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Another School Year Over

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Another School Year Over

This past year brought a lot of events in our family. There were changes for some of us, challenges for some of us, and growth for all of us. Now that there are 3 of us who attend (well, okay, one of us teaches, but you get it) school daily, we measure things in years of 10 months at a time. Summer somehow seems like an entirely different entity.

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The 4 of us on our first day – August 2016

I came back to 5th grade this year. I got a new partner, and a new principal. We went on several field trips this year – more than last year.

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Soaking up local culture and Art

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Re-enacting the American Revolution at Riley’s Farm

This year had its challenges for me, but being in the classroom for the second year, teaching (mostly) the same content was much easier than last year. I had a much clearer picture and understanding of my expectations.

We raised money for another 3-day field trip to the Pali Institute this time. It was a great experience!

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Checking out wildlife in the pond at Pali

My son, the 16-year-old, was finally able to get his Comedy Troupe started. It was a struggle sometimes, and it took a LOT of strength for me to stay out and let him find his own wings and his own voice, but he did. He managed the team and ran the practices and at the end of the year was able to perform to a full house!

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the teams warming up before the show

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My son, with his winning “Karate Kid” move

He also managed to get himself into the “Top 10 of 2019” at his school, something he aimed for last year but JUST missed.

Our youngest daughter started middle school this year. Thought it seems like *just yesterday* that she started pre-school, now she is ready to take on 7th grade. She had a year of adjustments, but rose to the challenges that faced her. Last year, she was very involved in things like Math Field Day and her dance elective. This year, as she was adjusting to middle school, she decided to scale things back. Next year she’s hoping to be part of the performing arts elective. She did, however, attend all the dances.

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The youngest (right) ready for Mardi Gras

Our middle child had a full, busy year. She performed several times with her performing arts elective, and was in the Spring Musical. She also trained to be a Junior Docent for a historical building in town.  She auditioned for a new Arts high school and was accepted! And finally, she graduated 8th grade and is moving on to high school in the Fall.

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Heading into the audition

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My girl and I on her promotion day.

 

While I am glad to be back in the classroom, the worst part is that I don’t get to volunteer in the kids’ classrooms or go on field trips like I used to. (Though, admittedly, now that they’re older there are less opportunities to do this.) Luckily I was able to take a few personal days and chaperone the 8th grade field trip to Catalina. I did it for my son, and now my daughter. (Hopefully in 2 years I’ll get to go with my youngest.

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My daughter, ready to try snorkeling at Catalina

Somewhere in there, we also managed to go on a trip during Spring Break. (Now that one child will be on a different schedule next year, this may be our last Spring vacation in awhile…)

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Salt Creek in Death Valley

Next year will bring even more changes for us. Not only is my daughter starting high school in another district, I’m changing schools (and grades! I’m going from 5th to 1st grade). We’re back to having 3 kids at 3 schools for a few years. Luckily my husband’s schedule is flexible enough that we can tag-team with all the kids!

For now, we’re on Summer vacation. We began our summer by saying good-bye to my Granny. She was a fabulous, loving woman with a great laugh. She is missed.

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Granny and I, 2 years ago

Two kids are taking summer school classes, both Mom AND Dad are taking classes this summer, and everyone will be busy. In there somewhere, we’ll be headed on a trip, and attend Comic-Con. I worry this summer will go by in the blink of an eye, but we will make the very most of it.

Happy Summer, everyone!!

~Genevieve

A Tale of Two Theme Parks

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Here in Southern California, we’re lucky to have a few theme parks to visit. If you love speedy roller coasters that get the adrenaline pumping, you can go to Six Flags Magic Mountain. (There are lots of kid-friendly rides there, too.)

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Picture from sixflags.com Batman ride. (side note: everyone’s wearing Chucks)

Then there’s Knott’s Berry Farm, which also has a lot of thrill rides, along with an Old West area, a Snoopy kids’ area, and a water park.

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This kind of ride scares the daylight out of me!

There’s Sea World down in San Diego, and Legoland in Carlsbad. The two parks I’m going to talk about today are Universal Studios Hollywood and Disneyland.

