When Your Mom Tells You It Has Been Too Long…

…between posts, you know it is time to write another post.

I haven’t written much lately, because my life has become a bit of a black hole of same same same.  Not bad.  Tiring.  Not much new to say.

Except that my stomach problems are still here.  I’m still stressed out. I nearly got depressed, which if you know me in real life, would make you shake your head and say WHAAAAT?  I am one of those people who is normally so happy, that I annoy people.  But the stomach thing makes everything worse.  If I have a stressful day at work, then come home to a tantruming two-year-old and an annoyed five-year-old and I do my best to feed them and love them and get them ready for bed… I can’t have a @#$%$^% glass of wine after they go to bed!  And I can’t have a coffee when I get up.  There is only so much I can do without a little bit of chemical help from food and drink.

But I reached a bit of a low point and went out for drinks with a very good friend (mind you, I couldn’t actually drink) and it helped me re-adjust things.

Things have gotten better.

I’ll talk about my stomach.  I’m sure you logged on tonight because you are just so excited to hear about my digestive system!  Goody!

I was sent by my regular doctor to a GI specialist, who basically told me that there’s nothing to be done.  Some people just have over-active intestines.

This visit, of course, made me stick my middle finger high up in the air (yes, mom,  but in a figurative way, of course) at western medicine.  I decided to stop trying one thing at a time and get all eastern on my stomach.  So I’ve started the following things: a retired teacher in my building insists that aloe vera gel saved her stomach, so I’m taking that; another good friend was saved by a probiotic called threelac (the GI doctor did say that some people have had success with probiotics) so I bought a similar product and have been taking that; aaaaannnddd oh, and acupuncture.  I’m getting to something fairly interesting, I promise.

I don’t care what anybody says, acupuncture does hurt.  And it is weird.  I found this great place that does community acupuncture.  That means that several people are getting treatments at the same time in the room with you.  It also means that it is a lot more affordable than having it done privately.  I really like it. I mean, I would like it more if I actually enjoyed the acupuncture.

So, I sit there on a chair, and the wonderful, healing nurturing acupuncturist sticks needles in me. And they do hurt (maybe it is a red-head thing).  My limbs get heavy.  I can’t really move them.  Some of the needles throb (the acupuncturist says that means they are working).  I start to imagine what would happen if the building caught on fire.  I don’t actually think I could get out of the chair with all the needles in me.  Then you have to sit there with the needles in.  For a long time.  I have trouble sitting still.  But, I don’t recommend fidgeting with needles stuck all over you. No. Not recommended.

I’ve had two treatments.  In both of them, the fact of my infertility treatments has surfaced like a dusty penny from under the couch.  Have I had my ovaries checked? Well…. I was very familiar with my ovaries two years ago.  Very familiar.  Have I had any stressful, traumatic experiences? Have I mentioned two years ago?  Can I blame my current state of imbalance and messed-uppedness on follical-stimulating hormones?  Please?  I would love to.

So I sit there and think.

I don’t get to do that very often.  Just think.  Without a child jumping on me.  Without my phone in my hand.  No book.  No computer.  No stack of papers to grade.

Tonight I started to think about what has made me sad.  A big part of it is the current assault against my profession by a billionaire boys’ club.  I’m taking it too personally.  Another part is that I don’t get enough adult time.  Another part is that I feel like I never finish anything.

I’ve made it a priority to spend more time with adults.  I can do that.  I’m trying to let go of my anger about education reform.  Also, trying to do something about it.  But what about the finishing bit?  Has anyone noticed that I’ve had a page about my so-called book for three years?  And no book?  No freaking book.

Maybe what I need to do to feel better about not finishing things, is to finish something. Yeah. Maybe that.

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My Head Is Full of Children

When I lived in Provincetown for a summer, there was a T-shirt in one of the toursity-gifty shops with art by one of those crafty greeting-card women that said that: My Head Is Full of Children.  And it had a picture of a head.  And there were children all over the woman’s head.  And she looked happy for it.

Well.  My head is full of children.

I wake up and dress and feed and prepare lunches for them.  Then I drop them off at various places.  Then I go to my workplace —  which is full of children.  And then I go straight from my workplace to the other building of my workplace to get my eldest child.  Then we walk home.  Perhaps run and errand together, then pick up the youngest child.  Feed, bathe, jammy, read, bed them.  My head is full of children.

