Friday, June 26, 2009

Huge Life Change Update

Hi, everybody! Sorry to leave you hanging with no post after that last one that was all "what am I going to do to make enough money so my children will not go HUNGRYYYY?" but as you will soon see, I have been super busy for the past few days and haven't had any time to post until now. I have tweeted about the fast-and-furious changes here at my Twitter page, if you are like me and just can't get enough of your favorite bloggers. And of course I am one of your favorite bloggers, right? *cough cough*grin*

Let's see, what day was it when Justin and I decided that I should start applying for jobs? I think it was Tuesday that I emailed the principal of Miss Pink's school about an aide position that was posted on the district web site. She called me back Wednesday and by that time I was able to tell her that I had decided that if I was going to work full time, that I should go back to teaching ($45,600 vs. 13,000--probably worth the extra stress of having one's own class, no?) She mentioned that they just had a 4th grade position open up the DAY BEFORE. It was her idea to have me come in to interview. She loved it that I am a parent at the school and totally invested in the school's philosophy and success. *

So I went to the interview yesterday at 2 and it went very well. I felt very confident in the way I was able to answer the questions of the principal and the lead 4th grade teacher and they seemed to respond well to me. We even talked about the educational possibilities of Twitter! The fact that I have been at home for 6 years didn't seem to bother them, as I have kept teaching Sunday School and volunteer tutoring at their school, not to mention teaching my own little learning sponges. I was able to show them that I do have experience with elementary students and their schoolwork when I worked at Sylvan Learning Center, where I tutored kids of all ages and helped them get their reading and math skills up to grade level. Many people have said to me that I would make a good elementary teacher, and I hope I get the opportunity to try.

The only issue is that I do have to be certified in the elementary grades (my current certification is English for grades 6-12). To do that, I have to pass a test for Early Childhood through 4th grade which includes language arts (almost half of the points), math, social studies, science, health, art, and music. The principal has to know that I have passed the test before she could present me to the board as their choice to hire. So I registered to take the test at the next earliest date, July 2. That only gives me a few days to study (I ordered a book from Amazon and it should be here Monday) but I took the official sample test online and scored 91%, so I feel good about taking it. I just hope that the principal and lead teacher think I am a good enough candidate to wait a few days for, AND that some darn experienced elementary teacher doesn't come along and take the job!

That leads me to the only other issue, which is the math and science. *I* am feeling confident in my ability to teach those subjects, but this school is top-rated in the state-mandated tests and wants to maintain their ranking. They do not want to risk letting any students fall through the cracks, either; it's not just teaching to the test. If it were, we'd just spend all year doing TAKS worksheets and having a boring class. No, these are creative teachers who go above and beyond to create interesting activities in all subjects. In other words, just the kind of teachers I want to learn from and emulate. The teachers from each grade meet weekly to plan lessons two weeks ahead. They already have an overall plan of what will be covered and when (which is a relief for me because I don't want to leave anything essential out), and they tweak what they did last year to make it more successful. So I guess they don't need me to reinvent the wheel entirely, but to be able to provide ideas and input to help all the fourth graders be successful. So I am hoping that they will believe I can do it!

As my friend and fellow teacher advised me, I am cautiously optimistic. I can't say I don't have my hopes up, because I do, but if this doesn't work out, I will go back to my original plan (of a whole three days ago) to apply to the district which is opening a new high school, and once I have my elementary certification, any other position I'm interested in!

But oh, I would love to work at this school--it would be so wonderful to be at the same school with Miss Pink! So keep me in your thoughts and prayers, that I would get the best job for me and my family. It's been great that I've been able to stay home with my children this long, but being able to teach is a gift, too. I will not have to worry about taking off work when they are out of school, for one thing. And the stability of a guaranteed income will be good, too.

*For a description of how much I love Miss Pink's school, see this post. And probably many others, since I am willing to wax eloquent about the awesomeness of this charter school at any and every opportunity. Truly it would be a great place for any teacher to work.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I was going to write a long "What I Learned This Week" post but I just had a conversation with my husband that I don't know how to process and I can't think about anything else. His business is seriously struggling. He has huge cabinet jobs in progress and waiting to start, and the builder won't give him any money, so he can't buy materials or pay his guys. So I don't know what is going to happen. He says he and his partner are going to "ride it out until the bitter end" but it looks like we might not be able to keep the business going.

I don't mind working, but there are no secondary English teaching jobs available right now. I could sub, but child care for Mr. Blue is a problem since I would never know from day to day when I'd be working. I just hate not knowing what we are facing.

Please pray for me. I could really use it now.

