Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Older, Wiser and Pre-Planning

Awesome day spent first when I had the energy, getting some of the house cleaned in anticipation of a cleaning service coming out today to give me an estimate. In some strange logic I thought a cleaner house = lower monthly price. I sent Ben to the yard with the dog and in a hour got most of the downstairs (minus bathrooms) cleaned.

We had plans to drive to N Raleigh to spend the day with the Pressley clan so I armed myself with eggs for an egg hunt, more eggs to make an egg tree, and makings for bunny cookies. Chrissy offered up the trampoline to offset the sugar high and it was a great day. Ben needs a brother like a fish needs water.

Last night my doula came to meet Bill and have dinner while we drafted a birth plan. My birth plan with Ben was fairly simple but I changed a couple of items and after the complications at the end with Ben's birth added an emergency c-section should I need this. I hope not as I am getting myself mentally and physically ready to power through another natural birth. We are planning to stay in control and give this sweet baby the birthday we want for him. A birth that is quiet, intimate with as little intervention as possible. After watching the Business of Being Born I am again reminded of how incredibly empowering birth can be. I go back on Thursday to the OB I really like and am going to talk over a couple of items.

One of the things I am rereading is Henci Goer's, The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth. I read this days before I had Ben and it really helped to have the pros/cons in the back of my head for what I wanted and didn't want. Unfortunately many items like adding pitocin when I didn't have contractions after my water broke, internal monitoring, doing that single dose of the Stadol which had horrible side effects, episiotomy, double cord prolapse all happened and due to first birth I went with what was recommended for a safe delivery. Much like Ben's birth I can plan, but all cards are on the table come time to labor and leaving the door open for options is my plan.

Tomorrow is April 1st, a month I have longed to see on my calendar for over 9 very, very long months. Just as I promised to my 2 sweet embryos back on July 23rd, I would see them again and by months end I will.

Monday, March 29, 2010

And Just Like That, I Was Gone

As of today I am officially on maternity leave! Well that is still having to go back and run NHS member breakfast in April and run Induction in May and then there are the mass of denials I don't have the heart to mail until after spring break.

BUT... until mid August or possibly January I am officially not teaching or working outside the home. This is the first time I have ever had this long of a break since my first paycheck at 13. I packed up my room on Friday and hauled it to the car. This time I didn't have to pack a room to also be moving schools so the majority of items were stored in my closet and file cabinet. Bill was much appreciative that then entire garage was not going to be taken up in boxes.

The last to be packed were my "Buck Stops Here Sign" from the Truman Presidential Library and my picture of Mr. T, a relic that has been taped to my desk since student teaching days a gift from my very first class that has long since finished college and I hope grad school for some (Amos J and your masterpiece of the Federal Court Model in Sponges that still makes my wall of fame projects)

Over the weekend I put in an insane amount of time trying to not leave a mess for my long term sub, my colleagues, or anyone else who will have contact with my kids. Caretaking all the way to the bitter end, with contractions (the braxton hicks kind not the real thing) coming every 30 mins of so.

So the real work starts, first with my to do list for the rest of the week. Notice that "HAVE BABY" is not on there. I would really, really like to get through some much needed items this week before he makes his appearance as well as rest, stock the freezer/fridge, clean, prepare for birth as well as the life changes that are about to come to our family and spend as much time with Ben as possible.

So, just like that I walked out the door to a life I have known for the past decade with little option that life exists outside of the duel work/mommy track. I want to make the best of the next 4 1/2 months and when it feels right return.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Well, I Think He Enjoyed Himself

Ben's dirt level at pick up. Yesterday was the annual egg hunt and I think I can say, he enjoyed himself fully and ate dirt!

We came home and for the 2nd day in row let him play in the garage riding his scooter, sifting through Bill's 25 year old boxes of Garfield books (don't ask), playing pretend car wash with the remnants of a fundraiser from school while I wrapped up work.

I'm really tired and feeling a major crash coming on by weekend. I even went ahead and called my long term sub and asked if she wanted to pick up half of the day on Monday. Since Ben's school is closed starting tomorrow until the 6th Camp mommy is about to begin. No crazy plans other than relaxing a bit and trying to spend some serious last solo child time with Ben.

On the positive, my mom stayed overnight for observation, nothing really broken, blood sugar returned and is doing dialysis in the hospital today before she is released. This is good, really good because I need all the positive energy I can get in the next days/weeks. I have a tendency to get bogged down in the negative and am really, really trying in 2010 to see the positive in all things. Period.

