece, and my 15 minutes of fame when it got picked up by a few national blogs and bigger city newspapers. I suppose I had nowhere to go but down, and so I didn't even try this year, given my tight schedule. Maybe next year...

Monday, January 15, 2007

Dream a little dream of being in a different movie theatre...

This past weekend my mom and my sister and I went to see Dremagirls because it finally opened here. Let me begin by saying that I LOVE musicals and that I have a discerning enough sensibility to understand the difference between a musical and a rock opera (or, in this case, a Motown opera). I was extremely disappointed in the movie.

The plot was ludicrously predictable, the music was over the top, the “musical” moments were ridiculously sentimental and the movie’s story progressed in irritating fits and starts – some scenes took eons to end and then transition-free jumps ten years forward without many visual cues. I think the writers and directors would have been better off committing to doing an actual Supremes biopic (with real Supremes music!) instead of pussyfooting around with this bastardization.

I understand that this is actually a screen adaptation of a Broadway musical; however, it did not translate well to film. Its momentary forays into the genre of rock opera were tentative and sporadic – not enough to be committed to the style, but enough to make you sit there thinking “What the hell?” as you check your watch every 30 seconds to see how much longer ‘til the movie is over. This film lacked the commitment to the genre to make us believe it as a musical and, as a result, became more soap opera than rock opera, with random and seemingly haphazard outbursts of singing.

Beyonce’s performance was lamely milquetoast - I can’t stand to see a character so sickly sweet and without any realistic grit, someone with whom the audience could possibly identify. Give us a character we can root for or against, but don’t shine the spotlight on such a lame wallflower.

As I see it, there were only two good things about this movie but, from where I stand, they were good enough to earn some award-season recognition but not enough to make it worth watching the movie. First is Jennifer Hudson’s performance. Though I’m not a fan of raving vocals that climb up and down three sets of scales at a riff (or whatever the hell you call it), her vocals were soulful and her performance was excellent. I love her, and I hope we see more of her. The second great thing was the makeup and costuming, which was absolutely fantastic. It was, perhaps, the most enjoyable aspect of the movie, flashy and dazzling at every turn. I even loved the wigs and jewelry, and when do I ever notice that stuff?

All in all, it gets two big thumbs down from me. If you want to see Jennifer Hudson, try YouTube or something. And if you want to see shots of the costumes, try IMDB or Google. Don’t waste your time going to the theatre only to spend the evening waiting for the movie to just be over. Save your money.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Everything you need to know about the world:

If the Earth’s population was shrunk into a village of 100 people - with all existing human ratios remaining the same - the village would look like this:

52 Female
48 Male

30 White
70 Non-White

57 Asians
21 Europeans
14 North and South Americans
8 Africans

70 Non-Christian
30 Christian

89 Heterosexual
11 Homosexual

6 people would possess 59% of all the wealth.
All 6 of them would be from the United States.

80 would live in substandard housing.
70 would be unable to read.
50 would suffer from malnutrition.
1 would be near death.
1 would be near birth.
1 would have a college education.
1 would own a computer.


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Random thoughts of the day...

Why is it that every time I shop for a condolence card, I cry? Even if I’ve never event met the person... Sometimes I wonder if I need stronger meds.

Sam can’t take swimming lessons this month as I had planned because he has to see the Ear, Nose and Throat doctor on the 19th about the possibility of having tubes put in his ears. I’m so bummed. Not that I was really enjoying the idea of parading around in my swimsuit once a week, but still…

It’s pretty much time to start taking my personal things home from work so that I don’t have to bring in a U-Haul on my last day. I can hardly believe that my last day is just a little more than a week away. I’ve been waiting for this for so long, but I’m still a little sad.

You should have to have a license to use commas.

I don’t think it’s possible to have too much lotion or too many different kinds of it. I also think that there’s no such thing as too much nail polish.

Sam will be 9 months old tomorrow. I cannot believe how quickly the time has flown by. I suggested to Owen that we should have some cake to celebrate Sam’s 9 month birthday. He suggested I should stop looking for excuses to have cake.

In related news, Tae Bo Fat Blasting Cardio completely and totally kicks my ass. And I don’t mean it as though the DVD kicks ass. I mean that I am so bad at it that I don’t want anybody, even Sam, to watch while I pathetically attempt to keep up with it. Incidentally, Sam thinks aerobics videos are hilarious and was having quite a good time watching and laughing last night. I am POSITIVE he wasn’t laughing at me…

Pursuit of Happyness was a fantastic movie. It was so touching that it made me cry several times and I think just about everybody should watch it. Will Smith is an amazing actor and his son was also very good. I can’t ever imagine sleeping in a subway bathroom with my child…that was one of the instances that made me cry.

I would really like to watch Dreamgirls, as well, but the stupid cinema here seems to be disinterested in showing it. Leave it to our lame-ass theatre to skip out on the movie that has inspired so much Oscar buzz.

