I finished a whole book....a whole one! This is my very first one since I have had Little Man 9 months ago. Those of you who know me know that I am an avid reader. Usually I finish a couple books over Spring Break, 5-6 during the summer, and I read myself to sleep every night.
Well, that all changed when Connor lovingly joined our bedroom. Long gone were the days when I could sit up late at night with the light on, reading until I fell asleep. Long gone were the nights when I'd have the energy, let alone willpower, to read. Instead, I'd lay Connor into his crib and before my head would even hit the pillow...I'd be fast asleep.
But, now, given our successful Mission: Get Connor into his own crib, I have copious amounts of night time to do all sorts of leisure activities. Because....drum roll please...he has been sleeping through the night. Thank you, Lord!
There is no need to comment on my choice of book. I read classics, books filled with academia, the newest New York Times best sellers, but I have a propensity for love stories. Lest you forget, I am still a girl after all.
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
I finished a whole book....a whole one! This is my very first one since I have had Little Man 9 months ago. Those of you who know me know that I am an avid reader. Usually I finish a couple books over Spring Break, 5-6 during the summer, and I read myself to sleep every night.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Connor has now been alive for 38 weeks, the same number of weeks he was lovingly cared for in my belly before he decided to join us! Why is it that pregnancy seemed to last FORREVVER and Connor's short time here has seemed to FLYYY by?!? We still do not know what on earth he is doing with his tongue. Our daycare says it's pretty common in babies, but it's just hillarious. He is CONSTANTLY sticking it out.
A cute video above...
So, many of you know that once again I was laid off. It stinks. It's stressful (although...so much LESS stressful than being 7 months pregnant and not having a job). It certainly makes doing things like open house and report cards a little frustrating (especially when those things are done on our "own" time). So, I thought I'd put together a little "What Not to Say to Me" post. Let me preface this by saying that I know you are trying to be helpful. I think this is one of those things that people don't know what to say or how to help. So, allow me...
(1) "But it's not for SURE, right?"
My response: Yes it is. At this moment in time it IS for sure. Could that change tomorrow? Sure. Could it change in 5 minutes. Sure. But it IS for sure, right now, that I have no job next year.
(2) "Well, you'll probably get hired back."
My response: maybe. I might be able to pay my mortgage next year. I might be able to contribute food next year for my table. Let me call up Bank of America right now and let them know that I'll PROBABLY have a job next year, thus PROBABLY be able to send them a check. I'll let my daycare provider know that I'll probably be able to pay her next year. More than likely. K, I'm being sarcastic...but... You try living with this uncertainty. You try planning for a constant maybe. You try spending hours trying to figure out how you could make it all work.
(3) "This happens to teachers every year right?"
My response: No. This is my fourth year in the district. I was not laid off my first two years. Teachers in our district hadn't been laid off for maybe 10 years before that. So, no. This does not happen every year.
(4) "Maybe you should be an attorney!"
My response: Dad, I chose to be a teacher.
(5) "How perfect! Now you can be a Stay at Home Mom!"
My response: Perhaps. But if we truly could have afforded that to begin with, that's what we would have done. And perfect would be me CHOOSING that path...not being forced out before my time.
There are soo many of you who have been laid off in this horrible economy. I have friends and family who have been unemployed for over a year and many of my teacher friends still don't have jobs from last year. I know that here in Sacramento we see the effects of the layoffs and furloughs for the state workers. This year in California 22, 000 of us recieved those dreaded pink slips. And I'm one of the lucky ones. I was hired back last year and am high on the list for mine to be rescided.
What you can say:
(1) How can I help?
My response: stand up for education. Wear pink on Friday's. Volunteer in your child's classroom. Class sizes are going up again and it is going to be overwhelming to those of us who DO get hired back.
(2) I love you.
My reponse: thank you! I love you too!
(3) I'm going to think good thoughts for you.
