Friday, December 14, 2012

Almost there

We are winding down closer to the break. Thank God. I know every year I say I don't think I have ever needed a vacation as desperately as I do this year,but I think that is really truly the case this year. Nate and I both are extremely exhausted and overwhelmed. He s in a class right now that meets every Saturday between Thanksgiving and Christmas, which also means he has to cram all the work into those four short weeks.

We're trying to get ready for the holidays, getting ready to move, have to get everything ready at work to turn around and be gone for a week after I go back in January for Tam's wedding, getting to the point where I need to do things for Tam's wedding.

And Averi I think is picking up on our overstessed, overwhelmed vibes or we're just really that impatient with her she's misbehaving a ton lately. She's even had four accidents in this four week stretch, and she hasn't had an accident since probably the summer sometime. Then on top of it all, her school was randomly shut down this Wednesday and we have not heard one thing from management on why or when it'll be back open. So she's back at Kate's right now, which is saving me a ton of money, which is helpful, but I don't want her out of school for too long so we need to figure something out with that.

Kenzi is finally a walker!!!  And she's so proud of herself. She was taking steps at 12 months but she's definitely walking a lot more now. She still walks on her knees and crawls quite a bit too. I see now why my family was so amused that I walked on my knees. She can really get to moving.

Averi had her first dance recital. It was really cute and she did well. She definitely likes her dance and gymnastics at this age. Planning on putting her back in gymnastics this winter and probably dance but have to find programs near the new house for everything.

We leave next week for Pennsylvania. I'm excited for Christmas but I feel like with Tam's wedding and moving still coming in January and February, getting ready for the holidays has almost been more stress rather than something enjoyable. Ave and I (one weekend with her daddy) have made some kind of Christmas cookies every weekend though. We're making peanut cup ones this weekend. They'll both be fun at Christmas this year though. Kenzi is such a happier one year old than she was a baby. And it's suppose to snow while we're there so I'm pretty excited about playing in the snow with my kids.  Here are a few pics of us getting ready for the holidays.

A fearful world for our children

This is not what I wanted to be writing about but as I sat there holding my squirming baby a little longer, I thought about all the parents that wouldn't get to hold their children anymore my heart started breaking all over again. As a teacher and especially as a parent, it is so hard to process something so unbelievably tragic as what happened at Newtown. We all wonder how this could happen, why it happens, what can we do to keep it from happening again? We want to blame guns or policy or whatever sound thing we can point a finger at, but at the end of the day after a rough day in a profession that exposes me to so many harsh realities of so many people's lives out there, the conclusion I came to was that there's so many broken people out there. Broken people that never got the help they should have that then choose to retailate against the world.

We all want schools or government to fix this and fix that when really we need to look within ourselves to fix the problems. Weapons don't kill people. People kill people. Love is the biggest gift of all, but it amazes me how many people feel unloved or go through life without anyone caring enough to notice their mental instability. Why is it so hard to give love? Why do we want to hurt one another? Why are we so broken that we can't love one another? That mothers and fathers don't love their children. I don't know the story behind this murderer but obviously he didn't feel any love or compassion in his heart. Why? I don't know. But I know what I've seen through a decade of working with America's youth. There are way too many children that go through life feeling unloved, unwanted, and when their mental health starts to deteriate no one cares enough to get them the help they need. What kind of adults do you think those children become? Some overcome this yes but some turn into the monsters we see in the news headlines.

This lack of love is what results in so many tragedies that occur in our society EVERYDAY in so many different ways. Know your family, know where they're at, know how they feel, talk about those feelings, help them, get them the resources they need, and for the love of God love them. Love is said to be the greatest gift of all and just as I believe in God, I believe in the power of love. Unconditional love. We need to rebuild a world of love not of hate.

This is a reaction to another tragedy in our society as well as a reflection to the sadness I see in my job and hear through others' similiar occupations in public servitude. I don't know the facts, I don't know his reasoning, but it just leaves me asking the question again of why is it easier for some to hate rather than love? Why is easier to hurt than mend? What creates that kind of mental state that we hate so much we want to bring pain upon another person?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Sometimes you just have to laugh at yourself

Here's seven reasons why I know it's been a long, exhausting week.

1. Last night, I passed out on my bed before ten for once but was still in my work clothes. And I was still wearing them the next morning when I woke up!

2. Because I passed out when I wasn't exactly ready for bed yet, I took a shower in the morning for the first time ever because at this point everything starts running together and I fear it's been too long since my last one that I may scare my coworkers and friends away.

3. I had to wear a maternity shirt to work today because well, my clothes are either in that dirty pile by the door, buried somewhere in the  basket of clothes I folded days ago, or somewhere in the washer or dryer all the way down in the basement. And it was just too much work at six in the morning to see what was possibly clean.

4. I wore my glasses for the third day in a row because it just takes too much effort to put them in, and it seems like every other day I have them in the wrong eyes! Then I end up going through half the work day feeling crossed eye. At some point whether it s the morning when I'm still half asleep or the evening when my functioning capabilities are at about negative ten, I can't seem to tell my right from my left. Or it's that sneaky little elf on a shelf that everyone's buzzing about on facebook. Maybe he's trying to trick me and switches them at night.

5. The mess in my 31 year old self's bedroom would put my teenage self's bedroom to shame.

6. Because the thought of dragging two kids to the grocery store after 7 pm seemed like the most daunting task ever, my dog at cereal for dinner. Why cereal? Because one of my children thought they should dump the remaining amount in the bag ALL over the kitchen table. Including all those little tiny crumbles that are at the bottom of the Life cereal bag. So I solved two problems with one solution. I cleaned up the mess by sweeping it all onto the floor and bunching it together in a pile and let the dog have at it.

7. Went to grab lunch out of the fridge for work this morning and my options were two chicken strips in which one was half eaten or a piece of pizza which someone already took a bite out of! I mean really? At this point, my thinking was "what the hell!?!" My life is like the freaking twilight zone.

