Monday, September 29, 2014

There's Self Imposed Mommy Guilt and then there's Child Imposed Mommy Guilt

Mommy Guilt. Something probably every mom knows only too well. I'm well familiar with mommy guilt. I've dealt with it frequently over the past five and half years of motherhood. I've felt guilt for that lazy dinner of chicken nuggets or cereal. I've felt guilt for wanting to take the long way home so I could I use a few extra minutes of peace. I've felt guilt because I work, and someone else has always taken care of my kids for 6-9 hours a day five days a week. Scenario after scenario I've imposed guilt upon myself. No one in particular has ever accused me of being a bad mom because of what I fed my children for dinner on an exhausted night, because I took a moment for myself, or because I work outside the home. The guilt was coming from no one but myself.

I always thought that self imposed guilt made you feel bad enough, but today with a five year I came to the realization I'm about to embark on a lifetime of a whole new level of mom guilt. As I thought about my own relationship with my mother and mother in law I realized this nonsense of mom guilt doesn't end.

I met my kindergartener at the bus stop today. As she gets off she looks all sad and grumpy. I asked her if she fell asleep on the bus again, and she just mumbled something that I thought was acknowledging that she did. She did say she was sleepy. Kind of glad that she was tired, it made it easier to get her in the car to go home rather than drag her away from her friend she rides the bus with. Away from the sitter and her friend from the bus stop, came my first experience with this whole new type of mom guilt.

"Mommy?" she asks. "Why didn't you come to my fun run today?"

"I had to work, honey. I saw the email reminder about it, and if your class would have been the last group running I thought about skipping out early to make it since I don't have an afternoon class.  But I was still teaching my class when your class ran."

"But all the other mommies came, Mommy, I kept looking for you."

And bam. How do you respond to that? Now she's at an age where she can point out all the ways I disappoint her or let her down. Now she can tell me what other moms do and what I don't. Now she can have her own expectations of me that I don't fulfill.

So where do I start in dealing with this?  For today I just told her, "I'm sorry, Ave. You know Mommy rarely misses things you do, but there are going to be times when I can't make something because of work or when your sister gets older because you  both have something going on at the same time.  But every time I'm not there believe me I'm thinking about you and wishing I was there."

I thought back to my own childhood and even a few things that have popped up with students over the years. I also recalled two conversations I've had recently with my mother and mother in law. Lucky for me my parents rarely missed an activity or event. They missed a few here and there. A few do stick with me, but in the end I know they made everything they could. But I know from ten years of working with adolescents though that those missed moments can stick with them way more than we may realize.

Recently after two guilt ridden conversations with both mine and Nate's mother about if and when they may come visit this Fall, I left both conversations realizing "wow, mommy guilt even carries over into your children's adulthood" as it was so obvious they both battled their own tug of war of guilt on making the trip to see us this Fall amidst all the other things and obligations they each having going on in their own lives. I like to think we don't guilt them about making the trip to visit us and that as grown children we're better than my five year old at not making them feel worse than they already do from the self guilt trip they give themselves (course if they read this they may think otherwise, sorry, but it was a good example in helping me see this is something that doesn't necessarily end with age).

Just as our moms do they best can and often have to make choices between us and other things, this will not be the last time I find myself in this situation. Just as I'm learning to handle my own self imposed guilt, I guess over time I will also learn how to deal with the imposed guilt my children place on me. I'm just not sure I have the answer to that today.

Check out these recent posts

Life is Going...   (A look back at life the last month)

Holiday Shopping and Fundraising  (Check out the great products you can buy right here and with all profits going to help with a gift project this holiday season)

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.


Saturday, September 27, 2014

Life is going....

Even though it's been kind of quiet here on the blog front I've had about a half a dozen different blog posts floating around in my head, but I've decided I could put all of them into one post that's really just a whole bunch of rambling reflections of what's been happening for the last month.

Part of the reason behind the quietness is things have either been going so much better and smoother than they have in a long time so I don't feel as much the need to write to relieve my stress, but when it does comes to the things that are on my mind lately they're not things I can or are fully ready to talk about on here.  I'm probably going to be vague, but I feel in the mood to clear my head a little.

