Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Dusting off some cobwebs.

Blog?  What Blog?!  Oh... THIS BLOG!!
As I look back at my previous posts, I realize it has been a LONG time!  Trends tell me that you can (maybe) expect updates about every 6 months, plus or minus (thank you holiday breaks!).  Here are a few more updates on what's been going on in the meantime (READ: excuses).

1.  I was pregnant.  No real issues here, just more tired and still plugging along which means not much extra time or energy to update the blog.  Not to mention the end of the school year was nigh, our art show was underway, and my daughter was turning two.  Thank you, dear Nausea, you made that all a little trickier.  :)

2.  I enjoyed some quality time with my daughter over the summer.  Meara, who turned two last June, as I mentioned above, (I made her a lady bug birthday cake!) was at daycare part-time over the summer months.  Originally, the plan was to be able to get some work done on the condo or for my art, or take some art classes the days she was at daycare.  This changed a bit due to #3 (see below).  But, I did get to spend some fun times with Meara on the days she was home, and glad to get that in! 

3.  I was laid up with a crazy "back" issue.  We drove to Tennessee to visit my in-laws, when halfway through the visit, I ended up int he ER with severe sacra-illiac pain (though the docs thought it was kidney stones?), which I still say was way worse than labor (having been through it once at that point). Thank you Morphine!  Apparently, the sacro-illiac joint is only supposed to move a maximum of 3 degrees, but instead, mine went cuckoo-crazy, causing incredible pain.  And I thought the pregnancy hormones were only there for GOOD (yoga!), not evil!  When we made it back to Chicago, I ended up on pain meds, and physical therapy to be able to walk again.  Needless to say, I did not get to spend as much quality time with Meara as first anticipated.

4.  Chicago Teachers Union (and I) went on strike.  I had thought about making this into another separate post.  I might still.  In a nutshell, we were on strike for 7 days, fighting for better education for our students in one of the largest districts in our country.  Yes, just typing that is filling me with so much to say... so I will try my darnedest to post about my experience as part of this historical event.

5.  I revamped some curriculum and have been developing a new Mixed Media class (program) at our school.  Because of this, I also took a mosaic class to get back into the groove (i.e. remember how to do it) in the evenings from October through November.  This summer I plan/hope to take a metal-smithing and stained glass class.  What fun!  Developing new curriculum is fun, exciting, and challenging.  Annnnnd time consuming.  :)  I also worked with my brother-in-law (a fantastic English Teacher in Georgia) to collaborate on the Atlanta Art Exchange project we developed... his students gave us creative writing pieces, my students provided artwork and ultimately it will all be combined to make a collaborative publication.  

6.  I prepped my sub for my maternity leave.  Part of me, of course, imagined myself chomping on Bon-Bons as my students shower me with applause and gifts while I waltz out the door, smiling at the sub while I sing, "Seee you in AAAAApril!"  Ahhh, then I go into labor after an entire week of lounging on the couch catching up on Netflix (Breaking Bad- albeit gruesome, one heck of a show!) and eating some more of those, said, bon bons.  Once baby arrives, I will snuggle him like crazy until April 1st, when, of course, all of the projects for the rest of the year will be laid out for me to just administer and enjoy the results that my amazing, motivated, and self directed students would create.  Oh, just reap those rewards!!

Ok, that was never how I imagined this would actually go, but one can dream, right?  Instead, I stayed late at work almost every day, rarely taking any lunch breaks, in preparation for my sub to take over as seamlessly as possible (which most teachers will agree, a seamless transition does not actually exist when a substitute AND adolescents are involved).  I ended up having to go on maternity leave a week early, and I ALSO went into school one day to work (without pay), and worked several days thereafter at home on providing unit plans to our administrators, as well as handouts, tests, and other lesson literature so that my sub did not become overwhelmed with the amount of work she was taking over (I teach 3 different art courses... which can be a lot of work).  Each day I expected this little baby boy to make an early appearance (as I was due on December 30th... and I left work December 17th).

7.  I had a baby (#2)!  Our stubborn little guy finally graced us on December 26th.  A much smoother delivery for this one, Grady has been a feisty, bouncing baby boy, rapidly growing into a professional football player (90th percentile?  Really?).  

8.  I'm enjoying my time with the wee one.  I decided to take off the entire twelve weeks that FMLA allows for, regardless of not getting paid for most of the time.  After quite a bit of disappointment in my insurance plan (they denied much of my physical therapy for the SI joint issue, despite my inability to walk, stand, or go to work), and frustration with the timing of my short term disability, I have become quite saddened by the lack of support for working mothers via our governmental and coorperate expectations.  READ:  Dreading going back to work and pumping at every prep period I have allotted in my schedule... Further READ:  When will I prep my classes?  Funny how pro breastfeeding (anti formula) we (as a society) have become, but yet do not provide assistance for what this means for the working mother.  (Perhaps another post?)  Anyway, I wanted to make sure I could maximize my quality time with Grady before heading back to work.  

On another note,  toddlers are very needy.  ("Mom!  Look at me!"  "Umm, do you think that it is a good idea to smear yogurt all over your face, your hair, and your clean, new sweater I just put you in when we need to leave in 5 minutes to go to see Grandma?"  Annnnd, was it such a good idea to give my toddler yogurt 5 minutes before leaving?  You win some, you lose some.)  But in a whole other way, babies are also, clearly, obviously, very needy.  Sure, I am really enjoying placing Grady in one spot and finding that he is STILL in that one spot 15 minutes later.  I did forget, however, what little time I have to accomplish the simplest of tasks without interruption.  (What?  I need to feed him every 2-3 hours?  But my 2 year old can open the fridge and grab some grapes all on her own (and hand me the remote control to the TV that is 2 feet away from me)!)  Still amazing (and frightening) to watch him grow so very fast.

9.  I've been looking into alternative living options.  Yes, it's true.  We have outgrown our 2 bedroom, 900 square foot, 3 flight walk-up condominium.  What should we, can we do at this point?  So many options, none of them simple, and yet I might start poking out my eyes if this lingers on much longer.  Anyone interested in renting or buying a really fantastic condo in one of Chicago's most sought-after neighborhoods of Andersonville?  (Email me!)  Best option so far has been to be as educated on ALL options as possible; this has led to a lot of research and frustration, and time consumption.

10.  I'll be prepping to go back to school (and then will be back at school)!  Funny, my sub literally JUST texted me as I type, asking if she should/could get a pre-project started that will prep my kids for the project I will give them when I get back (what a great sub, right?).  I guess I should start thinking about what that project will be, right?  Oh, it was so hard to leave my job, but once away, it is even harder to think about it all over again.  Part of me feels as though it is like starting the school year all over again!  Oye!  It will all be a crazy 2.5 months back, but I can do it!  Right?  

Back to the madhouse I go!

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