Wednesday, February 20, 2008

New days

I've been at my new job the last two days. Yesterday was crazy because I was in the Academic Support room, sometimes called the "emotional support" room, where kids who are either on IEPs (Individual Educational Plans such as getting extra test time, or hard copies of all notes), or are struggling with class and/or failing. These kids had attitude. I worked in there with two other aides, so I sort of took the backseat and let them run the room like usual. This plan has worked in the other two schools where I would sub in the special ed rooms. Unfortunately, I realized too late, this class was a bit different, and walked all over the aides. At one point a student who wandered in the room to "take a ten minute nap" while on his lunch break, and instead proceeded to check his facebook, blew up at an aide, used foul language, and slammed the door on the way out. Needless to say I had to follow him out into the hall and have a little talking to with him. That is NOT ok to do, ever.

Today was much better. I subbed for a social studies teacher, and got to sit in on the first hour of a class where actual teaching and discussion was happening. It was refreshing to remember what that was like, and it made me miss not having my own students and classes to teach. But I did enjoy myself today. Knowing that I'm a permanent fixture (at least for the rest of the year) means I felt more like I was settling in to a new home, and the teachers were very friendly and chatty and welcoming in the teacher workrooms.

All in all, I'm looking forward to the next few months and feeling more like I belong rather than an outsider that's temporary.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Continuing Thoughs

I wanted to add to my last post. Krista, thanks so much for the perspective on numbers. I actually wasn't sure the exact numbers, so I did a little research.

The total number of legal abortions in the United States since 1973 (Roe v. Wade) is estimated at anywhere from 35-46 million. That is a lot. A very significant number not to be ignored. More than I may have guessed if put on the spot. Another study said that from 1920-2000 it is estimated that there have been anywhere from 527-836 million abortions worldwide. WOW! It's sickening, isn't it? This includes all countries and forms of practices throughout the world.

To find the number of casualties, deaths, or lives lost in war, any war, or all wars is a big project. I found a few websites that list the number of estimated deaths in the 20th century. This includes civilians, military, and other deaths (like famine) caused by war. Again, having studied history I do not think it is black and white whether every war can be avoided, but considering the numbers I would like to hope we could exhaust all other options first. Especially when John McCain tells us we may be in Iraq for another 100 YEARS!

The following information was taken from this website:

(Matthew White, Historical Atlas of the Twentieth Century, 2001):

* Deaths by War and Oppression:
o Genocide and Tyranny:
+ 83,000,000
o Military Deaths in War:
+ 42,000,000
o Civilian Deaths in War:
+ 19,000,000
o Man-made Famine:
+ 44,000,000
+ 188,000,000

I want to reemphasize that the number of legal abortions is extremely significant (though if it wasn't legal the number of illegal would increase), and that I'm not discounting that. Back to my original point, we could look at the number of deaths based on poverty, racism, lack of medical care, and war, and realize there are a lot of issues that our politicians need to address. All of this can be touchy without any answers in black and white (hence the name of my blog!), but I believe it's healthy to discuss and keep our minds, hearts, and spirits challenging the status quo, especially as Christians.

Thoughts on Politics

I have been watching this presidential nomination process very closely. I find myself nervous at times, and dare I say emotional as I listen to speeches that speak to me and allow me to dream about future possibilities. I go online as soon as the polls are expected to close to see what the results are, I watch CNN and MSNBC while I work out at the gym, I read the newspaper and online news constantly.

Last night I was reading Gregg's Gabmles post on Presidential Politics. I loved his post, and have felt the same as I've heard both Michelle and Barack Obama speak. I too, find myself saying YES! to my computer screen as I watch speeches. And truthfully, I tried to keep an open mind about Hillary. I didn't read her book, as I did Obama's, but I tried to read about her policies and be open to what she may have to say. But try as I might, lately she has repulsed me. I've read and seen videos showing how manipulative and power-hungry she is, heard testimonies of some of her closest advisers, and I just cringe.

I read the comments following Gregg's post, and had mixed feelings. One person compared the Obama fever with the 1960s and the way Americans flocked to JFK after an old timer like Eisenhower. I see similarities in this, as I studied a lot of American history to receive my history degree, but I think there is a difference here. JFK had political connections we can't even imagine because of his name, there was a long history of corruption (he received winning votes from people who weren't alive, for example), and in some ways was in the right place at the right time. True, in many ways he proved ill-equipped to handle the nation's problems. Obama, on the other hand, is competing heavily with another politician who has "experience," and thus if Obama wins it's not because no viable candidate ran against him. Many argue that Obama is all talk and no show, but listening, truly listening to his words, one can come to realize that this is no ordinary politician. Sure, he's forced to play the game, (he acknowledges in his book that unfortunately this is how our country runs its politics), but he has hope that this can change. More importantly, he is aware of the need for it to change.

This same commenter also said, "his stand on the value of human life scares me," to which another commenter responded well, saying "we have plenty of already LIVING human beings dying." To which I say, "That friend speaks my mind!"

This gets into one of the first issues I ever blogged about, why I started this blog in the first place. Why are so many Christians so focused on one or two issues (abortion and homosexuality) that they are willing to overlook so many other issues?? How can Republicans (and many Christians) be so Pro-Life yet be Pro-military and Pro-kill-all-enemies-of-America-because-God's-on-our-side? How many more millions of people have died in war than from abortion? Believe me, I am against abortion, but why do so many support life before birth, to virtually ignore issues of poverty and injustice once these babies are born?