I'm rereading a couple of natural birth books and wow what a different perspective this time with a real experience to compare it too. I won't (nor did we last time) ask Bill to labor with me shirtless while we draw pictures of our dreams for our child. (No lie, it's in one of Ina May's finest ode to natural birthing manuals)

I would laugh my ass off if he did revealed his much smaller chest with a particular name finally agreed on at some point of laboring this child, that is if he doesn't get thrown out not for eating doughnuts but to run around the hospital.

ONE DAY 'till his 5K!!!!!!!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

"Any Jackass can Kick Down a Barn But it Takes a Good Carpenter to Build One"- LBJ

And just like that, 30 years of diversity policy was voted out in my school district. Not surprisingly the vote was a formality, along with formally voting out our superintendent. The next year (s) will prove interesting along with the state of magnets, year round, over crowding, reverting back to high poverty, isolated schools as a real possibility, where to send Ben and his brother, do we move, do I return to teaching, and if so where? A big student protest was heavily covered last night, and within a about a min I told Bill that I am proud of what looked like my old magnet students leading the charge even at the 11th hour in the face of certain disappointment. Hey we got healthcare so the weeks not all bad!

In the last 24 hours lots of positives including getting to see my friend and her new baby yesterday. They both look great and I just happened to be there when she was getting to hold her and feed so I was able to snap some photos for her family who were resting at home. Not having ever been in the NICU it definitely hit home how scary this would be to see my baby or had Ben not recovered so quickly from a rough birth and low Apgar score. Sending them lots of good thoughts that Julia will continue to feed and put on weight so they can all be home quickly.

The negative of the last 24 hours is that my mom has fallen again and was taken by ambulance overnight to our local hospital. This time she hit her head and shoulder so they are checking it out with a CT scan this morning to make sure she hasn't fractured anything. In addition it appears she became confused and took a double dose of insulin when she went to bed as her blood sugar had dropped to 20 when EMS arrived at the house. At this point I am waiting out news of tests and of course with a meeting to run over lunch to decide on these close to 100 NHS applications and another one after school with the sub. Jumping into the car (jumping is not happening anyway)is not going to happen as going into labor on I-85 is not part of the birth plan and seriously as callous as this sounds, add it to the list.

Good thoughts for the day, getting to the end of the week, passing off these classes with confidence, finishing off all the responsibilities with some closure that I am not leaving a mess for someone else, and excitedly cheering Bill on at his first 5k this Sat!!!!!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What Do You Miss While Minding the Store?

Eventful Monday. As I was attempting to keep Ben from killing himself in the grocery store parking lot yesterday Laura called. I almost let it go to voicemail, but thinking I never emailed her to say that there was no way I could go to an area event in support of the diversity program I thought, just answer it since I would likely forget to text her later.

WELL.... seems like more had happened. Our friend Jen had her baby in the middle of the night and literally I thought I was going to fall down in the parking lot as it was our running bet that she would be early and we would be there the same week in April.

Congrats to our friends as they welcome their daughter, Julia Elaine

If I can make it to March 29th my last working day, better yet if I want any childcare since Ben's school is closed until Friday, March 26th- unti Tuesday, April 6th for break, I better hang tight. I am limited by state law to taking 30 working days off starting with the actual birth so I am desperately trying to take off as little unpaid time off on the front end.

I actually felt really bad Sat night and had the fleeting thought about early labor , but I chalked it up to sleeping 5 hours after working on NHS applications until after midnight and getting up with Ben on Sat am. Followed this with Sat soccer practice, a baby shower brunch, and housework galore once home and I totally slept through a horrid movie we attempted to watch in the name of couple time. Bill did take Ben to help me out over the weekend's main event of reading applications.

We also took Ben to a birthday party for a 7 year old at Monkey Joes or as Ben keeps calling it Monkey Jars. Ben as the youngeset there totally kept it honest with the big boys and attempted to do everything with them.

My fab news of the week is that as of yesterday have a brand-spankin' new teacher right out of school who has agreed to take my classes. I'm meeting with her later this week and she is shadowing me all day on Friday. Can we say, how much fun can lunch duty be, so I am hoping for a good fight to break her in to what to expect.

In an attempt to try to make this an easy transition I'm planning to have put together alot of stuff/copies/1st week plans for her for her to take and review over the break. Teaching with little support is a recipe for feeling like you have been thrown face first into a pool. I NEED her to stick it out to June. So I am adding that prep to my final week along with reading of close to 100 NHS applications and helping two National boards candidates finish up their portfolios and if there was a way to be called into more last minute stuff, of course it's this week.

