Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Days are Long and it's Great!

I'm pretty remote control/TV illiterate. Now with everything on DVR we watch almost every show on fast forwarded commercials. Except for half of the time it continues fast forwarding through the actual show , and I'm left fighting with the pause and rewind button. This is about the way my life has felt all too often in the last few years. When you're busy, time flies, and there have been way too many days where I felt I was living on fast forward and for the life of me could not find the pause or rewind button.

The first two years Averi was born I coached volleyball in the Fall while Nate coached in the winter and spring. The year Kenz was born was probably the most slow paced, well balanced year I've had in six years of motherhood. I just taught that year with no extracurricular commitments, typically getting home around 3:30. For the five months I went back to work to finish the school year after Kenz we had a friend nanny for us, and let me say having someone at your home to take care of the kids is such a huge help on so many small levels that it really adds up to a huge convenience. But starting the following year, which was the year we moved, was the first year I had the girls in two different places with Averi starting preschool, and then with the move I started  picking up extra work again two days a week to help with money while Nate also started his graduate program.  To also help with money during this time we would carpool a few days a week which involved me and the kids waiting for Nate for an hour or so. Then last year even though I didn't have extra work the second half of the school year the girls were in two opposite directions that it took me anywhere from an hour and 15 min to an hour and half to collect them and get home. Now even though I did work extra this Fall at the college, for the rest of this year I will be as close to that slower pace balance that I had three years ago. We started that new schedule this week, and it has been awesome! It will definitely make going back to work in January easier.

Besides those few months where the girls were home with our friend, this is the first time they have both been near the house rather than near work. I pick Kenz about five minutes from our house at 330, and after we get home we walk up to the bus stop to get Ave off the bus at 4.

This getting home at 330-400 makes my days feel so much longer in a good way. I don't feel rushed. I have plenty of time to take care of chores, get in a walk, play outside with the girls for a bit when it's sunny and 50 like it was the other day, eat afternoon snacks together and cuddle up on the couch for a quick rest or whatever we feel like doing. By the end of the day we're now back to more of a routine with bedtime and adult/me time at 8 because we're no longer running around like chickens with our heads cut off trying to get dinner cleaned up, kids ready for bed, and stuff for the next day ready.

I'm convinced the busier you are the faster time goes, but I don't want the days to feel quick right now. I want them to feel long. I want to be able to slow down and enjoy the girls and this age more. I know sometimes we think of long days as a bad thing, but right now I'm looking forward to the long days ahead.

                                  So excited to have more time at home with these two in 2015!
                  The hats in this picture are the ones my friend sold for our holiday charity project. She's thinking of selling them online again this Spring. I'll be sure to advertise if she is. They're super adorable!

Did you read my last posts on confessions about friendships in adulthood and going home this holiday season.

Check out these sites for any last minute shopping deals this holiday season:   Gymboree, Crazy 8, Little Passports, and Shutterfly .  My book,  Moms, Monsters, Media, & Margaritas is on sale for $8 this holiday season. The book is also now available on the Amazon kindle for $3.99 and the Barnes and Noble Nook for $4.99. Remember all sales profits are going towards gifts for children in need this holiday season.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Adult Friendships

As I continue to navigate my way through adulthood and parenthood or "the real" world as my parents liked to warn us about as kids, I've come to see how easily the stress and demands of it all can just consume you to the point that it's quite easy to lose sight of yourself and your relationships.

Life is stressful just with the every day demands, and unfortunately some deal with so much more. I consider us lucky in that our stress is what I consider typical stress: work, balancing work and family, the house or car repairs, and money.

But even with just that our time feels stretched thin and the to do lists just consumes us at times. Because of this there were several weekend plans this Fall we made with friends that we contemplated canceling. Just a few weeks ago I told my husband for the first time I wasn't feeling my usual anticipated excitement about going home.

After those nights with friends that we considered canceling my husband and I would both say how we were so glad we didn't and how getting out and reconnecting with those friends was just what we needed to off set that stress that we almost let take over at times. I'll admit I'm the same way with the phone sometimes. I have a few really good girlfriends back home and there are times I know if I answer there goes an hour of my evening. But then an hour later, I'm not thinking about what I didn't get done. Instead I feel like a huge weight  has been lifted off my shoulders because talking to them was exactly what I needed for an hour that week.

Some friends and relationships in our lives are going to come and go for different reasons. But one of the things I think we've learned in just the ten years we've been together with our friendships individually and as a couple is when you find the ones that mean something hold onto them. Don't let time, the stress of life, the excuses eliminate that connection over time. Some relationships mean more than others, and there's nothing necessarily about the ones that don't. We've purposefully let some go, and unfortunately others have drifted apart over time and distance.  The ones we make sure to make time for are because there's something about them that fills something we need and hopefully in return they feel that we give them something they need. Friendships are just like any other relationship. It's a give and take. There's something about each of those friendships or relationships that we've kept that we admire about those people; something about them and the way they live their life that really connects and matters with us.

