We Are Down with the Sickness

You might even say it has Disturbed our home life. Oh, ah, ah, ah, ah.

All music puns aside, it has not been fun.

The baby is still too young for medicine. Plus, her body woke her up 30 minutes earlier than she normally would get up… but since it was Daylight Savings… It was a very early morning here.

My fever hasn’t broke yet, so I am alternating between chills and sweats. It doesn’t look like either of them have a fever yet, but their sniffles have turned into really gross coughs, which I am starting to get too.

All in all, yucky stuff.

So, not a long post today. Trying to snuggle the baby to help her feel better. I really hate when she is sick because I just want to help her but can’t. If the best I can do for now is cuddles and reading, so be it.

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The Weather Wanted to Redecorate

We knew it was going to rain last night. And it did. Hard. We ended up cancelling our trick-or-treating plans. Next year will be her first time going out.

But the rain never let up.

The lightning began around 7:30PM. Our first emergency broadcast went off at 8, and we had another 30 minutes later.

The thunderstorm was so hard it actually woke the baby up around 10PM. It took awhile for her to get back to sleep. She sometimes gets scared during storms, so we snuggled until she fell back asleep.

Around midnight there was a loud crash against our house.

Thankfully, the baby cried a bit but went back to sleep. My husband and I went to look at what it was.

IMG_5602

Hmmm. That patio set isn’t ours!

The umbrella is huge and was open. It is what caused all the noise when it hit our house.

I am glad it didn’t break through our glass door right there. Luckily it hit about three feet away from the door, so on the wall instead. But this is a big metal umbrella. And from who knows where!

Honestly, we have no clue whose it is. Nobody lives in the house next to us on that side, so it didn’t come from that yard.

This morning we put it out on the curb. Hopefully the owner will look for it and find it.

And hopefully the weather will calm down a bit. We don’t want to fly to Oz!

For Some People, Seeing is the Only Way of Believing

I was getting gas last night. A lady parked in the handicap spot and went into the store. The people at the pump next to me were making comments about her not looking handicapped.

Invisible ailments are a common thing. But for some people, they don’t believe in it unless they see a person dealing with what they expect when they hear that ailment.

One of my friends has a three year old son who has quite a few severe allergies. She is a great mom, super diligent about making sure that his food doesn’t have cross-contamination. She raises awareness about allergies. She has mentioned having people in restaurants get frustrated with her for asking questions about menu items.

I think back to when I was a server and we would have guests who had a lot of allergy modifications we had to input into the system. It was a lot of extra steps, but we always did it. Better safe than sorry. But now, I get it. Do we have to see the child having an allergic reaction to believe that he is allergic to dairy and eggs? Just because he has allergies doesn’t mean his family shouldn’t be able to go out and enjoy a nice meal. They are proactive about it. Why can’t they go out?

Just because someone is not in a wheelchair does not mean they are not handicapped.

I suffer from severe depression and an anxiety disorder. Do I have to be self-harming myself or having a panic attack in front of you for you to believe me? I try to be proactive about it. I go to a therapist. I work on coping and trying to be positive. Some days I do better than others.

People who have auto-immune diseases may not “look” sick. People who have pain disorders may not “look” like they are hurting.

Yes, some people say they have an allergy when they really are trying a diet. Some people say they are depressed when they are sad or anxious when they are stressed. But they are not the majority.

If someone says they have an allergy, I will believe them.
If someone says they are sick, I will believe them.
If someone says they need help, I will believe them.

I am trying to be better about invisibility. I do not know what someone is going through. Telling someone who is upset to “just be happy” or “not be so negative” may seem like you are trying to help. But if they suffer from depression, it doesn’t exactly work that way. It can actually make them feel worse.

I know that it doesn’t make me feel better when I hear that. Whether the person knows I suffer from depression is irrelevant. If I know it hurts me, I don’t want to do it to others.

Like I said, I am working on it.