When I really stop and think about all the chaos that surrounds my life and think about all the demands that are coming from every which way with parenting, work, the house, buying a new house, and other family committments, I honestly don't think I have ever been as overwhelmed and at a loss as to how to handle it as I have been these last few months. But this will pass, as do all overwhelming, frustrating, stressful times. And yes, I'm sure I could get better organized, or do this or do that, but in the reality of harsh life realities this is really nothing. Life could be so much worse and I would take this stress any day over so many other worse situations. Then I remind myself how incredibly blessed and fortunate I am, and when I think back on those pile up of  things that occurred in the last twenty four hours and instead of crying about it all, I just had a good laugh at myself.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

30 + days of thanks...

So the month of November has just about passed me by but that means we're closer to Christmas and winter break so I'm good with that. But I don't want to miss the 30 days of thanks even though we all know we're thankful twelve months, 365 days of the year, not just in November and Thanksgiving day. But it's a good time to really reflect on the people that really do make a positive influence on my life. I've never really thought of myself as a whiner or complainer but I've definitely been one of late. So for this post, it's going to be all about those wonderful things, primarily the people, in my life. So here we go....

1. I'm thankful for my boss, yes, that's right people, my first thanks is towards my boss. I don't really think of her like a boss most of the time. But more as the big sister I never had. The woman is a saint. She carries a lot on her shoulders personally, as well as all that crap that comes with our wonderful (staying positive remember) job. There have definitely been times with this rough school year that her encouraging words have gotten me through the day, the week, the next five minutes.

2. I'm thankful for my coworkers. First for the two front office secretaries for dealing with my grumpiness and going out of their way to bring a smile to my face to brighten my day. A former instructional assistant of mine who will still stop by to help me with paperwork. The English office department for just being fantastic. Whether it's work related or mommy related they are always a great source of information and encouragement.

3. I'm thankful for my fellow mommas (I'll mention a few individually in a moment) because sharing our experiences, advice, and insight can be so helpful sometimes. They're just a good listening ear.

4. I'm thankful for our Miss Kate. Even though she no longer watches Averi, we have continued to stay in touch with her the last year, and she will be watching Kenzi in the spring when we move, but she's someone else that I feel has become a substitute family member. She's like my surrogate mother. She adores my children, always willing to help us out in whatever way she can, and is always our cheerleader and in our corner with whatever latest fisco we're trying to tackle.

5. I'm thankful for Ms. Derry, Averi's preschool teacher. Averi adores her, and she is totally one of those people who was put on this Earth to teach small children. She has the "teaching"  gift, and I appreciate the wonderful relationship she has with my daughter.

6. I'm thankful for Ms. Sandy. She takes care of my littlest monster, Kenzi Grace, and has been such a huge help with this transition time between last year and until we get into our new house.

7. I'm thankful for our friend and previous nanny, Sarah, because I realize now having her at the house with the girls was a HUGE convience for me last year. She totally adores my girls and still loves to spend time with them. And she taught Ave a lot of stuff to get her ready for preschool this year as an added bonus.

8. I'm thankful for Lily,my goddaughter and Kenzi's BFF. Even though Kenz and her only get to spend every day together for these few short months at the beginning of the school year, they've become quite the little friends and I hope that friendship continues to grow as they do.

9. I'm thankful for my childhood best friend, Kristal. We've been friends for over twenty years now and even though we live different lives now half a country apart from one another, we still manage to see each other a few times a year and give our girls a chance to get to know one another.

10. I'm thankful for my two college besties, Amy and Amy. We all went to high school together but we all never really became friends until college. Now almost ten years later, we're all still close friends, and even though we don't get to see each other as much as we'd like we still manage to stay in touch and see each other every now and then.

11. I'm thankful for our friends, Dave and Jess. We're out here with no family, and even though you can't replace family, they have become like extra family. When we both stay in town for holidays, we spend them together and our kids have a ball together.

12. I'm thankful for our friends, Adam and Steph. They're always willing to help out with the girls or whatever, and Averi loves her "uncle" Adam.

13 I'm thankful for our friend, Jo Ellen. She's the girls' forever young, wild aunt that always comes bearing gifts from somewhere. She's always there to help when needed with the kids, the dog, or for celebration parties, and she's become a great addition to our family.

14. I'm thankful for my friends, Emily and Sarah. We don't only work together but we all gave birth within a span of eight months so we're great moral support for each other when it comes to motherhood with our particular job.

15. I'm thankful for facebook. Why, facebook? There are soooo many people I would have lost touch with, especially living so far from home, if it wasn't for facebook. There are other people I have reconnected with due to facebook. I love seeing the pictures and keeping up with everyone's lives. Maybe because I tend to have such great friends (that's all of you reading this), but I love seeing all the encouragement and positivity that we spread among each other through social networking.

16. I'm thankful for our health. It has been a rough year at times with my dad's heart condition, my sister is still trying to get her problem fixed, and I don't think they still know what's the matter with my mother in law. Honestly, facing a devasting health issue is probably very possibly my worst fear.

17. I'm thankful for my mother in law. Yes, for some of you that hide from yours, I rather like mine. She's always encouraging to us in whatever crazy endeavor we've decided to embark upon, and she's fun to hang out with and of course adores her grandchildren.

18. I'm thankful for my husband's grandmother. Even though she's 78 years old, there have been many times she's come down here, and even though we tell her not to get carried away with "helping us", just being here to play with the girls, watch them in the tub, or whatever, has always been such a HUGE help. And she reminds me of my own grandmother that passed away over a decade ago, and who doesn't love a sweet, loving grandma.

19. I'm thankful for my husband's family. They have always treated me like one of them, and I always look forward to my time up there.

20. I'm thankful for my cousin, Leslea. We have definitely had our love/hate moments as being only eight months apart, we spent our childhood together in everything from school to the ball field to even in adulthood, giving birth to our daughters in the same year. She's one of the few momma friends I have that actually has a few years of experience ahead of me, and she is always a great listener, advice giver, or just good for mothering support.

21. I'm thankful for all my cousins as we've shared many great memories and moments. I have a huge family and it's all these cousins that make it so great.

22. I'm thankful for my aunts and uncles. They have all done different, special things for me whether it was playing with my sisters and I all the time when were little like my Uncle Keith, or making me my own special strawberry pie like my Aunt Kenna, or still sending me birthday cards with graffiti things like my Aunt Barb, or making the trip south to see me like my Uncle Mike and Aunt Vicki, or teaching me to french braid like my other Aunt Barb.

