Thursday, November 27, 2008


It's Thanksgiving morning, we're pulling a last-minute Louie realizing that cooking two different-sized turkey breasts is NOT the same as cooking one turkey, and I'm frantically searching the Internet hoping to find some advice.

UPDATE: We figured it out. Kept the bigger breast at room temp and the smaller one in the fridge, still brined them both, and used the recipe Toddler Tamer gave me last year to once again make smashingly good turkey. Everything took longer than we thought it would, but isn't that par for the course on Thanksgiving?

We had a delicious dinner at my parents' home: Eighteen humans and three dogs. All ate quite well and had a fantastic time. We had Mom and R, T's parents, my sisters E and M and M's husband C (Einstein, wait--?), M's in-laws (including her BIL and SIL), another family who didn't want to have just the four of them around a lonely table, and one medical resident whose plans to sit alone and watch TV changed when my stepdad invited her. She remained fairly quiet until I said the magic words "I love Stephen King". Then she perked right up. And a partridge.... Ohhh, the mashed potatoes! Ohhh, the stuffing using my parents' 30+ year-old recipe! Ohhh, the three kinds of pie! How fortunate I felt to need an elastic waistband on my pants.

Friday had me in bed all day with a crummy cold, but I again felt so thankful not to spend it slogging through work and sucking it up. Much better to finish my book and have a toasty warm puppy there with me!

I don't care if it sounds cliche'; I felt so thankful this past weekend to have so many places to go, to have people who love me sending me messages and giving me hugs, to sing with my choir on Sunday, to spend time with my family, to have the things that I have. I'm very blessed and lucky and fortunate at the same time (someone pointed out that being "fortunate" means you earned what you have, as opposed to "luck"), and I hope I don't take any of it for granted. I probably do, but I try to allow myself at least one reminder a day of what I have.

And now we put in a scant 25 days until Christmas. How did this year fly so quickly?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Reality Check

I had a big, bad one today, at least in my book. In thinking about the economy, going to a union meeting and listening to them talk about massive budget cuts, and talking to a few colleagues who know their stuff, I realized, quite bluntly, that a position at my current job may well not exist for me next year. [J from work, if you're reading this, please, PLEASE keep this between us and the blogosphere. I know I don't need to ask that, but I do anyway.]

I've always known, somewhere in the back of my mind, that my tenuous situation may not work out the way I wanted it to. I've got other people vying for a position as well, but the fact still remains that we may have nothing to compete for. I can't go on taking others' maternity leaves for the rest of my life, and I can't wait around for others to retire. So, as frustrating as it may be, I may well have to start over at a new job once again. I can't tell you how disheartening this makes me feel, like some sort of glorified placeholder. I also worry because the more years of teaching I have under my belt, the more expensive I am to hire. Now, not all districts care about this, but it may narrow options a tad.

I got home today, assessed my feelings, went through one handkerchief and several tissues, and reassessed. I am very qualified to do what I do. Even in this economy, someone will need a teacher with my background. Circumstances may make it so that I can stay in my current district, though I'll still look elsewhere; it would be pure foolishness not to do so. I can get good recommendations and find something. It will do me no good to wail and gnash my teeth and complain about the unfairness of life. Whoever said life was fair? All I can do is give my 100% and make every single effort to secure myself a probationary (more permanent, with the chance of tenure) position...somewhere.

I still have some growing up to do. I did some of it today. Nobody owes me anything; I know this. Nobody will give me anything: I have to earn it on my own, based on what I do. I have no control over anyone but myself, and if I don't control my own actions, I don't control my destiny. I also have to accept the fact that I'm human and I make mistakes. However, I still need to listen to the inner voice that tells me how best to help myself; that other self-sabotaging voice needs to go on the back burner, the one who tells me to read a few more pages in my book or that I've earned a rest and don't need to grade those papers until "later". No regrets, no cursing myself for not doing what I could have done to help myself. There's no room for it.

So wish me luck. This being a grownup thing is awfully hard, but I think it's worth it.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Ah, the holiday season

Tell me if this happens in your town: Yesterday while flipping stations on the radio, I discovered that they've already begun 24 hour Christmas music. Sigh. Bad enough that it used to happen the day after Thanksgiving; now it starts mid-November? What's next year, Daylight Savings??!! What is this madness??????

Don't get me wrong--I love the music. I do. But if I overdose on it for over a month before the actual holiday (I happen to celebrate Christmas), I begin to dread those beloved songs. Ouiser, how does M feel about this? I know it's his favorite holiday. Doesn't this whole "start early" bit seem a little pushy as well? I'm sorry to complain; it's just a pet peeve of mine. Snow has started to fly and I'm already mentally planning my Thanksgiving contributions (found a recipe for whole wheat corn muffins with a dash of cayenne--I may do a trial batch to see if they're worth it) and gift-giving, but I can't do Christmas music yet. I make myself wait until Dec. 1. The only exception may include the Peanuts Christmas because Vince Garabaldi rocks that album.

On the note of gift giving, in this time of economic crisis, do we really need to spend a ton of money on gifts? I've been reading in my magazines about how to give back or use that money to make a donation to a food bank. Or give the gift of your time, like offering to babysit or help someone clean her house if you're super organized. I can't see myself giving nothing, but honestly, I may give this year in the form of something edible for the most part. My sister has no cash but she gardens--I told her to get us some seeds. You know, give something really thoughtful that has more effort than consumerism involved in it. I admit, I look through the catalogues and dog-ear pages, but this year I want to try something different, or at least more thoughtful. I'll let you know how it turns out. Any thoughts?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Two Things, Quickly

1) I got new glasses. For those of you with 20/20 vision, first of all, go away. Second, getting new glasses is very important and slightly stressful because they GO ON YOUR FACE. So you have to take great care in choosing the frames that will GO ON YOUR FACE, where people look the most. I tried going alone--fool! Foolish fool! Fortunately Mom came with me the second time to help me choose. The sisters tried to make me wait until they came home for the holidays, but once I got the ball rolling, I couldn't wait. See, I've needed a new pair for, oh, about two years or longer. I think my previous pair had a fourth birthday. At the very least, I found out that my left eye had gotten all wonky and astigmatic, if such a word exists.

