Thursday, January 29, 2015

To be a Teacher or not to Be?

This week started the downhill slide of the school year and the wrapping up of grades and such for the first half of the school year. After eight years in the same school, the two years before that in two completely different schools, I signed up to be split between schools this school year so that puts me at five schools in eleven years.

I was really excited about this opportunity because I was really looking for some perspective when it comes to my chosen profession of teacher.  Not last year but the year prior to that I had  hit severe burn out and  was ready to throw in the towel on this career. However, I knew it probably wasn't wise to make that decision in a moment of frustration. I also really wanted to give myself a chance to change things for myself within the profession before making such a huge decision. I definitely made the right decision to give myself more time. Have I made a final decision yet if teaching for 30 years (20 more to go!) is for me? I would say that answer is still inconclusive depending on a few things.

I enjoyed my last year at my former school of eight years though, and I've had a good first half of the year so far. So after some time and reflecting here are some things I've learned.

-No matter our chosen profession it's going to have it's pros and cons.
-No matter the profession there are going to be people who have no idea how to really do our job telling us how to do it.
-Every job has its good days and bad days.
-Every job has its demands and is hard in some way.

I know education is under attack in many ways. Every time I look there's some new article posted about why teachers are leaving the field of education. But every job that's a professional job is going to be hard, going to be demanding, going to push our limits and dedication. There's going to be change to implement over and over again.  I think that's part of being a professional. I don't think there is no easy professional job; there are just different stresses and demands placed on each profession.

However, even knowing that I still have the thought of leaving education in the back of my head. It's not because it's too hard or I hate the changes. In fact, as I've spent a lot of time working with data and new curriculum this year, I tend to think the changes are a move in the right direction. They just need some work and revision but that's the way change works. One of the biggest reasons I still think about leaving is, well to put it simply, stupidity, because I think it's stupidity that leads to all three of these reasons I'll outline below.

1. I'm so tired of "work" being created for teachers to do because someone, who has no idea what teachers actually do, think that we're not busy enough and need things to do to fill our time. For instance, we're given PD days, which should be for grading and all this new data recording and analyzing, except half the time we're pulled into workshops or meetings where others that aren't teachers can pretend to be the teacher for the day while we "play" student. Now I have attended some worthwhile, beneficial PD, but I have also attended a lot of time wasting PD that really made me feel like we were given tasks like busy work for crying out loud because again we must not have enough to do with our time.

2. I'm so sick of the numbers game and the pushing kids through because of the obsession with numbers. We're suppose to be preparing kids for the real world, yet we do them a huge disservice when we're pressured by parents and sometimes administration to "work" with students by giving them chance after chance to take care of assignments they decided not to do in the first place. I'm so sick of it being the teacher's fault because the kid was lazy, and it being a poor reflection of the teacher because the kid was lazy.

3. The third thing is the attitude and behavior of the kids. Teachers are given limited respect at times, but I'm also amazed at how little respected they give their peers too though. I'm so sick of students that can't shut their damn mouth. It shouldn't be a fight the whole period for a teacher to stand up there and present her lesson.  Luckily this year I haven't had to deal with the attitude much, but I've definitely had my fair share of in your face attitude problems in the past.

When I look at these three things though again I ask myself, "are you really going to escape these things by leaving teaching." Even though I may not have to sit through meaningless PD, from talking to people in other professions it sounds like you always have "know it alls" in the higher offices that think they know how to do your job better than you. I also think many occupations today, not just teachers, are being given more work than ever before. I read something recently how due to the economy and people's fear for their jobs, employers can get away with requiring more and more work from their employees and paying less and less overtime, therefore, requiring more productivity in less time.

Many jobs are based on numbers because those numbers show the progress and success of their product. However, I wouldn't be contributing to the disservice of lazy, entitled future generations.

The third one is a big one for me. Because the thing is this is one of the things that I've come to see can vary from school to school. It's my biggest reason for considering leaving; yet I've also come to see through my experience this year that every day does not have to be a fight to just get up and teach in front of a class like I've come to expect it to be the last few years.

So what I've concluded is if I can get into a school with a mostly pleasant student body that allows me to teach classes without fighting through the whole period to get them to shut up and listen, I'm okay with all the rest of the things that annoy me. One of my biggest visions with teaching is to teach in the same community in which I live. I have never experienced this. We moved two years ago to this nice small town community. I'm confident if I can ever get a job here, I'd come to find teaching the enjoyable experience I've had this year.

