Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Mother to her Daughters

My Darling Daughters,

Every day I hope you know no matter how distracted, how tired or grumpy , or short and impatient I may be with you that I love you more than anything, more than I ever imagined possible. I pray every night for not just your health and safety but your happiness. You are two very happy, innocence girls now, but I know one day the realities of the world will pop that bubble of innocence. I dread that day. I hope no matter how it occurs though you always search for the good because even in the worse circumstances I am always amazed by the good that comes forth from humanity, whether it’s a whole group or just an individual. I believe there is more good than bad in the world. As your mother, I hope I can pass that belief onto you and the belief that love and happiness really are the most valuable things in this world.

I question almost every day if I am doing right by you. I won’t go into the details of why I even doubt myself but maybe one day when you’re a mother and you so desperately need me to just listen and still just simply be your mom, I’ll share with you why I found some moments of motherhood so unbelievably tough and uncertain. I never questioned choices I made before you girls, but now I wonder if some I’ve made were for the wrong reasons and maybe not in your best interest after all. As you get older you become more and more aware of your surroundings and mimic everything I do, which is incredibly sweet and scary because the way I do things may not always be the right way.

I want to raise you into strong, independent women and I have to say as your mother the example to be that is a hard expectation to live up to sometimes. I’m not always sure what all I’m supposed to model here. At times motherhood seems to uncertain; it's not always as natural as everyone likes to make it sound. Sometimes I feel that I’m so busy trying to be so many other things I forget to just be your mom. Sometimes I think I'm so busy modeling so many roles in my life I forgot the most important one to you and me and that is the one as your mother. I feel my relationship with you is the most important relationship I will ever have in my life. I know you’re going to be teenagers one day and probably think I’m a crazy old lady and rebel against me (I did so I guess I got it coming), but I hope when it’s all said and done and you’re grown women-independent and strong-and ready to be mothers yourself, you’ll see that I’ve always loved you more than anything or anyone, through all the craziness or awful stages, and that I gave being your mom everything I had. This is the hardest job I’ve ever had but without a doubt also the best. The only people I care about thinking whether I got this momma gig right or not is you. I won't always get every momma thing right. I'm going to make mistakes, probably poor decisions, and we won't always get along. There's lots of great mommas out there, but I just hope when it's all said and done, you just think I was the best momma for you.

I love you to the moon and back. One minute I can’t wait to see the women you’ll become and the next I just want you to stay my sweet, innocent little girls a little longer.

Love,

Your one and only mama
 
 

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Versatile Blogger Award

I'm excited to share that Time with  A & N was selected by another blogger and reader for the versatile blogger award this past week. Me and my Mini Me selected Time with A & N for this award that unlike the liebster award can be given to any type of blogger, not just mom bloggers.  I have alot of respect for Chantal and her mini me as she is a single young mom and I am always in awe of single moms as I know how hard of a struggle it is at times to raise kids with two parents.

To accept the award I now get to nominate ten of my current favorite blogs, which will be hard as I've started reading sooo many lately, and there are so many great blogs out there. Luckily she was already nominated by Growing up with Madison and nominated Foodie in WV, which are two of my favorite blogs.

I love being able to share other blogs with readers so if you have not checked any of these out I hope you do. I nominate the following blogs.










There really are so many great blogs out there; it's really hard to just choose 10. The last thing I have to do is share seven interesting facts about myself with the person that nominated me.

1. When I was in the first grade I told my teacher I wanted to be a teacher, have four kids, and no husband. She told me that would be kind of hard and at that time I didn't really understand why. I didn't really understand the birds and the bees yet and just thought boys had cooties.

2. In the third grade I stayed in from recess to read Little House on the Prairie. I LOVED those books.

3. My daughter comes by her furniture rearranging desire naturally as my sister and I moved my whole bedroom down to the basement over winter break one year while my parents were at work so we could each have our own room. We also put a hole in the wall, tried to cover it up by painting it the wrong color, and then spent the rest of the break grounded.

4. I have spent time living in the city (DC and Baltimore) and living more in the country and I have come to the conclusion I definitely love the country so much more.

5. My oldest daughter is my mini me because she looks like me and my youngest daughter is my mini me because she acts like me.

6. This post is actually my 100th post!

7. I was very hestitant and kind of critical of joining the blogging world at first but I have known found it a very supportive, welcoming community. And it really is this cyberspace community. It's pretty cool.


Sunday, July 28, 2013

I always wonder if the mom nap is worth the destruction

I decided earlier today I was having a lazy Sunday and taking a nap. As soon as I laid Kenz down, Nate went downstairs to work on photos, I set Averi up with a movie, hoping she'd go to sleep too, and I laid down on the couch for my much anticipated nap.

I rarely take naps but when I do I tend to sleep for two or three hours. Unfortunately, Averi doesn't nap at all. Honestly most of the time we don't want her to because then she won't go to bed at night. She is pretty good about having quiet time for an hour and half or so though with a movie, her leap pad, or books. Guess three hours was asking a  little much. It's like I'm in a coma when I go to sleep, and I guess she forgot to go search for her dad downstairs. It was like this perfect moment for some Averi mischief.

I dreaded going from my nice sleeping bliss back to the realities of motherhood. It's always like this slow raising of the eyelids, where I'm scared to see what destruction has erupted while I decided to step off the clock for a bit. As I've said before, Averi is pretty good kid. She listens, rarely throws fits, is a huge helper, but sometimes she takes her independent, helping ideas a little too far.

Today was no exception. I woke up to find the books and colors thrown all over the living room floor, which is no big deal and typical. But then I decided to get off the couch and check out the rest of the house. Looks like she decided to help her sister and her to a snack of yogurt, which is now smeared all over the floor. But then I saw their rooms. She rearranged their furniture! I've put most of their toys since we moved down in their playroom in the basement to cut down on the toy messes, but I guess since there weren't toys to drag out all over their rooms, she decided furniture was the next best choice. All of Kenzi's furniture is now all shoved under her window, as is Averi's minus the dresser, which unless she becomes Hercules she's not moving (but it is Averi so I wouldn't be surprised).

