Friday, April 26, 2013

Jadyn's Theatrical Debut

As I have mentioned, Jadyn got chosen for a minor role in the school play. It comes as no surprise that my little drama queen might actually have an interest in acting. She loves to perform. She is not without her moments of shyness but it doesn't usually stop her. Although she has performed in 2 recitals for her dance studio, this was quite a different experience. She had to get up on stage by herself and sing a song for her audition. She rehearsed her group songs and lines at home and attended after school play rehearsals that kept her at school until 5pm. That is a lot for a 6 year old.

And can I just say how lucky our school is to have a teacher who is willing to volunteer her time and effort to direct two school musicals a year in addition to a talent show? Not all schools are as fortunate.

The musical performed was called "Westward Whoa". It is a comedy about a wagon train that breaks down outside a town and gets robbed by the resident villain  Jadyn played one of the pupils of the schoolmarm, Miss. Springwell. All performers must put together their own costume. In another turn of fortunate events, my niece had recently had a pioneer dress and bonnet sewn for her to attend a themed birthday party. It was a little big on Jadyn, but it fit the role perfectly.


In character:


The play was performed 3 times, two mornings in a row for the students and staff at school and one evening performance for the public. I was able to sit with Jake's class during the two morning performances, since it is his teacher that directs the plays. Here is Jadyn on stage during one of the morning performances:


Cast photo op:


Jadyn with "Miss Springwell" and her best friend and fellow pupil Riley:


Taking a bow after the public evening performance:


Celebrating with Riley and gearing up for the cast party:


The whole experience for both Jadyn and myself as parent was great from start to finish. It also made for an exhausting week but well worth it. I have no doubt Jadyn has been bit by the acting bug and this will not be her last time participating in plays and musicals.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Look Who's Working Now

This post has been a LONG time coming. So try to stay with me because it is a LONG story.

As most of you know, since Jake was about 18 months old, I have done medical transcription from home part-time as a way to supplement Joe's income and to give me something that was "mine". While my primary concern was being a stay at home mom, which I absolutely loved, it was also nice to have my own thing too. However, I never really loved medical transcription and as the kids have transitioned over the last couple of years from preschool through kindergarten to this year when both kids are in school full day, I had come to the realization that I did not want to work from home full-time. I enjoyed being out of the house and interacting with people.

Last March I was faced with the decision of continuing to do medical transcription on a full time basis or leaving the company I had worked for since I started in the industry 7 years ago. Even though I wasn't quite ready to quit, I just couldn't see myself being the mom and wife I wanted to be while trying to complete a full-time work load nor did I see the point of trying to start over with a new company so with a heavy heart, I left my job and the industry earlier than anticipated. I think when all was said and done I liked the "idea" of working from home much more than I actually liked doing it. While financially, it was not easy losing my little monthly income, I have seldom regretted the decision.

My attention then began to focus on what was next. There is not much I can do with my Psychology degree without furthering my education and I really didn't want to work anywhere that wasn't going to allow me the same or similar schedule as the kids. Given all the extra days off they get for various holidays, teacher in-services, winter, spring and summer break, the obvious solution was to get a position with the school district. It made sense. I love being at the school and volunteering both in the kids' classrooms and for the parent group. The problem is that California schools and particularly our district is constantly making budget cuts due to decreased funding. Any positions that do come up in the district are usually given to current employees and those few that are available to new hires are fairly competitive.

Believe it or not, I could make this story even longer but suffice to say, I turned in my first application to the principal at my children's school in mid-August. I tested to become eligible for interviews in late September (after studying and stressing about said test for weeks) and passed. I went on several interviews and was even selected for a position that for unforeseen circumstances didn't end up happening. I went through a workshop and more testing to become a substitute for non-teaching positions and began taking sub jobs right before winter break. At the end of January I started working a long term sub job as the instructional assistant for a special education class at the kids' school. It was during this time I realized two very important things 1) I love working with students who for whatever reason are struggling and 2) I'm actually pretty good at it.

SO, after all this I was so happy and proud when I was able to interview for the job I had been holding as a sub and was hired to work permanently as an instructional assistant (IA).

Here are the kids and I, all wearing our Onaga Thunderbirds school t-shirts on Monday April 1st, my first day as a permanent employee.


I wish I could go into detail about the kids I work with every day, but their stories are not mine to tell. I have become very invested in helping them and teaching them. It can be extremely challenging. However, when you see their skills and abilities improve, it is rewarding beyond words. I wouldn't be surprised if I decide to further my education to eventually become a Education Specialist (fancy word for Special Ed teacher) but that is getting ahead of myself.

As for being fortunate enough to work at the same school my kids attend, it has been worth the effort. It affords me the opportunity to work and get to know the teachers and staff more intimately as well as continue to volunteer in my kids classrooms and school events. In fact, I even got to go on Jadyn's first grade field trip to the Living Desert with some of the students from my classroom.


