Saturday, February 25, 2006

Big day!

I am thrilled to announce the arrival of our first car seat! We're so excited, and would really like to thank our family and friends for all your support. The 3-year road to this car seat was an emotional and amazing learning experience. Please join us as we welcome this car seat into our family.

Punky says, "Yawn, aren't I so cute?" I am thinking about strapping him in the car seat and having him sleep near us at night.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

We'll see you in Hollywood!

Yesterday we experienced victory at our homestudy interviews. We're on to the next round! This is not a big surprise, but it is encouraging. Our social worker said that we were one of the most thorough questionnaires she ever read, so there were not too many things that she needed to clarify during the interviews. We felt really good about it.

So, we will go back late next week for a 2-day seminar during which we will receive a whole lotta details on the rest of the process. As soon as we complete a rough draft of our 1-page profile and show that we have each read at least three books, our social worker will schedule a home visit to make sure that we have things like working smoke detectors, a fire extinguisher, and outlet covers in the house. Guess what - we do!

We drove up to Dallas on Sunday afternoon in a leetle bit of weather. It wasn't too bad, but since we had only been there once before we were not entirely clear about how to get there, and we took the scenic route. We made it to our hotel in the freezing cold (high of 31 degrees in Dallas Sunday), and walked to a restaurant for a burger. The cheesiest music was playing and we had a fun time making silly googly faces at each other. We went back to the hotel, went to the hot tub, watched the Olympics, and an episode of the Golden Girls! (You know, the one where the girls are arrested for prostitution because they are in the wrong place at the wrong time?)

After our interview yesterday we of course ate Taco Bueno, which for some reason one of us had mentioned in our adoptive parent questionnaire. We also stopped to visit some friends who we haven't seen for awhile and who have a new baby, had a yummy dinner and got the skinny on what kind of goods we might need for a newborn in the house. It was a really fun and eventful two days.

As each step in this process is finished, it feels somewhat anticlimactic. Why is that? Probably because the minute I got home I had to change gears again and become professional woman. It was nice to get back into the routine after several days off. The next few weeks are going to be doosies!

(If you're wondering about the "Hollywood" reference, that's from American Idol, which happens to be on tonight.)

Sunday, February 19, 2006

About, face!

I am coming to you live from the baby's junk room. I mean, the baby's room. Oh, who am I kidding, it is the yellow storage room. But someday, God knows when, our baby will sleep in here. Do I feel a draft? Is it too close to the street? Will the baby be scared of the gorilla with the guitar? I can't imagine what other colors will look good in here. Should we buy white furniture or a pale wood. I think it is cold in here...

We are leaving in the next hour or so for our first interviews at our adoption agency. R is taking a test for his business management course, and it sounds like he is finished. We will now pack and head off to Mesquite, Texas to stay at the Fairfield Inn that dear, pseudo-crunchy Christine recommended. It will be our home away from home for the next few months. (I hear my husband zipping up his computer bag, and soon he will catch me sitting in here on the floor admist piles of stuff that we need to store somewhere.)

Oh, goodness. He is ready to pack. He's packing. I can hear him packing.

Funny how when you look forward to something for a long time, that when the day actually comes it seems like no big deal. It also feels strange. All those trips we made to the fertility doctor for ultrasounds, shots, surgeries, etc. are a distant memory and now we are interviewing with an adoption agency that we actually chose and really did all the paperwork in application.

Here is a picture of us in our home away from home after our orientation meeting last October.

Do we look bewildered? I can't believe it's been four months since then. This interview seemed so far away then.

So, off we go! It is a very rare 36 degrees in Texas today, so we're leaving early so we can go slow if we run into any weather. It will be before dark when we get there, so I know we'll be fine. It's not raining right now.

Tonight we will get dinner somewhere and then carry on our nightly tradition of watching The Golden Girls on DVD on my laptop in bed. Tomorrow after the interviews we will eat at Randy's favorite restaurant, Taco Bueno, and probably end up carrying back a stack of burritos for the freezer. This man is a fan.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

The Cavalry!

Music educators to the rescue!

I returned last night from the Texas Music Educator's Association conference in San Antonio. Upon getting there the first day I was wounded, now I just have a slight limp. Several things happened.

One, I was surrounded by music educators, and I knew without a doubt that many would have had a similar first experience as I did. I was on the phone leaving a message for a colleague and I said that I would tell her later about my nightmare teaching experience. A woman on the escalator in front of me turned around and gave me a very sympathetic look and patted me on the shoulder. When I told her the grade level was middle school she winced and looked even more sympathetic.

Second, I went to several sessions about how to incorporate middle school boys' voices into the choir. Part of my problem with the student I had to send to the office is that he is a good musician and doesn't get the chance to use his talent because there are only three boys in the group. If this kid is not singing he will be causing trouble. If I can get them singing more there will be fewer problems. Instead of having them all sing the same part, which they cannot do at this level, I need to determine their individual ranges and select parts for each to sing accordingly.

Third, I talked to my university supervisor and we both came to the conclusion that I should not have been in the place where I was in charge of the class and the only adult in the room. My instinct was that I shouldn't have agreed to babysit, I mean substitute, especially this difficult class, and I should have gone with my gut on that one. I was trying to help my teacher out so she could have a break from this challenging class. My supervisor was surprised that a school district like this filled with students from their backgrounds would be so difficult. After I sent the one kid to the office the other kids, probably subconsciously, decided to test my resolve even further. She suggested that I pull this student aside before class on Tuesday and reiterate that his behavior was inappropriate but that I think he is a great musician and that I enjoy having him in the class (which is stretching it at this point, but maybe by Tuesday...)