Even when life gets stressful and so busy we feel that we have time for nothing, we've learned to stop and make that time to spend with our friends or in the case of going home with family. Because once we're there in the moment we're always reminded there is no better medicine for stress. To the wonderful group of friends we have thanks for always just accepting us and loving us the way we are and for making time for the phone calls and visits.

There are still great deals at  Gymboree, Crazy 8, Little Passports, and Shutterfly for holiday shopping.  My book,  Moms, Monsters, Media, & Margaritas is on sale for $8. The book is also now available on the Amazon kindle for $3.99 and the Barnes and Noble Nook for $4.99.Remember all sales profits are going towards gifts for children in need this holiday season.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Coming Home

The countdown until I'm home again is just a little over two weeks away. I wish there was some way I could explain that anticpated feeling of going home after being away for months or close to a year or that feeling of crossing over the Mississippi back into my home state. There's  this comfort in coming home that is just so hard to explain. I'm sure anyone that's moved away from home probably knows what I'm talking about.

I've always called Missouri my roots and Maryland my wings, but as I close in on ten years since I left one to gain the other, it's interesting to me as a person who constantly continues on her own self search journey (literature teacher there coming out) how in some ways they each are so much a part of who I am but in so many ways I don't feel that I completely belong to either one. However, the thing I love because I've experienced them both is the perspective they've given me.

They are two different places. The people are different; the way of thinking is different. There is much more than distance that separates the two places. Just as there is more than distance that separates many things in America.  There are wonderful things about both; as well as imperfections and flaws about each.

I like to think they each in their own way has contributed to some of the good things about who I am; just as they've each had a part in contributing to some of my own personal flaws and imperfections.

Besides perspective and growth as an individual the other valuable thing I think being away from home has given me is an appreciation for moments and time. But I also think this comes with parenthood and aging as most people I know, whether they move away or not, I see has also gained this appreciation.  Most people I know are the same way; however, as we all also know there are some who don't quite get how fleeting time really is.

We only get a few weeks a year with our families, and for the time that we're home it's like we're inserperable, and everyone makes the effort to come together while we're there. We try to squeeze months of time together into days and in the process we create the lasting family moments not just for ourselves but I can see it start to leave a lasting impression on our daugthers. For me, as I'm sure it is for most adults, the excited anticipation about the holidays isn't about the gifts, music, pretty decorations, playing Santa, or even the food, but just the anticipation of the moments and memories to come with family.

The countdown is on. In just twelve days it will be that wonderful time of the year where we're with family. This is the first Christmas since kids that we'll be celebrating Christmas with both families the week of Christmas with the first three nights and two days, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, with my husband's family in Erie, PA and then the next week in Missouri with mine. It will be busy and crazy, and we'll be exhausted and ready for a vacation from our vacation when we get back, but I wouldn't do it any other way.

Merry Christmas!                              With their cousins on both sides.

There are still great deals at  Gymboree, Crazy 8, Little Passports, and Shutterfly for holiday shopping.  My book,  Moms, Monsters, Media, & Margaritas is on sale for $8. The book is also now available on the Amazon kindle for $3.99 and the Barnes and Noble Nook for $4.99.Remember all sales profits are going towards gifts for children in need this holiday season.


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Holidays are Coming: Oh My!

It's hard to believe it's December already. Like always the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas just flies by. Before we know it 2014 will be behind us.

This past weekend we got our family Christmas tree. Unfortunately, because it was raining rather than doing it Griswold style where we cut it down and haul it ourselves we decided to support the local Boys Scout troop where they're already cut them and are a short walk from your car.

                                                     It's really hard to get a picture of two kids and two dogs.

My friend Jess and I also got to go shopping for the little boy and girl we adopted with the money we made from our hobbies, my writing and her knitting. This is definitely a tradition we would love to keep up. We were able to buy each of them three toys and one outfit. We actually have someone else that we contacted about another child so any last minute knitting, book orders, or orders from ads here on the blog can help us buy gifts for one more child.

With a few more orders I'll reach the small goal I set for myself for 2014. I wanted to make $500 from my writing and donate at least 25% of that. Right now I'm a few sales short of my $500 goal and with the money I have made I've donated almost 30% of that to a childhood cancer charity from back home that means a lot to several of my readers from there and now to the holiday adopt a child drive. Unfortunately I wasn't able to make the donation to SMA that I had hoped to make this Fall. I got really busy with work and didn't push or market it very well and hit a really low sales period around Sept and Oct. Before I knew it was time for the holidays. I'm hoping to make a donation to SMA in the Spring so if you'd be interested in helping me promote it just let me know.

Being able to give back or pay it forward or whatever you want to call it was important to me this year. There's always more we'd like to do, but as we all know life gets busy and money gets tight. But last year I almost dreaded the holidays because money was so tight the stress of it almost took all the fun away, so I'm thankful this year for the more positive experience. For those of you that have supported me I cannot thank you enough!

Jess, who is my closest friend here in Baltimore, who I also find as a great inspirational person with the way she throws herself into so many causes as a full time working mom of two, is also sponsoring another charity event this holiday season for support for Maryland Midwives. Check out these adorable calendars to support the Maryland Midwives organization .

