Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Update...sort of.

After months of speculation, weeks of worry, days of panic, and an hour of a layoff workshop, I finally got some answers today.  The district decided to move forward with the layoffs that will be necessary due to declining enrollment.  At our building, no one was RIFed (I have no idea how to make RIF a verb, but everyone says it!) but four people will be moving to other buildings.  I get to stay put (yay!) but a good friend will be moving to another building and isn't happy about it.  

The funny thing is, they still have to solve the budget crisis, which means things could continue to change.  While I feel like this is a good answer, I don't really trust it.  Assuming that the union and district can agree to concessions, everything should be fine.  That, however, is a pretty big assumption.  So we continue to play the waiting game.  

Solving the budget crisis without more layoffs will likely mean salary freeze and possibly cut days, which of course means a smaller paycheck.  Bill and I are going to put our carpet quest on hold (AGAIN!) and try not to notice how gross our current carpet really is.  I think it is the original and our house was built in 1980.  Quick math equals YUCK!  Maybe we'll just buy a bunch of area rugs.

We are also going to hold off on our patio project in the backyard.  We will use the existing pavers we have lying around to make a space for our firepit we already have and build some planters for the deck.  A far cry from the flagstone patio we wanted, but a much more economical and responsible choice.  And it provides the same space for enjoying our backyard on summer evenings.

Ahhhh, summer evenings!  Two weeks from tonight and we'll be enjoying the first one!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Just when you think it can't get any worse... get called into the principal's office.

It wasn't a good thing as a student and as a teacher, it still isn't a good thing.  Our principal-elect told me this morning that our school district is going to proceed with layoffs using the current budget predictions for next year.  While there may still be concessions made by the union (salary freeze, insurance freeze, etc.) which may change the number of teachers actually affected, lay off notices should go out by the end of the month.  If the district creates the budget based solely on reducing force to make up the shortfall, that means our staff of 27 teachers will be reduced to 20, and I will be one of them.  It is a possibility that I could move to the high school, but their staff is being reduced by almost 20 positions, so that is unsure as well.

Everything in this whole process has been unsure.  If this, then this.  But if that, then this.  It is very frustrating and people just need to know.  Teachers feel as if they are bearing the brunt of this crisis, so on top of fear and uncertainty, there is also suspicion and lack of faith in the administration.  Overall, it just feels yucky.

We're operating with the worst-case scenario in mind and praying that concessions will be made by our union and the district that will work in our favor.  Worst-case scenario has me subbing next year and changing our budget and lifestyle dramatically.  That last part is pretty funny since Bill and I are already pretty frugal people.  I know we can survive a very serious belt-tightening, and I know our parents lived quite well with much less than we have.  But it is absolutely frightening to consider we would be cutting our income in half.  

I really thought that this year was going to be easier.  I didn't imagine it could get harder than the last year and a half.  How naive.  

I think I need to get really good at gardening and preserving.  On a brighter note, we are going to have a bumper crop of plums this year.  Plum jam, plum pudding, plum tart.  What else can you make with plums?

Saturday, May 2, 2009


This is my grandma.

My mom took this picture at Easter and Grandma was so annoyed because she didn't want her picture taken.  This is the closest we could get to a smile and she wouldn't look at the camera.

This is her real smile:

She has at least a million stories.  She loves animals and the color pink.  I think she looks especially wonderful in blue.  Here is another picture of her at my sister's wedding.  

See what I mean about the blue?  She drinks her coffee black but she loves her "special coffee" which is the International Delight hazelnut instant coffee.  She and my grandfather hand picked the wood paneling in their house that she now lives in with my parents.  They kept it up for her when they remodeled.

She grew up in Maryland.  She collects clocks, dolls, plates and spoons.  She clipped out every article about the new baby elephant at the zoo.  She used to make jello with fruit in it.  She knows I don't like jello with fruit in it so she would always make a separate dish of plain jello for me.

She reads the newspaper cover to cover and watches the news from 5 to 7pm, even though it just keeps repeating.  She can't stand George W. Bush and will tell you exactly why.  She loves to tell the story of my brother sitting in the tree in her backyard and so wrapped up in whatever he was thinking about he didn't know it was raining.  I've never seen her bed unmade.

She's gone to the same church for...ever.  She always had Tic Tacs in her purse and was delighted when a child at church called her the Tic Tac Lady.  She also always had Chiclets.  She has a special knack for growing African Violets.  

She is stubborn, has a heart of gold, and an amazing memory.  I'm very proud to be her granddaughter.