So here's to what you miss while minding the store. If I can keep the store from burning down before either I can get to actually getting stuff out for the baby by my "make believe" due date of April 8th I will be doing well. And by the way a name would help too.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The One Bright Shining Spot

It's been a long, hard, demoralizing week at work, alot coming to ahead this morning. I wish I could write my big post about that today, but alas at this is public space please send me some good thoughts. I am taking home a copy paper box filled to the top with NHS applications this weekend because this is what I do, what I am for 8-10 hours a day, and regardless if others don't appreciate it or even recognize it I don't do a half-ass job at work.

To parenting, I am feeling the half-ass mom moments of the week and after reading Beth's post I need to take my own advice of giving myself a big break for doing the best I can. I extend that to the piles of dishes on the counter since TUESDAY, the fact that the bathrooms need to be cleaned, the mounds of laundry to be done tonight and for literally have had Bill question what I have been feeding Ben according to the dinner dishes. Short answer, I'm trying to the best of my exhaushed self.

It is simply the best I can do to be functional and trying to get everything done. I totally agree that we are all off on sleep due to DST. Ben comes home wanting to play outside or go to the park and I feel being the last weeks of solo child to accommodate him. So on my very swollen feet we have been taking the dog to the park each day pushing bath (nonexistent the last 3 nights, sorry Bill I lied when you asked me) and bedtime over an hour later.


Ben has been working on tracing letter at school. I know alot of other children have been spelling or writing their name for months but other than recognizing a few letter this week he asked me to write out his name and then he copied it! The mom in me wanted to celebrate this accomplishment for all the ways he will never, ever be my sweet baby but instead with each passing day he becomes the boy, teenager, and adult that is already there.

Every day at pick up on the way home or to the multitude of errands I have learned to ask him if he wants to talk or be quiet. Much like his mom who craves quiet after the loud insanity of school he usually opts for being quiet until we have had about 5mins in the car.

Then comes the endless barrage of questions, updates on who and who is not coming to his birthday party, and how to play Hide Out involves leaves and bark but NOT trees.

Sweetness all in a 3.75 body.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Giving Fake Baby a Run for the $$$

While I have been enjoying the chronicles of Fake Baby before the real deal appears soon, I must say Ben's own baby and mom's sad iPhone photos pale in comparison. I'm excited that LauraC has offered to shoot the real baby once born.

All but 2 hats (neither are for my baby) have arrived from my esty order. Each day we have come home to a new package that Ben sadly asks if is for him. I have let him try each of them on the baby I bought him to practice appropriate handling plus let them try them on his own head in front of the mirror. The hospital hat has already been featured and is my favorite.

All I can think is Ben is HUGE in comparison to the size of a newborn and I think once the baby arrives he's going to seem like an old man at the DMV. The baby has been collecting puzzles, new books, hot wheels, playdough, new Pez all to be delivered via mail soon to his big brother as a hospital care package. Based on the amount of bark and rocks in Ben's pants/shoes/underwear from playing HIDE OUT on the playground all week I don't think I need bubble wrap to cushion it.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Crying Over Spilt Milk, and other Weekend Musings

10 days till maternity leave!!!! Woo Hoo!!! (still with no sub in place and 2 weeks of sheer hell to wrap up the year, midterm exams, grades, packing up my classroom, and did I mention the over 100 National Honor Society Applications coming in this week- each a min of 9 pages to read and process)? With no logistical way to do any of this ahead of time so like labor, it's just going to have to happen.

On the positive front I got alot done this weekend: typical household chores, made 12hour slow cooker sauce for 6 pans of Ziti, cleaned out my car of nasty, Part 1, cleaned out the couch following Ben knocking over an entire glass of milk. This brings up Nasty, Part 2. After cleaning up the milk that was pouring out of the back of the couch, we then decided to pull out all the cushions to vacuum before the drenching with Finger of God (Nature's Miracle Pet Enzyme spray). Somehow as much time as I spend on this couch and the amount we paid for a top of the line leather, nail-head trim last 20 years kinda couch it was worth the extra cleaning.

While Bill had it tilted back I spotted what appeared to be a toy car, 30 mins later we unearthed no less than 10 cars, baby socks, broken crayons, money, and a Apple TV remote all from a special "crumb/runaway toy" section built in and never seen in the last 6 years of owning this piece of furniture.

