Category Archives: Parenting

The hardest job…

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Cameron Diaz in Columbia Pictures’ film “Bad Teacher”.

“As in any profession, there are teachers who need to receive more training, work harder, and/or move to another job, but if most teachers are doing a pretty good job, then we should probably spend a little more time praising them, a little less time decrying the fate of the teaching profession, and refer to bad teachers as the exception rather than the rule.”

Education Policy Thoughts

I never really gave much thought to the quality of public education in our country because I never really had a reason to. I mean as a 20-something, my focus was self-centered and the happenings of the children (and to a larger extent community) around me was low on my priority list. Post-30, and 4 years into motherhood, and my perspective has radically changed. The education of my child, and by extension the children around her, is one of my highest priorities. I care about what type of education she will receive, but it is not just about her. Actually my interest in education piqued several years before joining the parenthood club, when we graduated college and many friends entered education as teachers. That interest swelled in later years as our “job talks” shifted from being about them being tolerant and optimistic about helping our young people just because they were the “Talented 10th” and wanted to pay it forward, to frustrated wine downs (emphasis on the wine) about lack of parent participation and in many cases interest, administrators who were out of touch with their employees, and pulling triple duty as teacher, parent, and child psychologist. Then those friends got married and began having children, who then entered the education system and my interest grew even more as they dished about balancing home lives, babies & toddlers with work demands, lack of sleep, and the like.

I thought parenting was hard, and yes it is, but I never imagined that teaching is probably a million times worse—for the good ones that is. And trust me, there are more good ones than not. Fact, in a recent study (2011) by TNPT, a national nonprofit committed to ending the injustice of educational inequality founded by teachers, only 1 percent of teachers are rated unsatisfactory, and 94 percent of principals agree that teachers in their school who are under-performing are rated as such. In short that means that a sweeping majority of teachers actually give a damn and put forth at least average to better effort to educate our youth. So what’s my point? This, a teacher friend, an almost 10-year veteran of a public school system in a non-unionized state is catching hell and I’m offended for them.
I am offended because this teacher I know misses her own children’s events for parent-teacher conferences and mandatory staff meetings. This teacher I know spends her own meager salary buying extra paper, folder, crayons, pencils, etc. for students who don’t have them because their parents can’t or don’t send them to school with supplies. This teacher I know, spends the time at her own children’s team practices grading papers, and stays up nights and weekends doing the same. This teacher I know spends the over-lauded “summer break” in development classes, grade meetings, planning lessons and setting up their classroom. In the decade they’ve taught, I’d say they get an average of one week—ONE WEEK—where they are not planning, grading, or otherwise doing something school/work related, and that’s being generous. It’s for those teachers, the good ones who stay late after school to help students who aren’t getting it, and swallow the comments of idiot administrators, who think it’s right to suggest they consider being stay-at-home-parents if the ever-increasing workload (which is often accompanied by an ever-shrinking salary) is too much for them to bear. Forget if you have a husband or a wife, and children of your own, your job comes first and everything else be damned. For all the good, committed, dedicated, non-unionized teachers who don’t have the muscle of a centralized organization and the persuasive influence of a strike threat to help protect reasonable job benefits I just want you to know that there is at least one (I know there are more out there) who gets it and sends her massive appreciation your way for all your that you do!

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Yep, I KNEW It!

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It was only a matter of time. If the marked irritability, caffeine withdrawal shaking, and lethargy were not indicative enough, waking up this morning passed out on my computer—I was using it as a pillow—drives home the point that I was tired.

Last thing I remember, I was working on my assignment, I’d put in my eye drops, and said I’ll let them sit for five minutes, finish my school work, take a 2-hour nap, and then go to the store. What happened was that I started this last post, when my eyes started hurting, so I put in my eye drops and well, the rest went like this:

It was all really dreamlike. And came to me as a train of thought.

PJs on. Leave your mom alone. I ate spaghetti. Mommy I have to potty! Get out of there. Where is Caden’s shirt? Mommy you still sleep? Mom I’m getting my pajamas. Shh, mom’s sleep. You hungry?. Turn your ringer off. I closed the garage. You know your computer’s on? Get back in the bed! Nite, nite babe.

I know that doesn’t make sense, but that is exactly as I remember it. What it means is that the world didn’t end because I wasn’t functional, and someone else handled things while I rested. Sure the dirty clothes ended up in the clean hamper, the dishes are STILL in the sink, and toys litter the family room. But the life went on—imagine that!