If you're still shopping I just ordered a bunch of clothes for my niece, nephew, and daughters at at Crazy 8 for buy one, get one for $.08! I'm also the one everyone counts on for cool personalized photo gifts and Shutterfly right now as 40% off everything with code OURFAVS .

Happy holidays from our family to yours this holiday season!

For additional shopping: Be sure to check out Gymboree, Crazy 8, Little Passports, and Shutterfly for holiday shopping deals. My book,  Moms, Monsters, Media, & Margaritas is on sale for $8. The book is also now available on the Amazon kindle for $3.99 and the Barnes and Noble Nook for $4.99.

Monday, December 1, 2014

The End of Days...How do you Know?

So as some know our ten year old dog, Bettis, is nearing the end of his days. He's been nearing them for probably the last couple of months now. The other night he sounded like he was struggling to breathe, and he just looks so old and tired.

I think Nate and I both worried that this was it; the end was here. We let him sleep in our room, which we probably hadn't done in years. At different points we each laid beside him on the floor, petting him and telling him what a good dog he's been to us these last ten years.

But then the next day he was breathing easier again; he still wasn't moving well, but he didn't seem to be so close to death's door anymore. This weekend we took him with us for the holiday like we've done every year. Again when I saw he couldn't hop in the back of the car without help I was reminded again. how frail he is getting.

Others between friends and family that know him well have also commented recently on how he really doesn't look well and so much worse than he did just a few months ago when I started to worry his time was nearing. Some will tell us to just let him be, live out his last few days home here with us, the only family he's ever known. Others tell us maybe it's time to think about putting him down.

Between Nate and I, I'm  the one that says maybe it's time to put him to sleep. You can tell he hurts constantly; he's quit wanting to walk out in the cold to even go to the bathroom. Nate says he's not that bad yet; give him more time and I quickly agree because well, the idea of telling him good bye sucks.

I guess right now is one of those times I really wish animals could talk because I'd just want to know what he'd want. If I talk Nate into putting him down I feel like I quit on him and feel like I took something away from him when he gave us so much. But I can tell he doesn't feel well and is in pain, and don't they say it's the humane thing to do so they don't have to continue to suffer.

I know "he's just a dog", but he's a pretty special dog to us. He will always, always hold a special place in mine and Nate's hearts. Good bye is coming, we know, but I don't know if we decide that final day or let him decide that final day. How do you know?


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Tragedy of Ferguson

I am a white Missouri girl that has spent the last ten years teaching mostly America's minority students. As the events from Ferguson unfolded last night, I was left with my own conflicting emotions. As my newsfeed would fill with everything from compassionate posts to racial posts, I could feel my emotional response to the events simmering. Just as my students need time to process this, I gave myself a little time and here's what I've come up with so far.

The tragedy of Ferguson is so much more than black and white; it's so much more than right and wrong. There are so many shades of gray; so many blurred lines. And so many hurt people. I'm not even go to discuss whether I think the jury's decision was the right or wrong one because I feel that the media did such a poor job of reporting on this and manipulated things to play up the emotional dramatic appeal to the people.

There were victims in this tragedy. So many victims. White victims, black victims, human victims of all races and colors. Here's what I have come to learn. We do have a fight on our hands. But the fight shouldn't be about black vs white. It's about education verse ignorance. Here's what I've learned from our youth- they feel imprisoned by the stereotypes our society has placed on them. Every human in this country fights the injustice of these stereotypes in some way. Every white person is not a racist; every black kid is not a gangster or criminal; every Muslim is not a terrorist; every Hispanic is not an illegal immigrant here to mooch off the system. But too many buy into these stereotypes and pass judgment before they ever allow themselves to stop and think about learning and experiencing any kind of truth to who a person or even a culture really is.

The only way to overcome this I truly believe is through education. I'm not just speaking of the education we can get in the classroom either. I'm talking about the kind where you step outside your comfort zone, you stop and listen, you open your eyes without the blinders of stereotypes and judgments blinding you to truths and realities, and open your heart to learning this thing called perspective and acceptance. We have to start to teach love and not hate. Nothing will change until we do.

We've been studying the Declaration of Independence in my classes this past week. The founding belief of our country can be found in this one line: "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator, with certain Unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness." I asked my students to focus on this idea of equality. It's been over 238 years since the Declaration of Independence and as we can all clearly see this is a continued work in progress. The toughest question I asked them and you now too is "Is this idea of true equality a reality we can one day see?"

I believe one of the first things we have to accept is we are not born into equal situations, but we are all born with free will and choice. We all have the choice whether to be a victim of our circumstances or not. The thing I have learned from my students and whether it's the discriminated against immigrant, the poor "white" trash kid, the "black" boy from the hood, the kid of a teenage mother and no father is they made a choice to rise above their circumstances. Along the way they had to break free of those stereotypes and low expectations. But let me tell you they do it every day. I see them.
What I hate to see for these students I've come to admire over the years is sometimes no matter how hard they work to prove themselves, to educate themselves, to pursue this wonderful idea of freedom, opportunity, and equality, is that they are still shackled at times like this by the stereotypes and judgments that are placed on them by society due to the inconsiderate and wrongful acts of some. Some will spend their whole lives fighting these labels to get people to accept them for who they truly are. It is that judgment and the hate that results from these ignorant judgments that will keep us from reaching a reality of equality, and these are the victims I mourn for at times like this.

