Annie's Journal

A new mom and member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints just trying to be the best person I can be. These are my thoughts, mishaps and joys.

Location: Small town, Pennsylvania, United States

A big city gal moved her family back to the small town to raise her daughter. Can she survive without the chaos of the big city and her "gangsta" students? We'll just have to see.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

I'll admit defeat. . .

Not that I think anyone but Nick is reading this, but I'm going to take a hiatus from posting here. It's too hard to have 2 blogs to post on each day, so I'm condensing with my husband. You can find my thoughts here.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

High Tech Linguistic Analysis

Your Linguistic Profile:
50% General American English
25% Yankee
10% Dixie
10% Upper Midwestern
0% Midwestern

$10 to anyone that can explain to me where I picked up the Dixie! 4 trips down South in my life, and somehow I picked up the speech. And I've never even been in the Upper Midwest. . . I guess I'm just an enigma. Er something like that.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Thursday's 13: 13 things Ava can do

In honor of my adorable niece that constantly says, "Look! Ava can __________." I'm going to list 13 things Ava can do at the ripe old age of almost 3 months.

1. Suck her fingers (and her whole fist on a good day).

2. Stand up with a little bit of help.

3. Grab the skinny toys.

4. Bang out a tune on the old piano.

5. Hold her head up to 80 degrees or so on her tummy.

6. Be mesmerized by the Winnie the Pooh mobile.

7. Kick her little feet, causing bruises on me.

8. Recognize Mommy and Daddy in a crowd.

9. Roll over onto her tummy and her back.

10. Scootch forward in a crawl-type motion.

11. Sleep through the night, most of the time.

12. Coo at Mama and Dada.

and my favorite:

13. Laugh a good hearty chuckle.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Busy Busy Bees

Life has been so crazy busy lately, but I am loving it. One of my favorite scriptures is:

119 Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God;
120 That your incomings may be in the name of the Lord; that your outgoings may be in the name of the Lord; that all your salutations may be in the name of the Lord, with uplifted hands unto the Most High.
121 Therefore, cease from all your light speeches, from all laughter, from all your lustful desires, from all your pride and light-mindedness, and from all your wicked doings.
122 Appoint among yourselves a teacher, and let not all be spokesmen at once; but let one speak at a time and let all listen unto his sayings, that when all have spoken that all may be edified of all, and that every man may have an equal privilege.
123 See that ye love one another; cease to be covetous; learn to impart one to another as the gospel requires.
124 Cease to be idle; cease to be unclean; cease to find fault one with another; cease to sleep longer than is needful; retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated.
125 And above all things, clothe yourselves with the bond of charity, as with a mantle, which is the bond of perfectness and peace.
126 Pray always, that ye may not faint, until I come. Behold, and lo, I will come quickly, and receive you unto myself. Amen.
----Doctrine & Covenants 88:119-126
I can't say I do all of this, for sometimes I come up short, but I definitely try to do it all. But yesterday, Nick and I took more steps to creating a House of God here in our home. Some of it was simple stuff- hanging up family photos and finishing the drapes, but more importantly, we opened our home to new people and began creating a nice community here in our building.

It's Elder Ecklof's last day in Bloomsburg, and he's been here 6 months. I'm glad that we were able to have him and his companion, Elder Sandovich, over for dinner with a slew of other people last night. You truly never know when the time will expire, and people will move on. I'm glad that we got to know him. I learned some valuable lessons from him--most importantly to keep going. Keep reading my scriptures. Keep praying. Keep on doing the things the Lord wants me to do.

I'm still not perfect, neither is my home. But throughout, I'm going to keep on pushing myself to be better and to continue doing what I know I need to do.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Missionary Moments

So our ward has had a rotating continual fast for the past month with the express purpose of bringing more people to Christ through the Gospel. I've never been a full-time missionary. I don't know many people here in PA, but I can tell you that I am seeing the miracles of this fast. I've met people I never would have met, and talked about the church with them. They've had the missionaries over and we'll see how it goes.

It's really exciting to be a part of this at this time. I truly do feel that part of this endeavor is to help find the inactive members and bring them back to Church if they want to be brought back. Tomorrow Jess and I will drop off countless loaves of zucchini and pumpkin bread to various women.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Peace in the Midst of Chaos

I could blog about Ava's new discovery that she can grab and pull things.

