Sunday, July 13, 2014

Short scenes of summer


This summer seems to be flying by. Before we know it, it will be mid-August and Tim and I will both be back in school. During the weeks, I have been working at the Immigration Law Clinic at school and taking summer school classes Monday through Thursday evenings. I am constantly busy, with real work, school work and work to prep for the upcoming year of Moot Court. Tim has been likewise busy, but in a different way. He is home for 5 weeks of summer “break” but, as anyone who knows a teacher knows, his break involves prepping and planning for next year. After we run-walk (I walk, then he goes farther for a run) in the mornings, he settles in for a day of reading the literature he will be teaching this upcoming year (Lord of the Flies, Hamlet, and Brave New World, among others). He has also been reading books on classroom management and teaching strategies and planning the first 6 weeks worth of lessons so he will be ready to go in early-August. So, as usual, the Tibbses stay busy, busy, busy.

However, this summer we decided that we needed to really make the most of every free moment and take advantage of this last summer that it will be just us two. So, almost every weekend (which are all three day weekends, since I don’t work or have class on Fridays), we make fun plans. Last weekend, for the Fourth of July we jam-packed so much into the weekend it was dizzying. On Friday my mom and her long-lost cousin, Josh, came to Sacramento. The four of us, and three of our friends went up the American River for an inner tube float with a BBQ picnic at the take out. When we got back to Sacramento, we joined our neighbors on our front lawn for a personal firework show. Since we weren’t allowed to have fireworks in Santa Cruz as a kid growing up, I was as excited by the thrill of lighting them off as much as our 7 year old neighbor was. Tim and I can imagine a future of lighting fireworks on future Fourths with Tibblet(s) in tow. Then, on Saturday, we headed to the Sonoma Valley to join Oma and Sampa to watch a show, a Broadway medley, in an open-air theater in Jack London State Park. We just love being outside these days! 

Last week, my dad came up to Sacramento for a visit and to watch the semi-final matches in what has proven to be one of the best World Cups ever (and also probably my sober-ist). This Mundial, Tim and I enjoyed watching almost every game, and wagering on the elimination round predictions (neither of us were right on, but Tim was closer this year). We aren’t quite sure what we will do with all the free time now that the tournament is over. Anyway, it was fun watching with dad since he is the one who introduced me to the love of futbol. I wonder what Tim will teach Bibbs to enjoy? 

This weekend, Tim and I drove up to Sea Ranch for a quiet weekend alone. It was lovely to be by the ocean and out of the Sacramento heat. We did what we normally do at our family’s house in Sea Ranch: read, hike, walk on the beach, nap, cook, read, write, and repeat. I got a lot of work checked off my to-do list and feel so super refreshed coming into this new week, which is good considering that in the next seven days we have an ultrasound appointment, an appointment with the midwife, school and work, a visit with my cousin Dallas and her kids who are visiting from Oregon, a wedding, a dinner date with friends, a baby shower, a brunch date, and hopefully a trip to visit more cousins in the central valley. Did I mention we are trying to have ALL the fun this summer? 

18 Weeks! Almost halfway there!

In the midst of summer fin, Toast helped us organize our file cabinet (our first step towards reorganizing the house to make room for the third Tibbs)

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Law School Baby

Tim and I started talking about starting our family, and when would be a “good time” in our lives, when we were living in Guyana. I never thought I wanted kids until I had the chance to work in the health center and was surrounded by babies, mamas and pregnant women every day. I got to see first hand the joy and pride that being a parent brought to my clients. Tim has always wanted children and so when I told him I thought I was ready to have kids of our own he was excited. The only question we had then was when? When we joined the Peace Crops, the plan was always for me to go to law school right after. I had taken then LSAT before going overseas in preparation and was applying to schools when we began having the baby talk.

We began to discuss whether we should plan to wait until after I was finished with school or try to start our family while I was in law school. On the one hand, waiting would mean I would be working and bringing in income when there was another Tibbs to take care of. On the other hand, if we waited I would be over thirty and Tim would be thirty-four when we had our first child. This would certainly not be unheard of, but we like the idea of getting a Tibbs clan started a little earlier in life. Plus, in all likelihood, we wouldn’t have tried to get pregnant immediately after I was out of law school since I would like to work and build some credibility in my first real lawyer job before we had to ask for maternity leave.