23. I'm thankful for my Grandma and Grandpa Williams. We could always look up on the hill at whatever softball field we were at and more likely than not we'd find them up there, cheering us on from little league up to state playoff and championsips in softball.

24. I'm thankful for my Grandma and Grandpa Morgante. I didn't get to see them as much as I would have liked but they were there for their big moments in life, and I've always said I want to be them when I retire.
25. I'm thankful for my niece and nephew, Addison and Paxton. I love that my sister's kids are the same ages as mine. I wish they lived closer but even far away I love the relationship Averi and Addi have. They are the bestest of friends (when they're not fighting). And of course I love being an aunt.

26. I'm thankful for my niece and nephew Alaina and Dylan. They gave me my first experience as an aunt when I married their uncle. I have pretty much had the pleasure of watching Alaina growing up and am so proud of the beautiful young woman she's turning into, and love watching what great friends Averi and Dylan have become.

27. I'm thankful for my sisters, Kelly and Tammy. My sisters. These two really do mean the world to me. They're teh reason I wanted Averi to have a sister so much because the bond of sisters really is something incredibly special. They totally get me-the good and the bad. They'll encourage me and tell me how it is. I know I can always count on them. I miss them and wish I could see them more but feel so blessed to have grown up with them.

29. I'm thankful for my dad and mom. Wow, where do I start? My parents were the first to show me what a real marriage takes to succeed and to raise kids. They've always put family first and even though they give it to me how it is, I know if and when I need them, they're there.

30. I'm thankful for my husband. What a journey these nine years have been. Nine years ago this month we met, and it's been a ride ever since. He's always been the dreamer of the two of us, and even though I've always had to be the realist, I love that part of him. I couldn't have asked for a better father for my girls, and even though we've definitely had our ups and downs, I know together we'll find the things we hope for.

31. I'm thankful for my Averiella, my first baby girl. She was the start of the greatest journey ever. I absolutely adore her and she amazes me everyday. Time really does go incredibly fast when you're a parent, and I can't believe she'll be four here in a few months, but I am so proud of her. She brightens my day everyday.

32. I"m thankful for my Nakenzi Grace, my other ray of sunshine. If I thought Averi was a firecracker, then Kenzer is my grand finale of fireworks. The girl has been speaking her mind since before she could talk. She knows what she wants, how she wants it, and when she wants it. But as she progresses from infancy to toddlerhood, she's becoming quite the lovebug. I love to see the complete adoration her and Ave have for one another.

33. I'm thankful for our God. As you can see, I have many incredible blessings in my life. As someone who works with kids and people that have not been so fortunate, I wonder everyday why was I so lucky. I thank him everyday for these wonderful blessings. I am so so thankful for all these wonderful people in my life. There are many more I didn't directly mention on here but I pray God blesses them with good health and happiness with the coming New Year. God Bless!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A harsh reality America doesn t want to see

I am frustrated beyond belief right now. I have yet to make it through a full five work week without ending up in tears at some point. Luckily, due to the school calander, personal reasons, or weather events I haven't had too many full weeks. How I am going to make it through December until Christmas break, I do not know. I am so afraid I am mentally going to crack and for the first time I am giving in and called the doctor to see if there's any happy pills I can get to help me survive other people's children. I cannot take the rude, disrespect not only for myself but towards everyone. These kids (and by this I mean a smaller group but they're making huge impacts) have no respect for the teachers, for the building, for their own peers that do care about their education, and usually none for their own parents as well.  But you know it's public education, they have the right to an education. But that DOES NOT GIVE THEM the right to treat people like the scum at the bottom of their shoe. Society needs to decide that this is UNACCEPTABLE and will not be tolerated and make some drastic change.

Everyone from the students, parents, the policy makers, to the general public period keeps asking what are we doing to increase student achievement. What are WE doing? Someone needs to take a real deep look at what the STUDENTS are doing. Let me tell you what the ones that aren't passing assessments and being promoted to the next grade are doing. They're listening to music WHILE THE TEACHER IS INSTRUCTING, they're laying their heads on their desks, they're texting on their phone, they're talking to their buddy that is sometimes ACROSS THE ROOM, they're throwing paper balls at one another, they're shouting out random outbursts, they're cussing at one another, they're stopping the teacher's insruction to argue with him or her about why they have a zero (hmmm no work usually equals a zero!), about going to the bathroom, about how they supposedly weren't talking, about having their phone or ipod out. I am going to record every minute of my class time next week or maybe the week after to give an actual assessment of how much of my time is spent with handling misbehavior and class management rather than instructing. I think this is a reality people need to be aware of. I don't know for sure until I document it but I'm guessing almost half of my class period on a daily basis goes to behavior management rather than instructing. Then there are the poor kids that care about their education, that want to learn, that are paying a HUGE price because society has made it so administration's hands are tied. There are very few discipline measures they're allowed to used. Policies are concerned about suspensions and want kids in school. Who cares that 25 other kids' education is suffering because the kid who doesn't care about his is disruptive and disrespectful but we have to give him a public school education. Society needs to accept some people are just failures. Some times you have to cut your losses. And yes those are harsh words, but you can't force something a person doesn't want on them. And I want it very clear here that I am not talking about any particular class or group of people. I teach to an extremely diverse group of students, and one thing I have learned from them and dear friends and family is that no matter your race, your hardships, your income it all boils down to the individual. Some might say so you're giving up on the kid that s been abadoned by his family and suffered from abuse and this and that. Yes, because you can't help someone who doesn't want to help themself. I have worked with a bunch of kids that amaze and awe me because they have overcome horrendous situations and they push and push themselves to find success. And no they're not the brightest kid but they'll find success somewhere because they valued their education and they worked hard!

I know this is not meant to be a ranting place but as I listen to my fellow teachers and other mommy teachers, I know this is something that is affecting everyone's mental health, spirits, and for those of us that are mommas we're bringing this home with us. This frustration is taking us over and interfering with the time we have with our own children. When I say our sanity is at stake here I really don't believe I am exaggerating. I need to be in a more postive, less frustrated mental state for my own children, as well as the children who are there for their education. This goes beyond the classroom when I say we can't keep letting the majority of us in society pay the price for the minority that can't get it together for themselves.

