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Sometimes, Life Gets a Little Busy…

  • Posted on April 1, 2013 at 5:36 pm

It’s been over a year since I posted anything.  I write whole blog posts in my head, but when I actually have the time to sit down and write, I end up doing other things.

Gracie is almost three years old now.  For 2013, I decided to take a picture of her every day.  I was planning on posting a monthly grouping of pictures here, but haven’t even gotten around to doing that.  But, I want to… and I will.  She went up to stay with grandma for almost a week, so I’ll have to cheat a little when it comes to her pictures, since I don’t think grandma and grandpa took any pictures of her each day.

I’ve had a lot of stress in my life, too.  I teach high school students and coach a swim team.  I love coaching my swim team, even if it is a lot of work, but lately, I’ve been finding myself wondering more and more if teaching is really what I should be doing with my life.  I’m stressed out more days than not and have no desire to really care as much as I used to.  I can’t be an effective teacher to my students if the district thinks it’s OK to shove 44 students into one room.  How am I to be effective to them when there are that many students?  Not only that, but the pressure from the district to hold teachers accountable for student achievement on tests is frightening.  I have several students who are failing all their classes and have been for years.   Their failure will now be a part of my evaluation.  Not only that, but state testing has become the norm and all we do is teach students to take a test.  Forget reading literature, learning how to write research papers, or how to analyze poetry.  It’s all drill and kill now… teach to a test.  What kind of education is that?  And, the icing on the cake, so to speak, is that most students aren’t ready for college-level writing when they get there.  Why?  I don’t have the time to teach them writing like I used to.  Why?  Because the district has been chomping at the bit to reconstitute our school and to keep them at bay, we wrote up a plan to show them we were trying to fix what was wrong.  In the plan, we’re expected to teach an extra class with the same amount of pay, with a ridiculously wacky schedule.  Every day, I have to mentally prepare for an hour-long class in the morning, and then after an eight minute passing period, I have a block-scheduled class come in.  I do that four times a week.  It’s insane.  It makes my head  hurt just thinking about it.  I am constantly running out of time with the curriculum I used to teach.

Maybe I should just stick to posting pictures of my daughter.  She’s cuter, anyway.  😉

2013-03-30 15.04.40

I don’t know of anyone who even reads this blog anymore, so if I start writing about my dad, I hope people don’t mind.  I need to get things off my chest about him, too.  If anything, I wish my dad wasn’t such a manipulative, narcissistic, and “it’s all about me” kind of person.  He has missed the last two years of my daughter’s young life because of his behavior.  It just saddens me.  I feel like an orphan a lot of the time.

Gotta go pick up the munchkin.

<3

 

 

Blog Challenge: Day 10

  • Posted on October 10, 2011 at 12:12 pm

If you have Rainbows or older children, do they know and remember your angel(s)?

Gracie is older by a minute.  But, she’s still too young to understand who Benjamin is and why he’s not with us.  We don’t have any other children.  Gracie and Benjamin were our first and we had hoped, the only two we would have.  It’s been a huge struggle for us to even have a family, so we’re incredibly thankful that we were even given the opportunity/chance to have them.  If it wasn’t for modern medicine and technology, I wouldn’t have ever been able to have a child.

Blog Challenge: Day 9

  • Posted on October 9, 2011 at 12:06 pm

If you have other children, how has your loss affected them?  If you don’t other children how has your loss affected your relationship with your partner?

It’s really too soon to know exactly how Gracie feels about the loss of her brother, though I often wonder if she can sense his absence on some subconscious level.  After all, she spent almost seven months sharing a space with him.  I know she’ll want to know who he is.  One of the main reasons we had him laid to rest in Westminster is so that we all would have a place to go to visit him.  I wanted Gracie to be able to give him a flower if she so chose and for her to have a physical place to visit.  Benjamin’s a part of our lives, even though he’s gone.  She’ll always be a twin, even though her twin brother isn’t with her physically.

Blog Challenge: Day 8

  • Posted on October 8, 2011 at 11:32 am

Do you feel you have more good days than bad ones?

Eh.  It depends, but I’ve found that in this past year since Benjamin’s passing, I am more sad.  It’s not that I have more bad days than good days – they’re all about the same, but I just have a constant sadness that follows me around.  It’s become a part of me, something that I’ll never be able to get rid of.  I suppose it’s better to say that I have my moments within those good days, bad days, so-so days that makes my heart hurt.

Blog Challenge: Day 6

  • Posted on October 6, 2011 at 12:01 pm

How do you answer the question of how many children you have?