Both my mother and my mother in-law worked within the school district where Joe and I went to school and continue to hold jobs at elementary schools now. I definitely can see the appeal that led them in that direction and I am happy to be following them in their footsteps.

Monday, April 15, 2013

So Cal Warrior Dash 2013

When I did Warrior Dash 2 years ago, I wasn't sure what I was thinking signing up to run 3 miles AND complete obstacles that included crawling through mud and jumping over fire. Then I did it and seriously, it was so much fun. So here I am two years later, doing it again with my local friends. They had to see what all the fuss was about for themselves.

There was one obstacle in particular that was pretty hard (using a rope to scale a wall) but overall it was just messy and fun. Good times! One of those experiences that is really hard to put into words.

Here is the whole crew, from left to right Tina, Cruz and Tara, myself, Diana (Tina's sister) and Johnny (Tina's husband). A big shout out to Joe who stayed home and watched our kids and Tina and Johnny's so we could be at Warrior Dash:


The girls:


My favorite before pic:


Tina and Johnny brought along a disposable waterproof camera so we got a few action shots along the race. Here I am running through the tires:


Up and over, down and under:


Tina and I jumping over the fire (love the crazy muscle man behind us clearly from the following wave):


All of us joining forces after the final mud pit to cross the finish line:


The girls afterwards. I know you can't really see it but I did have mud splattered on my face and caked in my hair and ears, the majority of which came from Cruz who flung mud at me during the first mud pit:


All of us afterwards:

IMG_2329-001 Somewhat clean and ready to head home sporting our warrior helmets, t-shirts and metals:


For the next two days, I was so sore I felt like an old lady (oh wait, maybe I already am). However it was such a fun experience, I would do it all over in a heartbeat. In fact, we are looking at family mud runs in the fall so the kids can get in on the action.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Ketchup! Ketchup! Ketchup!

Would you like some fries to go with that ketchup?

Baseball season is in full swing, taking up at least 3 days a week. With Jake in minors this year, he has had several games that don't even start until 7:45pm and have a 1.5 hour minimum/2 hour max game time. My kids are usually in bed at 8:30pm on school nights!!! It's been interesting to say the least. Jake is also continuing with weekly Cub Scout meetings and BMX racing on Sundays.

Jadyn is doing cheer and getting ready to start learning choreography for the spring recital. She will be placed in a bubble the week beforehand to ensure she is not sick on the night of the performance. Jadyn has also been attending after school practices twice a week for the school musical. Of course, they landed on the same days Jake has baseball. So yeah, the kids have been keeping us busy, busy, busy!

Last Friday was parent/teacher conferences and I am very pleased with how well both kids are doing in school. Jadyn  is at or above grade level in all areas and recently passed the last of the 3rd grade high frequency word lists and is starting on 4th grade. She is doing so well in fact, I was surprised to learn her teacher had briefly entertained the idea of recommending Jadyn skip a grade. However, while she knew she could handle the work academically, she feels she is challenging her enough in class and that emotionally and socially first grade is where she belongs. I completely agree.

Here is Jadyn receiving her Star Reading award for the 2nd trimester.


Jake made Dean's Honor roll for the 2nd trimester in a row receiving all A's and 1 B in Reading Comprehension  His teacher mentioned how pleased she is at the progress he has made in creative writing.  He worked very hard this trimester and met his goal for the Accelerated Reading program. He is being considered for a high achieving 4th/5th grade combo class for next year. However, his test scores in Language Arts may prevent him from being a good fit for the class and if that is the case, I am fine with that. In the meantime, his teacher and I talked about strategies to help him test better in Language Arts. The most important thing is that he is doing well in school and I am so proud of him. Here he is at his 2nd trimester award assembly:


A few weeks back, I was able to go with Jake and all the third graders on a field trip to the San Bernardino County Museum. I love that I am able to do things like this with the kids. Here is Jake and I (he is wearing his class tie dye shirt):


As a family, we have been enjoying a lot of time with friends and thanks to the wonderful spring weather that includes having people over and BBQing dinner and a trip to the drive in to see The Croods and Oz, The Great and Powerful.

My bestie Rose and her family came out during their spring break and we had them and the Millers over after BMX that Sunday for a BBQ. Here are all the kids enjoying their dinner outside:


Last Friday we went to the drive in with the Millers, Cruz and Tara and Jadyn's best friend Riley and her whole family. We had quite the crew!:


Nine more days until spring break and in only 12 days, I will have a 9 year old! Seriously, when did that happen?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Whitewater Preserve

A few weeks back on St. Patrick's Day, we decided to take advantage of the weather warming up and went to Whitewater Preserve with the Miller family. I think we have been there frequently enough that I don't need to go into too much detail. Great nature trails and one of the few places that allow you to bring dogs. The kids and pups love, love, love playing in the stream and I stop taking posed pictures and go crazy on the candids.