Were we crazy to think that we could handle the pressures of law school and our first baby? Well, like with most decisions in our lives, we decided to do some research before we made a big decision. I spent some time online, googling around to see if I could find any advice. Were there any other women who had had babies in law school and, if so, what were their experiences and advice? After a little time online, I found a group of attorney mama bloggers who shared their stories about having their babies in law school. It was great to learn from these women that, with discipline, sacrifice and teamwork, it is doable.

So, with the inspiration of women who had come before, we decided to go for it. We may be crazy, but a law school baby is in the works. I only have one more year of law school to go and the timing works out so that I will be able to finish my fall semester before the baby comes. If the baby comes on time, I will have 5 weeks at home with Tim and the baby during Christmas break. Then, in mid-January, I’ll go back to school to finish my third year and graduate on time. I am taking summer school presently so that my spring semester will be light. I will only be taking 3 evening classes a week, which means I will be able to be home with the baby during the daytime. Then, when I have to go to class in the evening, Tim will be home to take over baby duty.

Although I am confident that Tim and I have a good plan I still sometimes wonder if this is a “good time” for us to have a baby. We aren’t homeowners and we still have student loan debt. But then again, is there ever a time that we will feel ready emotionally and financially? I doubt it. And it is encouraging to know that we are not in this alone. We will have the support of my mom, who is planning on moving up to Sacramento, and our family and friends, who are all so excited for baby Bibbs. I know this law school baby will be raised not only by us, but by our village of teachers, lawyers, nurses, young professionals and old parenting pros. So maybe we aren’t so crazy after all… 

As a bonus, here is a picture of me at 16 weeks. Even though Toast wanted in the picture, the Bibbs bump is still pretty visible! 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Reviving Tibbs Travels – Embarking on a New Adventure



Clearly law school and teaching has taken a lot of our time and focus this last year. I am embarrassed to say, it has been since October since we posted a blog. I suppose it didn’t feel like we were living up to the name of the blog, “Tibbs’ Travels” because we have been settled into our life and demanding routine, although we have been taking weekends and vacations to explore around and about California with friends and family.

However, now we are embarking on a new, wild adventure that we think may be blog-worthy, or at least interesting to our dear readers – our family and friends afar. We are going to have a baby! We are thrilled, excited, overjoyed, overwhelmed and nervous to become parents. Our baby, who we have been calling “Bibbs”, short for baby Tibbs, is due to arrive in early December.

 
I found out on March 31st that I was pregnant. Tim was at work already and I was home alone. This was something we had been hoping for for quite some time so I was on alert to the possibility that we might finally have a baby on the way but I was still shocked to see the home test result. I started crying with joy and trepidation and had to sit down and let the magnitude of the realization sink in. I decided to wait to tell Tim until he got home from work that day.

Waiting all day, holding this new secret to myself was surreal. I felt like I was walking in a dream, until I was able to share the news. Ironically, I had an errand to run that day that involved buying diapers to donate to a charity event at school so I found myself browsing the baby section of Target, feeling hopeful and overwhelmed. I bought the diapers to donate and also decided to put together a gift bag for Tim as a way of telling him we were going to have a baby. I bought a packet of nursery hangers and a tiny onesie that said “My dad is cooler than your dad” on it. I found a card that said on the outside, “It was never a question of IF, but only a matter of WHEN” and I wrote “Congratulations, you are going to be a father!” on the inside of the blank card. I put the whole gift bag together, went to class as if my day was normal and then waited for Tim to come home.

Tim was surprised to find a present and even more surprised when he opened it. He was confused by the nursery hangers, but I think he knew at that point what I was trying to tell him. However, he is the kind of guy who likes to see things in writing for them to sink in. He picked up the onesie next, laughed and commented on how small it was. Then he got to the card. When he read it, I think the words made the message real. He acted surprised, but I think he had known all along. After a few shocked curse words, he came to give me a hug and we were able to cry and kiss and enjoy the huge, weighty reality that we are going to be parents.

