Om Namah Shivaya


Friday, July 27, 2012

And just like that...

my summer has drawn to a close.  Today marks the last weekday of summer vacation, officially, for me.  Some would say "The last summer before children" *laugh*.  Camp starts on Monday and while I know I'm not going to be very involved in it this year, I am still going to start school hours on Monday, so goodbye summer, it was great, err impossibly HOT, while it lasted.

Thus ushers in my 10th year of teaching.  What?!?!  TEN YEARS?!?!  Inconceviable!  Truly.  I look forward to this school year for ALL of the changes it is about to bring.  Not only is my 10th year, which in and of itself is a milestone, but of course Mr. JP's arrival is imminent, literally on the horizon, and I have a new crop of 5th & 8th grade Orchestra students to break in, get to know in a short amount of time, then mold into musicians and decent human beings when I return from maternity leave.  

Yesterday I braved the sauna that is the HS Band room right now, and had the pleasure of meeting our new 6th and 7th grade Orchestra teacher.  He is a bright and pleasant young man who is full of energy and excitement to get this year going.  We wound up talking for a while and I gave him some advice, pointers, a calendar that has some music events on it (sadly none for his building), and some "sage" wisdom that has come from my 10 years of experience in my current district *laugh*.  What are those tidbits of wisdom you ask?  Allow me to share...

*ANYTIME* you contact a parent, LOG IT into IC, in the PLP contact log, that way you're covering your rear end should a disagreement over teacher communication arise.

*ANYTIME* you send home/hand out anything important, CONTACT THE PARENT, then LOG IT into IC in the PLP.

When you have a concert coming up, send home a reminder ONE MONTH PRIOR TO THE CONCERT, irregardless of the fact that you've already put it in the handbook and that it's also posted on the wall.  Then after sending the reminder home, CONTACT THE PARENT & LOG IT IN IC IN THE PLP.  Then *REMIND* the students every single day leading up to said concert that they do in fact have a concert and have to be there.  What time, what they have to wear, and that "Yes, my dear, you do have to stay the entire time".  Then CONTACT THE PARENT EACH WEEK TO REMIND THEM OF THE CONCERT, LOG IT IN IC IN THE PLP.

**Anyone else noticing a theme here?**

When you're going to give a playing-test that's a *scheduled one*, see above, but only give them a WEEK'S notice.

Written tests, give a WEEK'S NOTICE, then *see above*.

This one I forgot, but it's a good one.  Keep a PAPER RECORD of attendance and behavior, DAILY.  That saved me at least twice last year with a particularly difficult student of mine who was ticked off over the fact they had an F in my class.  "I do the work, I turn it in, why do I have an F?!", then the parent echoed that sentiment "She does the work, she turns it in, why does she have an F?!"  I looked through my paper record and found that her severe lack of attendance, if memory serves it was somewhere in the 50% range is what did her in.  I printed off my attendance for her, attached it to the "official" copy from IC, printed off the PLP log of parent-contact messages concerning her attendance and handed it over to mom.  "Oh my", was all mom could say ;)  Yup.  Cover yourself. 

So my friends, the summer has drawn to a close and the rituals must begin again.  On Sunday evening, I will lug my tired pregnant rear end home from work, take a bath, set up my coffee, and turn the timer on for the first time since May 20th.  Then set my alarm for 4am knowing the return to school has arrived and I *must* find my way to my yoga mat to set the tone for the year, to calm my mind, my body, my spirit, and this little boy jumpin' around in my belly.

                                                                     Good stuff...good.stuff.

And don't forget to revisit this fabulous post for some beginning of the school year inspiration!  I make a difference!  How about you?!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

My pregnancy, the heat, and my Drum Line...

Chemo 2010
*Sigh* I'm having to revert back to the statement I used two seasons ago when I was going through cancer/chemo; "I just can't do that right now"...and quite frankly it sucks.  Don't get me wrong, I am over the moon that we #1 got pregnant so quickly and easily, #2 it's been a relatively *easy* pregnancy thus far, and #3 we're almost to the end result of having our little boy enter our lives for realzies, it just sucks big time that I have to take a back seat *AGAIN* to the *one* thing that keeps me going in my job.  My Drum Line.