Fourth, my choral supervisor's daughter is in the class and said that she was so furious at some of the students that she wanted to kill them. This student is diligent, quiet, and sweet, and agreed that some of the students were out of control.

Time to drop this, I've had enough. It's over and Tuesday is a new day. Breathe, in and out. (Do I really want to be a parent? Our child will turn into one of these teenager beasts some day. But, you can count on me never to say to a childless woman, "You can have mine..."

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Oops - I almost forgot

I have a personal life! A few short months ago I had forgotten that I had a professional life, and now I've gone the other way. I don't know why I go to extremes (insert Billy Joel song track here). The past few weeks have been pretty nuts, and the next few look like more of the same.

I don't know whether to write about the excitement of our personal/adoption life, or the ups and downs of student teaching. At any given moment I feel like I might burst into tears on either account. Yesterday was an amazing test for me and I'm not so sure I passed. It was an afternoon that I will never forget. Enough suspense?

Yesterday afternoon I taught three middle school classes a capella. It was terrible. It was the first time that I totally understood why some people quit student teaching. I am still getting over it, and even today I still tear up thinking about it. I want to teach them music. I didn't sign up to be a babysitter.

Up until now I have received a lot of positive feedback about my positive and encouraging demeanor as a teacher. I feel comfortable in front of a class and I seem like Amy when I watch it on video (it's painful anyway!) I flew solo for the first time on Tuesday afternoon with a 6th grade fine arts class. I was not prepared for this, as I did not remember being informed that I would be in charge of class that day. I felt pretty good about it! Not great, but OK. Later I received a comment from my cooperating teacher that the theater teacher, who was in the room as I taught, said that I was more soft-spoken then than they were, and that I might want to be more whatever. Granted, I am a sensitive person, but that made me feel bad. I am me, not someone else.

I know I need to be firm and consistent. I know I am not the students' friend, that I am their teacher. But I'm sorry, I am not an authoritative, stern person. Teaching that way seems ridiculous for me, because I would be pretending.

But pretend, I did. And it stunk. I had the worst time. I sent a kid to the office, after I would not let him go to the nurse. I gave out warnings, raised my voice, and did not keep my poker face on. The students did not know what hit them! For that part I am glad, because I know they expected me to let them do anything they want. Do they think I'm stupid? Like telling me they like my outfit, or telling other students that they love me is going to cause me to let them get away with terrible, disrispectful classroom behavior?

One student raised her voice to me because she did not want to sit on the front row like the classroom teacher wanted her to, and as we had discussed the previous day. I told her that she needed to follow directions and she threw her purse on the floor! I gave her a stupid warning. How could I not? How inappropriate was that behavior? Another student remained seated when I asked all the students to stand up, then looked at me with this defiant look. She had done the same thing the previous day when I asked her to sit in the front row with every other Part 2 singer in the room. What defiance! Others talked endlessly, but by that time I had already given out three stupid warning slips, one detention, and one freaking trip to the office. Are you kidding me?

So today I keep crying. It's heartwrenching. They have such potential, and so do I. Nobody got to live up to it during Nightmare on 8th (period) Street. I am so frustrated with myself for not commanding the students' respect without being the prison warden. (Tears starting back up again). I like those hateful kids. (I had written "love," but come on, do not let me get carried away here.)

I've just been dying to talk about this with someone, but the last thing I want to hear is an experienced teacher with a no-nonsense, strong personality giving me the "pep-talk" about how I have to be strong, blah blah blah like I don't know that. I know that. I know I'm not their friend, I know I have to be firm, I know I have to start out being more strict than I may end up being after earning the students' respect. I know they are middle schoolers and are supposed to stretch the limits a little bit, that they are learning to think for themselves, that it's not personal, etc., but that just doesn't make it all better right now. I am disappointed in myself and I am disappointed in them.

By the way, 6th grade choir, 6th period was great. I don't even remember if I handed out any wardenings - I mean warnings. I hate those things.

So tomorrow I am back to the Texas Music Educator's Conference in San Antonio. I went down this morning and came back to teach piano lessons. It was so nice not to have to teach today. I don't know how it would have gone after yesterday. I will be ready to go back on Tuesday, but in the meantime it will be nice to have a few days off among other educators who have been through this student/novice teacher thing. It's lovely to see and hear conscientious middle school choirs perform during breaks.

I don't even have time to think about our adoption interviews on Monday!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Tee hee

I don't know why I think this is so funny, but I do.

Last night after a yummy dinner at Bombay Bistro I ran into the grocery store for some, um, things, and I saw something that made me giggle inside. I almost laughed out loud.

A man buying an E.P.T. brand pregnancy test! He had this serious look on his face and held the box down by his side. It was like watching a movie for me. A comedy. I even felt giddy - I won't be buying any of those (or sending my man to buy one). I wanted to pat him on the back and say, "I see what you're doing. It's going to be OK."

Why did this strike me as being so funny?

Thursday, February 09, 2006

No fair!

Hey! Where did my "The Call" post go? It is gone, gone, gone. Darn. I want it back! :o(

Has this happened to anyone else? I know that I didn't delete it, it's just gone.

Our interview is scheduled for February 20th in Dallas.
The seminar is March 2nd and 3rd.

Sorry about this anticlamactic post. I am punishing blogger for the error.

I liked my old post the most.

Again, :o(

Got to lesson plan for tomorrow. Friday, yay!

Donde esta my post?

Hey...what's going on? (Spoken in the voice of Will Ferrell doing his Harry Cary impersonation.)

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Beauty and the Geek!

And I'm the geek! Yes, that is a lovely, one-piece shorts pantsuit and white slingbacks. Somebody stop me.

(Oh yeah, that's my brother.)