My reponse: I try to keep my friends who don't have jobs in my thoughts and prayers. This, too, shall pass. We'll all survive. I know that even people who HAVE jobs are feeling it too with furloughs, pay freezes, and reduced hours. We're all in this together.
I hope this doesn't come across too whiny. That, certainly, is not my intention.
Monday, March 29, 2010
It's no secret that this is the first time Mr. Howard has ever seen a 4.0 GPA. Way to Go!!! SOOO PROUD!!! Just as a clarification, Chapman's Grading Policy states that an A is the highest grade attainable.
Posted by J Howard at 1:34 PM
Well, readers, we have successfully accomplished day 2 of our mission. I am happy to report that he is sleeping better than ever and only woke up once (5:30am), then fell back asleep until I woke him at 7:35am. Hallelujah!!!!!!!!
**I thought this picture was fitting. It was taken when Mr. Howard and Connor went to the car show so Mommy could have a day to herself. And yes...he ACTUALLY fell asleep in the front carrier. Apparently everyone at the car show was laughing!!I, personally, am entering this into evidence that thankfully there is a man in my life who is not as obsessed with cars as my huband. Way to go Connor!**
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Whenever Spring Break comes, I finally have time to do all the things I love. One of them being my love for cooking. So, we kicked off my Spring Break with a first! Handmade Meatballs and Spaghetti! Mr. Howard declared that it was the best meal I had ever made...good thing because the recipe called for two POUNDS of spaghetti...most of which is now in my fridge!
Posted by J Howard at 7:03 PM
While I'm on a blogging food roll, I thought I should mention an AMAZING recipe I cooked for my starving hubby last night. It was one of the best things we've eaten in a long time. My favorite part about it, however, was the fact that it was SOOOOO simple!! Check out the recipe here! I use turkey to replace most things that call for red meat, but I didn't even have to modify this recipe. The key ingredient, besides the delicious honey Dijon mayo was the Parmesan. Yummy!
Posted by J Howard at 7:00 PM
Do you remember this post? Well, yesterday Operation Get Connor in his Own Room commenced. We have yet to abort any mission with Connor and last night was no different. I can happily report to the troops that Day 1 of the Mission was SUCCESSFUL!!!! I am so proud of us. Huh? "US?!?" you ask. Yes. I knew he could do it...but I didn't know if we could!
Saturday, March 27, 2010
I'm getting ready to do an overhaul on this blog in the next month or so and I found a new feature that I added. If you are a regular reader, add yourself to the right! Or you can click on the following link: Become a Follower
Posted by J Howard at 3:00 PM
Thursday, March 25, 2010
It's fitting that in his teddy photo he has his tongue out because in his daily note I wrote that he sticks his tongue out A LOT. At daycare, we'll get notes that say, "Connor stuck his tongue out the majority of the day!" So funny!! It isn't done in concentration or anything, it's just a new feeling.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Saturday, March 20, 2010
In my monthly installment of Parents Magazine, there was an article titled Everything I know About Being a Mom...I learned from my second child (with apologies to my firstborn) and it got me thinking...
In one poignant part, Castagnoli says "As for my heart, I loved David [husband], of course, but I was head over heels in love with Conrad.... I was worried that I loved my son more than I loved my husband." How many of you moms felt this way?
I have never felt that way with Connor. I adore him, love him more than life itself. I love watching him. I think he's the most brilliant baby in the whole world. I happily take thousands of photos of him and beg people to look at them. I'd give up my life for him. In the fleeting moments when I think about something happening to him, I crumble. He is my light, my joy, and my true gift from God. BUT I feel the same way about my husband. Sure, it's a different kind of love. Sure, it's a very different kind of feeling. But I have never worried about loving Connor more. For me, it is the same way with the love I have for my parents v. the love for my husband. Niether is more or less...just VERY different.
Mamas: What are your feelings? Did you ever worry about this? Am I in the minority?
