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Moments When I Miss Teaching in a Public School

21 Jan

I miss my kids, but most would have graduated and moved on to college.  So, that guilt has been put to the side.  I do feel guilty when I get frustrated with classes of 30+, given that my numbers were nearing 50 when I left public school.  Especially when my other classes are around 25, which I could given anything to have some days.

I also can go on and on with my list of positives.  My children are receiving an education I could never have afforded to give them, even teaching in the public schools.  My faith can be shared with my students, especially when they ask.  I don’t have to avoid their questions regarding my beliefs or tell them I can’t discuss that by law.  I LOVE having the computers in my class.  Going from a school of nearly 1000 kids and had 50 computers to a school of 300 in the high school and 200 in the middle grades, where EVERY child has a computer is indeed a God send to this geeky teacher. The parents are involved and can always be reached.  When I said my department needed a media library, I was given more money than I needed to buy DVDs.  As I said, I can go on and on.  

But, some days I miss my paycheck.  I know that sounds superficial, especially in this job market.  J and I both switched at the same time.  He left MPS to become a FF in July of 2010 and I joined the SJCA family the next month.   He took a hit to his salary to become a firefighter and I did as well to teach in a Catholic school.  I would make the switch again in a heartbeat.  Anyone who says we are in this for the money is either a liar or a fool.  We have about half the money coming it as we did this time 2 years ago.  Which is okay, but it has forced us to be more creative.  And some things just have to wait.

We save for when there is something we want.  Resale shops and Craigslist have become my friends.  It really has helped us to focus on what really is important.  In some ways, it has been a blessing to have less money.  

O was laying down pretending to
sleep as Daddy pulled her back up!

But, right now, I would have had a nicer camera if we were both still in our public school classes.  I would have a lovely DSLR to capture my kids’ childhoods.  My Nikon point and shoot has died, which leaves me with my Droid. I love my phone.  But, as we were playing on the local snow hill today, I was missing any sort of zoom.  My sad little 4x on my phone just wasn’t cutting it.  <sigh>  

I can’t really fuss to J about it, he feels guilty and realizes all the sacrifices our family has made for him to follow his dreams.  He has even said that my camera is the one thing he wants to make sure we buy new and sooner rather than later.  I try not to talk about it when there is something I want. I try and just save for it.  But, he needs new bunker boots.  Their uniform allowance has been negotiated away, which means my savings has to go for his boots.  I found them at a local fire gear store, run by one of the BCs in J’s department.  Ebay has the same price, so why not toss the $400 his way, instead of in the hands of a stranger.  So, I will start over after the kids’ birthdays this month.  My Nikon will have to wait and the world will have to see my world through the eyes of my phone’s camera.  It is all good.  If this is my biggest concern, we are doing just fine.

D making her way back up like a big girl!

So, how I got this discussion started in my head was while we were at the sled hill at the middle school in our neighborhood last night and today.  We FINALLY got some snow and the kids were DYING to go play.  So, we got the snowboards, tubes and discs out and trekked the couple blocks over.  O has never been sledding and LOVED it.  She was not a fan of walking back up, given the amount of ice under the snow, but we were out there for 2 hours last night after dinner and nearly 3 today.  The kids had so much fun.  And I couldn’t capture it the way I would have liked.  <sigh>  I am really am not fussing.  But, my oldest was on the other side of the hill.  I couldn’t get any pictures of him.  The little ones needed my attention, especially with the drain tile at the bottom of the hill.  It is there to keep the kids from going into the street, but trust me when I say it HURTS when you run into it.  (I’m too old for such collisions!)  I think there is a sled magnet in that tube, I don’t know how many times they headed that way.  But, again, it kept me from getting any pics of the big kids.  A zoom lens would have been awesome!

So, enjoy the pictures from my camera phone.  I think I use it for a camera just as much as I do as a phone.  I feel lost without it, not because of the phone and messaging, but because of the camera.  

B – my Shaun White in the making!!
My girls – racing!

Daddy taking over, pulling the girls up the hill for me!

My angel making snow angels.
I was the keeper of the toys as
kids ran home to “go”. 😀

Starting to get tired!

My Snow Buddies waiting patiently for us to
come home!

A Cleaning Crew

30 Dec

My husband has always loved fish.  We started with a 10 gallon hex in college, with mollies and angels.  Never had much luck with gouramis, but always tried.  Black stone, “natural” plants.  Once we were married and had kids, we had that same hex and a 20 gallon long with some cool goldfish in N’s room.  His goal was to have a saltwater tank.  He got that tank about 4 years ago. A 72 gallon bow front tank.

