Saturday, February 28, 2009

Early Birds and Late Owls

Being a parent ends any fantasy you have of lazy weekend mornings in bed. Add to this I have a job that the start time is 6:45 am I SHOULD be an early bird by nature. Unfortunately for as long as I can remember my *best* time of day is from around 10-2am. In college I cannot tell you how many times was the one suggesting "let's go out" and as a result wound up really wishing I hadn't come the next day. I even picked a Friday afternoon chem lab, just to avoid the 8 am version once.

Lately, Ben has gotten up several time at 6 or before. Earlier this week, Ben was crying, "I have boogers" and this morning, "I pee pee in bed". Ben is still in his crib and has miraculously yet to even try to get out once. I know I am likely asking for problems later on and the plan is to move him over the summer. Of all the things not to worry about, him wandering the upstairs is minimized.

On the positive front after a couple of weeks of a nap strike, he is back to sleeping at least 30-45 minutes a day. This makes all involved much, much happier, especially his mommy who really should sleep more than 5-6 hours a night.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Finished for Friday (short edition)

After my monstrous long post yesterday I will keep this short. I have gotten alot done this week! I marked off 18 items off my to-do list at school and got a 2 major home tasks completed. Big surprise but organization is soothing to my soul and a major way to control the controllable these days.

Here are the top items accomplished:

1. Closed my old safe deposit box in Fuquay, updated the inventory spreadsheet and reopened a new box at the new Holly Springs location.
2. Finished all preschool visits, finished the applications and hand delivered them (which was required of 2 of them...although I have this really strange fear about post office drop boxes eating mail, so I always go inside)
3. Made homemade mac and cheese (lower fat version) and froze 3 pans
4. Ordered all National Honor Society Induction and Graduation supplies (why this doesn't seem like a big task it involves lots of bureaucratic paperwork)
5. Contacted 12 area school principals for permission to contact their parent listserves as well as 3 hometown papers to run and article our new NHS fundraiser. We are doing a Chick Fillet night in March. Balloon animals and coupons for free food up for grabs, who wouldn't come?
6. All grading is caught up, returned, and posted to the online gradebook for interim reports.

Whew... I'm tired after this week although the weekend is rather packed!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Would Gladwell call me a Preschool Snob?

NO he wouldn't because I totally buy into Malcolm Gladwell's theory proposed in his latest NY Times bestseller Outliers. This is a book review/end of the preschool visits post rolled into one for your reading pleasure!

I finished the book earlier this week and as expected loved it. How do you classify his work? To me it's the fusion of social psychology, economics, and statistics all in one awesome package!

I don't think it's any coincidence that in the midst of all these preschool visits and open houses that I'm living his theory and as justification for my intentions. I don't apologize for going to a total of 9 schools over the course of the last 6 weeks.

My original list contained 16 schools to research and visit. I cut my losses given that anywhere that can't offer a full day until at least 3 pm won't likely be a finalist. Disclaimer: I totally think that what you do/don't do with your child it your God-Given right as a parent, so do want you want and I won't judge you and expect the same likewise.

First the book review and since I really, really want others to read it I won't give away much. The premise of the book it that success in life is not as much about who an individual is but rather their upbringing, family, and most of all... access to the right opportunity at the right time. Great examples scattered throughout the book to prove the point again and again that place, time, and opportunity mean more than actual abilities in many cases.

Second, the preschool finalists are down to 2 with a backup 3rd. Applications have been hand delivered and fingers are crossed. I compare the experience at one finalist school that required copies of our residency via income taxes, current Immunization records, as well as copies of Ben's SSN card and Birth certificate akin to a guy I went out a few times with in college pre-Bill. The fraternity he was in required a photo of each potential brother standing in front of their house, all cars, all family members in the picture and I kid you not, a financial statement. I digress, but needless to say that many of the schools we looked at proposed a specific set of hoops, lotteries, Indian tribal chantings and what not just to apply.

As a public school teacher for the better part of a decade I have worked in 3 very different school settings: a large, rural school county high school filled with students with limited English as well as no money from the county(ask me why I have a classroom set of everything, because I had to buy it myself), an inner-city Magnet High School that is often referred to as the "flagship school" of the county due to it's gifted and arts programs, and now a suburban high school I helped open 3 years ago that is like what I think most people expect high school to resemble. I have street cred that I have seen and experienced most any situation between the 3 schools and have determined 2 truths that are constant:


1. Some students have a drive to achieve regardless of parent support. They are independent, driven kids that could likely teach the class if the teacher was absent. They frequently are smarter than the teachers and are simply playing along at the "school game" until something better happens.