Let me clarify that while I normally vacuum under the cushions I didn't know of this secret compartment and was completely grossed out. Thankfully with my new Dyson Animal(the same one I shoved a lady with a king comforter on black Friday to buy at 200.00 off), this thing lived up to it's name as the last of the cats are officially gone!

The other major event of the weekend was the sibling birth class at the hospital with our friends also expecting a 2nd child. I wish I could post cute pics of Ben holding the practice baby, not attempting to unplug every BP monitor in the halls, asking the teacher 900 ridiculous questions,not climbing on the table at lunch or giving a toot about anything but coloring this sign for his room.

I do think for what it was worth that it was a good idea to start talkikng up how this magical creature is going to appear in the next month. When we were at the library for our Friday afternoon date I picked up some sibling books and we read one (albeit with some paraphrasing) Friday night.

Ben has been asking how brother got in mommy's tummy and since our story involves a flow chart we are trying a unified front of some simple facts and hoping that once baby is here he drops it and moves on to his other favorite topic, when he and everyone he knows is going to die.

Add to the weekend a much needed night out to the Melting Pot with friends and I am ready to go for the week. That is until the next area of neglect is discovered leading me to a all out frenzy of cleaning. Don't tempt me, I don't even think I have hit my nesting stride yet.

Friday, March 12, 2010

I Just Went Shopping on Wheel of Fortune and Look What I WON!!!

From July 23th at 3 days

August 2009- 6 Weeks and evidence of a heartbeat after a long week wait to retest

November 2009-Not quite 100% about gender (although one NAME keeps popping into mom's head) but all looks good

To a Big 35th Birthday Suprise for Bill in February

To what arrived in the mail yesterday to wear home sometime before/around April 12th, 2010

We couldn't be more excited to complete our family and welcome our sweet baby boy/little brother into our home. From 24 potential chances at new life came one huge miracle just in time to welcome spring.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

What Does the Big Baby Belly Buy You?

I have been thinking of all the ways the sight of a prego lady makes you either sympathize with her, pity her for what is to come, or if lucky to be a mom share a smile knowing the pure joy that comes with bringing life into this world. Alas I didn't have a cute prego belly with Ben or this baby either. I just have this large 3rd boob mid section that screams I am really fat. At 40 weeks prego with Ben someone asked me if I was disappointed that I had put back on some of my weight, having no idea that I was prego. Needless to say I was speechless at their insensitivity and wished I had punched them in the mouth instead of picking my own up off the floor. Last night after standing and running the "spinning wheel of free Chick Filet Food" at an NHS fundraiser for 3 hours, only a handful of folks recognized I was commented I was prego.

This round I braced myself for similar comments of unbelief that I was indeed about to have a kid and not just fat. I have been wearing maternity clothes since I had the forethought to take a maternity pants to Boston during the hyping up on IVF meds. Good that no one pointed out I wore them the entire week! As of this week, I am down to 3 pairs of pants, all which I continually tug to keep on. Other than one t shirt I bought and a pair of hand me down pants I am wearing my 1st prego stuff to the bitter end and I swear I plan to burn them when done, actually more likely into the first months post arrival.

The stubborn side of me keeps a rules for prego/no prego life that including if you put on weight beyond what I deem reasonable +/- 10 lbs, then you are not rewarded with a shopping trip. Instead I suck it up and use it as the catalyst to curtail gaining more or getting into shape. I once had a college friend who would put on her most tight formal dress when time to write a term paper, since nothing is a good motivation like being uncomfortable. After I lost all my weight I literally cleaned out my closets of anything too big as to never be allowed to "grow into something again." In some weird way Bill has done the same thing ridding the house of any and all fat clothes and it down to 2 pairs of jeans and a handful of shirts.

Seeing that I started this prego at the same weight when I had Ben, add 10 lbs from the IVF injections, add 21 lbs to date and nothing fits as it is all based on clothes from the first preg a good 60 lbs. I know... stupid logic, insane giving that of COURSE you are suppose to put on weight, something would be seriously wrong if you didn't with a normal preg. I am wearing one of 2 pairs of pants that look remotely like spring today and REFUSE to buy anything else based on this rule and the fact that I am not rewarding starting this prego since I didn't loose back down to start.

After loosing all of the 25 lbs I put on with Ben PLUS 10 more bringing me to within 15 lbs of my original goal weight I then put it back on my first year teaching amd helping open a new school. Call it working full time at a place with insane expectations, not eating well, and not exercising for almost a calendar year while I juggled work/family life. The weight came back on, despite the tight clothes I didn't make more of an effort to really try to get it off until Summer 2007.