Now to tackle this kitchen…

Mission Impossible: Catching Zzzzz

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I am not as young as I used to be. I remember staying up all night in college and running the entire next day. I also remember being able to consume ungodly amounts of spirits and still being able to function the next day. Alas, after 30 that all changes. Now, I wouldn’t know if I could consume that amount of liquor, because I wouldn’t even try (thank God for maturity). Unfortunately, I do know that I cannot pull all-nighters anymore. I learned that lesson the hard way after 30-mins of sleep, four Cokes, and a bag a Jelly Beans later — yes you read that right. I am appalled to even write it, but it’s true. That is what my yesterday consisted of. Yet somehow I had my wits about me enough to resist the kids trying to slip McDonald’s in (I’ve effectively banned it from the house, and their bodies). The little sharks sensed blood in the water, and thought I would slip in my sleepless state (I conceded to Wendy’s since cooking was out of the question)

Still, I was going on fumes this morning as I did the school drops, and planned to take the grocery store trip that didn’t happen this weekend. Even as I look around the house I’m horrified—dishes in the sink, recycling bin overflowing, the partial grocery list still on the table where I started it Saturday morning—all the things left undone.  Even as I write this, the words are moving across the screen.

But I’ll get it done, because I always do. No matter the sheer quantity of everything that has piled up with school assignments, work assignments, and did I mention that dishes are STILL in the sink (I know, I didn’t make the store so there is no dishwasher soap, but WHY does hand washing the dishes only occur to me?). Anyway, just another task to add to the list of things to do.

Maybe I’ll get a nap in before the kids get home from school…I can always dream about sleep.

Wait for it…

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I am not a patient person. That has never been my strength. Waiting is boring. Waiting is quiet. Waiting is unnerving. Waiting doesn’t make me feel like I’m in control. Someone asked me if I was depressed. I don’t feel depressed. I feel IMPATIENT! I feel out of control—not in a dangerous, I’m-going-to-go-postal way, but in a what-the-hell-am-I-waiting-on way!

I’ve received LOTS of advice—Pray on it. Be Patient. Don’t rush. Take time to think. Be still.

And it all sounds great in theory, until you really actually have to do it. For someone not skilled in patience, such as myself, all the above is like torture for me. And frankly, I feel a bit out to sea without a sail, paddle, whatever! A good friend, who actually has some credentials or letters or something after their name, gave me the best advice—advice that had waded in my spirit, but it felt good to hear a licensed professional say it, and that is it’s O.K. to let the crazy out.

They said, “I’d think you were insane to feeling nothing, so it’s O.K. that you are stressed, you have reason to be. The key is channeling that stress. You’ve had some major life events in the past two years. On a stress test, you’ve had at least three major events that land on the top of the stress scale. You have to give those stresses a positive outlet, a spiritual channel that will balance what you’re experiencing. That may be church, or sitting in a park staring at a tree, but whatever that outlet is, you have to find it, prioritize it, let it out.” Read the rest of this entry

Now That’s (Black) Entertainment!

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The BET Hip-Hop Awards went down in Atlanta this weekend. The city was surprisingly tame (no shoot outs, no arrests). Yes, it is unfortunate that those types of occurrences have become synonymous with these events, but I’m proud of my folks. Way to hold it down!

On a totally unrelated subject (but relevant to my obsession) @paulwalker47 is also in town with his Fast Five crew. They’ve been tweeting all about their exploits (apparently @Tyrese and @Ludacris are in it too!) I would say I’m on stalker duty, but I’m a professional! Still, Paul is quite lovely to look at (like really lovely…like if I saw him again and him smiled like he did and he conversed like he did, and touched my back in the familiar, friendly way he did, I just might embarrass my mother…It’s the eyes, they’re like ice blue or some craziness you don’t see ’round these parts.)

But I digress. Enjoy the pics of the show and make sure you tune in to support your fave Hip-Hop artists on Oct. 12 and tune in to @BET for the show. Special thanks to @Stefan78239 for the flixs and facts.

