Thursday, November 29, 2007

Forget the Rachel Ray Garbage Bowl, I want a birth certificate for Christmas!

I thought Rachel Ray's garbage bowl at $20 a pop was audacious, but boy have I got a doozie for you. It appears that you can no longer purchase your birth certificate at the court for $10, and that the new price at CHC for a sealed and stamped verification of live birth is $20.00. I called the records office to inquire about concerns from parents who were misinformed that schools would no longer honor previously issued certificates and found out some good and bad news. It seemed parents were lining up to buy new certificates fearing that their children would be turned away from classes if they didn't have this new official certificate.

The good news is the old stamped/sealed certificates are still very much valid, especially in the schools. The bad news is the price is going up, way up. I was informed that because there is a new eagle design and some color added, that the cost will be $50.00 beginning next month (December 15). I was on the phone, but I still did a double take. $50.00! I asked, "is the only reason for the mark up in price the new design?", the answer was yes. I wanted to ask, "are you sure?" but I though I might have offended the very nice lady on the phone.

I did some research and found that the average cost for birth certificates in the CONUS ranges anywhere from $10 to $50, so it's not like we're being taken...exactly. There are customized, commemorative and heirloom birth certificates available for upwards of $120.00. I'm curious to see how our new fancy eagle design compares to the average birth certificate and if it really warrants such an increase in cost, especially in these hard times.

Speaking of design, isn't an eagle completely inappropriate for an official CNMI document? I'm not advocating that we put Saipanda on our birth certificates or anything, but can't we come up with a relevant compromise on a logo? Unless of course it's an eagle wearing a mwar and waving Håfa Adai.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Sleep Tight, Mommy Loves You

What are you dreaming of little mogwai?
I'm wondering
How can such loud shrieks come from such tiny lips?
The hardest part of being a work-out-of-home mom is having to sometimes come home late. There are days when I leave for work before most of the kids are awake and come home when they're already asleep. I miss the dinner table chat, the scurry to get into pajamas, brush teeth and the "good night mommy". I don't know how many times I've stood in front of a room full of parents urging them to spend quality time reading and talking with their children and then make the dark and lonely drive home to my own children who I've spent little or no time with that day.

"What Happens in Saipan Sprays in Saipan"
Dinner table privileges are great, especially when shared with scrumptious food and stimulating conversation. Tony and I had a delicious post-Thanksgiving dinner date with good friends who will remain nameless lest they choose to identify themselves. The culinary theme: nuts. The evening conversation: juicy. Thanks for the fun evening and the company guys!
Rachel Ray, you disappoint meThis is the Rachel Ray garbage bowl. I guess she figures you can save time cooking with her recipes so you won't notice getting suckered into wasting your money on a granite bowl to throw your trash in. I'm not making this up. You can buy it almost anywhere for about $20. It's on the gift lists of many a Food Network Chef-wanna-be. What has this world come to? Next thing you know, we'll be selling Sandra Lee's Semi-homemade Strapless Bras.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Sunday Morning in Papago

In Gomez-speak "Tony, would you please wash the car for me?" also loosely translates into "Sommer, put on your bathing suit and play in the mud."

So my husband says to me, "My dad really enjoys reading your blog" and immediately I'm making a mental list of all the slightly embarrassing posts I've written. Really dad, I've never encouraged Sommer to eat her boogers, it was clearly a one time thing. And that time Tony got hit at the Paintball tournament? The doctor assured us that he'll eventually lose that third nipple. In all truthfulness, my father in law is an awesome man with a great sense of humor, so I'm glad he gets a chance to see what's happening on our side of the equator. Welcome to the blog dad! You can visit Tony, Hope's and the family blogs too. Just click on their names or any of the words in bold and it will take you straight to other stories and blogs.

Bree wrote about the scandalous Education Day pay last Wednesday and instead of commenting, I thought I'd put my two cents in. Several staff, including myself received less than we were expecting. The underpayment ranged from $20 to $240. I checked with payroll on Friday and found out that the Chapter 7 deductions came from the local government (Finance Dept). Usually PSS will get a notice that explains any discrepancy on pay, but they didn't see this one coming. Since it was Thanksgiving on the mainland, they didn't want to call the Finance Officer, but said that on Monday I'd get some news to share with my staff. My opinion? It wasn't a mistake, but rather a sneaky way for the government to find an extra funding cushion. Tell everyone there was a computer error, and that they'll get their Chapter 7 overpayment back, but in the meantime their using that money to pay for something else. It's just a theory based on my mistrust of government practices, especially with our hard earned taxpayer dollars. Hopefully I'm wrong and there really is no mismanagement.