There is happy and ummm…not the opposite of happy, but not happy, to this situation.

Here’s some of the happy:

  • My son’s warm hand in my cold one, walking to school on a chilly October day.
  • Looking at, and discussing various Halloween decorations on our walk.
  • Listening to my eldest opine about choice time in his kindergarten.  Listening to him retell the read alouds.  Trying very hard not to jump in and reveal that I know how the story ends.
  • Seeing my little one dressed in a vest and a hoodie with the hood up and his little curls flipping over the edge of the hood.
  • Every little success I have in making and getting the children to eat healthy(ish) fast(ish) food made by moi.
  • The children I spend my day with?  The students?  They are an amazing, hilarious, interesting group of people.  I love them.
  • Seeing how responsible my Cakie is about doing his little kindergarten homework.

Here’s some of the not-exactly-opposite-of-happy:

  • My baby is two.  Full-on one-hundred percent two.  Melt-down city.
  • I don’t even have any kind of cushion of time for myself.  I have a sitter twice a week after school.  For one of the days I plan with the third grade.  For the other day I plan with my co-teacher.  Done.  Then I pick up Cakie.
  • If I stop home before I pick up the two-year-old, the five-year-old is really difficult to wrench back out of the house to fetch two-year-old.  I wish I could flash back to the seventies and just leave him there for the ten minutes it takes me to cross the street and fetch the melt-down king.  But I cannot.
  • I never get to cook.  Not for real.  My co-teacher was sick yesterday when we usually plan, so I got to make potato leek soup.  It was awesome.
  • My honey doesn’t get home until at least 7:30 most nights.  That just sucks.
  • What I really really want is to go out with some adults and drink some freaking alcohol.  But if I do, I’ll get horribly sick because of my stupid stomach/intestinal problems which have yet to be resolved.  Don’t I deserve some good motherf*cking white wine about now?  Don’t I?  Huh???
  • I have no time to putter in my classroom.  I miss puttering in my classroom.

I’m in limbo a bit.

That’s all I have to say right now.

Thanks for listening.

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Filed under nothing at all, Parenting the school boy, teaching, working motherhood

“Gifted”

I’m putting it in quotes.

That’s what I feel about it.  The way NYC does gifted, is that children are tested when they are 4 (!) and put into gifted classes where they stay until high school.  That is so dumb.  As though kids don’t change.

I don’t believe one can tell if a child is gifted until he or she is about eight years old.

All of this is to say that Cakie’s teacher pulled me aside to ask me why I didn’t put him in gifted.  Ummm.   Yeah.  Because I think it is silly?  I think it is a way to pull rich folk into to public schools.  Because I hate how the “gifted” fifth graders are so sick of each other they want to puke because they’ve been in the same class all the way through school.   Because I want my son to work hard, not just think he’s smart.  Because I want him to not feel like he has to be perfect at everything, or else he gives up.  (Ok, he’s already like that.  But no need to fan the fire.)  Because my school is full of gifted kids who are not in the gifted program.

But then…. there is one part of me that is curious as to how well he’d do on that test.  There is one part of me that would like to see him at the school run by my friend, that only has gifted classes in it, so it wouldn’t be that same isolation/ I’m-in-the-smart-kids’-class attitude.  There’s a part of me that wonders what it would be like if he went to the gifted school in Manhattan that goes all the way up to high school, so I wouldn’t have to stress out about getting him in to a good middle school or high school.

What’s your take on it?

 

PS I was both flattered and appalled by this little chat.  I’m hoping he isn’t acting up, or being snarky.

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Filed under Parenting the school boy, teaching

Half-Assed Housewife’s Handy Tip #3 — What to Feed the Children

Here’s my tip.  Are you ready?

When you can’t think of anything to cook for dinner for your kids besides fishsticks, ask a 24 year old.  Yes.  I know one of those.  My new co-teacher actually just turned 24.  So she’s pretty much 23.  Which means she still has braincells.  So when I worried out loud about being the only one in charge of dinners pretty-much now that my honey has her fancy happy job far far away (for which I am extremely grateful, because it saved her from an awful situation and it is actually fulfilling and important), and how I didn’t want to fall into the frozen food abyss, yet I don’t really have much time to cook for the poor dears, this young thing (bless her braincell-filled soul) rattled off about fifteen ideas.  Let me just clarify that I must be able to assemble these dinners very quickly, as my dear little Trucker is a bit of a clingon. As much as I like to hang out in the kitchen and cook, that is not much of an option when Mama isn’t home.  Was my dilemma something she had been thinking about at all at any moment in the previous year?  No.  Youngins are so neat.

