Monday, October 15, 2012

The New Normal

As you may have noticed, it's been very quiet on the blog lately. I mentioned before it's because we're adjusting to the new school routine, but that's only part of the story. I alluded to things being stressfful during our vacation, but things actually started months ago.

My husband is a high school Chemistry and Physics teacher (yes, he is ridiculously smart!). The first year we were married he was a long term substitute teacher at a school in Buffalo. When that year-long position was finishing, he began the search for the next job. He accepted a great job at a school towards Rochester, and we were thrilled.

Paigey helping Daddy set up his new classroom!

The next three years were hard. We were set financially, but the principal was a nightmare. It seemed like he never had anything good to say about Pete's teaching; all his observations were filled with petty little things Pete needed to improve, and each time the principal was looking for something different, so Pete never knew what to expect, or much less how to improve his teaching. Each spring we waited on pins and needles to see if Pete would indeed have a job for the following year, and each year we would finally get confirmation that he would indeed be employed again. Finally that third year, Pete was given tenure. Our worries were put aside; once they're given tenure, they're safe, right?

Wrong. So very very wrong. This past year was Pete's fourth year at the school...and the first with a new superintendent. The school was making cuts for the budget, and noticed the science department hadn't had cuts in quite a few years. And when you're bottom on the totem pole, just as Pete is, that means your position would be affected first. He was told that he'd probably be cut to a 0.4 (full time is a 1; half time is like a 0.5), but it depended on the budget. Over the next couple months, the story changed: he was going to be a 0.6, then full time, then back down to 0.4. The principal was fighting for Pete to keep his full time job, and we appreciated everything he was doing.

Then the final word came in, and it caught us completely off guard: My husband was not going to be full time, or half time. He was going to be a 0.2, and that would barely cover his gas getting to and from work, much less our bills.

We began preparing: I started buying extra groceries and freezing meals. I stocked up on toilet paper, tissues, toothpaste, and every necessity we would need. While we had extra money, we were going to stock up on things now for when money was tight later. Pete started that dreaded job search again.

Come to find out the principal at Pete's school wasn't done fighting for Pete yet: he wanted to create a position for him. Technology, as you may know, is becoming a big part of our daily lives. Pete incorporates a lot of the technology into his classes; one thing he does is he has all of his students sign up for Gmail accounts and then they use the documents option for all their labs. They can work on labs with their groups whether they're in school or not, and they're never leaving their lab books somewhere and not having them when they need them. There is no longer any excuse for students not having work done. The principal wanted Pete to help other teachers do the same thing, and the superintendent loved the idea. They were able to create a 0.4 position for him, bringing him up to a 0.6. Not great, but so much better than it was.

We continued to prepare for money being tight; I took on a couple extra babysitting kids for the upcoming school year. Pete was going to be home around lunch time every day, so why not? It's extra money coming in, and Pete would be here to help. Pete continued to look for a job, and even applied to a part time physics position at a local school. The superintendent at this school used to be the middle school principal at the school Pete was working at, so we assumed it would be an easy in for him.

Pete made the final interview; it was between Pete and another man. And that's when I started feeling uneasy, like he wasn't going to get it. We had seen God working and providing for us all along, and now I felt different, like God was preparing us for Pete to not get the job. And Pete did not get the job. The other man didn't have any job lined up, so they gave him the job. And we were okay.

For the next two months, Pete kept looking for a job, and nothing happened. No interviews, no call backs, nothing. So we prepared where we could, and just accepted that the poor economy was finally taking it's toll on our family.

Then we went crayfish hunting. In the middle of our hunt, Pete's cell phone rings. He picks up, says things like "yes, I'm still interested in the job" and "okay, I'll call my principal and superintendent this afternoon and let you know tomorrow." Come to find out the man that was hired over Pete took a full time job at another school, and the local school was in need of a part time physics teacher again!

The next few days were full of playing phone tag with the two schools, figuring out if the schedules would align, waiting, and praying. The local school needed to know by Friday, and Pete didn't finally get to talk to his current superintendent until Friday morning...nothing like cutting things close, huh?

In the end, Pete accepted the job at the local school, and between the two schools he is a 1.1 position. He's teaching two sections of physics, one section of 8th grade science (a first for him), and leading at least one lab (I think it's a chemistry lab), as well as his part time tech position, which come to find out should actually be a full time position by itself. He's going back and forth between each school every day; he starts out at the first school in the mornings, then quickly drives over to the more local school. On Mondays and Tuesdays he stays at that school until 3, then comes home. On Wednesdays and Thursdays he goes back to the first school, staying until 3 or later. On Fridays he leaves the local school by 2 to come help me as it's my heaviest babysitting day. He brings work home almost daily, and it's stressful for him.

I kept all my babysitting kids that I had "enrolled", even though Pete got a second job. Before anyone panics, it's not as bad as it may sound. I have eight kids I watch. One is before and after school every day for a couple hours, two are after school for a couple hours every other week. Two kids I see a couple days a week during the day, and they leave right about when the bus leaves. Two others I see only on Fridays during the day, and they also leave around the time the bus leaves. The last child is Miss K, who I see for preschool two mornings a week, and maybe twice a month if her mom needs a babysitter during the day. It's not uncommon for me to have a whole day with Ryan free during the week to run errands, so although my schedule looks crazy, it's not bad. It's taken awhile to get into some sort of routine, but I think we're finally getting there.

Ryan and Miss K during preschool; it was Hippo day!
So with Pete's and my crazy work schedules, we have two kids in school, which means two sets of papers, two sets of home work, and two very tired kids at the end of the day. I have preschool to plan, and serve on two committees, one at school and one at the local library. I'm still hoping to open my etsy store soon, but as you can see, that's been put on the back burner for a little bit longer.

So that, in a very very long nutshell, is what our life is like right now. Our lives are busy, but it's helping us determine what is really important and take advantage of those little moments with our family. There is more stress this year, but there is also more love for each other. We're relying on each other more, and I can honestly say that I feel like our family is more of a team that it was before. The kids are adjusting well, and are definitely enjoying having friends over almost daily!!! I won't be updating the blog daily or almost daily any more, but a couple times a week I hope to be posting.

What does your "normal" look like? Anything I can be praying for you about?

*** If you have any private prayer requests, please do not hesitate to email them to me at or message me on facebook!

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