Disneyland is probably my favorite of all-time. I don’t know what it is, but it reminds me of my childhood, and makes me happy. We recently took a trip there on a day when we thought it wouldn’t be too crowded…

It took forEVER to just get into the parking structure. We got there at Opening, and I honestly think they just weren’t quite ready.

 

So many people at the gates.

Something you do not see everyday… cast members just hanging out on the ride.

Ready to take a trip through the jungle on a cruise

Waiting for “Small World”

Our artist, looking into an animator’s studio

The kids like this ride a lot better than the grown-ups

The ride that gives all kids a driver’s license – Autopia

 

Girls with Walt and Mickey

Obligatory Mickey picture with bonus climbing kid in background

 

Hanging out at the Cantina from Star Wars

There’s so much to do at Disneyland & California Adventure. It’s hard to get it all done in just one day. However, we managed to fit in 21 activities. On a good day, where there’s a smaller crowd, we’ve done probably 25. (maybe a few more) Let’s just say that for a day that was pretty crowded, we managed to squeeze a LOT into the day.

Now, once upon a time we did have annual passes to the Magic Kingdom, but living in the L.A. area, we don’t make it down to the O.C. as much as we’d like (and now that the AP is so much more expensive, we don’t make it down there enough to make it worth it). However, a theme park closer to us has much cheaper Annual Passes, so we got them for Universal Studios Hollywood.

A long time ago in a galaxy far away, I worked at Universal. First, as someone in the merch department, and then as a Studio Guide.

“Hello, my name is Genevieve and Ill be your Studio Guide today!”

After spending 5 days a week there for 3 summers and then working there full-time for a year in the VIP office, I stayed away for quite awhile. We took the kids when my son turned 10, but stayed away until they brought something magical – and one of our favorite series – to the park.

mmmmm… Butterbeer

We’d been to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Florida, and couldn’t wait to go to our local version.

Going down the Starway brings back a LOT of memories!

Transformers the Ride is in the very location I used to work…

I used to work at Backdraft and Cinemagic right in the same spot.

 

There are Minions now, and Simpsons, and Transformers.

There’s a mummy, and Walking Dead, and dinosaurs. All of them are fun or exciting rides, but I still have a soft spot in my heart for the Studio Backlot Tour. Even though it’s changed quite a bit – with it’s headset microphones and video screens and Jimmy Fallon – there’s still something special about going on a tram ride through real sets used in real movies and a few unexpected surprises along the ride.

After trying several times to connect, we finally got ahold of my old friend Paul and rode his tram!!

Those who knew me in my guide days know that this is my favorite part of the tour. 😉

Universal Studios doesn’t have as many rides and attractions as Disneyland – this is true. However, it does have a lot you can do in a visit. We’ve been there a handful of times since February and we’re not bored yet. One of the best new additions to the experience?

VooDoo Doughnuts!

Believe me when I tell you that they’re amazing, and worth waiting in line for.

Obligatory photo with the marquee

Overall, both are great, though different, theme parks. Both have their pluses and minuses. If you have the time, money, and patience, I say try going to both. Especially if you are an out-of-towner visiting Southern California for the first time!

Genetics Can Be Cruel

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When I was a teenager, I had acne. Not just one or two little zits. I mean, I had acne.

I took antibiotics. I used several different types of topical creams. I used light therapy in my doctor’s office (which, by the way, smells weird). I took birth control pills, which caused me to gain 10 pounds. I took Accutane.

I hated looking in the mirror. I felt ugly. My face hurt. I just wanted to be normal.

I still have oily skin. I still take various and sundry medications/creams to try to get it under control. I don’t know if I’ll ever feel 100% beautiful and “normal.” And now, I’ve passed it on to my kids.

Two of my three kids have acne. My son’s is the worst. It’s red and angry. The problem is that he also has inherited my husband’s sensitive skin, so finding something that works on his skin without causing other irritation is proving difficult.

I took both kids to the dermatologist a few days ago. He prescribed a cream for both of them to use in the morning. My son used his and his worst spots looked SO MUCH BETTER. The problem is that EVERYWHERE the medicine touched is now bright red.