Of course, I not being 23/24, don’t remember all 15 ideas.  But what I do remember, I will share with you:

  • Quesadillas!  Duh.  You can put some veggies in, too.
  • Grilled cheese, or — she claims she ate this when she lived in Tanzania — grilled PB&J.  That actually sounds delicious to me.
  • Pizza bagels.  I did try to make these once, and Cakie did not approve.  But I tried them this week and they were a hit.  A smash hit.  He asked for seconds, which is unheard of in these parts.
  • Tuna and celery.  Dip tuna into celery.  Fun for the whole family.
  • Dip night.  Get several dips like bean dip, hummus and guacamole.  Then offer veggies cut into dipping sticks and whole grain crackers.  Fun fun fun!
  • I actually had my own idea.  I know, right?  I bought a whole roasted chicken on Sunday, and used it for the protein in several of the dishes.  There was chicken on the pizza bagels and chicken in the quesadillas.  And of course, one night we had… chicken.
  • Quiche.  Yum.  With veggies.  And… chicken?
  • Uh.  I only remember 6 ideas?  Ugh.
  • I bought a tasty soba noodle prepared thingee at my food coop.  It worked as a side dish and a main dish — with chicken.
  • I also whipped out the old Ge0rge F0reman Grill that we bought at the Dollar General several years ago and has been living in the closet.  I’m thinking I might be able to either think of some kind of panini situation, or grill something (other than chicken) quickly.

All of these meals are to be supplemented with veggies on the side.  Cake eats them first.  Trucker ignores them like they’re pork.  But I keep trying.  I will allow myself one night of real pizza a week.  And one night of fish sticks.  But just one, ok?

That brings me to lunch.  Because now that Cakie is a big kindergarten boy, I need to pack him a real lunch.  Now I really ought to ask my co-teacher about this because I’m sure she’ll have at least fifteen ideas.  And I need to whip out a recording device when I ask her, so I can remember more than 6 of the things she says.  But here are my ideas:

  • I have made the run-of-the-mill sandwich for Cake several times in the week.  He likes the turkey salami from the food coop.  And he likes peanut butter.  Though I feel guilty packing the nuts, because I don’t want to harm any allergic kids.  On the other hand, my school is not nut-free.  The cafeteria actually makes PB&J for school lunches.  So… I just packed it.
  • One day I gave him hummus and crackers instead of a sandwich.
  • I’m thinking of making a (I hate the real thing) healthy version of Lunchables.  I’m going to cut up the cold cuts into cracker-sized bits.  Then I’m going to put in crackers.  Then I’m going to put in a stack of cheese the same size.  And I’m going to put them in little cupcake papers.  And I’ll put in something sweet (yogurt or dried fruit), too.  It may be a success.  Or it may fall apart all over the place and be a big mess by the time he opens it.
  • I’m going to make the same old sandwich and cut it into shapes, a la Kevin Henkes’ Lily.
  • I’m going to make the same old sandwich and roll it into spirals, then toothpick together.
  • I’ve thought of soup in a thermos, but he generally does not eat soup, so I’m not sure how it will go over.

Mostly, I’m happy that thus far, he has chosen my food over the cafeteria food.  I’m not sure that he knows that he has a choice.  But I’m going to run with this while I can.

So, do any of you have any brilliant lunch or extremely easy, but healthful, dinner ideas to share with my teeny-tiny readership?  Do tell.

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Filed under Half-Assed Housewife's Handy Tips, my second son, my son

I Still Exist, I Swear

So much has happened.

My big boy started kindergarten.

I’ve begun my year of team teaching.

I now do zee wacky Zumba.

My honey got a new fabulous job and doesn’t get home many nights until boys are in pajamas.

I’ve become an obsessed person about education reform and the fact that the current reform efforts are going to form education into a lump of playdough.

I’ve rediscovered that insomnia I got rid of when newborn Cakie introduced my body to the desire to sleep via the “you don’t miss your water till the well’s run dry” technique.