Two Thursdays ago at my baby appointment, I asked the doctor I saw (three rotate through the clinic I go to) what *his* opinion of me and marching band camp was.  This was the last of the three that I hadn't seen yet, so it was nice to be able to ask him and get his opinion.  You see, the first time I asked this question was a while ago when we hadn't been locked into week after week of 100+ degree weather, and I thought maybe it was time to revisit this topic again.  Trust me, I'm no dummy.  I know it's hot, *believe me!* I know it's hot.  I know the ground is saturated with the heat, the astro-turf and track we march on even more so.  I know being outside from 730/8am until 10am at 32weeks pregnant *probably* isn't the smartest idea in the world, but it's a hell of a lot better than being out there from 4-6pm when it's even hotter.  So I had to ask...and I know some of you are thinking "WHY?!  Play the pregnancy card!  Stay inside!  Keep cool!  Bow out, it's okay, you're pregnant"... 

Carrollton 2011
That's just it.  I had to ask because my heart and soul go to these kids for three months at the beginning of the school year.  Drum Line is what keeps me SANE in this insane world known as "being a public school teacher".  It's the ONE thing I can do and do well that people stand up and really take notice of.  It's the one thing that makes me so proud at times I think my heart is going to absolutely *burst* when they perform, whether it be Drum Line or Ensemble, it's a bright spot for me, *and* for them in our busy, hum-drum, not always making sense lives; and now I have to back down...*again*.

I asked the doctor what his thoughts on it were, and he asked me to clarify for him exactly what I would be doing were I not pregnant.  "Outside around 730/8am until about 10am, on the astro-turf marching field in the middle of the kids, whackin' my gock block yelling 'Left! Left! Left!', showing them how to march and schooling a handful of them when they do it wrong.  Then inside for music rehearsal till 12."

He listened intently while I told him what *I* expected of myself, but also that *I* knew that I had to listen to my body this time around and really stay hydrated because it's not just about ME anymore.  It's about our little boy who is living inside me right now and I have to protect him.  I know that, I get it.  I just want to make sure I don't do anything to jeopardize his health, or mine, *but* I also don't want to sit on the sidelines if it's not absolutely necessary.  If you know me, then you know that I'm someone who can push myself to the absolute limits and then beyond (last year's Drum Line competition show anyone??), but I do it for THEM.  I do it to show them that they have that person they can rely on to push them to *their* limits, and then scootch them just a little bit further than they thought they could go because *I* knew they could.  This is what I do, it is who I am, it is where I belong.

He took all of my statements into consideration, nodding and "ah-ha-ing" at all the appropriate moments then took a deep breath and gave me my fate.  "Mrs. Stout, I cannot, in good conscience, allow you to be outside with those kids, on your feet, carrying this baby, marching around, and doing what you do, in THIS heat.   It would be *completely* different if you were sitting in front of me at 16weeks pregnant, OR, if we were just sitting around 80/90 degrees out there, but you're 30weeks5days pregnant, and will be 32weeks1day pregnant when this marching band camp hooey starts", yes folks, he used the word "hooey", and I just can't allow you to do that." 

DAMN.  I knew that was what he was going to say, of course I knew it, I'm not stupid, it just sucked to actually hear it come out of his mouth, and then see it in writing when he handed me a note for school.  I then brought up the back to school parade & rally on Aug. 11th, and KU Band Day, which happens to be two weeks prior to JP's due date.  "Uh, no,"  he said, "You can't march either of those." "How about a compromise?" I asked.  "Can I at least get my kids warmed up and in formation for the back to school parade, then I PROMISE, I will get in my car and drive to the high school to await their arrival in the relative comfort of the gym".  "Yes, I suppose that would be okay as long as you promise to NOT march it."  Of course.