I want to start asking “How can I help?” more often instead of offering advice when I may not know the whole situation. But as someone who suffers from mental illnesses, I know that I cannot always answer that question myself.

I am working on being present with people. Finding ways to show that I want to help. Listening.

I am trying to be better to others and be better myself. Like I said, some days I do better than others.

Life is hard. Why should I be an obstacle to myself? Why should I cause obstacles for others? I am working on it.

 

I Closed a Chapter

On Saturday night, I went to see my former students perform their musical. I knew it was going to be bittersweet and be a weirdly emotional evening for me.

I was right.

But not for all of the reasons I thought.

Let me start by admitting something that will probably not be a surprise: While I did not appreciate the way my administration handled things at my previous school, I never blamed the students. Meanwhile, my current school is not the ideal fit, either; due both to administration and students. Therefore, I have missed my old students so much. Every day, in fact. While teaching my difficult classes, I would wish for my former students.

I experienced plenty of regret over leaving. While I wouldn’t have had my same position, I deeply regretted leaving and wished that I had stayed and taken the other position. This is despite the fact that I would not have been great at it. I missed the hours. I missed the students.

I had spent three years with these kids. I wanted them to do well. Of course I was going to come see their musical when they invited me. I wanted it to be great because the kids deserve that.

That being said, there was a part of me that was petty and awful. A part of me that was still actively hurting; who would compare it to what I had done with them.

I hate admitting that, but it is the truth.

I needed validation or proof or something. Was I really a bad director? Did the school have good reason to force me to leave? Were my students honestly much better off without me?

Please note: I did not want it to be a dumpster fire! I wanted it to be on level with what I had done. For my own sake, I needed it to not be Broadway. For their sake, I needed it to be good.

So I was very nervous as I was driving to the school that night. I hated myself for conflicting emotions and it consumed me while I drove there.

I get to the school. I am hit with pangs of “Why on earth did I agree to come?” I walk in the building and am hoping against all odds that I do not see any of the other teachers I used to work with. I notice that the audience size is on par with what we used to have, but smaller than our usual Saturday crowds. Of course it is football season and in the south, so that might be the reason. I purchase a “Star Gram” to send to the cast. It was weird to send it, seeing as I am the one who started them. Some of my former students are ushers and say hi as they let me into the auditorium.

Here is where karma gets weird.

My former technical director also came to see the show that night. We had not planned this at all. In fact, I have not spoken to her since the last day of school!

(I mean, I had e-mailed her in September asking for a letter of recommendation to grad school, but have not heard back from her, so… let’s not count that?)

Laughing, I walked up to her and we began talking. We sat together and caught up. We both admitted that we wanted the kids to be great but were hoping that we weren’t rotten directors. It was nice to know that it wasn’t just me who was uneasy. We looked at the set and were surprised by the fact that there didn’t really seem to be much that was BUILT. There was a set, but it was pieces that we already had. Granted, they had smartly picked a show that did not need an overly complicated set. This was a good choice. The costumes were pieces the kids already owned or from stuff we had gotten previously. Technically, our sets and costumes had definitely been more elaborate. Reading the program, we knew about 90% of the cast and crew, so it wasn’t a lot of new blood.

The show began.

There were parts of the show that were really cute and parts that were a bit rough. But this is how all educational theatre is. There were sound issues, so we knew that all the problems we had experienced with mics were not due to us! It wasn’t user error! There were pitch issues. There were minor snags. But again, these are things that always come with seeing a show. If I hadn’t been so familiar with the show, I wouldn’t have known.

It was a good show.