Now I am 16 weeks along in the pregnancy and the reality has taken almost this much time to sink in. We have been documenting, in picture form, the journey thus far and have so much to share. We want to try to get back into the blogging habit, both to keep our family updated and also so we can have a journal of this crazy new adventure we have started. For now, I think the best way to share how far we have come in just these four short months is to share these sort of embarrassing photos of Bibbs and me, growing together. 






Thursday, October 24, 2013

Thoughts on Puppy Training and Dominance



I guess you can’t reason or guilt a dog into good behavior. Recently, our sweet Toast has shown a few signs of teenage defiance (in dog years of course). On three recent occasions our normally docile dog has show the first signs of aggression we have seen in the year we have known her. On a side note, it is hard to believe we have only had this little pup in our lives for a year. At times she seems like the best friend we have had all our lives, and at times she is so quiet we forget she exists… hmmm… But recently, she has been a total brat. She has snarled and snapped at three dogs (two puppies) on walks and at the dog park, in the last two weeks. We can attribute her behavior to three things:

1.     Our next-door neighbors have their in-laws come by at least a few times a week to care for their young daughter and with them they bring Titus. Titus is an asshole dog. There is really no other way of putting it. He is a total aggressive asshole. This dog barks at every living creature (human, dog, cat, whatever) that walks near the house. When I go out to my car he charges the fence and snarls and barks at me like I am an evil, threatening criminal. I hear him as early as 6 in the morning when the parents come over because they let him out in the yard instead of keeping him inside where he would be less aggravated. Anyway, since our fence butts up against theirs Titus and Toast have been “fence-fighting”. When our little guard dog hears Titus, she runs outside to the small section of chain-link fence that adjoins our neighbors and those two go at it. I hate that she has become so aggressive in reaction to this other dog. When yell at her to stop she comes in but she is super agitated. I can only imagine how she feels when she is at home alone when Tim and I are at school. Poor pup. The long overdue solution is that I need to talk to my neighbors. Maybe we can coordinate different times when the dogs can be out in the yards or erect some barrier or something. In any case, I bet the fence fighting has contributed to her bad behavior.
2.      This is an easy one. Exercise. More, more precisely, lack thereof. We have been lax about taking this dog out for walks and jogs. She is young and super athletic and needs to get out and run. We were good about taking her for regular walks when she was a puppy but schoolwork has gotten the best of us and we have been seriously negligent. I think a few weeks ago she went a whole week without a proper walk. I can only imagine that her pent up energy contributes to her recent aggressiveness.
3.      Dominance. We have to remind Toast who is boss. I can’t say I prescribe fully to the Cesar Milan theory of dog training but I do know that when I show Toast that I am the pack leader she is much better behaved. When we went to dog training we learned a bunch of things to do to assert human dominance that, frankly, we have been slacking off on. For example, the humans are always supposed to walk in the door to the house before the dog barges in. When we give her a command she is supposed to obey instantly. We must invite her up on the couch before she is allowed to jump up herself. In the past few weeks we haven’t been asserting these rules and I think that her behavior suffers as a result. So we are cracking the proverbial whip with this dog. The technique that has been working the best has been putting her down. No, not putting her to sleep. Just forcefully rolling her onto her back and holding her there for a moment. Dogs do this to each other to assert dominance and it has been very successful, especially when we put her down immediately after she has shown any signs of aggression. Interestingly enough, the skills necessary to get a submissive dog are the same that Tim is practicing in his classroom with his students. He has been told he needs to work on his classroom management (I can only imagine that he is too rational and forgiving). It appears that in order to have consistently well-behaved puppies and teenagers, it is important to be consistent, assertive, disciplined and firm.

Anyone out there have any thoughts or experiences with working with suddenly aggressive dogs (or impudent teens?)?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Fabulous Fall Break


Toast playing at the dog park. Gorgeous Sacramento sunset behind.