I could blog about Dan's fabulous nature and wonderful qualities as a husband.

I could blog about getting up at 5am to work out, which if you know me is nothing short of a miracle.

But I won't. Not that I'm not grateful for each of these things in my life. I truly am.

As I watch the news, I'm completely appalled. This new war is crazy. Bombs, death, and retaliation-- for what?? All because 2 soldiers were captured? Are you serious? If that was the international standard response for captured soldiers, we would have bombed Iraq and Afghanistan completely off of the map. Mogadishu would not exist, as they didn't just capture our soldiers, they killed them. Hence, bombing and war isn't a strong enough response.

Repulsive. The only solace I can find in this is two-fold.

1) It's been foretold as signs of the 2nd coming that there would be "wars, and rumors of wars" and "all nations will turn against Israel." We're almost there. Now the US needs to forsake Israel and that's come to pass. Once Christ comes again, there will be continual peace and we won't have this destructive nature ruling our world anymore. I can't wait for that.

2) Ava brings me such joy. She enriches my life in a way I never thought possible. I have a fabulous eternal family, and I know that regardless of what life throws at us, we'll be together forever. That's the biggest comfort I could ask for.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Ultra productive

My fading type A personality resurfaced today, inspiring all sorts of action. I haven't been able to accomplish this much since the days before the wedding.

So all before 2pm, I was able to:
1. Wash the mound of dishes and clean the kitchen
2. Walk with the mutt and Ava around the neighborhood for about 1.5 miles.
3. Shower and in the process, deep clean the shower. FlyLady would be proud.
4. Finish the hem on my new suit skirt.
5. Clean and dust the living room.
6. Receive my bike from a friend (Thanks!!!)
7. Go to a yard sale and find a vacuum for $3 (HELLO!!!)
8. Go out to my sister's and hang out with her kids.

All I have to say is amazing, and thanks to the Lord for allowing me to accomplish this much. Ava's been sleeping alot again, so that made it easier.

I have all sorts of deep thoughts on the war in the Middle East, affirmative action and violence in America, but 1 am isn't the time to type it all out. I should hope to do it within the next few days though.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

NYCDOE Incompetence

Graduation Day I stopped by the school to pick up the summer paychecks. The school secretary wouldn't give them to me, because she said they weren't there yet. Yet that's a lie, since a day earlier she told me to stop by because the paychecks were already in. She promised me she would send it to me the next day--certified, return-receipt. I didn't feel like arguing, but I should have in retrospect.

Obviously I wouldn't be blogging if I got the checks. I called to remind her. I've emailed twice for the tracking number. No response. Apparently she's out of the country.

It's now July 12, and I still don't have my July 1 paycheck in my hand. Then the school secretary's mother also works at the school, so when I called to discuss this with the principal, she basically chewed me out and told me to wait longer. WHAT?!?!

Why do incompetent people continue to have jobs? I just don't get it. I would have gotten a U if I was as competent as she is, yet this type of stuff continues year after year. It really sucks.

But hey--- I don't need to work there ever again. And honestly after the nonsense I've had to go through so I could give birth and now not receiving paychecks--- why would I want to return? Pennsylvania has schools and I'm sure one of them will hire me when I'm reading to go back.

Monday, July 10, 2006

I've been tagged!

So I’ve been tagged by my fabulous husband to name various four things I’ve done. Here they are:

4 Jobs I've Had:
Fashion Designer
Ghetto Teacher

4 Movies I Can Watch Over and Over:
Bourne Identity
Harry Potter
Bad Boys
The Incredibles, or any other Pixar flick

4 Places I Have Lived:
San Diego, CA
New York, NY
Washington, DC
Hamburg, Germany

4 Places I Want to Live:
Fiji, Samoa or some other South Pacific Island nation
Seattle, Washington
San Francisco, CA
St. Petersburg, Russia

4 Shows I Watch Regularly:
Judge Judy
The Apprentice

4 Places I Have Vacationed:
Rosarita Beach, Mexico
Kobenhaven, Denmark
St. Petersburg, Russia
Outer Banks, NC

4 Places I Would Like to Vacation:
Agra, India
Trans-Siberian Railroad from Russia to China
Accra, Ghana

4 Favorite Dishes:
Penang's Pineapple Chicken
Pad Thai
Be Bim Bop (Korean)
Penne Vodka Sauce

4 Sites I Visit Daily:
My family's blog
NYC Educator
PostHipChick's Blogt>

4 Places I Would Rather Be:
On a beach in the Outer Banks with my family
San Diego Zo

Smiling at Ava

4 Books I Would Recommend:
Book of Mormon
Harry Potter
Wild Swans
Anything by Grisham

4 People I Tag:
Renee's Mom, Carol
Jaren or Marius, if you're still reading
Any of my students :)

Answers to prayer

So today a friend and I headed out to the boondocks to find some members of our church that haven't been to church in a long time. Her 3 year old said a prayer before we left that we would be safe, and that all of these women would be home.