 The holidays are coming. Be sure to check out Gymboree, Crazy 8, Little Passports, and Shutterfly for holiday shopping deals.  Also Moms, Monsters, Media & Margaritas  is on sale for $8 through the holidays.   The book is also now available on the Amazon kindle for $3.99 and the Barnes and Noble Nook for $4.99. All sales through the holidays are going to a project for a child in need this holiday season.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The War Within Me at the Fork in the Road

Some of us come to those fork in the roads more than others. I use to think I was one of those that would encounter limited forks in the road because I'm such a planner. My dad and husband like to joke that I probably have the next ten years planned out on my calendar. They're being just a little facetious. One of the things opposite myself I've come to appreciate from my husband is the leap first, think later. And as we've aged fortunately or maybe even a little unfortunately (who ever really wants to grow up) my husband has become more responsible and calculated with his decisions.

As I mentioned months ago in Adult Decisions are Hard we chose a path years ago that I think gives us the opportunity to encounter more forks than I initially imagined for myself. If I had never left home there wouldn't be any question where I'd spend the rest of the my life. But when I stood at that fork in the road the first time I chose to leave, to take the path that would present more forks later down the road, and ten years later I still do not regret that decision. Are there things I miss that I would have experienced on the other path? Of course. Sacrifices had to be made but sacrifices would have been made too if I made the other choice.

Nate and I both grew up in small towns, and there is a lot to be said about growing up in a small town. Not only do we take our children back as often as we can to see the family that is there but because the roots those towns gave us are roots I want my children to understand. In many ways those roots may be more prevalent in their adulthood than where they're actually raised. For some people there is never any choice. They stay and build their families and careers there. I admire that as much as I admire the ones who choose to leave. I'd lie if I say I didn't wonder at times about that path for myself.

After I had my mommy meltdown moment a few weeks ago a reader, who happens to also be someone who knew me personally as a child and teenager, sent me this beautiful long message. In it she understood so much about this feeling of being divided, about this war you sometimes wage within yourself to conform to everyone else's needs and wants or to be true to yourself.  Oddly, it was shortly after this message from her that I heard from Dad, who dropped this hint, that I had recently said something about a five year plan that possibly involved moving back home. Again I find myself divided- do the expected and what others want from me or be true to myself and who I want to be? I find it interesting that her #7 note (remember 3-7-11 are those special numbers to us) of inspiration to me was this; "Never forget who you are or where you came from or what you want to do with your life."  I think this says so much about this fork in the road where we find ourselves.

At the end of last school year Nate started looking for jobs out of state, but he didn't push it too hard because I think we were both uncertain about such a quick decision. As we approached this school year we wanted to use this year to first, get in our tenth year of teaching in Maryland. Second, get a clearer understanding on some things we weren't sure about in regards to either of our jobs before we made rash decisions, and third complete our family before we made any big changes. With all of that complete we said we would feel better about making a more informed decision about what we really want.

Maybe the failure of the third one is a sign. As planned we did become pregnant at the end of the summer and were looking at an April due date. Unfortunately, though we miscarried. We haven't tried again since. Sometimes I wonder is it a sign we shouldn't have three or is it a sign it's not time to make that decision about staying or leaving yet. With some of the things we're considering having a baby at the same time as making that change is not a good idea. This year has helped Nate to see that his goal of promotion is possibly going to happen sooner rather than the later he was told at the end of last school year. There are some positives but also a few negative realities I've concluded from this school year, and either way due to my horrible commute my job situation will change within in the next year or so. I know what I want in a teaching situation now though, and if I can't get that I've also found a career change I'd like to pursue that puts my Masters degree in counseling to work, but again that's a huge fork in the road by itself.

Then there's the question of staying or moving.  I've come to have a great appreciation for experiences. Putting yourself in different situations presents amazing learning experiences and offers invaluable perspective. Settling down finally in one area, one job, one situation for the rest of our lives is enticing in many ways after so many years of change, but I always come back to there's only one life to live. Only so much time to live it. If we moved think of all the new things we could experience. All the new things we would learn from that experience. In one ear I have the voice (all those that want to put down our ideas) telling me that the girls need to be in one place to grow up, but then in the other ear I hear me and Nate saying think of the learning experiences the girls will gain that goes way beyond anything they'll learn in the classroom.

Being the adventurer that my husband is he's started to look into short term opportunities. I know some in our lives that will call us crazy; while others would tell us to go for it. In some ways I think it's the right answer. We could leave for a year or two experience some amazing things and when we're finished there maybe we'll know if we want to stay in Maryland, go home to Missouri or Pennsylvania, or maybe it will be somewhere else altogether. It offers us a whole new career experience, cultural experience, traveling experiences, and probably even more experiences I can't even imagine yet.

Choose the safe path and settle, try for the third baby and give it another year to decide (probably what will happen), or be adventurous and apply now and what happens happens. I also think an opportunity like the ones we're looking at would possibly even be better for the girls when they're a little older for it to have an even more profound influence on them.