Mentally I feel in such a better place than I have been for probably three years. Even though life is never perfect or stress free, I feel I'm in such a better place than I have been in a long time to handle and cope with just daily stresses that in the past I let get to me way too much. I know where I was and know where I am now and being back in the positive up swing of things is such a relief right now.

The first month back to work is going well. Traffic kind of stresses me out. Even though I've gotten my timing down to not only make it into work on time but almost thirty minutes before school starts, just dealing with the city beltway is rarely a pleasant experience. There are so many things I love about all the changes this year, but I never saw where I'm going as being permanent because I know I'll only be able to take the commute for so long but for now I'm content to enjoy this new different for me school year.

I miss my old sitter, but I love having the girls at a sitter near the house. It is so much more convenient, and I've definitely taken advantage of the hour window between when I get home and when Ave gets off the bus. I love my kids and I love spending time with them and maybe to some this sounds bad but that hour of me time a few days a week has been great.

I'm now two months past the start of my goal of working out and eating better. It could have gone better, but it hasn't gone too bad. I've lost around ten pounds in two months. I was a total slacker on my goal of running the 5K again. My workout goal of 5 days a week has been more like three days a week too so I fell a little short of that. I think even my little three days a week of exercise coupled with my much  improved snacking habits has contributed to my weight loss and better fitting clothes. Yogurt and fruit smoothies, peanut butter and apples, peanut butter protein bars, and yogurt have replaced my candy and ice cream snacking habits. I cheat with ice cream about once a week though. The habit I cannot break though is my need for soda. I think I now know how a smoker feels. So my goals for the upcoming two months is keep up with a minimum of three times a week but shoot to get to four, which I think will be more doable when the college course I teach ends the first week of December. I also want to work on cutting back on my soda addiction.

However, a few things have weighed on my mind this past month. I feel bad because I feel like I'm not being a very good friend to another due to something that I was personally burned on in the past. Even though she had nothing to do with what happened in the past, I'm now being a bad friend by ignoring her because I guess I have strong feelings about the issue at hand but it's not my place to speak my mind on the issue.

About the same time as this we also had a set back in our baby making plans and now I'm not sure if or when there will be a baby Glenn #3. I keep telling myself I'm fine with whatever He decides is right for us, but then at other times I'm sad and disappointed that there won't be a little sister or brother as we originally hoped.

The other development from September is my grandparents. Unfortunately, their health which has been deteriorating the past couple of years, has reached a point where they have decided to sell their home and move into an assisted living home. In some ways this is a good thing as it will be for their benefit as well as help my parents and aunts out. However, it's still a sad reminder of the cycle of life. Even though it's just a house, their home is such a part of mine, my sisters, and my cousins' childhoods. Thankfully this past summer we went home for our annual Williams Fourth of July picnic at my grandparents. At the time I didn't know it would be the last one, but again I don't regret my choice to make sure I made the time for what would be the final trip home for the last Williams Fourth of July Picnic.

Closing doors, ending chapters, whatever metaphor you want to use, is never really easy. Whether we want it to or not life always marches on. I was reminded this when earlier when I was standing watching Averi at soccer practice and these four teenage girls walked over to the ball field with their gloves and catcher's equipment. They were coming for what ended up being a pitchers/catchers' practice. Behind them the football field was filling up with players and fans for the weekly Friday night under the lights game. Just thinking about those days of high school always bring a smile to my face. When I wasn't on the ball diamond with the girls, I was hanging out with a group of the football players, who would also become my closest and dearest friends through high school and college. I remember people telling me how high school is the best years of life, and it was definitely one of the best. Then I went off to college and those that had experienced that told me they would be the best years of my life. Again, I wasn't disappointed. Last weekend, one of the groomsmen and Nate's best friends and someone I like to think who has also become a good friend of mine came up for the weekend, and we ended up digging out old pictures from our 20s when we were all adolescent children in adult bodies with adult wallets and in so many crazy ways had the time of our lives then.  As we shared in his excitement of expecting his first child, we're now living this next chapter of parenthood. As I watched Ave chasing the soccer ball, Kenz swinging and calling it the "best day ever", and thought of everything that I loved about this journey of parenthood, I know I'm living the best years of my life again. Each chapter can be the best years of our lives. There will be different characters, different plot twists, highs and lows to the climatic moments, and each chapter will tell a different story about who we are and how we lived. There is no just one "best years of our life" time and as I thought back on the chapters of both sets of my grandparents' lives as well as Nate's grandma, I guess the thing they all taught me was live a life that makes every chapter a story worth retelling.

