Friday, July 25, 2008

Hello again! It has been way too long since I've posted, huh? Things have been a bit crazy, but I guess that's expected....

Most of you know that we made it to Wisconsin. We are doing okay up here, not great, but okay. Donald searched for a job for about a month and couldn't find one, so he went back to the Gazette. Thankfully he had that to fall back on, but it is difficult living on his salary alone! We are very lucky we had money in savings to get us through the summer. I will be starting my job the last week in August, so the money situation will get much better then! It looks like both of my classes will be full, so now I am just waiting on my teaching license to come back.

My sister had her baby last week - Matthew Lee. He is a perfect baby in every sense. One of these days I will find the cord to my camera so I can post some pictures.

I have been very worried about things lately that are mostly out of my control, but worrisome nevertheless. For the last year or so, I've been learning about Peak Oil and discovering that we are sadly in the midst of it. For those of you who've never heard of Peak Oil, I highly suggest checking out some of these sites: The Oil Drum, Casaubon's Book, and The Automatic Earth. In a nutshell, Peak Oil essentially means that the supply of oil in the world has reached its peak, and now supply will decrease while demand continues to increase. As if Peak Oil weren't enough, the financial crisis in the U.S. is adding to our economic worries. Implications of these to crises are apparent: more people being unable to afford energy (gas, electricity, etc.), more people being forced out of their homes as a result of foreclosure, and more people being laid off or losing their jobs.

Unfortunately I am beginning to realize that my mom may be one of the first victims of these crises. She simply cannot afford her electric bill ($200/month in the summer with no air and $400-$500/month in the winter), her house payment ($900/month), and food ($500 a month for the four of them). Mom got a disconnect notice in the mail the other day and is now furious at the electric company for not having any compassion, etc. as the rates have increased almost 100% over the last 2-3 years. It appears that my sister and her baby will be "moving in" with us as she cannot have a newborn in the house with no electricity. Time will only tell how long it will be before they lose their house and then what? Will the whole family need to move in with us? What about her animals? Things are very uncertain right now, especially here in Janesville since GM will be closing in a year or so. That puts over 3,000 people in this city out of work which will have huge effects on the local economy.

I don't know what will happen in the future. But I do know that things are about to change, big time. How much can you afford to spend on energy? Personally, I know for myself that if gas prices get much higher, we certainly won't be able to afford going much of anywhere. Electricity? We certainly couldn't afford $300/month! Thankfully our house is very energy efficient, but if our rates double, we'd be priced out. I am afraid that more people than not will be in this exact situation in the next year or two, and then what? There are big changes coming...

Friday, May 02, 2008

All I want to do right now is cry and sleep. We are leaving for Florida tomorrow morning and I have no desire to pack. It's that bad. Moving has become a nightmare. I never really had a good feeling about it to begin with, but it is going to be worse than I thought. The main employer in Janesville, GM, just announced that they are cutting the entire second shift, permanently laying off 750 employees. And because practically every other job in that damn city is dependent upon GM, other workers will be laid off, too. So, with literally thousands of suddenly unemployed people in a city with a population of only 60,000, the prospects of Donald finding a decent job are suddenly not so good.

As if that wasn't bad enough, Donald talked to his mom tonight and they've only filled my classes with about 8 kids so far. I need at least 30 to work full-time. In her words, worst case scenario is that I do the Kindergarten part-time and daycare part-time. I couldn't do it. I do not have six years of higher education to potty train kids. Sorry. Not to mention the daycare portion would only pay $10 an hour, if I'm lucky. Screw that. If I can't do the Kindergarten thing full-time, I'll have to find a different full-time job. And I just talked about how fun that's going to be.

I am so frustrated. Donald and I have worked too hard to throw everything away. I am NOT going to be broke again. We lived paycheck to paycheck for seven years. It's just been the last year that we've actually had the freedom of not counting every penny that we spend. I will not get back to that point again. Maybe I'm spoiled, but life is too short. I feel like we're making the biggest damned mistake of our lives....and I don't know what to do about it.

So yeah, I guess I need a vacation. Good thing we're leaving on one tomorrow - if I can motivate myself to pack, that is.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Some pictures from the last few weeks....

Donald and I went to the Obama rally when he was in town a couple weeks ago. We were right next to the entrance and we both got to shake his hand. It was awesome!

We spent 3 days on the Coast last week. Lauren loves to jump!

And jump!

Mommy and her baby.

Holding sand in her hands.

The "homeless" look is in this season. I always tell her she looks homeless when her hair's not brushed. Hah!

Lauren and the freaky Easter bunny today at the egg hunt.

I got caught in this picture. I just had to show off my fabulous new hair cut!

We colored eggs today!

Look at this one!

Yep, I'm sassy!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Ah, spring break. I so needed this week off. A lot of people think that breaks during the school year make teachers spoiled, but let me tell you, if we didn't get a week off from the kids, the kids wouldn't make it until the end of the year. I've spent my time off reading a novel and getting a little school work done. Not enough, but a little.

We went to the coast last weekend so Donald could play in a slot tournament. He didn't win, but we had fun anyway. It was nice to unwind for a couple days (well, a day really, because it always take me at least the first two days to actually unwind, and by the time that happens, it's time to go home). But whatever. I spent Sunday laying on the beach and that was glorious.

