Friday, June 9, 2017

Back in the Saddle

I'm currently sitting poolside (as the kids swim) getting started on reading for my NEW TEACHING ASSIGNMENT!

I posted here about how I really hoped to get back into teaching this year. I transferred my credential to Arizona, cleared my fingerprints and just started applying. I've had a credential in 4 states at this point. I was pretty picky about being in the same district as my kids for proximity and school schedule reasons. We're also not in dire need of more income (though it's always really nice!) and if I couldn't land a job in the district, I would just find myself subbing until it happened.

My flexibility has changed considerably since having kids and the thought of going full time with two small kids is already overwhelming. I didn't have much to worry about, turns out, because I landed 3 interviews within a week and ended up interviewing from our empty guest room, sitting on a couple pillows with my tripod and iPhone propped on a moving box. Our furniture was out of the house and the first two interviews were done via FaceTime. I would later cancel the third interview for a school that was likely the worst fit for a tech-savvy teacher like myself. I don't believe in top down, teacher directed learning. I most definitely would've been a phony in that environment. Plus, it meant a real commute of over 10 miles. #nothanks

Place where dreams are made.
As luck would have it, my first and second interviews were 20 minutes apart and I felt like I couldn't have done better at them. It proved to be true because I received a call 1.5 hours later offering me my first choice position, first choice grade level and first choice school in the entire district. It's a STEAM focused school, 2.2 miles away from the school my kids will attend and only 4 miles from our house. I didn't get the second job, which also baffles me because I was so prepared and felt that was probably the best interview of my life, even having read their PTA meeting minutes and quoting their programs. It's all water under the bridge because they weren't my first choice either and at the time of finding out I didn't pass their interview, I had already received and returned my contract for my first choice school.

Pinch me. (Okay, pinch me again because Arizona salary is 48th worst in the nation). Teaching is semi-public servant role and all fueled by the love of learning and student relationships. Despite a MA+22 and years of teaching experience, I'm getting paid worse than my first teaching assignment at age 23, but regardless.

I'm officially on payroll starting July 25th and kids start August 7th. Other than feeling utterly overwhelmed by the juggling of kids and working and basically being a first year teacher again, I'm over the moon. I'm also back to being a student myself, as I just signed up for a course focused on STEAM teaching to bump me up to the next pay scale and to get me back into the teaching mindset.

Poolside, right now, I'm starting with STEAM Makers, followed by at least 5 more books on using Google Classroom. I feel like I started teaching too early. Like, now schools have finally arrived to teaching the way I have always wanted to be part in designing. I have a lot to learn, but here's to getting started.

Updates on life: It's a warm one here, folks. We are totally loving having a pool in our backyard. We spent 3 nights moving things from the moving truck after the kids were in bed and that proved to be the smartest move. No more boxes are around and we're feeling mostly normal with internet and a full fridge of food, creating ways to avoid turning on the stove for dinner. Which means, we also bought our first gas grill and even had our toaster oven outside to avoid heating the house. Living the Sonoran Desert dream.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Chit-Chat with Ben & Claire

Claire: How long before I get my orange?
Me: After you finish your dinner, I'll get you an orange.
Claire: Awww. That's {a} bummer.

Ben: Why does the world need money (for things he wants to buy)?
Me: Because the people who make the things we want have to buy the things they need, too. That means we have to pay those people so they can earn the money they need.
Ben: That's horrid.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Reno 5000 Downtown River Run Half Marathon

The babysitter was late, but I made it on time for the race. I knew I would, but mentally I wanted to be focused and not just have read Curious George Goes to the Hospital for the 12th time this week as we sat and waited. I wanted to be in the zone.

Back in August, I was running fast and well. I had the sub-2:00 goal in the bag. I ran the 10-miler in under 1:30, setting a clear pace example for the half. In fact, I signed up for two. I had to opt out of the first one because we were in Arizona for spring break. This one though, I wasn't quitting. If you'd have asked me back in August if I would have met my time goal, I would've given you an almost definitive yes. However, this was 8 months later, looooooots of long runs to keep myself race ready (that I was getting tired of, frankly) and winter was semi-brutal with training on icy roads and then ultimately having some IT discomfort rear its ugly head.

But alas, I would still run. I cooled off running for the entire month of April, running maybe a total of 10 miles the entire month. I was still speedy on those miles, but didn't want to push it and instead focused on an hour of indoor spinning 3x/week followed by abs and LOTS of rolling and stretching along with yoga 2x/week. My cardiovascular was up and I was feeling good about things, but still not confident with recent injuries, that I'd meet my time goal I set back in August.