Friday, November 23, 2007


Please come watch The Nightmare Before Christmas. No, it's not about Sommer opening up everyone's gifts before we wake up or Billy Bob, our goat eating all the green bean casserole. It's a staged version of Tim Burton's original stop motion film put on by the Mt. Carmel School Theatre Club. So what if I get parental involvement points for selling tickets, it's still a great play and my daughter, Hope is the assistant director/choreographer/gopher girl. For $7 an adult and $5 a kid, it's a great steal! Did I mention that I get parental involvement points? If you're an MCS parent, you get points just for buying tickets from me! Tell me that's not a great deal.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Oh yeah? Well, you're a...

Why are some people so devoid of social grace and human kindness? I was on my way home after a full day on the job, squeezing in a work out, and attending a PTA meeting. I just stopped by the market to pick up some groceries when I met an OLDER woman I know. So as not to disturb either of our late night shopping errands, I discreetly tapped her and said a quick hello, inquired about the family and smiled. She motioned for me to come closer and nudged me a bit before saying, "It must be the stress, that's why you gaining weight ha?"

"Mona's been in this situation recently" I think, "What did she do again?" Awkward and embarrased, I just nodded and agreed, "darn!" I then proceeded to concoct various snotty replies in my head while she passed me up in the cereal aisle.

What I really wanted to say went something like:

"At least it's not so bad that I have to cake on five inches of make up to look like Happy the Clown"
"Your 99 cent mood lipstick is turning purple, you saggy old witch"
"We're always trying to improve ourselves aren't we? Me and my weight, you and your personality. By the way, good luck with that one"
"Stress does have a way of adding on pounds. Wrinkles too, like the ones under that mismatched shade of cheap foundation you wear"

I didn't say any of these things even though I am admittedly witty at times and can throw out some good insults. Instead, I decided that she, like in Deece's last post, was dumping some garbage she picked up during the day and I should just let rudeness pass.

Pass old fart!
In happier news, he didn't have to, but Angelo got me some really yummy coffee from Vietnam. He dropped a bag off and said hello too. Vietnamese coffee smells and tastes like heaven. It's still in my office, its scent is wafting through the halls. Thanks Angelo, you coffee angel:)
Sommer's newest phrase for everything: "What in the poo-poo sauce?"

Monday, November 12, 2007

I love lello

I defied my better judgment and what little I know about speech development, mainly that children will mispronounce common letters and that until the age of four, this is perfectly normal. I never corrected my other childrens' speech because I wholeheartedly believed they would correct themselves sooner or later. Plus, they were so cute.

Peyton at three: Somebody, roll down the window, there's too much ay-yo!
Me: Too much what Peyton?
Pey: Ay-yo! Its hitting my face.
Me: Ay...yo? What's hitting your face, ay-yo!
Pey: AY-YO! The ay-yo is in my face, are you deaf?!

Sommer today: I climbed up all by myself mommy, I used the lello stool.
Me: Yes I see. That is a nice ye-llow stool.
Sommer: I'm a big girl.
Me: Sommy, say yell
Sommer: yell
Me: Say scream, shout, yell
Sommer: Scream, shout, yell
Me: Yellow
Sommer: Lello
Me: Don't yell!
Sommer: Don't yell!
Me: That's yellow!
Sommer: That's lello!
Me: Scream, shout..
Sommer: Scream, shout..
Me: Yellow!
Sommer: Lello!

Oh, what the heck. Its a nice lello stool we have in our bathroom:)

Friday, November 9, 2007

The Road to Becoming Highly Qualified

I have invested in my professional growth. It is up to me to determine what kind of dividends will follow. The PSS has announced it cannot, due to severe budget cuts, reclassify certain employees or continue to adjust salaries for highly qualified staff. A few weeks ago I was ready to throw in the towel. The grass was turning brown on my end of the education lawn, and I felt that I could no longer rely in the system to pay me what I'm worth. I have since reconsidered my feelings. The question began with that very thought, "What am I worth?" If I decided to adhere to the requirements of my job, what were the motivating factors? I have decided they were either:

1. To satisfy the requirements so that I would be able to meet the salary scale for promotion.
2. To satisfy the requirements and bring the knowledge I obtained back to the school where it would be the most beneficial.

I realized that the PSS has also invested in me. It put its trust in my ability to make sound judgments about the quality of services we bring to our students. It asked me to do what I needed to in order to acquire the requisite knowledge incumbent of someone in my position. It also trusted that I would remain focused on the strategic priorities put before us. It is a mutual relationship, based on trust.

Now that I know compensation is nearly impossible, what will I do with my investment? I will continue to invite the powers that be, the legislature, the Board and the central office leadership to look at all options with scrutiny, keeping in mind equality for it's employees and validation for those who deserve it. If there is a way to compensate those deserving, including myself, without sacrificing those who do not have a voice, our children, then I plea with them to find it. If we must all suffer because there is no other viable option, then I request that no one is left behind.