There is a local competition for high school musical theatre. We had competed in it while we were teaching there and the school was competing again this year. The judges were there that night. A few of my former students were really excited because their new director came from a school that received nominations, so they thought that meant they would definitely be getting plenty of noms this year. Honestly, I don’t know if that is happening. It tends to be the same schools who get nominated over and over, they dominate musical theatre. Looking over the last 5 (even 10) years, it is essentially the exact same group of schools over and over. Their reputation as musical powerhouses is well known and documented. Unless many of these schools have really bad nights when the judges watch their shows, I do not think my former students will suddenly find themselves swimming in nominations. Do my former students deserve nominations? Of course. But established school systems will probably get them instead.

All in all, I thought our musical last year was better. Did I enjoy the show? Yes. Were the students amazing? Yes. Was I there because I love these kids? Also yes. In the end, my previous concerns were met – my students were putting on a good show.

After the show, we went out into the lobby to talk to the students.

And here is where things changed in a way that I was not expecting.

The technical theatre students (and some of the acting students) were so excited to see her and she had a huge crowd around her. This was great to see.

Several of my students came over and gave me hugs and talked to me. There were a handful who really wanted to catch up, which was sweet.

But many of them would wave hi and that was it. Get a quick hug, and off they went. Some of them I saw and said hi to and they were like “Oh hey, sorry. I am busy.”

It hurt.

A lot.

Here I had been missing these kids every single day and they could care less. I am not saying that I wanted them to miss me so much that they were miserable. But they didn’t even care at all. Last year, I had seen them more excited to see their intermediate school theatre teachers.

Of course this started an avalanche of worry in my head. Why did they all hate me? Had someone said something that made them think I didn’t care about them? Had I done something? Was I actually an awful teacher and they were thrilled to have me gone?

I left.

Those who had been excited to see me were saying I needed to come see the next show, etc. They were so glad I came, it meant so much to them, come see them again!

But as I got into my car, having just experienced a straight up brush off from one of my students who I had been incredibly close to the past few years, I knew it was over.

The chapter of my life that includes those students is officially closed. If I see any of them in the future, it will not be as a student/teacher. It will not be anything dealing with that school. They will flourish there without me.

It is a definitive goodbye.

I’m Waiting on Letters of Recommendation

My grad school application is almost complete!

  • I finished my letter about why they should accept me
  • I got my official GRE scores
  • I have my transcripts
  • I assembled a portfolio about our current show
  • I wrote an essay explaining obstacles we had and how I overcame them

Now to wait on my letters of recommendation. I sent requests to six different people. I only needed three, but I wanted to ask extra in case someone said no. The three who were my first picks all told me they would write letters.

I figure if I haven’t received the letters by tomorrow, I will reach out to ask. It has been two weeks since they agreed. I don’t want to rush them; but the earlier I get this sent out, the better. I am nervous about how to phrase it. I don’t want to appear pushy.

“I really appreciate you writing this letter for my graduate school application. Now that I have finished my application, I wanted to know if there was any other information you needed from me?”

“Thank you so much for agreeing to write me a letter of recommendation for graduate school. As I have been finishing my application, I wanted to reach out to see if you needed any other information from me?”

They are doing me a huge favor by spending their own personal time on this. I hate to ask, but it is time sensitive…

Will either of these come across alright?

Am I over-analyzing? Yeah, probably.

I Did Better in Math than I Thought

When you take the GRE on a computer, it tells you your “unofficial” scores directly after. It is your unofficial score, because the computer is only able to score two of the three sections.

I got a 156 in quantitative reasoning. This was a higher score than I got on any of the practice tests I took. My practice range had been about 150-153. Yay! The math score that counts was higher!

My verbal reasoning score was a 155, though. In practice tests I had been getting in the range of 159-163. I didn’t feel like it was terribly different. I don’t know if subconsciously I was so nervous about math that I just didn’t pay close attention? Boo on the score that counts being lower.

The third section involves two essays. Those each get scored out of 6. I feel like I wrote pretty decent pieces, but I guess I will find out in about 2 weeks. For now, there is nothing else I can do but wait. My GRE scores seem to fall in a pretty good range for acceptance.

