Sunday, December 5, 2010

Back to Work

I returned to work this week. It was difficult, because I would like to spend some more time with Edith, but I need to go back to work before final exams, in order to re-establish myself as the teacher with my students.

There were some snags. Approximately 10 students were placed in my classes while I was on leave. Many of them did not know me before I left, therefore, I am not an authority figure to them. I might as well be another substitute. In order to remind them that I am in charge, I assigned a novel to be read in the two weeks before final exams. This may seem extreme, but I feel that all students should read at least one novel per semester, and I knew that my kids had not. After reviewing the lessons that I left for the substitute, I found out that my students read only 3-4 selections from the textbook the entire 8 weeks that I was out. This is approximately half of the exposure that I was hoping they would get.

I had my first "incident" on Wednesday this week. A student in one of my afternoon classes complained that something was "so gay." I told him not to use gay as an insult, as it is insulting to equate gayness with boring, or stupid, or whatever he was trying to equate it with. He then said jokingly "That's so homosexual," and I had to get a bit more stern. "It's not the word gay that is insulting. It's the fact that you are equating something unfavorably with a trait that they have no control over. You are insulting my friends and family members when you do that, and I don't want to hear it again." As I was finishing my explanation, a student seated across the room shouted "Fags are HORRIBLE!"

I was very angry. I told the student to close his mouth and to expect a write up. He whined a bit, but I immediately went to the office to write him up for hate speech. I was nervous that administration would overlook his punishment for more "pressing issues" like kids who are high in class, or the many kids who are fighting lately. Thankfully, the next day I received notice that the student had been placed in In-School Suspension for the next six days. This isn't ideal, as I think we need a zero tolerance policy for this type of stuff, but I am glad that my concerns were not brushed aside.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

On Motherhood: Why My Library Books Are Late

Or: I Recently Had Another Baby

I was really adamant about having my baby vaginally, so I planned to go to Albuquerque to attempt a VBAC, as the hospital in my town doesn't allow VBAC. This hospital also has pretty high infection rates, so I was not interested in unnecessary surgery in a MRSA hut.

I went to my OB/GYN on September 20th for a standard check up. My doctor was concerned with my blood pressure and the amount of protein in my urine, so I was sent to the local hospital for observation. He thought I might have pre-eclampsia. I spent 3 hours in the hospital alone while my husband picked up our toddler and waited for news. My doctor released me from the hospital, but insisted that I go on bedrest and go immediately to Albuquerque so that I could be ready to deliver at any time.

My husband and I frantically packed and drove to Albuquerque (3 hours from our hometown) the next morning. We took our daughter out of daycare and I began my maternity leave early. The doctor that I was scheduled to see in Albuquerque was out of the office, so I met with another doctor. She tested my blood pressure and urine, and I was just fine. Off bedrest. Bedrest lasted one night.

Thankfully, my sister lives in Albuquerque, so I had a comfortable place to stay. Unfortunately, my husband had to return to work, so I was without him until the weekend. My due date was listed as October 6th, but my first child came a week early, and my second child was measuring a week larger than estimated, so I was sure that I would be back home by the end of September.

This was not the case. Each day I would rub the pressure points on my feet and hands that were connected to labor. I ate spicy foods. I did squats. I rubbed my belly. I was ready to get the baby out and go home to start our life as a family of four. Meanwhile, my daughter was restless. She missed her friends from daycare, and she didn't understand why she couldn't see her daddy and dogs everyday. My sister and brother-in-law were great about keeping her occupied, but there is only so much you can do with a 2-year-old.

Each visit to the doctor's office was more frustrating. The hospital that I delivered at is connected with a university, so I met about 5 med students while waiting to go into labor. This is great, because I really want as many young doctors to be educated about VBAC as possible, but it also meant that I had to re-explain my situation every time. It also means that their bedside manner wasn't quite refined. At my last check up, a young student walked in to do the standard, measure, question, puppet, and before he could even talk to me I started bawling. "I'm still pregnant, and I want to go home, and I miss my husband, and I am spending my maternity leave waiting around!" The poor guy timidly reached out and patted my shoulder and stammered, "Um..I'm..It's ok." He went to get his supervising doctor and they discussed my case. After we all talked, I made an appointment to induce.