Friday, June 19, 2009


Hello, all! I hope you're having a great Friday. Here's the interesting question I found in my little black book of questions.

If you had to convert to a different religion, which would you choose?

For me, it would be Judaism, for a number of reasons. First of all, both Christians and Jews worship the God of the Bible, so it would be closest to what I already hold as truth. Secondly, I admire the Jewish emphasis on family and community, and the rabbinic tradition of interpreting the Scriptures.

What about you? And if you aren't religious, which religion most appeals to you?


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

What I Learned This Week #15

As usual, I remember thinking several times last week, "Oh, I need to remember that for WILTW" --and of course I don't remember them. So I guess the first thing I learned this week is

1. At my age, I need to write things down or I won't remember them.

2. I also learned that there is a very good improvisational comedy group in Fort Worth. They are called Four Day Weekend and they are hilarious! They do skits and songs based on news headlines, suggestions from the audience, and random audience members whom they pick out and interview. If you've ever seen "Whose Line Is It Anyway," it's a lot like that. Justin and I loved it. We went there Friday night to celebrate our 12th anniversary (a week late, but who cares). My dad picked the kids up at lunchtime, and Justin came home soon after. It was so nice to spend the afternoon not having to jump up every five minutes and get somebody a drink or tell them to stop taking each other's toys. Then we went out to dinner. We were in the mood for steak so we went to Outback Steakhouse. After the comedy show, we got some ice cream at Marble Slab. I was SO full--I haven't eaten that much food in a long time. Then we got to sleep in the next morning and met my parents and the kids at our favorite breakfast place in Ft. Worth-- the Paris Coffee Shop, a diner that has been there for at least fifty years. A wonderful time was had by all.

3. Progress is continuing to be made in the "Don't Let Miss Pink Be a Pack Rat" campaign that I have been operating for the past four years. Yesterday we went through her art drawer, which is a drawer built into her bed that holds all the artwork she accumulates until it is so full that we can hardly open the drawer. I always let her keep 50 pieces of her favorite work. She sorts the HUGE pile of paper into "Yes" "No" and "Maybe" piles. This time she was much more decisive and put a lot of stuff right into the "No" pile. (I've already chosen my favorites for the scrapbook, so everything else is hers to choose.) I'm proud of her.

That's all I can remember! To see what others have learned, head over to Musings of a Housewife's What I Learned This Week carnival.


Monday, June 15, 2009

When I Was Fifteen

The titles of these posts reminds me of the Frank Sinatra song that goes, "When I was seventeen, it was a very good year..." One of my friend's dads used to sing to us, "When I was eighty-two, it was a very good year; my arthritis was bad and my hip was replaced" or words to that effect. None of that happened when I was fifteen, but I managed to get more dramatic than when I was five and when I was ten. My lucky, lucky parents, who had to live with me when I lost the Love of My Life--or the boy who was the love of my life that month. Disclaimer: I actually have forgotten which boys I had crushes on which years, so I'm saying this is accurate plus or minus one year. Someday I might see if my mom still has my old diaries. I'm cringing just thinking about it.


Today at lunch L. looked at me and I almost died. I was just sitting there with my sandwich in my hand while the girls around me talked about things I couldn’t care less about, and I guess I was staring at the side of his face, the way his sideburn lines up exactly with the middle of his ear, and the scattering of freckles across his cheekbone. And the next thing I knew, he was looking back at me. I jumped like I’d been caught stealing and I hope I didn’t blush but I probably did. I immediately kept my eyes glued to my sandwich. If I’d just looked back for a second, smiled, and looked casually at someone else, it might not have been as obvious how I feel about him. But I think he knows anyway, even before today.

When did I start liking him? It wasn’t when I was dating his younger brother, who’s closer to my age, but who dumped me and started dating another girl that very night. Sure, L. was super nice to me after his brother did that; he told me his brother was “stupid” and I took that to mean he thinks I’m cute. So my feelings probably started there, and now I think L. is much better for me than his brother; even if his brother is somewhat better looking, he is not nearly as much of a gentleman as L, and that counts a lot with me.

But L. doesn’t ask me out, and I wonder if he’s still crazy about K. They only went out for a little while, but when she picked a different guy, L. took it hard. She IS the prettiest girl at our school, with her blond hair, big blue eyes, and perfect figure. All the guys want to go out with her and all the girls want to BE her. I don’t necessarily want to be blond, but she’s exactly the height I wish I was: 5’6”. I hate being short, especially since L. is tall. And I look nothing like her, so if she’s L’s only type, then I’m in trouble.

