Monday, September 29, 2008

Magic Marker Monday

A blog that I like always has "Magic Marker Mondays," where the author features her kids' artwork. She always has scans of their pictures, but since our scanner is broken (waiting anxiously for Christmas for Santa to bring us a new one), I figured that taking a picture would at least give me a start. Here's one of Bryn's scribblings.... When asked what it was, she told me it was a horse (just in case you couldn't figure that out on your own). :)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What To Say

Last week, my small group was talking about how no one is ever sure what to say to someone who is going through a difficult time, and how there ought to be a handbook for times like that.

So here it is--the handbook of what to say (and what not to say) to someone who is experiencing a miscarriage.

What to Say

* "I am so sorry for your loss."

* "I'm praying for you."
This only counts if you actually are.

* "I love you."

Things that Might Be Okay to Say, Given the Circumstances

* "I know how you feel."
You can only say this if you have been through the same thing, meaning miscarriage or other similar fertility problems. At this point, the only people who can say this to me are moms who have been through multiple miscarriages, because how you feel by the third time is different than how you feel the first time (although both are horrible).

* "Is there anything I can do?"
Often, my gut reaction in my intensely depressed state is to think that no, the baby is dead, there's nothing that anyone can do. However, this becomes a good thing to say if you follow it up with a specific offer as to what you can do. Good things that people have said to me have included offers for dinner, phone numbers for a good doctor, and a night of escapism with a visit from a friend.

Things You Should Never Say
* "Medically speaking, it wasn't really a baby yet--it was just cells."
This was actually said to me by my doctor... thus why I will be finding a new doctor. And for those of us that believe that life begins at conception, this is flat-out insulting.

* "There's a reason for everything" or "There's a reason that this happened."
Probably true, but unless you are God, you don't know that reason, so this is an empty platitude. And for the record, I really wish God would fill me in as to His reasons, but I know that not how He works.

* "I didn't realize you were trying."
I didn't realize I was obligated to keep you updated on that.

* "At least you already have two beautiful daughters."
Yes, I do, and I'm grateful for them every day. But when I look at them, that also reminds me that there should have been other beautiful daughters and sons that didn't make it. I adore my children more than anything else on earth, but that doesn't mean that I can view them as a replacement for others.

* "It will be okay."
It never will be okay. I will never look back on this and say, oh, it's okay that baby died.

* "The timing wasn't right. After all, you've just gone back to work."
A job is just a job. No job can even begin to compare with the miracle of life. Yes, I happen to really like the job I have just started. But they do have maternity leaves, and anyway, no job is as important as family and life.

* "It's probably good that this happened early on."
This comment is sometimes accompanied by "If the baby had grown to term, there would probably have been something wrong with it."
A miscarriage is not a good thing, not at any point during the pregnancy. And even if there was something wrong with the baby when it came, that certainly wouldn't stop me from loving it.

* "You know, miscarriages are common. They happen in 1 out of every X pregnancies."
I have heard this figure range everywhere from 1 in 8 pregnancies to 1 in 3 pregnancies. But that statistic doesn't make me feel better; it just makes me feel sad for all the other women that have experienced this. In any case, I am now at 3 of 5, which I believe puts me over the "average" no matter what figure you use.

I don't say all of this to insult anyone who has said these things. In fact, I know that before I experienced this myself, I said similar things to other people going through hard times. I know that everyone means well and say these things in love. I guess I'm just hoping this might help others who have gone through the same thing.

Hello and Goodbye

I know that posting this news to the internet is probably not the best way to fill in my many wonderful friends, but here goes.

Last week, a blood test at my doctor's office revealed that I was pregnant. This came as surprise to us, but a very welcome one. While we are not desperate to have another baby now, here, today, this minute, we do want to have a big family and are thrilled to have another one when it comes.

The excitement lasted for less than three days, before a second blood test revealed that my levels had dropped dramatically. The nurse asked, "Have you started bleeding yet?"

Had it not been for that phonecall from the doctor's office, I wouldn't have known anything was wrong. As it was, I hoped against hope that they were wrong. But 20 hours after that call, it began.

This is my third miscarriage. And it happened two years to the week after the first one.

After the second miscarriage, I went to a fertility specialist, and we thought they had figured out the problem. As soon as we found out about this pregnancy, my doctor put me back on all the same prescriptions as when I was pregnant with Shay. Obviously that didn't work. So we are left to question whether there is something bigger wrong, or if we just didn't "catch" this in time. In either case, not only is this extremely painful in the present, but it also does not bode well for the future.