As we drove up there, the rugged terrain tested the limits of our truck, but we passed with flying colors. The gorgeous scenery was amazing, yet you could easily see the devastating effects of the recent flooding all around.

As we pulled up at the 2nd house, we were told this particular woman, we'll call her Amy, no longer lives there. But the current habitant told us that the people across the street may know where Amy is. So off we went. The neighbors knew she moved 2 hours further north, but they had no further contact info. Drat.

Not 5 minutes later, as we are still talking with these ladies, guess who calls on the phone-- Amy! She's been looking for a church to go to, and she wasn't sure where one is in her area. She was surprised to find us out in her area. It's probably been forever since someone came out after her, yet she agreed to have the missionaries in her home later this week.

Prayer answered.

But we're not done yet. When I called the missionaries, they told me they would be out in her area the very next day. What luck! She lives out on the edge of their area, but how fortuitous that they would be out there so soon. I hope she will come back.

Still not done-- the ladies who hooked us up with Amy are also welcoming the missionaries and others from our church into their home later this week. They are in desperate need of help cleaning up the debris in their yard, and they will discuss the church with the missionaries.

We've been praying for missionary opportunities and we're seeing them all around. The Lord definitely answers prayers--- so watch what you pray for! ;)

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Testimonies & Journaling

“While walking in a rapid stream we cannot tread twice in the same water. Neither can we spend twice the same time. When we pass out of that door, the work of this meeting will be closed to us forever. We shall never spend the time of this evening again. Then should we not keep a record of our work, teachings, and counsel which we give in this meeting? We should.” --President Wilford Woodruff
We discussed this quote along with a few others in Relief Society today. I had never thought of keeping a journal of my work in the Church. It just never crossed my mind, yet as I think more of it, it seems silly not to. Some of the time I've spent visiting inactive sisters in the ward is the most fulfilling time of my week. The sisters are wonderful, and I've deepened my testimony of various gospel truths through visiting them. It's been such a strength to me to have a deep rooted testimony of Jesus Christ, and to be able to share it with others is an amazing experience.

This past fast and testimony meeting was quite moving for me. My sister got up and bore her testimony. She had me in tears. I looked at my sister--the little girl who decided to "do her own thing"--and cried. She's now returned to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and she sees her children growing up in faith. Her 4 year old daughter is convinced that she will serve a mission, as she wants to be like the stalwart, upstanding young men that bless her home each week.

I think of my experiences. I have been truly blessed. I have the most fabulous husband in the world, and I honestly attribute that to prayer. I prayed for him, and Heavenly Father was able to bless me with him. My daughter as taught me more about the plan of creation and godhood in the past 2 months, than my previous 30 years of scripture study has taught me.

I know that Heavenly Father exists, and He looks over us. Even though we are often tried, He is there to guide us and assist us in those difficult hours. He loves us so much, and wants us to return to Him. Because of his deep love for us, He gave His Son so that we may atone for our sins. The Atonement is real. No matter what sin we have committed, we may repent and return through Christ.

The Book of Mormon is true. It is the record of Christ's visit to the Americas. It contains the fullness of the gospel, and it is a compliment to the Bible, the record of Christ's ministeries in the Middle East.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ changes lives. It is the way, the truth and the light. Come unto Christ and you will see an improvement in your life, your attitude and an increase of love.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Craziness. . .

So last night a friend and I decided to drive about 40 mins north to check on our church friends. We were to make sure the flood didn't get anyone too badly, and to make sure they were generally ok. Some haven't come out to church in a while so we figured it was time we let them know we still think of them.

We left with 2 kids at 7:30. We rolled into the 3rd person's house at 10:15pm. We didn't get to town until after 11pm. Needless to say my hubbysband wasn't too happy, especially since I didn't remember to call and say we were ok.