Usually, I say I had twins, but one of them passed away.  I am a mother of twins, and will always be a mother of twins, and my daughter will always be a twin.

I know it makes some people uncomfortable, talking about a baby who passed away, but I feel it’s necessary that people know.  If I don’t say anything, then Benjamin never really existed.  And, he did.  I felt him move in my stomach and I was able to hear his little heart beating for three weeks, while I was in the hospital.  I feel the least I can do to honor him is to say that he did exist, even if only for a little while.

Blog Challenge: Day 5

  • Posted on October 5, 2011 at 11:28 am

Do you ever get subtle reminders of your angel?  If so, what are they?

Benjamin’s marker has a hummingbird on it because we felt that a hummingbird would best represent him.  Something so small that works so hard to survive… it just seemed fitting for him.  I see hummingbirds all the time and every time I see one, I think of him.  But, even when I don’t see a hummingbird, I think of him.

I also have a necklace I wear with the twins’ names on it.  It’s a sterling silver hand-poured circle, with their names on one side and on the back, the words, “our beloved son” with the date of their birth.  On the same chain, next to the circle, I have a crescent moon charm with Benjamin’s name stamped on it.  I wear this necklace every day and rarely take it off.  Gracie loves to hold it in her hand and wave it around, and because of this, I’ve had to replace the jump ring the original pendant was hanging from.  That’s OK.  It’ll be hers one day, anyway.

Blog Challenge: Day 4

  • Posted on October 4, 2011 at 9:10 am

Through your grief process what has kept you going?

Oh my… my husband and my daughter, most definitely.

My art, too.

One day, I was looking through my teacher things and came across a poem.  My students were reading “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck and I was looking for supplemental materials to tie in to the story.  I had stashed a poem by Emily Dickinson away in a folder and pulled it out to read it.

“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul
and sings the tune–without the words
and never stops at all.”
~Emily Dickinson

I couldn’t get that part of the poem out of my brain.  It stuck there, swirling around when I got up in the morning and when I went to bed at night.  I suddenly, finally, had an urge to create something.  My first idea was to take the poem and make pendants out of it to give to other women at the hospital who had lost their babies.  Then, it morphed into memory boxes, the poem handwritten around the bottom of the box.  These I also donated to the hospital.

Then, I started making beaded bookmarks, which then morphed into lanyards when a nurse at the support group I attend suggested I make lanyards out of the beaded strands I had.

I have found my creative streak again and it makes me happy to create things in honor of my son.  I miss him every day but being able to create something in his honor helps me feel closer to him.

Warm Up #8:

· Think of horror stories that you have read or seen at the movies. Which did you find the most terrifying? What was so scary about them? Why do you think people enjoy horror tales?

Blog Challenge: Day 3

  • Posted on October 3, 2011 at 9:13 pm

Through your grief process who has been your “rock”?

I’d have to say that my rock would have to be my husband, Michael.  I know that going through something like this would be extremely difficult to do alone.  It’s already difficult, even when we’re able to support each other.  He’s always been there for me to lean on and I appreciate that in him.  Even when something little makes me feel sad, he’s there to support and comfort me.

Gracie is also my little rock.  I’m incredibly grateful for being her mama and she has steadied me in a way I didn’t think possible.  In this storm of a life we live, there she sits, with a smile on her face and a twinkle in her eye.

Today is my birthday.  I would rather have stayed at home with Michael and Gracie, but I went to work.  It was nice to come home and see my little family waiting for me.

Pregnancy & Infancy Loss Awareness Month

  • Posted on September 30, 2011 at 12:54 pm

I got this blog challenge from my friend Cassie, in honor of Pregnancy & Infancy Loss Awareness Month. Please feel free to join me.