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PICS: Gangstarr’s DJ Premier, Rick Ross, Roscoe Dash, , Soulja Boy, Trey Songz, Twista, Wocka Flocka Flame, , Young Money, Baby, Digital Underground, Shock G, DJ Drama, Lloyd, Mickey Factz, Nelly, New Boyz,

Get ’em Started…Right

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I never really ate school lunch. Sure, I remember the compact little tin foil dishes and the line of kids in elementary school queued up for sustenance. But it was never me. I came up during the era when Lunchables were first introduced, and between those and whatever lunch goodies our regular weekend grocery trips yielded, I was covered. Even in high school, school lunch was a RARE occurrence. Sure, our open campus policy helped contribute to that, but even when I did hit the lunch line I kept it simple: tater tots and grilled cheese sandwiches.

I was not, then, very conscious about what form my nourishment took, so it never dawned on me that there was a bit of self-preservation at work. After coming across this blog though, mine eyes have been open(th).

The site validates my obsession with packing my baby’s lunch/snacks and milk everyday for daycare. And if that is what she’ll be looking forward to in a few years, I most certainly will be doing it when she hits elementary school too!o

The blog, written by an Illinois teacher highlights her “adventures” eating school lunch everyday and blogging about it–and it’s not a good look! The blog is interesting though (read the American Teacher in Japan post…I’m trying to send my child to school there!) No offense to my teacher friends, but you know I want to my child to attend high school in another country anyway and your stories don’t go a long way to sell the American public school system. Some of the charter schools and magnet programs yes, but public education overall? Not so much.

With my baby, I don’t get absolutely everything organic and you don’t need too. Foods like bananas don’t usually have high pesticide residue, but apple, grapes, potatoes, thin-skinned fruits and greens (kale, spinach, etc.) do. Focus on those. There’s a list “The Dirty Dozen” that has the produce that is the dirtiest/most contaminated with pesticide residues, etc.

Produce is one thing that I may be flexible with, but I don’t even want to LOOK at non-organic animal products. Milk, meat, yogurt and I’ve been on the prowl for cheese (which a friend found recently. Yay!), whatever I can find that is wholesome and good and not loaded with unnecessary preservatives and sugar (stay AWAY from high fructose corn syrup, and it’s in just about EVERYTHING! I just read that it was in my beloved Wheat Thins a couple of weeks ago and I’m hesitant to even read the whole grain Ritz ingredients! We’ll have to find a new snack.)

It’s not just food though. It’s a lifestyle change we’ve been working on to just live better overall. Dr. Oz said (yes, I’m quoting Dr. Oz), that we’ll either pay for it now (yes, organic does cost more) or pay for it later by way of increased health-care costs, declining health and lower quality of life.

Most of the things I buy are available at Super Target, WalMart, Publix and Kroger. And if you PLAN you can find sales and use coupons: Kroger had Horizon milk boxes (organic milk that doesn’t require refrigeration. It’s all an interesting process-heated at extreme temps to pasteurized then packaged and sealed, making it shelf stable…(check this link for more details) on sale recently, 10/$10. I tried them with my child and they were highly convenient and good for her. And though we moved to almond milk almost five, six months ago, I would still use the milk boxes for travel and in a crunch.

Need more examples of the practicality of living better? I went to get charcoal for from Publix. As a joke, and a way to discourage the menfolk from asking me to pick up extra stuff from the store, especially since this was the third pass, I got the Publix Greenwise (organic) brand all natural wood charcoal. But the joke ended up being on me–not only was the BIG bag of that charcoal CHEAPER than the Kingsford and other brands, but all of those die-hard grilling men LOVED that stuff and now don’t even want to use the other charcoal anymore!

One of the best tips I’ve ever received was to buy in season. It seems logical, but how many of you knew that shrimp isn’t a year-round food? I didn’t. It’s in season in the Summer (June-August!). That’s also when it will be the cheapest. And buy wild caught seafood, not FARMED. Farmed sound better, but it’s not. Check out www.sustainabletable.org/shop/eatseasonal, for what’s in season when and what’s in-season in your area.

There is a plethora of ways to make it work within your lifestyle. These ideas will get you started or one of my fav sites, The Daily Green.com has thousands of tips and the dirty dozen list is on there as well). It only take a little bit of effort and some of you have it easy (The City of Chicago PICKS UP recycling, I have to load the car and drop mine off or pay an extra monthly fee to have it picked up. It may sound easy, but when the closet drop station is only open during the week until 4 p.m. and closed on the weekends, not so much.

You decide what works for you-don’t flush the toilet every time after using it unless it’s really necessary. Don’t let the water run when you’re brushing your teeth. Wash your clothes in cold water (really, only linens and greasy/oily things need hot water). Use vinegar and baking soda to clean. Whatever it is, just do something.