So tonight when hubby and the friend's husband were fixing his car, they were a little leery to see us load up all 5 kids into the SUV and say we'd be back before midnight. We managed to get 2 women's mountain bikes for $15. A total bargain! One bike has a bent wheel, both need major cleaning and oiling but they will make good bikes once we're done.

Hopefully then I can work off this baby pooch. . .

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Oh Say Can You See. . .

Happy birthday, United States of America!

MSN has been running the questions from the Citizenship test. The questions aren't *that* hard. Most of my 8th graders could pass it as long as they paid attention in my class over the years. Yet the comment for 85-100% is "Welcome to the United States! (And, truth be told, you know more about this great land than most Americans.)" How sad!

I can't admit to being the most patriotic American, but at least I know something about the history of this country. I wonder how many people in America don't know that we broke away from England, that slavery was abolished in the 1860s (that always surprised my 8th graders) and that women couldn't vote in all states until 1920.

I realize historical knowledge isn't absolutely essential for life. You can continue to live without knowing who the President is, or when the World Wars were fought, yet it's part of the dumbing down of America. What do we really expect our kids to know? When are we going to hold them to those standards? And what do we do when their parents have no idea and they don't instill a passion for knowledge? It's an uphill battle.

With the current emphasis on literacy and math, social studies and civics education is being pushed to the backburner. Our kids are suffering because of it.

Blogging Carnivals

Being new to the blogosphere, I just barely discovered the Carnival of Education, the Carnival of Homeschooling, and the brand new Mom Bloggers Carnival. Some of the entries cracked me up (Nick thought I was crazy!) and others are just plain good information. Go check them out. You won't be disappointed.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Cleanup and raspberries galore!

So the flood waters are receded, but the clean up continues. Hopefully the stench will soon leave. This town is so idyllic and gorgeous to visit, but with the flooding, muddy waters and sewage have been strewn all over the streets. Pressure washing companies are making a fortune, but the clean up still continues. I feel badly for the people who live further downtown as they were hit by Fishing Creek and the Susquehanna-- one on each side.

To escape the clean up, we went to pick raspberries with a few other families this morning. Nick and I picked 11 pounds of black and red raspberries. Yummy!! So what fun is picking raspberries if you can't reap the benefits? So I forayed into baking pies today. I made 2 regular raspberry pies with a crumb top and 1 gluten free pie with a crumb top. Nick still has to try the gluten-free pie, but I think it will need a little tweaking. With all of the flours on the market for gluten-conscious people, does anyone know which is best for baking?

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Money, money, money. . .

Don't we all need some? I'm happy where I'm at, especially after Dan & I reworked our budget and debt reduction planner tonight. We'll be out of debt in a few years, just in time to place a house on the land we want to buy. I've got to say that I normally hate all things Microsoft (but love Bill & Melinda for their *fabulous* work in the schools), but Money did us well tonight. The budget was easy to create and the debt reduction planner was logical and simple. For those of you paying just the minimum on your credit cards-- you'll never be free until you pay more on the principal. The minimum only covers the interest plus a wee little bit. It's their way of making more $$ off of you.

On other $$ fronts--- what in the heck is up with the modular home world?! Dan and I were hoping to spend around $100K for a 3+ bedroom home. Yet I've been told by modular builders that they are custom builders so it will be $200+K for a simple 3 bedroom rancher. Are you kidding me?!?!? A home that has a simple floor plan that you are making 100 times over for every Tom, Dick & Harry is $200+K??? This makes no sense. Then when I told the modular builder that I found a stick builder that could give me a beautiful 4 bedroom, 2 story home for $110K, he was shocked. Then he says, "well, they specialize in affordable housing." It is no wonder more Americans aren't homeowners when $110K is "affordable." This is rural PA where most workers are high school graduates with blue collar jobs. There is no way that home is "affordable." It's insane if you ask me.

The land we are looking at is Lot #1 (upper right corner of the map found here). The home we are looking at is found here. Other homes we considered were here, here, and here but they are all well above $200K. Do you believe that?! Please comment and let me hear your thoughts-- maybe I'm just crazy.

Back to regular life. . .

