Wednesday, August 31, 2011

If I only had a twitter feed

This morning I had so many one liners going through my head that I was wishing I had a twitter (eek) account. 
It started with
left home at 8:15 am
@so jealous of the non pregnant hipsters flying by me on their bikes on Milwaukee
and went on to
@cannot believe it is taking me over an hour to drive 5 miles.  Already stalled out twice. 
then arrived at 9:42 am
@trying hard to not let the jadedness of my past CPS central office experiences color my current one
@it begins with the only area to park being completely full, and continues with a super long line at the counter
@submitted one paper and I’m already told to have a seat and wait, there are about 30 people ahead of me
@continue to wonder why I am so keen on working for this clearly mis-organized and failing institution, of which I can’t seem to look at anyone without seeing ineptness

@I’m teaching kids who need me, that’s why
@I am starting to listen to the number of times in the past few days that different people (and Nick) mentioned that maybe this newest issue was a good exit strategy
@I should probably just be happy to have a job, even under unfortunate circumstances
@Can’t help thinking about how nice it would be to relax and prepare for the next/ last few months of this pregnancy
@Can you believe next week will start the third trimester?  I can’t. 
@If I get out of here at a decent time, I’m going to yoga. 
@All this upheaval is giving me intestinal distress.  :(  It’s not worth the stress. 
10:21 am
@Do these administrative peons bustling about behind the counter even know about the utter lack of logic and intelligence for which they work? 

And then about 20 minutes later, I finally heard my name being called, and I feel obligated to tell you that the woman that I spoke with (for about 5 minutes) took care of my paperwork with kindness and sincerity.  She was very helpful and knowledgeable, and I ended my experience on a positive note. 

I was back at school greeting my kids by 11:25, enough time to try and re-direct their crazy "we've had a sub" energy towards a somewhat productive afternoon.  

I'll tell you about the drama that ensued while I was gone for a day and a half another time.  Believe me, it was drama, the kids were in rare form without me there, behavioral problems, name calling, older kids bullying and younger kids sobbing, sexual innuendo with a water bottle from a 4th grader, the list goes on.  Tomorrow we will have a serious conversation about substitute teacher etiquette.  

Tonight though, I am exhausted and need to organize my thoughts and grades for tomorrow. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

CPS struggles and the past 2 weeks

Wow, what a lot of catching up there is to do.  I don't know where the last two weeks went, oh wait, I was immersed in 4th grade, testing, data accumulation and analysis, lesson planning, action planning and the list goes on..... 

Yesterday I had some difficult news at work, and as of right now, I still don't know the outcome and I have a free day off.  It all started when I noticed that I was not paid and my email became disabled on the same day.  Apparently there was yet another administrative mistake, and I am not officially in the system.  It's a super long story, and I'll spare the details (let me know if you are curious and I'll surely fill them in) but the gist of it is that due to latent CPS rules pertaining to the hire process coupled with ineptness administratively, the staffing center doesn't know if they can pay me for the first 4 weeks of school, let alone allow me to keep my position.  It has to do with being displaced vs being a substitute, and the politics and circumstances surrounding it all.

I just can't imagine not continuing the year with my students, not to mention the time and energy I've put into my classroom.  Clearly of least importance here is the fact that CPS and to a lesser extent, my school has, perhaps not purposefully, really walked all over me in this situation.  My recourse is so limited, and my rights are null.   Anyway, maybe you are wondering about my delicate situation with a 26 week old baby kicking in me, and really, health insurance was my number one concern when I realized the ramifications of the situation.  As of now, we have 1 more day of full health coverage, and starting Thursday, we'll be Cobra-ing for I'm sure an exorbitant amount.

The headache has been immense.

I just got off the phone with my principal, who has been communicating with the labor relations lawyer to try and figure out my situation.  As of right now, it looks like tomorrow I'll be going to CPS headquarters to re-apply for a position, to jump through all of the same hoops I've already been through, just so I can be considered a "day to day sub" for the time being while I wait to become a TAT (temporary assigned teacher).  At least TAT's have health benefits.  I'll probably lose the sick days and vacation days that I accrued last year, and my maternity leave won't be covered at all, but, on the bright side, if all goes as planned (and I have zero expectations that everything will work), then we might have health coverage for the rest of the year.  Keep your fingers crossed.  GEEZ.

Add this to the craziness that has been our year.  Through this whole time though, I've made some great friends at school, and they've been super supportive.  For this I am lucky.

In other news, despite the stressful and exhaustive first few weeks, we've had some fun times too.

A few weeks ago we took Arnie to the dog beach, and he absolutely loved it. 

Man and dog, relaxing by the water. 

We also had a mini dinner party.  Mary Sue, Jennifer and Adam helped us break in our new place.  Unfortunately, the photo was taken after the delicious dinner was consumed, but take my word for it: the lake trout was amazing, and Mary Sue's perfect chocolate chip cookies were indeed perfect.

Then this past weekend we had an even bigger party!  We hosted dear friends Kristina and Paul for their baby shower.   I baked and baked, and everything turned out delicious.  I think they were happy with it, and I was thrilled with squeezing all those people into our apartment successfully!   Some of the tasty recipes can be found here :  NPR is my go-to for everything. 

Kristina's nursery theme is owls, and we had a hoot getting ready.  I ordered some owl cupcakes from my friend Beth, who has a little vegan cup/cake business.  The were so delicious.  Order some treats from Beth here: 

Here is a taste of the people that were mingling about.  Kristina and Paul are awesome, naturally their friends are awesome too, and didn't mind getting cozy and comfortable in our apartment! 