Friday, March 19, 2010
In order to celebrate THIS, our little family went out to celebrate at....wait for it...sushi!! Connor was especially excited, as he LOVES to play with the chopsticks. He also loves that they always replace a chair with his sling at the table (unlike most restaurants) and he gets to be a fully-participating food watcher (no eating...quite yet)!
Thursday, March 18, 2010
This week I got this brilliant idea to do the weekly photo description in black with silver ink. Uhhhh...dumb idea!
Little Man is soooo active and just loving life. We survived his first fever and first serious sickness and Mommy and Daddy survived the SLEEPLESS nights that went along with it. We did call the advice nurse more than 3 times (won't tell you the actual number or you might think less of us...) and took him in once. What worriers we are!
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Mr. Howard finished his first quarter of classes since going back to school full-time and KICKED butt!! He got two A's on his finals (96% on one and 100% on the other) and final projects/papers (100% on his big paper)! We won't know if it's an A or A+ until his grades come out officially, but regardless...
He is Uhhhhh-Mazing!!!
**This is a picture of Daddy & Connor gardening from this past weekend**
Posted by J Howard at 8:13 PM
Posted by J Howard at 7:08 PM
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
We went to the Lakers v. Kings game tonight and had soo much fun...aside from the guys fighting next to us with a girl and her boyfriend a few rows back...and the man who got escorted out by a security guard and two police officers for inappropriate videotaping...and the woman in front of us who went on Channel 13 news saying how annoying Lakers Fans are...No...but really, we did have a great time!
Sunday, March 14, 2010
This weekend we focused on the planters we've been meaning to buy for almost two years!
Now only about 300 more things to do!
Saturday, March 13, 2010
Friday, March 12, 2010
Thursday, March 11, 2010
We have decided to go with the flow and lately the flow has been standing near the chair. He has sooo wanted to walk. He stands independently without holding on for a few seconds now, but then has to sit down when he gets too wobbly. He also likes holding onto objects and walking or pivoting from his spot! We're getting close!
Call me overprotective or a Mama Bear or a Worrier, but I had a little panic attack last night. Connor woke up last night (maybe 10:45ish) screaming and wouldn't be settled. Of course, we stripped him and looked for a hair tourniquet. After ruling that out, we thought it was a night terror. But we scoured our books for symptoms and he wasn't exhibiting all the signs. We, then, could NOT find anything wrong. And, that's when I totally began to stress out. I thought perhaps he had dislocated something or was VERY ill. It's just so unlike Connor to cry uncontrollably. Usually, if he's fussy and you hold him, he calms instantly. Mr. Howard called an advice nurse, who basically told us he was fine and that we were just being worried (this slightly irritated me because he's 8 months old...we know when something isn't right...it isn't like we take him to the doctor all the time or call all the time).
He KINDA went back to sleep, but refused a bottle. At about 1 in the morning, he woke screaming again. We searched his body again for rashes, etc. but couldn't find anything. We finally decided to put him in the tub. So I hopped in with him and held him while we bathed him. He refused to smile or even really move around, but he did calm in the tub. He began to fall asleep on me, so we thought he was ready for bed. Again, he began screaming when we transfered him to the bed. We got him to calm down long enough to fall asleep in my arms. It was very fitful sleep, with lots of moaning, and whining. Again, he refused the bottle.
At about 5:00am, he would no longer rest - even fitfully. And it was at this point that I could tell he was on fire. I took his temperature and confirmed what I already knew - he had a fever. Over 101! Again, I called an advice nurse who was so kind. She told me that I had Momma instincts and that I should always listen to them! She told me he definitely needed to come in to see our pediatrician, but that she didn't have access to the appointments. I needed to call back after 6am.
At this point I got myself ready to head into work (to do lesson plans) and called in a sub. When 6am rolled around, I called another nurse (protocol is that you have to book an appointment only AFTER you speak to an advice nurse). I won't tell you the whole story about the nurse, but the synopses was that she wasn't very nice to me and basically told me that he was just teething. But I insisted on an appointment. And she reluctantly gave it to me.
