Monday, June 30, 2014

The Happiness in Simplicity

It doesn't matter whether it's sitting around a fire in the backyard and watching kids run across the yard catching lightening bugs, visiting the local orchard to pick apples or strawberries, watching the excitement on my oldest daughter's face because she swam across the pool on her own or the delight of my youngest as she fearlessly jumps in the pool from the side, or an afternoon spent in the company of family whether it's out on the back porch or around the dinner table, my children I found remind me everyday of the happiness that can be found in the simplicity of life.

I know I am not alone on this. Most of us live busy, hectic lives these days. Even as much as the day to day grind of work, money, running a household, and even raising our kids can stress us out and even lead to tension with the ones we love, I love seeing how even with as busy and demanding as our lives can be these days so many of us have gained a deep appreciation for the happiness we can find in life's simple moments. As crazy as those little boogers can make us at times, whether it's as grandparents, parents, aunts or uncles children remind us every day what is really important in life. Live in the moment and love with everything you have.

Maybe some of this enjoyment I see so many of us finding in our day to day lives comes because we're older and we're wiser, but I think there's also something to be said for what we can learn from watching and surrounding ourselves with children.

                                      I never imagined how much enjoyment they truly would bring.

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June's sales for Moms, Monsters, Media & Margaritas, my book about motherhood and family in our 21st Century digital world, is closing today.  Get the ebook here or purchase a copy of the print version here.   The print copy is 20% off with the code JFS20 through the end of the month! The ebook is now available on Barnes and Noble and Amazon for $5 or less.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Summer: Sunshine, Laughter, and Memory Making

We're already a week into summer vacation.  Even though I do look forward to the break from the early morning wake ups and long days, summer without that paycheck the last couple of years has made it almost more stressful than enjoyable. At first we thought we were heading into this summer in pretty good shape because we had summer work lined up. But then something came up and we didn't. For five days. And now supposedly we do again, and let's hope it stays that way.

We're suppose to be teaching three to four weeks of summer camp this summer, and we each have a couple work days of  professional development, but before we really into that from mid July to mid August, we've had a few lazy summer days at home with the girls, and we leave Friday to head west to Missouri for a week!

Later in the summer Nate and I have a date night planned to our first concert since we've had kids, August is our annual camping trip with friends, we have a quick weekend trip planned to NW PA for an 80th and 1st birthday party, and hopefully we can at least get in a day trip to the beach. Other than that it ll be playing in the water out back, fishing, long walks on the dirt road, catching lightening bugs while we sit around a bonfire in the evening, playdates, swim lessons and swimming, Averi's first experience with Vacation Bible School, reading and movies.

Our summers are always busy and hectic, but they're also full of extra family time, sunshine, memories, laughter, and just the simple enjoyment of living. I hope your summer is full of lots sunshine (with mild temps), laughter, and lots of memory making! Here's a look back at our first week of summer vacation.

Check out my book about motherhood and family in our 21st Century digital world. Get the ebook here or purchase a copy of the print version here.   The print copy is 20% off with the code JFS20 through the end of the month!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Tales of the Glenn Luck

I know all our lives have moments of inconvience and mishap. However, for whatever, reason I feel we encounter more than the usual share. Now I also think there's something about our individual personalities and who we are as a couple that some things we probably bring on ourselves. Either way at times it s like we re our own reality show.  Today the crazy mishap luck struck again.  However like most of the unlucky disasters or obstacles that fall our way this one is a current stressor and has not resolved itself to comical status yet. But to remind myself to calm down and be patient as these things work themselves out I decided to travel down memory lane.

It all started that first trip out here when not even two weeks after we moved here we ended up stranded hours from our apartment with our last remaining car between us broken down. Even the supposed reliable truck we bought shortly after to give us something reliable didn't last but a month before it was stolen and never to be seen again.