2. Many students who are average or even a little below average success is due to parents who seek and set up opportunities for success. Whether that's the choice of schools, pre-K education, or simply parents are involved and demonstrate the belief that education is the vehicle to success. I have found these parents WANT and DO what it takes to set up the best situation for their child no matter what.

The later set of families are vested and see that with a little help, Student 2 can reach the same as student 1 or at least get much, much further in life. Student buy-in to believe that what the parent is doing is paramount. Some years I had students at the magnet school who didn't want to be there, but were only at the school because a sibling also attended or to please the parent. BAD, BAD idea folks, and you are asking for a really rough teen years if this is your MO.

What parent doesn't want the best for their child? Too many times I have sat in conferences with families that expected the school system to diagnose the student's issue or provide the resources to manage it while they sat back and waited for improvement. Many times I want to scream, "Why are we having this conversation at age 17 instead of age 6", when REAL and substantial difference could have been made. How could you just be on autopilot for most of the child's education???

In all fairness given that many families who have education, cultural, financial limitations don't realize the possibilities. I have come across many a family who have desperately stated, "some help even at the end of the road is better than none" More than anything I ever learned in my classes, the idea that education in social mobility is key and transcends most any classification of student/family.

So I find it totally inexcusable, when I have worked in this industry, to not to least provide Ben with every possible avenue to help encourage him to find his strenghts and passions.

If he casts our work and planning aside then at least I can say that I offered it to him. The balance of what you want for yourself and what you want for your child is a fine line of distinction. The last thing I would want to do is push my/our agenda on him with disastrous consequences.

Label me a snob for going to these extremes, but I love Ben to much to let him falter in a place that is not meeting his current and future needs. One of the saddest things I encounter year after year is the great "what could have been" with some of my students that have so obviously fallen through the cracks. No amount of work I can put in is going to reverse 5-10 years of neglect from uninformed parents or the perils of the bureaucratic educational system. The time to make a real and lasting foundation is now and I am up for this fight.

02/25 is a Really Good Day

Arrival of William Earl Vinson III better known as: Bill, the Waking Badger, that guy who will fix your computer (or in my case Fall 1993, someone nice enough to help me in the computer lab).

Billy-Earl the Pro-Bowler, B, future old curmudgeonly man yelling at kids to get off his lawn, and most of all these days, daddy from a sweet little boy voice

Happy Birthday to all the Bills, but especially the one that is the first person I want to talk to in the morning and last to hear at night

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

He shall from time to time...

As a Government teacher the State of the Nation address is an all encompassing teachable lesson. You get much bang for your buck: The job requirements of the Presidency, powers granted under Article 2, tenuous relationship with Congress, the line of succession (I always give extra credit to the student that identifies who had to stay home), as well as the way in which the majority vs minority party respond with either wild applause or sitting stone cold.

I love the West Wing episode that details what is priority in the speech and how for that one hour, you can be inspired by your country even in the midst of great upheaval. As Obama was taking office and the jubilant atmosphere was quickly being replaced with the sobering expectations that he faced came to light the one thing I kept thinking was that he is but mortal man and will make mistakes. Like his predecessors he will be tested in ways that only 43 others have known.

I find the recent news that he wants the US out of Iraq in 19 months and hopes to cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term to be way over reaching given the current economic climate. Krugman posted yesterday about the all too realistic black swan theory prediction of massive bank failures or at least wide scale nationalization. With no real end in site, I don't know that making feel good predictions like troop withdrawal and deficit reduction is the panacea for the real illness.

Obama, I would likely follow you to the gates of Hell on whatever you propose given the tenner of the first month in action, but PLEASE, PLEASE push economic recovery first and foremost!

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Once again, I've been sitting on this post a couple of days. It somehow feels right to post it for myself than for any other reason. Ahhh to a new week!

It wasn't at the RE office last Thursday, reading Bill's incredibly sweet card with the flowers he sent, or learning that good friends are expecting that had me uncharacteristically sobbing about having to cancel this cycle and wait out another month to try. In usual style I have spent the last couple of days pushing it off, staying busy, and trying not to let it invade the running commentary in my head.

It was reading Brenda's post and knowing the end of their IVF story.
I wouldn't let myself read any of her recent IVF posts until this past week. The Draconian rules I keep for semblance of control has kicked it into high gear lately, 20th anniversary style no less. As I read about their closure cycle, I was floored by her honesty and frankness and any ability to communicate how this experience has defined a part of her life.