If it’s not one thing it’s another. At least if he were a girl he could wear makeup without thinking twice about it. Being a boy, that’s not really an option these days. Not yet, at least.

I hope that his skin calms down. He’s such a wonderful, bright, fun, beautiful kid, it kills me that he might be thinking that he’s “less than” because of his skin, as I have done most of my life.

Genetics can be really cruel.

The Uncertainty of Life

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

                                       Courage to change the things I can,

                                      And wisdom to know the difference.

My husband often tells me that worrying about things I have no control of isn’t going to help anything. He may have a point, but honestly? That’s precisely why I’m worried… because I HAVE NO CONTROL!!

Life is uncertain right now. I know I’m not the only one for whom it’s uncertain, but it’s no fun, and it’s weighing over me no matter how much I’m not “supposed” to worry about it.

We have a new administration that seems unpredictable. We have a new Education Secretary that has me really worried for the future of public education. People I love are dealing with medical issues that worry me. And last, but not least, I have no idea where I’ll be working next year.

What can I do about any of these things?

Well, for the first, I can join friends and family in activism. I can be more informed on issues and contact my representatives.

For the second thing? I can do my best at my job and fight back against crazy changes that might be coming up the pike. Those are things that might help me feel INVOLVED, although when push comes to shove, I just don’t know how much we can do.

For the third? Pray, I suppose. I don’t know that there’s much else I can do in that department.

And lastly? I honestly have no idea. Get my name “out there”? Cross my fingers that I land somewhere? I’ve been told that we currently have 10 teachers at my school, but we will only have room for 8 next year, unless our enrollment drastically changes. I find out my fate – at least whether or not I’ll get laid off or transferred – by March 15th. Supposedly. It seems an awfully long ways away from here.

Re-reading these things makes me feel a bit petty. I have a roof over my head. My children, husband, and I are healthy. We are well-fed. We are doing well. So many more things could be worrying us, that it makes my worries seem small. But still, they are my worries, and no matter what, it’s how I’m wired.

I think I need to take up Yoga.

 

The Worry Gene?

Last evening, my husband, three kids, and I went to see the new Star Wars movie – “Rogue One – A Star Wars Story.” It was good. It was exciting. It was entertaining. And yet, while I was sitting in the crowded theater, I couldn’t help but think about the newest member of our family…

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Kanga, the betta fish

You may go ahead and laugh.

Yesterday, my youngest brought home her new fish. We’ve never had a pet, and never had a betta before, so we weren’t sure what to expect. I will say that I assumed it would be a breeze to take care of a fish. (I mean, how hard can it be?)

My daughter first got her tank about a week ago from her two best friends (it was a Christmas gift). She set it all up herself, including conditioning the water. All we needed was the fish. We acclimated him to the water and let him go. Within the first hour he’d somehow got himself into the water filter. With a little assistance from me, she freed him and fixed it so he (hopefully) wouldn’t be able to do it again. Then we went to the movie and I worried about that little fish throughout the movie.

When we got home and fed him, he still seemed a little… lethargic? 3 hours later, when I went to bed, damned if I didn’t check in on that fish before going to sleep.

I have always been somewhat of a worrier. I assume that I get it from my mother, who worries about a lot of things – mostly my brothers, my children, and me. It seems to have manifested itself more strongly when I had children. I worry about them even when deep down I know they can handle whatever it is I’m worrying about. Still, it’s unavoidable.

First day of school? I worry. Will they make friends? Know how to find the bathroom? Will they get lost? At a birthday party – will they get along with all the kids? Say thank you? Wander off? (this last one actually happened, and not with a 6-year-old, but with a 14-year-old who didn’t want to play tackle football, so he walked around, meeting people. 3 phone calls to me later and we were able to talk him back into finding his party.)

I worry about far too many things; not just my kids. My husband when he flies. My parents and their health. Our political climate. Our future president. My family members. My students. My own health and future and ability to teach. Money. Traffic. Did I leave the lights on? And now fish.

Do you worry? Is there some sort of worry gene that is handed down from generation to generation? Is it a female thing? Is it a mom thing? Is it universal?

I’d love to get some insight, and to know that I’m not alone in my worries.

~Genevieve

A Night Off

Sometimes you just need a night off.