However, it's hard to get in here because no one leaves until they retire. Second, I would lose pay and the job security I've had for the last seven years. The system I'm in now offers better pay, benefits, and opportunities. However, even though I really like the one school I'm at now, it's typically an hour commute in the morning. Teaching is a job where you want to feel like a part of the school community, which usually involves attending a few school events and activities. I've always enjoyed seeing students do their thing outside the classroom. I loved how some of my students got to know the girls through mine and Nate's coaching a few years ago. I know the only way to really feel completely connected to a school is to be a part of that community, and now that I have a family of my own, I really want it to be the community we are already a part of. So when it comes to the question for myself  to be a teacher or to not be I now feel confident in knowing what I want and what I can expect from this profession, and now I have a clear goal to shoot for.

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Busy and Avoiding the Vacuum of Sadness

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Busy and Out of the Dark Vacuum

I did decide to take one more day at home yesterday. Partly because physically my body didn't feel right yet and I hadn't had a good night's sleep since Friday.

I definitely thought about spending my day curled up on the couch watching reruns of Smallville and Chuck. Maybe eating a tub of Ben & Jerry's ice cream too. But I didn't. Even though I might have physically needed rest by laying on the couch, I know myself well enough to know it was the wrong medicine for me mentally. I need to be doing. It's just the way I am.

So the girls helped me take care of some things around the house, we played in the snow a bit, I did do a little grading work, then we had dentist appointments, in which afterwards I took them to the library, before heading home to meet Daddy to take our aging dog in to the vet for a prognosis on his condition before heading out to dinner.

Throughout the day several friends checked in on me just to tell me they were thinking of me and hoping I was doing better. Just the little dropped note of positivity and love really was nice. I can be a shut myself in the closest (usually it's more like the bathroom) person when I find myself in a sad mood so even though as a culture for whatever reason we tend to hide the incident of miscarriage, I think sharing it helped me.

Part of my emotional rollercoaster of the last few days was anxiety of worrying that I'd find myself drawn back in that vacuum of depression. I've seen stress and sadness do it to others I care about.   I also know now if that dark hole swallows me, it's not  just harmful to me, but I also learned from the last time that it's also harmful to those I care about.  As someone who has found herself in the dark vacuum of depression, when things get you down it's like you can see it as a dark void in the shadows, waiting to suck you in again.

So for me I know I needed, still need, to be busy. Busy with work, with the house, with the girls. Busy with planning out our spring and summer because I need those things to look forward to now instead because first we were suppose to be welcoming a new addition this spring but then it was finding out what were having in the spring to welcome them in the summer. Even though most of the time I can tell myself it wasn't meant to be, accept it, and focus on all the positive, there will be annoying little things that interfere with my positive move forward.

Like the email reminders about my upcoming prenatal appointment (I just saw them for a miscarriage on Monday. Can't somebody fix that in their system?). Or the email notice from BabyCenter telling me how my baby is growing this week (How do I get those emails to quit coming? I can't deal with that for the next 6.5 months) Or that the puppy, who we've had staying in what we've always called the baby room because it was the nursery here for Kenz and then we moved her in with Ave two months before we got pregnant the first time so all the baby stuff has just stayed in there because we figured we'd need it soon, pretty much shredded the last of my Winnie Pooh the stuff and blinds so I went in there today to pretty much make it as bare as possible so it's now just an empty room with a dog kennel, a broken crib, and no future plans.

I have to stay out of that black hole though so the thought of laying on the couch all day or afternoon after work I know won't work for me so while I'm waiting for the warmer weather that will bring bonfires with friends, evening sunset walks, tball, camping, swimming, drive in movies, weddings I think, and traveling to visit our families,  I'm focusing on getting back on track with my eating and exercising so I can lose the second 15 pounds of my goal from back in July. I lost 15 from July-January so hoping to lose at least 10 by April for our family vacation, which is the second thing I'm hoping to work on in the next few weeks.  I've been looking into booking our family vacation trip, hopefully to somewhere warm and tropical. This has been a long cold winter and April is the month the first baby was due and the month we would have found out the gender with the second one so you've heard of retail therapy. This is kind of similar, right? I just call it vacation therapy.

The post about our second miscarriage in five months.

I have to say these two are a huge help. They really can make any day better.

                                                                   Playing in the snow.