I just have a few pieces left to knock out before I can submit my application. I have already put together all of the other parts, including proof of application to the university proper, official transcripts, resume, essay on why they should pick me, teaching certificate.

I am waiting to receive my letters of recommendation. I need three, and I sent requests to five people last week. Two have confirmed they will do it. No response from the other three yet. I am planning on sending another request to a sixth person today, just in case. I will follow up with the others at the start of next week? I don’t want to appear pushy.

The final piece is the portfolio. It needs to have 6 pictures and an essay. I am supposed to show different elements from a show I was part of at a school and explain my job and how we overcame problems. I have been taking pictures of the different technical elements for the contest piece I am directing currently. I have a picture of my set design, my lighting presets. I am going to take a picture of the costumes tomorrow, many that I had to hand sew the alterations on since the school does not have a sewing machine. I am going to take a picture of some of the set decor and additional set pieces that I am going to have to make and build myself. Since I am now a one-person team, I am planning on writing about my lack of tech experience being the problem and here is how I have tackled the issues one at a time. I figure that being honest about my weaknesses will show them that I really do want to get into this program to get better!

I am Taking the GRE on Monday

I am in the midst of applying to grad school.

Though I am applying to a program that requires me to do a philosophical essay, get letters of recommendation, create an artistic portfolio, and more… The GRE is what is really freaking me out. Math isn’t my strongest suit.

I first heard about the program 4 years ago from my mentor. She explained how it completely changed the way she taught and that it was the best program she had ever been a part of. She is an amazing teacher, so I was immediately interested.

The program is set up for teachers. It is three summers of intense classes and portfolio building on specific topics during the school years. I started looking into the program to prepare my application.

Then I got hired in a different district as the head of the high school. (Yeah, the school I just left.) So I knew I was going to be very busy that first year, learning the ropes. I decided to postpone graduate school for a year. I knew it would be overwhelming.

The following year I was pregnant. Obviously not the right time!

Last year, I was learning how to handle a newborn. I honestly had the information with every intent to apply so I would have started this past summer. It was in my planner and everything! But in the haze of new parenthood, I just never got my information together.

While I was at that work conference a few weeks back, I saw a session on this program.

At first, I was like “Why should I go to that? If I am starting to doubt I want to teach anymore, this would be a waste.”

But then I realized that I still wanted to be a professor. I would LOVE to teach at a community college or a full university. There are positions open. The only thing preventing me from applying? The letters M.A.

Two colleges were actually having sessions about their “Master’s for Teachers” programs. I went to both.

Thoughts on the first session I went to for a program I had never heard of:

  • Pro: Whoa, estimate of $12,000 total to get my Masters? Not that we just have that money sitting around, but that is pretty dang cheap for graduate school.
  • Pro: You can get the degree in 14 months!
  • Pro: In Texas, so I am in state.
  • Pro: Not the same school that I got my undergraduate degree at. I know this shouldn’t matter, but I was worried if I had degrees from the same school twice that it might look like I wasn’t able to get in anywhere else?
  • Con: I have never even heard of this school, so would a degree from there be “worthwhile”?
  • Con: 14 months if you take their full course the whole time, which is two complete summers (start of June through start of August) plus 2 intensive online courses during the fall and spring semesters. As if my current job lets me spend a ton of time with my family, adding in two full time online grad courses during the semesters? I was looking into these programs because it was summer based.
  • Con: About a 5 hour drive from me, so while I was in state, I would not be able to actually stay at home while in school. The set-up is all day Monday and Tuesday with some work on Wednesday mornings, so they had explained that most people get a hotel on Sunday and typically leave Wednesday. That adds up over a whole summer for two summers.
  • Con: I do not know anybody who has gone through this program. I like anecdotes.