Induction reduces the chances of a successful VBAC, but I was 1 week overdue, and each day my baby was growing. She was already past the 7lb mark, so I knew that waiting longer could also decrease my chances for VBAC. At least with induction I could have an endpoint before another weekend away from home.

On October 13, at 8:30 pm, I was induced. The induction process is very slow, so we were instructed to get some rest, but I was too excited. My husband slept on and off in the chair in the delivery room from about 10 pm on. I finally dozed off at about 1 am, but by 4:30 my contractions were too strong to sleep through. I was hoping to be done by noon the next day.

Not so. At arourn 8 or 9 am they decided to break my water. When this happened, my baby's heart rate dropped dramatically. This brought in about 15 people. They turned off the the pitocin and gave me some drug to raise both heart rates. This halted the (very slow) progress of my labor. Once we found out both of us were ok, pitocin was started again. At this time I was only dialated to 3 cm. I was very frustrated. I was also extremely cold and tired. I had 4 blankets on me, and I kept my eyes closed most of the time.

About an hour later I had only dialated 1 more centimeter. The pitocin was making the contractions very severe, and I was not about to continue to labor this fiercly without assistance. I was given a narcotic to take the edge off the pain, and I requested an epidural when the narcotic wore off. Meanwhile my contractions were painful. I told the doctors I was unwilling to continue to labor this hard if I wasn't progressing. I told them to prepare for a C-section. I had already had one labor last over 1 day and end in surgery. I wanted to save some energy for when the baby was born. I was so nervous about being tired during the one time when adreniline should be rushing through my veins. I wanted to get labor done so I could get to caring for my baby.

The doctors were supportive, but they were also nervous about sending me in for a C-section when I had been so gung-ho about VBAC. The explained the risks and benefits of a C-Section, and then they asked if they could check my cervix one more time. The doctor said, "We'd be really embarrassed if you delivered vaginally on the operating table." It turned out that I had finally started to progress, as I was at 8 cm. I decided to wait a bit longer and attempt to push.

I pushed for about an hour and a half, using a bar and a sheet for leverage. I was so tired, and I nearly gave up several times. My husband was very supportive, and my sister came in around the last 20 minutes. With their help I delivered my daughter vaginally. It was so incredible and bizarre. And as soon as she left my body, I was wide awake. We both made it through labor healthy.

The doctor that delivered my daughter had never delivered a child before. She was great, and I am glad that I got to help someone learn. She also showed my sister and I my placenta, which was awesome and gross. I recommend looking at one if you ever get the chance.

The next day a med student stopped by my recovery room to check on me. She said that she was glad to hear that the VBAC was successful, because she saw that I had "more checks in the negative column." I'm glad too. I know that no matter what, healthy baby and mom are what matter most, but I would have felt pretty low if I had gone through with the C-section, especially since I could have done that without leaving my home and husband for 3 weeks.

I have recovered very quickly compared with my first child. I am already in my pre-pregnancy clothes, which feels wonderful. After about 6 months of elastic, buttons and zippers are a welcome change. But the most welcome change is

Baby Edith!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


This afternoon, I came home and opened the back door. Judy wanted to explore her own backyard. She quietly sat down and drank a glass of water. She walked around the porch. She brought her Mermaid Barbie out for a moment. At some point clothing became a nuisance, so Judy ran upstairs and stripped off her outfit of shorts and tank top and changed into her very soft pajama pants.

I turned on a children's music channel for ambient music. I began sauteing an onion for risotto. Judy insisted on stirring, regardless of my warnings about oil splatters. We stirred together. Judy washed a spatula. She washed it again. And again. Most of the washing was merely her running her hands back and forth underneath running water. I am sure it felt nice.

Judy returned outdoors. She ran through the grass in bare feet. She stood on top of her small sandbox lid and shouted, "Mama, I wanna sand." I lifted the lid and she dove right in. Her toes dug deep into the cool sand, and she buried her legs by scooping handful after handful of sand over them. Soon she filled a watering can with sand. She poured it out into the sand, watching all of the grains fall out and listening to the "shhhhhh" sound of the sand falling through the plastic sieve.