                         Putting on a puppet show at the library. Not sure what's up with Averi's tongue. LOL


Monday, January 26, 2015

Accepting What Isn't Meant to Be

When I was in grad school I took this self awareness therapy class, and to this day it is still the class that has resonated with me the longest. I learned a lot about coping and working through your problems through a lot of self reflection. I found my best two coping mechanisms out in the hay field behind our house with a spiral notebook in my hand when I was ten years old. Writing and nature. It's always been my therapy. I didn't see it that way of course as a ten year old but now I see as I look back it's where I've always gone for comfort and to find my way back out of the dark holes of despair and sadness that we sometimes find ourselves in.

So this is where I find myself tonight. I apologize if some are just hearing the news through here. Please just understand that I've cried half of the day today, I need to sort through this in my own way, and the thought of personally calling all my dear friends and family just sounded too emotionally draining so I hope you understand.

This was suppose to be the week that we made the big announcement that A & N was expanding to include a little brother or sister in Aug 2015, but now instead we're experiencing our second miscarriage in five months. This time is so much more heartbreaking than last time. Last time we only knew for about two and half weeks, and I was only five and half weeks. This time we've known for closer to seven weeks and I was nearing the end of my first trimester. This time I also have a clearer understanding of what's going on and with that comes the realization that we may need to let the dream of expanding our family go or  prepare ourselves for an emotional stressful nine months if we are going to try one more time.

I was diagnosed with a thyroid disorder about a year ago. I knew it was important to stay on my medication during pregnancy, but what someone never told me was about all the risks of being pregnant with a thyroid disorder. I'm always telling my students to self educate and advocate for themselves because the experts don't know everything and even if they do they deal with100+ cases so it's easy to be overlooked in their busy schedules. I didn't follow my own advice. I should have been reading up on this before we started trying to get pregnant and then insisting on blood work to check my thyroid levels as soon as I knew. My levels with the HCG pregnancy hormone shoots up, which gives me a 70% chance of miscarriage. I can control this thyroid level but it needs to be monitored with frequent blood work and possible medication changes. If it's not controlled and I don't miscarry there are other risks to the baby; hence, why a third pregnancy I now see could be a very emotionally stressful ordeal. As long as my thyroid levels are controlled, which they can be, everything should be okay.

My intuition on this isn't reassuring me either though. As soon as I got pregnant the first time in July something just didn't feel right. I think I just knew and that's why that one maybe didn't upset me too much, but this time I thought it was different. But then around last Wed I just got that feeling something wasn't right, and sure enough again my gut didn't lie. As much I like to believe we have free will and create our own paths, something keeps telling me as much as we want a bigger family it's not in His plan. So it's been kind of rough day. I keep thinking I'm done crying then it'll start again. I keep telling myself to have my moment, be upset, work my way through it, and then I have to  refocus my energy.

Again, if you're hearing the news for the first time on here, please don't be upset. I know this may not seem like the best way to share something like this. But I needed to write my way through this tonight and I need people to know because the sooner everyone knows there will no longer be a baby G #3 in 2015 the sooner I feel I can pick up the pieces and move forward. But one of the people who I think will understand this the best is my childhood best friend, Kristal. We became friends the same year I learned to turn to writing to cope. I went through a tough time when I was 10-12, and I wrote a lot. She would come to my house, read my diary ( she loved reading that thing) but I think she understood I wasn't very good about talking about things that upset me, but I would write about it. I knew she would read it, and I don't remember us talking about our feelings much, but she was still the best friend my ten year old self could have because she understood I needed to write, that I guess I needed her to read, and then I just needed her quiet comfort and presence.  I didn't intend to be encrypted tonight with a post I made on facebook but like any old friend that's known you for a long time and understands all the quirky ways you work she caught right on tonight that something was off and was messaging me. I hope you can understand like her that this is how I deal.

One of the other things I like to do when something's got me really down is this. Averi put my thoughts in her wonderful childlike perspective. I had to tell them again that there wouldn't be a little brother or sister after all. She's decided one was a boy and one was a girl, which is exactly what they've been saying they wanted for the last year now even though we told them there would only be one more sibling. But anyway now she says they are a baby brother angel and baby sister angel. And she said to me, "Mommy, I'm glad you had us before we were angels." So even though it's a dark day I am so completely thankful that yes, we have these two beautiful healthy girls. I can't imagine how hard it must be for expectant mothers and fathers to go through this when trying for their first child. The other thing I think of is I would choose this any day over losing a child at birth or later in their life.