Friday, November 9, 2012

My tinkerbell doesn't fly :(

So I got to leave work the other morning in order to spend it in urgent care with little miss Averi. My child that thinks she can fly like Tinkerbell. She has these green tinkerbell wings that a friend got her last year and she had put them on the night before. I remember her having them on, and I remember her complaining when she came downstairs later that her knee hurt. At that point she was sitting at the computer desk and I thought she had bumped her knee on it and was just whining about it. And the next morning when we all got up to go to school and work together, she was whining and crying about it still. But again, she whines and cries every morning so I pretty much just yelled at her to quit whining and hurry up before she made me late to work. If you know Averi, you know she can be quite the little actress anyway. She s dramatic about everything. When Nate went to drop her off at school and she was still whining about her knee hurting, the teacher felt around her knee and found this nasty, weird lump behind her knee under the skin. And it was the teacher that said "Um, you should probably go get this looked at." So a day later, I come to the realization "oh, she maybe actually hurt herself." On the way to urgent care I asked her what was she doing again to hurt it. And when she said "Mommy, I was just trying to fly off my bed like Tinkerbell" those wings from the night before all of sudden made sense. Needless to say, she doesn't fly so well. At first the doctor thought she had just a sprained knee but then after evaluating x rays, he referred us to an orthopedic specialist because he was worried about a possible tear. So now we're going to see the specialist next Friday.

Quite, honestly, I'm surprised it took three and half years for the first injury incident with that girl. How do things like this and my not even one year old infant that is suppose to be in her crib end up sitting at the top of the stairs with her big sister? Well, I don't know. I'm cooking dinner, doing the dishes,  picking up the toys,  throwing in a load of laundry, or I'm givng my brain a five minute break and chatting on facebook. And that's how things like Averi thinking she needs to rescue her sister or attempt to fly happens. If you know her, you know she's a pretty well behaved child but very smart and just a tad adventurous.

A few weeks earlier I was downstairs doing a load of laundry. I knew Kenz had woken up from her nap so I told Ave she could go visit and make her happy like she usually does until I came up there. Instead when I started up the stairs, I found them both sitting at the top of the stairs. Averi had Kenzi on her lap, ready to go down the stairs sled ride style. Nate was also up there laying in our bed at the time so after first I thought  he got her out of the crib. But no. Averi said, "She wanted out, Mommy, I was just helping her." Oh, yes, Averi to the rescue for her little sister. I stil don't really know how exactly Averi got her out. I'm thinking maybe Kenz is the one that has Tinkerbell wings because I know Ave had to get in the crib with her and lifted her over the rail. And I guess dropped her to the ground. Maybe a little pixie dust helped in her landing.

Hopefully, the specialist finds Ave's knee to just be sprained. And maybe she learned a lesson that she's not quite in the same league as her Disney heros. In the meantime, I guess there's no time for napping on the job of parenting A & N because you never know what the two of them will be up to next.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

One year with our Nakenzi Grace

One year ago today, we welcomed our Nakenzi Grace into this world! It's so hard to believe it's been a year already. The birth of my two daughters is by far two of my most treasured memories. Those moments are have to be one of the  most surreal moments in life's experiences. Even for fathers;  I know for my husband they were moments he'll always remember. However, Kenzi's birth panicked him more than Averi's. It was more the aftermath part, when I started losing a lot of blood I guess that the experience took a rather negative dive for him. Lucky, for me I was rather unaware of the situation and was a little too out of it from either the lose of blood or lack of food, to recognize everyone's concern. Luckily though they just kept me in the labor and delivery room longer than normal and I had to stay hooked up to IV for an extended amount of time in case I had to be rushed to the OR but everything worked out fine and the concern and worry was just for precaution.

And our little Kenzi Grace was demanding from the start. Our second night in the hospital, Nate decided to go home to be with Averi who was staying with his grandma. Kenzi cried and wanted to nurse ALL NIGHT LONG. I think I spent the majority of the night crying from exhaustion, pain from nursing, probably hormonal balance because I wanted everyone from my husband, to my mom, to my dad, and no one was there. It was just me and my crying, demanding baby. I almost called Nate to come back so many times but held myself back.

Unfortunately, it didn't get better from there at first. She cried for hours everyday. The doctor never said she was necessarily colic, and my mother and sisters were constantly telling me to quit nursing her. But I struggled enough as it was to produce enough milk to keep up with her eating and knew I probably wouldn't do it very long anyway but wanted to nurse her as close to the six months I nursed Averi for so I kept nursing her. And she did become a little less cranky around five months when she could start to crawl, but when I quit nursing her around seven months, she was still fussy and upset frequently. And even though throughout this second half of the year, she does seem to be getting happier, we've come to realize maybe she wasn't necessarily colicky but just asseserting her opinion and voice from the start!

She does love her big sister. And I LOVE to watch her and Averi interact together. They truly do adore each other, and they really do get along great. They will play and play together. And Averi is Kenzi's little rescuer. She constantly defends her, gets things for her, helps her, calls her her baby. And Kenz gets so excited to see Averi when she wakes up from sleeping or when we get there to pick her up from daycare.I always remind Averi how a sister is the most special gift she's recieved (at this point until we hopefuly have a little brother).

Raising these two girls are by far the biggest reward of life. I know I complain frequently about having to be a working momma, but I truly do love this time in their lives even though it can be a tough and challenging time.  I know it's going to go by so fast and before I know it they'll be teenagers busy with their own lives and then adults starting their own families. I know Nathan and I love them both more than life and hope as they grow they're comforted and confident in that. As a little girl, you play with your dolls, dreaming of your "adult" life when you'll be the mommy, and it stills awes me that I am know living the reality of that dream. I think for both of us, the family we've created and continue to grow together is a dream we both treasure. The reality of your dreams are always a little tougher than when you imagine them as a little girl because life in adulthood is not quite as simple as it looked through your adolescent eyes, but I have to say the love you feel for your children and the emotional joy at their birth is one of the moments of reality that surpass what you imagined in your own childhood dreams. We love you more than we can say, Nakenzi Grace, and are so very blessed that you joined our family a year ago!
                                                            Nakenzi Grace 11/3/11
                                                           Taking care of her baby sis
                                                                  1 month old
                                                                2 months old              
                                                                  3 months
                                                                     5 months
                                                                  5 months
                                                                   6 months
                                                                         7 months
                                                                   8 months
                                                               8 months
                                                                   9 months
                                                                  10 months
                                                            11 months
                                                   Happy first birthday, Kenzi Grace!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane break...