Judy soon perched herself on the large backyard swing. She poured sand out of the can and over her toes as she gently rocked back and forth. She turned to me and smiled. I cried.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Another School Year

Another time to resolve to do better.

Better reach my ESL students.

Better prepare my lessons.

Better stay caught up on grading.

Better get everything ready for my long-term sub.

Better perfect the Yearbook.

Better keep personal and private lives separate.

Better pass that f-ing PDD!

Last week we had a couple of pointless meetings, and a bit of time to prepare for the return of students. I succeeded in moving all of the clutter from the classroom into my office. Now I just need to get the office organized. Eventually.

I had two sets of students on Friday, as that is our "jump-start" day for freshpersons. I have to say, as much as I was dreading returning to work this fall, seeing their excited faces gave me a bit of hope. They were interested and much more motivated than the students I had last year. I'm hoping that this lasts the year, but that largely depends on how I address the curriculum.

One more better: better try to keep track of my experience this year.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Dear James Cameron

I really loved Terminator 2. It was awesome. I was a teen when Leo stole my heart in Titanic. Aliens was an interesting combination of sci-fi and horror, and there have been countless imitators of that genre.

But that all does not change the fact that Avatar is not some great story. The real feat was what you did with the special effects. Your use of 3-D technology has changed the landscape of American Cinema forever.


There are some (most?) movies that should not be 3-D. Step Up 3D, Clash of the Titans, Toy Story 3, Shrek, Smurfs, Yogi Bear, etc. Because of the fetish your experiment exposed, every crappy movie that comes to my small town is offered on 2 screens. One for 3D and one for 2D. This means that of the 18 available screens in my area, at most I will have 9 movies to choose from. Of those nine, at least 2 will be dedicated to the newest fart-misogyny fest with Adam Sandler or someone similar, and 2 will be dedicated to some crappy re-do of a movie from the 80s that no one was nostalgic for, but Hollywood made anyway because it's easier than trying something new.

And I know, I am bitching about you trying something new, and it's not you really. Just the "buzz" your new technology created, and the fact that everyone else wants to use it because "Hey, it worked for James Cameron! Let's get rich too!"

So please, next time you decide to revolutionize the industry, do it with something that won't be so gratuitously abused. Like original scripts and well rounded characters. Maybe you could even make a movie about a woman who isn't sexy and helpful, or a person of color who isn't a stereotype. We can all bet that the rest of Hollywood won't soon try to mimic that.

Monday, July 26, 2010

What's with the adult content?

Well, I like to use the cussings pretty often, and there is the possibility that I may post a few pics of breastfeeding, but it is mostly to try to cut down on some of the spam comments that I have been getting. You can all feel free to comment, but don't ask me to view your webcam.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Maternity Clothes

I recieved some plus-sized maternity clothes in the mail. I am lucky enough to be an "in-betweenie" so I had some clothes from the mall maternity store that fit, but poorly. So I went online and ordered a range of sizes to get a few more summer pieces, because being pregnant in the summer in the Southwest equals I'm roasting. Only two things didn't fit so I will return them to the store in the mall and get a few shirts. However, after my order arrived, I was asked to review my purchase and explain whether or not I would recommend this retailer to my friends. Here is my response about a recommendation.

I would be more likely to recommend to a friend if the Motherhood store in my area carried plus sizes. I know for a fact that I am not the fattest woman in my area to get pregnant. Plus sized women get pregnant, and they have money to spend, but we should be allowed the opportunity to try on clothes in the store and decide there, rather than ordering several sizes online, trying them on at home (paying for shipping), deciding which size is appropriate, and either shipping back (at our cost) to return or making a trip to the store to get store credit. Plus size is a growing market (no pun intended) and Motherhood should be catering to that market to maximize sales. Many plus size women simply suffer through pregnancy in giant sweats or leggings because retailers are afraid to get the fat in their stores. Well, if you want the dollars of fatties, you will need to carry clothes for fatties. I promise, the money spends the same.
Some people may say I am being dramatic. Maybe. But they asked, so I told them. And since my clothing came in several shipments, I will send this response every time.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Updates A Go Go

Update 1: I like using the phrase "A Go Go" even though I'm unsure of its meaning.