Thanks for listening. I will pull myself out of this dark, sad place. I just need a moment to accept what wasn't meant to be and what may never be.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Calling BS on the No Spanking and Yelling Movement

I am totally calling bullshit on this whole no spanking and yelling parental movement of today. Now does that mean I yell and spank my kids all the time. Hell, no; however, I am not damn Mary Poppins here either.

That's kind of what I feel like this whole movement expects. That as parents we need to be all sugar and sweet and singy songy happy to our kids ALL THE DAMN TIME. Talk about a false reality in the parenting world here.

God knows admitting you maybe occasionally swatted your kid on the behind with a swat that wouldn't hurt a fly these days will probably have the police knocking on your door the next day. My mother did always tell me not discipline or yell at my kids when I'm angry, and I've found it's actually pretty good advice to remember when they're pushing those buttons they can sometimes push so well. Sometimes I think this is the most important thing more so than the method of disciplining that a parent uses. Anger leads to irrational actions or actions that come out harsher than we intended.

However, I also think it's important to not sugar coat our disappointment in their behaviors.  Kids are going to screw up. They're going to screw up when they're adults. Get this? They're not perfect and neither are we or any other adult so why sugar coat those moments they screw up with happy songs and little pats on the back telling them it's okay, they'll know better next time. I can tell as a teacher of 16 year old kids that are a year away from entering the adult world whose parents sugar coat their child's disappointments and who is definitely not going to be Mary Poppins when that kid gets home from school. I usually speak to the non Mary Poppins parent once; I talk to the other one more times than I can count.

A child's parents' are the first people they will test the limits with, and it is those parents' responses that set the stage,  and if my kids think nothing they do is going to anger, upset, or disappoint me, boy are they going to be in for a shock as they make their way into the real world. I think it's important for our kids to push boundaries and limits with us, the people they know love them unconditionally, because there are going to be boundaries and limits they need to push as they get older. Some will be ones they have to push through; others might be ones they shouldn't but again remember they're not perfect. And mistakes are where we, and them, learn so I think it's important for them to get an authentic response from us to know how to build on those mistakes and disappointments we sometimes cause others.

That being said most adults don't go around pushing limits by hitting people so no we are not big spankers around here; however, a nonviolent parent that spanks here or there I do not believe is an abusive parent so I'm not part of the anti spanking movement.  Some would probably say I yell, but there's something to be said about tone of voice. Maybe people don't like the word "yell" anymore, but my kids know when I start getting on them with a particular tone that it's time to straighten up. If Daddy raises his voice, which is not very often, they know to snap to attention. The daddy voice always seems to be way more effective than the mommy voice (was when I was growing up).  Either way, when we get out the daddy or mommy voice we sure the hell don't sound like Mary Poppins.

What's your arguments for the whole anti spanking and yelling movement of today?

Recent Posts

The Sex After Kids Club

Myth Busting My Life

Have you got your copy of my book,  Moms, Monsters, Media & Margaritas. It's also available in print and ebook on Amazon with a couple reviews as well.

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Sex After Kids Club

I always think there should be some secret women's sex club for moms. It's like the talk of sex becomes taboo after we become a mom. The kids can't know we do it, so no one else must know too either, right?

Let's be honest. After kids our relationship with our spouse isn't quite the same. I don't mean that in a negative way; just that it's different. Besides career and hopefully friends, our main focus was our spouse. Now there are kids who when they aren't exhausting us with all their needs and high amounts of energy, they are depriving us of our sleep. Sometimes by snuggling up right in between mom and dad.

It's like you're either not in the mood or when you are it's impossible to get time alone without little all seeing eyes.  Tell me I'm not the only one who wonders occasionally how much sex other parents with children are having. There are the ones you're sure are doing it way more often than you; then there are others you think probably hardly ever do it so you feel better about yourself.

Wouldn't be nice to just have a girl club where you share the secrets of how you find time and energy to you know? Or know what the norm for how often it should happen when you're in the trenches of parenthood. Sex is kind of important to maintaining a healthy marriage, right?

I have sisters and luckily we do talk about everything, and we once even brought my mom in on the conversation. Which still kind of makes me shudder because talking about that topic with your mom is almost as bad as accidently walking in on your parents. However, I think in this imaginary club it would be important to include moms of grown children. They did survive the child rearing years and keep their marriage going.

I think in this imaginary club it should include obviously lots of whine and maybe like cue cards where questions are thrown out on the table. Then everyone writes down their response to share. No one has to acknowledge which response is theirs unless of course the conversation of truth just really takes off.