I assure you that someday soon, I’ll have the energy to blog about some of this stuff.

Oh, and Trucker is still deeply in love with trucks.

PS — When Bloglines goes away, what should I use?

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Married? I Know About Married.

My four-year-old knows everything, by the way.  If he asks you a question and you tell him the answer, it is usually followed up with a “I KNOW that, Mommy.”

Which is why it threw me off guard when he asked me one of those questions I had been dreading:

Mommy?  If you love Mama, why aren’t you married?

All of my possible responses came flooding into my head:

I would love to marry her, but I can’t? No.

Some people don’t think we should be allowed to do that? Uh-uh.

Why don’t you ask these schmucks? Nope.

I don’t know!  I don’t know!  It isn’t fair.  I hate the world.  [Kicks and beats floor with fists. Melts into a pile of clothing like the Wicked Witch of the West.] Not a great idea.

Oh, I plan to marry her just as soon as I can, sweet boy. That’s a possibility…

I didn’t have an answer for him.  It may have been the very first time he asked me a serious question and I did not have a good answer for him.

Then he looked at me with his big brown eyes and said, “Can I watch my icey penguin movie?”

Yes.  Yes, you can.

At least I had an answer for something.

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Filed under family, gay marriage, my son

Who’s The Boss?

On an entirely different note, I want to talk about education.

I’ve been teaching for ten years.  I’ve been teaching in an urban public school for ten years.  I’ve been whining lately about policy makers.  They seem to be so far removed from the reality of education.  The reality: the person (living, dedicated) sitting in a room full of children (real, not grown-up, also alive) teaching.  The unreality: kindergarteners taking standardized tests?  Students needing to improve every single time they take a test, or else they are failing and so is their school?

I’ve been saying that the people who make educational policy should be educators. I recognize the disparity there.  Educators are kind of busy educating.  But let’s say I actually put my money where my mouth is.  What if I wanted to work on educational policy issues?  Maybe I’d start by going back to graduate school.   Sounds good, right?  So I looked at a couple of doctoral programs.  Again, I’m not a rocket-scientest here, but the programs do not make sense.  To learn how to make policy for education, one does not, apparently, need to learn anything about children.  Hmmm.  Ok.  Wouldn’t it make sense, if one were going to spend millions of tax-dollars doling out standardized test money to George Bush’s test and textbook-selling cronies, that said person might be required to take, oh, I don’t know a CHILD DEVELOPMENT CLASS?  Then maybe they might know that kindergarten-aged children cannot necessarily hold a pencil correctly, let alone complete a standardized test?  They are far more concerned with which shoes their mom made them wear that morning, than a question on a paper?  The classes in these programs are all about educational policy, politics, and leadership.  But shouldn’t a leader know who they are leading?  Many of these people trying to “reform” education blame teachers.  Yet, they themselves have never stood in that room alone with twenty-two seven-year-olds.  One of whom always has to go to the bathroom. One of whom just got back from three months in Bangladesh and has forgotten English a bit.  One of whom smells a little funny.  One of whom is very excited about playing with bits of paper on the rug.  And one of whom always always has her hand up, but never quite has something to say that matches the topic at hand.  I believe that every one of those kids has the ability to meet high standards. But how those standards are being measured and how my performance may be measured does not make a lot of sense.

Here’s my modest proposal for Harvard, NYU, Columbia:

Just add this to your program.  Not unlike the swim test I had to take before graduating from Brandeis, because swimming is just something a well-educated person should know how to do.

Each doctoral candidate must substitute teach for one month in a public school.  They must have no outside support beyond what the school provides them.  Nobody at the school needs to know that they are anybody special.  Just a sub.

That is my idea for education reform.

I think if every person trying to fix education would just dip their toes in teaching, education reform would shift from blaming teachers to supporting them.  From testing children to nurturing them, you know, teaching them.

And why is research so disconnected from policy? There is so much research on the value of play, yet current policy causes schools to cut out recess periods for test prep, cut arts programs because there is not a test for them, and spend the bulk of kindergarten teaching reading and math, instead of letting the children have constructive play, which develops problem-solving skills, creativity, and social skills (which, by the way, is what kindergarten is supposed to be about.)

Oh dear, don’t get me started.

I guess one problem I’m having is figuring out how to go from what seems like a whiny teacher to somebody people might listen to.

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