Or as normal as life gets, I guess. The flood waters are receding. By tomorrow we are no longer in flood stage. The bridge to Jessica's is open which makes me happy, as alternative routes are quite long. We still have no water in town, but it could be worse. I took dishes and laundry to Jessica's last night. Such a blessing that she is so generous in sharing her well water.

We love the area out by Jess, and this whole city-flooding thing has somewhat upset our world down here. There are 3 pieces of land for sale within 2.5 miles of Jess's house. Dan & I called our real estate broker last night. We may be starting a contract on one of the pieces very shortly. We've been calling modular and stick-builder construction companies to price out new homes and it looks like we can afford it if we stick to a solid budget for the next year or so. I think it's worth it. I would love love love to be out in the valley, out of the town and closer to Jess's family. The view is gorgeous and serenity abounds.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Flood of 2006

So the rain and floodwaters came, and they are starting to leave. The damage is devastating for many people. Some homes have water up to the middle of their first floor. The creeks and river were quite poweful, even tearing up blacktopping on some roads. Hopefully the homeowners can recover quickly.

I wonder though-- we are the only major town on the Susquehanna that does not have levees or other forms of flood protection. Why is that? What is preventing this town from taking action to preserve homes? Major floods have been occurring nearly every other year for the past 10. Why would we continue to subject 25% of this town to that destruction? I'll never understand the priorities of some politicians.

I am quite glad that my family and friends are all safe and sound. Please pray for those who were flooded. They'll need it.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Day Before the Flood of 2006

So the river is supposed to crest tomorrow at 30 feet. Our house is at 35 feet or so. Hopefully there won't be any more rain for a while! Currently the river is at 20 feet.

Here are some pics of the early flooding taken around 10 am.

This is early this morning. By 4 pm, the water was right underneath the sign by now.

By 4pm, this sign is completely covered.

One road that is a river now.
The picnic area is under a few feet of water.

For more pictures, see my Family's blog.

Flood?! What?!? Leave?!

So Hurricane Agnes hit Pennsylvania in 1972, creating some of the worst flooding this area has ever seen. The mighty Susquehanna spilled over her banks, causing more destruction than has ever been recorded here. Well, with all of this rain on the East Coast, the Susquehanna is flooding again.

Last night as we were coming back from a bittersweet day in NYC, we came across sections of a high road that had streams flowing across it. Some of these "streams" were 2-3 feet deep. Other sections of the road had "streams" of debris--rocks, dirt, tree branches. It was treacherous, but we figured it's just the rain.

Travelling down Route 11 from Berwick to Bloomsburg was horrid! It's normally not too bad, but the mini golf course is under feet of water. I'm sure the fish are shooting for a hole-in-one. The creek overflowed, spilling onto Route 11. We were diverted to higher ground to come back around the floods.

As we approached our neighborhood on the edge of town, we notice that every house is dark. A few houses have generators out to power lights. Apparently our hamlet lost power mid-evening and it wasn't restored until 10 pm.

10:30 pm I'm about to sit down with a small bowl of Heavenly Hash ice cream, and the phone rings. A trusted friend says, "Annie, you need to get your stuff and get out. Go to higher ground." What?!? Apparently the forecast was calling for the Susquehanna to crest at 36 feet, well above flood stage. Our house sits at foot or two above 35 feet. EEEEEEEEEEEEEKKK!

Graduation Day!

Pomp and Circumstance, caps and gowns, smiles all around. . . this was the scene at Fordham Prep yesterday. The 8th grade students of MS 254 were lined up, in all of their glory, to enter the auditorium. My my my were they a fabulous sight! I've never seen them look so good, so grown up and for many, so accomplished.

The ceremony was beautiful. I am so proud. They are my kids--they have been for the last 3 years, and they probably will be forever. I've learned so much about myself and about life from them, and I know they've learned something about life and history from me.

They are all special to me, but there were two graduates-- Felix & Julio--that made me more proud than I've ever been in my life. We joke they were my sons, and honestly, if I had a 3rd bedroom out here, I'd have them here for school in PA. I spent hours upon hours working with them over the past few years. I've seen them grow exponentially. Felix is maturing and progressing academically. I know he'll be successful as long as he makes the right choices. Julio has amazed me, and is a great example of determination and repentence. He has clearly reformed himself academically, and he will be successful, of that I am sure. I just can't wait to see him graduate high school and college. And I'm sure he'll do both. The humbling thing is that I know I had a part in their success.

