Thursday, September 27, 2012

Misplaced Rage

I woke up to "breaking news" this morning and a smug Matt Lauer smiling ear to ear.  After a long night of negotiations, the NFL has settled with it's referees and answered the prayers of millions of Americans.  No more game changing bad calls, no more disrespect and disorder, and no more clogged Facebook feed with whiny football posts.  The referees got what they wanted (for the most part), and generally speaking, the American public is ecstatic.  Just in time for Thursday night football! 

Calls for the NFL to pay up because the refs were worth every penny was becoming deafening and the league owners and commissioners just couldn't ignore the fan base anymore.  They did something that doesn't happen much anymore: they listened to their customers.

But I'll be honest.  This entire thing has only made me sad about the priorities and passion of the American public.  The things that really seem to rock our worlds just don't add up. 

Anyone remember that other little strike that has been in the news this month?

The Chicago teacher strike was generally unpopular with Americans and the media.  Most strikes in public education are.  The strike in Chicago was basically over the following issues: limits to class size, health insurance, fair evaluations, and better working conditions.  When you have buildings where children are wearing winter coats in the winter to stay warm, there is something very wrong.  Americans should be disgusted and outraged about the conditions that our teachers and students are faced with in many public schools.  But we aren't. 
We are outraged by this:
This was the call that got things going.  Not necessarily changed everything, as coaches and players had made it clear that they had no respect for the "replacement referees". This was the moment where it clicked with millions how valuable the "real" referees are, how hard their job is, and how important they are to the NFL brand.
When the Chicago teachers were on strike the media and public turned their backs.  There were calls to just replace them with college graduates that needed jobs.  I mean, shoot ya'll, teaching is a breeze and anyone can do it, right?  The sentiment that these hard working teachers, teachers that had been in Chicago schools for decades, could just be replaced by 22 year old recent graduates (who cares what their major was, right?) was insulting and degrading.  But replace an NFL ref with an NCAA ref?  Ohmygoodness the sky is falling!
I am a believer and supporter of public education.  I have a Masters degree in Education, I worked in public schools as a counselor for several years, and I am the product of public schools (K-12).  I also realize that education has become a very low priority for a very good portion of this country.  Even as we are calling for schools to do more (to be the doctors, counselors, nutritionists, and coaches in addition to the very huge job of teaching to the very high federal standards), we are asking them to do it with less.  I have worked with thousands of teachers over the years, and the vast majority of them got into the field for the love of children and learning.  Not the money, not the glory, not the summers.  The kids.
Teachers are not martyrs.  They should not have to teach in impossible conditions with impossible standards and unfair evaluation practices.  When teachers strike, the major sentiment from the powers that be are "you are hurting the children".  Ouch.  To tell a group of professionals that they are hurting their kids because they had the audacity to fight for their professional selves is unbelievable and hurtful.  Forget about the years they have spent nurturing kids, staying late for conferences and tutoring, coaching into the late night hours, and spending their at-home time grading papers. Teachers should be in it solely "for the kids" - not "for the money".
For a long time I have said that teaching has gotten the brunt of gender inequality.   People want to see teachers as sweet, preppy, smiley little women who come to school to love on kids and make a few extra dollars to supplement her husband's income before she decides to have kids and leave the job to the next 24 year old fresh out of grad school. Not people who have a backbone to fight for issues that are important to them and their livelihood.  A livlihood that, in many cases, supports a whole family.

But alas, I didn't see my Facebook wall light up in support of teachers.  Nope.  It takes a pissed off NFL fan, or someone's messed up Fantasy Football game, to make us really mad about the state of things in the world.  The Chicago teachers were made out to look money hungry, with many outlets touting the average $74,000 per year salary (sadly implying that the teachers who are on the front lines don't deserve that much).  I didn't see anyone making a fuss about the NFL referees asking too much money (even though, even when you account for summers the teachers are working far more than the NFL refs).  If anything, people were screaming to give them whatever they wanted.  We need them.
I don't make this comparison to belittle the NFL or my NFL-loving friends.  I get that this is a multi-billion dollar industry and that people take major pride in their football teams.  I make this comparison because I truly believe, with all of my heart, that experience matters.  That we should never discount an experienced teacher as "replaceable" and then two weeks later be up in arms about how bad the "replacement refs" are.   We shouldn't value the Ravens vs. Browns game tonight more than we value a child's experience in the classroom.  I am hoping that this "national football crisis" opens our eyes and applies itself to more pressing concerns. 
Wednesday, September 26, 2012

My Scary Attic

Oh, my poor little neglected blog.  I have a lot on my plate right now, but for some reason when I have a cluttered life my mind goes *poof* blank.  I will try to do better over the next few months. 

Um, holy crap we're moving.  In less than three months. 