Tomorrow I am meeting with my host teacher for several hours so we can plan the next two weeks. I take over full-time teaching the Monday we get back, which I'm trying to forget about for right now. I can't believe I only have three weeks left. I'm ready to be done and sad for it to be over at the same time.

I'm still conflicted about going back to Wisconsin. Just the thought of being back makes me want to puke. Everyone else is so excited that we are coming home. Donald's family, my family, and our friends couldn't be happier. Don't get me wrong, I do miss all those people, but it has been so nice living a relatively stress-free existence for the past two years. We do our own thing, and that works for us. Maybe it sounds selfish, but I don't want my family calling me to do them favors anymore. Plus the winters suck. Thankfully we missed this one (they got something like 90 inches of snow! Holy fuck!).

Oh yes, I can't forget to tell you that Lauren has learned to swear in context. On our way back from the coast, we'd pulled into a gas station to get a drink. On our way out of the parking lot, a car pulled out in front of us. Surprisingly, Donald didn't swear. Not a second later, from the back seat, Lauren says "Dumb ass". I cracked up. It was so obvious that she was talking about the other car, too. She's also been calling Pa "shit head" and then saying "Pee-ew". Haha! She is such a little pickle head lately. I've taught her to say "I am tenacious" because that is exactly what she is. When she wants something, we wants it NOW thank you very much. FWIW, she can also say "I am ferocious". I think that's right on, too. Heh.

And because I have nothing better to do (yeah, right), I have to tell you that my father got his nipple pierced this weekend.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

I honestly can't believe that I'm going to write this, but here goes. We're moving. Back. to. Wisconsin. I know. It's the stupidest idea we've had in a very long time. Except it's not that stupid. We have free daycare (Donald's mom runs a daycare), and Lauren will have family taking care of her all day, every day (Donald's sisters teach at the daycare). It's one of the best centers in the city, too. So that there will save us nearly $800 a month. Also, I already have a job. Janesville just passed 4-K so I'll be teaching that at Cargill (where I used to work). Donald is guaranteed a job back at the Gazette if he wants it, but he'll look for something better first. We can stay with Donald's parents until we get a house, which will also save us some money. It will be a very smart (financially, anyway) move for us, and hopefully we'll be able to buy a house soon. I never thought we'd end up back in Wisconsin, but I guess it wasn't as bad as we thought it was. We still want to move to Portland someday, but we need to wait until the economy is better and we both have guaranteed jobs there. I still think we are crazy...but, oh well!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


Ugh, I had a shitty day at school today. First, when I arrived at six this morning to get ready for the day, I discovered that my host teacher moved my desk and all my stuff after I left yesterday. Then, to top it off, I'm not able to fit a chair where she put my desk, so I don't have a chair at my desk. Her solution is to use my desk area as a "storage area" and then do my work at the round table that is six feet away (and usually covered with crap). What a pain. She said that she moved my desk to make it look like there was more room in the classroom. Why that matters, I'm not sure, but whatever.

There are a couple other things that are irritating me to, but they're too complicated to explain and I'm tired. They all mostly stem from the fact that my host teacher cannot make a decision to save her life and tries to make everyone happy all of the time. I've come to the conclusion over the past few weeks that you're going to piss someone off no matter what you do, so you might as well just do what you want. Today she was trying to make a decision about what time she wanted me to teach math tomorrow when I was trying to leave for Lauren's swim lesson. She finally said that I'd teach at a certain time, which was fine with me, so I hurried out of there. Then, she called me on my cell on my way home and said that she'd changed her mind so that I could teach later in the day because I'd seemed stressed. I wasn't stressed, I was just trying to get the hell out of there! Then she played the pity card that she was probably going to be at school until seven tonight and that she'd try to get everything done so that she could teach reading right away in the morning.

I know that none of these things are major. My host teacher and I really do get along quite well, even though we are very different. It is really hard to share someone else's classroom and try to fit in to their routines that have already been established. But, it will all be over in a little over four weeks and then hopefully next fall I'll have my own classroom!

Ah, thanks for letting me bitch....

Sunday, March 02, 2008

It's going to be a good day....

Donald and Lauren went to Wal-Mart and to get Krispy Kremes, and I'm here actually getting stuff done. It's a freakin' miracle. Later they are going to the park to feed the mean geese, so that's even better. Maybe I won't be completely stressed this week.

Speaking of stressed, only 5 weeks to go! Two weeks before spring break, which won't really be a break since I'm woefully behind in my actual school work. So, my nine days will be spent writing papers and (hopefully) finishing my teacher work sample. Oh, minus the three days that we are going to the coast for a much-deserved break. Should be fun.

In other news, it appears we are going to go ahead and move. If I had my way, we'd be staying here another year or two (I can't believe I'm saying it either), but only because I absolutely adore the school that I'm teaching in and am pretty sure I could score a job there. Donald has made his position known, and he is 1000% ready to move, so I guess I have to let him have a say in the matter. I don't know dates or even details, but our lease is up here the end of May, so it'll be around that time. Cross your fingers that I'll be able to find a job where ever we end up!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Since I'm bored and awake, I figured I could spare a few minutes to give my blog a much-needed update. While I really should be planning my science lessons for next week, I'm so sick of school crap that I need a distraction.