So I feel guilty that I am sooooo glad there is no work tomorrow due to the hurricane. And hopefully, it's one of those times where the weathermen got a little over excited and things won't be as bad they're afraid they can be. It does sound like some people in some places are going to get hit pretty hard so as much as I'm thankful for my unplanned extended weekend, I pray everyone stays safe and escapes the storm with as little disruption to their lives as possible.  Quite honestly, between the two snowmageddons we've experienced here, Hurricane Irene last August, and that crazy derecho this past summer, I don't think anyone should take these storm threats lightly. In the meantime,  I'll enjoy my much needed day at home with my family, and pray others stay safe.

And why do I feel tomorrow is such a much needed day home. Because this working momma of two has found this year to be the exhausted, overwhelming experience I had such anxiety about last year when I went back to work in January. Why is it so bad this year? I think a couple things have contributed to it. One, was even though it was only January when I went back, it was only nine weeks or so to Spring Break and then that final countdown to summer, and I think that light at the end of the tunnel cheered me on. I now know what a HUGE help it was having Sarah at my house last year and not having to add time to my day with dropping and picking up at two different places (as always my kids are spending their days with great people but there really is a big added bonus  when the sitter is  at your home). Nate's also in the thick of this graduate program he started so he's busting his butt with a job that already demands a lot of extended hours on top of classes that are working him like it's the only thing he has going on in life, which leaves me single parenting it half the time. Work has just really rough this year, and I don't think I'm alone in this so I don't think it's just because I have small kids at home. Everyone just feels like we've been beaten down to the point that we typically feel in March but it's only October! And I just hate, hate how everyone else's kids suck all my patience and time out of me during the day that by the time I get home I'm too tired and impatient with my own children. I get them for a few short hours an evening, especially Kenz who goes to bed so early at 730. I'm always torn between rushing my kids to bed so I can wrap up the day's work and have a few minutes to relax or pushing back their bedtime. And even though it may be "bad parenting" for all those parents that are all about routime, but I usually judge it based on them. If they're happy and in good moods then I don't see the harm in pushing back their bedtime. But when they're driving me crazy after a long day of everyone else's kids on my last nerve, they're off to bed. As I told Nate, there just is NOT enough hours in the day. I think if the day was just a little longer, I wouldn't be so irritable about it all, which is why in the next year or so I'm hoping we can cut down the hours in my work day. I never thought I d really want to be a stay at home mom, but I have been looking into something, anything  that will give me an option to be less stressed and give more of myself to my kids. Just afraid by the time I figure that out my kids will all be in school. In the meantime,  it is what it is, and I know many other mamas are in the same boat so for now I suppose I just better suck it up and do it too! Can't change it right at this moment.

On the positive side, we've had some fun family weekends the last few weekends. We've been to the pumpkin patch, the parks, carved pumpkins, had a visit with Grandma, and celebrated Kenzi's first birthday! So it's been a busy last two weekends. I can't believe our second baby is going to be one already! She has been happier this second half of the year and I hope that continues to be the case. I don't know why, but I worry so much that her crankiness as a baby is a sign that she's going to be an unhappy person as she goes through life. I just want her to be happy and love life like the rest of our crazy family. Averi finished soccer, and I have to say Nate and I found it almost a painful experience. And Averi is not a fan. She actually ran to kick a ball in the game yesterday but when she saw another boy coming up beside her, she took off and ran the other way. Poor kid. It was too aggressive of an activity for her. She frequently tells us now how she likes dance and gymnastics better so I guess we'll stick with that for now. I'm hoping she likes Tball a lot better, which it's not a contact sport and she's pretty good at hitting and throwing the ball so hopefully it'll go a little better. But it wouldn't surprise me if she ends up being the first girly girl of the Williams bloodline. But no matter what she or Kenz do I'll be there to watch it all and enjoy it, even if it's something as awful as three year old soccer.
                                                               Love this big smile
                                                   She loved the birthday cake.
                                      One of the few happy pictures of her enjoying the park.
                                                               Our big girl.
                                                                  Our diva.

                                                          Playing in the pumpkin patch.
                                  Not so excited about digging out the inside of the pumpkin.
Going to enjoy tomorrow and probably Tuesday, as well, hanging with my girls. I love all those cuddle moments. Even Kenzi has become quite cuddly lately! I love it. Why do they have to grow so fast?! I always just want to squeeze them so hard when they let me hold them. Afraid I'm going to close my eyes and wake up to find them grown and not able to fit on my lap anymore.Stay safe East Coast.

Friday, October 5, 2012

October is here and fun is around the corner!

Kenz and I are at home taking a sick day today. This awful cold that's been taking people out left and right at work has been chasing people in my household for a good week or so now. Averi who always seems to be able to get rid of germs with a quick sneeze, coughed for a bit and of course now looks to be cured. Kenzi on the other hand is the opposite. This darn thing seems to have latched onto her and just won't let go. I have never seen so much snot come out of a kid's nose like I have with hers lately. Then I have the stuffy head and sore throat thing going on. I think I've had a slight fever too. That or maybe I'm going through early menopause. Hope not!

Aside from not very successfully avoiding the negative thing about Fall of being sick, we are enjoying Fall. It really is such a great time of the year. Averi is super excited about Halloween. Having little kids just makes this time of the year so exciting again! In so many ways it's like we get to be kids again. I can look forward to trick or treating again. And all that candy! We monitor Ave's sugar, junk food intake fairly well. The kid has a ridiculous amount of energy as it is; she does need anything else to fuel that engine of hers. But since there's still Halloween, Christmas, and Easter candy in our cabinet, obviously Nate and I aren't that big of candy eaters either. Those reese peanut butter cups and snicker bars won't last long though.

