The Long Term Triangulation

I have been a long term substitute teacher in a fifth grade class for over a month now and I can see how truly busy I’ve become. I have not even posted since my half marathon!

I am exhausted from teaching, planning, and correcting papers all day… then I come home to be a wife and mother. If I don’t have a staff meeting, then my son needs to go to karate, my daughters need to go to gymnastics, or I have to teach sixth graders at the church.

Even simple conversations with my husband R are far and few between. Gone are the days when the last thing we’d do at night was… well, you know. Instead we savor the quietness of the house and talk about how tired how we are.

We are okay with that.

I assigned a Saint project to my sixth grade CFF class and the students did everything on their own. Their projects were awesome! I was so proud of them when they got to display their posters in church with all of the other CFF classes, 1st-6th grade.


The kids dressed up as Saint Anne, Saint Agnes, and Saint George. A dressed up as Saint Agnes because her story really spoke to her: Agnes was very beautiful and rich and all of the boys wanted to marry her; she, however, did not want to get married.

A has declared that she NEVER wants to get married.

I am okay with that.




It’s a busy, exhausting life but I love it.

The teacher I’m subbing for has extended her maternity leave so I will be in the classroom until Thanksgiving week. Being a long term sub has its pros and cons.

I have to be the TEACHER who plans and corrects papers at about a third of the pay per day.
I can’t just call in sick when I’m tired of the class or working for that matter. This was the first year I couldn’t hit the after-Halloween clearance sales. I don’t go too nuts, just buying a couple of things here and there and then putting them into storage for the following year.
I missed two field trips that I wanted to chaperone for my two daughters 😦

I get to teach!
I get to decorate!
I get to go to school functions as the teacher!

Speaking of school functions, I was able to attend our school’s Harvest Festival, a major fundraiser for the school. I bought wristbands for my two daughters and they played games and ate candy to their heart’s content. I bought five raffle tickets for five dollars… and WON THE MOVIE NIGHT RAFFLE BASKET! The basket contained eight bags of uncooked popcorn, boxes and boxes of candy, and a gift card for the movie theater.










We did not forget to go trick or treating. I dressed as a zombie from The Walking Dead but I’m not going to spoil it for you in case you haven’t seen the latest episodes. I am not one for gore but man, oh man, I love that show!





The Part of Your World Dramatization

I don’t know what draws kids and animals to me. I’m like a magnet to everything in diapers and/or covered in fur. Maybe I smell like cat food and cookies or cat food cookies. I’ve been told a number of times that my voice sounds like a cartoon character on TV. When I’m at the mall gathering my kids, sometimes I get extra like I’m coralling a preschool group together. Parents have apologized to me when their kids follow mine but I don’t mind. With my three kids I’m my own playgroup.

So it’s no wonder that I went into education. I get requested a lot and I don’t mind so that tends to give me a big head and I often go into a class thinking the day will be a piece of cake.

And it usually is.

But man, oh man, when I have a terrible day, it’s because I ran into the one hundredth percent of teenagers that give their age group a bad name.

I have nothing negative to report in this post however.

In one class, a teacher came by to tell me that a student had to leave a half an hour early. Later I asked the student if he was on the track team as other kids on the track team were leaving early as well.

“No,” he replied. “I volunteer at the local elementary school and tutor foster kids because I used to be one and I know what it’s like for them.”

I am embarassed to say that I said, “Awww!” aloud. But I was so impressed, so proud of this kid who wasn’t mine biologically but as a mom and teacher many of us begin to think of all kids as “OURS”.


I jokingly said, “Wow, kids like you make it hard for me to hate teenagers.” We laughed but he really made me think about what kids go through today. As if it weren’t that we as adults have enough to go through with peer conflicts and family turmoil, can you imagine having to deal with that as a teenager? As a child?


Last week I subbed for a friend’s sixth grade class and had the honor of watching their school’s production of “The Little Mermaid”. She had warned me that theirs rivals high school productions.

She was wrong. Their production blew away any high school production I had ever seen out of the water.

For privacy reasons I cannot post pictures of videos but I was mouthing the words, got goosebumps regularly, and even teared up once or twice. (Okay, twice). The kids were amazing! The costumes were handmade by a teacher and a couple of mothers. I loved every moment.




The Candy Crush Continuum

I can’t sleep again.

After a week of not subbing, I will have subbed four days. I also paid bills, a chore in itself. Don’t even get me started.

I’m exhausted. Yet sleep is out of my reach.

I blame this new app on my phone. I have a love/hate relationship with Candy Crush.


Dear Friends on Facebook, stop feeding this addiction! If I send you a request for help on that stupid game, tell me to get a life!

I also wonder when exactly my husband will come home for good. Many of you are married to the military. You’d think you get straight answers the longer you’ve been in.

Nope. No such luck.

The middle child turns 8 tomorrow! It was just yesterday we were stationed at Goodfellow AFB. I was subbing part-time, the boy was only 3, and R was always home.

