Thursday, January 29, 2009

Adventures in substituting chapter...6?

I have lost track of how many stories I have told you about my subbing adventures, but today was one of the best.

I subbed in a severely emotionally challenged (SEC) class in an elementary school today. There were 5 boys ranging in age from 6-8 in the class AND I had an aide. (You know how I love a class with an aide...) The boys were absolutely adorable, and the day was a real adventure. For one thing, it was field trip day!! We went bowling for the majority of the morning, and had a wonderful time. Field trips are always fun!

I know I have told you this before, but I love special ed. And these kids were no exception. There was a moment today when one of the boys lost control, overturned a desk in a rage and threw a world-class tantrum. That was a little bit scary, but thankfully, the aide knew how to deal with it and I simply stood out of the line of fire and let her handle it. She had to restrain him physically, and it was hard to watch. That kind of thing happens fairly often in SEC classes, and it was disturbing to me. Another reason I am glad to have an aide!!

Anyway, it was a great day - interesting, educational, entertaining and enjoyable. All the hallmarks of a great day subbing.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Things that have surprised me lately

1. Subbing.
I have really begun to enjoy subbing, much to my surprise! I have figured out what kinds of classes I enjoy and which ones make me want to run screaming from the room, never to return. I am very surprised to realize that my very very favorite kind of sub job is special ed or resource room. And if it's in an at-risk school, more the better. I love those kids! I don't know if it fulfills some need in me to be needed, or if there even IS a deeper reason. I just love those kids and those jobs. So, since no one wants those jobs BUT me, I can almost always get them! The jobs I loathe are the ones I thought I'd like the most. Yuppie, upper-middle-class schools with little yuppie kids in them. Can't stand em!

2. Vegas.
So, although I will still tell you that this isn't my very favorite place that we've lived, it is really growing on me. For one thing, EVERYONE comes here! Or wants to, anyway. A friend revealed on her FB page that she is getting divorced. Within a span of 48 hours, we have a group of about 10 friends coming out here in April for a girls' weekend. And all I have to do is show up! :) No plane ride, no rescheduling my life, just driving the 10 miles down to the strip and having a great time. I am not sure I could have talked all of those people into coming to Green Bay for a weekend... Anyway, we are about to start teaching a class at our church, Chase has been accepted into our first choice school for Jr/Sr High, we have made some good friends and we are beginning to actually like it here. Ok, so I'm the only one who really needed convincing, but it was a tough sell, and I'm glad to report I'm thawing.

3. My book.
I know, I've not discussed my book recently here. Some of you have emailed and asked me about it. I'm sad to tell you that the agent was a fake. A scam. Giving me false hope and wanting my money. I need to start marketing it again, and I will. I just had to admit that first. I got scammed, and it hurt my feelings...

4. My family.
Divine hubby and I celebrated our 14th anniversary last week. It's funny that on one hand, I can't believe it has been that long, and at the same time, I can't imagine my life without him, Megan and Chase. We've had quite a ride - had more than our share of heartache, difficulty and pain, but also more than our share of love, laughter and joy. Sometimes it is easier to dwell on the problems and wonder "why us??" but we've been so blessed in so many ways, that when I think of the blessings, I have to smile. We've created a home in four states now...and we have the friends and family to show for it. I love my hubby and our life together! :)

So, that's my post for today. I'm feeling introspective and grateful for my life, my family, my job and even my zip code!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


So, now that I have your attention (I sure hope you spotted my mistake already!), I can say how sad it was when I was subbing today that I rounded a corner (in the office, thank you very much), saw a very well-designed board with a lovely picture of President Obama in the middle and the word "INAUGERATION" written across the top.


At a school, no less.

And in the OFFICE where the ADMINISTRATORS walk by it 1000 times every day. My hope is that it was just put up today, but since the INAUGERATION was yesterday, I'm guessing it's been there awhile.

