Monday, February 28, 2011

The various moods and expressesions of Zoey

Quietly reading, contemplative, calm and analytical
Content, smiley, comfortable & cozy
Goofy, cheesey, full of laughs
Sassy & coy
Taking a break, relaxing w/elmo and a sippy, peaceful & chill

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Family Get-together in Aaron's honor

Saturday we headed out to Livermore for a get-together at my cousin Brett's house to honor his son Aaron, and to share our well-wishes before his deployment to Afghanistan with the US Army next month. It was so great to see my dad's side of the family (there are SO MANY of us now - our family keeps growing!), and to see Aaron and meet his beautiful wife Emily. Zoey also had a great time playing with her cousins on the big trampoline! We're blessed to have such a loving, diverse, amazing family. : )

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Your dose of Zoey for the day : )

She is becoming more amazing, more silly, more grown-up, more stubborn, more adventurous and more sweet by the day!


that yes, we really do have 4 cats! Just in case you needed extra proof that we're totally crazy. : )

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Things in my world....

....are very busy these days, but equally happy and full of love, goofy children's songs, beginning baby sign (Z knows "more", "food", and "milk" so far!), and lots of belly-laughter brought on by silly games, rambunctious tickling, and funny face-making. : )

Being a working mom of a toddler isn't easy, but it's also extremely fun and energetic - no boring moments in our life with 4 cats and a Zoey running around! : )

(This picture was taken at Hayden's 3rd Birthday a couple months ago - but it totally expresses the current energy that Zoey brings into our lives!)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Sad, Sad State of Education in our Country....

Just one teacher's story....gave me chills...

From Education Week - February 16, 2011:

Dear President Obama,

I mean this with all respect. I'm on my knees here, and there's a knife in my back, and the prints on it kinda match yours. I think you don't get it.

Your Race to the Top is killing the wrong guys. You're hitting the good guys with friendly fire. I'm teaching in a barrio in California. I had 32 kids in my class last year. I love them to tears. They're 5th graders. That means they're 10 years old, mostly. Six of them were 11 because they were retained. Five more were in special education, and two more should have been. I stopped using the word "parents" with my kids because so many of them don't have them. Amanda's mom died in October. She lives with her 30-year-old brother. (A thousand blessings on him.) Seven kids live with their "Grams," six with their dads. A few rotate between parents. So "parents" is out as a descriptor.

Here's the kicker: Fifty percent of my students have set foot in a jail or prison to visit a family member.
Do you and your secretary of education, Arne Duncan, understand the significance of that? I'm afraid not. It's not bad teaching that got things to the current state of affairs. It's pure, raw poverty. We don't teach in failing schools. We teach in failing communities. It's called the ZIP Code Quandary. If the kids live in a wealthy ZIP code, they have high scores; if they live in a ZIP code that's entombed with poverty, guess how they do?

We also have massive teacher turnover at my school. Now, we have no money. We haven't had an art or music teacher in 10 years. We have a nurse twice a week. And because of the No Child Left Behind Act, struggling public schools like mine are held to impossible standards and punished brutally when they don't meet them. Did you know that 100 percent of our students have to be on grade level, or else we could face oversight by an outside agency? That's like saying you have to achieve 100 percent of your policy objectives every year.

It's not bad teaching that got things to the current state of affairs. It's pure, raw poverty.

You lived in Indonesia, so you know what conditions are like in the rest of the world. President Obama, I swear that conditions in my school are akin to those in the third world. We had a test when I taught in the Peace Corps. We had to describe a glass filled to the middle. (We were supposed to say it was half full.) Too many of my kids don't even have the glass!

Next, gangs. Gangs eat my kids, their parents, and the neighborhood. One of my former students stuffed an AK47 down his pants at a local bank and was shot dead by the police. Another one of my favorites has been incarcerated since he was 13. He'll be 27 in November. I've been writing to him for 10 years and visiting him in the maximum-security section of Salinas Valley State Prison. He's a major gangster.