Student teaching is going really well. I just finished my 5th week, so I have 7 weeks to go! It is going really fast, but these past 5 weeks have been the longest of my life. Does that make sense? My kids are all (mostly) sweet. About half of them brought me a gift for Valentine's; I could hardly believe it. There's one boy in my class that just gets on my every last nerve for whatever reason, but other than that, the kids are great. We really don't have any discipline problems in the classroom, other than just typical 4th grade stuff. The first few weeks of teaching were really rocky for me - I was beginning to think that I'd made a horrible career choice. Everything was just really overwhelming. The last two weeks, though, have been great. I'm really enjoying it and I think that I'll be mostly happy as a teacher. I do think that I want to move up a few grade levels, though. I just can't get into the cutesy-cutesy elementary stuff, and I think I would like to focus more on math and science than the reading that is emphasized in elementary schools. I would have thought that I would really like teaching reading and language arts, but I so do not. I dread reading every day. To me, it's just damn boring and tedious teaching kids to read. Is that horrible? I would much rather be doing math and science experiments. I guess every teacher has their own strengths and weaknesses and likes and dislikes.

These damn kids have also made me and everyone else I know sick. I've had some sort of respiratory infection now for over a week. It's finally starting to get better, but dang it sucked. Donald also got sick, and so did my dad, but somehow Lauren has escaped it (for now). All hail the power of booby juice!

Speaking of Lauren, she seems to be doing okay with me being gone all day. The first few weeks were rough, but she's gotten used to my dad now. I really do miss hanging out with her all day. We spent today cuddling and just hanging around the house, which was great. I'm ready to be done with school so I can go back to being just mommy! Sadly that will probably only last a few months, since I'm probably going back to work this fall. I would really love to stay home with her for a few more years, but my student loan payments are going to have to get paid. It'd also be nice to get a bit more money saved so we can put a down payment on a house in a few years!

Speaking of houses, I don't know if we are moving this spring or not. With the economy going the way that it is, I don't know if it is such a good idea right now. I can just see us moving all the way out there and not being able to find jobs. We have enough money saved to live for 6-8 months, but I really don't want to blow through all of our savings. I'm going to begin applying for jobs here next month, and we'll see if I get any offers. If I do, we're really going to have to think about it. I know Donald is all gung-ho on leaving in May because he's sick of his job, but he really does have it good at work. I definitely don't want to stay here long-term, but we may end up sticking it out another year or two. We shall see.

Hhhm, what else? I can't sleep right now because it is supposed to storm pretty badly tonight. I bought a weather radio today, but I don't know if I have it set-up properly. I really should be working on school stuff, but I'm so not into it. Maybe tomorrow?

Monday, February 04, 2008

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Good Lord, I am tired. I don't know how people do this every day, all day. This work thing is kicking my butt. That being said, student teaching is going fine. I can't say that I LOVE it, but I'm hanging in there. Three weeks done, nine to go. When will the light come on at the end of the tunnel?

Yeah. I don't have much to say because I don't have time for anything except school. Lauren's doing pretty well with me being gone all day. The first two weeks were pretty tough on here, but last week she did better. At least she's not screaming bloody murder when I leave in the morning anymore :o( She started gymnastics a few weeks ago and is really loving that. She calls it "wee class". Hah. She's also speaking really well now. I can understand almost everything she says and most of the time she talks in sentences. She can recognize her name when it is written and can name almost anything you point to. Brilliance must run in the family, haha.

Well, I'm going to bed before I pass out at the computer. Just wanted to give a quick update since I know most of you have assumed I've died. Maybe you'll hear from me again in a few weeks :o)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Happy Birthday, Lauren!

Happy Birthday, Lauren!

I can’t believe that you are two today! The last two years have been two of the longest years of my life, yet they have flown by. I know that doesn’t make sense to you, but someday it will, I promise.

You are such an amazing girl, and daddy and I are already so proud of you. You are so smart that people cannot believe that you are only two! You’ve known all of your letters now for three or four months, and now you can count to thirteen all by yourself! You are talking in three and four word sentences now, and you always know just what you want (and aren’t afraid to let anyone know it!). Some of your favorite things to say are: “Have it now, Mama!”, “Naughty kitty cat”, and of course, “More ummies please, Mama”.

Speaking of ummies, you still love to nurse. Mama never intended to nurse you so long, but you do love it so much that I don’t have the heart to take them away. Not that mama minds, really. Our ummy time is some of my favorite time to spend with you, when it is just you and mama and we can talk and hug and cuddle. I don’t know if you will still be nursing next year on your birthday, and if you aren’t, mama will really miss our ummy time together. You love to give your baby doll ummies, too. Just today you wrapped your baby up in a blanket, laid down next to her on the floor, and gave her ummies to help her go to sleep. You are very sweet to your baby doll and someday you will be a wonderful mother yourself.

You just started gymnastics class last week (which you call wee class) and you love it! Grandpa took you last week because mama had to be at school, and he said you did a great job! Mama is very excited because she gets to take you today and see you do your wees. I know that you will be just wonderful! You love to watch wees on TV and today you were trying to do them by yourself (all the while shrieking, “weeees!”).

One of your favorite things to do these days is read books. We don’t get to read nearly enough together anymore, now that mama has to go to school every day, but we do try to read every night together. Your favorite books right now are “Millie Moo”, “The Barnyard Dance”, and “Go, Dog, Go!”. You have so many books and we’ve read all of them at least once! I hope that by next year on your birthday you are beginning to read yourself!