KU Band Day 2011
As for KU Band Day?  That's probably going to be a total and complete wash for me, which really makes me want to cry.  I suppose I could have Tim drive me to Lawrence where I could get the kids warmed up at South Park, get my hug from TMS, put them in formation, and then leave them to go watch the parade with my folks & Tim, but can I put my heart through the torture??  I guess, really, at that point we'll know what JP's doing in terms of making his arrival, cause I'll be 38weeks pregnant so I may not be able to physically go anyways.  Ugh.  #BroccoliFudgeCheeseandRiceonaSTICK! *hangs head*  

I guess it's all out of my hands.  I have to let it go and let God.  I have to trust that they will do what I've taught them.  They'll be able to take charge of everything and gear up for their competitions, parades, and field show's without me there.  

All of my teacher friends who have kids have reassured me time after time that "Once your baby boy is here, the furthest thing from your mind is going to be school, let alone your Drum Line."  On one hand I can understand that, but I'm not sure they fully understand.  I spend three-four years with this group molding and shaping them and watching them grow, then help send them out into the world.  They ARE my children.  I may not have birthed them, but I care for them like they are my own.  I listen to their fears, and celebrate their triumphs.  I nurse broken hearts and hand out advice.  I take them home, and buy them food.  I remind them of where they need to be and when.  I make sure they wash their clothes for competition, and I call them to wake them up.  They call me Mom.  How can I forget about them?  Simply put, I can't.  I will do what it is I need to do to protect me and our child growing inside me, but I will NOT forget about them and just walk away like they don't matter.  

Our James Porter LeRoy, 20weeks
So, although I have to use that phrase again "I just can't do that right now", I don't like it.  I'm trying to set them up for success as best I can before the craziness of school starts, and hopefully I will be able to wind them up and let them go when the time comes.  

I hope so...  

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Divide & Conquer

We're getting closer and I can hardly believe it.  31 weeks today and the size of a pineapple.  He's growing right on track, I'm doing great, and it seems that there's a dance party/yoga class going on at all times of the day and night in my belly.  So many things have been gifted too us, to which we are enormously grateful, and his room is looking more and more like it's ready to have a baby in it!

Among all of the items we have needed to procure, there was one that was riding quite heavily on my mind and, quite frankly, scaring the ever loving broccoli out of me.  Finding a daycare provider.  As for the other biggies??? 

Pediatrician?  No problem.  My doctor practices peds and I signed JP up when I found that out.  

Chiropractor?  I got one.  My chiro practices on infants and will adjust JP as soon as I can get him to him.  

Health Insurance?  Just sign on the dotted line.  Putting JP on mine until we figure out what works better in the long run.  

Maternity leave?  Done.  My dates are flexible since we don't know when he's going to arrive, and all I have to do now is fill out some paperwork, get some signatures, and have it filed away.  

Savings for unpaid leave? Accomplished in record time.  HUGE load off the shoulders.

Major necessities for JP?  Pretty much filled, at least to the point where I know we can get along for a while without having to worry about anything but formula and diapers.

But a daycare provider; now *that* was a tricky one.  How do you go about picking someone to take care of YOUR child?  Someone whom you don't know from Adam, who you can see developing a good relationship with, and who you can afford??  Truth be told, if we could have afforded the $225/week it costs for the Montessori daycare/preschool just down the street I wouldn't have looked anywhere else.  JP would have been enrolled months ago and this would have been nothing but a little blip on the screen.  Alas, that is way out of our price range so we had to look elsewhere; but just where do you start?

I began our search by talking with friends of ours who, like us, aren't lucky enough to have family take care of our little boy.  A few of them use in-home daycares, a few others use centers.  There are pros and cons of each.  I heard the horror stories of "Oh she loved the center but was always getting sick", or "We went with this one gal, then a month later left because of this that or the other, then signed up with another, and it wasn't until the fourth one that we really landed where we wanted to be".  I also heard "So&so is the BEST!  We *absolutely* recommend her, but...she's not taking any more kids right now."  It got to be quite disheartening.