                                                    The girls and their great grandparents

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Holiday Shopping & Fundraising

Hello, Readers,

I would love your particpation once again. A friend and I are working together to use 100% of our sales this holiday season to provide gifts and necessities for children in need.  With three months until the heat of the holiday season I am hoping I've caught you early in your holiday shopping journey and would like to encourage you to buy a few items from my site. I am affliated with several different companies in which I make a commission from the sales that occur when you follow the links I provide to place an order. I hope you can order a few things from here this holiday season to help with our project.

As I mentioned before when I released my book and used sales to make donations, being able to do this is something that has been a goal of mine for some time, but because I have two children of my own and spend a fortunate on gas communting almsot an hour now to work, we haven't had the financial means to do this. I can only do this with the extra income I make from my writing and blogging. Not only do I think I'm affliated with some great products that will make great holiday gifts for someone special in your life, but I hope you'll consider shopping here to help me help a child and/or children and their family out this holiday season.

Happy shopping. Again, I hope this holiday season you'll consider doing some shopping here with us.

Again 100% of the commission from the following products will be used for this season's holiday project.

Little Passports is a great subscription gift for any elementary student. We had the opportunity to review Little Passports a few months ago, and Averi loves it. Each month comes with new activities and items to help any child learn more about either the United States or the World. You can purchase just for the month or order a 3,6, or 12 month subscription.

USA Edition: Travel with Sofia and Sam as they visit two states per month $10.95-$13.95 per month

Recommended age: 7-12 years old
Discovery Kit for Month 1
  • An introductory letter from Sam and Sofia
  • USA Field Guide
  • USA Scratch Book
  • USA Wall Map
  • Disposable Camera and Photo Scavenger Hunt
State adventure kits for future months
Sam and Sofia visit 2 new states every month and send your child:
  • A 32-page activity-packed journal covering 2 states
  • Stickers
  • Pop-out Models
  • Postcards
  • Access to more information and activities online

World Edition: Travel to a new country every month with Sam and Sofia

 Explorer Kit for Month 1
  • A fun travel suitcase with a letter from our globetrotting characters Sam and Sofia
  • World wall map
  • Travel passport
  • Fun stickers, an activity sheet, and access to online games and activities
Country adventure kits for future months
Sam and Sofia visit a new country every month and send your child:
  • An adventure letter
  • Fun souvenirs
  • Stickers for your child's suitcase, passport, and map
  • Photos from that country's sites
  • Online games and activities in our Boarding Zone

Photobooks, Photo Products, and More with Shutterfly

Anyone that knows me personally knows that I am a photo nut. My family often wonders every year what photo gift I will come up with this holiday season. Everything I've purchased over the years from photo books, personalized calendars, and the well loved blankets we've gifted recently to grandparents have all come from Shutterfly. If you just happen to be family and are shopping for a gift idea for me hint, hint here. My thinking is you can never go wrong with photo type gifts.

I just about refuse to buy my kids toys at Christmas unless it's something like a bike or some classic toy every childhood should have. My kids have more toys than they know what to do with, and I can pretty much count on the grandparents to supply even more so our kids end up with mostly clothes, pjs, and shoes from us.  Lucky for us I guess though at age five Ave gets just as excited for a cute outfit or shoes as she does for some new toy. If you are going to be doing any baby, toddler, little kid clothes online shopping this holiday season come through here to shop Janie & Jack, Crazy 8, and Gymboree. Check out all their great Cyber Monday sales!

Janie & Jack                                                   Crazy 8                                    Gymboree

Baby Sale - Up to 50% Off

Scenic photos can make great holiday gifts for that one you're not sure what to buy. All profits from Point Click Capture Photography will go towards helping purchase gifts and things for children in need. I cannot link the actual picture available for purchase so these are actually the unedited versions. There are  pictures available in the following themes:  patriotic, seasonal, wildlife, national parks, cities, beaches, waterfalls, grapes and winery.