Guess another couple months before I attempt this mom nap thing again. Long enough for me to forget this incident and think I can pull it off.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Is the media and "here's a pill for your problem" epidemic going to cause the Mommy Zombie Apocalypse?

Not that I buy into the whole media thing, but I was again quite amused this past week when the internet lit up with tabloids writing about Kate Middleton's post baby body one day after giving birth! Really? So the media wants us to look like a fit supermodel after birth, Time wants us to be Mom Enough by committing to breastfeeding and attachment parenting for the first five years of our kids life, and Forbes is challenging us all to consider whether we are a "have it all" woman with our perfectly balanced career and family.

Wow, like women alone, don't put enough pressure on themselves, we get the constant reminder of how we're all fat, not mom enough, and can't ever have it all. Sorry, but the whole thing kind of makes me laugh. I am amused by the media, but I do let the pressure I put on myself and that I feel from those that know me get to me. I think moms and really women in general put a lot of pressure on themselves. One day I feel like I'm taking on the world and the next I feel like it's taking me under.

The expectations of today's mom are high. Higher than they have ever been I feel and it is stressful. As I contemplate how to handle it all, I started a discussion with my sister about seeing a doctor to help "balance" me out we'll say. My reply was if I go to a doctor for help because I'm a little overstressed, I'm going to end up medicated for ADD, anxiety, and probably depression. I'm going to become a mommy zombie without a care in the world anymore. I have weird issues with being medicated for anything, not just mental health. I feel strongly that our society overmedicates people today. You have a problem, here's a pill. You go from taking one pill for one thing to ending up on half a dozen before you know it. I just feel that's there's more natural, thearapuetic ways to deal with things before turning to pharmaceutical drugs right away. I will take something if  I feel it's necessary.

But I couldn't help seeing how the media just constantly attacks mothers with their unrealistic expectations like Kate not looking like a celebrity supermodel a day after she gives birth. Why does she even feel like she has to look like one a year after giving birth for that matter? We bust our butts to be the best we can be, and are overworked, underappreciated at times, exhausted, and incredibly stressed. A survey by Today Moms shows that moms gave themselves an 8.5 out of 10 for how stressed they are (Mom Stress). According to Harvard Medical School women are 2 1/2 x more likely to need antidepressants than men, and the number of women and Americans in general on antidepressants have increased over 400% since the 90s . These are large shoes we're walking in today and  maybe seeing a doctor would help me or any mother overstessed, but I feel that some get too carried away with prescribing meds before considering other alternatives. I could see doctors  overmedicating all us poor mothers and then we'd all be wondering around like zombies with no cares in the world. Can you see it? The media frenzy of the mommy wars is going to lead to the mommy zombie acopolypse. We'll all feel so defeated that we can't meet society and media's unrealistic expectations that we'll become super depressed and then we'll go to doctors who will fill the pharmaceutical company's pockets with our hardearned money and we won't care about expectations anymore or doing anything for that matter. Nothing will ever get done and we won't care! Then when people just piss us off, we'll just eat them. And we won't even care that we just did!



On a side notes, maybe I should quit watching the Walking Dead.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Understanding your financial health

I just heard on the radio yesterday that money is the number #1 thing couples fight about and this is not the first time I've heard that. As unimportant as we all want to say money is when it comes to real family values, unfortunately it is a necessity. How much there is and that lovely credit number attached to our name can cause A LOT of stress. I honestly think the only thing more stressful would be to be faced will a debilitating or terminal illness or injury of a loved one or yourself.

Every relationship handles the responsibilties of money differently. Fortunately and unfortunately because again it's a lot of extra stress, I've been the one in charge of managing our finances for the last decade. My husband is good at a lot of things but managing money is not one of them, and I've admitted many of my multitasking, wife failures on here so you know I'm not so great at a lot of things, but I'm pretty good with making every dollar count and raising those credit numbers. We still have lots of room for improvement. I would like more money in savings and less credit card debt, but we have good credit scores and can easily get approved for things. Through these last ten years of managing household finances and going through the process of multiple car loans and two mortgage loans, here is a top 10 list of things I've learned.  


1. Make yourself a budget and stick to it. I do a budget for the month and I do one for the year to budget in those expenses that only come up once a year. Those once a year expenses can sometimes be huge and if you don't have a plan to cover them, it can cause huge ripple effects in your monthly budget. You have to have a clear understanding of what is coming in and what is going out.

2. Pay yourself first and save. Put aside a little bit of money each check to save. Start a change bucket. All that pocket change can add up.

3. Take your spending or fun money out in cash. So when it's gone you know no more spending until next paycheck. We are 30 + years old and our whole married life we've been on a weekly spending allowance.

4.When it comes to credit cards you want to keep the credit balance below 40% of your eligible credit line.

5.You actually don't want to completely pay off your credit card balances. You want to have a little bit of a balance on them. I still like to have the goal to completely pay them off though.

6.I try to keep our credit cards to one major visa each and if we do use a department credit card I do try to pay those completely off as soon as possible because it's usually a few months later I'm putting something on them again. ( Especially those Lowes/Home Depot and Walmart/Target type cards)

7. Again 40 is a magic number in the credit world. Keep your overall debt to income ratio below 40%. You can figure what your debt to income ratio is by adding together your gross monthly income and then adding up your monthly debt (all credit accounts including mortgages, school loans, credit cards, personal loans, auto loans). Say your gross household income is 10,000 multiply that by .40 which equals $4000 so in order to be below 40% your monthly credit debt should be less than $4000. This is a good way to assess your financial health. A mortgage loan approval must have below a 50% debt to income ratio.

8. Check your credit score at least once a year. A good credit score is 680 or higher. When we started looking into buying our house though I knew I wanted both of ours to be over 720, which even though it's not very many points, it can make a big difference on interest rates. 

9. One small collection account of even $100 or less can lower your credit score over 50 points which again could be that difference between an excellent 720 or a good 675. 

10. Your credit score is one of the big factors when applying for loans but your debt to income ratio can be just as huge of a factor in determining your approval, purchasing power, and interest rate.