Either way the road is smooth right now right where we're standing, and when we're ready I'm sure it'll be an adventurous ride down whichever road we take.


 The holidays are coming. Be sure to check out Gymboree, Crazy 8, Little Passports, and Shutterfly for holiday shopping deals.  Also Moms, Monsters, Media & Margaritas  is on sale for $8 through the holidays.   The book is also now available on the Amazon kindle for $3.99 and the Barnes and Noble Nook for $4.99. All sales through the holidays are going to a project for a child in need this holiday season.


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Meet Our Village

Sometimes people wonder how we do it so far from home and family. Our mothers will often tell us they either wish they were closer so they could help or bug us to move close to home so they can help us out some.

It definitely has its hard moments. We've definitely considered packing up and moving back home for those extra pair of hands. Lucky or not lucky for us I guess we've never experienced any other way than raising our daughters so far from family so we truly don't know how much easier or harder one way is verse the other.

Even though we do miss our families and nobody could ever replace them, we are not alone out here. In fact, we've found ourselves a third family we'd hate to leave behind. We have many great, close friends here and back home, but sometimes you have friends that are just more than friends. As anyone hopefully  knows we all have many friends  but even so they all have their own particular role in our lives.

As the years have gone by, we just continue to grow closer to these friends. We tend to spend at least one, if not two or three, weekends a month together. We celebrate our birthdays and even holidays together. We've taken trips together through the years, and in many ways they've become our family too.

These people have come to mean so much to us. The girls love them and think of them as family too.
Our family consists of our dear friends, Dave and Jess and their two kids, Benjamin and Gemma. As I tell Jess they're so much like family anymore I don't even feel need to play hostess anymore when they come to our house it's like having one of our siblings over. And Benjamin. Well, the girls love their Ben. The three of them have grown up together, and it always so much entertainment to watch the three of them together. It's the same with Sarah, who again is like having another sister around. She's so much like an aunt to the girls as they look forward to Sarah time when she takes them occasionally for us, and she nor us think nothing of her correcting or disciplining the girls. Then there's Aunt Jo Ellen who even though she moved three hours away for now (we think she may come back :) ) she's like the fun aunt that thinks conformity and following rules is way overrated and buys them cool stuff.

Then in Virginia we have our two friends that we unfortunately don't get to see as much as we like but over the years have spent a couple weekends a year together. That's Uncle Mike and Daphne and Tony and Sandia with Little T and now Mikayla. Again, these are people the girls, as well as us, look forward to weekends with as often as we can.

These are friends that over the years have become like family to us. We are not here alone. These people know the real us and accept and love us despite all our flaws and craziness. They aren't a replacement for the families we have back in Missouri and Pennsylvania, but we love them like family. So we're okay; we still have our village. I'd say we have a pretty damn good village. Our village expands from Maryland to Virginia to Pennsylvania to Missouri so I'd say that makes us pretty lucky.

Couldn't find many pics of us adults but here are some of the girls with T and Ben.

The holidays are coming. Be sure to check out Gymboree, Crazy 8, Little Passports, and Shutterfly for holiday shopping deals.  Also Moms, Monsters, Media & Margaritas  is on sale for $8 through the holidays.   The book is also now available on the Amazon kindle for $3.99 and the Barnes and Noble Nook for $4.99. All sales through the holidays are going to a project for a child in need this holiday season.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Let's Be Us Again

In my previous post Marriage and Money, I mentioned our biggest struggle as a couple and in adulthood has been financially. As much as this has stressed us out and brought us down, I firmly know there are worse problems in life to have. Either way there have been times I've seriously wondered how we escaped financial disaster.

I've shared many stories about when my husband and I first met, but because maybe he was just a boy or they didn't see him enough or he because he was laid off work our first year of dating, my parents weren't big fans of him at first (they love him now so we all laugh at this now) so somehow with my parents quiet dislike of him, him with no job, and then the open rejection of my parents towards  me and my decision to move halfway across the country with him we were in over our heads and just relying on fate shortly after we met. It was eleven years ago this month that the story of us began.

So many posts I've written have covered the story before but as the story goes both our cars broke down within the first month we moved here, our truck we bought because we had no working cars was stolen within a month the day before we started our new jobs in Maryland. We had nothing besides a TV and microwave so we had to finance everything for an apartment. But we were young and didn't know any better.

Those first couple of years out here we had a blast, hanging out with friends in DC and Baltimore and traveling in the summer to wineries, beaches, and other places in the country. Nate is the fly by the seat of his pants, adventurer, act first think later one. I am the financially responsible, cautious, let me overanalyze everything one. Sometimes I think we met in the middle. I like to think we did. We somehow stayed financially a float, have kept steady jobs, and made time for friends, family, traveling, and fun.