And it was beautiful.  He loved it and loved working with it.  Live sand and live rock. The most beautiful fish you have ever seen. Eventually my FF upgraded his lighting to allow for corals and began reading up on reef safe fish and LPS vs. SPS. It was beautiful and therapeutic.   Fish tanks are documented to lower b/p and anxiety. Fish are just plain good for my husband.

And then the fire world found us.

I love my husband, I love the tank.  But I have enough on my plate with the kids, the house and my classroom.  I will walk the dogs and clean up kids’ puke, but the tank was his responsibility.  We lost some fish with his EMT classes in 2009.  He was working all week and in classes on Saturday and Sunday for 12 weeks.  He barely kept his sanity, so care of the tank was at a minimum.  

He got through that and focus returned to his guys.  The tanks took some TLC, but it became beautiful again. He joined a reefers club, started networking.  Life was good.  It was a discussion point for all who entered our home.  He loved it and the tank was beautiful, yet again.

The MFD B.I.T.  – Bureau of Instruction and Training.  This is a FireBell
picture taken at a training in 2000.

Then came the fire academy – 07/26/10.  (I heard it chanted so often the date is ingrained in my brain.)  

This turned our world upside-down.  The first 4 weeks of the academy, I was able to keep things going well. But, I started teaching at a PreK-12 Catholic school an hour away from home.  I went from teaching AP Euro and US History in an inner-city public high school (that I still miss nearly everyday, but at least the guilt has subsided) to Church History in a private Catholic school.  I got to experience class sizes under 40.  It was crazy and good all at the same time.  But I was a single mom at this point.  J’s world was at the B.I.T.  He was there from 6:30 each morning until 7 each night.  He was there on Saturdays to study in peace, practice throwing up a ladder and chopping for 5 minutes on each side, as well as to wash his turn out gear.  There was not a lot of time for us to pay attention to the tanks.  After work, the kids, the dogs…the poor fishies just lost out.

After graduation, he swore he would get it up and running. He promised.  But it was more a case of barely maintaining a tank.  There was no love, there was algae, there were water levels that were lower than is healthy, an overflow blew the ballast for the metal hallide lights and we just did not have an extra $400 laying around for a new set. Some corals, feather dusters and a few fish survived the neglect as well as our move.  But the tank was still not good, we still had to get through the rest of paramedic school.  i was not sure how this was going to go.  About 6 weeks ago, we lost Nemo.  He was an original inhabitant of our tank.  It was a said day.  At that point, I broached the subject of his dedication to this tank.  It is time consuming and costly.  I asked if he wanted me to post it on the forum or on Craigslist.  It took some soul searching.

Chopper, our last cowfish.  They are so cool!!  Kind of hover and have
the most adorable personalities!

But, he cleaned it up.  The live rock is scrubbed and set back up, the sand bed was tended to, the glass was clean, the water levels safe for life.  Two weeks ago he got another pair of clowns, teeny compared to our last set, but beautiful none-the-less, as well as a flame angel.  I think the next that will be added are a pair of Banghaii Cardinals and a Hippo Tang.  I would like a Panther Grouper and a cow fish (my personal favorite fish of all time), as well.  Lastly, the plan is to add a six line wrasse to control the bristle worms and a yellow tang, which can both be territorial, hence their late arrival. 

But, and here is where this all started. We still have some algae issues.  There is a need for a cleaning crew.  So, last night, we headed out to get a couple of Emerald Crabs, some Red and Blue Legged Crabs and some turbo snails.  The Cleaning Crew has arrived.  It is a natural way to help out my hubby with the maintenance work.  The Crew shows that he is really thinking about getting this tank up and living again.  It looks as it did in the very beginning, sparse, barren, but life is starting to splash some color.  Perhaps it is a good thing, to just start fresh.  We have done it with our careers, our move to a new city – why not the fish tank as well.

Now…if I could just get a cleaning crew for my house…

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…

Caroling for Kyle.