When we got to our appointment, they hooked up the little toe machine (an Oxygen saturation machine) that you can see in the picture above and took his temperature (he had a low grade fever because of the tylenol we had been giving him every four hours). Our pediatrician (whom I love), was so very sweet and confirmed and validated all my concerns, telling me that a fever doesn't necessarily indicate illness. He said he's seen little ones come in with fevers of 105 who are fine and little ones with fevers of 100 that have pneumonia. He also confirmed another fear of mine which was that Connor WAS dehydrated (black and blue around his eyes and a dry mouth). And finally that I was completely right to have brought him in! Thank you Mother Instinct!
Now that I was able to talk to our pediatrician about what, specifically, to do if any of this happens again, I'll be fine. Having never experienced a fever or any of these symptoms just stressed me out (Courtney I don't know how you do it!!) and especially stressed me out when we couldn't find ANYTHING wrong. So, I am now officially one of THOSE moms (the pushy, overly worrier type).
**By The Way - Little Man is 18 lb 9 oz **
Monday, March 8, 2010
Sunday, March 7, 2010
It's kinda fun going down with Mama
But a lot more fun trying to crawl up the slide on my own...
Perhaps, best of all, is going down on my own!
Connor: "Alright, you people, I'll pose for this stupid picture!"
Posted by J Howard at 9:08 PM
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Sleeping is becoming really inconsistent with Connor this week. He wakes up every hour or so and needs to be put back. Sometimes in a night we wake about 10-11 times to simply lay him down, tell him we love him, and tell him, "It's night-night time." Of course this new pattern has occurred during the worst time ever: I have report cards & ILP's due for my GATE students, Luke has a big paper due in class, AND I'm coming down with a cold.
As it says in his weekly note, thank goodness he's cute!
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Or eloquent stories.
Or meaningful reasons for posting this.
But isn't my little Duckie Butt just adorable?!
Mr. Howard had to work part of this weekend (well, if you count the time he worked on our entertainment center with my dad and his school work...it was all weekend), but we made do with the time we had! We played, giggled, and explored outside. It was such a fun world for Lovebug to be able to walk around outside to all the different plants and objects that he wanted. Of course, he'd be a lot happier if he could figure out how to do it without the walker. Baby steps, right?
"I like exploring, Mama!"
Monday, March 1, 2010
I have often thought about writing a book. You might be thinking, "What could she possibly have to write about?" Or, more accurately, that is what I think whenever the urge to write pops up into my head. Usually the urge follows a heated debate or a rough day at work or just one of those, "no one gets me!" periods in my life and before I can make a decision about how to plan out my next move, I calm down, move on, and once again conclude that I don't have time for that. So what do I want to write about? What is so pressing that I stay up at night thinking about all the chapters? Teaching!
This past weekend, I had someone look me in the eyes and tell me that teachers are the reason kids are failing. Teachers. Well, to be fair, he actually said that teachers and administrators are the reason kids are failing. But I heard teachers. It didn't hurt me as badly as one might think.
"Why?" you ask. Because I hear it all the time. Maybe not in that context. Maybe not so blatantly. Maybe not while looking me in the eyes across from the table. But this has been the topic of conversation since "No Child Left Behind" and, I'm sure, long before that.
To say that teaching is a thankless job is actually not true. I get thanked. Each and every day. I get little pictures from my fifth graders saying, "you are the best!" I get a thank you gift every year from the PTA on Teacher Appreciation Day. I get Christmas, End of the Year, and other Holiday cards with little notes scrawled with, "Thanks Mrs. Howard! I love you!" I get thanked constantly!