What I came to discover was that daycare centers were out of our price range, but in-home care fell right where we could afford it so it was time to start looking.  I started on craigslist just reading ads and saving the ones that looked good on paper.  From there, Tim and I narrowed down what we were looking for and decided that having someone close to home/in our area, was preferable than someone closer to my school or his work.  Then I emailed the ones I liked on paper and awaited responses.  It was kind of like a test I threw out there, like the one I gave to Tim when we first met.  His test was a simple one I handed to all the men I met.  "Bring a couple of your buddies to Free State Brewery on Monday night when I'm working.  We take two of our beers, put them on special, and it's a non-pressure situation.  If you don't like what you see, you can leave.  If I don't like what I see, I can slip out the back door at the end of my shift.  Simple."  I *always* knew that the one who showed up was going to be worth it.  Tim was the only one who ever showed up and passed the test.  Not only did he show, but he came BACK at the end of my shift.  Yep.  He was a keeper.

So I emailed around 30 ladies and asked them all the same questions.  What were their rates, did they think they'd have an opening coming November and/or what was the deposit to hold a spot till then, and could we set up a time to meet if we could afford them & they had a spot?  I sent out the first emails at the beginning of June then sat back and waited.  Each weekend I would puruse craigslist again to find more ads that sounded/looked good on paper, and then would go back to the list to narrow it down.  The women who emailed me back ranged in responses from "Sorry, I can't hold a spot that long", to "Yes, I'll have space for your little one, please give me a call so we can set up an interview", to my ever favorite "Ugh, I do NOT take teacher's kids".  

What, we have a black mark against us or something?  Piss on you!

I lined up a couple of interviews and away I went.  I met with the first gal and got a good vibe.  Nice duplex, not to far from us, daily schedule for the kids, good mix of ages for JP to grow up around, and she was in our budget.  Lady number two was older, which was not a bad thing, and was looking for one infant and possibly a two year old to watch in addition to her impending first grandchild.  She was very nice and we had a great chat, but I had some reservations about the money (not tax-deductible), and placing JP in a place where he'd be in direct competition with her new grandchild.  So far lady number one was in the lead.

Then I hit a dry patch where I wasn't getting any responses to emails or phone calls and I put it on the shelf for a bit.  One morning after my walk @ penguin park and some ball playing with the dogs, I check my email to find two ladies who responded that their spots had filled *but* they provided two phone numbers for women who provide daycare in our area, whom they highly recommend.  *Both* of them recommended lady number one.  This was looking good so far.  I made some more phone calls and had initial chats with ladies on the phone where I hung up thinking "Huh-uh.  No way am I going to meet with that one", then I landed on Lauren.  We talked for quite a while on the phone and I had a great vibe coming off of her.  I set up an interview to meet with her and was pleasantly surprised to find that she is literally minutes down the street from us, which would help with the hustle and bustle of our mornings in getting out the door and on the road to work on time.

I met her three boys, who are absolutely adorable and I'm sure could teach JP all sorts of "boy things", and we chatted for almost two hours.  I asked her lots of questions, feeling somewhat silly along the way but hey, I'm a FTM and don't know squat about daycare.  She showed me around her home, where the kids spend the majority of their time, bathroom, sleeping area, etc, and the backyard play area.  They even have a cutie pie little dog named "Cookie" who I just wanted to bundle up into my purse and take home with me *laugh*.

I finally left for home, armed with two great possibilities for Tim to meet.  We went to the first gal's place where he got to ask all the questions he wanted and form his own opinion.  I was trying very hard to not influence him in any way other than to let him know I got a good vibe off her and she had come recommended by others.  We left there with him saying "Well, I know one thing.  I need someone to compare her too".  Okay, let's go meet with Lauren.