All of these recommendations are based on my own personal experiences with household budgeting and going through the credit approval process too many times in these last ten years. Every time I go to apply for a loan I always learn new things about how the credit lending world works.  Before I bought our house I monitored our credit monthly for about six months with a credit service like the one below. It really helped me understand our financial health a lot more.


                                   Click here to check your credit health for free today

Thursday, July 25, 2013

For the love of the game: Finding that drive

My friend Emily at Life Imperfected has convinced me to try this throwback Thursday thing, where you look back at something from the past.

I've decided to go back to one of my very first passions in life, softball. I think this was the first thing outside of the people we love that I became extremely passionate about. From the ages of about 10-18 when I started playing competetive ball with 50-100 games a season that spanned March until October, this game was my life. I LOVED it. At eighteen when I put that ball glove away for the last time as a player (I would pick it up again later as a coach), I couldn't imagine my life without it. For those past eight years I ate, slept, breathed that game.

I would later see that it was just a small part of my life, but as you go through life you start to see how all the small parts are puzzle pieces fitting together to create the canvas of what becomes our whole life. There would be so many things I would gain and take from this that would be reflected in so many other ways in my life.

I learned about drive and finding your life's passions from this game. Unfortunately, when I became a coach one of the most disappointing thing is working with players that just do things but have no passion or drive for what they are doing. They just show up, practice and play, and some may be super talented but it's amazing what the lack of passion or drive does for their performance and success.

As I watch my own daughters and as I'm starting to expose them to activities like sports and different arts, I really don't care what their chosen interests and activities are. Softball was mine as a youth, but I see now I don't really care if they do or don't play softball. I just want them to find something; something they love and are passionate about that help them develop that drive that we need in life to push forward towards our desired successes. I want them to find something that they will work, work, and work at because it's something they want. They will give it their all because it's something they want. They will push through the failures and the defeats and disappointments because it's something they want.

The teacher in me is going to come out again, but because I have seen and worked with close to 1500 kids where it seems like too many not only have no drive or passion for their academic goals but some not even for their chosen activity goals. They do them because they'll look good on a piece of paper, not because of the character they'll build or even because they have a passion for them or its success.

My passions and interests have changed since softball but that drive that I got from my dedication to that game for almost a decade is what still helps me reach towards my goals. As a parent, one of the things I'm most excited about is to see my daughters develop that love. It may not be for the love of the game like mine, but I can't wait to see what sparks that passion and drive in them.

                                                              A great group of ladies!
                                                       The 1998 Missouri 3A State Champs                                                           2012 ESHS Hall of Fame Induction

                                               
                             Which will be her passion? Whichever it's entertaining to watch them all for now!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

I love my kids but sometimes.....(You know you've thought about it)

I love my daughters more than anything. More than I ever imagined it possible to love someone. That being said however, sometimes, I wish it was acceptable to put small children in little cage  like thing like those dog cage things. If it's one of those large dog ones, there's plenty of room for even a four year old to move around, and if you know what type I'm talking about you know they can breathe and see. You know I am not the only parent that has felt this way. My husband and I can barely escape our children, and usually the only time to do so is to go to work. With other people's children!

So like about every other task we've had to tackle that would be great without children in tow, we dragged our children along with us to go car shopping. I don't like car shopping to start with because I stress about how much more money than I have budgeted that the salesman will talk me into spending. And maybe I have too high of expectations to expect my four year old and one year old to sit, sit still, for what feels like hours on end while we go through the whole process. This was to be Nate's car so I was in charge of "watching" the girls.

Here's how our evening car shopping with children went and why if it was acceptable to put small children in animal carriers I might have seriously considered it.

At first, they do their usual charming thing. Smiling and batting those long lashes at any one that will give them a moment's of attention. Then it started to go downhill. I said something to Kenz using the word flirt. But Averi thought I said the word fart. I don't know why but I hate the word fart. At that moment Kenzi learned a new word from her sister. All she wanted to say was the word fart and then because she'd see that I didn't want her to and kept telling her to be quiet, she'd just want to say it more and louder because she thought it was a game. Of course, Averi thought it was funny as all get out and just kept encouraging her. Muzzles too maybe?

Next we decided to go for a test drive. I made the mistake of sitting Kenzi behind the salesman rather than Nate. She kept wanting to bounce her legs and kick her feet, but she kept kicking the back of the seat. Again when I told her to stop she thought it was a game. It's amazing how many things you forget. At four Averi can understand the idea of consequences for behavior. I can threaten her in public and she knows if she doesn't correct herself she will have consequences, as well as rewards for being well behaved. I forgot how to manage a 20 month old who doesn't understand threats, bribes, and rewards yet, especially when they're not immediate.

Whatever demon came and possessed my 20 month old continued once we returned to the store. I always knew Kenz would be more of a temper tantrum thrower than Averi and even though she's not quite 2 yet I feel like I can already see the so called terrible 2s coming with her. She dumped water on the floor from my water bottle I let her have a drink out of so I took it back because she'd just keep spilling it. Out came the stomping two year old fit that as a parent you dread in the middle of the grocery store when you don't buy them something.

On top of that, Averi kept telling everyone we were having a baby brother! Why does she keep telling everyone she's having a baby brother?! I'm not even pregnant and if I were it's more likely to be another girl! Nate kept assuring everyone not anytime soon. And is every four year old like a freakin ping pong ball!  It's like she's possessed; she can't sit still. Hopping, rolling, bouncing, throwing her legs up, shaking her head, just all over the place.

Finally at like nine o clock we drive off with our new car and head to dinner. By this time I'm just a little tired. I had left the house at 7 and here it was at almost 10 and we were eating dinner. My mind is a little foggy so when Kenz looks like she needs entertaining I (again tired mommy here) hand her a fork. Okay, it's 10 o clock here give me a break! I could have given her the butter knife. Nate of course calls me out on my poor thinking and says to me "don't you write a parenting blog?" implying that I give parenting advice. I had to laugh at that. Parenting advice? From me? NO. As a teacher I maybe told parents they should read to their children, but aside from that I don't think I really give advice. I feel like I'm barely functioning above the sanity level half the time.