Many people joke that they ll never travel with us because of our ridiculous travel luck. We should have our own trying to get home for Christmas movie. Let s see. There was the time I missed my flight out of BWI home and was that young bawling her eyes out to the attendant that I had to squeeze on a flight somewhere to get home. She got me one. A couple hundred dollars more later and an eight hour drive up to Buffalo I final caught a flight back west just in time for Christmas Eve. I think the next Christmas I was suppose to meet Nate in Pittsburgh after the holiday for a concert we had tickets too. However,  the airline caused me to miss my connection and eventually he has to drive north to Buffalo again, which from his family s was two hours, just for us to now drive south 3-4 hours to catch the concert in time. The year I was pregnant with Averi we decided to fly out of the tiny airport of Erie. When we walked in and there were buckets everywhere catching the melting snow leaking through the roof I was a little relieved when they told us instead of flying a little puddle jumper to our connection in Cleveland they were going to pile the whole 12 of us for the flight into one of those big vans to drive us the two hours to Cleveland.  Talk about feeling like you re living in some holiday movie. It was us the young pregnant couple, some rich English accent gentleman,  a young college girl, a business guy, and an old woman. I don't remember the rest but we were packed in there like sardines.  And the driver played the same darn Christmas carols the WHOLE drive! Then there was the time I decided to brave flying home for my sister s wedding by myself with two little girls. Again I found myself stranded. This time by myself with two small children in Chicago in the damn cold in January trying to find my way to the airport hotel.  But hey we lived to tell the story.

Oh and that first incident when we moved here and found ourselves stranded for 24 hours was nothing compared to the three days we found ourselves stranded three hours from home in the 100 degree heat of July while we wondered around Altoona on foot with our one year old and dog trying to figure out what to do about a $4000 (!!!) Repair on my car.

There are more smaller less memorable stories and with our luck there will be many more. This one again could very well be brought on by ourselves or it could be because someone screwed up doing their job. Time will tell and hopefully in time we ll have a little laugh at it too. Maybe then I'll tell you this one because it s a doozie.

Check out my book about motherhood and family in our 21st Century digital world. Get the ebook here or purchase a copy of the print version here.  

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Push to be the Girl on Fire

For anyone that's on social media it's no wonder today's mother has a supermom complex. Our news feeds are full of great recipes and prepared meals, crafts, family fun, fitness journeys, career highlights, achievement of personal ambitions and goals.

Instead of feeling like we need to be intimidated or take it as a personal attack due to our own insecurities, as it can unfortunately sometimes do,  I've also seen in many ways where it pushes many of us to strive to be better. However it should never be about being better than another.  That's what leads to the mommy wars. It should be about being a better version of ourselves. If we let it get to us and feel bitter or resentful it's hard I think for us to realize in order to examine the root of those feelings we first have to examine ourselves,  next possibly even with the friend we feel it towards, or if it's constant and ongoing maybe it's an unhealthy relationship that needs to end.

We have to remember we can't excel at everything, and we won't always get the same results as someone else. Women focus too much on their imperfections and flaws. However, ladies, there's a lot to be proud of about each of our own journeys.

I think the woman of today is incredibly ambitious.  I see today's ambitious woman everywhere I look. Katniss Everdeen may be the girl on fire, symbolizing change in a different world, but I see the girl on fire in today's woman whether she s balancing motherhood with her drive for political change, dedication and growth to her career, starting her own business, dedication to personal health and fitness, and the list of what she can do can go on.

There's a reason the female character of today's movies, books, and even the changed story lines of our fairy tales classics has become such a strong, leading figure. They are reflecting the woman of today. But don't be intimidated by her, whether she's in your newsfeed or on your television,  because each of us in our own way is her.

This post fits the theme of my book, Moms, Monsters, Media & Margaritas. Check out my book about motherhood in our 21st Century digital world.  There are twelve chapters focused around letting supermom go, the monster of mommy guilt, the balancing act of it all, the to do list of the bedroom with a look at marriage after kids, chasing happily every after, and many more.  Get the ebook here or purchase a copy of the print version here. Enter the code JSF20 for 20% off through Monday, June 23.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A Little Girl Lesson to Women

I was watching my girls play with two of their little friends today. I can't remember which one did what but one of them in fun dumped water over something of the other one's. The other one immediately called her out on it, telling her not to do that and letting her know it made it her mad. Less than sixty seconds later they were right back to playing.