I don't really know what to say beyond that. Or rather, I don't know what to say that I haven't said before. This is the third time this has happened. I feel worn out, worn down. There's nothing new to say.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Aunt Tistin

Bryn and Shay absolutely love having "Aunt Tistin" (this would be Brynese for Kristin) living here with us. Bryn especially wants to be with Kristin all the time, even when Mommy and Daddy are home. This may be because Aunt Kristin roughhouses with her all the time (thus why she now has a huge rugburn on her forehead) and lets her do all kinds of fun things that parents would not normally permit (thus why I had to pick dried pasta off my wall last week). Kristin is such an awesome babysitter and is so patient with the girls. Aunt Kristin's room is also now the preferred play location, as it has all kinds of neat things to "play" with, like mascara, high-heeled shoes, and a laptop computer. This picture really sums it all up--after a long day of babysitting, Kristin was attempting to unwind by watching tv and checking her email. Bryn still wanted to be with her though, and decided to use her auntie as a pillow while watching tv. Such cute girls!!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Friday Fill-In #13

1. I enjoy my job, even though it keeps me far more busy than I like.

2. How to get all my school work done, while keeping up on housework, and most importantly, spending time with my family, is something I wonder about often lately.

3. In your heart, you knew that Baby Parker would be fine--and she is, all 9 pounds and 11 ounces of her.

4. Take Bryn, add a little dress, and you end up with a princess.

5. Life has gifted me with beautiful daughters.

6. Having a really great dream is an instant vacation.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to going to bed (the night is almost over, but the best part was getting to meet Baby Parker), tomorrow my plans include grading, napping, and visiting with Dad and Diane, and Sunday, I want to do more of the same!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

13 Weird Things About My School

1. Our schedule. We have different schedules for different days, labelled "A," "B," "C," "D," and "E." And these days do not necessarily correspond with the days of the week, although sometimes they do. For example, last week was Monday off, then ABCD, and this week is EBCD. BCD usually flow together, in that order, but As and Es can occur pretty much anywhere. I even here there's a crazy thing called a "modified F schedule," but I haven't personally witnessed that yet.

2. Double and single periods. This is actually an extension of #1. On an A day, each class meets for 45 minutes, plus a 20-ish minute community meeting--more on that later. On a B day, I teach double 1st (meaning 90 minutes intstead of 45), single 3rd, single 4th, double 5th, and single 7th. But on a C day, 1 teach double 2nd period, double 3rd, double 6th, and single 7th. And on a D day (like today), I teach single 1st, single 2nd, double 4th, single 5th, and double 7th. And on an E day, all the classes meet, but unlike an A day, they're all 40 minutes instead of 45. Those spare minutes go into the community meeting, and we usually have a guest speaker or special presentation.

3. Bell schedule--or lack thereof. As you can probably glean from #1 and #2, periods begin and end at different times depending on the day. One would think this would create a logistical nightmare for the bell schedule. The solution? We just don't have bells. The teachers just have to keep that day's schedule in their heads (which I stink at) and let the students go at the appropriate time. This makes it virtually impossible to determine if students are actually "tardy" for class or not, as it's all kind of a guessing game as to when their previous teachers released them.

4. Community Meeting. You know how normal schools have morning announcements over the PA system? Or, maybe if they're really fancy, on a TV? We don't do that. Instead, the entire student body and faculty troops over to Andrews Hall (more on that in a minute) and have a big old meeting. At this meeting, anybody who wants to can get up on stage and give an announcement. It can be anything from "the boys' soccer team won our game last night" to "does anybody want to be in my ping-pong group? I'm going to call it the Pepperoni Club" to "so, what do you all think of the mentoring process?"

5. We like to applaud. A lot. All of the announcements mentioned in #5 received enthusiastic responses.

6. The buidlings. Apparently when University opened, they just had Andrews Hall, which contained a (small) auditorium which doubles as a cafeteria, a gym, some offices, and four classrooms. It also had two buildings called "The White House" and "The Ranch House," because that's what they looked like. Both were used as various offices. As the school grew, they added "portable classrooms," aka trailers. Last year, they added Fairbanks Hall, which is now the building that has all the classrooms, and got rid of the portables. So currently, classes are in Fairbanks, with the exception of music and gym, which are in Andrews. Morning meetings are also in Andrews. Offices are in the White House, the the Ranch House is a storage facility. Students and faculty walk between these buildings several times a day. There are also many picnic tables outside, where students can sit and visit. There is also a legit house on "campus." The headmaster and his wife (who also happens to be the Director of Admissions) live there.

7. Food. While our assistant headmaster "thinks that we have a working kitchen," it has never been used. We do not provide school lunches. Instead, every year we contract with five different semi-fast food-type restaurants to bring in food. The kids sign up for meals and pay for meal as the beginning of the year, and the restaurants make them and deliver them to the school every day. This year we have Jimmy John's, Panera, Subway, a Chinese place, and a pizza place. If a student is absent, their lunch still gets delivered, since they paid for a semester's worth of food in August. Therefore, their lunch is then up for grabs amongst the teachers. Today I ate free Panera. Nice.

