Birthday

2012/09/25

My birthday, saving this most lovely hour or so at dinner, has been slightly south of mediocre. Ah well. Despite it all I am incredibly warmed by the outpouring of well wishes. I am amazed by all the love...

Why

2012/09/21

An excerpt from a reflection paper I am writing for my certification program:

All of these facts are readily available from a web search or performance measures reporting. They are significant to understanding the student population. But statistics are deceptive in that they offer only superficial understanding. I have learned much more from just talking with my students. I knew from the outset that building relationships was job number one and efforts in that direction have paid off well. Each student I get to know in a personal way is one that I want to help.

It is easy to dismiss a student as lazy for missing most of his junior year and having to make up lost credit. But when such a student came to talk to me at lunch and told me about his junior year when his mom had a heart attack that landed her in the hospital for several months and he had to drop out to get a job and support his two younger siblings since his dad is often drunk and does nothing at home to contribute. And how that same year his three older siblings were all killed in violent and tragic ways leaving him the only role model for his younger siblings. That is a student I want to help. I have another student that I started to think poorly of because of her spotty attendance and lack of participation. Today she came to see me about an alternative to my before school tutoring hours that she can’t attend because she works every day from 2 am to 8 am before school. That is a student I want to help. Another student was showing signs of frustration with the work I am assigning and the non-relevance of my class. I felt like she was disrespecting me until I spoke to her and learned that she is supporting her 1 year old daughter, taking college classes, and working after school each day on top of high school. That is a student I want to help. Yes, there are students in my classes with poor behavior that is a result of bad choices, but many of them are doing the best they can with difficult circumstances. For me, getting to know my students individually changes the entire landscape of teaching.

Blurg

2012/09/19

I composed a lengthy rant this morning which seems to have been garbled by my phone. Which is probably well enough since the heat of emotion is never a good place to compose one's thoughts. Suffice it to say things are not entirely rosey this week. Chronic overwork is setting in and my mood has soured. I had my first real cry about the job last night and I'm having difficulty maintaining perspective.

On my drive in this morning I asked myself to really answer why (Why!) I made this choice. It seems more than a little crazy from the vantage point of this week. But here it is: I feel like the major ailment of our world is pervading selfishness. This sacrifice I am making is my personal protest against that. One day at a time I make that choice. And one day at a time I am surviving.

Cricket

2012/09/16

My poor sweet Cricket died early yesterday morning in his sleep. We are all a little heartbroken.

I got up around 3:30 because the dogs were begging to go outside. It is unusual for them to wake up in the middle of the night, but certainly not unheard of so I didn't think much of it. But Cricket's breathing was scary and I could tell something wasn't right. He has had labored breathing for some months now and his general health has deteriorated quite a bit, but this was something different. I let them outside to do their business and then made Cricket a more comfortable bed and stroked him a bit to make him more comfortable. Then I went back to bed. When I woke up at 6:30 to go running he was gone.

Telling my girls he was gone was among my most difficult parenting moments. They are dealing with their grief in very different ways, but needless to say it's been a somber weekend in our house.

Here we are in early 2007 the weekend we adopted him. (Which happens to coincide with one of the worst haircuts I've ever given, poor Sylvie.) Cricket had a lot of neurosis that drove me crazy, but he truly was the sweetest dog and loved his family fierce. Sylvie and I decided that he's in doggie heaven now eating all the ham he could dream of.




Beautiful

2012/09/08

Crazy beautiful (for once) weather. Crazy beautiful sunset. Crazy and beautiful girl.

Big day

My beautiful Sylvie was baptized a member of our church last Saturday. It was a great day for sure. Both of her grandpas traveled to Austin for the event and took part in the ceremony. Truly wonderful to have them here. We had a lovely long weekend visiting with them (while I unfortunately sat to the side and lesson planned a good chunk of the time) and enjoying the family vibe.

I am tremendously proud of my girl. She knows her own heart and makes so many good decisions without my prompting, I am amazed by her maturity of spirit.


Unbroken


Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and RedemptionUnbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow. Just an amazing story on so many levels. I was perpetually amazed by what the main character (and everyone else) went through. Every turn the story took I was blown away that the ordeal was not over yet. The author did a wonderful job of assembling it all into a sweeping narrative. Great book.

What I loved:
This is simply put, a great story. It's hard to believe it's not fiction, it is just jam packed with great characters and heart wrenching experiences.

What I learned:
The takeaways were huge. The actual events were very educational as it is told from the point of view of a WWII POW in Japan. But also the human elements, humanity and dignity at their very core, were on display in great glory.


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Everything

Hot

2012/09/05

I don't think anyone is a big fan of reading a lengthy complaint about the weather, but I feel the need to document how insanely brutal running had been this summer. Then perhaps when I'm whining about the cold this winter I can go back and read this for some perspective.

It has been awful. Lows around 80 and humidity in the 90s is just stupid hot. Brutal. Insane. Profanity is truly required. Sometime around last May a miracle occurred and I decided to actually like running. And my weekly mileage more than doubled just in time for the stupidy of summer heat. Even now, running in the dark of 5:30 there is no relief to be found.

Even after 13 years living in the sunbelt I get grumpy every September when the temperatures refuse to cool off. My birthday wishlist now includes a run in 60 degree weather. Think I'll get it?

Amen

2012/09/03

Sweet

My dear friend made me math teacher cookies. Win!

First week

2012/09/01

One week down! This has been without a doubt the most overwhelming and difficult week of my life. Yet I am smiling at the end of it and that is a wonderful thing. I knew teaching would be hard but it really is something that defies words. The only experience to compare it to is parenthood - people can talk and talk and talk about the transformation but until you experience it you just can't understand. It is a job like no other.

Other than the chronic stress and criminal level of overworkedness, it has been most difficult watching the toll on my family. They are truly on my team but it is excruciating telling Sylvie that I'll be late for the dinner date I promised because I simply can't get away or that traffic is at a standstill. Or not being able to invest fully and revel in Tessa's triumphs as she navigates middle school. Tough stuff. I know it will get smoother and that's really the only thing pulling me through.

Without getting too political or irate when I'm fresh out of the gate, the amount of work truly is obscene. I consider myself above average when it comes to problem solving and designing systems to get stuff done, but there is simply no way to get it all done in day. My few planning periods are eaten up by meetings leaving me to do a gigantic amount of prep on my own scant time. This is a truly broken system. The personal economics of the job are in my opinion perverse if we really want the best and the brightest to teach the future generation. But for now I just have to set all of that aside and make my peace with it. As best as an opinionated girl such as myself can do anyway :-)

I am despite all of that immensely happy. I love being with the kids and I've had a great week in the classroom with a few small exceptions. I have tons to learn about my craft, but its rewards are already apparent. I am looking forward to finding my feet and becoming equal to the challenge. Everyone talks about how the first year, the first semester, the first month is so brutal. So I it can only get better as I go along.