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Category Archives: Friends

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.

 

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A New Year, A New Outlook

A New Year, A New Outlook

School has been in session for two weeks and my team, the students, and I are all trying to get in the swing of things. Routine takes time, and we’re trying to get it right. Overall, things are going well. I have a very chatty but overall good group of kids. It’s a big class (34 students in one and 33 in the other), but so far they’re manageable. I like my new partner, and working together is going well.

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Me by my tree, that changes with the seasons just like me.

I am really trying to keep in a good headspace this year. It’s so easy to get mired in the negative. Last year, I had a lot to mire myself in – including inconsistent leadership and kids that I was pretty sure were trying to get me to quit. Add to that  going back to teaching after 14 years off, seeing less of my kids, losing the daily support of my “mommy friends,” moving homes (and all the stress that goes with it)… it was a bit crazy, erratic, unstable, and sometimes I just felt ridiculously under pressure.

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This hammock saved my sanity on numerous occasions last year.

This year, I actually started out under a lot of stress. I was (am) taking online classes for a CLAD certification. At one point, I was taking three classes at once, while planning for the first week of school. It was very stressful, but thankfully I managed to eek out 2 A+s and am almost done with my 3rd class and so far so good. I’m still not getting enough sleep, and its something I’m working on.

What’s different about this year? Well, for one I’ve got one year under my belt. Instead of starting work 3 days after I got hired, I had a whole summer to think about things, and relax. I knew what I was teaching. I was somewhat familiar with my students and I knew who my partner was going to be, which is so helpful. I’ve also got a big support staff in my corner. Not only do I have two amazing aides in my classroom, but I’ve got my husband cheering me on, my girls telling me I’m doing a good job, my own parents supporting me, and my son who inspires me every day to be positive. He reminds me of the good things when I’m in a bad mood in the morning. The other day I was ready to snap and I was just getting in the car. He reminded me of a time a few weeks before when we ran into a friend who stopped her car when she saw us walking and literally told me that I inspire her. If that didn’t snap me out of my mood, I don’t know what would have! As my son got out of the car when I dropped him off at high school that day, I told him that HE inspires me.

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This kid… meditating at Vasquez Rocks.

I’ve found one last thing that makes me happy and helps me destress, which was completely unexpected. Last week, my husband brought home Coldplay tickets. He likes them and wanted to go. I admit, I was coming down with a cold and wasn’t sure I wanted to go, but I did. We hadn’t been on a date in ages, and we haven’t been to a concert (not at the Hollywood Bowl) in years. (Probably the Police reunion concert or Flight of the Concords) Anyway…

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I’m just going to say it. That concert made a fan out of me. I’ve been listening to their music every day for the last week and it just makes me… HAPPY. I want to dance (and do) and I have to say, Coldplay may just get me through the stress of being a student and teacher at the same time. I’ve also been watching interviews with Chris Martin (or rather of Chris Martin… sadly he’s not sitting here with me 😉 ) and he is just SO positive. I have to remind myself to be positive and grateful, and thanks to not just Mr. Martin but my son, my daughters, my husband, my parents, and my teammates at work, I think this year can be a great one.

 

facebook makes me sad

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Back when I first joined facebook and started connecting with all sorts of old friends – from high school friends to teacher friends to friends I worked with at Universal Studios… even former students of mine, I loved it.

I loved connecting with my cousins and seeing what was going on in the lives of my friends and family, near and far. It even helped me get to know local friends a little better.

But there has always been a part of facebook that has eaten away at me.

~When I see friends get together in groups and I’m not invited.

~When my kids’ friends’ parents post photos of birthday parties my children weren’t invited to.

~When my aunts, uncles, and cousins all “like” each other’s photos and posts but mine go literally unnoticed by 90% of them.

~When people get political.

The first three things have bothered me on and off for YEARS, but I have (mostly) made peace with it. I try not to let it shape my feelings about certain people or my own self-worth. It is hard sometimes when you feel like your life accomplishments or celebrations mean nothing to them, but you tell yourself stories to make you feel better. “Maybe your uncle accidentally unfollowed you. Maybe that’s why he like everyone else’s posts but never once has done so for yours.” “Maybe my friends think I’m busy on Fridays… maybe that’s why they don’t invite me.”