We bought our house in '06 before the housing market crashed. In 2008 when we found out we were expecting our first daughter, the housing market had crashed and on our babymoon trip to the west coast gas had reached $5.00 a gallon. As everyone knows luckily we don't pay $5.00 a gallon still but $3.50 is still a big financial punch when you have two people commuting around 30 miles a day. Shortly after that a vehicle of our left us stranded again. This time for two days three hours from home, and we were in trouble with a $5000 car repair for a car that was only worth about $5000 when we owed over $10,000 on it. We tried to maneuver our way out of that one by trading it in for a car that left us with twice the payment because it was at least newer and bigger but also had to carry all that negative equity from the broken car. On top of that we had the added expense of daycare.

In 2013, Forbes stated that 2008-2013 was the worst five years since the Great Depression. This time was a tough hit to many people, and we definitely felt it. Different people are taught that different things are of higher value and importance than others. To some it's punctuality, some it's work ethic, some it's honesty. All of these things are important, but in the family I was raised in a financial responsibility was one of those top character traits. So financially things got tough and tight at times after we added children.

As our second kid came and the first approached kindergarten we knew we had to move. Again you know that story.  It got tighter than ever. We were able to rent our other house, sold our truck for a down payment, bought a house in a community we could raise the girls, but then had to add back another car payment to replace the paid off truck. We've paid bills late before, but we went a stretch where we could barely make the mortgage. Between the two houses one of them was late every month for six months. The stress that comes when you have more money going out than you have coming in can be consuming. It can suck all your energy, motivation, positivity right out of  you and down that unhappy road you go. It's dark and you're lost and you're not sure what to do to find the light at the end again. As anyone knows, money struggle is not good on a relationship. You place blame, what turns in to just wanting to vent to your spouse results in arguments, and it all just mentally and physically drains you.

We live in a society today where the give up method is acceptable. People give up on their marriages, give up on their financial responsibilities, give up on other relationships or interests. And this may be me someday but I'm not a go down without a fight kind of person. We were drowning and some of it was our own fault because besides the ridiculous gas prices and crashed housing market that plagued so many of us, we also had built up a decent amount of credit card debt from all that living life fun we were having (I wouldn't change this though because living and enjoying life is more important than money).

The financial strain was very real to not just us but probably so many of you as well. For us, we were just going to have to suck it up and get out of this. So the part time work on top of the full time job began. The graduate classes to reach our Masters +30 for higher pay (also the benefit of learning too of course) was on top of that at times too. It was not pretty at times. We were overwhelmed, stressed, mentally defeated at times, and just physically exhausted, and I know we took it out on each other at times, which then added more stress because our relationship was strained at times too. As we stretched ourselves thin there were times the quality of our work sucked, things around the house suffered, we worried if the girls were getting enough of our time and attention, but in the end we both knew the other was working hard for each other and this life that was ours.

I know this is not just our story. I see it in my friends and family who pick up overtime, side jobs, and consulting businesses on the side on top of putting themselves through school. In a time where so many things about people today are criticized, there are some people in today's society that are seriously busting their ass to show that they're not going to let the greatest recession since the Great Depression beat them down.

Have we made our way out of this hole? No way but I feel that our heads are finally above water a little more securely. Recently we hit a crazy peak where our full time job were hectic, we were working our part time jobs at the college on the side, Nate was finishing the very last class for his MA +30, and we are in the process of switching tenants on our rental house in the city. But the dust is settling and our feet are a little more firmly on the ground. We're not living as paycheck to paycheck these days (the fall is always tough after summer) with even some fun money around even during this usually tight time of the year, we have an emergency fund that is hard to access but there if we are ever in a very dire situation, our house we live in has equity (!), and our other house is still slightly under water but within two years should start to have equity as well and in the meantime we make a little bit of money monthly off of it, and through the years we've continued to raise and maintain our credit scores into the solid good range. In a little more time with a little more debt paid off we'll hopefully find ourselves solidly in the excellent range.  We are surviving just as so many others that I see are.

We just kept pushing on and we survived. Eleven years ago we were just Nate & Ang, but over the years we've become Mr. and Mrs. Glenn, Mom and Dad, and at times a few other roles along the way. We wouldn't trade any of that but as I imagine most couples know the demands of life can just sweep you away and before you know it you've lost a little bit of yourself along the way.

After a hectic October of high demands at work, working part time at the college for both of us, and working on renting our rental house back out, I decided something else needed to be a priority for a change. That priority is us. So for a night here later in November as part of his birthday present, we are leaving the girls overnight with family for the first time since they were too little to know any different, for a night away to just be that Nate & Ang that we were eleven years ago. It has not always been easy, but we survived, and we survived it together.

I talk about marriage more in my book, Moms, Monsters, Media & Margaritas, It's avaliable in print for $10. The book is also now available on the Amazon kindle for $3.99 and the Barnes and Noble Nook for $4.99. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Mommy Meltdown Moment (in the Wal Mart)

We all like to wear our Superwoman cape proudly. Some days we can even feel like we master the role well. For a moment we think we have the kids, career, marriage, house, and everything else all well balanced. I've had those moments and how I do love those moments where I feel like I can do it all.

But then there's a small crack in that perfectly balanced tower of motherhood balance. For a bit you still manage to keep it all together. It's a shaky balance for a bit but you think you got it. Then it's just a little too much pressure on that already swaying tower of balance, and it all comes crumbling down. Then there you are. The woman who likes to think she has it all together with her tower of balance in chaotic clutter around her while she finally just gives in the tears that have been threatening as she struggled so hard to keep that balance.