And if you are wondering WHY, STQ are you so dismayed with the word INAUGERATION...then go back to school and take spelling again. :)

Hello, hasn't every single television station, newspaper, magazine and website written that word a gazillion times for the past 2 months?

It's INAUGURATION, people.

And if you're wondering, yes, I did inform the office that it was misspelled. They kinda glared at me, but assured me it would be fixed. My comment was "I mean, in a school, ya oughtta spell it right, ya know?" I've probably been banned from subbing in that particular school again...sigh

Monday, January 19, 2009

Mea culpa

Today, I officially lost it. I listened to too much talk radio, I watched too much CNN and FOX news, I read too many blogs and news reports on TV, and I lost it. This blog has never been about politics (ok, occasionally a little bit) and I have absolutely NO interest in it becoming about politics. I got very involved in this election, and have not quite gotten over the results. I have even been considering running for office, but am now rethinking that.

The problem is, I can't turn it off. There is so much that is upsetting and disturbing and downright WRONG about American politics, on both sides of the aisle, frankly. It keeps me up nights when I am immersing myself in it. And I think even if I were President (heaven forbid), I couldn't actually change much of it.

Some people find that exciting, I guess. Or challenging, or whatever. I find it absolutely maddening, and it gets my blood boiling when I think of all of the idiocy that happens in the name of government. Our founding fathers are getting no eternal rest, rolling constantly in their graves at the insanity we have allowed our country to embrace.

And honestly, there is no fixing it. It's like trying to patch a leak on a giant water pipe made of chicken wire. The problems are too big, and too prevalent. (I'm getting all depressed again...)

So, I've decided NOT to obsess about it anymore. I allowed myself to get all manic and crazy today, and it absolutely ruined the day for me. Ruined a perfectly good MLK day where the temp was 70, the skies were blue and all was right with the world.

Tomorrow, I will let the world celebrate, and be happy for what I have. I have a great marriage with a wonderful man, 2 fantastic kiddos, a warm home full of laughter and love, tons of loving family, friends to die for and generally a great life. Tomorrow, I will take the burden of running the world OFF of my shoulders (whew) and let it run itself.

This is where I get political. Sorry, couldn't help myself.

Today's post has been deleted by the author who is so angry, disgusted and outraged about the obscene spending in Washington this week that she got nasty.

Can't say tomorrow will be any better. I'll blog again when I am able to think clearly.

I pray for wisdom, perspective and patriotism for you, Mr. Obama.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Yet another reason Chase is in private school

Tonight is the much-anticipated state of the state speech by our exalted Governor here in Nevada. As is the case across the nation, it's not going to be his most upbeat and positive speech, for sure. Nevada leads the nation in foreclosures, has a higher-than-average unemployment rate and has a beyond pathetic educational system.

So, how are we going to address these issues, you may ask? Well, one way they are planning to help out us little folks is by CUTTING teacher pay by 6%.

Um, what??

Yep, that's the brilliant idea here. The GOOD schools stink and are dangerous here. People are selling their excess organs on ebay in order to pay for private school. So, let's cut the pay of the already pitifully-paid teachers so the ones who are actually hanging on for the sake of the kids will quit and we'll be stuck with the ones who simply don't have the drive or initiative to quit and find something that pays more than minimum wage for your Master's in Education. FANTASTIC IDEA. Really thinkin' big picture, fellas.

Can't wait for the gazillion dollar study to be done on this little gem 10 years from now.

Question: Was this a good idea?
Answer: No. ($100,000)

Question: Uh, why not? It saved us tons of money!! Especially when the good teachers left in disgust and the only ones left were the ones who would never qualify for a raise in the first place. Think of the savings!!
Answer: Our children can no longer speak ANY language, no one has any idea what the capital of Ohio is (or on what continent you might find it) and the number of seniors who can add double-digit numbers has dropped to a single-digit percentage. ($100,000)

But think of the savings.