I may not fully support Obama's Pro-Choice stance on abortion, but to me, his stance on poverty, education, ending the war, and many other issues seems much more "Pro-Life" than any other candidate running for the Presidential nomination in any party.

Thanks Gregg, for the thoughts!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Snowy Afternoon

It's snowing right now. I'm home at 11:30 because the school district called for an early release due to icy roads expected this afternoon. I have the whole afternoon and evening off!

The school I interviewed with yesterday called me yesterday and offered me the building sub position for the high school. I told them I'd let them know today, but as I thought about it last night I realized I have no reason not to take it, except not having too much flexibility during the week, but that's real life, right? I could think of many more reasons why I should: better pay, guaranteed job every day through the end of the school year, never having to deal with sub callers or waking up at 5 am to check for new jobs online, it will look good on a resume to be a building substitute versus a per diem sub, limited benefits (though I'm not sure what, some sick days/personal days).

So, I think I am going to call today and accept the job. I always feel bad letting other people down (the other two schools I work at), but I have to do what's best for me in this case.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Catching up

During the week I don't have much time to blog, so my mind begins to accumulate things I want to mention. Here's a few of them.

1. I joined a women's Bible study at our new church, and it starts tonight. We're reading "The Power of a Praying Woman" and I'm really excited. One of Michael's professors joined it also, so I'm looking forward to getting to know her better as well.

2. A group of friends from Michael's program started an indoor coed soccer team. Our first game was last Thursday, and I'm still sore. It's going to be a lot of fun, though I was a little intimidated at first because every person on the team but me played collegiate soccer (well, the goalie didn't either).

3. Today I interviewed for a building substitute position in a district I've subbed in only three times. If I get it, it means I would have a guaranteed job every single day for the rest of the school year. I'm not quite sure if I want that though. Plus, I really enjoy the other two districts that I sub in most of the time.

4. I've never practiced Lent, although one year Michael and I tried to give up ice cream, and that lasted about two days. This year I was thinking about it while at work, and decided I'd give up "complaining at work." So far I've done really well, and I feel like my overall attitude (and tips?!) have improved.

5. I meant to blog about this a long time ago. Last fall after our miscarriage Michael and I were trying to come up with something to help us in our grieving and healing process. We never picked a name (some people do despite not knowing a gender), so finally we decided to buy a teddy bear to have something tangible and significant to us. We went to Build-A-Bear and found the cutest bear with little patches on it. We went through the process of stuffing the bear, putting the heart inside the bear, and naming the bear. The tag it came with called the bear Champ, saying it is a "brave fighter," and the patches represent overcome struggles. The patches are a symbol of a young girl who passed away from cancer at 15, and the idea behind the bear is to let kids know it's ok to need help and share your feelings/struggles. For some reason we just loved the bear. We ended up getting the bear on the same day that our niece, Isabelle, was born, which was also special for us.

6. Over the last two weekends we've been able to visit with friends from Oregon who now live in New Jersey. Two weekends ago we gave our friends a tour of downtown Philadelphia, Liberty Bell and all. Last Saturday we drove up to Princeton where our other friends just moved back to, and got to spend the day visiting with them and touring Princeton. It's fun to have a little bit of Oregon on the east coast.

Love Park

Princeton University

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Super Tuesday

Holding my breath on Super Tuesday. I'm actually nervous and anxious.

I hope all you Idaho and Colorado folks (and many others) are voting today!

It's definitely time for a change.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Pennsylvania Random Facts 101

I learned a few fun facts about Pennsylvania this week:

-No matter where you are in the state, you are never more than 25 miles from a state park.

-PA is 33rd in size (area) but 5th by population.

-Native residents of PA are more likely to stay here, in their home state, than any other state in the nation.

-1/3 of PA residents live in rural areas, the largest non-urban population in the nation.

-PA drivers have the 3rd lowest auto mileage in the nation, probably due to the fact that most live less than 25 minutes from work.

-There are more bridges in the state (57,000) than any area on earth its size.

-William Penn owned it all (no commoner in history before or since has personally owned so much land).

-PA's road systems are equal to all of New England and New Jersey highways, local roads, and city streets combined.

-PA German carpenters in the 1730s built Conestoga wagons with a "lazy board" at the front left for the driver to stand on. All U.S. vehicles have had the driver on the left ever since.

-PA is one of only three states with more than one major orchestra and art museum and more than one team in major league baseball, football, and hockey.

Age is how you feel, right?

The other night I was hanging out with two other wives while Michael and the two husbands did homework. Somehow we started talking about age. I know that Heidi graduated a year after me, and Emily graduated a year before me. At some point I made a comment about being 24, and Heidi told me I am actually 25, which of course I had to disagree with. And Em said she was 24 also, about to turn 25. Then we realized that doesn't make sense, and we kept talking back and forth, trying to figure out our ages. I actually had to pull out a piece of paper and do the math:


Em and I were both born in 1982, so we realized that we had to be 25, and that she will turn 26 soon (in 2008). I wasn't convinced until I remembered Michael had his golden birthday last year (24 on the 24th), and I realized if he is going to be 25 soon then I just turned 25.

Someone just asked me at work how old I am and I told them I just turned 24.

I guess this means I'm getting old, when I have no idea how old I am anymore.