Far too often my work easily disappears. Homework begets more homework. Cleaning around the house inevitably gets dirty again. There is little sense of accomplishment. But looking at those graduates yesterday I *know* I've done something positive for this world. I know I've helped them grow and mature, and hopefully they've learned something about history along the way.

I shed a tear or two yesterday. I've never been more proud of a group of students. I don't know if or when I will teach in the Bronx again, so this wasn't just their graduation, but also a graduation for me too.

Special thanks to my darling husband, Nick, and Aubrey for enduring the horrid drive to the city, and for taking such good care of Ava and being artistic in their photographs.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

She's a little runaway

I was young once. I chose a boy over my family and my religion. I was stupid. I regretted it, but that experience gave me some very valuable lessons. I only wish I could impart those lessons to other young women without them experiencing the same pain and heartache I did. But alas, we all know the easy road is taken for granted and many don't learn until they've been forced to travel a harder path.

I only hope my friend will discover this before it's too late. . .

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Up to my eyes in strawberries and tomatoes!

So I tried to be domesticated. I've got the cooking, even gluten-free cooking, down pat. I've been my own little sweatshop making adorable little girl's dresses. So why not foray into canning?

After looking at 3 flats of strawberries and 3 half-bushel boxes of tomatoes--- it will be much too soon if I see another one. But oh will we have some delicious jam, salsa and tomato sauce!

Way back in 1980, President Ezra Taft Benson said,
You do not need to go into debt, may I add, to obtain a year’s supply. Plan to build up your supply just as you would a savings account. Save a little for food storage each pay-check. Can or bottle fruit and vegetables from your gardens and orchards. Learn how to preserve food through drying and possibly freezing. Make your storage a part of your budget. Store seeds and have sufficient tools on hand to do the job.

This weekend, my sister & I (along with our husbands) canned 15 quarts of salsa and 10 of tomato sauce. We each processed 24 quarts of strawberries for jam--hopefully hers aren't too fermented to yield a good jam. I feel very accomplished.

The car is done. . . kinda

Originally the compressor leaked freon. Now, after 4 days in the shop, my compressor still leaks freon, and now I apparently have a blockage in my lines. At least $850 to fix, but this garage won't be doing it. They've bought 2 compressors, neither worked in my car. In 4 days my car got worse, not better. Thankfully he didn't charge anything. I'm not so sure I'd be so charitable in that discussion if he did. . . Hopefully the Saturn dealer can figure it out.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The check is in the mail and yes, your car is done.

So we bought a new-to-us Saturn about a month ago. Great car, except the air conditioning failed me on a 100 degree day. There's nothing worse than driving with a screaming newborn in 100 degree heat with 70% humidity in a car with no a/c.

So we took it in to get fixed.

Thursday, June 1st
8am I bring the car in.

10am phone rings. . .
Mechanic: You have no freon. We need to put more in. That will be $130.
Annie: There's no other way? Ok. . .

2pm when I pick up the car. . .
Mechanic: So I'm concerned because you don't use up freon. It has to be leaking, and we need to find the leak soon so you won't have to spend $130 again on freon.
Annie: So when do I bring it back for you to check?
Mechanic: Tomorrow afternoon as close to 5pm as possible.

Friday, June 2nd
4pm. . .
Mechanic: We can't find the leak. We're trying.
Annie: Well, we have to drive to NYC tomorrow. That's 2+ hours in the car. When should we bring it back for you to find the leak?
Mechanic: Give it a week. We will see it easier then.
Annie: Am I losing a lot of freon? I don't want to spend $130 again. . .
Mechanic: Hard to tell. We hope not. It could be a slow leak that will take months to empty the freon.
Annie: Ok. We'll see you in a week.

A week later. . .
Annie: Please check my car. It's a/c is not as cold and I know it's got to be leaking freon. Please find the leak.
Mechanic: We'll try. Have a seat; it will be a few minutes.

35 minutes later. . .
(imagine screaming baby in the background)
Mechanic: We still can't find the leak. Give us some more time
Annie: *doesn't speak. Just begins to nurse crying baby right there in the dirty auto shop waiting room.

35 minutes later. . .
Mechanic: We found it! Your compressor is leaking. You need to replace it and that will be $750 for the part, labor and $130 to recharge the freon.
Annie: Weren't we trying to avoid recharging the freon?!? Argh.
Mechanic: We'll order the part 8am Monday and you should bring your car in Wednesday to be fixed.