About eleven we're finally home. I'm exhausted and just want to pass out. And a freakin thunderstorm like no other starts erupting over the top of our house. Of course, no one, including the dog wanted to be anywhere but in the bed, on top of me.

At this point, forget the damn cage for the kids. Just put me in there and shove me in a dark closest where no one can find me for a while!

Don't let their cuteness fool you.




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Friday, July 19, 2013

Pink Zebra: An opportunity for your home to smell awesome and for extra income!

I have a dog whom I love and adore. He's been with us since the first Christmas Nate and I had together; he'll be nine in November so he's getting kind of old. Unfortunately, he's one of those dogs that stinks to high heaven. Man, does he smell sometimes! It's so bad, it can overtake my house. You walk in my door and you're hit with the awful stench of aging dog. I feel bad for my puppy but I also feel bad for my reeking house. I wasn't about to get rid of my dog so I tried these sprinkles that Pink Zebra, a new home fragance company, and ahhhh, finally a clean, fresher smelling house again. Best of all I can keep my dog because with their wonderful scents you don't smell my dog anymore when you walk in my house. I currently have the summer berry and farmhouse cider scents.

This is also a great company that I am considering joining. If you're looking for side income to supplement a blog like some of us are, or side income for those fun things that a regular salary can't seem to afford anymore this is also a great income opportunity. Pink Zebra Home is the newest company in home fragrance! The company is ground floor and they provide unique, consumable goods! They have 100% soft soy wax (Sprinkles) that burns cleaner and have more essesntial oils so the smell lasts longer. With over 51 scents and 400 hours of burn time per jar, you can mix the Sprinkles to make your own unique scent, make candles out of them, or just leave them in a vase with flowers. The possibilities are endless! They also offer all natural reed diffusers that last for 3-5 months that come with a plastic top to put back on when the scent isn't as strong, so no touching the reeds, just flip it over and rewet! We also have soaps and lotions in several different scents. Pink Zebra Home is a great direct sales company to join that is still under 8,000 consultants across the nation? You can learn about their great products and income opportunties  at www.pinkzebrahome.com/sprinkleoneself or email your questions to my consultant directly at sprinkleoneself@gmail.com.

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Mr. Mom looks to be a little grumpy about being mommy!

So while I work 9-4 this week for a three week summer camp that I'm doing this summer, my husband is being Mr. Mom. He's done a good job for the most part. But as we're nearing the end of the week here are a few questions I have for him? And my "oh wait, I think I know the answer to that"!

Honey,

1. Why are you freaking out that the baby dumped her spaghetti on the recently cleaned floors?
  Oh, you mean it is incredibly irratating when you clean up everything and they come right behind you destroying any kind of work you may have just spent hours completing.

2. Why are so irratated with Averi wearing 40 different outfits a day?
 Oh, you mean those 40 different outfits a day generate ALOT of extra, unneccessary laundry.

2. Why are you calling me in the middle of the day to tell me there's no TP? Aren't you in charge this week of running to the store at night if there's anything needed for the next day's survival?
 Oh, wait, I don't have an answer for this one. I just find it funny like what the hell do you expect me to do about it.

3. Why when I walk in the door you're dead silent and seem slightly irritable, like you're annoyed by something?
Oh, you mean, taking care of everything all week is exhausting and as much as we love our children they can really wear on your last nerve when you're the only one there to handle the constant demands and caretaking all day.


4. Why the dirty looks when I inform you of cleaning chores that are still left to be completed by the end of the week?
Oh, yeah, the damn housework to do list NEVER ends and it is freaking annoying sometimes.

5. Why now at the end of the week on the hottest day of the week, you can't wait to escape out to the backyard to mow the yard?
Oh, yeah, because sometimes you just want to runaway from everyone and just have a quiet moment to yourself even if it's in the most undesirable place.

I just found it amusing that my usually patient, easy going husband was starting to look more like an overwhelmed, irritated woman today when I came home from work. But even though he's picked up most of my mom work this week, he still won't touch those darn dishes so guess he doesn't have the true in my shoes mom experience until he spends close to an hour after dinner up to his elbows in dirty dishes. Not sure he could have handled that at the end of the day today with the way he looked.

So my last question- it's not so easy being mommy, is it?

One more Man post @ Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus

Guest post on Mom Fails of Multitasking

I wrote a guest post for a new mommy blog directory. If you haven't checked it out, bloggers, check it out to see if it can help you grow your blog, and as always it's a great way to connect with other bloggers. Below is the link I wrote for the guest post. I think you will find it has a few mom laughs, and hopefully I'm not alone in my multitasking failures. Hope you can take a minute to read it and check out the new blog directory if you haven't already. Thanks, readers!

Mom Fails of Multitasking

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The people motivator

This post is dedicated to you. Yes, all of you who do so many great things and inspire me into trying to be better at something. Now the great thing is as much as I hate you all sometimes because you show me ways I can be better, this also means I must be really good at connecting with some pretty awesome people (and there is a range of you of all different ages) so I'll pat myself on the back for staying connected to you.   I don't think of myself as a lazy person so I tend to connect with very unlazy, highly motivated people.

Many of you everyday show me how to be a better mama because I see how you're such a great one, some of you inspire me with your ambitions to take on a side small business on top of a teaching career (everyone I see that's doing this is also a teacher) and everything else you seem to balance so flawlessly, some of you are people I've never met in person but have encountered in the blogging world and the wonderful support system I have found it to be, and then there's the older, been there, successful moms and wives that I just idealize because you reached the end of the road (or you're almost there) in the balance of marriage and raising kids (I don't mean this as in you're old but that you're kids are almost grown) and you've done it so beautifully with all the wonderful values I hope to hold onto and instill in my kids.Many of you inspire and motivate me everyday to be better because you're so darn good at what you do.