In looking, I wanted a pair NOT like my old ones. What did I keep picking out? Pairs like ones I'd previously had. Do you have any idea how many styles they have out there? And how many will make me look like a bug or that I'm wearing goggles? You'll all be thrilled and relieved to know I found a pair that looked just different enough, flattered my face, and had just a wee bit of edge to them. I got compliments from students--now, that's saying something. That they even noticed says a lot.

OK, so you just read about me buying glasses. Clearly I need to find something else to do. But seriously! It's a big decision! Like buying a house! Erm....

2) They caught the kid who posted the bomb threat. I won't tell you the kid's name, but everyone, EVERYONE knows him as Sketchy ______. As in, if the kid's name was Ed, everyone knows him as Sketchy Ed. Even the teachers call him this (not to his face, of course). Due to bad decision making on his part, this kid had carved out a path to juvie and our correctional system quite some time ago. I don't like to think that, but he really didn't leave me any other choice. (Aside--when I write "correctional facility", I think of the euphemism of "correcting" people the one evil character used in the novel/movie The Shining. Hmmm.) He'd been busted for drug deals, robbing houses in the area, and a couple other things. It was a progression.

I don't think I should divulge the details of what happened, suffice to say that he, himself, made the call and someone recognized his voice on the tape. They confronted him yesterday, he tried to run, the policeman chased him and threatened to shoot him in the posterior (not kidding!) and the boy dropped to the pavement like a stone. So he's in jail for a while.

I realize there's no congruity at all between those two stories, but that's just how my mind worked today. What can I say? Have a great weekend!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Newspaper History

My dad told me of the site If you click on this link, you can look at hundreds of newspaper headlines from the election. It's rather awe-inspiring. I chose a few at random for you to see (I'm sorry they're so narrow; I had to make them fit.). Well, I chose San Francisco's because all it has is a picture and a name. Pretty amazing:

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Not your typical day

Yesterday we had someone call up the school and issue a bomb threat, saying there was a bomb in a locker. I can write this because we had to do a press release, so I think it's public knowledge. Pretty scary--we went on shutdown and kept all the kids in their classrooms until the bomb-sniffing dogs went through and ascertained that no bombs indeed existed. Nobody had any idea what was going on. Fortunately it was during my lunch, so I didn't have to attempt to keep 27 kids calm and off their cell phones.

Why did we keep the kids inside, you ask? Several reasons:

1) Making that sort of announcement would have incited panic in our 1700 students. Keeping everyone calm is easier when it's in smaller groups.

2) It's part of our shutdown plan.

3) It kept the kids out of the dogs' way so they could do an efficient search.

4) (and this scared the bejeebers out of me) In Paducah, KY, within the past year or so, someone issued a bomb threat. When they evacuated the kids, snipers in the woods began taking shots at the kids. I'm not kidding. What sick people. So, we felt it best to keep the kids inside, as we knew of no imminent threat. The police showed up immediately; I feel they would have told us to evacuate had they thought it necessary.

Needless to say, today felt a little weird. I let the kids talk about it; they felt fairly rattled too, though they tried not to show it. You know, I experienced fights in the Buffalo city schools; we went on lockdown for that often enough that it wasn't a huge deal, but this felt a lot different because it was so much bigger. I think kids knew about it--I wonder if they'll find who did it.

Anyway, it gave us an extra day to input 1st quarter grades. That's my weak attempt at humor, heh heh. I smile like a lunatic when I'm extremely nervous (it's totally a muscle thing, not deliberate or even voluntary), so I had a Joker-like rictus grin on for about an hour yesterday. Ech.

I'm glad nothing happened. Really, really glad. I'm off to pet my dog and hug my husband.

Pictures from last weekend Halloween

Well, my brother T and his wife W had a very fun Halloween party last weekend. I promised you pictures, so here are a few. I won't post all of them (like my friends who dressed as Hugh Hefner and a bunny, but reversed--he was the bunny; she was Hef), but I think you'll like them:

Madonna and her security, circa 1985

Halloween card my brother's mom sent

Of course someone dressed as Sarah Palin

Our friend M (T's fake twin--don't they look alike?) as Canadian hockey broadcaster Don Cherry. "Ginger" got tired of her wig, so T put it on for fun

Good times, lots of dress-up!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Change is Here

I'll post very, very quickly and write that, while I fell asleep (at 9:30--It's been a long week, so far) before seeing the results live, before seeing Barack Obama's amazing acceptance speech, I awoke at 3am, turned on the news, and fell asleep excited by our future and awed by our voting process.

I felt such pride voting yesterday, such hope. I still feel that today. I'm so glad our country chose a leader who has an open mind and, more importantly, who got so many different groups of people involved in the political process, including me. I could go on and on, but I have to read for next period because I got so caught up in watching election stuff that I didn't do it last night.... I do have fears that hatred will rear its ugly head in ways which stop our hearts, but even more so I have that hope that Americans will see what we're capable of as a country through the leader so many of us chose to elect.

At any rate, yes we did. For the next four years: Yes, we can.