My concerns for race day:
- intestinal issues
- IT or sciatic nerve discomfort/pain
- hot weather or worse, windy weather
- crowded
- elevation gain intensity

Most of those concerns were not an issue, thankfully. It was a wonderful, if not hot day for a run, petering around 75 degrees as the high (which was the warmest day we'd seen in 2017 so far) and the sun just felt super hot. But, NO WIND! It's been windy nonstop here in Reno lately, so that was a real concern and one that sounded miserable to manage for 13.1 miles!

The race wasn't crowded at the start, but the course was at times, giving narrow space to run. We ran along the Truckee River (hence the race name) and some of the terrain was paved trails and the other were wooden slat bridges (6 to be exact) and the road. We weaved through some neighborhoods I didn't know existed and while some parts were definitely beautiful, I somewhat craved wide open spaces so I didn't have to concern myself with giving up space to other runners.

There was a steady amount of incline running and not a lot of decline relief.

Those three issues were semi-bothersome, but oddly I didn't experience any intestinal issues or ANY pain anywhere! In fact, I honestly can say that my legs didn't even feel like they ran 13.1 and I could very well have hit the trails the following day (but didn't.)

A concern I didn't anticipate was to run out of race fuel! In all of my runs (including one that had me at sub-2:00 time for 12.66 miles), I've never had an issue with fuel and often don't even bring any with me on long runs! I started the race with full view of the 2:00 pacer in front of me. I saw him clear to mile 8. And then... he was lost around all the twists and turns and I never recovered to see him again because at mile 9, I hit a wall. My legs felt great and I was happy to keep running, but internally I was feeling like I needed more fuel-- more electrolytes, more gummies, bloks, goo... something. And it just wasn't there. The water stations were few and far between and the sun was getting hotter and I was beginning to sense a light dizziness come over me for the last 4 miles and my hands and feet feeling a bit tingly. I dropped my pace a bit and resolved to finish without making myself sick, knowing my 8-month old sub-2:00 goal was gone. (I sure wish I would've brought along more fuel or brought along my handheld bottle filled with Gatorade.)

I made sure to drink loads of water for a full 3 days prior to the half, ate two KIND bars, a banana and drank another 32 oz. the morning of. I thought my body was well fueled. It wasn't. This was probably a rookie mistake and in the future, I'll make sure to come well prepared. I was so concerned with being comfortable with the mileage that I focused all my training efforts on speed and distance and nothing on fueling. Total #rookieprobs

I crossed the finish line at 2:03:30, practically holding myself back from puking once I stopped running. I quickly jetted over to the drinks and chugged a Powerade. It was not only delicious, but I was instantly better. My hands and feet were no longer tingling and I felt like I could keep running.

This girl was well ahead of me (and our pacer) for the first 8 miles. I passed her at a water station and didn't see her again. He husband was pacing her since it was her first half (too). He told the pacer guy to "not let her fall behind him" just to be friendly but something was causing her to slow . I'm sure she was prepared for a sub-2:00 finish as well... #sameboat
In all, I'm pleased with my run considering the circumstances and have plans to run my next half in January (which is forever away and I won't start "training" so early). When I opted out of the San Francisco Rock n' Roll Half in March, they granted me a freebie to another RnR race. We're moving to Arizona next month and it's fitting that I save this one for January. With that said, once we move at the end of May, running won't be a verb I associate much with for awhile. Why? Because #arizonasummer. Helllllllllo spin bike in air conditioning.

Oh, and when I arrived home about 35 minutes after I crossed the finish line, I asked the 17yo babysitter if she needed a ride home. She told me she didn't because she just got a new car. So I watched her drive away in her brand new blue BMW. #eyeroll

When I finished the race, I totally hoarded three vitamin waters and a bunch of other snacks to bring home to the kiddies. I grabbed a shower,  picnic lunch and this blanket and we spent four hours at the park with Benjamin practicing his new swinging skill and playing with a new friend for hours. The sun was super hot and laying there felt great.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Anti-Zen Exercise Routine

You know what's not relaxing?

Yoga when your kids are home.

I have a half marathon in a few weeks that I'm not all that excited about running. Back in October when I signed up, I was super trained, pretty fast and feeling great. And I was pumped. I would've ran that sub 2:00 half easily and with zeal. That was 7 months ago. A lot can happen in 7 months.

Winter happened. The longest and most snowy winter Reno has seen in ages. I ran in the wind and cold temps and eventually became bored of it all. And slower. I'm not sure I'm the type to be a long distance runner and I definitely have no desire to ever run a full (though I'm so amazed at my friends who do and love keeping up with them!). The 5-7 mile range is definitely my happy zone. A few weeks ago, my IT band started giving me problems and I'm seriously convinced that runners are always injured. I've had a groin pull and this IT band issue now and I've only been consistently running for a couple years.