I don't know I have the strength and courage to face going to the end and not be pregnant. I am beginning to think that Ben is a bigger miracle than I originally thought given the events of this week. As I said to Bill last night, at what point will just loving him be enough to sustain me?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Finished For Friday

Then there are the weeks when the Gods conspire to your NOT adhering to the great golden day-planner in the sky. This was said week. I am cutting myself a major break that multiple trips to doctor as well as an outpatient procedure cut into the week's productiveness. So with that being said, here's what I got accomplished:

1. Updated resume, contacted references, and faxed my application for a summer teaching position teaching Macro Economics. Yeah... that sounds fun to me :-)
2. Cleaned out my oven.
3. Met up with old teaching friends for sushi
4. Laminated all my Obama election newspapers for a Hail to the Chief corner coming soon in my classroom (picture next week)
5. Visited 2 more preschools and cut my losses not to visit those with only 1/2 programs. Next week I have the final 3 visits including one that we really, really want to beat the lottery to get into.
6. Joined a couple of Babycenter boards. While I mainly lurk, I have posted a few responded to those recently diagnosed with PCOS. Big surprise that my sign on is "NC Political Junkie Mommy"

Despite piles of student work to grade, I am taking the weekend off and breathing a big sigh of relief that this week is just about over.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Tales from the Little Potty Vol 4

When I picked up Ben yesterday his teachers had noted, "Ben is out of diapers, want to go to strait underwear all day" on his sheet.

While I totally concede that I will likely be doing more laundry, this is a turning point that Ben is actively refusing to wear a diaper, even at nap. I figured today would be a good day to try the new arrangement as with the rain he would be closer to a bathroom and remember to go.

Yep, just like I hoped when I got him this afternoon the report was a poop accident but that he took himself to the potty and went the rest of the day.

Seeing that at all the preschools I have been visiting that the children MUST be completely potty trained this is great news that one body function is down and one to go. Now what to do to keep his fingers out of his nose?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Miss America Doesn't hold a Candle in Cupcake Eating...

What a weekend spent in honor of this Hallmark created holiday. Bill and I had a great dinner Friday night at Angus Barn. I think I could have just sat in the bar eating cheese and olives and passed on the main course. This my friends is a VDay place to repeat.

Ben had a ton of fun at his Valentines day party at school as well as the next morning with his baby/toddler/now preschool friends. He had spent alot of time taking all his valentines out of the box he made a school and then stuffing them in his pockets or hauling them around in a dump truck.

A friend pointed out, "hey isn't that your son sitting by himself making an art creation with glue sticks." Why yes it was. Let's hope I have passed on a love of art supplies to him.

Ben also enjoyed the cupcakes I made for both parties. Let me correct myself, he ate like a Miss America contestant just cut from the top ten. I quit counting once he scarfed down his 4th cookie and 2nd cupcake at one of the parties. I had been trying to get him to eat other foods, but he was making the rounds of other children's plates by the time I got to him.

On Saturday we took him to see Bolt at the 2nd run movie theater. He actually sat for most of the movie, again scarfing down popcorn. We came home and exchanged the Valentines day presents we had gotten him and each other.

Tonight Bill and Ben made pizza and watched Pete's Dragon. Ben of course then decided that his IKEA dragon had to go to bed with him. Mommy enjoyed getting together with old teacher friends for sushi and the night off.

All in all a nice weekend after a long week and the start to a really hectic week again. I love both my valentines oh so much!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Finished for Friday

Again this week I am playing along with Lit and Laundry's weekly challenge. I DON'T think I have been nearly productive enough this week, but the week has been filled with Dr appointments and preschool visits and tonight open house at school until 9pm. So, I am cutting myself a little break and am thankful what what I did do on the little sleep I've gotten.

Again I was shooting for 5 items to mark off my personal/professional list: Here's what I got accomplished:

1. Saw Revolutionary Road with a friend.
2. Submitted my student's work to This I Believe essay competition on NPR
3. Finished the application and Essay for Gilder Lehrman summer teaching institute (top choice is a week on 20th Century women's rights movements). Doubt I will be picked, but SOMEONE will be... why not ME!!
4. Finished more recommendation letters for students, over 50 and counting...
5. Toured 4 preschools and updated the spreadsheet I made to keep up with the visits
6. Valentines Day Madness at Casa Vinson... homemade cards for grandmommys, mommy made Ben a special shirt to wear to 2 Vday parties to be attended, special cards and candy for teachers, and tons of CARS themed valentines for toddler friends. Mommy also made homemade strawberry cupcakes for both parties.