I always look forward to the cooler weather with open windows, sweaters and boots, and falling leaves. Then comes Thanksgiving and from there it's the Christmas season! Christmas with little kids is so magical. I will be so sad when my kids no longer believe in Santa Claus. It will break my heart all over again. And their Christmas lists just keep growing and growing. I think Mommy and Daddy see more things they want than they do themselves. That's always such a fun date for Nate and I anyway dinner and christmas shopping. Even though I want my kids to experience picking out a real Christmas tree we are not spending the astronomical amount we spent last year. If it's going to be that much again, our tree farm will be Lowes. Then last year we did not only get tricked into buying a very crooked almost $100 tree but it fell off our SUV on 695! So hoping for a better real tree experience this Christmas.

Aside from being sick the girls are doing great. Averi loves school, and she's learning so much. She can pretty much write her name now. As well as her letters up to E I think. She finally sings her ABCs with all of the ABCs. She likes dance but not soccer so much. She likes it when she's kicking a ball by herself but not so much when there are ten kids swarming around a ball, pushing and shoving each other to kick it. Aggressive sports may not be her forte, but she is only three so we'll check back in a few years.

Kenzi on the other hand is the school bully and may need to be in about five aggressive sports to manage her anger problem. That girl has spoken her mind since she was born. Now she torments her older sister at times as well as her poor BFF at daycare. I've said for months now that that girl is going to speak to her mind. I m hoping as she learns to talk and communicate in some other than screaming here sometime soon. But she is getting close to walking. Which even though I've been through this once and they say it only gets harder after they start walking, I'm ready for to be able to walk. And the Averi better watch out! But on the other hand considering their escapades with the crib and carseat, maybe Nate and I better watch out!

Friday, September 21, 2012

A parent's gift

So I've started this blog about three times this week I think. Just like it's been for the last month it's been another week or highs and lows. I always feel like in the beginning of the week I got this working mom juggling act down and then by the end of the week I feel like ducking down and covering my head to keep all the balls from bouncing off my head. But I know I am not alone on this struggle. I follow many of my friend's same struggle through either their blogs or facebook posts or telephone calls as is the case with my sister, and they give me hope and inspire me everyday that this is possible and we are doing right by the choices we've made. For many of us, our own mothers were able to stay home with us and we are the first women in our families to be full time working mommas. I look up to so many of these women, whether they're the veteran moms I work with or my coworkers that completely know the balance we must have with our job and families at home or my long time friends that are experiencing similiar situations with new babies and full time jobs. It is a tough job but one that is so worth it everyday for so many different reasons.

I will often say to my husband how maybe I should stay home but even as often as I say that I know teaching has become a part of who I am, and I really couldn't walk away from it as easily as I say I could sometimes. At this point in my ninth year of teaching I have probably worked with close to a thousand students, and as challenging as they can be sometimes, I also find their stories heartbreaking but so inspiring at the same time. And the thing I find so achingly sad is how many parents are too busy for their kids. I've coached five different seasons and after reading countless personal narratives and poems, it absolutely breaks my heart to hear over and over again how sometimes the only thing these kids want are for their parents to come to their game, come see them sing, come watch them in the school play, but they're too tired, too drunk, too busy, or just not there for whatever reason. People that don't truly know and understand teenagers will bad mouth them and talk like they're all these crazed, angry adolescents, but a lot of them really do respect their parents and just crave their positive attention and when you show them you care and listen and be there for them, they're good kids just waiting for someone to listen to their story and cheer them on in their endeavors. Some of these kids have experienced things many will never have to experience in their lives, some of them are here in this country alone chasing a dream of opportunties that too many of us take for granted, and it's their perseverance that inspires me that anything is possible.

I look at my own daugthers everyday and know that the best thing we can give them is our unconditional love, shower them in positive attention, and be there for them in every endeavor them embark upon. Unfortunately, from mine and my husband's experience with teaching I feel that a stable home is less common than an unstable home. I know now how incredibly lucky I was for the upbrining I received and that it was incredible gift my parents gave to me and my sisters, and for reasons that are understandable and reasons that aren't this is not always possible.  This is a gift I know my husband and I work so hard together to give our girls.

I listen to all our struggles as I mentioned earlier and just as most thing in life are never really easy, I know I am surrounded by strong, inspiring women that understand everything that goes into filling this role that we fill. Even though the adjustment back to work with two babies has been rather rough at times, I'm going to focus on the positive that I have amazing people in my life that make everything I do totally worth even the craziest moments. First, my students because I continue to teach because many of you inspire me, my fellow mommas because I look up to you whether your babies are grown or newbies, my own mother and father because they also made me who I am whether they like it or not (haha) and provided us with a beautiful childhood, my sister and cousin, who is like another sister, for always being my first supporters and listening ear as the three of us have embarked on motherhood together,  my husband who is my rock way more than he realizes and who has been through all the ups and downs and crazy moments these last eight and half years, and my beautiful, sweet daughters that make me want to be the best for them to show them that life is beautiful and still full of hope and dreams.

                                                           My big girl starting preschool
                                                          Kenzi cheering on the Steelers
                                                          Family date night at Port Discovery

Saturday, September 1, 2012

A mother's worst fear

As a mother there is no doubt that we all share the same worst fear. And that fear is something happening to our child(ren). Earlier this week there was a school shooting in one of the other high schools in our district. Not too long ago, we all listened in horror to the details of the Batman shooting rampage in Colorado. I also learned of a classmate who passed away recently, just a few years after his younger brother. Once you've become a mother, none of these deaths, even though you may not even know the child, goes unnoticed.

News of these incidents strike horror into your heart and the first person you think of is that poor child's mother. And father because I know without a doubt my husband, the father of my children, would be just as devasted as I would be. And I will continue to think about them often. A friend's 10 year old cousin died from a brain tumor years ago, and I still think of that little girl and her parents often. The weekend I was going to get married, the younger sister of a girl I knew years before, drowned in a flash flood. And there are many more I remember. Both mine and Nate's grandparents have had to experience the loss of a child  that died in their early 40s, as well as my friend whose mother has lost two of her children already, and even though they're not 10 or 16, their deaths are still heartbreaking and just as hard to bear. A mother still lost her child.

These stories haunt me and in a lot of ways even though I may not have known some of them personally I think they will forever because as a mother now it is my very worst fear that I will experience the unbearable pain they've had to and will continue to  experience. And the awful thing is every time you hear one of these horrible stories, you're heartbroken yes but thankful it's not you and praying  that for whatever reason you are spared from having to experience the most devasting experience imaginable.