Johnny came home last night and told me, "the movers will be here around December 7th, take three days to pack, be out by the 11th, are given 10 days to travel, sooooo.... yea....  we are basically praying to the moving gods that we get our stuff before the Christmas holiday".  Awesome.  Because we all know how incredibly motivated the world is between December 23rd and January 2nd.

Living with our "survival box" for a few weeks over the holidays when it was just Johnny and I?  Somewhat uncomfortable, but we would re-frame as "camping adventure for two".  Living in those conditions with a 2 and 3 year old?  Holymotherinheavensavemenow NOOO!   

This will be an interesting Christmas, folks.  Please send me some good vibes that things fall into place and I'm not cooking myself a Christmas hot dog on a mini Foreman grill.

Even though I feel like we do a decent job of getting rid of stuff, I am still amazed at how much crap  we have.  How did we ever get so much crap?!  And it honestly makes me wonder what people who never move have lurking in their attics and basements.  Clothes from 1989?  Wrapping paper from their daughter's school sale in 1993? A car seat that expired in 2001?

Let me share with you what has kept me up at night lately.  No judging allowed!

Welcome to my attic!
Maternity clothes, formal dresses ranging from the late 90s to now, wrapping paper, a sewing machine from before I was born, crap, crap, and more CRAP
The truth is, we haven't done the best job of getting rid of stuff on previous moves.  When we moved from Norfolk to Maryland it was literally a week after Johnny was flown home from deployment.  I was working full time and we just didn't have the time to go through stuff.  So we moved it, to a home with much storage space and a huge garage.  Out of sight, out of mind.
When we moved from Maryland back to Norfolk, I had just delivered Connor.  He was an itsy bitsy baby and the last thing on my mind when I was 9 months pregnant or when I had a brand new baby was paring through Abercrombie jeans circa 1996 and gift bags that I had thriftily saved and hoped to reuse from Christmas 2004. 
So here we stand.  No excuse of deployment.  No excuse of newborn.  Just a gigantic walk-up attic full of crap. 
The military has a weight allowance for moving, but he is officially being promoted on December 1st which raises our crap allowance to 14,500 pounds.  He is "confident" we won't exceed that.  But still.  Who the heck needs 14,500 pounds of stuff?  I'm embarrassed to think we will even come close to that honestly.
So last weekend I spent hours in our spare bedroom going through clothes, organizing, donating, throwing away, and putting together a huge hand-me-down box for my best friend who is due next month.  I am bound and determined not to move halfway across the country with a bunch of stuff we will never use and don't need.  Sadly, that picture of our attic was taken this morning, so I obviously didn't make much of a dent.  But I'll get there.
If you are reading this and have any spectacular moving tips, I'm all ears!  I want to use this move as an excuse to lose some weight, get rid of stuff, and start fresh in our new home.  In my ideal world, nothing we bring with us should go straight back into the attic for our entire tour.  Help!
Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Keep Your Eyes Open

When I look out on the horizon I see boxes.  Road maps, unfamiliar places, new people.


Missed holidays, missed locations, missed teachers, missed friends, missed everyday comforts, sounds, and sights.  The little things. 

I see this map and get a pit in my stomach.

That looks really far away to me.  It is in a foreign place.  I know that the term "flyover states" offends some and I can see why.  But for me, that has been what they are.  I have never ventured into this land-locked part of the country and while I know that this new adventure will be great, my nerves are starting to wake up and psych me out.
I'm trying to lighten up.  You know how sometimes when you are driving, or sitting in a coffee shop (or whatever), and a song comes on and speaks to you?  Seems to pull you out of your driving daze and make you really think?  That happened to me today.  And even though I have heard this song a hundred times (thanks for the variety, XM!) it just sat differently this morning.  Here is one verse:
If you could soldier on
Headstrong into the storm
I’ll be here waiting on the other side
Don’t look back
The road is long
The first days of the war are gone
Take back your former throne and turn the tide
Cause if you never leave home, never let go
You’ll never make it to the great unknown
till you
Keep your eyes open, my love

So tell me you’re strong, tell me you see
I need to hear it, will you promise me to
Keep your eyes open, my love
~Needtobreathe "Keep Your Eyes Open"
Deep down, I know that I have one life to live.  One chance to see this big wide world and meet as many people as I can.  I know that being able to move and see new things can be a wonderful blessing.  I know my kids will be okay.  That we will find a great new community and make happy memories in Kansas.  And wherever else the Navy sends us, Amen.
I am trying to remember that.  Really, I am.
If you are interested in the whole song you can see the video here:


Monday, September 10, 2012

Kate's First Day

Walking Kate to preschool this morning was amazing.  Mother nature seems to have realized it's September and the temperature was perfect.  75 degrees, no humidity, a crisp breeze, and bright sunlight.  Kate was excited and eager to head to "her school".  A familiar, happy, wonderful place that our entire family has grown to love since moving here.