I pledged to change lifestyle habits, including going to the gym several times a week, eating better, and tried to manage stress all around. But nothing seemed to take off weight. I'm not sure if it was that I had finally plateaued from surgery, PCOS rearing it's ugly head (lab values indicated increased issues with hormones being out of whack during IVF testing), or post prego changes, or just getting freakin' older.

Needless to say I am dishearten to be seeing numbers that I never wanted to see post surgery again each time at the OB. Of course I am not going trying to diet or do anything to harm this baby but like with my prego with Ben it's also not open season to do what I want. For some reason, maybe like I didn't have a kid already, I managed to exercise all the way to the day I had Ben. This pregnancy I am doing good just to get home, get people fed, clean up and pack lunches, do school work, and crash into bed. I can't believe that while prego with Ben I worked on a state curriculum document, presented that document at a state conference, and did my National Boards. Again, I attribute being 60 lbs lighter to having more energy with only myself to take care of.

Bill hit 150 lbs yesterday, pushing past my total post surgery weight loss of 147 lbs at the same 9 months out from surgery. While I am totally celebrating for him I'm also crazy desperate to be back to exercising, not feeling like a big glob of fat, and feeling the need to defend that no I haven't put back on weight, I am about to have another child, and by the way thanks for the support. Want to weigh in on gender or brestfeeding to make me feel better?

All I can say is that come mid April I will be pushing a stroller for exercise, getting back to a gym, and starting on the plan for plastic surgery total body lift by the end of 2011. Anyone else want to weigh in on looking forward to over 100 stitches, 2 month post op recovery all at the out of pocket expense of a nice car?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Doulas are Worth Their Weight in Krispy Kream Dougnuts

One of the events of the weekend was to meet with a new doula, Sam, who I really liked and think we will have good relationship. Wait, if you are interviewing a NEW one what happened to the one we used during Ben's birth.

Actually the reason for the switch was trifold. 1. My first doula really doesn't serve the new hospital I am delivering at due to over an hour commute. 2. A good friend used Sam with great success 3. As much as I really loved Robin she also asked if her back up partner could come and thinking the more the merrier became too many at the party.

At some point I need to post Ben's entire birthday story on 6/9/2006 at 12:36 am, but needless to say using a doula was one of the best decisions for his birth. For one we wanted an intimate birht with no family (not like they offered to come anyway, but still if they had we would have asked them not to be there for labor). We also wanted to avoid c-section if at all possible as again we didn't have family coming in to help in the weeks after. We knew it going to be the 2 of us learning to be parents and as Bill was working an insane amount of hours that summer I didn't want to be healing up alone with a newborn.

So... the plan was to go natural as long a possible. In the end it was a good decision to be unmediated and totally focused and kept me from an emergency c-section that almost happened due to the double cord prolapse in the last mins of labor. Scary stuff that when he was born, Ben's apgar score was 3 due to lack of oxygen. Little did I know until it was over how scary those last mins of pushing were.

Another reason for using a doula was being an advocate for me with my dr who wanted to push about every intervention possible. When I was told I needed an internal monitor Robin intervened and I was able to wait a bit longer with intermittent monitoring, that was until I was laboring AND holding the belt on and gave in and agreed.

Bill also said later that it took the pressure off of him to know how to help when I had to add pitocin and the contractions took hold very quickly. At some point of the night the doulas told him to take a walk to get out of the room as Bill's comments about the contractions were not helping. I later found out later by the receipt in his car that he was really eating Krispy Kream Doughnuts in the cafeteria. He said when he returned on a sugar high that he could hear me from outside the wing doors and was seriously scared of what was going down.

As with everything about birth, feeding, diapering, ect it's YOUR call and no one should stand in judgement of what works for your family. I am hoping for round two to once again go as long as I can without interventions. In the long run I felt my recovery was so much easier for pushing it out (literally) and doing it without the meds. Plus having a one-on-one coach the entire time takes the pressure off your partner to process all that is going on, their fears, and frankly if eating doughnuts makes YOUR labor easier, then it was $$$ well spent.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Doulas, Death to a 3.75 Ben, and Decisions

Fun time at the baby shower last night and I can't wait to see the pics from LauraC. Big thanks to her for keeping the mini-taco party real with a cake that only I would find funny. Bill said thanks for not making him take the boob part to work today as leftovers if that gives you any ideas. More to come as we did the big gender reveal at the party only after I ruined my own intentional plan. Have a plan for the blog to, coming later this week, so no comments giving it away!

ok... many events since Friday posting. I'll start in order:

Explaining Death to a Preschooler- I don't recommend it. When I picked up Ben on a gloriously sunny NC day Ben wanted to stop and point out the gerbil cage that was sitting empty outside his classroom. "Mommy, the gerbil died and went to heaven" What??? As I look for somewhere to sit down and talk to him fearing where this was going. Ben goes on to tell me that the class gerbil had died and if he had wings he would go visit it in heaven.