Need a small, inexpensive for the mom or friend in your life think about getting a print copy of Moms, Monsters, Media & Margaritas for $8  + shipping or email me at for a personalized copy for $13 including shipping. For Cyber Monday put in coupon code WQT32 for 35% off!

A very crafty friend of mine is also participating in this project and has offered to sell some of her adorable children's hats she knits as well. These can be for children of any age. She gave my daughter one last year, and I love it. You can place an order for a hat through me at or through her at and pay through pay pal. She is selling them for $15 a hat or $25 for two.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Maybe it's Better I Didn't have a Choice

Our babysitter had to go out of town for family this week so I had to stay home yesterday and today. Between my husband and a friend and neighbor we have the other three days covered. Getting to stay home always gives me a little taste of life on the other side of the fence.

I'm not going to lie. I did enjoy my two days home getting to be stay at home mommy. I got to take Ave to the bus stop and get her off the bus both days. Kenz and I spent the day time playing outside and coloring together. I easily got a workout in both days. I got lots of laundry done. I also did quite a bit of grading and planning for work too though.

At one point I asked myself, "If money wasn't a factor, what choice would I really make when it comes to the choice of staying home or working." In this moment of realization I realized maybe it was better I didn't have a choice. As a working mom, I often wish I could be home more. This time of their early childhood is going so fast and as any parent knows you can't get it back.

However, now I have one in school, and as for my almost three year old, as much as I loved her "This is the best day ever!" cry as I pushed her on the swings yesterday, she too needs and gains from the interaction and preschool lessons she gets from her time at Miss Tammy's.

Even though I can fill up a whole day at home staying busy around the house, I know myself too well. It wouldn't be enough for me. I don't say that to take away from anyone that stays home. We are all different people, and we all need different things to fill fulfilled. I need my days to feel more productive. I don't think I'd be happy as a stay at home mom. For me personally, I'd feel like I was missing something.

I have to be honest too. I'm a little selfish. After this year I'm one third of the way to retirement. If I can get and keep our finances in order the way I want, we'll be able to retire before we're sixty, possibly 55 for myself , around the same time my kids finish college. That's young. Then hopefully I can help the girls out with their children as they enter the family part of their lives so maybe they can more easily find that balance with both family and career.

If money wasn't an issue, I think the choice I would make would be to still do some kind of work. I enjoy being in the classroom. Sometimes the grading load gets to me, but in dream land if I had a choice I think would teach part time and be home a little more for my girls. But I'd also be doing that at the cost of pushing my retirement goals back to a later age. Maybe to some it's not a tough choice. Even though I speak often of wishing I could possibly have the opportunity to be a stay at home mom, money or no money, it would have been a very tough choice for me.

What about you? Is or would the decision to be a stay at home mom or working mom be an easy choice or is it a tough choice?


 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.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Childhood and Pets

My husband and I both grew up with dogs. The dogs of my childhood were Ginger, which I don't remember because my dad hit her with a car when I was three I think. Then my parents got Rambo, and he became my sisters and my childhood pet. I was three and I believe my youngest sister was just a baby when they brought him home. I'm not sure what kind of dog was Ginger was, but Rambo was a black lab. My parents also got a yellow lab named Rocky , but I think he was a real pain and kept getting out of the yard so they gave him to someone else. It was us five, Rambo, and a stray cat we named Tigger that my dad let hang around for a few years. Unfortunately, at the beginning of my senior softball season one morning while my sisters and I were getting ready for our opening scrimmage of the year, my parents had to take Rambo at age 14 to be put to sleep. They didn't tell any of us what they were going to do, which since we were fourteen, sixteen, and seventeen I think was kind of a parenting fail on their part but who knows. Maybe I'd do the same. I still think they should have told us so we could have said our formal good byes.

But either way I know Rambo will always be the childhood pet the three of us remember. My parents are now on their third lab since Rambo, two of those three are currently living, but because I was on my way out of the house by then I've always thought of them as their dogs, not mine.