Last year I was a ball of nerves - John was deployed, Connor was still a baby who napped right through when Kate was supposed to arrive, and I was a frazzled nightmare on her first day.  What saved me was our amazing cleaning lady who was okay with me leaving Connor napping in his crib while she worked so I could take Kate to school and snap a few pictures.

This year I had John holding my hand as we walked both kids across the neighborhood.  We even had Kate's godfather with us who was in town for his MBA graduation from William & Mary (congrats, Pete!).  After we dropped Kate off with her little friends from last year, we walked to a diner that we love and had a delicious breakfast.  I seriously cannot stress the difference between this year and last year.  If I can spin deployment in a positive light, it is that you truly learn to appreciate things when they are "just right"; not just complain about them when they aren't.

Kate was a happy girl this morning

Kate, 3 years old, first day of school 2012
For fun, I decided to put together a little interview to give her.  Hopefully I can remember to ask her these same questions every year on the first day of school.  Next year I can ask Connor too!

Interview with Kate, 9/10/12, First Day of 3 year old Preschool
What is your favorite thing about school?
"I like Ms. Christie (her teacher).  She has different puzzles in her class." 
What do you want to be when you grow up?
"I want to be a big girl."
Who is your best friend?
"Abby, Liam, Luke and Ms. Christie"  
What is your favorite animal?
 "A pig."
What is your favorite color?
What is your favorite book?
Brown Bear Brown Bear, What Do You See?
What is your favorite TV show or movie?
"My Little Ponies" 
Name something you really like.
"I like pink ice cream with color sprinkles.  I also like your toes when they are pink and pretty."
Name something you really don't like.
"I don't like messy rooms."
What is your favorite thing about Connor?
"Connor is my best friend.  I like that he jumps on the couch with me.  We jump up high into the fan."
What is one thing you really want to do at school this year?

"I want to play with puzzles, toys, and play with the big kids."

Sunday, September 2, 2012

HR Bucket List #1 - Check!

Jockey's Ridge, Nags Head, North Carolina

John, Connor, and Kate on an adventure hike in Jockey's Ridge

Yesterday we took a day trip to Jockey's Ridge State Park in Nags Head, North Carolina.  One of the cool things about Norfolk is the ease of travel to the Outer Banks.  For those not familiar with the east coast shoreline, the Outer Banks (OBX) is a strand of barrier islands off the coast of Southeastern Virginia and North Carolina. 

OBX tends to be a low key, scenic, and family friendly vacation destination for people who aren't dying for the "spoon fed fun" boardwalk feel and who don't mind the threat of hurricane evacuations.   John and I have vacationed in OBX a few times with family, once when Kate was less than two months old. 
Kate at 6 weeks old chillin' on an OBX beach
(aka *sniff sniff* when did she become a little girl?!)
Sadly, we haven't explored it very much since we moved back to Hampton Roads in February of 2011.  I wanted to make sure we got down there one more time as a family before we move inland.

Jockey's Ridge is a constantly shifting landmark and is the tallest natural sand dune area on the east coast.  It is also a huge hang gliding location and has it's own school for people who want to learn the sport.  Admission is free and hang gliding permits are also free. 

We spent the afternoon wading in the warm pools of water

Connor and Kate who were like,
"I know mom didn't pack a change of clothes so let's get as wet as humanly possible." 
They both earned themselves touristy OBX t-shirts for the drive home.
and exploring the (hot hot hot!) sand dunes

The tallest dunes are 100 feet tall and the sand can be up to 30 degrees warmer than the outside temperature. On a 95 degree day, it is enough to burn your feet.  I personally wasn't prepared for that so I highly recommend the right footwear if you visit the dunes in the summer time. 
After a few hours we were all wet, tired, hot, and ready to go home.  Within minutes of getting in the car Connor was asleep and stayed that way for the entire ride home.
Connor snoozing in his aforementioned OBX t-shirt
I highly recommend Jockey's Ridge for a day trip from Hampton Roads.  The car ride is 90 minutes to 2 hours from most points in the area.  We didn't hit any traffic even though it is Labor Day Weekend so I think it is safe to say you will be fine in that regard.  Just pack a change of clothes, sturdy shoes, and sun protection. 
Happy Labor Day!  Welcome fall!

Hi, I'm Jill!

Hi, I'm Jill!
Extrovert. Mom of two. Wife of a cute Naval Aviator. Lover of wine. When I'm not chasing my two kids around town you will find me writing, taking too many photos, and researching the ten future areas the Navy could potentially (but probably won't) PCS us. We are fish out of water, landlocked at 7,000 feet. For now.

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