I am a firm believer in God, but it doesn't change that I don't understand. Why are some given so much heartache and others spared? I believe we continue to live on once we have left our earthly bodies, and that those that have passed have gone on to a better place, but even the reassurance of that doesn't lessen my fear. And I thank Him every day for my family and the incredible blessings in my life and pray that He keeps my children safe and healthy. And not only do I fear such a horrible event in my life but I fear what it would do to my relationship to Him. I wouldn't doubt his existence but I don't know if I'd ever get past the anger of why.

So what do we do? Do we hide our children? Do we never let them leave home? We can't put them in a bubble. It's a scary world out there. I tell myself to trust in God, have faith in the good of humanity, and raise my children to have faith and make smart choices to avoid situations that put them in harm's way. But the darkness of the world always lurks there in the background.

My heart aches for all those parents out there that have had to experience such devastion. I hope you have found peace. I learned long ago, at the age of twelve to be exact, when I saw a parent, a brother, a sister, a daughter and son, wife, lose their son, brother, father, and husband, that nothing is guaranteed to us in this life. And to tell the people you love that you love them,and make the most of every moment because no matter how long the people we love are here for it's always too short.  God bless.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Here, there, and everywhere

That's about the way my mind feels. Something about the beginning of this school year is just... off. But at the same time I feel excited about work in a way I haven't been in a few years and I have a good feeling in my gut that it's going to be a good year. Maybe it's because I am so excited about so many new things at work and outside of work that has me feeling like I'm running a marathan at a sprint and I'm in dead last. I haven't yet gotten into a rhythm with all the new changes this year.

I'm a floater, which means I don't have a classroom, which I will gladly give up to be back in the building and have access to all the technology I have this year. So I'm having to spend a lot more time planning in order to include more technology and get ready for the new curriculum that is coming out  next year. But because I float I feel like I have my stuff everywhere! Being the organized control freak that I am it drives me a little crazy. I'm also thinking this is not going to be one of my more enjoyable schedules. I feel like about the time I finally get settled into working on something during a break between classes the bell is ringing for the next one to start. I am not in one place for more than 45 minutes all day. I'm transitioning like I'm on an assembly line every 40 minutes to get ready for the next place I'm moving to.

I'm excited about Averi starting school Tuesday! And Kenzi is loving spending her days with her BFF Lily and her grandma. But, I haven't quite fallen into the rhythm yet with dropping off and picking up since last year they were here at the house. And Em and I have enjoyed just lounging around her basement, hanging out in the afternoons while the girls play. After spending our afternoons together for two volleyball seasons it's nice to still hang out but with our girls instead of at practice. And we've even managed to fit in a few walks a week, even with Averi's constant whining of late.

Unfortunately, even right now the evenings have felt rush, rush, rush. For the first time ever, thanks I think to my youngest daughter, I have been making my family stick to a rigid schedule. I've always felt like the only mom that wasn't sold on the constant early to bed regime. But for two weeks now, even if it's the crappiest dinner ever because Nate's not home from work yet and I have to cook, we are eating dinner by 630, kids bathed and getting ready for bed (or quiet time with a movie in her room for Ave) between 7 and 730, house is cleaned up and whatever chores need to be done for the day are finished by 8. Which still with two hours until my bedtime, those hours have felt rushed with my own bath, getting stuff together to do it all over again, and sitting down at the computer to do school work. For the purpose of my sanity, I like the strict routine schedule. But I question myself as to whether I'm putting them to bed so early for their benefit or my own so I can take care of more crap on my to do list and maybe give my brain some time to shut down. For a working momma, the day really does need to be longer than 24 hours. I wonder if we can ask Congress about that? Once I go to bed, I still can't even go to sleep because I'm jumping out of bed every five minutes to write something down on my little sticky notes for this or that because my brain will NOT come out of overdrive. I really wish it had a power button I could push for it to just shut down for a few hours like every other computer.
                                   This is what we really do to the girls in the afternoon at Em's.
So, I don't know. I'm a little overwhelmed. But I'm definitely staying positive and have a good feeling about things. It will all find it's rhythm and I won't be so overcharged.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

So long Summer 2012

Summer is over : ( . And it was great. It really was. We've spent summers taking trips to neat places and doing neat things in the past but I feel like this summer was still one of the better ones even though we didn't go anywhere new. We didn't have any memorable Glenn mishaps like a truck accident (2011) or broken down car that left us stranded for days three hours from home (2010) so that could be some of it. But it was also our first summer as a family of four so maybe that's part of what made it so special.

One of the things I love about having kids is that everything you do is so much fun like you're a kid again whether its the waterpark, boat rides, swimming, carnival rides, or whatever kiddie adventure they want to embark upon. There really is nothing like seeing the world through the eyes of your child. Seeing their joy and excitement at each new discovery makes it so much fun as the parent. This is also the reason why even though I'm bummed that summer is over, I'm also excited for the fall because Halloween and Christmas is soooo much fun again when you have little kids. Kenzi will be all about opening her presents this Christmas, and Averi is becoming more aware of the magic of Santa Claus. I'm already itching to start buying them Christmas presents. Going to have to wait until that bank account starts to accumulate some mula again, but once it does let the Christmas shopping fun begin.

I don't want to dwell too much on the fact that summer is over. I feel incredibly fortunate that I have a job in the first place that allows me this much time off to spend with my children and to travel to see our family. Just as I left you with pictures from our trip to Missouri, I leave you this time with pictures from our trip to Pennsylvania.