The next thing out of his mouth shocked me, "I think the gerbil is with my cats." As he had told Bill earlier in the week that he wanted daddy to help find his cats, they were lost and he hadn't seen them. We knew we needed to say something and had planed some type of discussion soon. Hell, this is not what I imagined, but seeing that it was on his brain I asked him to come sit with me and quit filling his pockets with rocks for a minute. I asked him why he thought his cats were in heaven and he said,"I can't find them, I think they died."

So I became the adult in the room and and said yes they were very, very old just like his gerbil and had gone to live in heaven. I didn't want to use the word sick thinking this would come back to haunt me. I asked him if he was sad about the gerbils and the cats and he said yes, but they were going to come back so he could visit them. Before I could say no, he asked if he could have a kitten. I am thinking that the teachers have told them they will get a new gerbil. Needless to say I need to talk to his teacher today when I get to school. I gave him a big hug, told him I bet all the animals were playing in heaven and having a good time and we went home, took our dog out and tried to focus on playing at the playground.

I didn't hear anything else until we were at the playground again yesterday and he told me he was going to die in 2 weeks. WHAT???? "No honey, you are not going to die anytime soon. You will be much older when you die, older than than mommy and daddy." We will have lots of time to play everyday before you die." I found out later he said the same to Bill at bedtime so it is obviously on his mind and since he has no sense of time he knows that death is at some point going to happen to him. Last night he slept with his overhead light on at his request as he was scared. Bill and I agree that it is wrong to let him believe that he will never die but instead try to help him in whatever realm his 3.75 mind is in to process what dead means.

So my million dollar question is where to we go from here and what could I have done differently? Looking for help if you have had this talk before.

Doulas- Met with Sam on Sat and it was a good experience. Actually this post is already longer than I had time to write so I will save it for another day. Same goes for baby decisions.

Either way I am now 15 teaching days until maternity leave (still no sub), another crazy busy week in an attempt to tie up loose ends, trying to get ready for the arrival including locating baby gear lent out, replacing lost/nonreturned items, trying to stay well and off very swollen feet as I can.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Meanwhile.... Back at the Ranch

Short post, Busy Friday, still fighting the 3rd sinus infection of 2010.

After yesterday's long diatribe about local politics I finish with this final thought. From an email response wrote to a friend who emailed me earlier to find out my reaction and what I thought was going to happen to the magnets (her sons are currently in Magnet elementaries in N. Raleigh)

The plan I have heard as the option being pushed that each "neighborhood attendance zone will have a traditional, year round, and magnet option. In theory that sounds great but with fragmentation into neighborhoods with lower home values their will be perceived notion about the desirability about the schools strong>. Case in point, a local High School has changed from a working class school on the east side of town, to a high population of Limited English Proficiency students. The district gave it "Magnet" status 5 years ago and added the IB program. It is still seen as "not a real magnet" and they have not attracted near the population imagined just offered a few more electives according to a friend I know who teaches there."

When I re-read my entry yesterday I feel that instead of just bitching about it, I need to so something productive (beyond joining a FB group). Even more important than saving the magnets and diversity policy is doing what I can to stop Project Enlightenment from losing their funding (another very real possibility. This pre-K early intervention program has reach into EVERY SCHOOL in the district. Going to investigate options.

ok... so busy weekend ahead including more work for the online class, getting a project and notes ready on the Enlightenment (yes it will involve cutting and pasting after this week's success, grilling out with friends with the nice weather.

and BEST of All 2 baby-related items:

Meeting up with the doula tomorrow while Ben is at soccer for some planning
and Baby Shower for my mini-taco with my mom friends at a local sushi restaurant.

Now if I can just kick this cold life will be all good!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Where to Go With This?

117 students showed up for the NHS new member interest meeting yesterday. Holy cow I have some work ahead of me to get though that many applications, transcripts and letters of service and leadership by March 26th! I am happy to report after weeks of 5-10 discipline write ups per day I think I have gotten through to some students that by God I am going to drag you across the passing line. I retooled much of what I was going to do to make it hands-on with great success this week, although I worked all weekend to prep.