Well, baby, I hope you have a great birthday! You are so excited because we are going to play games and eat pizza later. Grandpa is making you a clown cake and mama and daddy have gotten you lots of Dora presents! When you wake up this morning, you will be two! Mama will miss her baby, but she can’t wait to play with her BIG GIRL!!!

Love always,


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Day 3 - Oh the work

I'm starting to get overwhelmed already and I'm just getting started! After getting to school at 6:30 and not getting home until 4:30 (at least), I'm already exhausted! Then, I have to do the mom thing, the wife thing, plus all my extra stuff for school! I honestly don't know how two-working parent families do it! I imagine we will all get used to it.

I had a short day in the classroom today. All the 4th grade teachers had science training this afternoon from noon until 3:30, so that took up the second half of the day. The school is working with an AWESOME science program through Delta State University that essentially gives teachers science kits with everything done. It will save so much time in the classroom and be so great for the kids! It is wonderful!

One thing I did notice today in the classroom was some disorganization/chaos during research time in the computer lab. I think it can easily be said that we don't spend enough time on science or history (30 minutes twice a week for each subject) and today's science/history session was nearly worthless, in my opinion. My HT told students to research either The French and Indian War for history, or flowering and non-flowering plants for science. She didn't really give them any direction as to what to look for while doing this, just to print off good research. Needless to say, the kids went print crazy, printing everything they found (many things duplicates because they all went to the first result in the search engine) and not reading any of it. After 30 minutes in the computer lab, we had over 300 pages of printed material. I'm not sure what my HT is planning on having the kids do with it, but most of it is way above their level anyway! I think it would have been much more worthwhile if students would have had a few specified sites to go to and find specific information.

I'm going to start working on my first lesson plans tonight. My first real lesson will be in Mississippi History. I'm thinking of doing a jigsaw lesson, and I think that will work out really well as the students really enjoy working in groups.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Student Teaching Drama

For the last six months or so, I was all geared up to start my student teaching January 7, the first day back after winter break. My dad arranged his schedule so he could be home then, and I cleared my own schedule. I left Wisconsin when I did so that I would have time to get my stuff in order before school started. It was all working out just fine.

I met with my host teacher the Friday before I was supposed to start, and it went really well. She seems very nice and really knows her stuff. She uses a ton of group work and really involves students in the classroom. I left our meeting Friday afternoon ready to get started on Monday.

Friday evening I got an email from my placement coordinator stating that I wouldn't be starting until January 28! Needless to say, I panicked. It was Friday night, and of course everyone at my school was out of their office for the weekend. I did manage to talk to my mentor, and we agreed that I would try to get it all taken care of and hopefully start on Tuesday. He thought the email may have been a mistake, but wanted to make sure first before I entered the classroom.

Well, turns out the email wasn't a mistake, so after about 3 days of trying to figure things out, I decided to just "go with the flow" and start the 28th. I figured it might work out better, anyway, since my dad had just gotten home and not had a lot of time to adjust to Lauren and him to her. I scheduled some appointments and bought a few books to pass the time.

Now, this morning, I got another email from my placement coordinator asking me to start THIS Monday, the 14th! Ugh! After I just got all those appointments scheduled and rearranged! Not to mention that I have to get myself into a "mindset" to start big things like this. I was all ready to go last week, but now I've put myself into "vacation" mode again! Talk about annoying!

So, I guess I'm starting on Monday. It will work out better in the end, as I'll be done April 11 now instead of May 2. We will be able to have more time to pack and move, plus my dad will be able to get back to California sooner. Now I have a lot to do this weekend, including some serious shopping and planning. Yikes!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Hahah, guess I haven't posted in a while. Well, we made it home from Wisconsin safely. It really was a nice trip, other than the fact that Lauren and I were both sick nearly the entire time we were there. First it was a nasty stomach virus, then a cold from hell. We are both still coughing, actually. I suspect I may have had a touch of bronchitis, but I seem to be nearly back to normal now. I was a huge slacker with the camera while we were home, so unfortunately I don't have too many pictures, but here are what few I have.

This is Lauren and her cousin Logan playing after they opened their Christmas presents at Donald's parents house. Both of them are only children and they played together surprisingly well!
Here's Lauren on Christmas Day at Great Grandma's house in Dubuque, Iowa.

Here she is with Great Grandma. It's funny - grandma usually scares the crap out of little kids, but for some reason Lauren loved her. They sat together all morning!This is my mom with Lauren. After not seeing my mom for over a year, it was strange to see how old she looks now. I had a really nice time with my mom this time and I'll miss her!

It snowed A LOT while we were home! The day that this picture was taken we got about 10 inches! Lauren had a great time playing in the snow! We had to borrow a snowsuit from the daycare because we (obviously) didn't have one, so that's why looks like a blue snow bunny.

Brrr!!!Aunty Charlotte (Donald's sister)Aunty Anna (Donald's youngest sister)Uncle Jake (my brother)
Lauren just loves her Uncle Jake! They had a great time playing together.
Aunt Lexy (my sister)
More about why her face looks like that later :o(

Sunday, December 23, 2007

We've been having such a good time here in Wisconsin, it almost makes me want to move back home. Almost. Lauren and I have both been sick nearly the entire time we've been here, and it's cold as hell, but it doesn't matter. It's nice to be home again.