Update 2: I spoke with my doctor after my ultrasound this week. Gender=unclear as the baby was shy and kept well covered. I mentioned my trepidation about another C-section. He suggested that I attempt a VBAC in Albuquerque and he set up an appointment with a colleague that travels between Farmington and Albuquerque so that I can make a seamless transition to UNMH for a VBAC. He was very supportive. I feel much relief.

Update 3: I passed all but one strand of my PDD, and that is because I left out "Standards Based Language" in my introduction. I am going to resubmit with the correct language included so that I may (hopefully) pass.

Update 4: I have survived yet one more year of teaching.

Friday, April 2, 2010


I am thinking of contesting my hospital's no VBAC policy, but I need to know what I should do. Check out my previous post if you need background. Thanks in advance for your help.

Friday, March 26, 2010

PDD Done!

I've just finished (essentially) my Professional Development Dossier. For those that don't click the link, the PDD is an enormous document that teachers must complete between their 3rd and 5th year of teaching in the State of New Mexico. The purpose of the PDD is to encourage reflection, professional development, and assess one unit of teaching.

This thing is a beast. I've been working non-stop this Spring Break. I started writing on Tuesday and finished a few hours ago. Right now, my document is approximately 55 pages. I still need to scan in a few images and update some resources, but I have finished all that I will finish on my own.

Many teachers complete their PDD over the course of an entire year, and I decided to do mine in one week. This is because I am a supreme procrastinator and love to complain about pressure. I am in my 4th year of teaching, and so I have been planning for my PDD all year, but I was going to wait until the summer deadline to complete one. Then the NM Public Education Department announced that beginning in the summer the price to submit this document will increase substantially. I decided that I better save some money and submit by March 31st. Soon after this news, my district announced that they will institute a 1% pay cut across the board next year in an effort to balance the budget. You see, the state of NM is low on funds, and therefore they are making cuts to education. Because it just makes sense. But if I pass my PDD, I will get an approximate $12,000 increase in pay. It's worth a week of my time.

Now, the website to which I submit my PDD costs 1 million dollars to maintain. That is pretty significant. Also, my PDD is to be scored by two scorers and those scores are to be evaluated by a third individual. Now, I don't believe that there are only 3 readers, considering that there more teachers are attempting to move up in licensure levels in order to get more pay. That's a lot of people reading a lot of documents.

I may not pass this process, but I needed to attempt it in order to have an opportunity to resubmit later. I would really like to start the next school year with a raise rather than a pay cut.

It seems to me that the State of NM could save some education dollars by eliminating this process, but what do I know? I'm just a teacher.

PS-This post is just a rant to let all of my friends and family in on what I've been ranting about on Facebook for a week.

PPS--It is really good to know that I can churn out that much writing in a short amount of time, but now I've got no excuse for not posting more often. :(

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Health Care, Pregnancy, TMI

For those of you who are not already aware, I am pregnant for the second time. This pregnancy was a surprise, as my husband and I forgot birth control for the first two weeks of the new year.

With that TMI out of the way, I wanted to discuss the health care system and how it is affecting me.

I have known I was pregnant since January 15th. I called my doctor's office on January 19th. My first appointment was not scheduled until March 3rd. I will not see my actual doctor until March 16th. I will be 1 week shy of completing the 1st trimester when I finally see the doctor.

I am frustrated.

I have had some abnormalities with this pregnancy as compared to my last one. If this means that there is a problem, then waiting until the end of the first trimester to find out puts me in a dangerous predicament. Also, when I told the nurse that I was having constant nasuea, she did not recommend any remedy except a prescription for a drug that causes such extreme drowsiness that I am not allowed to drive if I take it.

So, feel like your gonna barf all day long, or go into a coma while teaching class. Not exactly ideal.

Luckily, I had fantastic care while in Albuquerque with my previous pregnancy. I was under the care of midwives, and they had an affordable (often free) solution for nearly every pregnancy ailment. Now I am just rifling through my brain to remember them all. And since I did not have as many problems with my last pregnancy, I didn't have to use very many of the remedies they casually mentioned.