I looked at my grandmother and out loud wondered why don't grown women disagree that way. I think it would be so much more productive. Instead we play these pretend games, we put on the fake mask, and when someone pisses us off instead of just calling them on it or talking to them about it, we'd much rather talk behind their back, ignore them or give them the cold shoulder, and play these superficial games.

I know our mothers taught us play nice but does playing nice at some point as we grow up translate to be nice to their face but mean to them behind their back. Do we think that's a nice way of going about things? I don't know about you but I would much rather someone just tell me to my face what the problem is. I grew up with two sisters and a cousin that we referred to as the fourth sister so the four of us were pretty good at just telling it like it is to each other. To this day I still trust that they'll give it to me straight. Does it hurt my feelings sometimes. Sure, but I've also experienced dealing with girls or should I say women that are suppose to be my friends that are nice to my face but are nasty (don't just mean the friendly jesting either) behind my back. I move past my hurt feelings just as quick as those little girls today when my friends that I know are my true friends tell me like it is, but all that behind the back crap just leads to whole pile of drama that builds a lot of resentment and untrustworthy relationships. Then you become what I call frenemies, not real friends.

So, ladies, because men don't seem to get hung up on all this fake, behind the back crap that women do, maybe we could learn a little something from that next little kid disagreement.

                                                    The four of us with our mini me.
.Check out my book about motherhood and family in our 21st Century digital world. Get the ebook here or purchase a copy of the print version here.  
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Monday, June 16, 2014

The Dad that Does More than Show Up

I had a great girls night out the other night for a dear friend's birthday. Even though all us moms maybe mentioned a few of those annoying men habits like dropping dirty clothes beside the laundry basket instead of it it, what they do to the bathroom, and we all know the list of "men" things can go on, but really we talked about what great men we married.

Sure maybe he doesn't get his clothes all the way into the laundry basket, but he helps do the laundry. Sure, maybe he peed on the tiolet instead of in it (so do my little girls though), but he helps clean it. Sure maybe we feel like we can't ever budget enough money for the groceries because men eat so much more than we expected, but he also shares in the grocery shopping and cooking. Sure, maybe he sent the girl to school in tights and a shirt rather than pants or helped her put underwear on backwards, but he was there in the morning getting her ready for school and telling her to have  great day. Sure, maybe he called and texted a few times in a few panicked moments after we left him with the kids or baby(ies) that first time or two, but he was willing to let us do something for ourselves and step up as primary caretaker for a few hours or however much time was needed.

There was something going around online about how when it's all said and done 90% of being a dad was just showing up. I understand and I know single moms (my former Let's Hear it for Single Mommas post) that are pulling double duty as mom and dad, but there's so much more to being a dad than just showing up.

Unfortunately, as I know from friends, family, and other single moms, there are some dads that don't even show up. And others that think just showing up however little that may be is enough. However, I have countless friends as a child and now as a mother that have true dads in their lives. Because as the saying goes any man can be a father, but it takes a real man to be a dad. That's why too being a dad isn't always about being blood either.

These dads, whether they are our own fathers or the man we went into this parenting gig with, they're in it 100% whether they're playing catch, braiding hair, kissing boo boos, giving encouragement, playing barbies or trucks, or just fishing. They love their kids, they love their families, and they've accepted that the road is not always, that it takes a team to raise a family, and they ready to give it everything they have.

All the great dads in our lives

Check out my book about motherhood and family in our 21st Century digital world. Get the ebook here or purchase a copy of the print version here. 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Connecting the Common Core to the Demand of More from the Middle Class

I've decided I'll throw in my two cents on this whole teachers complaining about all the education reform. First, people always resist change. People always grumble when things change. Any change comes with growing pains, whether it's as an individual,  group, community,  or even a whole society. There are going to be mistakes and more changes as things are adapted to make them hopefully more effective.