What I would say is that teaching is a respectless job. Oh sure, people say, "I could never be a teacher... Your job is so hard!...To deal with all those kids...I don't know how you do it..." But in the same breath I constantly hear, "Well I know MY child...YOU don't give enough homework!... You give too much homework!...If YOU'D only make math FUN, my child would learn...YOU ignored my child when she tried to tell you she didn't feel well...YOU singled her out when she was cheating...YOU didn't pick her to win the speech contest." Of course, I'm lucky if I hear those things straight from parents. Oftentimes it's, "SHE yelled at her...SHE isn't doing enough to help her in math...SHE didn't stop the other child from hitting MY child..." and my personal favorite..."SHE did NOTHING when MY child told her..." shouted angrily at the principal over the phone or, unfortunately quite often, to the front desk secretary.
There was one particular time with a parent two years ago. She called me and shouted. Shouted. "My daughter tried to tell you her arm was hurt and YOU put your hand up and told her it wasn't an appropriate time." Was she right? Yes. But here is what happened. Her daughter got hurt during recess. She didn't tell a yard duty. She didn't even tell me. She waited through an entire period of math class. She came up to me in the middle of me doing a lesson. The middle. She interrupted me. She told me her arm was hurt. I put my hand up, asked her to sit down. I finished the lesson. I walked right up to her, immediately afterwards and talked to her. I explained that it wasn't appropriate to interrupt me in the middle of a lesson. I explained to her that next time she is hurt she needs to tell a yard duty and go to the nurse or tell me immediately upon entering the classroom. I asked her what was wrong with her hand. I checked it for swelling. I told her she could go to the nurse. I politely listened to the parent shouting at me. Shouting. And finally, after years of just listening said, "I'm offended. You keep talking about her being YOUR daughter. Well, I think of her as mine from 9-3:30pm. I think of all these kids as my kids. To say that I don't care is hurtful. I care deeply. I am sad that she was hurt...hence sending her to the nurse...hence checking in with the nurse on my lunch break...hence finding her at recess to see what the nurse said...hence at the end of the day, checking her hand one last time to see if it was indeed okay, giving her a hug, and telling her to take it easy that night. On my own time. I care. I do this job because I care. I didn't yell ("like you are doing to me," I thought). I wasn't mad ("like you are," I thought). I just asked her to tell me immediately. Or to tell a yard duty. And to not walk up to me in the middle of math, after having an injury for over an hour and interrupt class."
Now, perhaps if you're not a teacher, there are some things you don't know...Not because you don't care, but because they are tricks of the trade. One of those things is that if you cannot create order in a classroom, you cannot teach. If you do not have rules, you cannot teach. If you do not have protocols for EVERY imaginable situation, you cannot teach. If you do not follow those protocols to the letter of the law, you cannot teach. If you break the rules, the kids see through you and you cannot teach (who can learn when they feel like there is one set of rules for them and another for the kid next to them). I have thirty students (this particular year I had 33). Do you know what would happen if I allowed a child to interrupt math to tell me they didn't feel well...or their head hurt...or their teeth hurt...or they were hungry...or they were mad at a friend...or they didn't have a pencil...or they couldn't find their book...or they had a rough night...or they are tired...or they're wondering who is going to pick them up...or...or...or. Get the picture? Chaos. No teaching. Frustration. I have to teach kids to be self-sufficient and conform. I didn't make the rules. I didn't decide on 33 bodies in a classroom. I didn't choose any of that. I am dealt a deck of cards and make the best out of it. But to say that I don't care is just plain insulting.