I know I shouldn’t have written that poem for him, because that was right about the time I really started to have feelings for him, and here he was asking me to write a poem about how he feels about her. I just used my imagination and the words came flowing out—okay, I used some of my feelings about him, too. I thought he would be impressed. And he was: so impressed he COPIED IT IN HIS HANDWRITING AND GAVE IT TO HER AND LET HER THINK HE WROTE IT.

She was impressed, too. Flattered. She didn’t get back together with him, but you could tell she liked having a poem written about her. How would she like it if she knew it wasn’t really about her at all?

He apologized later. I had to forgive him; I couldn’t help myself. But just because he felt sorry for me doesn’t mean that he suddenly realized how we are perfect for each other, like we would if this were a teenage movie. It’s more like Cyrano de Bergerac, the play I read once where a guy who has a gigantic nose falls in love with a girl named Roxane,* but she’s interested in the gorgeous guy who’s so dumb he can’t even talk to her. Cyrano writes the guy’s letters to her, and even hides in a bush to tell him what to say to win her heart. At the end of course, she realizes that she’s fallen in love with the man who could come up with those words to express his feelings, not the pretty face.

Which didn’t happen here. K. has the pretty face, and I am the guy with the giant nose. (Not literally, thank goodness, but I might as well, since L. isn’t interested in me.)

Maybe I should cry a while, or listen to “On My Own” from Les Miserables over and over again. I always cry when Eponine sings about loving Marius even though he barely knows she exists because he loves that sickly sweet Cosette, and then Eponine bravely dies on the barricade the next day. Then I’ll be in the right frame of mind to write some more poetry. It will be either inspired by T.S. Eliot or Emily Dickinson, because all my poems sound like one or the other. I like the Romantics too, but I can’t write like Keats or Shelley since they are so old-fashioned sounding.

As far as the rest of my life, it’s fine, I guess. My mom and dad are trying to be understanding about L and why I cry and cry whenever I realize all over again that he doesn’t like me. But they don’t get it. I bet they never felt about someone the way I feel about L. My feelings are a burning flame deep in my bones and I wish I could just burn into ashes; instead, I just burn endlessly like a torch in the arid desert air.

Hey, that’s pretty good—maybe I could use it in my poem. Why can’t we write poetry for English instead of diagramming sentences? There is no scope for imagination in diagramming sentences.**

*There’s a Steve Martin movie called Roxanne based on this play, which is by Edmond Rostand. But I hadn’t seen the movie, and I had read the play. I read everything, even my parents’ old college literature textbooks.

**Yes, I know I shamelessly stole this from L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables. But my mother says I AM Anne, especially when I was fifteen. Plus, I am giving her credit, which is better than L. did with my poor little love poem.


Friday, June 12, 2009

True Colors

Hola, chicas (and chicos, if any guys do in fact read this)! My kids are at my parents' house and Justin and I are going out on a real date to celebrate our anniversary--which was last weekend, but it wasn't convenient to celebrate then. So here's a question for you:

If you had to choose the color that describes you most accurately, which color would it be?

Now, I don't think this question is asking your favorite color. It's a color that reflects your personality. It's hard for me to say, because my moods change. But I'll go with a blue-gray, like the color of the ocean, because at times I am happy and peaceful (blue) while at other times I feel gray and flat.

That only leaves out the times I'm red-hot with anger, but I'm willing to bet none of our personalities are completely describable with one color! What about you?


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

What I Learned This Week #14

Here's what I've been learning:

  • There are going to be a lot of wet towels for me to wash this summer. Even though we don't own a pool, we are getting invitations to go swimming or to water parks until my kids already think they should be going swimming every day. And if all else fails, the kids want to play in the sprinkler.

  • It's not a good idea to get obsessed with what type of job you are going to find after your youngest child starts kindergarten--two years from now. The obsession will merely waste your time and try your husband's patience.
  • No matter how sleepy I am after breakfast, I should force myself to stay awake (rather than dozing on the couch) and get going. I get more done and have more energy for the rest of the day. Today I even went to the gym and feel more energized. With any luck I'll feel energized enough to fold the laundry waiting for me.
For more lessons learned, visit the What I Learned This Week carnival.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Summer Plans

It's shaping up to be a busy summer. This morning, I got the kids signed up for swimming lessons starting in two weeks, and then next week they will be attending Vacation Bible School with friends (three hours off for me in the morning, woo-hoo!) There is a weekly activity with our playgroup, and library programs to attend. We can't take a big trip, but have two or three short ones planned. And we plan to do some family activities, too.