And there I was in the middle of Wal Mart, unable to stop the tears anymore. I handed our groceries and children over to my husband and walked out the door to have the mommy meltdown I'd been holding in check.

It all started when once again there was another accident on the highway on the way to work. When I should have been there at 7:00, a good half hour before school started, I then had to take a detour to barely make it to the parking lot ten minutes before school started. Once there I had to waste probably close to another five finding parking because they blocked off the teacher lot for some activity. Then of course with it being the last week of the quarter not only am I freaking out and stressing about all the papers I still need to grade to close the quarter, but I have parents and students bugging me to make up work at the last minute. Then you always have the one kid that can just ruin your day as it is. After work I had to go to our old house to show it to potential renters. That went fairly well, but it was an hour and half out of my already crazy schedule because after I picked the girls up we had to make a way overdue trip to the grocery store, Wal Mart. We were suppose to meet my husband there because the grocery money was in his account, but he had called to say he'd be late because he had meetings after school.  After shopping and ringing up our $300 worth of groceries my debit card was declined. I had just deposited three checks in there Saturday and had no idea how or why it was being declined.  I had just taken my credit card back out of my purse because I always figure if it's not in there I won't use it. So there I was twelve hours after I left home that morning with a cart full of groceries, two tired and hungry kids, and apparently no money. I had to go over to customer service. From there I realized the money I deposited Saturday wasn't available yet. It wouldn't be available until after midnight. My phone was dead so I had to call Nate from their phone. He was still a half hour away with access to the account that did have available money. So I had to sit there with the girls and wait. They of course wanted to crawl all over the place. Then they started whining they were hungry and wanted to get into the snacks in the grocery cart. At this point I was exhausted, frustrated, hungry. I asked the guy behind the counter what time it was and when he told me 7:00 that was it, I was done. I just started crying.

We still had to eat dinner, I had grading and a vocabulary quiz I should work on tonight, groceries to put away, and I just wanted to chance to sit down before I had to turn around and get up before 6:00 the next morning and do it all over again until 8:00 tomorrow night. At this point Nate finally showed up. Luckily, he's an understanding guy. He told me he'd take the girls and to just go ahead and go. I did. I needed to get myself together but instead found myself in the Wal Mart parking lot, unsure where I parked my car. So there I was wondering around, trying to find my car.

Luckily it didn't take long. We decided we'd just grab something quick for dinner. When I stopped to get gas and grab myself something I then discovered I left the card that was declined that would have money again tomorrow at Wal Mart. However, when I got home I discovered the Walmart guy gave it to Nate thankfully. It was a rushed stressful evening of unloading groceries and getting everything ready to do it all over again tomorrow. Only to be reminded at the end of the night every time we turn on the bathroom sink it runs straight down to the basement floor and that the guy I showed the house to that seemed interested called to say they were passing on the house after all.

Some days there are just not enough hours in the day to be the woman that does it all. Some times there's a point where too much is too much. Hopefully this peak of stress with so many things on our plate will be past us in a week or two, but it was a reminder of the reality that I can only do so much. When we stretch ourselves too thin we're not really any good to anyone, yet some of us, including myself, continue to do it time and time again, sometimes because it's just what we have to do. Other times our ambitions get the best of us and we push our limits.

Either way I'm sure this won't be the last time the tower of balance will crumble  and I'll be made aware once I again that I have limits. In the meantime, tomorrow is a new day.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Marriage and Money

Most people have probably heard the statistics that money is one of the top three reasons for failed marriages. I hate that money is important, but the truth is we all have to financially survive in this life. Unfortunately, money is one of those things that seems to be able to bring up or bring down so many things. I'm still convinced money does not equal happiness, but I do feel due to the hardships it brings it can at times lead you down some dark roads of unhappiness. We have definitely been there, and I can definitely understand why money puts a strain on marriages.

As we head into this November it will be 11 years since Nate and I first met and two years
since we moved into our house. As I look back on the eleven years it's definitely been a struggle with last two, more so last year,  being the financially hardest. Luckily in many ways those struggles have been connected to financial survival more so than any physical or health concerns. I always like to say money problems are the best problems to have because to me the alternative is health problems and in many ways that is much scarier. But the stress that comes with financial struggle can mentally wear you down and have a negative effect on a person physically.

When I met my husband he was not in the greatest financial situation. I'm sure most of us have read those articles about what we should know about someone before dating them, and it stresses their financial history because I guess it insinuates something about them. I took that to mean I was the one that should be in control of our finances. In many relationships there is one person that is the household finance guru and in our case that has always been me.

However, here are some common problems I've found not just from my own experience but in speaking with other couples. The one in charge of the money feels a great weight on their shoulder to not only pay the bills but the responsibility if things aren't going well then it is somehow all their fault and they've failed in a major way. They also feel whether they're the one that makes more money or not that it's up to them to cover the deficits. The one who isn't in charge of the money feels like they contribute but have no control over how it's spent or faces guilt or criticism for wanting to indulge on something so it never feels like the money earned was ever theirs. This creates hostility, tension, and hurt feelings on both sides.