Nate has mentioned more childhood dogs than I can keep track of, but the one he always talked about the most was Aspen, which I don't think was actually a childhood dog. I think he saved up money from his high school job to buy her himself so I think he had her for five years between the end of high school and beginning of college. She was black Great Dane. As some know Great Danes have short life spans, typically 6-8 years; however new studies are emerging stating that it can be increased to 10-13 years with a good diet and care. Unfortunately, Aspen was only five years old when she died from a common Great Dane ailment.

Just as Rambo was my last pet, Aspen was Nate's last pet. Then as you know came Bettis. If you know us personally you know how much Bettis has come to mean to us. Even the other day when we were talking about the pets in our lives, Nate mentioned how Bettis is probably the most meaningful dog he's ever had. We've had this dog since our first year of dating; he will be 10 in November. He has gone on countless trips with us, and our family started as the three of us. However, his health for a little over the last year has not been great. In fact, today I ran into a lady with a 10 year old Weimaraner, and the comparison between him to Bettis saddened me because it reinforced how bad of shape Bettis really is in. We know we're at the end of our time with Bettis. Averi may remember him, but in the end it will be our hearts, mine and Nate's, that Bettis will hold a special place.

Ever since we've moved and have had the room we've discussed whether we would look for another dog while Bettis was still with us or wait. Nate has talked about wanting another Great Dane ever since I've known him. There was never any plan that this Fall would be when we'd get a new dog or that it would officially be a Great Dane. It just so happened that Nate found them for sale in town and at a price that we could afford. So this weekend we brought home an eight week blue female Great Dane that we decided to name Andromeda and call Andi.

The girls never got to experience Bettis with much energy or youth so I've always known I wanted a dog they could grow up with, and I hope Andi is that dog. Five years is  just a small chunk of a childhood so I'm hoping we can figure out how to push for that 13 year mark so she'll see my girls into high school so if you have any large dog breed diet recommendations throw them my way.

Just like the cat, Dazey, Andi has taken quite a liking to Averi. She's my animal whisperer. For her kindergarten About Me book she stated she wanted to be an animal doctor/vet. She takes good care of them and they respond very well to her. Between her love and care for our household pets and her enthusiasm for always wanting to help the neighbor care for her horses maybe one day we'll have a vet in the family.

Future vet or not though, I can't imagine childhood without a dog. Okay I can't imagine life without a dog. My sisters and parents as I said all still have family dogs. In fact two of the three of them have two dogs. They are a part of our families. And now to introduce you to the latest Glenn family addition: Andromeda Storm aka Andi


 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.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

In and Out of Bubbles

For a writing prompt last week students were asked  "What would you change about America and/or the world?" It saddens me that so many of them see the hate, judging, prejudices, and the unfairness and injustices that  results from those judgments as the number 1 thing they would like to see change in the future. Then today for a different lesson they were asked what happens when we blend cultures. The common first thing they mentioned was conflict.

Maybe I live in my own bubble of illusion too much, but I like to think with each new generation we are moving forward in improving this problem. My parents were children during the Civil Rights Movement so I guess that means my generation was the first generation to grow up in the Post Civil Rights era, and now we are the first to raise children without knowledge of experiencing life before or during the Civil Rights Movement. Even though it has been 50 years since the Civil Rights Act passed; attitudes and beliefs that are maybe not so accepting are still passed down from one generation to the next. I guess it takes time for those to attitudes to die.

One of them mentioned in their writing that if we would just judge less and love more, there would be so much less conflict in the world. It is so simple, and I believe it. If we teach our children to be more empathetic, understanding, to love more and judge less, maybe one day there will be a more peaceful, united world. I don't know. I hope so for our children, but sometimes like my students I wonder what the possible reality of that truly is.

In order to move towards a less judgmental, prejudice world, I think as individuals we have to step outside of the little bubbles we live in. All our bubbles of reality are different, and I truly believe if we want to grow as individuals and understand our world better we have to be willing to educate ourselves about the bubbles of others. We have to be willing to step outside our own bubble in order to do that.