Thoughts on the second session I went to for the school I had previously heard about:

  • Pro: Literally a 30-minute drive from my house.
  • Pro: I know at least three people who have gone through this program and all of them are amazing teachers and directors who I would love to be more like.
  • Pro: Classes are only in the summer and just for 4 weeks, Monday through Thursdays. The fourth week is actually a trip to NYC/Chicago/London (rotates each year) with shows and workshops with professional troupes and companies.
  • Pro: An extremely competitive program that is very well known and looked upon highly in this field. In fact, a recent graduate of the program is now a professor at the university!
  • Con: Estimate of about $20,000 total.
  • Con: No classes in the school year, but I needed to update my portfolio during the school year based on what I had learned the previous summer.
  • Con: The same university I received my Bachelor’s Degree from.

Both sessions really made me realize that I want to get my Master’s. And for a variety of reasons, apparently. For starters, it is required for the job that I want. I want out of the current situation I am in and this is my way. It will be hard for a little while, but short term pain for long term gain? Secondly, for myself. I feel like getting my Master’s will really help my own self-worth. I have wanted this for awhile. I want it, I need to work for it. It shows me that I am worthwhile.

And finally, for my daughter.

I have every intention of raising my daughter with the knowledge and awareness that she can do and be anything that she wants to be as long as she puts in the work. She has to work, but she can achieve her dreams if she doesn’t give up. What kind of hypocrite would I be if I told her that but actually had given up on myself? Also, way to show her that a woman can be the person with the highest level of education in a household! Setting an example like that for her? Going for her goal even after having a child, showing her that you keep working at it.

Yes. That is what I want her to see. That she is a smart, strong woman who has a smart, strong woman as a mother.

Once I was all fired up about grad school, I weighed the pros and cons and quickly decided on my Alma mater as the program I wanted to aim for. Several of the things said in that presentation helped sway me without being on the pros/cons list. Both presenters had brought a few people who were recent graduates from the program. At the second session, someone asked about financial aid. I know this school is great with that seeing as I received quite a bit from them with my Bachelor’s and it was actually the reason I picked that school over my other acceptances. But one of the recent grads said something that stuck with me.

“I took a student loan. Yes, I am still paying off my loans from my Bachelor’s, but I figured that I was going to die before I paid off those loans anyway. I know that is depressing, but it’s the truth. Why should I let my fear of taking another loan that I will never be able to repay completely prevent me from doing something that I really want? Oh, and the entire time you are enrolled, all your loan payments and interest are deferred since you are a student again!”

I had never thought about the fact that if I really wanted it, go ahead and get it and just keep chipping away at the student loans. Don’t let my previous student loans scare me into not going for it.

That was the moment I was like “OK, let’s do this.”

I got home and put the information on my desk. I talked to my husband about it. He completely supported me. I looked at it again a week later and started the application process.

I worried about the timing. Maybe now wasn’t the right time. I am such a mess right now.

 

 

And then I started laughing.

I was waiting for the ideal time. There is no ideal time. Yes, pregnancy and a newborn were really good reasons to not have previously applied. But was I really going to let my fear stop me this time?

So I have been working on it. I have ordered my transcripts, done the general grad application to the school, started my portfolio, contacted some colleagues asking for letters of recommendation (including my mentor who told me about the program), started my essay.

My GRE is scheduled for Monday morning. I am terrified of this part. Even with the fact that the presenter and recent grads all talked about the fact that their scores were not great and that the portfolio was clearly the most important aspect into acceptance in this program.

I debated taking the GRE in about a month, so I would have time to study. But I know me. I procrastinate. Or forget. Or get busy. Plus, GRE at the holidays? No, thank you. My best option was to take it earlier. Bite the bullet and get it done. Essentially, call my own bluff.

I have not been able to study as much as I would have liked, but that would have been the same no matter when I took it. That whole “ideal time” thing, again. During my lunches, I have been going over sample questions. I took a full practice test today. I fell in the range of “Good”, even with my dismal math skills for the quantitative section. I will take another one tomorrow.

And Monday morning, it is game time.