The other night I was at a gathering where I saw a friend I hadn’t seen in far too long. It was great catching up, but she said something that hit me rather hard. She said she was glad for facebook, because she could keep up with me, but let me know that she’s not “one of those crazy people who’s on facebook all the time” (like me). I know she didn’t mean it as a slight against me (or did she?), but clearly the reason she can keep up with me is she knows that when she signs into facebook after months, she can go to my page and see exactly what I’ve been up to.

{Maybe that’s part of my problem. I post TOO much. Who wants to keep up with that?}

The last thing, however, is what’s causing me stress at this moment. Whether it’s Gun Control, taking away women’s rights, calling our president a criminal, calling our presidential candidates ugly names, or calling certain groups of voters stupid (or worse), it’s all taking away the joy that comes from connecting with people I care about. It’s making me angry at people I like because they’re posting such negativity.

I’ve tried to keep away from posting anything too political. 8 and 4 years ago, I was VERY vocal about my support of President Obama. This time around, I have been silent. Mostly because I’m afraid to post my support of Hillary Clinton because I see SO MUCH HATE for her from people I call friends. And I want to keep that off my own page. So I seethe in silence and I like all my friends’ posts about their support of her – in a space I know is safe for me to do so. I don’t start arguments with gun enthusiasts, or Trump supporters because that will get me nothing but stress and strife. My husband would tell you it’s healthy to argue, but I don’t think anything good ever came of arguing on facebook.

I need to figure out a way to limit my time on this social media without isolating people I really want to connect with. I may need to take a little time out. I don’t want to make a big dramatic exit, but I do need to back away. I need to take care of myself and my family and get ready for the classes I’m taking that begin next week. I need to figure out how to balance things and not take things so personally. Hell, I suppose some people will read this and think I’m oversharing. Perhaps I am. Perhaps I’m a chronic over-sharer, and that is where the problem truly is.

I don’t know how to curb that part of me, but I suppose I can try. Is there a 12-step program for that?

~Genevieve

 

This Week in Pictures – 7/2/16

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It’s been a LONG time.

We visited a hardware store that carries some interesting “antiques”… like this commemorative plate.

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And this odd little chicken.IMG_6825

We were picking out knobs and pulls for the kitchen. It’s amazing how crazy some of the hardware gets.IMG_6827

We did not pick any of these.IMG_6828

That night, a friend and I saw a play at the local playhouse. We had pretty good seats. I have mixed feelings about the actual “play,” which seemed more like we were being read a woman’s actual diary on stage.IMG_6858

The kids have found the fun little “jail” in the staircase.IMG_6934

And my son finally emptied (most) of the boxes in his room, with TONS of help from my awesome parents.IMG_6947

We got a new bed.IMG_6969

The kids played Monopoly. They played the same game over a series of days.IMG_6970

Last night we watched the local fireworks from a friend’s front yard, catching up with people I adore that I haven’t seen in far too long.IMG_7004

This morning, my husband put up some art on the wall. IMG_7005

And finally… we got some random candy left on our doormat last night. So odd.IMG_7006

This weekend we’ll celebrate the 4th with family. Happy Independence Day, Americans. Let’s get our act together, shall we?

 

On Being Happier

I’m trying very hard to be happier. I have recently realized that I don’t always seem like a happy person. Anyone who drives with me on a regular basis can see that I’m usually very unhappy with most of the drivers on the road around me. I’m constantly asking drivers what their problem is, why are they in such a hurry (or why are they going so slow), or why they don’t seem to know where they’re going, and why they have to be in front of me when I’m in a hurry.

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I’ve been unhappy with my weight. Getting older, stress eating, having thyroid problems, and eating when I’m bored have left me weighing more than I want to. I won’t get into numbers, but I am at least two sizes bigger than what I’m comfortable with. All over the internet, I read that I need to love myself for what I am and who I am, no matter what size. I’m trying. Though it doesn’t mean I’m not going to keep exercising and do weight watchers, I will try to be more forgiving and gentle with myself as I would do with anyone else.

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I’ve gotten good at hiding behind my kids for photos.

 

I’m stressed in my job. Going back to work after so long has been very difficult. The field has changed tremendously since I’ve been gone. Also, being a working mom is difficult for me. I’m sure it’s difficult for most women, but it’s definitely difficult for me. It’s getting better, but it hasn’t been easy. I don’t want to let my students down and I don’t want to let my family down. And in feeling this way, I worry that I’m doing both.