     This past week I have been home from work. It was a scheduled fall break where the kids don’t have to be in session all week and neither do the teachers. I have other stuff to do like plan, examine data, and correct papers, but I haven’t really been working too hard. I am taking it easy and taking care of myself. 
       The last two weeks were insane before fall break. I was always one step behind and quickly getting burned out. My teaching was a little bad, but in the end I think my efforts went to a more extraordinary cause. Basically, in order for classes to be eligible college prep classes for Cal States and UCs, the UC system needs to approve them as rigorous enough. In order to do this the schools (usually districts) have curriculum developers write these reports that outline the entire curriculum for an individual class. This report gives a brief purpose for the class, a large course outline that includes the units taught, the skills learned, books read, essential, guiding questions and key assignments. Then, the writing assignments, unit-by-unit, need to be described, as well as the listening and speaking assignments, unit-by-unit.   
      It is a lot of work and some stuff is redundant but these course descriptions need to be done. Each school gets two chances to get courses approved. First, you can send in a course description and if it is approved, it’s all good, but if it is not approved it is sent back to the school with some comments and then the school has 10 days to rewrite the course descriptions and send them back. I was working with some colleagues a few weeks ago I noticed them working hard on these and I laughed a little bit not really understanding how important these descriptions are. Anyway, since I am the only English teacher at the high school level, I offered to help out with the English courses, if they had not been approved already. A few days later the school was sent the first of the English courses back. Not Approved. I was called into the office of the college/guidance counselor and asked if I was still willing to help. Being as helpful as I am, I said, “Sure. This will be fun.” 
        I was given a sub for a day as I delved deeply into the format that was required. I worked on the weekend and clocked about 14 hours. I finished the first one. There were 3 more. I was given a sub for two more days so I could work on them during school hours, but I still had to clock another 14 hours the following weekend. That was the weekend before last. Needless to say I was behind on my standard prep; going day-to-day, but once I turned in that last one I was super excited. I really appreciate the experience. I wrote about 35,000 words (about 85 pages or so) in 10 days and really got some insight into the Common Core standards since the format required the descriptions be based on the Common Core skills. I found that I really enjoyed writing and planning these massive reports, so this may be something I pursue in the future. Anywho, now I can only hope that they get approved. 


         So far this break, we went to Santa Rosa Harvest Festival this last weekend and stocked up our wine cabinet. We also saw our first live symphony with this phenomenal violin player.  A straight virtuoso! Also, we spent some quality time with Chelsea’s grandparents. Then we came home. I re-organized my classroom, graded a few papers (with many more to go), went to gym (with horrible chest aching side effects; I could barely sleep last night because of chest pains.), I’ve cleaned the house, took Toast to the dog park, finished a few books I need to read for school, saw an early private screening of a documentary about an undocumented alien called “Documented” and even wrote a little bit. And it’s only Wednesday!    
Walking around Spring Lake in Santa Rosa with the Grandparents. It was a perfect fall day.
     I am about to finish grading, plan for next week, and then spend the weekend in Oxnard for my Mom’s 60th Birthday! We are going to her 60s themed party and then hopefully see my brothers new band play! Then back to the grind. But I promise to take things one at a time and relax before then!

Random Pic: My new classroom set up. They are in pairs instead of fours.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Thoughts on September

My "crafty" thrift store wreath
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It is officially fall, both in the Northern Hemisphere and in the Tibbs household. I waited until the fall equinox to put up some decorations which I have been collecting and Emily and I found on the cheap at Thrift Town (cue Mackelmore song…). I took a whopping 15 minute study break to make a wreath for the front door, string up some orange Halloween lights and put out cornucopia and the Dia de los Muertos skeletons on the mantel (and fill the candy bowl the Halloween treats!). Even though my decorations are no pinterest masterpiece, I love that it feels festive in my house. Yay fall! It is finally chilly enough for me to wear fuzzy socks in the evenings too. I love this season!

The coming of fall also means I am rapidly progressing through my second year of law school. I am half way done with the semester already and when the semester is over, I will be halfway done with law school! Woo hoo! What a crazy thought.

Tim and I have planned to take our winter vacation (the only vacation time we both have off together at the same time) in Hawaii this year. As much as we feel sad that we will be abandoning our families, who we see so infrequently with our busy schedules normally, we decided we need a luxurious break for just the two of us. So, we have our tickets purchased for a week in Oahu! We are seriously looking forward to relaxing on the beach, snorkeling, and enjoying a mele kalikimaka on the island. As a bonus, we will get to see our dearest friend, and Peace Corps Guyana housemate/sister Sara! She and her boyfriend moved out to Hawaii last year and they will be our hosts for part of our vacation. We are really looking forward to seeing her and relaxing in island style! IT is certainly something to look forward to.