Day 1: Who are you? Share as little or as much about you in general.
Day 2: Tell us about your child(ren). As much or as little as you like. Names, birthdays, stats.
Day 3: Through your grief process who has been your “rock”
Day 4: Through your grief process what has kept you going?
Day 5: Do you ever get subtle reminds of your angel(s)? If so what what are they? *Winks*
Day 6: How do you answer the question of how many children you have?
Day 7: Do you do something to honor your angel(s)? If so what?
Day 8: Do you feel you have more good days than bad ones?
Day 9: If you have other children how has your loss affected them? If you don’t other children how has your loss affected your relationship with your partner?
Day 10: If you have Rainbows or older children do they know and remember your angel(s)?
Day 11: It is said that Father’s and Mother’s grieve differently. Do you feel this is true with your angel’s father?
Day 12: How has the rest of your family dealt with your loss?
Day 13: Does anyone else besides your speak your child’s name?
Day 14: What have you done to preserve your child’s memories or make new memories of your angel.
Day 15: Today is Pregnancy and Infancy Loss Awareness Day. What are you doing today?
Day 16: Do you take time for yourself?
Day 17: Do you feel your child is watching over you?
Day 18: Have you found something that puts you at peace?
Day 19: What is your happiest memory of your child(ren)?
Day 20: If you have anger…..What are you most angry about?
Day 21: Is there something about your child(ren) that brings a smile to your face?
Day 22: Do you have a song or songs that make you think of your child(ren)
Day 23: Besides changing the outcome, what is one thing you would have done differently?
Day 24: On Birthday’s, Diagnosis Day’s, Anniversaries of Passing. Do you prepare for them?
Day 25: On Birthday’s, Diagnosis Day’s, Anniversaries of Passing. How do you handle them?
Day 26: On a scale of 1 to 10 rate your day today and why?
Day 27: Share a picture.
Day 28: Have you ever corrected or wish you corrected someone about your loss?
Day 29: What are your beliefs as far as where you think your child(ren) is/are. Will you see each other again?
Day 30: How are your preparing for the end of the year? (ie: Holiday’s and starting a new year)
Day 31: Do you feel like 31 days has helped you open up more about your child(ren) and your grief?

This challenge does not need to be completed each day in October. Do a day as your feel comfortable. Thank you for joining me.

Sometimes, I feel I need to find a new profession.

  • Posted on September 27, 2011 at 3:30 pm

I’m a teacher in my eleventh year of teaching.  For the past six years, I’ve taught at an inner-city school, filled with a wonderful mix of students.  I love where I teach and I love what I do.

What I don’t love is my district.  It is the most corrupt, morally reprehensible district I have ever had the misfortune of working for.  In the past four years, I’ve been displaced three times and RIF’d once (layoff notice).  For those few who read my blog and might not be familiar with the term displacement, it means the school no longer has a position open for me and I’m forced to go to another school.  This happened to me at the end of the school year in 2009 (after being at the school for three years), the end of the school year in 2011, and now, five weeks after school has started.  I have packed up and unpacked my room more times than I should ever have to.

I’ve entertained the thought of leaving teaching again.  I left teaching back in 2002, tired of the politics and since I didn’t have my credential, I figured I’d find a job in the “Real World.”  After being away from teaching for awhile, though, I realized how much I missed working with young people, teaching literature that I loved, and helping students become better writers, readers, and thinkers.  So, I buckled down and finished my credential and started teaching again.

Now, eight years later, I’m beginning to wonder if I should consider something else.  I’m lucky to at least have a job that pays our bills, supports our daughter, and I have medical insurance that not only paid for my stay in the hospital, but my daughter’s nine week stay in the NICU and other hospital visits since.  Yes, I’m lucky in the sense that I have a job.  But, I cannot help but feel beaten down and chipped away.  I am constantly bombarded with the idea that as a teacher, I’m the one responsible for my students’ poor test scores.  I’m the one whose fault it is that my students aren’t succeeding.  On one hand, my district is constantly reminding me that we MUST have 100% graduation rate and we MUST raise test scores.  Yet, on the other hand, my district is constantly using teachers like me as a pawn in the games they play.  How on earth are we to help our students succeed if they’re instead being shuffled around like a bunch of cattle?  How on earth is forcing teachers to teach HUGE classes (45-50 students in a class) doing the students any favors?  When I first started at my school, my largest class had 34 students, and my smallest had 21.  Now, it’s rare if my classes dip below 40.  We’re told we must have 42.5 students in each class.  This year, the district has determined we should have extremely large class sizes in the fall so that by spring, when attendance is always lower, our classes will balance out.  How is this rational?  How is having a class of 50 students in the fall so that we’ll have 42 students in the spring, rational thinking?

I’m tired.  My brain hurts.  My stuff is in boxes while I wait for word on whether or not I’ll be going.  I haven’t said anything to my students yet.  I don’t want to because I’m more upset about how they’re being treated than I’m being treated.  What does that say about the state education is in now?  That these students are constantly being shuffled around from place to place, from teacher to teacher, because the district doesn’t give a shit?

***UPDATE***

I received word.  My job is safe, at least for this school year.  I’m angry at exactly how it happened, though, but I really can’t go into the details behind it all.  Who knows what will happen again in the spring?  I miss the years when I just put things away in my cabinets, locked them up, papered over my bulletin boards, and had a nice relaxing summer.  That hasn’t happened to me since 2008.