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I have daily headaches. I get annoyed and frustrated because it’s the Christmas season and we aren’t sure when we’re moving, so we don’t know if and when and where to put up decorations and a tree. This feels bad to me to not have any signs of the holidays at our house, so I need to figure out what to do in order to help us ALL get into the spirit. Which reminds me that I have to start shopping, which has to be mostly online, which is daunting to me at this point.

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I find myself so agitated that I can feel myself tightening my forehead and my frown lines are getting deeper and deeper.

But this week, I’m not sure what happened, but something changed. Maybe it’s all the Ted talks I’ve been listening to. Maybe it’s because I don’t want to be the negative person that I think I might becoming. I wonder if the reason why I don’t have nearly as many friends as others have is because I’m not a happy enough person. Am I spreading gloom everywhere? Am I bad company to be around?

Whatever the reason, I’ve decided to be happier. I try to tell myself stories about people making terrible driving mistakes. Maybe they’re not paying attention because someone in their family is sick and they’re distracted. Maybe they’re stressed and overstretched. Maybe they’re not sleeping well. Maybe they’ve got more problems than I can imagine. I try to just smile at people, rather than look past them. When the checker at the grocery store returns my question of “How are you?” I will not tell her how I’m exhausted and whatever else is happening. I will smile and say “pretty good.” Maybe soon I’ll be able to say, “Great!”

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not UNhappy. I have more than I need. I am loved. I am healthy. I am living in a country that – while so many events are making me very sad and very angry and somewhat afraid – is free. I live in a community that pulls together and helps each other. I have friends. I have an amazing family.

This week, I’ve made a concerted effort to be happier, and so far, I am. I noticed this evening that my forehead is smooth, and my head hasn’t hurt as much as usual this weekend. (I did have headaches, just not as many, and I tried to take notice of the times I didn’t hurt.)

Of course, it’s easier to be happy when I’m on vacation and home with my family. I hope I can take this with me tomorrow as I drive to work and during the day when my students aren’t listening. I hope that I can just choose to be happier, and in doing so will truly be happier and perhaps even spread it around a little every day.

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~Genevieve

 

I Don’t Blame Disneyland for the Price Hike

I grew up in Orange County, just minutes away from The Happiest Place on Earth. I went back when there were E tickets.

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A Disneyland book of tickets

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E tickets always had the best rides.

Even though we lived close, we didn’t go all the time. We would make a BIG deal about going to Disneyland. We would pick our favorite rides that we HAD to go on. We ALWAYS started with Pirates of the Caribbean – not sure why. It was just a tradition that stuck. It always got us in the mood for more Disneyland!

And there were always things we’d do – like have a Frozen banana, go to the Tiki Room, eat lunch at the Tomorrowland Terrace, hit It’s a Small World… We’d stay all day and wear ourselves out and have the best time after getting the most of our day there. We’d sucked every last drop of fun we could out of the Happiest Place on Earth, and it would hold us over until our next visit a year or so later.

Disneyland could get crowded, but not insane. An hour wait was a unique experience rather than a common occurrence.

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6 years ago, when we celebrated my daughter’s birthday at the park.

These days, there are SO many people who have annual passes. I know my point of view won’t be very popular with a lot of my friends, but I sometimes think that the whole annual pass idea takes away some of the magic of Disneyland. When you can go after school any time you like, or you go for just an hour because your kid wants to go on one certain ride, or your kids come to expect it as a common occurrence, I think it’s too much. When as many people have annual passes are going to the park as are the people coming in from all over the world, that creates a problem. I can’t imagine traveling hundreds or thousands of miles to see Disneyland only to be thwarted by too-big crowds and hour-long lines at every ride. That’s not magical. It is no longer the happiest place on earth at that point.

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And I get it – I really do! Every time we DO go to Disneyland all I want is MORE Disneyland! We actually did buy annual passes one year, when the price of an annual pass was paid off by the second visit.

I just think there has to be some middle ground. Perhaps a pass when you could go on whatever day you wanted, but you were limited to 20 visits a year. (Good lord, 20 visits a year is an awful lot!) Maybe 12? Once a month? That still seems like a lot.

I’ve also worked at a theme park. I was working at Universal Studios the day we broke records. It was the year Jurassic Park, the Ride came out and everyone got a t-shirt commemorating the occasion. As someone who works at a theme park, I can tell you that while it’s nice the park is making money, the employee doesn’t get anything more except more work. More crowds. More inane questions and more cute kids. More nice visitors and more rude ones, too. More of everything. More attempting to rush as many people through an attraction as is possible. More trash. More people complaining about how long everything takes because it’s so crowded.