Toast gets lazy if she doesn't get walked enough.
In the meantime, school is going well. I like most of my classes, although there are some required courses on subjects that I never imagine I will ever use when I am a real grown up lawyer, that I am just trying to endure/pass. By far, the toughest thing about the second year of law school is managing time and conflicting obligations. The workload is about the same, but I have gotten much more involved in the activities that I treated as secondary projects last year. So it is always a balancing act when I have to decide how much time I spend on emailing and organizing for the National Lawyers Guild vs. time spent reading and briefing for class vs. time spent on exercising and walking Toast/cooking dinner/doing laundry vs. how much time Tim and I get to spend doing fun things and socializing.

Plus, I am working ten hours a week this semester at a small, but BUSY, immigration law office. So far I love it! I am learning so much more about the practice of immigration law. We do family-based immigration, humanitarian cases (asylum, victims of crime and domestic violence) and employment-based immigration. My coworkers are fantastic. They are friendly and smart and willing to teach me. And I believe we all share similar values, which makes for a wonderful work environment. I love that I get to interact with clients on a daily basis (my Spanish is rapidly coming back to me by necessity!). My favorite thing about this type of law is that it is basically my job to be a strategic story-teller. By this I mean I get to take someone’s life story and present it in legalese in a way that meets all the required statutory legal elements in a way that is compelling enough to win the case or get the requested relief and, ultimately, make a huge impact on someone’s future. It is basically exactly what I want to be doing when I graduate!

Mt office. I was invited to personalize it. I love that, although I have no windows and am only there two days a week, I have a few things that make it feel like me.
I guess, all in all, when I have a minute to sit back and reflect, life is pretty great. Tim and I are only busy because we choose to be and, frankly, we love what we do and where we are in life right now.

Happy fall evening, working together, enjoying the beautiful patio!



Sunday, September 8, 2013

Early Fall Focus



September is in full force. The books are out, “to be corrected” papers are stacked higher and higher, and the candle is burning at both ends. Welcome, Fall! 

Even though most schools have just reopened I’ve been working with students since August 5. I’ve been making unit plans, lesson plans, adjusting classroom management strategies, attending meeting after meeting some on teacher training, some on data assessment, and some to get aligned with the norms of my department team. It’s been a whirl-wind. New ideas are forming, new strengths are developing and, to an extent, sleep is being deprived. Though, I am at a significantly smaller school, I feel like my duties have doubled. This is mostly because we don’t have enough staff or students to fill all of those small roles. Moreover, I am the only English Teacher at the school for grades 8-12, but I am only working with 8, 9, and 12 while the 10th and 11th graders are taking a college course and the 6th and 7th graders have solid humanities teachers. This is another hurdle: 3 different classes to prep. Last year, I had only 10th grade so one lesson plan would be sufficient, these days its 3 lesson plans a night. 

But I digress. Don’t get me wrong, this is the hardest I’ve ever worked, but I don’t mind. The school is great; the staff is extremely supportive and understanding and they only want me to become a better teacher. I appreciate that. I’ve connected with so many of them and hope I can continue teaching and honing my craft here for the years to come.

Moving away from work, Sacramento is still being its wonderful—if confused—self. It has been hot and sunny, but then we had a crazy “Fall-Fake Out” (on Labor Day) where it was grey and cloudy all day and rain began to pour throughout the day. Then, it was 90+ degrees again and will stay that way throughout this week.

Chelsea is doing a lot work too organizing immigration events for her practicum course, reading page after page for her other classes, working at a firm 10-hours a week, and being an active board leader for the National Lawyers Guild. And just the other night we hosted a “Solidarity Mixer” at our house for the NLG members both at McGeorge and at Davis. It was a fun night and we met some really interesting people.

We are staying busy and are really looking forward to the real fall when the temperature drops and the trees weep colors.

But until then, I’m off to grade and plan!