RSS Feed

Tag Archives: Life

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.

 

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.

IMG_8995

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.

IMG_4205

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.

IMG_1660

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…

IMG_9212IMG_9272

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.

 

Bill Clinton Made Me a Democrat

Posted on

When I was a sophomore in college, I had the opportunity to vote in my first presidential election. At the time, I didn’t understand just how important this was, and I went into the election uniformed. I attended a private, Catholic university and everyone I knew was talking about voting for Bush. Not being very informed, and assuming he should be a good choice because he had been Vice President for 8 years, I voted for him.

clinton-inauguration

Like many young voters, I didn’t think about politics again for quite some time. That’s when I first learned about Bill Clinton. I was in my last year of college, and in one of my Education classes, I saw a piece on him and how he helped Education in Arkansas (now I know his wife was the driving force behind this). Soon after, I began to see him speak in the primaries, and I was all in. I felt like he was talking TO ME. I felt like he really was the best person to be President of the United States. For the first time, I was EXCITED to vote for my choice for president. And I learned that my parents were already Democrats and had in fact voted for Dukakis while I voted for Bush.

After that, I paid more attention to elections and politics, but I was never on fire about a candidate like that until 2008. No, it was not Hillary Clinton. It was Barack Obama. I was so excited about him and so inspired, I drove to Nevada (I live in California) with some friends to go door to door for him. We were joined by a friend of mine who was a Hillary supporter. Once Barack Obama was nominated, she fully supported him and helped us campaign.

voting 4 obama

My husband and I took the whole family to vote before school started.

This year President is a new election year, and boy has it been interesting (and stressful). I will admit that I was mildly interested in the movement Bernie Sanders was creating. Lots of men and young people I know seem to be very excited by him. On the other hand, Hillary was running again and this time I was in a better place to accept her as my candidate. I was very wishy-washy, though, and not entirely sure who I was voting for. That is, I was unsure until Bernie made some choices I didn’t like and my Bernie-supporting friends were starting to be downright mean. And you know what? I think it is time for a strong woman to be president.

As time went on, I became more and more with HER. I will admit, while I loved (and still do, honestly) her husband, I just didn’t know enough about her and her accomplishments. Perhaps that’s because she wanted to stay out of her husband’s limelight. Perhaps it’s because the media only concentrates on negativity. I don’t know for sure, but what I learned last night at the convention about what she’s done for Education, the prison system, and justice in general, I am very firmly WITH HER.

I have friends and family members who keep talking about getting rid of the two-party system. Perhaps that’s true – I don’t have a lot to say about it at this time. I do agree that our Republican nominee scares the daylights out of me, as do all his followers. I never thought there was so much racism and hate until his campaign shined the light on it. I’m not sure what the future holds for elections and party systems, but for now, until I see it otherwise proven, I am and will remain a Democrat. As long as I’m represented by kind, caring, wise, strong, change-making candidates, I’m here.

Leaving L.A. for Another Planet

Posted on
Leaving L.A. for Another Planet

Today, thanks to the suggestion (and urging) of our son, we headed up to another world to hike at Vasquez Rocks. We’ve been there once before, 3 years ago.

This time, we left pretty early in the morning to beat the heat. We weren’t the first ones there.

IMG_1532

The sky is unreal

There were two photo shoots/ filming happening, so we headed in the other direction. At first, it seemed we were headed far from any cool rock formations.

IMG_1536

But there were a few…

IMG_1543IMG_1546IMG_1552IMG_1563

These rocks looked otherworldly to me – as if they really could be on a different planet than Earth. I suppose this is why it made for an excellent other planet in Star Trek.IMG_1564

IMG_1569

I love that they walk like this, still.

Even the flowers look alien.

IMG_1575

My older daughter needed to stop, because she felt “a rock” in her shoe… turns out it was an actual rusty nail. Thankfully, after a thorough inspection of her foot to make sure it didn’t break the skin, she was fine, and we were back on our way.IMG_1586

IMG_1589

Relaxin’

We went up and down and around and finally came back toward the rocks we remembered.

IMG_1609

The boy wanted to climb.IMG_1619

So they climbed. I was very content to stay down below.IMG_1624

Until I wasn’t.

IMG_1631

Once we were up top, we enjoyed the view, then headed down another side (the easier side!) and the kids found themselves some comfy little holes.

IMG_1645IMG_1648

I tried to find some Zen (with a little help).IMG_1655

They boy found his Zen as well.IMG_1660

Going down was much easier than getting up!

IMG_1663

We saw a couple (?) who were taking photos in their Trek outfits. (Yes, those are the same outfits my husband and I own, thankyouverymuch.)IMG_1670

Good-bye, Vasquez Rocks…. for now.IMG_1673

Road Trip Part One – Yellowstone I

Posted on

Summer in our family means it’s time to pack up our things and cram into the family car and head out on a great adventure. In the past, we’ve gone to National Parks, National Monuments, a great meteor crater, cute small towns, big cities, and many places in between. This year, my husband booked a trip he’d wanted to make for a LONG time, which included most of the above listed destinations.

Stop 1: Salt Lake City.

IMG_5598IMG_5587

I can’t say too much about the place, as we were only there one night. It was clean, pretty, and pretty windy. Sadly, we didn’t see the actual Great Salt Lake. Hopefully we can make it back again someday in the future.

Stop 2: Yellowstone National Park, Old Faithful Inn

Our first stop in Yellowstone was at the Old Faithful Inn. My husband and I have wanted to visit Yellowstone for several years. Last year we weren’t able to go on a big trip, so he took matters into his own hands and booked our trip a year in advance. He didn’t ask advice from anyone we knew, but just tried to figure out what to see based on reading a book and searching the net. He did a pretty darn good job.