And of course, when two preggo friends get together, the babies have to say hello.   Gus and LW2 say hi!

Belly kisses! 

And, speaking of pregnancy, I have one week until the third trimester starts.  How crazy is that?  This time is flying by. 

And, this day is shaping up ok without 27 kids.  So far I've slept in (until 6:50), taken Arnie on 2 walks, had a pedicure and some magic vanilla ice cream (one of the treats I made for the shower) and now, instead of worrying about my job, we're taking Arnie back to the dog beach for the afternoon.  Lovely. 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A year ago on this day

Happy Sunday morning to you!

So, has anyone seen the facebook feature that tells you what your posts were on this day last year?  It just popped up in the right hand corner of mine today.  Last year, on this day, Nick and I were gearing up for our moving sale.  We weren't sure if we were moving to a new place in the city or if we were going to embark on some kind of epic journey.  It all depended on the last few weeks of the job search, and if we could wrap our minds around heading out of town,  There was so much unknown, the uncertainty was palpable and exciting.  On that day, friends and strangers came by to look at our things parceled out on the sidewalk.  Thankfully, most of our beloved plants went to kind souls who I am sure are taking great care of them.  We recently saw a few of our plants at our friends Jennifer and Adam's house, of course they are thriving, and it was great to be reunited.  As you know, the job search of last year was fruitless for me in the short term, and we moved out of the city (albeit temporarily).  I remember my teary "last" dance class with Molly, our last meal at Small Bar (neighborhood food and drink joint), and the unending move out of our third floor apartment in Logan Square.
Hero mover husband is assessing the situation. 

We planned to do it in 2 days, but once half of the apartment was empty we realized that the truck would have to sit on the street with a skimpy padlock overnight.  The wrenching memories of 2 beloved bikes stolen were too great for me, and we kept packing and cleaning and drove to Iowa that night, arriving at 3 am.

The sobbing, continual canvasing the neighborhood, and my ensuing violent hate of the "junk truck" people began last year in Logan Square. 

In the next few weeks, we unloaded our belongings into Theresa's (Nick's mom) generous basement, we relaxed a little, explored hilly Dubuque on our bikes, bought a car, mapped out a cross country road trip focusing on National Parks and family visits, and we took off. (Click on the link to see our map.)

Oh the nostalgia!  Just looking at our map makes me want to jump up and take off all over again.  There is so much beauty out there, and it does me so good to be in the midst of it all.

The majesty and the peace that we felt during that time was remarkable and timeless.  I would give anything to be back at in the Badlands of South Dakota, Yellowstone or the Grand Tetons, the Redwoods, Joshua Tree, Arches or Zion.

As the story goes, on the way back home, we were in Nebraska, it was election day, November 2, 2010 and I got a call from John Spry Elementary School, in Chicago.  They found me on the Chicago Public School database (how I surfaced from the thousands of job seekers, I still don't know).  They needed a maternity coverage temporary teacher (irony?) from November- February.  We didn't have any plans for the winter, and we were feeling the sting of spending money without replenishment.  I got the job that Friday, and started Monday.  We stayed with great friends Laura and Tim for a week, found a sublet, and moved some of our essential things back in our Subaru.  This was the beginning of our return, only a few months after leaving.  I have re-found my dance community, I am working now as a 4th grade teacher, we have a comfortable apartment in quiet Avondale, and we are happy parents to Arnie, our demanding, loving, pointer/cattle dog mix.  The biggest surprise and joy is going to be the new baby that joins us in December.

As unpredictable as the year has been, we've been so lucky in so many ways.  I will always be nostalgic for the road, wide open beauty, and freedom to follow our whims.  I am also well aware of the many blessings bestowed on us from this place of openness that we chose a year ago last year.

There is more to say, but I've got 2nd trimester organizing, cleaning, grading, and general Sunday enjoying to do.  I'll leave you with the delight that is the first of our 12 week Angelic Organics, CSA (community supported agriculture) pickup.

Anyone know what to do with fennel? 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Day 2

I said I would, so here are a few pics of my room and my kiddos.  Albeit, most of this photography comes at the end of the day on my way out of the room, but I think the idea is clear enough.

We are outside playing car and driver for our 4th grade community building activities.  These ladies are some of the few that took it seriously and didn't run all over the place! 

Smiling faces outside!  They are so excited to be moving around and hanging out with all of the 4th grade, not just our class. 

Panorama of my room at the end of the day.  One could construe this as peaceful, right?

Plants and dictionaries, what a great combo.
And now, I'm off to bed.  Someday soon I'll have the energy to write a decent post! 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Day 1- done

Well, I made it through day 1 of school with no tears, from me or the students.  It was a good day, I have really good kids.  27 of them.  They are all over the map academically, but I think we can come together and be a great class community.  I am going to try to remember the camera tomorrow for some shots of my "peaceful"classroom.  I am dubbing it the peaceful classroom (lamps and plants galore) so as to set this year off right.

As for me, I feel a little like I've been run over by a truck.  It must have something to do with the energy output in the past week and weekend, and the let down after the big day. The list of things I have yet to do, make, prepare is so long, but thankfully this baby is making me take it a little easier than I might have in the past.

And by taking it easy, I mean go to bed, now, at 9:30pm.  This is especially important because I "broke" the car on the way home, (pothole underwater goes unseen) and I am hitching a ride with a friend tomorrow, which means, I have to be ready to go on time!

Pictures and updates tomorrow, I promise.