Take notes when you go to the doctor. You never know when you will need the information again.

Aside: Do not go to WebMd to diagnose ANYTHING. It will just horrify you. I nearly always end up with the diagnosis of schizophrenia, stroke, or something I've never heard of. (If you suffer from those diagnoses, I am not mocking. I am simply pointing out that Web MD could not possibly "know" that from my symptom of a headache.)

My most frustrating discovery this pregnancy is that I am required to have a C-Section, because I had one 2 years ago.

This is not because my fetus is abnormally large, or because I am having multiple births, or even that I am high risk. This is because the hospital needs to schedule an anesthesiologist if one is required, so they won't be able to call one in if I "need" a C-Section during normal labor.

I also believe that it is because the hospitals know that it is more profitable for them to schedule a C-Section when it comes to insurance. I am not being a conspiracy theorist. Hospitals make more money per patient on C-Sections (especially pre-scheduled ones) than on long labors.

This choice has been robbed from me. During labor with my first child, I chose C-Section as a last resort. I had been in labor for 25 hours, and I pushed for 5 straight hours. My daughter entered the birth canal and then returned behind the cervix and turned upside down. The nurses were dumbfounded that someone could push so hard and not produce a baby. The option was to stop pushing for 2 hours (those of you who have been in labor know how hard it is to stop pushing, let alone after the baby has already entered the birth canal) and then try again, or have a C-section. I opted for the C-section.

That was my choice.

Now, between hospital insurance companies, and health insurance companies, my choice has been taken. I will not get to experience the drama and beauty of waiting for my child to be ready to leave the womb, using all of the physical, mental, and emotional force in my body, and gathering my family for support during labor. I will turn one of the most human events I have ever experienced into a clinical appointment.

This is not to disparage those that choose C-sections for health or convenience for themselves. That should be your choice that is made between you and your health care provider.

But I haven't even seen my health care provider, and the decision has been made.

C-Sections are serious surgery, and the recovery is very difficult. I was terrified that my stitches would rip, or that my scar would get infected, or that my uterus would fall apart (that last one was irrational and fueled by mild post-partum depression). One day I simply pushed my dog off of the couch and I ripped a staple. The pain was excruciating, and the wound became slightly infected, oozing and smelling. Luckily I was able to see a midwife before the infection became dangerous. I can't imagine what it is going to take for me to see a doctor here since I can't get into my OB for 3 months.

Now I will be recovering in a multi-story house, with 2 children. This increases the possibility of interrupting the healing process, and therefore infection. Infection is very dangerous if it is near a major organ (my uterus!).

I don't feel as if my health is being considered. No one has reviewed my file to determine if I am a good candidate for VBAC. I feel that I am at least due that consideration. Then I will feel that the health care providers are considering my health.

But for now, I feel as if my health is secondary to profit and convenience. That is not care.

When I finally see my doctor, I will request that he determine whether or not I would be a good candidate for VBAC, even if the hospital will not allow the process. I at least want that on my file.

I should be in charge of my health. I will do my damnedest to take charge.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Resolution Update

Well. I have been on track and off track. Such is life when we talk about resolutions. Let's run through a checklist.

I am on my second book and the second month. That sounds like a +.

I only do yoga once a week. -

I haven't been to the gym in 3 weeks. -

I've cooked (or ordered) about 5 vegetarian meals. I'll call that a +

I haven't even put new strings on the guitar. -

My writing has fallen off. -

I've graded almost everything within 3 days, but there is one grammar assignment that I can't seem to bring myself to grade. -

I haven't had to play the "hangman game" with the word QUIZ on the board. So I think my patience has increased. +

I am in the process of preparing my Dossier.