So, I know a LOT of people are upset with Disney right now. I am hearing a lot of threats and “maybe this is it for us” status updates.

Maybe we can all go back to going to the happiest place on earth once a year and truly making it our happiest day of the year. Or maybe Disneyland will have to revisit some of their policies. Whatever the case, I hope that Disneyland can remain such a wonderful place for old and young, and the crowds can perhaps thin out a bit, so that everyone entering those front gates will have a truly magical time.

Astrocamp – The Final Chapter?

Astrocamp – The Final Chapter?

Yesterday we got back from 3 days at Astrocamp with my youngest child. You may remember me writing about my first two trips with my older children HERE and HERE.

My daughter was so excited, she packed herself and woke up early the day we left.

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The buses are getting ready to leave as the parents look on.

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We had 131 kids, which necessitates 3 buses instead of 2.

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I snuck a pic of my girl just before they left.

This trip brought with it several firsts: first time for 3 buses, first time we went from Wed-Fri (instead of a weekend or Mon-Wed), and first time so early in the year to name a few. It was also the first time I was involved while working full-time, which was different. It was also my last time here as a parent. I’ve helped coordinate 3 trips for 3 kids as a parent at our school. This year is my last year as a parent here, as my youngest will be moving on to middle school next year. It’s hard to believe! I am trying to coordinate a trip for my own students later this year, but it will be a different experience as a teacher than as a parent.

As usual, Astrocamp was beautiful and inviting.

We always start by eating lunch in the beautiful meadow.

We always start by eating lunch in the beautiful meadow.

After lunch, it was time to move into the dorms and get our first informational meeting, where we meet our instructor and head out to our first class.

One of the things I’ve talked about in terms of camp is the zipline. My son didn’t do it, and regretted it. I redeemed myself last time, and my youngest couldn’t WAIT to try it. Sadly, it wasn’t operating this time.

The usual padding was missing from the poles at the end of the zipline. :(

The usual padding was missing from the poles at the end of the zipline. 😦

So, instead of zip lining, they gave us another activity to do…

You climb on the ladder, climb to the top, then jump off.

You climb on the ladder, climb to the top, then jump off.

I was feeling pretty awful (and scared), so I declined. I’m still not sure if it was the altitude or the stress of the week leading up to this, but I was feeling shaky and my head was killing me, so I took photos. My partner, however, did it and was awesome. All the girls did it, too. I was so proud of them!!

My partner

My partner, being awesome.

The classes this time were mostly the same as the last time we went…

Mars studies and rock climbing

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This time, I harnessed up and climbed a Mars rock wall (I didn’t last time).

Rocket Building (and launching)

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My girlie, building her rocket.

My favorite – Atmosphere & Gases. This time the chaperones got to have some fun, too!

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Lights & Lasers was a class I missed last time, so that was cool.IMG_5194 IMG_5198

The funnest part of that class was the noodle fight wearing upside-down glasses. My partner and I got to try and we laughed so hard – it was like therapy!

Finally, we did the Skycoaster again. Last time, I was far too chicken to try it. This time, I got harnessed just in case. I was still terrified, but I didn’t want to let the group (or myself) down. So the lowdown is this, for those of you who didn’t read about it last time.

First, you get up on a ladder and get hooked up to the line. Then you dangle.

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Then, the kids pull the rope to lift you as high as you want to go. Some people went all the way to the top.

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Then you pull the ripcord…IMG_9841

And fly.IMG_9881

I went last. I was terrified. I walked up the ladder, and as I was up on the ladder, I seriously considered saying, “No. Never mind. I’m outta here.” But I didn’t. (partly because I didn’t want the girls to think less of me and partly because I didn’t think I could, knowing that one of our teachers was right there, with my camera.

So I went up.

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I only went about 3 feet in the air. Which was what I was comfortable with. I kind of wish I went higher, but I’m still proud I didn’t get back off the ladder. If I ever get the chance to do it again, I will try for a few more feet. 🙂

I’m going to try to book a trip for my own 5th grade class this year, and maybe make it a tradition at our school. We’ll see how it goes. If this is the end for me, I’ve really enjoyed my 3 trips to camp. It’s been a lot of work coordinating, and sometimes hard and extremely tiring as a chaperone, but also so much fun and so rewarding.

3 trips

322 kids

36 chaperones

1 possible broken wrist

a little bit of puke

a few tears

but mostly lots of smiles.

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