8. Drinks. There are no soda machines in Fairbanks, but there are some in Andrews. (There are also regular vending machine and one that sells various ice cream products.) But the kids all thought that the sodas were too expensive ($1.25), so they got together and decided to have a "drink shop." This basically means that somebody buys large cases of soda at Sam's Club, they store them in the school kitchen (since goodness knows it's not being used for anything else), and then sell them for 50 cents each at lunch. The administration thinks this is great because the kids have had the initiative to organize it all.

9. Classrooms. Right now, Alicia and I are the only teachers who actually share a classroom, but other teachers have done so in the past. The master plan is that when the school is filled to capacity (we grow every year), all classrooms will be shared by two teachers. What this means, in practice, is that teachers who share classrooms end up teaching and working in weird places during the day. For example, I teach in my own classroom during periods 1, 2, and 3, and then I have to go find some hidey-hole in the school (or sit at my desk with my headphones on) to prep during 4th and 5th, and then I teach in a Spanish teacher's room during 6th and 7th. Alicia finds random places to prep during 1st and 3rd, teaches in a history room during 2nd, and teaches in our room 4th through 7th. This leads to much confusion when trying to track down teachers.

10. Technology. Every student and faculty member has a laptop. We use them often throughout the day. We also use Edline, which is a site that allows teachers to post all homework, notes, class announcements, etc. All of the parents have their own Edline accounts too, so they can see their students' assignments, grades, etc. And all students and staff have email accounts through a school-wide email program. Every classroom has a printer in it. Every classroom also has a built-in projector for showing movies, Powerpoints, etc. However, we have the dumbest and slowest online gradebook program that I can imagine.

11. The mentoring program. Every student is paired with a faculty member, who serves as their "mentor" throughout their four years of high school. We meet with our mentees (each of us has 8-10 kids) for 30-45 minutes every other week and talk through all of their life and academic issues. We also guide them through the college application process. If a student is having problems in, say, math class, the parents don't contact the math teacher--they contact the mentor, who serves as a liason and works things out for them. We don't have any guidance counselors at our school; in a way, we each fill this role for a few students.

12. Size. I know that a lot of private schools are small, but after teaching at public schools (including Carmel High School, which is one of the biggest in the state), this feels ridiculously tiny. We currently have 203 students, which is the biggest enrollment ever. (We've now been open for 9 years.) We plan to continue growing until we reach 400 kids (100 in each class) (although right now each class size is different--there are only 30-some seniors, and 70-some freshmen), then stay at that number.

13. Feeder schools. The freshman class alone comes from 28 different middle schools, everything from Orchard (a swanky private prep school) to IPS (Indianapolis Public, not exactly known for their academic excellence).

In spite of the fact that I have now reached 13 items, there are still plenty more weird things to be mentioned. I may have to have a continuation of this list for next week!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Wordless Wednesday #10

Suggested captions?

Places to Go

Look how big my baby is getting! This is her newest trick. She crawls over to the stairs and climbs up the first step. She then tends to look around with a big grin on her face, like she's saying "Look what I did! Be proud of me!" She never makes it past the first stair though, and after a while, she starts to fuss and cry because she can't figure out how to go any higher or how to get back down the floor. She's pulling up on every piece of furniture she can find, and she's also been known to use me, Ben, Kristin, Bryn, and the dogs as objects to push up off of. On Sunday, she pushed up on a little kid's chair, and she took several steps across the room while pushing it and supporting her weight on it. I'm not ready for her to be this big!

Wordless Wednesday #9

Suggestions for a caption?

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Brynie Big Girl

My Brynie is officially a big girl. Today was her first day of preschool. She's attending nursery school at a nearby church, which we heard about from Cathy and Eric. Actually, Eric attended this same preschool when he was a kid, and their nieces attend there now, so it comes highly recommended. :) It's not too intense--2 hours a day, 2 days a week. Bryn will probably go there for three years, since the program is acually for 3 and 4 year olds, but we snuck her in as a 2 year old. Chris (who is almost 2 months younger than Bryn) also started this year, so they're definitely the babies of the class. We're not super-competitive parents that want Bryn to learn multiplication early or anything; largely we just want her in the class so she can work on her social skills. Most of the time, she isn't very interested in playing with other kids, and she's absolutely terrible at sharing.... usually when another kid wants to play with her, she throws herself on top of her toys and screams "mines!" So clearly she needs a little work in that area.

I took a half day from work today so that I could take her to her first day of school--I definitely wasn't going to miss that! She had a really good time and didn't want to leave at the end. Here are some pictures of my big girl on her first day of school....
ready to leave for school:
hard at work on a puzzle with one of her teachers:

"Brynie build tower!" The teachers were also impressed that she sorted by color all on her own:
On a side note, now that it's officially September, I'm going to attempt to turn over a new leaf and get back to blogging with more regularly. Perhaps even more importantly, I also hoping to eventually get caught up on reading all of your blogs (which I haven't done for at least a week and a half) in an effort to find out what's going on with all of you!