The weekend Donald was here went really fast. We spent most of the weekend with his family. We got a big family portrait done (which was a fiasco, but made his mom happy), and went to the casino. We left for Chicago on Monday, and on the way there Lauren puked all over the car and continued to puke for the next five days. Needless to say, the Chicago trip was pretty much a bust, especially considering that I caught her bug Tuesday night and ralphed all day Wednesday. We did manage to make a quick trip to the Shedd Aquarium and to Ed Debevic's, but that was about it.

We spent the next few days after Donald left recovering from the stomach flu and shopping. Boy, did we shop. My mom and I also made a trip to Ho-Chunk in which I lost a hundred bucks and she won a thousand. After Lauren's diarrhea finally went away (another lovely side effect of the stomach flu), we both decided to get colds. This has went on for about a week now and I'm getting sick of it! I haven't had a voice hardly at all for the past three days (and if you know Donald's family, you know this is a big disadvantage - the only way you are heard is if you talk louder than everyone else!).

Yesterday, Donald's sisters, his mom, and I spent the day baking. We made peanut butter cookies, peppermint fudge, chocolate chunk cookies, cheesecake, brownies, brandy slush, and lots of other yummy goodies. We had a great time, even though Lauren was a pain in the rump most of the afternoon. Today we had Christmas with Donald's family, and Lauren received enough toys to keep an entire small country entertained for a year.

In other news, Lexy dumped her loser boyfriend after some serious drama that I was unfortunately involved with. Even though the drama sucked, it is definitely for the better and I even think that if I wasn't here it wouldn't have happened at all. The ex (Erik) is a serious piece of work and there are not enough bad words in the world to describe him. Maybe I will talk about it more when have more time.

Tomorrow Lauren and I are hanging out at Donald's parents for most of the day and then going to Lee's mom's house tomorrow evening, and then having Christmas with my family. Christmas day will take us to Dubuque, Iowa for Christmas with Donald's grandma and aunts. We are leaving for home on the 3oth and will be home the 31st, and I start student teaching January 7th!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

I have decided that I am the least germophobic person I know. While all the other moms at the grocery store are sanitizing the shopping carts before they put their little angels in it (or worse, using one of those cloth cover things), I plop Lauren in and hand her a piece of fruit from the sample tray in the produce section. Germy carts and finger foods together - I am daring.

Tonight we were getting Lauren ready for bed and it became apparent that she was eating something, which becane cause for concern since we hadn't given her anything. Donald glanced at the floor and noticed what she was consuming. "Is that a Pop Tart?" he said. I said, "Oh yeah, must be left over from breakfast," and we both let her finish eating it. Bad parents.

I don't know. Sometimes I think that all this sanitizing people do actually does more harm than good (case in point - MSRA). What ever we're doing (or not doing) must be okay, because Lauren's only been sick twice, and once was a reaction to her MMR shot. I really do surprise myself, though - before I had Lauren I really thought I would be one of those anal, over-protective moms. I'm totally not.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

My friend Cortney asked me to post about her friend's 8 month old daughter who just underwent a liver transplant. They are raising money to help fund the operation as well as the family's living expenses. If you want to learn more and/or help, visit Hope for Valery.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Several Rants, all School Related

First - I'm still waiting on my student teaching placement. My coordinator emailed me a few days ago and said that my school district of choice (Madison County) has been in constant contact with her, but doesn't want to give her a firm answer one way or the other. I had to give her two alternate districts that I'd be willing to work in so that she can try to find some sort of alternative if Madison County falls through. I was really hoping to get a placement before we go out of town so that I could go in and meet my host teacher and principal, but it doesn't look like that's going to happen.

Second - I tutor for, mainly students who come from low-performing schools. Today I was tutoring a 6th grade girl from a school in Chicago in math. We always start students at one grade level below what they are in, unless they have really good quiz results, so I started her today with the very first 5th grade lesson on writing numbers in different forms. She was really struggling (as in not knowing how to write one thousand forty two in standard form - 1042), so I decided to quickly review place value with her. Turns out the girl had no concept of place value, period. She could not show me the ones place in a number, or any other place for that matter. She has no clue that 10 ones equals one ten, and ten tens equals one hundred. No clue. No wonder the girl isn't doing well in math! I just want to know how it is possible for a student to get to 6th freaking grade and not know place value. That is not her fault - that is a teacher's fault somewhere along the line. So, next week, I will be working with her on 1st grade place value lessons. It makes me want to cry. Our educational system should not be failing kids like that.

Third - Saturday is my last day teaching my first Kaplan ACT class. I'm so proud of all (well, all but one) of my students! I have two boys in my class, twins actually, who both came in with 27s. Their dad was going crazy because they could not get their score up, no matter how hard they tried. Well, on our last practice test, they made a 32 and 33! I couldn't be prouder. All my kids have went up at least 2 points, which is just great. The one girl who I'm not proud of has missed 4 out of 8 classes and 2 out of 4 practice tests and then wants to know why her score hasn't gone up. Gee let me see.....

All that being said, I really am enjoying teaching/tutoring. I'm getting excited for student teaching, but really anxious, too. It is going to be a tough 12 weeks, and I am sure I'll be ready for it to be over. Not to mention that my heart is going to be breaking every day when I have to leave Lauren :o(

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Why We're Leaving Part II

Donald and I have always talked about moving out West somewhere. Donald has always had fantasies about living in Las Vegas, and we briefly discussed it, but I just didn't feel good about it. There are some positives - easy to find a teaching job, lots of entertainment - but I don't want Lauren growing up in Las Vegas. Not to mention that it's in the middle of the desert, so there goes my desire for green grass. Anyway, we were both really clueless of where to move. We knew we wanted to go somewhere better, but had no idea where.