At the pool with their cousins, Alaina and Dylan

Averi's first mini golf experience

Boating on Kinzua in New York

Kenzi wants to play too

Averi swimming in the Kinzua Reservior

Averi four wheeling with Daddy

Kenzi first merry go around at the Warren County Fair

Averi loved the fair rides

Spending time with Grandma Lorraine

Hanging out with Aunt Jody

And Grandpa Fred

Averi and her Nana

Here comes that crazy beginning of the school time of year (with two kids this time) so hope it goes as smoothly as craziness can possibly go.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Reflecting and Anticipating

Our summer is winding down and I am definitely a little sad. At the same time I always get a little excited about the upcoming school as if I were a kid again. I even already spent one Saturday night outlining all my unit lessons for the whole year for my eleventh graders and looking up ideas for my HSA prep class so I must be somewhat motivated if I'm doing that. But even though my kids are going to great places as well come this Fall, I'm dreading the hecticness that comes with being a full time working momma. The early mornings (I am not a morning person); the misbehavior and noncompliance of students (seriously if you could get rid of this and the politics that surround education it would be the best job ever); the exhausted feeling in the afternoons when I want to rest but know I should be  and usually do play with my kids; the rush in the evenings for dinner, clean up, baths, and bedtime; and then prep myself to do it all over again tomorrow; and maybe if I'm lucky I get an hour to wind down and look at something work related. I told a friend that if I could work part time on a block schedule it would be perfect because I do love my job but I love my kids more and I hate feeling like I'm stretched too thin to give them the time and attention they deserve.

But Averi starts preschool this Fall so she's super excited. I am too but I'm also terrified. She has never been in a big setting before. She was at a home daycare with usually two or three other small children and then our nanny this past year after her sister was born. Being is a class with fifteen or so other children in a building with probably 100 other children just makes me think of all the negative things she'll be exposed to from crazy amount of germs, to all the bad words and/or gestures kids learn from their homes, to how little kids can be mean and not always her friend (my husband works in elementary schools and little kids know some bad things and can be very mean). I'm sure because Nate and I both work schools and we re constantly amazed at the behavior and things kids KNOW, I'm a little paranoid and I'm sure I'll drive everyone nuts Sept 4 when she starts with my constant worrying. She loves people though and she's so excited about making new friends and going to school. I'm excited to see what she learns and because she's never been in a school setting see how she does academically for her age. She's also going to play soccer this Fall so I'm looking forward to watching that.

As for Kenzi my friend from work mom is retiring and she's going to watch Kenzi and her granddaughter. Even though I know her well and know that Kenz is in great hands August 20 at nine and half months will be the first time I have to drop her off and leave her with someone she doesnt' really know that well. She of course cause she was only two months old didn't know Sarah back in January that well either but she still woke up in her own bed in her familiar house with her big sister everyday. Now that she's older and going through mommy anxiety as it is, having to drop  her off by herself without her big sister, is not going to be easy at first. It's a good thing I'm planning on riding with my friend that day. She likes to talk alot so she'll help distract me; otherwise by myself I would probably cry all the way to work just like I did each time I ve had to leave them for the first time before and every time Averi would go through mommy seperation anxiety even though I was leaving her with her beloved Miss Kate I would still cry on the way to work. As I said though, Kenzi will be in great hands and she'll get a chance to become better friends with my friend's daughter that is only four months older than her. I know once we all fall back into the school routine we'll all, including myself, be fine. It's just a transition I always dread a little.

As for the summer. It's been a great summer. We spent June and the first week of July at home, which may be the longest stretch in a summer that we've ever stayed home. As I mentioned before it was like we vactioned at home and we did a lot of enjoyable local things. We've been back home for a week now and we had a playdate yesterday and a family picnic at the park today. We just got back last week from a two week trip with a weekend stop in Virginia for a wedding, a few days in Kentucky to visit my aunt and grandma before spending a week in Missouri with my family. As always it was great to go home and see my family. I love watching Averi get to play with her cousins. Her and Addi have so much fun together. I wish they could see each other more. It's alwasy a little  depressing when I come home. I do miss my family and now that I have kids, I hate that they only get to see their Papa, Nene, aunts, and cousins three times a year. I love Maryland but as the long two days of driving emphasized again, Maryland to Missouri is soooo far. We talk sometimes of moving somewhere closer, like Chicago or Colorado, but I also know if we're going to do that we'll need to do in the next ten years before Averi gets too far into school and would be more upset about leaving her friends than being a day closer to family. We love our life we've built out here too though but because we moved out here with nothing and knowing no one, I also know we could make a big move and transition like that again and be okay. I guess time will tell and we'll see what the future holds.
                                              Averi and Kenzi with four of their cousins
                                             Family picture at friend's wedding in Virginia
                   Four generations of Italian girls- my grandma, my mom, me, and my daughters
                                        The girls with my sister's two kids, Addi and Paxton
                                              Averi with her best friend and cousin, Addi
                           Averi and Addi riding the waterslide with my sister, their Aunt Tete
                  The six kids again with my sister Kelly and cousin Leslea, who is always sure to make it down from her home in Iowa to see me and the kids when we're in town. This does not go unnoticed. Thanks, cuz, for always making the time.
                                               My parents with their four grandchildren.
                                  Averi and Kenzi in the hotel on the way back to Maryland.
My childhood best friend's daughter, Haleigh. They always come to see us when we're in town too. Thank you.

We're home for one more week before we take off to Pennsylvania for about ten days or so to visit with Nate's family. I'm kind of bummed that we didn't take a vacation, vacation to somewhere new this year but the best year to skip that I figure is the year with a baby. I love to travel. In fact, the word love may be an understatement. My three year old has been to over a dozen states already. So my kids are either going to share our love for traveling or hate it and never want to go anywhere after they ve spent their childhood being dragged all over America. Now that we have children there's so many places left on the travel list that I want to put off until they're a little older so they'll remember and actually get to enjoy the experience with us more. Aren't family vacations part of everyone's favorite childhood memories or is that just my love for traveling blinding me? And when it's all said and done, as much as I'm sure they'll remember some of the great places of America that we'll visit, it'll be those trips up north and out west to see their grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins that will be the ones that they anticipate the most and will be the most treasured memories cause they're the ones with all the people they love. And even though we don't live close to either of our families, I hope my girls learn the true meaning of family and about the commitment and love that comes with family. I grew up where one side of our family was all right there in the same place and the other side lived far from one another. And from both sides, whether they were the ones that lived close or the ones that lived far, some understood what this really meant and others gave me reason to doubt. No matter what obstacle stands in their way-money, work, other people, negative emotions, and whatever other reason that prevents people from making the time,  I want my children to know that you ALWAYS, ALWAYS make the time whether it's a phone call, a letter in the mail (or email these days) a drive across town, or a drive across the country. In the end it's your time you got to spend with them that matters.