Tomorrow night Bill and I have reservations at Angus Barn (it's much nicer than it sounds to those who live outside this area). Earlier this week I found a letter he wrote me back in 1994 that he never gave me. I turned it into a Valentines day card for him. It's been a hard week so a nice evening out is much needed.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Drop Everything... A Book and Movie Review

For some reason I can't correctly say the name of this book. I keep adding the word "dangerous" to the title. I finished Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close on audiobook over the weekend. WOW O WOW what a great book and hearing instead of reading dialogue between multiple characters made it even better. What amazes me it the way in which the author makes 9/11 it's storyline own as you learn about this eccentric 9 year old who is on a search throughout the city. I didn't know if by the end I wanted to know if he would find what he was looking for. Thankfully the author finished the book in a way that gave closure without a big "red bow" ending. It was moving, sweet, and sad all in the same final moments. Definitely check out this book.

On Monday I saw the adaptation of Revolutionary Road. Luckily the Triangle area has several Indie art house theaters and since moving here I have been very thankful to catch some great movies (Secretary, Requiem for a Dream, Traffic, Brick, Monsters Ball)that would have NEVER played in Birmingham or Easley.

I knew a little about this movie from a Grad school history class on Post War America as well of reading Feminine Mystique last summer. This movie was intense from start to finish. The acting was top notch and I still think DiCaprio should not have lost to Mickey "I love my dogs" Rourke. Titanic this is NOT! I still hate that that totally crappy movie lost to LA Confidential!

The ending was heartbreaking and even though I foresaw something devastating coming with Kate Winslet's character, I was a shocked at how the final scenes played out. I couldn't help but think what would I do and what would my life have looked like if I lived during this time period. I think I would have totally identified with the emotions of being trapped to a life of domestication that didn't fit me.

I think this is one of the reasons I love the show Mad Men, beyond my love affair with the clothing and mannerism of the time, I have to respect all the barriers that have been broken down for women in my generation. I can't imagine being forced into a life of servitude in which I was a 2nd class citizen.

WOW o WOW to two great forms of entertainment this week!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


And so it all begins. I mentioned to a friend that I can't see myself keeping a running journal about the infertility experience. Call it one of the last vestiges of my family's upbringing or the fact that I really work to make what I write more about the positives in my life. As of today, I am among the many who don't want to be on this road. I simply want a baby and not the heartache and physical and emotional pain to accompany the process.

My baseline u/s revealed a really thick uterine lining. I expected the PG test to come back negative, which it did. There is a possibility of a cyst or polyp that will be ruled out with a HSG next week. U/S revealed evidence that PCOS is still very present and likely part of the on going insulin issues. I start meds tonight and will do one booster inject able sometime mid cycle. We have decided we are trying 3 rounds with meds and IUIs each getting more progressively intense (and upping the chance for multiples) before we do an IVF cycle this summer.

I can't stop my own pretty hate machine from running in overdrive to not blame my body for betraying me when I have done so much to be in a healthier place. No amount of lifestyle changes or bargaining with God will change that this is the next step to take or accept that one child may be our family.

Bill and I had a long talk Sunday about needing to be in agreement about wanting to go through this process and at what point do we stop. Definitely not a conversation you ever envision on your wedding day. We have good odds and insurance coverage so we are already in a better position than so many. I have this sweetie in my back pocket, so I am betting the house for another miracle to happen.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Weekend Roundup-YUM!

I think if I had to sum up this weekend it would be titled, "good eatin' at Casa Vinson". Starting with Friday night Ben and I had a date at the K&W cafeteria with all the early bird special folks. Ben had the spaghetti and I had the veggie plate. Bill was gaming and eating the motherload of horrible food aka The baconator. I had to make biscuits for this event BTW. I think the theme was "heart attack on a plate".

Saturday was BEAUTIFUL here. Elizabeth and I got together for Feb cook-a-rama and pulled off an impressive 8 freezable meals plus 2 pies in 3 hours. We headed to N. Raleigh for Matt's birthday potluck party. I know Chrissy's kitchen about as well as my own so I helped schlep the main serving table as people brought in their food. Great night for a grill out and to catch up with folks we hadn't seen in a while. Ben as always idolized the big boys.

Today was BEAUTIFUL again. We took a picnic down to Harris Lake and enjoyed a sunny day at the lake. Ben loved the playground and Bill and I had a chance to talk a bit.
Tonight we baked the pie and enjoyed with a big helping of Daily Shows and Colbert reports.

Yum from start to finish. Ben's big hugs and I love you mommy didn't hurt either!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Coupon Crazy!