I am all about lazy days at home; I don't believe in overscheduling kids, but all of those activities only take up part of the day and not every day will take us away from home. There will be plenty of time for lazing around the house in our pajamas and rotting their brains watching a limited amount of quality children's television. My main goal is to prevent the screeching at each other that just happens to be at the precise decibel level that threatens to pierce my eardrums.

Wish me luck. I'm gonna need it.


Thursday, June 4, 2009

When I Was Ten

Last week I started writing some posts about what was important to me at five, ten, fifteen, and so on. It has been so much fun to try to recover my experiences and perspective from those stages of my life so far. Here's the one when I was five. The only problem is that I don't know how much difference there is between my five- and ten-year-old voices. Eh, whatever. It's just a BLOG POST, Ali, not a freakin' doctoral dissertation.


My mom is a good mom to me because she bakes delicious cookies and cakes and she takes us to the library to get as many books as we want and she buys me clothes to wear when I am not in school because we have to wear uniforms in school.

My dad works really hard at the church but when he is home we have a great time. One of his favorite things to do is to have me and my brother take turns standing up on the fireplace hearth like it’s a stage and he tells us something to give a speech about. Get this, if we don’t know anything about it we have to act like we know even if we have to make stuff up! I had to do that about Zen Buddhism. I knew about Buddha but I said they had to say “Zen, zen, zen” when they pray and I don’t know if that’s right. My brother gets easier things to talk about because he is little. He was supposed to tell the story of Jonah and he said Jonah packed his toothbrush and his jammies, which is not in the Bible at all, but Mom and Dad laughed and laughed about it. Dad says this will help us be good extemporaneous speakers, but does that mean we will be good at making things up when we don’t know what to say? Is that what he does when he is preaching? I’ve never asked him.

I am in the sixth grade, if we had grades, which we don’t really because we just keep doing our own work, whatever level we’re on, and all the elementary kids are in the same room with the same teacher. If I was in public school I would be in a class with a bunch of kids doing all the same work. I’m kind of scared of public school because I’ve never been to one. School is still easy for me except math. I HATE math and sometimes I cry when I can’t get the answers right even though I have erased it over and over again. My teacher tells me I need to take my time and not try to rush through it and then I won’t make mistakes. I want to rush through it though, because I hate it so much. The rest of my work is okay and I do a lot of it. The principal says I am so far ahead that he will have to put me back onto my grade level with a different type of work, which doesn’t seem fair since I already did all of the work I'm supposed to. He says if he didn’t put me back, I would graduate when I am fourteen, which would be fine with me.

My best friend is Leann, who I have known since she was three and I was four. All of us girls like to play make-believe games at break time. We pretend we are characters on TV shows, which is not always easy for me to know what to do because I don’t have a TV, but Leann does and I can watch over there sometimes. Our favorite games to play are Remington Steele and Nancy Drew. (I know a lot about Nancy Drew because of the books.) I think I should get to be Nancy because she has “Titian” hair which I looked up and it means reddish blond, which is exactly the color of my hair. But the other girls all want a turn being Nancy and no one wants to be George because she is a tomboy with a boy’s name. I like recess but not P.E. because I am not any good at kickball or softball which is usually what we have to play.

Speaking of boys, there is one that I like. His name is Richard and he goes to church with me but not school. He is SO CUTE !!! I should not have written a note to my friend saying I liked him, because awful Stephen got the note and told Richard. I thought I would die!!! When I told my dad, he said I should remember not to put anything incriminating in writing, whatever that means. But then later Richard slipped me a note in a pink envelope he made himself and it said: “Do you still like me? Yes or no? P.S. Keep this letter a secret!” and he had underlined secret three times so I knew he was afraid Stephen would find out. And he put in a Garbage Pail Kids card, which shows a Statue of Liberty holding a bag of rotten garbage, which is not romantic at ALL, but I am not going to take that wrong because of the note. My first love note! I will keep it forever even when I am a grownup lady.*

*Promise kept. Observe:


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Not a Real Post

Yesterday I had to pick Miss Pink up from school with a 102 fever and a sore throat. We got in to see the nurse practitioner at our doctor's office at 4:40 (well, WE were there at 4:40; we didn't see her until 5:30). Sure enough, it's strep throat. So we're all home and she seems to be feeling fine, although her younger brother is being pesky and she's being bossy, and as a result I'm refereeing sporadic fights between the two kids, and I'm alternating between thinking, "This is going to be the way it goes ALL SUMMER LONG" and reminding myself that when it's summer for real (in two days) we are not going to stay home all day. So that's all I have time to post today. See you tomorrow when I plan to use Mr. Blue's nap time catching up with everyone's blogs.