I hate to be a nay-sayer, but I think this is a very bad idea. The other reason it's a bad idea is because teachers' pay is protected by LAW. So, as soon as our idiot legislators pass this, the teachers' union will sue them.

More money for lawyers, less money for everybody else while they battle this out. And the state will probably lose, so we'll have LOST money while trying to squeeze savings out of the LAST PLACE THEY SHOULD HAVE EVER LOOKED.

When in heaven's name will they realize that cutting EDUCATION is a terrible, pointless, heartless and truly stupid idea? I mean, really. I'd rather drive through a few more potholes than have our future generation knocked down yet another rung on the importance ladder. Or, (heaven forbid) pay our legislators a little less...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I rubbed elbows with royalty today...

I subbed in an early-childhood classroom today. My favorite!! :) Why is it my favorite, you ask?

1. I always have an aide
2. The kids are 3-4 years old
3. They are too young to be sneaky and nasty (I have learned that second grade is NOT too young...)
4. They only come half a day, so I get two classes, which I prefer!
5. Did I mention I always have an aide??

An aide is so helpful because the kids are not quite as out of control when they know at least one of the teachers in the classroom. Plus, the aide knows the routine, which makes it infinitely easier. I absolutely love having an aide...

And today was fun - coloring, playing with blocks, singing kid songs, refreshing my knowledge of colors, shapes and letters (always helpful)...

But, today of the 9 kids in the afternoon class, I had the privilege of teaching royalty.

There was a kid named...Caesar
There was a kid named...Emir
There was a kid named...Princess Jasmine
And last, but absolutely NOT least, there was a kid named...Emperor.
And on the other end of the spectrum, I had a kid named Damien, so the demon-possessed folks were well-represented as well.

I kid you not - I was running around after these kids today calling them these exalted names!! Love calling the one girl princess - she insisted on both names, by the way. As would I!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Family day trips

Yesterday was an absolutely gorgeous day in Las Vegas. Clear blue skies, tons of warm sunshine, 65 my friend Kale would say, "a Chamber of Commerce day!" So, the STQ family took a little day trip to Red Rock Canyon. Not nearly as far away as when we went to Death Valley (I still haven't blogged about that), but it was fun.

I don't know how many of you know this, but Las Vegas is a valley. A valley as in, surrounded by mountains. And to those of you Colorado folks, YES, real mountains! There are even a couple of 13'ers within two hours of our house. Now, the difference between Colorado mountains and Nevada mountains is that we have no trees on ours, but if that pine beetle has its way, you'll be there soon! :(

But I digress...

We went to Red Rock Canyon. There is a very interesting visitors' center and then a 13-mile scenic drive with about 7-8 locations where you can park and go climbing and exploring those big red rocks. If you know Chase, you know that climbing rocks is right up his alley. If anyone had allowed him to bring his pick axe, he would have done some rock-hounding too, but we're just mean like that. So, we climbed rocks (ok, some of us did and the sensible one stayed at the bottom to observe for insurance purposes...), hiked trails, looked for snakes and generally had a great time.

At the end of the day, Chase ran pretty far ahead of us, and when we rounded a corner, we saw an amazing sight. Chase was on the ground holding his bleeding knee and a group of teenagers was tending to him with their first aid kit.

No adults.
Tending to an 11-yr-old who just fell.
With the FIRST AID KIT they brought.

Now, maybe I'm wrong, but I cannot imagine a situation in which I, as a teenager, would have thought of a first aid kit, much less brought one along when I was going hiking with my friends. Be honest...can you? And I'm an adult (and a mother) now, and I didn't have a first aid kit with me! After thanking the boy with the kit profusely, I asked him if he had been a boy scout at any time in his life. His comment was, "Nope, I'm just a Mexican. Mexicans are always prepared for emergencies."

So, the moral of this story is, make sure your hiking group includes at least one Mexican, and you'll be safe from all boo-boos.


Thursday, January 8, 2009

Sunrise, sunset...