Ever seen two 16 year old boys fighting over who had better Absolute Monarchs baseball trading cards? I think personal guillotines are coming up next! Still no sub, but if I can leave them in passing status by spring break they have a shot of passing the class without me, just in time to have me back for Civics next year.

I have written about the current position our school district has taken before, but until this week everything has been speculation for the future direction. 30 years of a nationally recognized diversity policy is going to be phased out over the next 12-15 months in favor of neighborhood attendance zones. This decision was clearly going to be the direction after the election of 4 new board members and well publicized disagreement over the current diversity plans.

While I really can see both sides as a teacher and a parent who of course wants my child in a nearby school I really don't know where to go with the rising anger I have towards the way this district is heading. Sidenote- I make a 1 hour roundtrip commute now for Ben's preschool and plan to do it again next year ALONG with stopping a a different school for the baby.

A recent NY Times article spoke to the rising anger in the suburbs over busing and the election of the new members. I eagerly was awaiting this article after hearing that school board members had been interviewed and thought finally, someone is going to point out the evils of resegregation and maybe tie it to the current NAACP lawsuit of a neighboring county over similar actions or a comparison to a similar in size Charlotte School district that abandoned magnets and diversity plans through busing 10 years ago and have since re-created Pre-Brown status for most of their inner city schools.

I was disappointed that the article barely mentions the nationally recognized magnet program, why the programs were created pre county/city merger, reasons we HAVE mandatory year round assignments including a school bond building referendum voted down by citizens in 1990s, a decade of skyrocketing growth from 80,000 to 140,000 students, or anything about the superintendent. Comments had been shut down or I would have added the above deletions.

Interestedly enough the catalyst for contacting the Times was from someone supporting the dismantling of the current program. WHAT????? This completely explains why so much of the article focuses on the burden of the suburban families for all the changes that have been made and their outrage as defined by their school board vote. Also misrepresented as 64% when in actuality it was 11% voter turnout. Nowhere in the article does it mention that the Superintendent has just tendered his resignation, that the board has wanted to boot him early for publicly speaking out against dismantling this program without any researched plan either logistically or financially to replace the current model.

Nor did the article mention the recent online survey of parents (that only 30% of parents replied to) reflected that 80-90% of parents were happy with their current school. Where is all this outrage from parents, the undercurrent of the election of these new board members?

One of the schools board reverted back to a traditional calendar in a very overcrowded part of town as part of a parent appeasement plan. Never mind at this school to now accommodate the need for a trailer city they will have to give up their main playground.

As for my old school, one of the magnet high schools downtown that draws a population from all over the district for it's IB/AP programs as well as their fine/visual arts programs, it is as good as nonexistent in 5 years. Not without it's flaws, I totally understood the reputation within a few months of my job there and why other teachers thought I was nuts for leaving to help start my current school (having a 12 week old baby WAS the reason) and one that I have often regretted during that very difficult first couple of years.

As of this week, the school will revert back to their neighborhood demographic, one that is close to 90% poor and minority. I talked to several of my teacher friends at that school since the decision, some that have been there over 20 years and I totally understand their frustration, sadness, and feeling of being cheated out of the chance to make real and lasting difference to some of the districts' undeserved students. It is/was a model of school reform that worked and saved a school from racial isolation and abysmal scores.

For the first time since I left 4 years ago they have a teaching position opening up for this fall in my dept. I had seriously thought trying to get back, even with a 45 min commute. I even visited a nearby and only Public Montessori Elementary for Ben and Baby V with nationally recognized programs 2 weeks ago wondering if I could make this work. I would be nuts, even with my desire to "not be a hypocrite" and stay in suburban paradise.

As for me, my options for what to do this fall, next year, next 5 years just got alot smaller. With the drive to neighborhood schools there is likely going to be flight out of downtown to already overcrowded suburban schools. Teachers will be looking to leave schools labeled and also punished "failing" under NCLB guidelines. After all a high school in Rhode Island last week summarily fired all teachers at the end of this year in a under performing inner city school with no warning.

For the sake of my family I am going to stay put, see what happens, see where we are zoned for the 3 elementarily that my neighborhood is currently divided over. Consider keeping Ben at Heartwood for Kindergarden. In the end I SHOULD be supporting this board, my family has more to gain.