24 Dec

A community pulls together for a local boy with cancer

Eleven year old  Kyle McGetrick, from Barnegat, NJ is losing his long battle with cancer. As a saddened community learned of this, the local fire department surprised Kyle and his family by driving 100 fire trucks past his house last night complete with sirens, flashing lights and a visit from Santa and Mrs. Clause. In this beach town, Barnegat, Kyle’s dad, Gene, has also served as a firefighter. What started as an email that went out which expected to bring about 20 firetrucks became a spectacular convoy. This email was suddenly forwarded and passed around to all those concerned from other local fire departments leading to the biggest township display of love to a local family. Barnegat fire chief, Mike Moore gave Kyle his fire helmet among other gifts. Though Kyle often feels too sick to leave his bed, he was moved to get up and wave to all his supporters from his window. Kyle has been battling cancer more than half of his life. 
I saw this and literally stopped what I was doing.  First, posted it to my FB page and then on to here.  This little guy must have the biggest glow to him.  What started with a hope for 20 rigs, exploded into 92 trucks and a handful of other emergency vehicles.  All within 24 hours.  This is what a fire family does.  This is what the Brotherhood is all about.  If your department would like to send a patch for Kyle’s collection, here is the contact information.

Kyle McGetrick
Barnegat Fire Company, No. 1
PO Box 539
Berenegat, NJ 08005

Kiss your kids, hug your firefighters and remember what the true meaning of Christmas is, what the true meaning of family is.  The fire family will drive you nuts sometimes, but they will always be there when you need them.  This was AMAZING!

Found this and had to share!

6 Nov

Hey, Jealousy

5 Nov
Yup, I feel it rearing its ugly head.  J’s year-on party is tonight. It is a glorious celebration.  The class of 07-26-10 has survived their Cub year.  And that was hard for J.  He is at a house of cave men.  Where most of the other Cubs were let off of some of their cubbie duties, the Cubs at 2s were not.  They were still doing housework all day, still banned from the TV, still expected to speak only when spoken to at dinner.  They were never released from that bondage the way their classmates were, unless they were at another house.  That was especially hard for my hubby.  He is older than his peers.  He is the proverbial nice guy, who took it personally when he was sworn at or called out on something silly.  And yet, he made it.  Now he can nap when he wants to, he does not have to clean 6 bathrooms by himself (joys of being at HQ), he does not have to miss Packer games because they fall on his shift.  He made it. He survived. It deserves to be recognized.  
J more than earned this year on party.  BUT, no spouses allowed.  It is their official welcoming into the “brotherhood.”  Which I understand.  BUT, it is also the biggest gala night of the year for my school.  Our auction.  This auction brings in hundreds of thousands of dollars for our school. This auction allows us to keep tuition affordable.  I can’t go.  All of my babysitters are going to be performing/serving/working at said auction.  Last year I went – with my dad – because it fell on a frickin’ Blue shift.  This year, I just can’t go.  No sitter, no date, no auction. It sucks. Once again, my life gets put on hold for the fire life.
But, I also survived this first year.  I moved my classroom, by myself.  I got all the kids to their new school, by myself.  I did Thanksgiving and BOTH days of Christmas, by myself. I survived hospitalizations of kids and packing up a house – by myself.  And yet there is no recognition or acknowledgement,  no celebration.  I don’t need it, I guess. I just need a break.  My hubby was awesome and took the kids to his parents last week so I could grade papers.  That was a break, but really, grading papers is nothing fun.  It is work. 
It stings.  Once again, I am left behind.  I love my kids, but I would love a night to be a grown up.  I want to be part of this fire world.  J  was a Cub, he was kept at arm’s length away.  J is not a party animal and is content to stay home and watch TV.  I am not, I need social interaction.  I have given most of that up.  And I am jealous that he has this night.  It sucks.  I am not proud and I have been trying to dismiss it from my head.  Luckily, I had the retreats to distract me, but now all I have is laundry.  J seems to get sick whenever I have something planned with other adults – it never fails.  Two weeks ago we were supposed to go  to Six Flags with another couple.  My dad was taking the kids.  I got free tickets.  I had it all worked out.  That morning, I knew it.  He woke up with whatever it was and it was gone the next day.  His graduation party – TWICE I cancelled it because he was sick.  Same thing with holidays, he is always sick or working.  Wish I knew what it was. I need people.  He doesn’t and yet HE gets to go out, leave me with the kids and stay out late.  I am here – alone.  Tomorrow, he has to have a quiet house so he can study for a big exam on Monday.  So, I will be taking the kids to my dad’s.  He also has a study group for said exam, which means yet again, I am get to do bath time and bed time alone. When he is on his 24/48s, it is okay.  As long as he is not silly and trading a ton of days and leaving me with 6 48s in one month, it is okay.   But this sucks.  I also know that it is made worse because of his paramedic classes.  Once again, he is a kid.  I need to make sure his laundry and homework are done and his lunch is packed.  But still – it sucks.
I am trying, I am trying…
I am just hoping he does not get sick for the Christmas Party.

Wish me luck, AGAIN!