This past weekend as I fought back years of frustration, I heard someone say to me, "The kids were failing at that Rhode Island School (see the article here). All the district wanted the teachers to do was stay after school to help." Do you know how much this angers me? This is the sentiment. This is how people really feel. This is what school district's constantly say to us..."Well if YOU cared about the kids' best interests, you would [fill in the blank]!" And that is how they get us. Because we do care. We do stay well after our contractual time. We wipe noses. We calmly and reassuringly tell the other students in the class to head out to recess when we have a student throwing up. We tell kids it's okay to be different. We listen to kids when they cry. We listen to them talk about their problems at home. We advocate for them when they don't have a voice. We hold them accountable to make them responsible. We love them. We help them on our lunch breaks. We come in early to create meaningful lesson plans. We come in on weekends to get our rooms ready for Open House. We leave our own kids to run intervention and enrichment programs after school. We attend PTA events. We work at McDonald's to raise money for them. We collect box tops for them. We spend hundreds of dollars of our own money funding the things they NEED. We collect shoes and clothes to help our students who don't have the money for those things. We donate Valentine's Cards for the students who forgot them. We find ways to donate Christmas presents to the students who wouldn't otherwise have them. We gather food for our families who wouldn't otherwise eat. We send home resources for free medical care. We hunt down resources for our students who need glasses, but can't afford them. We listen to horror stories about abuse and stay awake at night thinking what else we could have done. We listen to parents cry about their divorces. We listen to kids talk about their frustrations about their parents divorce. We leave our own families to go on overnight field trips with our students. WE take classes after-school and on weekends to learn how to be better. We volunteer on committees after our work day ends, when we're not getting paid, to help make schools better. We "punch out" our time clocks at 3:35 and stay to grade papers... or conference with a parent because they don't get off work until 5pm... or tidy up our room...or buy art supplies for a fun art lesson... or spend hours asking others if they have any good Mother's Day crafts we can make with our kids... or create project proposals to help fund books for our kids...or...or...or. We take our problems home. We fight for them. We council. We nurse. We teach. We care.
So, what do I say when people want to ask me to do more? What do I say when someone looks me in the eyes and says, "If you cared about the kids you'd..." I say, "If YOU cared about the kids, YOU'D pay me for the time I stay after school. If YOU cared about kids, YOU'D reduce class sizes. If YOU cared about kids YOU'D give me time to lesson plan. If YOU cared about the kids, YOU'D give me time to do report cards. If YOU cared about kids you'd provide me an aid to grade papers so that I could spend more time teaching and less time trying to cram everything in. If YOU cared about kids YOU'D see to it that you supported me. If YOU cared about kids, you'd advocate for them. If YOU cared for kids, you'd provide them counseling so they could focus on school. If YOU cared, YOU'D do half of what I do!"
So why am I writing all this? Why now? Do I want someone to reply and say "Thank You!" No, teaching is a job where I get thanked everyday - be it a smile or a hug or a "NOW I GET IT!" I'd like you to stop blaming teachers. Even in your head. Even without ever uttering the words to another soul. Stop assuming that we're not advocating for your child. Stop assuming that your 10 year old couldn't possibly have spun the story to fit his/her own agenda. Stop assuming that WE haven't done enough when we ask to be paid. You wouldn't assume a doctor would stay after work everyday and not get paid for it. You wouldn't ask a retail clerk to stay after work and not get paid for it. You wouldn't ask an accountant to do people's taxes for free in the evenings. But for some reason, in our culture, it has become perfectly acceptable to ask...and then...worse...assume...and expect teachers to do it. Because if we cared, we'd do it. If we really wanted kids to succeed, we'd do it. Because, we all know, that teachers are teachers because of the pay...and the perks...and the lavish lifestyle.
So. There. I'm done. Maybe some day I'll a write a book. But for now, I've vented. Thanks for listening.
**I want to clarify that I have no idea what really transpired at the school in Rhode Island. The teachers could have been out of line. They could have really, truly failed the kids and not done enough. They could have been failing when all other schools in the area (with similar demographics and socio-economic statuses) were doing well. And if that is the case, shame on them. But I'd like to see those numbers. A tiny piece of that article: "If it's only an hour or two, I think teachers can afford to do that," said a parent who worries about sending his 13-year-old daughter to the troubled high school next year." So, naturally, I can assume that he too will be donating his time to the school for the hour or two? I assume that he will be leaving his own family to make that sacrifice? And the district personnel? They'll all be pitching in every day for an hour and a half, right? That superintendent should have a credential. I'm sure he'll be at that school every day, donating his time, right? Right? **
Posted by J Howard at 6:40 AM