For two weeks now, I haven't ran at all. Instead of my long runs, I've been spinning for an hour (bonus, I get to watch TV!) three times a week followed by 20 minutes of abs and stretching and doing 30-60 minutes of yoga the other two weekdays through Amazon Prime. I'm hoping with all this stretching and resting from running that my upcoming half won't be a total disaster. Whatever it is, I will run that race in completion, even if it takes me 25% longer than I was originally trained to run. 13.1 miles are 13.1 miles no matter how long it takes you.

My neighbor even commented on my "abs" the other day that she could allegedly see protruding from my shirt (which I totally doubt because I have open diastasis). From the right angles before eating anything, I can pull off a unicorn ab or two.

But back to the main focus. Practicing yoga that I'm only average at while my kids are building forts around me and traipsing on my mat and periodically yelling at one another really doesn't give me that whole namaste feeling. For reals.

We do yoga together, but you know the attention span of preschoolers-- it's minimal. They start and then stop within a few minutes and then carry on with their chaos.

Maybe this is why all the moms at preschool have gym memberships.

Friday, April 14, 2017


I'm going back to work this fall. I'm not sure what I'll be doing or if I'll even have a job, but the kids are going full time and I'll be free to join the working class once again.

As much as I'm grateful for the 5+ years I've spent being home with my kids, I'm so ready (more if you count our Germany experience and sub teaching during my entire pregnancies with my two boys).

In fact, I'm antsy. I'm finding myself counting down the months until that will be my new reality. (I know, the grass is always greener and some people would kill to have my position!) I love my kids, I do. But, as they grow more self-sufficient, I find myself seeking intellectually challenging life outside the home. It could be that I'm also watching my husband in a job that he just loves and talks about how "fun" it is to work there and how it's more intellectually stimulating than his last two jobs. Gimme a piece of that. I'll take what he's having.

The thing is, I wouldn't take a day back of this full time mothering experience, despite knowing I'd be further advanced in my career and with options galore. Because what I did do when I chose to be at SAHM for those years, was shelf those advancements, pension... and contacts. I have zero recent or relevant networking to my name. All of my professional contacts are at least 4+ years old. It doesn't help that we've moved twice and plan to move once more before I officially find myself back on campus.

Teaching is an interesting career. It semi-favors parents, because you can leave and return with relatively little risk, but when it comes to switching states, that's not entirely the case. Each state, though "reciprocal" as they claim, favors their own. For whatever reason, the candidate who was educated through their system, attended their in-state university and student taught in their zip codes has the upper hand in the process. People, even at educational institutions, favor familiarity. It's more comfortable (and easier) to compare their needs, interests and even personal hobbies with someone who has been on their turf the longest. They're a presumed easier fit and even truer, an unlikely flight risk (which admittedly, I am).

It's been 11 years since I first interviewed for a teaching position. Recently, I went through the screener interview (with the only district I'll consider in Arizona). If I'm being honest, it wasn't my best interview. There were 12 questions and I aced 11 of them, but that 12th was a total brain drain for me. I drew a complete blank. I'm definitely rusty on the interviewing front and that was likely evident. (Forgive me, as I spend my days repetitiously reading the same Mo Willems stories.)

The mediocre interview was for the district my kids will attend school and frankly, I feel uncomfortable having my long-ago network of employers and colleagues writing recommendations for the laundry list of districts that exist. I'm a hustler, but I don't expect my retired boss from 2006-2008 to have emails blowing up her computer. I've chosen to stick with one district. If it means I'll be a substitute for the first year or so, great. Being an elementary teacher is one of the most sought-after teaching positions around and the shortages are in the least desirable positions. Perhaps I should've considered that when getting my degree in K-8!

For the record, I spoke with the hiring coordinator for the district and she assured me that contracts aren't due for awhile and she requested that if I did get a job elsewhere, to let them know so I could be removed from their list (which obviously means my totally bombed question didn't eliminate me from the pool entirely, but I'm not naive to assume I'm anywhere near the top of the list of those 60+ interviewees).

I guess substitute teaching won't be so bad, anyway. I will be able to make my own schedule for awhile, as my kids will have unique needs in the beginning of this new journey (i.e. early dismissal) and it will allow me to learn a lot more about the area, district, and create those networking contacts I desperately need to update. I'll just have to set my ego aside and enjoy the ride. I'm sure before long I'll be reminiscing about those carefree park days with my friends and lamenting having to pack lunches for the whole family every single day, except the husband, who lives the #dotcom life and has catered meals every day.