I had my first formal observation yesterday.

How’d it go? Well, two of my students got into a fight in the middle of class, I had to leave my group to redirect another group, and the plans I was going to do got thrown out the window and I ended up improvising. I’m dreading my review.

Today, our 5th graders took a field trip to the Griffith Observatory.

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It is a great program they have for 5th graders. We got to see a fun scientist make a “comet,” got to see the planetarium show, explore the planets, and more. It was a great experience, but it was also stressful.

Our bus was supposed to leave as close to 8 as possible, as we had to be there by 9. We got on the bus at 8:10. One of my aides ran up to the playground to find one of our students. She brought him back and he didn’t want to go, so she took him back to the office, and the nurse requested to see one of the girls, as it was “urgent.” So, my aide brought him back, brought the girl to the nurse, and then brought her back to the bus. We pulled out at 8:20.

We pulled in at 9:02. Whew! Except that we were stuck behind all the buses unloading, so we didn’t get into the building until almost 9:15, and were late to the show.

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After the comet show (which was HILARIOUS), we headed to the planetarium, where I was scolded by the tour guide for having students who weren’t as quiet as the smaller schools across the aisle. During the entire program in the planetarium, I paced back and forth, making sure that everyone was in their seats and listening. When I let a few girls use the restroom at 11 (3 hours after they last used the bathroom), I was scolded by a woman who worked there that I should have let them use the restroom AFTER their program. (I understand her frustration, but frankly, she didn’t tell us there’d be “free time” later, and I wasn’t going to make them hold it for another hour.

As we walked up the staircase to look out at binoculars and see the view, one of the docents said, “Wouldn’t you rather be here than at school?” One of my students complained that he’d rather be home.

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We got back, we had lunch and finished out our day.

My head was killing me.

I picked up my son, went home, and collapsed on the couch, lying down and hoping my headache went away.

I took some ibuprofin and picked up some yarn and needles and “Once Upon A Knit” and cast on to knit for the first time in a year.

I watched the Goldbergs with my kids and husband. I watched “This is Us” and cried. And I’m headed to bed in a few minutes.

I didn’t do any schoolwork. I didn’t do any grading, or organizing, or ANYTHING.

I had ice cream.

My head is finally feeling better, and I’m going to bed.

I didn’t do ANY schoolwork and am 100% Totally okay this. Sometimes you need a night off.

Tomorrow’s a new day.

~Genevieve

The Evolution of Weight Watchers Points

The first time I joined Weight Watchers was after my daughter was born in 2003. I write a little about my times at WW HERE.

Recently, we moved homes, and I’ve been slowly working my way through boxes and bags of stuff. Yesterday I cam across this little gem.

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Just for kicks, I decided to compare a few items to see how different the points values would be between this sliding scale and the calculator on the Weight Watchers Site. (This slider is dated 9/04 on the back.)

My breakfast today was Multigrain Cheerios.

By the slider, it was 2 points. The milk was 1 point. The fruit was 0.

By today’s Weight Watchers calculator, the cereal was 4 points. The milk was 2. The fruit was 0.

So, my meal was 3 points by 2004’s scale and 6 points by 2016’s scale. That’s twice as many points!!

I started to get a little down and lament the fact that all the points are higher now, until I did some more research. Right now, I get 30 points per day (plus any I can earn during exercise or “extra points” given during the week). Then, I dug deeper. I seem to remember not having that many points available. I’m pretty sure 22 points is what I had (plus exercise and “weekly points”) back then.

I’m inclined to believe that the current Smartpoints program is more comprehensive. It takes into account calories, fiber, fat, carbs, protein and sugar. The old program was calories, fiber, and fat only.

The one thing you need in ANY weight loss program is accountability. Lately, I’ve had zero. Between eating my feelings about work and the election and Halloween candy and birthday cake for me and for my daughter, I’ve been pretty lazy. And I’ve gained FIVE pounds in a month. Five. It may not sound like much, but when it makes all your pants feel too tight, then it’s more than enough.

And of course, two days before Thanksgiving isn’t the BEST time to try to eat better. However, it’s better than never starting.

So here I go. Again. Wish me luck.