As I was leaving that now ill-fated elementary visit I snapped a couple of pics of the artwork. After sitting in the little chairs and observing what was a model of a diverse classroom with engaged kids I left with an overwhelming sense of sadness knowing that most likely the future for 1/2 of the kids in the classroom. Nothing seems more cruel than to relegate a group of 5 year olds to a sub par education, all because they have the wrong zip code and little means of connectedness to make a difference.

As much as I want a good education and viable options for my family I also want it for the kids I saw in that class and have taught over the last 10 years. I have no business in this job if I only see the easy to teach honors kids as worth it. My heart is completely broken for what is going to happen for a district that ranks currently in the top 10 urban districts for graduation rates, end all goal for most state leaders. I think back to the year of preparation I put in working to build community co-chairing our first freshman academy for 800 incoming students. The one that was unique to 17 high schools only one other school that was even trying this idea, the plan to make sure that all students got a good first start at high school. That year of work including hundreds of hours meeting with community and church leaders, the sense of real accomplishment for bringing a pipe dream of finding ways to reach out to the base population through education been relegated to failed social experiment to ensure that once again the money and power base is well entrenched.

I am outraged.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Holy Productivty- A March Madness Plan

Ok folks the plan is on with 6 weeks till Vinson 2.0 and after a weekend spent either 1. Shuttling Ben somewhere 2. Doing massive Amounts of work for school/online class (even on Friday night) 3. Attempting to get the house cleaned and weekend chores I am declaring my own plan for March Madness since like being the only American NOT watching the hockey game yesterday, I won't care about March Madness, brackets, or the like.

Here's my overall plan for Holy Productivity-

1. Create some type of Registry at Target- DONE! Yes it only has diapers, wipes, and bottles on it and a secretly coded message that GIFT CARDS rock, but it's done. I registered for what I used with Ben. I hope this baby likes the same brands or at least PLEASE folks will think to include a gift receipt. Actually I hope my request at an upcoming shower to go in on a group gift for a couple of house cleaning sessions will not be taken as tacky. I seriously do not need 95 neutral receiving blankets. I figured the registry would at least help those who feel the need (and of course will be appreciated) for a actual gift.

2. Now that Ben has vacated the nursery start moving gear and crates of baby stuff to stage the next plan of moving it all into place by end of Month. I HATE that feeling that your house looks like a BRU warehouse so Bill and I have a plan to utilize space in our 1400 square foot home based on what we didn't use (like 2 diaper genies) from last time wisely.

3. Ground Beef O- Rama- Restock my freezer with 30 made ahead meals. Since 75% of what I had already done went to my mom last weekend, every weekend will involve something in triplicate. I'm planning when I hit the grocery in advance so that I don't eat up time on Sat going back to the store. I also hope to get in one cooking session with Elizabeth if she has time by end of month.

4. Wrap up this online class that has taken much more time than expected. In part because I underestimated the amount of work or the dynamics of being assigned group work with others and the proverbial "it always falls to someone to complete" mantra. God I hope it pays off with a contract to teach something online this summer.

5. Wrap up the month of March with lesson plans, copies, grading as well as NHS insanity including a fundraiser next week and 100+ applications coming in on 3/19. At this point I am giving naming rights to any teacher who gives any time to help me cross the finish line. Knowing I have a long term sub lined up would help my stress level immensely as I am working to week 39, please pray that someone who is part parole officer and is not grandma in support hose is hired in the next 4 weeks.

6. Attempt to keep up with daily grind of life, housekeeping, staying active with friends, meetings, DR appointments and most of all making this last month of time with Ben as the solo child. I have been trying to make our afternoons time special even when are just at the grocery with a sparkle doughnut and the promise of using the little cart for good behavior. I have made sure our weekly date Fridays at the Library are going to continue to happen, even when he walked out last week to my CAR (without me no less)!!! We are on week 4 for pooping in a potty and for that I am eternally thankful to the Gods. He asked us yesterday if he was our favorite child... handwriting is on the wall!

7. Meeting with doula this weekend and plans to go natural if possible. I need to pack stuff for the hospital, finalize plans for Ben overnight help on the day/night of labor, install new car seats for both baby and Ben's new Britax in both cars, check out an additional daycare as a Plan B, get summer plans for Ben and 1/2 day camp settled. oh what else......

How about go sit for 5 mins in the nursery and look at Ben's bunny with a recorded message for Baby. I found this super cute bunny hat and bib yesterday at Target. Even I with no penchant for most things cute, this makes me smile and so ready to bring this baby to the party!