I could write a dedication post to soooo many of you who I think are fantastic women and mothers, but there's one other group of highly motivated mommas I see out there that got me started on this post in the first place. Those are the runners and die hard workout people. Oh, how I admire you too. You have to feel so good about yourself, and some of you two and even four babies later look AMAZING. Moms want your body. We may not say it outloud and even though we claim to proudly wear our tiger stripes of birthing children, I'll admit I wish I could have babies and have the amazing figures some of you have. Now because I know you, those that I'm thinking of, I also know you work really hard to maintain that healthy fit look and feeling. Looking and feeling the way you do is not without sacrifice, and I have really sucked with following through with any kind of workout plan since I've added motherhood to my multitasking list four years ago, so for now you're my current motivation.

After my envy of you facebook moms that look great, I still have more friends that are like me, not the barbie doll figure, and they're signing up for 5 Ks and getting on workout plans. Go you and good for you! But damnit you're making me think I need to get my butt off the couch. So all of you combined are making me feel bad about myself and making me want to do better about getting healthier and in shape. I know myself too well and know I will probably fail at this again, but now I'm dragging two of my coworker blogging friends Sarah at Grover's Corner and Emily at Life Imperfected with me on this next mama journey of mine to get more fit.This way when I fail again maybe I can blame them.  Haha. I'm hoping by calling us all out right in cyberspace it'll be my motivation for the three of us to motivate one another and stick to it. I know I just wrote about not being a quiter but when it comes to getting in shape and healthier I tend to be a quiter. I haven't stuck with it yet in four years so starting in August we'll see how long I last this time. Wish me luck! And thanks and no thanks (just kidding) fellow mommies for making me always want to do better.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The tug war of education from the conflicting role of parent and teacher

As teachers, we tend to have an opinion sometimes on how maybe parents should parent. Don't get mad at us; teachers aren't the only professions judging parents. There's the dentist, doctor, babysitter, librarian once in my case. But we're in the business of kids and parents. It's our career. My dad coached girls' softball for over a decade, and he'd always say how he'd enjoy the season a lot more if he didn't have to deal with parents. Then I became a teacher and I started to see what he meant. And then I became a parent, and now it got a lot trickier. Because you know you always know a lot about parenting before you're a parent and now I see being in the game is alot harder than watching this parenting gig from the sidelines.

We see parents of all types. The completely uninvolved, almost neglectful parent, the horribly disciplining parent, and lately there's been a lot of focus on the enabling, helicopter parent. Two fellow teacher bloggers wrote on this concern recently with Parents put those helicopter blades away and Jumped on my soapbox. Now I'm going to offer a different, probably too honest perspective here. I agree with my fellow English teachers to an extent. But as my children get older I'm starting to see things a little differently, but at the same time I do not want to be THAT helicopter parent. I don't feel that I would be helping my child any by bugging her teachers to give her less work or hounding them about every little missed point on her paper. I also feel that if we really want our children to be prepared for the real world they need to challenged. They're probably not challenged enough if they never complain about how hard or time consuming something is. But when they do, we teach them nothing by trying to make it easier or helping them "get out" of it because it's too hard.

Now on the other hand, when my three year old was sent home this past year with nightly HOMEWORK, (Yes, homework, at three.) I was a little horrified and had several realizations. One, man, homework sucks. Who wants to do homework after working all day? She was at "school" all day and between dinner, sometimes dance or gymnastics, baths, and hopefully a little fun family time, homework was just another added thing on the to do list. However, I never questioned the teacher on why she felt it necessary to give my three year old a couple worksheets of homework a night or even a monthly project. She was the expert on learning for young children not me.  In fact, I loved her teacher that Fall, but  I also know our education system.

I know why they felt it necessary to give homework at such a young age. Government and education policy is constantly telling us-teachers, students, parents- we're not good enough. The students are "failing, they're not challenged, they are not prepared to compete in a global work force". I recently learned from my husband who is getting his degree in Human Resources Leadership that it's a growing field because "the American worker is not what it use to be." He was also informed that the statistics we use to measure our American students' test scores and capabilties to other countries is inaccurate because our country teaches ALL the students, not just the elite, like some countries, so our results include ALL the students, not just the elite. So as teachers we're being told it's time to increase the rigor, step it up. That's what we all want, right? The approach to this has become more, more, and more. More work at a younger age, more assignments, more writing, more tests, and more tests.

Here's my conflict. We do as parents, teachers, and a society need to have higher expectations. But we can't have higher expectations by making constant changes and enabling people because they struggle with meeting those higher expectations. That's one of the biggest things in life right there, that they can learn, no matter what stubject they are studying. They have to learn how to work through struggle and difficulty on their own. Parents aren't helping their children by fighting their battles for them or making excuses for why they can't or don't do the work.

That being said somewhere else I read America is an overworked society. We work longer hours, have way less maternity leave, and I think I also read take less vacation (if I was a good writer I would have done my research but I'm just going off things I've read over the years) than other societies. Kids have their whole lives to work themselves to death because that's what some do in adulthood (I'm not one of those but you know they're out there). They are kids; can't they be kids and play and enjoy the innocence of youth? Sometimes I do think kids of today have alot on their plates with schoolwork and for some of them the lives they live. It seems like they have alot more homework today than what I recall having. So as a parent, sometimes I am THAT parent, thinking really, isn't this too much?

I know three is really a pretty big difference from 15, and I am not against my teenage daugthers having homework, long term difficult projects, or summer assignments. But I'm also going to put it on them. If they want the credibility and recognition of being a higher achieving student in more challenging classes, great, but be prepared to do the work and accept that it's going to be a lot of work; otherwise, take a different course. I don't want my kids taking a bunch of easy classes because they don't want to do the work, but I also don't want them taking the harder class just because it looks good on a stupid sheet of paper when in reality they didn't want to do a darn thing to make themselves better. The more challenging classes are to make you better, not look better.

This educational battle of more rigor and challenging work I feel is starting to draw lines between what the teachers expect and what the parents expect. If we're going to make progress we're going to have to move towards being closer to being on the same side of the line.


Here's some of my other teacher/parent rants. May want to read some with caution.

Give your child the best educational gift you can

A harsh reality in America's classrooms some don't want to see








Monday, July 15, 2013

She's a wannabe writer and he's a wannabe photographer

Every year I encounter young students telling me how they're going to be rock stars, NFL players, and models and if I'm being honest, which as you know I like to be, I internally roll my eyes and think to myself, "yeah, okay, tell me how that works out for you in ten years."