Friday, January 05, 2007

And the cherry on top...

As if today hasn't been bad enough...the office financial software crashed at 4:30. This is the second time it's done this at 4:30 on a Friday in the last month. That's 50/50. And no, it isn't my attempt to cover my own tracks as an embezzler.

The bad day...

Let me begin this story by saying that for a couple of months, now, I have been extremely stressed. The prospect of quitting my good-paying job to chase after what has eventually seemed to become some sort of a pipe dream in my imagination (student teaching, or, just teaching), has left me laying awake for hours on end at night. Like most young people, we are not without our share of debt, mostly college loans. Most of the time, and barring any unforeseen incidents, we are able to make ends meet…just barely. The idea of quitting my job, even with the prospect of a better future, is none the less nerve-wracking.

And it is mainly for this reason that, just before Christmas, my doctor gave me a prescription to help me sleep at night. It also happens that another doctor gave me a prescription for Amoxicillin that caused one of the worse allergic reactions I’ve ever had to deal with. For two weeks my hands and feet were both swollen with a phenomenally itchy rash and the only way I could sleep at night, despite the sleep aid given me by my regular doctor, has been to take Benadryl. Without taking both of them, sleep was impossible.

So you may imagine that I have been sleeping REALLY HARD at night, which is true. I have also been waking and moving through the days like a zombie. Owen, angel that he is, has taken care of Sam most nights so that I can sleep. But I still wake up as though I’ve been on a 3-day bender – absolutely exhausted.

This is all led up to the fact that I became an unwitting embezzler this week. On Monday night I chose not to take either pill in an effort to try to begin to pull my weight at night with Sam again and, as a result, I got less than 4 hours of sleep. Tuesday afternoon, in a fog of exhaustion, I put the wrong number on the office bank deposit of approximately $3,000. Of course, I didn’t find that out until today, when the bank finally posted the scan of the deposit slip to MY online banking site.

The money had mysteriously appeared in our account a couple of days ago. But until the deposit clears, all it says is “Pending” and you can’t get any more information about it. We called the bank, insisting that it was a mistake as there was no way we could imagine that we should be getting that much money in our account. They told us to wait and see what came through in the scan. Imagine my horror when I opened the link only to discover my office savings deposit slip.

It bears mentioning that just last week an employee was fired for allegedly stealing money out of purses and petty cash. Though no hard evidence was found to my knowledge, and she was my friend who I thought very highly of, she was fired on suspicion alone as “We can do whatever we want – we’re an at-will employer.” Additionally, when my boss was in an irritable mood yesterday and claimed, “I’m in the mood to fire somebody,” she wasn’t joking. I was informed that I would be firing the cleaning lady today with no notice as well, because our contract with her stipulates that we may do so at our discretion.

And so that is the second part of my terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. I was made to fire a woman who cleans for $65 per week, and who needs the money so badly that she comes in to the office in a panic on Monday if her check doesn’t get there by Saturday. She cried in my office and I blankly apologized for firing her. She asked me why and I scrambled for answers. “They’re just not satisfied.” I felt terrible. I felt like I let her down. And yet, I was told, “If she needed the money so badly, she should have done a better job cleaning.”

If it weren’t for the fact that I have to meet and do paperwork with the new cleaning lady this afternoon, I think I might go home sick for the rest of the day. My head is pounding and my anxiety has blossomed into a vague, bland numbness. All that remains is my exhaustion and the desire to spend the rest of the day in bed reading or watching TV.

Incidentally, I called the VP of the bank as soon as I discovered what had happened with the deposit and had him transfer the money back to the agency account right away. In a move that made me feel filthy and criminal, he called the office to be sure the accountant knew what had happened. She already knew because, as my friend, I had told her in a panic the moment I realized it had happened. She told me I still had to tell my boss about it. Fortunately, by the time my boss got in, the error had been fixed.

There is a part of me who wishes she had fired me so I could go home too. And a slightly bigger part of me who wishes she had at least yelled at me so that I might lose my temper and yell back at her in my own defense, and in defense of my friend who I feel was very unfairly fired.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Kinda funny...

Where I work, I often am told things over the phone that make my blood run cold. Sometimes I hear about things that I used to think only happened in the movies or in big cities. But on rare occasion, I hear something that kind of makes me chuckle. Here is just such an instance from one of today’s telephone calls:

Me: “Okay…so now I need to you to give me a little information about why you need counseling. It helps our clinical staff determine who would be best suited to treat you.”

Anonymous: “Okay. Well…um…the court says I have to get counseling because...um...my husband? Well...he’s an alcoholic and…um…he fell off the wagon…and he got a D.U.I. And...um...when the police came to arrest him? They found some marijuana in the house. And he told them it was mine…because it was.”

Monday, January 01, 2007

Sam's new bed canopy

Sam got it from Aunt Rachel and Uncle Jeff for Christmas. Cute, eh?


And, yeah, he has a Sneech (on the shelf).