Good times.





The Home From School Hypothesis

I dropped off the kids at school five minutes ago and already I am bored.

I’m sure getting sick was inevitable. As a mom, I know what it is like to be in denial of being sick, thinking that all I need is a bit of orange juice and/or a cookie and I’ll be better in no time.

Guilt is rampant in my life though I do try to be aware of this and move on. Nevertheless I sadly gave up an easy sub job today in favor of not spewing phlegm on high schoolers.

Since making the decision to go back to work, I rarely find myself just sitting on the couch. Oh, I’m not being pious. I just get easily distracted and have a bazillion things to do because:
• I’m too lazy to get stuff done when they should have been done
• I was too distracted to do stuff correctly the first time
• I have 3 kids
• I have 2 dogs and 2 cats
• I have 2 jobs
• my husband lives in another state. I am sometimes envious of spouses who can create a Honey-Do list as in “Honey, would you do this for me?” I have a “Well-hell-he’s-deployed-again-I’d-better-effing-do-it-myself!” list.

(Ooh, that last bullet point was a doozy. Sorry about that.)

I knit. I read. I make a list of the hundreds of things I have to do the moment my butt leaves the couch. Chores abound, phone calls with clients or fellow school & church volunteers must be made. (Doh, did I forget to follow up with a client yesterday?)

But sitting on the couch and watching TV?

As I cough and blow my nose for the tenth time this morning, I think I’ll give it a whirl.

Here are pics of a couple of housemates keeping me company. Yeah, they’re a couple of party animals.



Last week I taught an art class. How amazing for kids to get a grade for immersing themselves in creativity and design for ninety minutes a day.




I have a friend who sells thirty one, a direct sales company that carries cute bags and organization tools. I hosted my own party, took advantage of their Hostess benefits, and got cute stuff!



Ugh. Headache. Must. Turn. Off. Tv.

Goodbye Prep Periods!

Those of you in education know that the substitute teacher supply tends to dwindle in the spring. Teacher inservices, illness, their children are ill… You name it. Sometimes there aren’t enough subs.

When that happens, my free periods are gone, sucked up by another classroom who’s teacher has been gone all day.

It’s a good thing I enjoyed my prep periods in the fall! Groceries, getting my nails done, and other errands were done during these free minutes which makes up for those days I “lose” my prep period like yesterday and today.








I finished a scarf and read the issue of People with Paula Deen on the cover!


The Looming Implementation

Last year it was Pinterest.

This year it is knitting via Pinterest. I’ve made a few scarves that I thought were so cute after I made them that I didn’t (and don’t) want to give them away.

I use looms that I bought from Joanne’s and Wal-Mart over the past few years when my interest in knitting has waxed and waned repeatedly.

Over winter break, I realized that I could knit in front of the TV but not really pay attention to the program. So poignant programs were out of the picture. I would watch reruns of “The Big Bang Theory” while knitting but then I started to miss reading.

And then… duh.

Books on tape! Or rather, cd.

I finished two scarves that way.

Another duh moment. If a sub job doesn’t require lecture, I found that I can knit while I walk around the class and monitor behavior.


Awesome. I can knit and give dirty looks at the same time.

Skill, I tell you. It takes skill.


Hats and Gloves and Little Ones, Oh My!

Yesterday I subbed in a second grade class, just for the morning because the teacher had a meeting. After being with cranky teenagers, this was a nice change.

Doors were kept locked at the school. A sad reminder of the tragedy in Connecticut that happened only a month ago.

While teaching I had a quiet moment reflecting on how lucky I was to have a job where I could see the future every time I worked when a resource teacher came into the classroom to collect a few students that she worked with for an hour every day. It took me a few minutes to realize that she was L’s preschool teacher.

She had to hire a sub for half the year, a position for which I applied for but did not get simply because time was of the essence. She did not have to time train someone; she hired another mother who had volunteered in her class the year before.

The preschool teacher was diagnosed with an aggressive type of breast cancer and had undergone months of chemotherapy.

It was great to see her again. She looked healthy and in her element, working with children.

Which brings me to a small downside of teaching. At twenty degrees in the morning, it is cold for us Sacramentoans so I have to button my lip when I see children that are not wearing a puffy jacket and/or a hat.

Back in the high school today, I asked a student to take off his hat. To which he replied, “What? I haven’t taken off my hat since first term?” (A hat with a brim for fashion, not one for comfort or religious reasons.)

I wanted to say, “Excuse me? Yeah. Take off your hat.”

But I didn’t. This class belonged to the student teacher and she did not require students to take off their hats.

It wasn’t so much the hat as it was the annoyance and noncompliance in the student’s voice. Had he explained to me politely I might have allowed him to keep it on.