Now why the negativity? Am I being a debbie downer, a pessimist? Am I wrong? I don't outright tell them "keep on dreaming buddy!" I just kindly, in that nice teacher voice way"just make sure you have a back up career in mind in case that one doesn't work out for you." I also usually ask them what else they would be interested in doing, and they look at me blankly like they've never considered the fact that they may not be the superstar athlete or model they envision in their future.

Yet, here I am the negative nancy of harsh life's realities and the wannabe dreamer with her own crazy unrealistic ideas in her head. I look at my husband at 35 who still dreams big like a little shy boy sitting in the back of my class. I see my theatrical daughter and I don't know if it's a good thing or bad thing that she tells me she wants to be teacher because that's what she sees with mommy and daddy.

I look at myself who at the age of ten has always dreamed of writing, publishing books, reaching readers, sharing stories and lessons about life, yet it's a dream like everyone else's ideas of the future. Aren't all our ideas of the future a dream? My husband loves photography. He's taken pictures his whole life. He loves scenic ones the best but we both know the writer and photographer gig is a starving artist kind of deal. It's a dream, a hope, just a love like a boy that loves football or a girl that loves to pose for the camera; something we enjoy that in most cases wouldn't suffice to provide for the necessities and enjoyment of life.

Even though in so many ways I'm not much different than that dreaming 15 year old in my class I don't encourage his or her dreams. Later,  I often catch myself thinking why? Unfortunately, I feel that we discourage one another's dreams more than we encourage. Hell, I'm guilty of that with my own husband. I worry that I'll be too much like that with my daughters. Do we do it because of our own fears, our own expectations, our own experiences with reality?

Here's what I concluded. I decided to pursue something I've put aside for twenty years with writing this blog, which I am so excited to see grow everyday, and working on finishing my first book since I was probably a 15 year old myself, at the same time my husband decided to start his own photography website because he shot his first wedding shoot this past year. Even if it was family he did an amazing job, but I never knew how much work went into professionally editing photos. It's a lot; very time consuming. Why? Have we become unrealistic teenagers hoping to quit our day jobs after such a rough year. No. Even the absurbness of that make me laugh. I do love teaching, and I don't think I could leave it as much as I thought about how much less stressful others jobs may be this past year. I would take the idea of not starting work until after 8 though; I can dream about making that a reality can't I?

But we pursued these things because we wanted to show my daughters how important it is to not give up on your dreams. How even when people doubt you, do it anyway. And I think one of the most important things is that it's okay to fail. Because if you go after something you dream about and it doesn't work out, you've succeeded right there because you didn't quit. You didn't let fear keep you from trying. This was all a reaction to people's criticism and doubt too because when people make me feel like I can't do something it tends to just make me mad (but discussing why we just want to doubt and put people down is a different post altogether). But the other thing that inspired me was facebook. I don't mean facebook itself, but through facebook I have watched so many people, especially ones from back home, work really, really hard to go after the changes they wanted to see in their lives. I applaud them and found them as inspiration to just not give up on something I love to do. Life gets busy as parents and it becomes very easy to let our passions and interest fall to the side, and I didn't want to do that anymore. So yeah, maybe we're just going to forever be a 15 year old wannabe writer and photographer trapped in our aging bodies but I'm okay with that. (Maybe not the getting old part)  What kind of wannabe dreamer are you?

Some of you have wanted to know where my recent facebook and blog photos came from; they are Nate's and here's a peak at some more. I hope you can visit his website at Point Click Capture Photography to check out his wannabe dream pictures.













As always thanks for reading! And keep on dreaming!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The battle of time with my little girl

So last night I hear paddling feet above my head around midnight. Assuming Averi I go up to see what she's up to since last I knew she was asleep. I find her sitting on the tiolet crying. She was crying because she woke up and of course couldn't find us anywhere because we were downstairs watching TV.

Of course I pick her up,comfort her, and cuddle with her in bed. Then it's like I had one of those mommy mini meltdown moments. I might add that I was cuddling with her in our bed. Since we moved five months ago, she has not made any kind of connection with her new room, even though she painted it with her dad, but I think because she has a playroom now and there aren't really any toys in there she doesn't spend any time in there. Nate and I started I suppose one of those bad parenting habits by letting her go to sleep in our room and now five months later, we're starting to wonder how we're ever going to get her out. So yes some may judge. We're the parents; make her go to bed in her own room; put our foot down,  but I've started to realize this is the only connection I have to the baby that she was :(. She's like a little baby that still so desperately needs her mommy and daddy to cuddle her close to go to sleep, and I'm having a hard time letting go of that one last baby thing with her.

She's such a big girl in so many ways. She's independent in everything else besides going to sleep. She is the best help ever with her little sister.We can have mini adult conversations with her. She gets her own snacks and drinks. She even goes to the bathroom completely by herself and when you're in the diapers and potty training years that just never seems like it's going to happen. She'll be five in a little over six months and I'll be registering her for kindergarten in the spring. She's so excited about school and making friends.

At times when I look at her I can still see the little baby in her face from a few years ago, but as I go through all these baby and toddler stages with Kenzi now I don't even feel like I remember them with Averi that well anymore. It seems so long ago. One day today is going to seem so long ago. No, every moment with them is not joyous and this wonderfully romanticized parenting journey, but I will miss the babies they are. And last night as I held her and she told me six was when she'd be old enough to go to sleep in her own bed, I thought, okay, maybe at six I'll suck it up and hold  you to that and let you go be the big girl that you always say you are and are going to be no matter how hard I try to hold onto your babiness.

This blog and pictures have become my way to fight against time; my only way to still the hands of time and make sure the moments I don't want to forget are saved. So I went through some old pictures and here's a short timeline of my babies. Oh, time, please cut me a break and slow down.




                                                       Averiella Lorenza 6 weeks
                                                                       6 months
                                                                        9 months
                                                                   1 year
                                                                One and a half
                                                                        Almost 2
                                                              Two years old
                                                               Two and half
                                                                       Three
                                                         Four years old
                                                 Such a big girl at 4 years old
 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Summer vacation photos! Love summer

Have you printed some of your summer vacation memories yet? I just did with Shutterfly and can't wait to get them in the mail later this week.