I realize this is no easy task. I am also aware that there are critical eyes watching our every move, criticizing every step we make. They are asking what they need to sacrifice so that PSS goes untouched. It's not such a bad question. Some have asked why we should remain untouched. I do not begrudge them the thought.

Still, I am here and at the end of my road, having become NCLB approved and highly qualified. Not much is up to me anymore. I look to the powers that be and hope that they can see beyond budget cuts and continuing resolutions. Will I leave PSS? One day, when I, like everyone else reach my own level of incompetence. For now, there is much work to be done. It is work that cannot wait for boards to convene and policy to be drafted.

I commend everyone who has been vocal and continues to voice their concerns. We need to remedy some wrongs for more people than teachers and administrators. Our family is in need, this includes program managers, central office staff and support personnel PSS-wide. The critical dialogue cannot wait until inauguration.


Before you decide, think hard. What was so super about youth?
Glen might have a list for this somewhere.

Monday, November 5, 2007


This is my little brother Peter with his son Irie, my Sommy and our sister Yvette's Savannah. This picture brought tears to my eyes. It reminded me of an old black and white picture, the only picture I have of my father, myself and another sibling many years ago. In that photo, like this one, my dad was a single father who said goodbye to a son and took on the challenge of raising a daughter alone. I am watching my brother come to terms with being a single parent and learning to appreciate what my dad must have gone through. I don't know what it would have been like if I weren't raised by my father, but I have always felt like it was the best thing for me.

Peter is just beginning his journey, and has battle scars to mark the chapters in his life before Irie. I told him I loved him before he left this Sunday. I forgot to tell him that I am proud of him, and that like his namesake, he is a rock. I meant to reassure him that when Irie becomes a man, he will look back at this picture, like I did mine, and remember not what was missing, but what how lucky he was and is. For all the things you felt you failed to do Pete, there will be a million things your son considers you a hero for. With that finally said, charge on to life!
That is a peculiar segue way into my birthday greeting for my father.
Hey pops,

You done good. I know it wasn't easy and there were times you probably doubted if you could survive it, but you were the best mom any dad could ever be. It's true I had to learn some girl stuff on my own, but you taught me invaluable lessons that cannot compare to things like selecting the perfect shade of eyeshadow.

You showed me that there is a love stronger than emptiness and a bond that doesn't care about circumstance. Because of you I know that I can tell my children "you can do it", "there is no one more important than you" and "I believe in you" without having to use words; with only a look. It must have been hard dad, it probably took all your strength to hold on to me, but I'm so glad you did. Happy birthday. And no, you don't love me more.

Remember, I've loved you all my life.

It's good to sit and chill

Sheesh. Last week hit me like a freight train, time to slow down. Need to ask myself some tough questions, because whether or not I like to admit it, there is a point where multi-tasking can morph into neurosis. If there isn't anything personally or professionally gratifying about what I've undertaken these past few days, it's also time to do some re-prioritizing.

What happened to Kathleen Leos?
That's the question that was on everyone's mind at the Office of English Language Acquisition's 6th Annual Summit. Something is amiss at the USDE and I intend to find out what's going on.

The clues to this Humpty-Dumpty-like Mystery:

1. Four days before the conference, and without any notification, Margarita Pinkos takes on the position of deputy secretary of OELA. Surprise! The entire room did a double take.
2. A suspicious email goes out to the states, claiming that Kathleen is ill, but staffers and Mrs. Pinkos quickly deny it at the first meeting with state representatives. They say she is "busy", but still very committed. However, she never shows up for her opening speech.
3. A demographer and keynote speaker gives an speech dedicated to Kathleen, and makes some pretty controversial statements in her address. The room is at one point, hushed as 1,100 ELL teachers and educators gasp in disbelief.
4. Several guests called to cancel last minute or were suddenly unable to make the event. Taxi strike, mistaken date, sick? Yeah right.
5. The lack of student involvement and fewer presenters was evident by all. It just seemed like it all fell apart and someone tried to put the pieces back during the 11th hour.
6. The OELA Leadership and staff traditionally sit with participants at random tables during lunch networking sessions. Mrs. Pinkos did not sit at her table on any of the conference days. Afraid to answer questions?

It all sounds very fishy. Kathleen Leos where are you? Political dysfunction is not unique to the CNMI, even though we like to think we have a monopoly on it. What has this to do with NCLB's reauthorization efforts and the mandate on ELLs? Has she been fired? Did she leave due to philosophical differences? I think we should know the answers.