IMG_5750

The entrance

IMG_5666

Old Faithful

IMG_5674

The giant clock on the giant mantle in the lobby

IMG_5677

These people I love, exploring the hotel walkways.

IMG_5676

lobby, from above

Old Faithful is just outside the inn. Just beyond Old Faithful are a few walkways to explore several geysers. I have to say that there are signs EVERYWHERE telling visitors to stay on the path for their own safety.

IMG_9134

The paths keep you safe from wandering into a dangerous hotspot.

IMG_9135

Castle Geyser. When geysers aren’t active, they are always emitting some gas and steam.

IMG_9152

We walked up to this geyser JUST as it was going off.

IMG_9204

The Grotto Geyser went off in waves, like the ocean. (Where’s Ariel?)

IMG_9237

Just starting

IMG_9255

Girls taking a break by the river

I’m going to make a confession right now. I thought that Yellowstone was JUST GEYSERS. And, of course, a National Park that would be pretty and have trees and trails and whatnot. My husband did his research. I did not. I was treading water all year trying to survive my first year back to work and let him take care of the trip planning, so I didn’t do my research.

Imagine my surprise when we headed to a basin filled with one the most beautiful sites I’ve ever seen.

IMG_9301

Walking by the river on the way to the Midway Geyser Basin

IMG_9302

I was always fascinated by the tiny flowers thriving among the treacherous landscape.

IMG_9310

Unreal

IMG_9314

Reading the no swimming sign and discussing the landscape

IMG_9322

Hot springs. The lighter blue the water, the hotter it is.

IMG_9324

Beautiful but deadly

IMG_9336

A waitress in Salt Lake City told us she’d never seen so many colors as in Yellowstone. Now I know what she meant.

IMG_9347

My favorite of all, which isn’t done justice by my photograph. The Grand Prismatic Spring. Just amazing.

Click HERE to see a breathtaking overhead view of the Spring, from Getty Images.

We bought me a pair of earrings and necklace that were inspired by the Grand Prismatic Spring.

IMG_6985

 

IMG_9352

An example of the boardwalks everywhere to keep everyone away from danger

IMG_9362

Bubbling in the water

IMG_9395

On the left, you can see where some runoff from a spring is making a little waterfall, altering the ground around it and heading into the river.

The next day we drove to the Lake. We saw more geysers and springs right on the lake, stopped to get a closer look at the lake, and had dinner right on the lake.

IMG_5770

pools next to the lake

IMG_9415

Beautiful but deadly, part 2

IMG_9696

Touching the lake

IMG_9752

boy on a log

IMG_9789

Enter a caption

IMG_9769

taking in the beauty

IMG_6011

3 kids in front of the giant fireplace

IMG_6012

the lounge of the Lake Hotel

IMG_6013

beautiful view

 

IMG_5813

That night, when we got to our lodge, we took a silly picture. 🙂

Since there are so may photos and I want people interested in Yellowstone to be able to see as many as possible, I’m splitting up the blogs into pieces. Stay tuned.

~Genevieve

My Students Are Afraid of Donald Trump

I’ve been afraid of Donald Trump for months. At first, it seemed ridiculous and funny, like it had to be some crazy joke. Some people were thinking he was running for president to ruin things for the Republicans and we’d all see his great master plan in the end when a Democratic president was elected because there were no other viable Republicans in the race.

I don’t believe that. I believe that he’s a racist, bigoted, power-hungry man, and the closer he gets to being our leader the more scared I get.

Recently, my 5th graders got into a presidential discussion. It began with one of them saying that Obama wasn’t going to be president soon. This caused panic with some of the kids and they asked me what was going to happen. I explained that the president could only be elected to two 4-year terms and we would be voting for a new president later this year.

One of my students said, “Are you voting for Donald Trump, Mrs. Miller?”

I looked at him and said, “Absolutely not! You could offer me one million dollars to vote for him and I wouldn’t.”

There was a group of my students who seemed relieved when I said that, and one of them said, “If he becomes president, then he’s going to send my family back to Mexico!”

This man has children and families all over worried for their future. When I heard my students discuss this fear, it broke my heart. I really hope the American people don’t elect this man as our next president. I don’t believe that he would be at all good for this country.

IMG_1624

Kids being kids, playing kickball

Who Were Their Teachers?

Now that I am back in the classroom, whenever there’s a tragedy, a disaster, or a mass shooting, I think of things slightly differently than I used to.

As a mother, I always think of my own children’s safety first. But when I’m at school with my students, I’m thinking of their safety, too. And when a shooting happens – whether it’s armed people shooting up innocents or a cop overzealous and a little too quick to draw fire, I wonder who are their parents? Is this the type of person they thought they were raising?

And I wonder who were their teachers? Did they teach with compassion? Were they dismissed? Were they star students? Did they fade into the background? Were they always troubled? Did they always seem like normal kids?

And what do their teachers think? Do they feel that they’ve failed in some way, or are they completely surprised and taken aback? Did they even go to school? Did they have parents?

Some might answer “who cares?” But I do. I spend 6.5 hours a day, 5 days a week with children. I hope and pray that I can help them along their journey – not just in their academics, but as people. I want them to be good, kind, caring, warm people. I want them to care about each other and humanity. I don’t want them to bully. I want them to give a damn. I try every day that I’m with them to instill these behaviors in them. I want them to know that I give a damn. Even when they don’t listen, or get in trouble, or don’t do their work, or even talk back or fight with someone, that I care. I may be very disappointed, but it doesn’t mean I don’t value them as people.

I hope that what I’m doing is making a difference. I hope that in all the noise that they take with them every day that they somehow hear my words, notice my actions, and remember to care about each other. Because if they don’t, I really am scared for our future.