***First, I wanted to update you all. The literary agent emailed me and said that due to the holidays, they have gotten behind and will need an extra week to evaluate my manuscript. Just in case you were curious!***

I'm having a crisis.

I'm (ahem) 40 and I am still wondering what I'm going to do when I grow up.

I have spent the last 11+ years as a stay-home mom. I have always had some kind of job, but it has taken a back seat to taking care of Megan and Chase. In Austin, I worked from home managing a database for our church. In Green Bay, I wrote a book. (didn't pay so well, but kept me off the streets.) In Denver, I worked 7am-noon in the office at Warren Tech, the local technical high school. All of these jobs worked out absolutely perfectly with the kids' schedule, and I was able to contribute to the household and fulfill my desire to be there for my kids.

Since we have moved to Las Vegas, I have not found a job. Unemployment is higher here than the national average, and with the casinos laying people off right and left, there is a lot of competition for every job. I have been substitute teaching, but even that has gotten more competitive, and I was only able to get one job this week.

All of this has left me feeling at a loss.

On one hand, I'm simply unwilling to sacrifice this time I have with Chase. On the other hand, I have no interest in staying home alone while he's in school all day. As good as that sounds, it gets old fast, trust me. I have a college degree, lots of experience and would like to exercise my brain more than just figuring out what is for dinner tonight! I have loved my time as a stay-home mom, but it's time to do something else.

So, I've been looking at my options.

My first thought was to go back to school. To do what?

My second thought was hmmmm. Nursing? 3+ years and about $25,000. Nope.

My third thought was something LIKE nursing, but not quite so spendy. CNA! 1 semester, $1000 and I'm ready to go. Then I researched what a CNA does. Mostly bedpans? No thanks.

Then I went and toured a school today for Pharmacy Tech. $14,500 and 9 months full-time school. sigh.

So, I've decided to be a blackjack dealer. Or a cocktail waitress. Wait, no one is hiring? I'm simply unwilling to enter the adult entertainment industry, so where does that leave me?

Wondering what I'm going to be when I grow up.

A very wise woman (hi Mom!) pointed out to me yesterday that substitute teaching, while not my dream job, fulfills my need for flexibility. It pays fairly well, considering, and probably once we get away from the holidays, there will be more jobs available. MAYBE I should stop whining about subbing and see it for what it is. A means to an end.

But I LIKE WHINING!!! :( I mean, what would this blog be if I stopped whining???

Another friend (hi Amy!) suggested that subbing could be my superhero alter ego. Whiny substitute by day, fabulous amazing (hopefully published someday) author by night. Only if I get to wear a cape! So, I think these are good suggestions. Until something better comes along.

(the following must be said in a VERY whiny voice)


Monday, January 5, 2009

Would you like my autograph now?

So, about three years ago, I wrote a novel.

Yes, doesn't that sound impressive? Well, I was impressed too, until I tried to get someone (anyone, frankly) to publish said novel.

I wrote roughly 5,643 query letters to literary agents.

I received roughly 5,640 rejection letters. (Some were rude and decided I wasn't worth the stamp, apparently.)

Now, although the letters were ALL rejection letters, they were only rejecting my query letter, as I had yet to have any of said agents actually want to READ my book. It still hurt my little blonde feelings. I mean, how good could my NOVEL be if my QUERY LETTER stunk that badly?? I was depressed.

So, I stopped sending the letters. Seemed like a big fat waste of time, I don't need all that rejection, and I have not sent a query letter for oh, say, a year. Then last week, I started thinking about it again, and how much I don't want to be a substitute teacher forever, but how much I want to still have time to be with Chase when he isn't in school and go on field trips, etc. Really, any other job (including teacher) will keep me from being able to be as involved in his life as I have always been.

I started to think of my options.

1. Win the lottery. Problem with this one is that you have to actually PLAY the lottery, which to me has always seemed a lot like flushing dollar bills down the toilet.