One night we pulled out our Atlas and started putting x's through places that were a definite no-go, like Maine and Alaska. We also marked off places that one of us felt strongly against, for me it was places like Florida and Nevada, for Donald, Wisconsin and Minnesota. After doing this, we were left with probably 15 or so states, like Washington, Oregon, California, Montana, North Carolina, Vermont, and others, too. I started to research places that I'd heard good things about. I wanted to go to Chicago, but Donald wanted nothing to do with that. We really couldn't come up with a place that we both agreed upon.

One day while surfing the net, I came across a website called Find Your Spot. Basically it is a series of questions that you answer, and based on your answers, the site recommends the top 10 cities that best match your wants/needs and personality. Donald and I both took the quiz, and most of the places in our top 10 matched. Number 1 on both of our lists was Little Rock, Arkansas, but because we weren't prepared for the looks we would get when we tell people we are from Arkansas, we crossed that one off. Other cities in both of our top 10's were Portland, Corvallis, and Eugene Oregon, Hartford, Connecticut, and Baltimore, Maryland. Neither of us are keen on the East Coast, so we crossed off Hartford and Baltimore right way. We were left with three cities in Oregon.

We stared to do some research into Oregon, and found out that it seemed like it would be a pretty good match for us. The weather is rainy during the winter, but the summers are (from what we hear, anyway) unbelievable - 80 and sunny for 4 months straight. I don't mind the rain, and it is a thousand times better than snow. The politics lean towards liberal, especially in Portland and Eugene, and people are environmentally aware. After doing weeks of research, we decided that we would be moving to either the Portland or Eugene area.

Just in the last week or so, we've decided to stick with Portland for now. I think I would really like Eugene, but it doesn't seem like such a good match for Donald. First, it's sort of a "hippie" town, and Donald gets annoyed with drum circles and poetry readings and all that counter culture stuff easily. Portland is bigger (about 2.3 million), has more to offer in the job sector, plus a larger school district. Housing is more expensive, and we will more than likely be stuck renting for a while, but I'm willing to live with that (as long as we can find a place with a yard). We are planning on getting rid of at least one of our cars (Donald's), and possibly the second as we find out how much we can rely on the public transportation (MAX train and bus - and bike of course), depending on where we live.

We are insanely excited and would move tomorrow if I didn't have to do student teaching this spring. We have already started getting rid of stuff (selling what we can on craigslist and giving away the rest on freecycle). Our move date is tentatively set for the third week in May. Right now we are in the process of researching neighborhoods/communities in and around Portland, getting moving quotes, and doing some preliminary job hunting. We are hoping to have a house lined up before we move, but if not, then we will stay in an extended stay hotel for a week or two until we find something. I will be going to work in the fall (which makes me want to cry, but student loans must get paid back sometime), and will begin looking for a teaching job this spring. We will keep you updated the more we find out and make plans!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

We're not doing much this year. I don't feel like cooking for just the three of us, so we are going to go out to lunch/dinner tomorrow and then take Lauren to go see Bee Movie. It'll be her first movie, and I think she'll like it! At least if the movie is a bust we'll have popcorn to distract her. Heh.

I am definitely NOT doing the shopping thing on Friday. First of all, we aren't buying a lot for gifts this year. Lauren has a few things that we've picked up already, and that's all she needs. The kid has so many toys and she never plays with any of them, so we're not buying any more. Plus, I know the grandparents will be buying her crap, so we're saving our money, heh. I am knitting stuff for a lot of people this year and everyone else is getting stuff out of our "stock" closet. Honestly....does anyone really NEED all that crap stores sell at Christmastime just because we don't know what else to get them? Probably not.

We do have to venture to the mall on Saturday, though, as I have a secret shop that I'm looking forward to. I'll tell you all about it afterward, but I can't right now! Top secret, sheesh.

Oh, by the way, Gymboree is having a really good sale right now if anyone needs a few more things for winter. I got Lauren two fleece hoodies, two fleece pants, a winter coat ($14!!!), a swim suit for a little over $50. I have an extra 20% off coupon if anyone wants it, let me know and I'll email you the code if you want to order online. Everything is already 30% off, so with the extra 20% off, the stuff is dirt cheap.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

So it's official. My sister's due date is July 23. Yep, after a dozen or so close calls, she's finally pregnant as confirmed by a real live doctor. I really am trying to be happy and supportive, but it's not easy. It would be much easier, of course, if I hadn't received the phone calls from my mom last week telling me that the cops had been to Lexy's house twice in the past week because her boyfriend's been hitting her.

So that's the way of it. 19 and pregnant, with a job at Taco Bell that pays $8 an hour, and a one-room efficiency apartment. Oh, and we can't forget the $1000 in outstanding fines she has for various driving infractions (the latest obtained last week when a neighbor called the cops because the boyfriend was trying to smash her windshield when she was trying to leave - turns out the cops don't like it when you try to drive with a suspended license). And a boyfriend that hits her. Fuckin' lovely.