As I've said before, I am not a crafty person but I am a photo record keeping nut. I haven't created our summer vacation 2013 photo album book yet because we still have half of the vacation left but I couldn't resist printing a few for my mom and our grandmas that don't get to the see girls too often. Of course I had to print a few for myself too to put up around the house or on my desk at work when I go back the end of August.

Check out Shutterfly to print your summer memories.  Hope everyone is enjoying their summer vacation as much as we are!

Here's a quick peek at some of my printed photos.







 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Chasing rainbows and living in reality

The first few days after spending a week or so with my family always sucks. I go through the same old emotions every single time. And sadly I feel that being so far from home gets harder rather than easier, especially now when my daughter is old enough to cry and feel sad as well when her Papa and Nene and aunts, uncles, and cousins leave.

So the cycle begins again. I'm always sad and probably a little depressed at first even though in some way I'm always ready to get back to the routine of just living what has become our life. The guilt of being so far sets in for awhile. Guilt that my parents and sisters only get to see their granddaughters two or three times a year, guilt that my girls only get to see their cousins, aunts, and grandparents two or three times a year, guilt that the friends we've made here get to see more of our kids than our own families, guilt that our families are watching our daughters grow up online, guilt of all the small growing up things our families will miss because they six to seventeen hour drive is just too far for a dance recital or ball game or preschool graduation. With the sadness and guilt comes the questions. Are we doing the right thing raising them out here by ourselves? Should we move closer? Where would be the right place to move so we wouldn't be so far and still be close to the things we love so much like the beaches and mountains and big cities? If we were nine hours instead of seventeen would we really see them more or do we all just say that? Is this where we're suppose to be?

Nate and I have always been what I call chasers or probably what some would just call dreamers. I know my family sees us that way. Sometimes I don't even know if we know what we're chasing. The next goal, idea, ambition that pops into our heads. Some people hate change; we go looking for the next change.  But sometimes  as we're chasing down the so called rainbows I worry that we lose sight of something golden that was right where we were standing.

I found what I was looking for when I came out here. But when I look down the road we're now on and I see my children growing up so far from family I'm not sure anymore that that is what I had in mind. I like to think that many people question the road they chose. There are always the what ifs to life. For me this is hard because I've always tried to live my life without the doubt, what ifs, and regrets. I feel that I've done this pretty well. In so many ways I feel the life I'm living exceeded my own expectations, but to be honest I don't know how much thought I put into what my life would like at 30+. But I feel no matter what choices I would have made, two parts of me would have always been at odds with one another. There's the me that has such a deep rooted connection to my family and the Midwest that I love and miss every day and the me that I've become with the man I came out here to begin with, the me or the us that likes the faster paced, go go, barely structured routine life that we live out here in the East. Maybe I could have both one day if I could convince my husband to move west a couple hundred miles, but for now becomes the next step of this cycle I have come to know so well.

Restarting the countdown. Five months until I'm home for Christmas. By then it'll be almost one year since I was home. I have never gone longer than six months since I moved here, and sometimes I think as excited as I have been to finally move out of the city and into the country and smalltown living again in Northern Maryland to an area where I say I can raise my kids, the true reality of  homesickness and having left home for good has really hit me at times this year. I chose this road and I'm okay with that. It's just chasing the things you've always wanted isn't always rainbows and pots of gold.

So for today there is no rainbow, just downpouring rain (literally), a good fit for my depressed mood. But on the good days, which are most days,  when I do reach of the end of the rainbow this is always the pot of gold I am blessed with having. Family. There really is no pot of gold worth more.
                                                                       My crew
 

                                                 Love seeing my two kids with my sister's two
 
                                          
                                                              Nene with her Kenzer
                                                         Papa with his two big girls
                        My parents just love being grandparents and love seeing them with all four.
                                                         My sister with her family.
                                   Averi and Addi-Cousins by chance, best friends by choice
                                                     My other sister and brother in law

Thursday, July 11, 2013

I think I may be mom challenged

So I'm going to confess some things here. First, as much as I say I try to avoid passing judgment on other moms well believe it or not I m not perfect after all (my family will get a smirk out of that statement) and sometimes I do judge you crunchy, pintersty people. Why?

Because damnit I m just not cool like that.I'm seriously craft challenged, I can't cook worth a damn, I have a brown thumb, I'm OCD with a I don't give a shit about the mess attitude from time to time (if you don't believe be me ask my husband), I don't stress about organic and natural food and products. My idea of working out is chasing my kids around the backyard (I have probably even counted that once or twice when I d be in a workout stretch). I don't make or create anything cool.

So as I went through this list of "mom" type things I realized I must be mom challenged. My mom must have been giving those lady lessons when I was outside playing ball as a kid. Sometimes I think maybe I should learn some of these womanly mom things then I think no. Can't teach an old dog new tricks. I will just continue on being mom challenged. It s really not that lonely of a road.

How are you mom challenged?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Mommy Wars from a man's point of view

On one of our longer drives this past week, my husband and I got on the topic of the mommy wars. I have a strange interest in them. I maybe mentioned this once before but if I were to ever get a higher degree it would be a PhD in sociology because I am just really fascinated with social issues, especially in today's times. I also love history and I'm always telling my students I would love to see what will be in the history books about our time when we're all dead and gone. I would love to study the current social issues of today before they are just history. Not that I'm a huge over the top women's lib kind of person, but the changing role of women and family dynamics would be the thing I would love to focus on the most.

Because of my interest in that, I am fascinated by the so called mommy wars probably more as someone that loves academics rather than as a mother. I have friends from all different walks of motherhood choices and I respect them all as I once wrote in my post Moms, get ready to be judged! I'm not going to say I haven't passed judgments at times because well, I am a woman and we always tend to think we're right. But we all have our reasons for why we choose what we choose. Honestly I still stand by the idea that none of them are really any better of a choice than the other; just certain choices are better for certain people. I always feel that I'm more critial of my choices than other people are of them. But I've learned my choices are mine to own and him and I are the only ones who really have to be okay with them.