My students worked on a "friendship Constitution" as a preview to The Tragedy of Julius Caesar" and I think it got them thinking about how the play is connected to their lives. +

So that is four out of ten. Not quite a passing score, but getting there. I'll check back in in about a month. :)

Sunday, January 31, 2010


Today is my Sister's birthday. She is now 25! The two of us have been through so much together, and I can't imagine my life without her. She is bossy and kind, silly and serious, a perfectionist and a procrastinator, and so much more. My sister makes me want to be a good person, and she makes me laugh every single day. I've been told that my daughter behaves much like Amanda did when she was young, and while this means I've got a bit of a challenge on my hands, I am proud to have another person in my life who will expect the best from me but love me at my worst.

Happy Birthday Amanda! I love you so much! In honor of your birthday, here is a Cake Wreck, because we all know that is what happens when I bake a cake.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Not my problem

Yesterday, a friend and I dashed off campus at lunch to grab a quick bite at the nearby grocery store deli. We purchased our food and beverages and waited an inordinate amount of time for lids for our cups. As we were walking out we passed the line of people waiting to be served. Most were students from the high school, but there was one man in a very tight t-shirt. The shirt bore the image of our mascot, so I can only assume he was either a coach or an ardent fan of the high school athletics.

Well this man looked at my friend and pushed the corners of his mouth upward. Literally. With his thumb and index finger. Then he said, "You too. You both need to smile." We were literally just walking past him to leave the grocery store.

Coach Bossy, here's a newsflash. Neither myself nor my friend are obligated to look pleasant for you. Also, women will not act on your every command.

Now some might argue, "He just wants you to be happy." But that is not the case. If he cared about our emotional well being, he could have asked us if something was wrong, or he could have offered his help in some way. He didn't even smile at us. The closest thing that came to a smile was the leer he was giving my friend.

My father used to tell me to smile all the time, and while it pissed me off, it came from a place of love. My dad was worried that I was unhappy, but he was afraid of asking me what was making me unhappy because he probably already knew the answer. But when my dad asked me to smile more what he was really saying was, "I hope that you can be happy."

When Coach Bossy demanded smiles, he was saying, "Be more attractive for me, or more approachable." Guess what; how attracted you are to me is NOT. MY. PROBLEM.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


I watch Teen Mom. It is actually a pretty good show. When it's predecessor, 16 and Pregnant, was on I had some issues with that show, because I felt that it was unrealistic to have an entire series about teen pregnancy without including one teen who had an abortion.

So something I have noticed about Teen Mom is that many of the mothers have a negative view of daycare. This frustrates me. As a public educator, I have great faith in public education, and I believe that education can begin early.

I still hear negative comments about having Judith in daycare while I work full time. I try to let them slide, but they really bother me. I am lucky enough to have a supportive husband and family, and they understand that I need to exercise my skills in the classroom. When I stay home for extended periods of time, I begin to be resentful and depressed. This is not fair to my daughter or myself. I can't be the only one who feels this way, but people who make deriding comments about daycare don't consider this situation.

I feel that the mothers on Teen Mom may have bought into the same idea. They may be striving for an even higher plane of motherhood perfection as a way to prove their naysayers wrong. All women, mothers included, are expected to be everyone to everybody, and when we don't meet up, it can be hard.

I often have to remind myself that I am not able to meet the expectations of people who don't even know me, nor am I obligated. I just hope that the women from Teen Mom will find feminism to help them love themselves and their children the best they can.

Updated 1/20: I do not want this to come off as me saying that those who choose to stay home are silly or doing the wrong thing, nor do I believe that all daycares are good for kids. The point of this post was to say that there are many motherhoods, and it is important that everyone finds the version that works for them.

Friday, January 1, 2010


I just checked my archives, and it appears that I didn't make any (public) resolutions last year. Well here I go, so you can all hold me accountable.

Personal Life

I will read at least 1 book a month that is not school related.

I will increase my yoga practice to 3 days a week.

I will increase my strength and cardiovascular practice to at least 4 days a week.

I will cook at least 1 vegetarian meal per week.

I will practice the guitar 2 times per week.

I will write at least 3 days per week.

Professional Life:

I will grade all work that is turned in within 2 days.

I will have more patience with my ESL students.

I will submit my Professional Development Dossier

I will create units that integrate students' personal lives with the curriculum.

Here's to me trying to live up to my own expectations.

About Me

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Farmington, NM, United States
Old enough to know better, young enough to change.