This guy she's with, Eric, is just a winner. He got out of jail six months ago for drug dealing and assault charges. He won't let her go to Chicago with me next month because I wouldn't let him go along. He won't let her out of his sight. I can't even talk to her about it because he listens on the phone when I talk to her. She flat out told me a couple of weeks ago that he verbally abuses her and threatens to beat her if she doesn't give him her paycheck. He quit his job at Taco Johns to go work at Taco Bell with her so she couldn't be alone at work. I don't know what she's going to do.

Of course, she is playing house right now. I'm not saying she shouldn't be happy, but I honestly think she should be more concerned than anything. If the dude will hit her, he'll hit a kid. "Oh, he just has anger issues," she tells me. Yeah, let's see how those anger issues manifest themselves when he has a screaming baby at 3 AM. I don't know. I don't know what to say to her or even how to feel about this.

When I was on the phone with Lex yesterday talking to her about this, Eric piped in and said, "You know you have to move back to Wisconsin now so you can watch the baby for us". Fat chance, dude. I know my mom is going to end up keeping the kid, just like my grandparents kept me until I was six because my mom was too busy being a teenager (I was better off for it, but a mother should still take responsibility for her own child).

I don't know. I just don't know. I'm so worried for her.
We've all been bordering on the very edge of sick for the last few days, except for Donald who crossed the line last night and is now miserable. Lauren's had an on-and-off low grade fever the last few days and so has had no appetite and runny diapers. Yummy. I've been Zicam-ing so, hopefully that wards off the worst of it for me. We shall see.

Other than that, there's nothing exciting going on here. I've been making candy Christmas wreaths and Donald's been selling them at work, so that's keeping me busy. We started to dig out our storage closets last weekend and put a few things up on craigslist, so our house is a disaster. We have three weeks until we leave for Wisconsin, so I really need to focus on getting some of it out of here.

I still haven't heard anything about my student teaching placement. I emailed my placement coordinator last week and she said she hadn't heard anything back from the district yet. I hate not being in control of this, and it's starting to make me crazy. I really want to have it finalized before I leave because I was hoping to go meet the host teacher before I left, but it doesn't look like that's going to happen. We'll see.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

So apparently it's Christmas now. I had an event at Wal-Mart today and spent the entire five hours listening to Christmas carols play over the loudspeaker. I like Christmas as much as the next person, but not in the first week of November! Heck, Target has had Christmas cards out since the middle of October. I guess there's something to be said for getting a head start, but by the time it's actually Christmas, I'm so sick of Christmas that I just want it to be over!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A Southern Halloween

Getting ready to leave! (Sidenote: she calls sunglasses "goggles". How cute is that?)

Neigh! I'm riding a pony!

After we got done doing Trunk or Treat at a local park, we headed to the 'burbs to go trick or treating with our friend Kelly and her daughter. Her husband towed us around the subdivision in this thing. She told me the name of it, but I can't remember. It must be a pretty popular thing to do down here, because there were about four of them driving around the neighborhood.

I was taking her door-to-door, but she was crying for Daddy, so Donald took over and she was totally happy!

Sharing the goods with Daddy.

Silly papa!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Well, I was going to start knitting the P a scarf, but I can't find my knitting needles. Donald might know where they are, but of course he's in bed already. Darn it! Now what am I going to do.....?

We went to FreedomFest tonight in Madison. It was a lot of fun for Lauren. They had some band there that was supposedly big in the 60s, and Peeler danced her heart out for quite a while. She also got to go down one of those big blow up slides with the help of mommy. We watched the fireworks and Peeler gave a running commentary throughout the whole thing..."neat", "wow", "loud!". Heh.

Darn it I'm irked about those needles. Where the hell are they? Donald probably hid them somewhere so Peeler wouldn't find them, and now I can't find them! Dang it!

Monday, October 29, 2007

I'm Finished!

I finally finished my last class! I'm just waiting on my last three papers to be graded, and then I won't have to worry about anything until January! Yay!

So now what am I going to do with my time? I have a few things...

*Figure out what I'm making people for Christmas. I have a whole discussion thread full of ideas that I need to wade through.

*Convince my dad to get rid of all his crap before we move so that I can start selling some of it.

*Do more research about where to move and plan some of the logistics.

*Clean out the spare bedroom for my dad.

*Find more ways to make some extra cash!

*Teach Peeler her colors! The child calls everthing blue or red.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Autumn has Finally Arrived (and my camera sucks)!!

Finally we are getting some fall-like weather here in Mississippi! Last week was cold and rainy, but the weekend was divine, and there's more of it in the forecast. We took advantage of the nice weather this evening by going for a walk near the Natchez Trace. It was a great photo taking opportunity, but apparently our camera sucks. Or it could be the operator. We used to have a Kodak EasyShare, but after three years of use it died on our cruise this spring. We bought a Canon PowerShot to replace it, and it is nowhere near as user-friendly as the Kodak. Anyway, it was nearly twilight this evening, and I could not get the pictures to turn out for anything. When I used the flash, it made the background look dark, like it was pitch-black outside. When I turned the flash off, the image was blurry. I'm thinking the shutter speed needs to be faster, but I don't have the first idea how to change it or even if it can be changed. At any rate, I'm kind of upset because we got a lot of really cute pictures that are all blurry. Bleh. I want my easy Kodak back. Pictures always turned out perfect with that thing! Anyway, here are a few pictures that did turn out.

This is easily my favorite picture of Lauren taken recently. It really just captures her, if you know what I mean.