2. I live in Vegas - put it all on black and let it ride! For the problem with this one, see #1. Flush.

3. Knock off my parents and live on the gigantic inheritance I am sure to receive. Problem with this one is that I actually LIKE my parents, and there's that whole pesky murder rap/life in prison thing to contend with. I don't look good in horizontal stripes, so that's out.

4. Hey, dummy, you wrote a perfectly good book and it is just sitting upstairs gathering dust. Why not dust it off and shop it around again? Then, after my multi-million dollar advance and 5-book sequel deal from Doubleday, all my problems would be solved.

So, I googled awhile, found a literary agent that I hadn't bothered before and sent off a hilarious, informative, thoughtful and utterly-delightful query letter. Two days later, I got a response. THEY WANT TO READ MY MANUSCRIPT!!!!!

Say what?

So, I sent it to them, and they promise a one-week turnaround. They will email me this week and either say "What bank account would you like the million dollar advance deposited in?" or "Thanks, but your manuscript is kaka, we hate you have blocked your email address and think you should not even write shopping lists in the future, you are so untalented." Well, that's how I am going to interpret it, anyway. In truth, even if they love the manuscript, there are several more hurdles to jump before I can consider myself a published author, but this is the first step, and I am excited...and nervous.

So, say a prayer, keep your fingers crossed, knock on wood, rub your lucky rabbit's foot, throw salt over your shoulder or whatever you do for luck and think of me. I'll update you later in the week!

Friday, January 2, 2009


I know, the topic will probably ensure that no one actually reads this entry...

Those of you who knew me three zip codes ago when I lived in Texas are probably very surprised that I can even spell football, much less that I would write a blog entry about it. Living in Texas for 19 years should have created a football fan, if there was one buried anywhere in me. But it didn't. When we left Texas, I didn't actually know what a down was, and if you asked me, it was silly to call ANYTHING in football a safety since they all just try to kill each other and there just ain't nothin' safe about it.

Then we moved to Green Bay, WI. Within two weeks of moving, divine hubby was out of town on a business trip, Chase was in dreamland and I was up watching Monday Night Football and screaming at Brett Favre to STOP THROWING INTERCEPTIONS!!! Now, just the fact that I knew what an interception WAS in two weeks was impressive in my book.

Since that fateful September evening nearly 4 years ago, I count myself among the throngs of the Packer faithful. I've been asked WHY I became a football fan, much less a Packer fan, and I can only tell you that Green Bay is a very special place. We lived about 2 miles from Mecca, I mean Lambeau Field and on a really cold, clear night (there were a lot of those) you could hear the roar when Brett got it done. When we moved to Denver, I was told by well-meaning but delusional friends and family that "Denver fans are just as crazy about the Broncos as Packer fans are." Um, no. They aren't. Having lived in GB and in Denver, I can say there just is no comparison. I know, I know, the fans love the Broncos, but it's just not the same. You see, in Denver, there are other things going on during football season to distract you if the Broncos are losing. In Green Bay, after a big loss or a big win for that matter, that is the ONLY topic of conversation. I mean it - I promise you that Obama did NOT get discussed as much as Aaron Rodgers and Donald Driver after the election. It is a city (maybe state)-wide obsession.

And I happily joined in. Of course, it helps that one of the requirements of being a homeowner in Green Bay is that you have to show them your Packer tattoo...

Anyway, I have many many many good memories and friends from our year in Green Bay. Our little house there still ranks as my favorite house so far - it was simply perfect for us, and I would pick it up and plunk it right down here if I could. We miss our friends the Gudgeons and the Wagners, I miss my book club (hi Grace), we miss Door County and the fish boils, we miss fresh, squeaky cheese curds and yes, we miss the bitterly-cold weather and snow too. I gotta say, though, that one of the things I miss the most is the comraderie that comes when 200,000+ people all worship at the same place on Sundays in the Fall. And of course I am speaking of Lambeau Field!