Him and I have dealt with this for years, but when you're barely financially making it, and you're both already picking up extra work to cover your expenses,  you're afraid to change much for fear what little grip you have left on the situation will be gone.

Finally all the extra income from jobs on top of our full times jobs we have picked up over the years was going to be extra money this school year so with a little bit of breathing room, we seperated our money. I know they say it shouldn't be his and hers; what's his is hers and vice versa, but this has been great. The way we do it now is he writes me a check each pay period for what I need for our joint household bills, and I still manage the household budget and schedule the bills; however, we each take care of our own school loans, credit cards, and car loans and managing our spending money, gas money, and savings is on each of us.  I do factor in savings for first Christmas and then summer as part of that joint household bill amount. We have both found this so much better. We even bank at different banks, and I've even come to learn from a past experience that this is also better. Before we had our accounts linked and within a month I was still managing his bill payments and then because they were linked I able to easily borrow money so it was still the controlling and lack of controlling situation.

Marriage is a team effort and everything is meant to be shared, but for us I have found the his and hers money a relief to some of the financial stress on our relationship. I don't know if it is something that would work for everyone, but I do know others, including my parents, who have survived off this method for almost 34 years of marriage.

How is the money managed in your marriage? What works for managing the money in your marriage, especially if you've had periods of financial struggle?

I talk about marriage more in my book, Moms, Monsters, Media & Margaritas, It's avaliable in print for $10 with 20% off with code OKTOBER.  The book is also now available on the Amazon kindle for $3.99 and the Barnes and Noble Nook for $4.99. With the purchase of print and ebook books 20% of sales goes towards a children's charity for the The PACI Fund Project. This Fall donations are going to the Families of SMA charity.


Monday, October 13, 2014

Where does Happy Fit?

We spent the past weekend in Ocean City, Maryland with a few of our really good friends; friends we consider part of what we call the Baltimore family. It was another great weekend that left me sad that it was over too soon but revived in a way that reminds me that amidst all the crazy in our lives, these are the moments that life is all about.

As many know I stress myself out way more than I need to, I worry and fret half the time over nothing, but no matter our individual journeys I don't think many of us would argue we're often left feeling overwhelmed, defeated, stressed, and worried  in the day to day grind that is our lives. This negative side of life can consume us; it can blind us to everything else.  I've seen it happen. Unfortunately, most of us probably know someone that almost always seems to be unhappy and dwells way too long on the negatives of life.

My youngest daughter was what I guess people considered an unhappy baby. I never understood what people meant when they would say "oh what a happy baby" until I had an unhappy baby. I quietly obsessively worried about this child. Depression is something I don't think any family escapes from, and we have a family history so from the beginning I was that crazed parent thinking my child was destined to be this unhappy depressed child/adult. I've seen what unhappiness and low esteem does to people, and I don't want this for my kids. I don't want that for myself. Honestly, some days it's easy to say I choose happy, and other days it's just not as easy for whatever reason.

Just as we can't always have sunny days, our lives are not going to be easy and completely consumed by positive moments. I don't think life is meant to be easy.  I think maybe that is because if it was we wouldn't know how to appreciate the moments; we wouldn't recognize the beauty that life can be.

To me moments and time with the people that make these moments what they are is all that matters in the end. I think it's important to teach my kids responsibility and work ethic and those qualities that are important to making successful adults, but I think teaching my kids to be happy is just as important. Through my professional life with countless students over the span of  ten years and through my personal life, I've encountered a few overdriven people so consumed by the demands of life that they found themselves drowning in depression or unfortunately as a student reminded me the other day through a story he shared they find themselves to the point of suicide.

As much as I try and plan to teach them to be responsible and work hard for the things they want in life, I also want to teach them that being happy and doing the things that make them happy is just as important. Life is meant to be lived. Don't get so bogged down with the to do lists, the demands, the responsibilities that you forget to live life.

As I shared these pictures with friends this past weekend, a few people commented on what happy little girls we have. To me as a parent, this meant a lot because as much as yes I hope they're well behaved, respectful (always on blue at school, which Averi always is as she reminds me), and work hard, them being happy means just as much to me as anything else.

My hope is happy, well loved kids will lead to happy, well loved adults. Them being happy always makes me happy.

Recent Posts

Battle of Home (The Battle of my Two Homes in the AL Championship)

Slowing Down?

Life is Going...

Balance, Where Did you Go?

Check out my book:

Sales from my book, Moms, Monsters, Media & Margaritas, this month is going to the Families of SMA this month. The book examines how our 21st century digital world shapes our perceptions and expectations of our capabilities as mothers, wives, employers, and women. I talk about balance or the struggle of finding balance often in here. It will leave you with a humorous and inspirational look at the individual journey of motherhood that takes each of us from the girl we were to the woman we become. The book is also now available on the Amazon kindle for $3.99 and the Barnes and Noble Nook for $4.99. With the purchase of print and ebook books 20% of sales goes towards a children's charity for the The PACI Fund Project. This Fall donations are going to the Families of SMA charity.