As a high school teacher, and I emphasize high school here, I don't really have major complaints yet. Do I think common core implementation and the new evaluation system need some more work? Yes, but I'm willing to see what comes of this reform. The other thing I've learned is success with change takes time. Sometimes lots of time. One year is not enough time to judge the success of something like education reform.

However,  I think the bigger problem is this. The teacher is the middle class worker the media has decided to zoom in on; however, their complaint of having to do more is not just their complaint.  I know middle class workers in all types of fields, many of those in a public service job. Whether it's corporations or public service the demand is always for more. And in a struggling economy in which the middle class is living paycheck to paycheck they give more, spreading themselves thin to fulfill the quantity of tasks demanded of them, abandoning quality at times. I know more middle class workers than I count that pick up over time or work second jobs in order to pay for the ever increasing prices of gas, groceries,  and utility bills even though this constant demand for more does not come with more money.

What you and I make as a teacher, social worker, police officer, firefighter,  or middle class government or business job should be enough. It would be if the expenses for everything we need to live wasn't constantly increasing. But middle class has become paying our taxes and bills with little left. Maybe we're tired of your demand for more and maybe the middle class worker whether it s a teacher or someone else is taking a stand.

For now I can still manage my workload much the same as I have the nine years before this one. But I have a life to live and a family to enjoy as does everyone else, and as the quantity of what is demanded is increased for the middle class worker the quality of what we produce as a society in all fields is going to decrease. Maybe all the big brothers should think about that when they re running their numbers.

Teachers care about the work they do as do as do many other workers. They're there to educate the kids, and they want their time to go to that, not to these other tasks that sometimes have nothing to do with their assigned instructional position.

There is the debate right now about whether common core is the right educational reform for our children, but I think the other half of the argument isn't just about teachers. It s about the middle class.

Check out my book about motherhood and family in our 21st Century digital world. Get the ebook here or purchase a copy of the print version here.  Check out the excerpt from Chapter 1 Letting Supermom Go

Friday, June 13, 2014

Adult Decisions are Hard

I ve reached a point where making that decision to come east almost ten years ago was easy compared to the one we re debating on making sometime in probably the next thirteen months. I only had myself to think about then. Now I have myself, my husband, and our two daughters. Now I have to think like an adult rather than an impulsive woman child.

We ve always talked about how at some point after Nate finished grad school and before the girls got too far into school we d consider relocating. We don't have family here so we don't have that to tie us here. However we started our careers here, have two houses here, our girls were born here, and we have several close friends here we d hate to leave. Not only that but for the most part we love Maryland. The beaches, mountains, and several big cities are all so close.

However now that we have the girls I would love to be 10 hours or less from my family rather than the 17 we are now. There are a few places we' ve discussed that we would love to live once we got through the rough transitioning part because if there s anything I ve learned from moving over the last ten years is even as excited as we may be about it, transition is always a little rocky with some growing pains along the way. There are many pros and cons to this. It is not a simple decision even as much as some would like to think it should be a no brainer.

Well, Nate justed finished grad school, and Ave is starting kindergarten this fall. Due to limited options here for what he wants to do, we've started discussing if maybe now is the time for that relocation we've always talked about. I've always thought of this as something in the future with no definite time frame,and now I'm stumped at the fork in the road. I thought we had a little further to go before we'd reach this point of having to decide which way to go.

In all honestly I don't know if I'm ready yet. Sometimes I think we should sit on it for a year to either talk ourselves into it or out of it. However, he started sending applications out to here and in other states. We keep saying just because he applies else where doesn't mean we're relocating. He's not pushing it too hard like we would be if we knew for sure we did want to relocate. So for now I'm relying on my good ole belief in what is meant to be will be. If nothing comes of this I can relax and enjoy next school year while we weigh our way through the pros and cons and plan a possible more definite, aggressive attack towards possibly making the relocation thing happen a year from now. If something does well I followed him across the country once so I'll be right beside him to do it again!

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