A study in motion. She loved this bridge! I bet she ran over it at least 20 times, back and forth.

And, a picture with her pumpkin. She "helped" me dig the guts out, but did not like the feel of them at all!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Well, we're going! And so is Donald! We are going to leave Thursday, Dec. 6 after Donald gets off work and drive through the night. Donald will stay until Tuesday, and then he'll fly back home. Lauren and I are going to stay through Christmas. Yay! Now we just need to figure where we're going to stay :o) I'm sure Donald's parents will love to have us, and there's always his sisters' house.

I'm excited to be going home for Christmas!!!! Even if Donald won't actually be with us for Christmas. He doesn't mind though - I told him that he wouldn't have to put up the Christmas tree, and I think that's all that matters to him. Heh.

I have a goal....

We are going to try to live without turning the heat on all winter. I think it's doable, considering it's been in the low 40s at night here the last few days and we've been just fine. It gets a little chilly at night, but it's nothing an extra blanket and fuzzy socks can't fix. Yesterday I roasted a turkey in the oven and that kept the house warm (almost too warm, really) all day and night. I think we can do it!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Why is this illegal?

Seriously? Jackson police have nothing better to do?
I really want to go home in December. I've convinced Donald to let Lauren and me go, but I haven't quite convinced myself. We've been working so hard to save money for our move, and we'd have to spend about $1000 of it for a trip back home. I'm just not sure I want to spend the money, because ultimately, having enough money to move is really important.

I think what I'm going to do is gather up some junk from around the house and try to sell some of it. We have to do it anyway before we move, so maybe I'll just get a head start and use whatever money I get from that to go to Wisconsin. I don't know. It'll be a year next month since we've been home, and I'm ready to go back for a couple weeks. I'll be finished teaching my class the first of December, so after that I'm free until I start student teaching in January. If we don't go now, we probably won't get home until at least next summer, maybe later depending on our situation.

I REALLY want to go! Ugh. Sometimes I hate being a grown-up!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Why we came and why we're leaving

Why We Came to Mississippi

I spent my junior and senior years of high school in a little (tiny) town in northern Mississippi. I didn't mind it too much at the time, but it was definitely different from what I was used to, and went back to Wisconsin for college. During college, Donald and I made quite a few trips back to Mississippi to see my dad, and discovered that we really liked the coast area. We decided that we would move to the coast of Mississippi (Gulfport, Biloxi) during the summer of 2005 after I graduated.

I'd always wanted to live near the beach, and Donald loved the casinos, so it seemed like a great fit for us. Our plans were to just get whatever jobs we could, rent a little house or apartment near the beach, and just hang out. And then I got pregnant. We almost decided to stay in Wisconsin, but because my family is so crazy, we decided to move anyway. My dad lived in Hattiesburg, about an hour away from the coast, and we knew quite a few people there, so we weren't worried about being all alone with a new baby. I finished school in July, and we planned to move in August.

I was actually really excited about moving to the coast. I imagined long lazy days spent at the beach with the baby, trips to Florida, and hanging out with my dad in Hattiesburg occasionally. We had an apartment all picked out and were ready to move. Donald and I drove down to Hattiesburg from Wisconsin the third weekend of August. We left our cars there and flew home so that we could drive the moving truck down the next weekend.

And then came Katrina. We knew it was going hit the coast on Friday the 27th, but of course we had no idea how bad it would be or that it would hit Hattiesburg as badly as it did. Even if we would have known, we still didn't have much of an option of where to go (or even to go) any more. Our cars were already in Mississippi. The moving truck was packed. We'd already turned in the keys to our apartment. So we went.

Hattiesburg, and my dad's house, were completely destroyed. We stayed with one of my dad's friends for six months until Lauren was born. During this time, Dad decided to start travel nursing, and we decided that we weren't going to stay in Hattiesburg. We really didn't know where to go. We didn't have a whole lot of money, so we didn't feel good about moving too far away, so we eventually settled on Jackson (2 hours north of Hattiesburg).

Why We're Leaving

I guess the biggest reason is that we just don't fit in here. We have issues with this area in particular, but honestly I don't think any area in the South would be much better. We're not religious, and anyone from the South knows just how big of a deal that is. It is nearly impossible to meet people unless you go to church. Everything about the politics of this area makes me want to bang my head against the wall. Case in point - the Democrat running for governor (John Arthur Eaves) is advocating public school prayer. The Republican, Haley Barbour, is so far up the butt of special interests that it makes me want to puke almost as much. I honestly have no idea who to vote for. Anyway, the politics suck. The weather sucks. (Most) people think global warming is no big deal because the rapture is going to happen before it matters so they won't be here to deal with it anyway. People look at me funny when I don't wear makeup in public. I'm sure that happens in other places, too, but the women in this area are crazy and I'll never fit in with most of them (unless I decide to wear skin tight jeans and heels to McDonalds, go tanning, and apply my makeup with a putty knife). I know there has to be some normal people out there somewhere, but honestly, I don't feel like finding them. And now I'm just rambling.

Anyway. We're getting out. I want to live in a neighboorhood that is neither cookie-cutter suburbia or poverty-stricken. Somewhere where recycling is normal, the grass is green, and people don't judge you based on the church you attend (or not). I need cool weather, snow (just a little), and public transportation.

Sometime I'll talk about why we chose Oregon. I don't know when, though, because I still haven't finished my last class. Hah.