Do you get that it's tough here? Charter schools and voucher schools aren't the solution. They are an excuse not to fix the real issues. You promised us so much. And you want to give us merit pay? Anyway, I think we really need to talk. Oh, and can you pull the knife out while you're standing behind me? It really hurts.

Sincerely yours,
— Paul Karrer

Paul Karrer is a 5th grade teacher at Castroville Elementary School in north Monterey County, Calif. He is a union negotiator and was the League of United Latin American Citizens' 2009 teacher of the year for North Monterey County.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Valentine's Day Dinner

I've never been one for the frilly heart-shaped candy boxes, the over-done flower bouquets, or the obligatory sentiments of love on February 14th because Hallmark and Hershey tell us we're supposed to celebrate. But I do love my husband more than words, and I also love to cook and eat dinner with the love of my we had a nice, romantic evening meal together last night "just because". : ) I made yummy pesto w/linguine and chicken, salad and warm bread....with some tasty vino. It was a wonderful evening.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Zoey's first time in the ocean! was technically the Bay....but close enough! We took advantage of the gorgeous, Spring-like sunny warm weather on Saturday to get outside for several walks, including an impromptu meet-up with Beth, Jason & Jonah at Alameda Beach! The kiddos both got to experience their first walk in the ocean water - what fun! The hardest part was getting them to leave without tears and tantrums! Great memories being made everyday lately.....parenthood is so awesome!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

We LOVE Sesame Street!

Especially hilarious skits with celebrity guests like John Leguizamo.....LOL! Entertainment for all ages, and important lessons about healthy eating for the little ones! hehe...

Monday, February 7, 2011

Happy Birthday Dad!

Sending out lots of happy birthday vibes, virtual hugs and endless love to my amazing father Dennis on his special day! I love you Daddy! : )

Sunday, February 6, 2011

What a week - sheesh!

Sorry for the lack of blog activity lately - the last week has been a roller coaster for me, and I've been quite say the least! So last Tuesday I got the call I had been waiting for - a job offer for the Title V Academic Advisor position I'd applied to at CSU Stanislaus in Turlock! David and I talked and discussed for hours, weighed the pros and cons, and eventually decided to take the plunge - to move back to Manteca and to begin a new chapter of our lives out in the Central Valley. Our motivations to have a house with a yard, to become more financially stable, to be closer to my family, to give David the ability to go back to school, and to be able to afford having another child, all prompted our decision to leave the Bay Area. It wasn't an easy decision by any means, because often when we're faced with huge transitions and tough life-altering decisions, there are almost always a slew of competing values and various pros & cons that come into the mix - and this decision was no different. But weighing out all the criteria and the multiple factors involved, we decided that despite the temporary challenges we might face, it was ultimately the right decision for me to take the job and for us to move....


the update is...... David and I won't actually be moving after all (at least right now). I received an unfortunate phone call last Friday rescinding my job offer at CSU Stanislaus due to budget/union issues (long story.....ugh). So even though the grant money is still there to fund the Title V program, my position will no longer be available to me at this point - since other employees are about to be laid off, and they will have preferential hiring priority. : (

Oh well, I truly believe things happen for a reason. It's not like we're sad to stay in the Bay Area by any means - as I mentioned above, it was a tough decision to leave Alameda in the first place, and now we don't have to deal with those "cons" on our list. We'll get to stay near our wonderful friends in the Bay, we can continue to live in the amazing community of Alameda by the beach, and we won't have to give up the security and stability we've built here over the last 11 years of our relationship. But we're still a bit bummed and frustrated as you could imagine, especially since we had put so much emotional energy into this decision and our plans for moving/starting new professional adventures out in the Central Valley. But we also believe it must have not been meant to be at this time. Thankfully I was able to rescind my resignation at Cal just in I still have a job...whew!

Oh the roller coaster of life.... : )