I love the look on the cashiers face when they have to look twice before they announce my weekly savings. I hit Harris Teeter on the way home and saved 52.00 in triple coupons and 27.00 in weekly specials. Normally I try to spend no more than 75.00 a week in groceries but this week the bill was around 120.00 after all discounts. In my defense I bought enough food to make 6 freeze ahead dishes that I am cooking this weekend with a friend. We are making Ultimate Mac and Cheese, Sheppard's Pie with PW mashed potatoes, and Mexican Chicken with Cornbread Crust. For about 5.00 a meal we are recreating the very expensive meal prep place by dividing the work and trading costs.

I also picked up an appetizer for an upcoming dinner with friends since it was on sale as well as our part of Matt's birthday group potluck dinner tomorrow night.

I have already almost 200.00 this year by strategically couponing.

Even get a rush saving money??? I do! But then I spent many a weeknight going to the grocery 30 minutes before they closed with my mom to literally RUN through the store before some coupon expired. It's in my blood folks!!!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Finished for Friday!

Thanks to Lit and Laundry for inviting me to play along. In answering the comment she posted, YES I am a super productive person and pride myself on being a to-do list junkie.

I was shooting for a total of 5 Personal/Professional accomplishments this week- I got them ALL done and had time to knock out few more tasks too.

1. Finished another stack of Scholarship recommendation letters for students
2. Ordered a new swimsuit from Lands End using my loyalty coupon and free shipping. I got separates in hopes that I can wear longer if I get PG
3. Called and made a final round of appointments for pre-school visits. I have 16 visits or open houses to attend by month end. Naturally I am making a spreadsheet to keep up with it all. Yes I'm nuts. I truly believe education is the vehicle for success in life and I am willing to sacrifice for my son's future, who wouldn't???
4. Contacted 4 different Dr offices to get medical record releases for an upcoming appointment
5. Decided on a summer AP Gov project and wrote up the proposal for AP Scholars night. not having a historic election is making this harder. I kept a current event journal with summation of 8 pages of policy analysis as well as a book comparison and paper detailing their personal political ideology. Can I do this assignment????

All this PLUS I finished a book, played Bunco (won $$$), did all my weekly chores, and even worked out 2 days this week. Whew... I'm tired!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Overdue to Read More- 2 quick reviews

So I didn't get to a book a week in January, but between the Inauguration and exams it was busy. I did read 2 books and am almost finished with a 3 on audiobook. So here are 2 quick reviews

Jan Book club Book- The Alchemist

Good, but not great book, liked the storytelling plotline of the book. It became a little too covey pop psychology by the end. I was a little miffed by all the reviews stating it was "one of the most moving novels of modern times"... Really, guess I missed that level of the book.

Name all the Animals- This was my runner-up to the book I picked for 2009 Book club when I host in October. I ultimately picked the Glass Castle and now that I finished Animals I'm glad I didn't pick this book for the group. The book is set in the early 80s and is the year in the life of a family after the death of their son. The story centers on how the sister copes but the parent aspect plays a pivotal role. The plot seems depressing, but it really wasn't. The writing, that uses the daughter's relationships as a search for self, leads to one hell of a plot twist and is unwraveled by the end. I would recommend this book.

I am currently trying to finish Extremely Loud and Dangerously Close on audiobook- really like this book and audiobook is the way to go with the amount of characters

I'm 75 pages into Outliers and yeah baby yeah!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

This is just too funny!

When I picked up M. Gladwell's Outliers this afternoon from the library, Ben picked out the following book. I would like to say that the picture on the cover pulled him in. The name alone cracked me up!

Seeing that Bill has a love of small woodland creatures to the point that I fear one day he is going over to the dark side and become a furry in real life I had to laugh. A little of me and definitely a little of Bill is in this boy for sure!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Calling all econ nerds...

I subscribe to a AP Gov teachers listserve. In the last week a raging debate has emerged about how the proposed stimulus package will impact the taxpayer in regards to if supply side vs demand side economics is a better fix for the economy.

Hands down my favorite things to teach is monetary vs fiscal policy. It's complicated and let's face it really boring. So, I turn it into this big lesson about being sick and give the kids symptoms of a cold to represent key economic indicator like a runny nose= decrease in GDP and fever= uncontrollable inflation.

I come in as the Doctor and "cure" the economy by demonstrating the differing policies gov't can take. They kids typically play along and remember it come test time. (It also doesn't hurt that as a test item writer for the state test I have often been asked to write economics questions)

So today on the listserve was this great link about how other countries are approaching the economic crisis in their own countries.

As an aside I am hoping a subscription to the Economists makes it to me as a Valentine's Day gift. How unromantic would that be, but so perfect if you know me???