On second thought, no. I would not have. There are many societal norms that people don’t observe anymore that I think is a reflection not on society but the way we see others. We shouldn’t burp loudly in public not because it is impolite but because it’s disgusting and humorless and no one wants to hear it. We shouldn’t hold the doors for others because society tells us to do so but because we as individuals are respectful and kind to others that it isn’t a big deal to take three seconds out of our lives to hold the door for a stranger.

A few minutes ago I shared a scholarship opportunity for Filipino/Filipino-American students to represent a local organization in a speech contest. After trying to convince a student to apply for this position, she said, “Okay. I’ll think about it, Auntie.”

She called me Auntie. On purpose.

Parenting. Her parents are doing it right.

The Fat Ass Function

I failed this winter.

NaNoWriMo. Running regularly. Eating healthier.

Eh. Whaddareyagonnado?

I considered not working today because I thought I needed some time to myself, without work or without kids. I wanted to wallow in the fact that my husband wasn’t home yet.

Then I remembered that I had bills to pay, namely the dog’s doctor bills.

When I accepted a sub job in special education, I had no idea what to expect. I’ve never worked with special ed, save for a student with ADHD many years ago.

I had a great time. Small class size. Students were actually ahead of their weekly schedule so the classes became study hall.

I’m glad I took the job today and met more students who are slowly changing my opinion of teenagers (in a good way). It has opened up the possibility of subbing in special education in the future.

I’m glad I sucked it up.










Freedom Writers

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I subbed today in an English class. We watched Freedom Writers, a movie based on a book by Erin Gruwell. Gruwell was a teacher who used journaling as a method for teaching.

I asked the students, “Are you guys reading The Crucible?”


“I would have rather taught that than watch Freedom Writers.”

One student asked me, “What do you have against the movie?”

I don’t have a problem with the movie. I don’t have a problem with the author’s methods of teaching.

I do have a problem with the assumption that there haven’t been amazing, wonderful things happening in classrooms all around the country. I do have a problem with the assumption that there haven’t been educators worthy of a book deal or movie. I have a problem with people who have a profound impact on students that leave the classroom (she left the classroom after fours years of teaching, according to Wikipedia, but is still in education). I have a problem with books made into movies that Hollywood-ize everything, portraying the worst of every stereotype and race.

I cringe whenever I have to show a movie but since the author herself visited the campus last week, I suppose it warranted a showing. (That and the teacher did not anticipate her absence today.)

I assigned an essay to be written during the movie. Nothing major, just a couple of paragraphs that summarized the movie and commentary with examples. I wish I had written down some of the quotes I read from them. Most essays were full of observations and questions; many shared my concerns regarding stereotyping and exaggerating for Hollywood. But how many teenagers, let alone people, have been taught to think critically?

Making a List & Checking It Twice

I just overheard a student say, “There’s something about Asians.” Um, yeah. I don’t know what the context is but it’s funny to hear that when kids are supposed to be doing chemistry class work.


I had a great time this morning. The teacher did not have a first period so for ninety minutes I did this:


I am making t-shirts for my growing number of second cousins (my cousins’ kids and grandchildren; aka my nieces and nephews) because man, there are so many of them and I’m sure they already have everything.

But they don’t have a tee that says “MY COUSINS ARE MY BFF’S” with (most) of their cousins’ names printed on them as well. Ha! Try returning those t-shirts to Target.

I unwrapped and smashed a couple dozen candy canes. Last year I handed out candy-cane-and-chocolate covered pretzel rods. Yes, the ones that cost two bucks each at bookstores! I don’t like using the chocolate disks from the bakery section; they taste awful. Instead I just melt semi-sweet chocolate chips in the microwave and dip and coat away.


Yesterday I took the day off and had a playdate. My friend and her kids came over. Our kids played while we sipped specialty coffee from my Keurig. She told me about how her family has stopped the entire rush of extravagant gift-giving, how they have a white-elephant gift exchange amongst the adults, and how their kids draw one name for gift-giving.

My family has done that before and it requires a lot of time, not just to organize but to ensure that everyone actually shows up to exchange gifts and with in-laws, different sides of their families, etc. that’s a lot to juggle.

And so I decided to just stop the worrying. I cannot afford to buy my aunts and uncles things they want and I’m pretty sure they have everything they need. I cannot afford to buy and/or stress over the dozens of cousins’ kids and grandkids and like my aunts and uncles; I’m pretty sure they have everything too.


I’m bringing back homemade ornaments, framed pictures, and fresh baked goodies for Christmas. I asked my BFF to just come over one day and bake with my children so I can take pictures and make a scrapbook page. I asked my cousin if in lieu of presents I could just have her two boys over for a slumber party, complete with pizza, ornament making, and cookie decorating (although with the dog being sick we may have to wait until after the holidays). I am going to give the items I’ve created for craft fairs but thoughtfully consider whether or not they would actually have use for them beforehand. Styles differ but how could you turn up your nose to a framed photo of thirty of your siblings’ grandchildren and great-grandchildren?