2 Nov

I teach at a Catholic pre-K-12 school.  I am the theology Department Chair and Church History guru.  What I am not, is the Campus Minister.  It is not something that I aspire to be.  I am happy being mommy #2 for a ton of kids.  I am okay being the hard nosed teacher who reminds them where the boundaries are.  I am HORRIBLY uncomfortable in the campus minister role, and here I am wearing that hat for a day or two.

We have all of our Upper Campus going on retreat for the next two days and it is a hot mess. This is the first time that everyone is going at the same time. The 6-8 graders will be working with the NET team for one day and our principal another.  I am working with the juniors tomorrow and the freshman the day after (our Campus Minister is bringing someone in for the opposite days) and our sophomores and seniors are on an overnight retreat.  Last year, I was a chaperone for the sophomore retreat, it was a relationship retreat and it was AWESOME! It was SO tiring, but the kids were great, it helped me build a relationship with them for this year.  The leaders at the Tyme-Out Center were phenomenal  and I was happy with someone else putting it together and me working with my group of misfit toys.  This year I am planning, implementing and leading a day long retreat.  All day with 75 teenagers each day.  Let’s just say that I am out of my comfort zone, especially given the fact that I was not given much notice. BUT, I had 100 balloons blown up (just so the kids can pop them tomorrow!), 10 large washers with 8 strings tied to each for some teambuilding with tennis balls and solo cups, a really cool Glog (in my opinion anyway) for Run, See, Do, some cool reflective moments (I hope), some recently blessed class rings for the ring ceremony and a few good laughs in store (Again, at least I hope so).  And yet, I am freaking out as we speak and my hubby is at E2 for a study group.  My kids are acting like loons, all because I really need to gt something done.  7:30pm can’t come soon enough!!
So, I chose a theme that revolves around humility, empathy, compassion and respect.  The verse I chose for the school year’s theme reflects this as well:

As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved,clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness,humility, meekness and patience

~Colossians 3:12

It was a feeling that I was getting from our kids, something that they were lacking in their everyday interactions.  I am hoping that the next two days will be a good reminder for them.  My goal is for them to feel rejuvenated and to perhaps get in contact with their faith, while having fun and not realizing that they are developing their spirituality.  I took a lot of the games and activities from my days in Ropes and Challenges and adapted the reflection to reflect our theme.  I am hopeful that we will be able to pull this off.  Please wish me luck!

Verses to guide us from the Gospels…

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

~Matthew 7:7
“Do unto others, whatever you would have them do to you.”  ~ Matthew 7:12
“For the one who is the least among all of you, is the one who is the Greatest.”  ~Luke 9:38

Can we say, DUH????

29 Oct

Okay, I have 2 big k9 boys.  I mean BIG.  Great Pyrenees are a giant breed, the slobber and they shed and they love whole heartedly.  My wonderful firefighter took my kids to his parents house so I could get papers graded and grades entered.  It was so nice to just be able to work.  To not have to deal with bickering or tattling or mommy separation anxiety or, or, or.  I graded papers this morning.  I ate lunch in peace.  I even got  an hour long nap in.  I can’t tell you the last time that happened.  I definitely needed this to recharge my batteries.  So, it is a nice day and I thought it would be a perfect day to go to the dog park.  We are there several times a week, but this is the first time I have gone totally alone.  That means me, handling a couple hundred pounds of dog alone.  No worries.  They love the dog park and the dog park loves them.  They are the hit of the crowd, everyone flocks to them.

Today was interesting.  We had our first doggy argument.  Scares the heck out of me.  My guys are sweet, but their mouths are so big, they could fit most other dogs’ heads IN their mouths. The other dog (probably a 50lb mix) started yapping and my boys had to go see what he was talking about.  So, they got there and this little guys jumps at Bear, snarling and snapping.  Well, Giovanni did not like someone yelling at his guy and he got involved.  Words were exchanged, the mutt started crying, his owner started freaking out.  I pull my boys away and the owner shrieks at me, “How can you let your monsters come scare my baby?  He doesn’t even like dogs, especially not big dogs.”  I think I stood there with my jaw slack for a few moments.  Really??  Did she just say what I thought she said?  So, several people came to the boys’ defense and the woman and her family were asked to leave.  But I couldn’t believe what she said.  First it was a dog park and second she was in the BIG dog area.  Umm, yeah, okay.  Bye crazy lady.

On a lighter note, we met our first other giant breed tri-pawed.  It was very cool to see.  The whole park buzzed about it.  It was very cool.  So, now, I am home.  The k9s are sleeping, my house is still quiet and I am getting caught up on my DVR.  I would say that this makes for a great day!