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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…


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Can Politics Ruin Friendships, Part Two

Four years ago, I wrote this piece about politics and friendships. Reading it now seems almost quaint and nostalgic compared to what’s going on in our country. Who knew that four short years later our country would be completely divided.

I didn’t.

Perhaps that was my folly. Perhaps that was many people’s folly. Perhaps we were too optimistic about our futures and who would try to lead our country. Perhaps I didn’t realize how bad it would get and that I would feel silenced and rejected from so many on facebook. Who knew I would find solace in “secret” groups and find myself depressed after reading facebook (and don’t get me started on twitter… I doubt I’ll ever go there again).

What I’ve learned in the last year is that there is a bigger divide in this country than I thought. I was as shocked as the people in the SNL sketch about our President Elect. I live in a very diverse area. I guess I live in a little bubble. I don’t spend a lot of time in places that are not as diverse and as liberal as where I am now. I knew there was still racism, but I guess I didn’t think there’d be enough tolerance of it to elect someone who has behaved as such.

So, now what? Have I unfriended anyone?


But I no longer find facebook to be a happy place, where I share lots of things with family and friends. I find myself almost depressed there anymore. When people who are on my friends list don’t comment on positive things I post, like photos of my kids on their birthdays or for their accomplishments, or events going on in my life, but decided to make themselves heard when I or my friends or family members say something they don’t like, it’s not a place I want to spend much time. And they post that I need to stop being spoiled and childish. As if my candidate not winning is what’s eating at me.


My candidate didn’t win in 2000 or 2004. I was disappointed, but it wasn’t the same. People I knew and loved weren’t afraid of losing freedoms, rights, insurance, or homes. Though the guy who won those two elections wasn’t a great president, in my opinion, he didn’t have me worried for an imminent Hunger Games scenario. As little as I liked that other guy, I didn’t think he was nearly as dangerous as this new guy.

The people that voted for DJT tell me they don’t condone his actions, but they just voted for a person who said they could shoot someone in the middle of the street and not lose any voters. They tell me they don’t agree with the things he does, yet they voted for a man who brags about assaulting women. They tell me it’s about jobs or some such thing, and yet they just voted for someone who just hired a white supremacist to his “team.” This doesn’t even feel like America anymore.

So, does politics ruin friendships? Maybe not. But when what’s at stake is MORE than politics and you realize that the way you and others view the world and what’s important is so glaringly different, perhaps its time to reevaluate how you want to interact with those people.

I’m hearing about how spouses are mistreating each other because they voted differently. I’ve heard stories about people being disowned by their parents and family members for voting differently. I’ve seen a lot of name-calling and arguments. I’ve seen a lot of ugliness online, and stories of people who have witnessed the same in person. This is more than politics. This is ideologies. This is deep-rooted beliefs. This is a fundamental difference in how we see the kind of person that should be a leader.

And if you came here to tell me to stop whining, or that HRC was worse, I just can’t accept that as truth. Perhaps we’ll never know what kind of leader she’d be, but we do know that she was the better example during the campaign. She didn’t brag about picking on people. She didn’t mock the disabled. She didn’t tell the world that she could shoot someone in broad daylight and not lose voters.

All we can do now is hope for the best. All we can do now is try to find a way to peacefully co-exist without calling each other names. All we can do now is hope that our new leader is a good one who will act for the good of ALL people in our great country and not just the ones he deems worthy.




Feeling Silenced

I am a talker. I like to share my feelings – good, bad, mad, ecstatic, excited, worried, indifferent. I also feel deeply. I come home from teaching feeling exhausted from feeling all day. I cry perhaps easier than most people. Or at least, more than some people.

There’s a moment in the first Harry Potter book when (spoiler alert) Neville Longbottom gets some House Points for standing up for what he thinks is right) and I break every time I read it. Every. Time.

So, when I watched the election results this past Tuesday after celebrating the 11th birthday of my amazing daughter, I was shocked. I cried as I went to bed, mourning for the freedoms some people would perhaps be losing soon. I cried knowing my students would be upset and worried the next day. I cried knowing that half of our country voted for someone  who said he could shoot someone in the middle of 5th avenue and not lose voters. Someone who admits to treating women poorly and wanting to make all Muslims register, and someone who wants to build a wall and send Mexicans back to Mexico.

I posted on facebook that I was feeling hopeless. I posted that I wasn’t happy with the results and I was struggling to find the way to talk to my students as I’m always trying to teach them to be kind and not bully and I felt like we just elected a bully.

Well, I sure heard a mouthful from my family and friends. How dare I have feelings? How dare I “Whine and moan” that my candidate didn’t win? How dare I say such “ugly” words? My students and I and all my friends and family who were disappointed and worried about the future of our country are big babies, need to grow some balls, and deal with our disappointment.

THEY can call me names, call others names, make fun of our feelings, and try to shame us into “shutting up,” but if I post how I’m feeling, I need to stop. I’m being ridiculous. I need to get a grip on reality.


If the next four years is exactly like the last 4 days have been, it’s going to be a long and difficult road.

Halloween once again

It’s November 3rd now. Monday was Halloween and we’re speeding toward Thanksgiving and then all the winter holidays. I swear it was JUST the 4th of July yesterday.

Halloween is one of my favorite days of the year. Except when you’re a teacher.

It’s fun to dress up. It’s fun to pass out candy. It’s fun to eat candy. It’s not fun to wrangle 34 10-year-olds in their costumes and get them to do any sort of activities resembling learning while at school.

To top it off, Halloween was on a Monday. I repeat, a MONDAY. Not only does that suck because it’s Monday, but it sucks because we have a short day and there’s literally no time to do anything. And after a day with crazy kids, we had to sit through a staff meeting and actually focus and do work.

It was a beautiful day and we walked to the neighborhood senior community, who wanted to give our kids candy.


Our noon aides and behavior specialist were dressed for success.


After work, it was time to go home and do a few last minute preparations for one of my daughter’s costume. I also was worried about how much candy we had to give out, because this is our first Halloween here and we had no idea how many trick-or-treaters would come by. (Turns out, not a lot. We have a lot of candy sitting around here.)


This year Halloween was a little different. I guess that’s what happens when kids get older. The boy went to a party with friends. Luna stayed home and passed out candy. Only our little donut wanted to go trick-or-treating.

I wonder what next year will bring. I’ll still never forget their little faces when they looked like this on Halloween…



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.


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.


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.


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…


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.