But as I got into the conversation with my husband he kind of summed it up in a very matter of fact man kind of way. "You're women. You're indecisive. One minute you want one thing and ten minutes later it's something else. And once you get something in your head you're like a dog with a bone. Nagging and nagging and bugging everybody until they see it your way. God knows a woman can't be wrong." (Maybe he's getting all women confused with me. Sorry about that, ladies)

I'm pretty sure his mimic of us went something like this, "I want women's lib; I can work outside the home just as much as a man. No, I want to be at home and take care of my babies like my mother and her mother before her. I need to breastfeed; I can't breastfeed. No, pain medicine; I'm doing this all natural. Give me the damn pain medicine now!"

I couldn't help but to laugh at his man's point of view of the issue. I feel that women ponder and ponder over what choice is the right choice. Then even after we make it sometimes we worry and worry about whether it was the right one. I don't know about you but if I get an idea in my head that I feel pretty strongly about, I push and push and push. To be honest, many times in my life I've just wished I was man. They don't think about a decision too long; they just make it and move on. the end. They don't overanalyze it and try to convince the whole world their way is the right way.

You ever wished you thought like a man instead of a women? Is there any truth to what he says or is he just being a typical man?

 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Capture those summer memories with photobook and printing deals!

I was very excited to learn this past week that I was accepted for an affiliate partnership with the Tiny Prints company. Their other products are also Shutterfly, Wedding Paper Divas, and Treat.

There are probably three favorite hobbies I would say I have a very strong passion for. One which is of course reading and writing. The other two would be photography and traveling. I will also shortly have some offers coming for low price 3 day vacations soon which I will share more about later with another company I'll be working with, but for now I'll focus on my love for pictures. When I say I love photography, I don't necessarily mean professional photography because I am not a very good photographer, but I love to take pictures nevertheless and because I also have a weird obsession with organizing I love to organize my photos. People all the time would tell me how pictures just end up in a box and maybe years down the road will be looked at again. I think some just kept waiting for me to give up my obsession with organizing the crazy abundance of pictures I love to take. But nine years later I am still going strong with my obsession.

It is through companies like Tiny Prints and Shutterfly that have made it easier for me though as life has gotten busier. I am always a little slow to catch up on technology and waiting at the photo kiosk at Target or Wal Mart with two kids in tow for my pictures to print was almost a strong enough deterrent for me to give up my photo obsession. But printing through Tiny Prints and Shutterfly not only made it easier for me to print my pictures, but I've also found it cheaper and a better quality. Along the way I've also started creating seasonal photo books to capture all our family memories. There are countless other products, such as greeting cards and gifts, which I have also used for my Christmas cards and personal gifts.
I am sure many of you possibly already use Shutterfly or Tiny Prints, but now as an affiliate partner with them I can keep you updated on coupons and deals. I hope if you're interested in capturing those family moments you will visit my site and click on one of the banners that will always be to the right to submit your order.

I've been reading and seeing everyone's vacation photos online so I hope you can take advantage of their deals this week to either print your photos or create a photobook to savior these precious memories. Click on any of the links below to get started.

Tiny Prints: http://www.shareasale.com/r.cfm?B=82482&U=818138&M=12808&urllink=
Wedding Paper Divas: http://www.shareasale.com/r.cfm?B=162385&U=818138&M=12808&urllink=
Treat: http://www.shareasale.com/r.cfm?b=381268&u=818138&m=12808&urllink=
Shutterfly: http://www.shareasale.com/r.cfm?B=420133&U=818138&M=12808&urllink=

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Celebrate America with you!

As an American literature teacher I rejourney through our American history every year with my students. As we move through the political pieces of the Revolutionary War with Patrick Henry and Ben Franklin and moved towards the Post Modern Era of today we often discuss what is an American today.

At a time when our country is so in conflict with one another, I am often reminded through their insight and what I can recall seeing at horrific times like 9/11 and the  Boston marathon bombing what makes America so great. Our student body represents over 25 different countries. I teach students of Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and so many other religious faiths. Our students literally represent the melting pot of what is America. Some are rich, some are poor, and others are middle class. Our goal is to celebrate excellence through diversity everyday.

And like the little representation of America that they are some are hard workers and embrace the beauty of what America is with its opportunties. But many of them also expressed frustration, which within our classroom was directed at their peers but within our society is sometimes directed at our fellow Americans, towards those that take for granted the freedoms and opportunties that others have fought, died, and won for us. They saw and resented the sometimes spoiled, entitled attitude that at times smears the American identity. What they chose, what we all choose I think,  to see as the true American, whether natural born or an immigrant citizen that comes here for a better future, is someone who works hard for himself, his family, and others; who siezes the wonderful opportunties that this country has worked so hard to provide for its citizens; is someone who stands strong for his or her beliefs even if they are at first standing alone; who accepts diversity because America fights for the good of all of humanity.

As a teacher of our youth, as an American, and more so as a mother, I have concerns for our future, especially during these very troubling times but I cling to my optimism that America will prevail. That no matter our political disagreements we will do what is right in the end because we are the land of the free and value equality for all. We will do what needs to be done to provide a safer and better tomorrow for our future and our children. The unity that shines through in the toughest of times like 9/11 and the recent Boston Marathon attacks show that we will stand strong; that we will overcome. Our politicians will remember it is not about a win/loss score for their political party but it is about what is good for the American people. The people that chose them to represent them by upholding their rights, by protecting them, and providing them the opportunities for each of us to find our own American greatness.  And then it is on each of us to maximize those rights and opportunties. Men and women put their lives on the line every day domestically and abroad to protect our rights and keep this the land of the free and what better way to honor them and every person that ever died fighting for our freedoms and protection than to fulfill our own. Be an American-stand tall with and for our fellow man and find our greatness. If not for ourselves then for everyone else that died for that chance. God bless, America! Happy Independence Day, America!




Thanks to my dad, grandpa Williams, and grandpa Morgante (RIP) for fighting for our American rights!