As people we need this exposure as much as possible; this is how we educate ourselves. I love people. I love to study people. They fascinate me, but I think the thing that fascinates me the most is the individuality and difference among people. No two are the same. Isn't that really amazing when you think of it? I'm not a Science teacher but the science of how that is possible is just amazing to me. Just as I love to study people, I love to study our interactions with one another.  Not only are we different as individual people but even our environments are different. That environment with our families and their value system with our individual experiences is what creates each of our own bubbles.

One of the most fascinating things to me about people is how much they understand or don't understand outside their own bubble. How many are willing to step outside their own bubble to step into someone else's to gain a little understanding? I truly believe it's when we step outside our own bubble that we truly grow. I believe it is our lack of wanting to step outside the comfort of our own bubbles that leads to the misunderstanding between one another or from one group of people to another.

Some want to believe their bubble is perfect, the ideal bubble. No bubble is necessarily better than another; just different. I found this experience for myself through reading, the places we've traveled and visited, and my chosen career has also often provided the opportunity to learn more about people, cultures, lifestyles, and worlds different than the one I know. Any of us can educate ourselves more through reading, friending people different than ourselves, visiting places, and even in the jobs we take.

Our youth sees this hate and this lack of acceptance, and they see the violence that it creates with wars and shootings. The kids I'm teaching now were toddlers when 9/11 happened, which was just two years after Columbine, which I think to many of us was the start of the school shooting epidemic we've seen  with the turn of the century.  Kids today I feel are surrounded by so much more negativity and hostility than I recall as a youth. All too often I feel like all I hear more negative things about our youth today than positive. Do you think maybe some of the problems result from this negative, sometimes violent world that at times seems to lack understanding and acceptance that we've brought them into. They didn't create that world. We, the adults, did. I, for one, want to see it change for them. We owe them hope. It starts with each of us individually, pushing for a better more accepting, loving world.

I'm going to leave you with two quotes I'm stealing from people from my hometown that continue to inspire me every day with their dedication to creating a better tomorrow. One is this,

"What Sally says about Susie says more about Sally than it does Susie." Think about that before we spread negativity about one another.

"Your life is your message to the world. Make it inspiring"

Find inspiration and be an inspiration. We can all learn from one another. I learn from sixteen year old kids every day. Never think somebody can't teach you something.

Recent Posts

Balance? Where Did You Go?

Connecting Teaching the American Dream and my NYC Trip

 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.


Friday, September 5, 2014

Balance? Where Did you Go?

We were fortunate this year to feel like we got to ease back into the back to school routine with seven work days before the first day of school. I felt well prepared and all in control with the conclusion of those seven days. I was ready. Then the first day of school came, and I feel like it s been a whirlwind since then. Now over a week later I'm looking forward to this weekend to catch my breath.

Somewhere between mastering this rotating schedule of mine between two schools with a new commute, we had another flooding water issue, issues with the cars that need to get looked at, company in town, a trip up to NYC which I loved by the way and you can read about here, and a health concern I had to see to. Now I'm buried in over 150 essays on the American Dream so after grading those I may never mention that phrase again.

One night this week I ended up crawling in bed with the girls just to snuggle because I missed them, and the next thing I knew it was almost one in the morning. As I told my husband I love being busy, I love what I do, but I still miss them when my schedule gets crazy like it s been for the last week. When I think about what I should cut back when it gets crazy like this, I can't think of what I would eliminate. I know things that should be the obvious things but it saddens me to let them go.  I'm always so convinced I will do it all. I will have my career, including the extra college class I love teaching, valuable time with my family (our family dinner plans have sucked these last two weeks), time for my hobbies and interests, and whatever else I set me mind to.

This idea of balance is out there somewhere, and I know I can find it because I have before but like the beginning of every school year it just takes a bit to get my feet planted on the ground. My workout goals that I did so well with for six weeks was abandoned in the haste to balance seven classes on three different campuses (which also includes over 170 papers to grade-ugh!) and to make  this appointment at the doctor's office, that appointment at the bank, and whatever other mini crisis (such as the argument over who was responsible for picking up the brake parts to fix Nate's car this weekend).