Monday. . . on the phone
10 am
Annie: Hey! This is Annie with the Saturn. You ordered the part, right?
Mechanic: What part? What did you need? . . .
Annie: Compressor, remember? It's leaking. . .
Mechanic: Ahhh yes. . .I'll order it right away and we'll get it tomorrow. So bring your car in Wednesday first thing so we can start on it at 8am.
Annie: What time will it be done Wednesday? I need to get to Danville for 6pm.
Mechanic: No problem. It should be done by 2pm.

Annie: Give me some good news and tell me the car is done!
Mechanic: Ummm not really. The part, umm, just came in an hour ago. Umm can you bring the car back tomorrow?
Annie: Argh. . . Just keep it and get it done. Can it be done by 2pm tomorrow?
Mechanic: Yes, no problem.

Annie: Hey! How's my car?
Mechanic: It will be done in just a minute. . .

Annie: Hey! How's my car?
Mechanic: They're recharging it now. Should be done in just a minute. . .

Annie: Hey! How's my car?
Mechanic: Can we call you once it's done? Now there's a problem. . .

Are you frustrated reading this??? yeah. . . that's my feeling today too. Hopefully it's done tomorrow, and then I'll put my check in the mail.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

This says it all. . . .

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

4 Signs Your Life is Ruled by a Baby

1. You spend hours trying to figure out how to occupy the little one long enough to shower and cook.
2. The house is suddenly overtaken by toys, stuffed animals, swings, bouncy seats and play gyms.
3. You plan appointments around your baby's sleep schedule.
4. This post was typed with one hand and you probably ate your last meal with her in one hand and a fork in the other.

This basically encompasses my life. I love it. I love Ava and I wouldn't change my life for the world. Her smile makes it all worth while.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Carnegie Hall

It's been insane this week. Who would have thought that I was a homemaker when I'm never at home! I went to NYC this week to see my students present their documentaries at Carnegie Hall. I've never been more proud of my students. Honestly, they were nothing short of amazing--especially considering the students are only 8th graders.

Let me take it back a bit. Last August, I met with representatives from Carnegie to discuss a partnership with my classroom. They had created a program called "American Roots: The Great Migration," to focus on the migration of African Americans to the North. We would teach about it through journal entries from migrants and blues songs written during or just after the time period. But it gets better.

Part of my philosophy as a social studies teacher is to make history come alive. I've gone to numerous trainings on this, and frequently used the History Alive! program. My students have grown used to my craziness in an effort to teach, but Carnegie topped it all. We brought in a teaching artist once a week for 4 weeks. Little Toby Walker brightened our classroom with his guitar, while he taught the Great Migration. He had kids singing, bopping and learning. It was great.

So any good teacher knows that it's not enough to look at the class and know they "learned." They have to DO something with it. My kids were no different--only I decided to go big or go home on this one. We decided to create 3 documentaries on 3 musicians who have moved North to New York from the South. Kids did it all--videography, photography, editing, directing, you name it. That was about when I had to leave to give birth.

I had to leave mid-project, and I give all of the credit to Molly McBride and Mark Burford of Carnegie Hall and my students, especially Bermary, Kathy, Yadesh, Angela, Brittany, Vinette and Damissel. They really stepped it up and got the job done. I've never been more proud--and as I watched their accomplishments, I couldn't help but wonder if they realized how unique they are. How many 8th graders can claim to create a documentary for Carnegie? How many 8th graders even know what Carnegie Hall is?!

So I needed a daily blog

By way of introduction, I'm a former NYC teacher and adjunct professor who left teaching to raise my newborn. Not only did I leave teaching, but I left NYC--the bedrock in my life for the last 7 years. I dearly miss my friends, my students and the sites.

Yet the quiet din of our town in PA is beautiful. A freight train comes through everyday at noon, otherwise it is quaint and peaceful. We're right on the edge of the mountains with the Susquehanna River just two blocks from our house. It's the perfect place to start a family.

Ava Simone just turned 6 weeks and wow has she grown! It's amazing to watch her discover her hands and feet. Just today she figured out that she can kick the dangling instruments on her bouncy seat. The laughter that erupted was sooo darling.

Nick and I are so happy. We've been married almost 11 months, but they have been some of the best months of my life. Somehow I think the best is still yet to come.