I took him to Lauren's house and I could tell as soon as we turned onto her street he was more impressed.  We walk in and immediately are "assaulted" (I say that in a very good way) by her two youngest boys, the older of which was extremely excited that I was back with the baby (even though he's still in my belly *laugh*).  She took us both on a complete tour of their home so Tim could see everything, while explaining her plans for where to put everyone for naps, etc.  Showed him the downstairs play area, the backyard (where he got to meet cutie pie Cookie), and the basement bedroom of her oldest.  He then started in with his questions and away we went.  It was nice just being able to stand and observe everything that was going on.  The kids were playing, her husband was interacting with them, the littlest one was playing peek-a-boo with me from the toy cabinet, and she was answering Tim's questions without seeming bothered by his rapid fire inquisition *laugh*.  

We left about 45minutes later saying "We'll have an answer for you by the end of this week".  Which was the absolute truth because I wanted to get this finished out as quickly as possible due to the fact that band camp and school starting up are on my immediate horizon and once that starts up again I don't want to have to try and figure out how to fit interviews for daycare providers around my busy schedule, which is going to ultimately make me more tired in the mad dash to JP's arrival.

As we got in the car and pulled away, I looked at him and said "So?  What did ya think?"

"I like her.  I like her a lot.  I like the house, those boys are cute as *bleep*, and I really liked how she answered all of my questions without any hesitation unlike lady number one.  I especially liked her answer to the question "What do you consider your weakness" because she didn't bullsh!t me."  Which I have to agree, she didn't.  I gave him my second impression of her and we discussed more on the way home.

After a day or two of sleeping on it, thinking on it, and talking about it, we both decided that this was the home for our little boy.  We really feel that not only is JP going to receive excellent care there, but we feel that she and her husband will also be able to help us grow as parents and navigate the pitfalls that will surely ensue.  I called her up, told her we want her to take care of our little boy, signed on the dotted line, and turned in our deposit!  Such a sigh of relief.  Now we just play the waiting game on when he's going to arrive so we know when he'll start being placed in her care.  I am fully hoping he stays put until his due date.  I need as much time with my new students at school to set classroom policies, procedures, expectations, and rehearsal protocols before turning them over to my sub...but...I know that the *only* person who knows when JP is going too arrive is mister JP himself.

So here's to Lauren and the start of what will hopefully be a long and fabulous relationship.  Here's to Tim for asking the questions I didn't think to ask and for using his "Daddy instinct" in his choice, and here's to me for doing all the legwork to bring two great candidates from a pool of many to the table.  Bravo everybody, brav-o.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

This ain't no "Dirty Thirty" Birthday party!!

29w2d today and we're closing in on the thirties.  It's like my thirtieth birthday party all over again except this time there's no slinky dress and cocktails to be had, only an ever expanding belly, a shrinking stomach, backaches, and anxiety over the idea that HE'S ALMOST HERE!

Anybody who knows me knows that I'm a planner, and very organized.  Being in my line of work, with what I do, having two jobs, taking care of a husband, two dogs, and a house, I *have* to be.  I know that once the roller coaster of JP's arrival dies down, we will fall into a routine that will fit our life and make everything work.  I know we will.  What's hard right now is the fact that we're approaching the time where he could make his arrival any day and we don't have those few necessary items one needs for a newborn.  The car seat, a bouncer, a swing, a pack-in-play, a stockpile of diapers and wipes, *formula!!* (I've been told to wait till he's born so we know what type works with him), BOTTLES, bibs, or baby wash.  People keep telling me to wait until our shower's are done to figure out what we need to purchase on our own, which I understand, it's just so hard to not grab my credit card, rush out right now and get everything our precious little boy is going to need and get it all organized, washed, and put away!  Gah!

At least I can take solace in the fact that we are closing in on the daycare option for our little boy, and while I'm still freaked out beyond belief on actually being able to pay for that, *and* insurance, *and* hospital bills, *and* diapers & formula, *and* knowing that my paycheck is going to be severely hurt next year, it's nice knowing that we've found some good options for his care while we're out making a living to make sure he has the best life possible.  

So maybe I'll just go ahead and throw myself a "Dirty Thirty" birthday party next Saturday when I officially hit the 30weeks mark.  Maybe that will calm my nerves and make me feel better...then again, I should probably just save the money and put it in my special savings place for our little boy cause he needs a celebration more than I do.

30th Birthday