Some days I am a why do tomorrow what you can do today person, but today I am completely going for the why do today what I can put off until tomorrow. Since school has started I finally made it home by 3:15, which is an hour before I have to leave to pick the girls up when Ave gets off the bus, which was originally when I planned to fit in my workout. I figured since that goal has gone to shit in the last ten days and my house like usual at the end of the week looks like a mini volcano of dirty laundry and dishes erupted, I was going to plop my butt on the couch and take a good 45 minute nap. And I did. Sorry, but I needed it. Mentally and physically.

From here on out the schedule already looks much more balanced so I plan to get back into a more consistent workout routine. As for cleaning up my house I can do it tomorrow (okay maybe just later tonight if I feel motivated). I will find that balance I seek again. But after five years of this working mom balancing act one of the things I've learned is there's just going to be times where everything isn't always necessarily balanced (even for control freaks like me), and that is okay. Life happens. Things come up, problems need to be dealt with , and as much as I hate it at times sometimes things have to be put off until tomorrow. Tomorrow is a new day, a fresh start, and after some much needed rest and little girl cuddles today, I will be ready to rebalance this thing called my life.

Speaking of the balancing act of motherhood, have you read my book, Moms, Monsters, Media & Margaritas,  yet?  It 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.

Monday, September 1, 2014

First Lesson of the School Year and NYC

Ten years after moving out East I finally made it up to New York City this weekend. It was great just like I'd always thought it would be, but we didn't see or do all the things we'd like to so my husband and I both want to go back again. Preferably around the holidays next time.

I wasn't expecting it to have the American History impact on me that it did. Maybe it was because of the lesson I did this past first week of school with my students, but I found the trip a refreshing reminder of what America stands for.

I started this week off with my students with the following five discussion questions:
1. What is the American Dream?
2. How does the American Dream differ from one cultural or subgroup in our society to another?
3. How has the American Dream changed, if it has, from one generation to the next?
4. What are we living and experiencing right now that is one day going to be American History and how is that shaping us and our perceptions?
5.  Is the American Dream possible to all people?

Feel free yourself to respond to any of these. As in the case in any English class there isn't just one right answer.

As we visited the Statue of Liberty, the 9/11 Memorial, and an American Revolution Cemetery I found myself drawn back to these questions. The following is quoted from a monument in Liberty Park, "Dedicated to America's role of preserving freedom and rescuing the oppressed." In the distance was the Statue of Liberty in which she stands to represent the hope of freedom and opportunity to all those that seek American soil.  The day before we visited an American Revolution Cemetery, in which our ancestors gave their life for this dream of freedom. As we visited the 9/11 Memorial shortly after dark, which I think made the moment even more sombering I explained to my girls that day in history that will forever live in my mind. It was a time when those that hated what we stood for tried to destroy it, and again many died that day and in the years following to preserve the freedom and hope of America.

Unfortunately, I know we can't all agree on our political views, but I will stand by mine. Mine is this. America is about hope. Not just hope if you're white, if you are rich, if you are Christian, if your family has been here hundreds of years. America is about hope for something better, for freedom, for opportunity, for individual happiness in all our varied perceptions of happy. I did not always see it this way, but I find the diversity of America an amazing and beautiful thing. America is meant to be a place where despite our differences we can all live as one united race, the human race, however, I do feel this is still a work in progress.

I did one other activity with my students that first day in which I posted the following words around the room: happiness, opportunity, American, diversity, equality, and freedom. They had to rotate around the room in groups and add one other word to the paper that they associated with the word posted. One of them wrote responsibility with freedom. I don't know if they were really sure at the time why they wrote it, but I found it a great one to talk about as we revisited each list. The way I saw it was that we all have a responsibility as an American to uphold and preserve this idea of freedom that this country was founded upon. With that freedom comes opportunity for all to pursue their vision of happiness, which to me is the American Dream.

The last thing I asked my students that first day was if I had a group of fifteen people from a variety of races, cultures, different income backgrounds, and different religions, and they all told me they were living their version of the American Dream what is the common factor that got them there?

They answered correctly with "their attitude, their drive, their mindset, their work ethic", and I think you get the idea.  Some, maybe many will never get their chance at the dream, but it was always meant to be an opportunity for any that were willing to work hard enough to make it their reality.