Think I have future in creating board games???? Who would play?

I talk about marriage and sex after kids in my book,  Moms, Monsters, Media & Margaritas. It's also available in print and ebook on Amazon with a couple reviews as well.

Recent Posts you may have missed because Facebook doesn't share posts so easily anymore

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Saturday, January 10, 2015

When I Grow Up

At the beginning of the school year when Averi had to create a writing journal thing for homework one of the pages had to be about what she wanted to be when she grew up. I still remember the first thing I wrote in one of those journal books when I was in the first grade. I had said I wanted to be a teacher, wanted four kids, and no husband. I still remember my teacher telling me that it might be kind of hard to have four kids without a husband. I didn't quite understand the birds and bees then and just believed that boys had cooties.

As I got older my ideas of being grown up changed some, but I ended up where I was meant to be. Sure, I wish by now we had teleportation because it sure would make it a lot easier to have my cake and eat it too. Live here and be able to see my family more. I also always envisioned myself teaching in the same community in which we lived. Nate and I both working in the school system of our own community is something that's been and is still in my when I grow up vision. I'm pretty firm on three kids being it; rather than the original vision of four from my seven year old self's vision of my grown up life.

I wanted to make sure I kept a record of Averi's "When I Grow Up" visions. I figure these will be fun for her to look back on later. So far there have been two that have stood out. The first one was from the beginning of school when she created that page in that book. At that time she wanted to be a vet. She does love animals and is really good with them. I could totally see her doing that. They even love to collect insects and take care of those.

 But this latest one I'm sure is her daddy's favorite. My husband originally went to culinary arts school, and a favorite shared activity of theirs is watching Master Chef Junior and her helping him cook. Nate for years has talked about opening his own restaurant. He keeps saying when he retires he wants to open his own restaurant, and I always says how that we'll end up working harder in our retirement than we did the thirty plus years leading up to it. However, now him and Averi have been all about talking about their restaurant they'll have when she grows up. Everything is, "When we have our restaurant, Daddy, are we going to do that in our restaurant? Will we have that in our restaurant." They even planned out the specials for each day of the week. So now they both have this idea in their head that they'll start a restaurant together someday, and even though it's years away before she grows up and her vision will probably change, I still love listening to them plan this current shared love together.

I guess if it ever did become a reality for our retirement  our kids will be grown so all the late nights won't matter as much and after a couple years he could hand more and more control over to Averi. Her grow up vision would make her dad so happy.But we will see with time. I'm sure she will go through about a half dozen other grow up visions before she's grown to actually pursue one. Maybe she'll be a vet, maybe a business owner with her own restaurant, or maybe something she hasn't envisioned yet. Whatever it is we just want her to be happy and we're sure she'll be great at whatever she becomes when she grows up.

                               Whatever you dreams may be, little girl, we hope  you find them.

         Moms, Monsters, Media & Margaritas is 25% off $8 currently with coupon code 25Flash. To learn more about the book check out the reviews on Amazon.

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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Midweek Confessions: Myth Busting My Life

A couple things have come to my attention lately that have made me think about how there's the image that others see and then there's the reality. Three recent conversations from the  past week have kind of inspired this post. If you go back to the beginning of this blog you will find a lot of posts that reflect a frazzled, high strung, sometimes comical girl who barely feels like she has it together. Even though the posts in the last few months probably reflect a more together, balanced, calmer woman they are still one and the same. These two different women that are reflected throughout the last two and half years on this blog is an honest reflection of the true woman, me. Ask my husband. He will tell you there are really are two me's.

In fact, just the other day we were talking about these two crazy polar opposites of myself. In honest reflection, I acknowledged and he agreed, that the energy of our whole household is almost always a reflection of the positive energy me or the negative energy me. My grandpa always had this saying, "If Mama ain't happy, no one's happy." We have witnessed that first hand here. I like to think that now that I am more aware of this, I can better control those moments or stretches where the negative energy becomes consuming.

I have often mentioned how my youngest daughter was so difficult the first year or so. To this day I still wonder because she is such a sensitive, emotional child if it was a result of her feeding so much off my negative energy at that time. I know now my positive or negative energy has a huge impact on my relationship with my husband. I like to think I have a better handle on my emotional response to highs and lows, but honestly I think only time will tell.

The other two questions were brought up by people that don't know me as well but that I thought I would myth bust for you.

1. After telling someone how we spent our winter break visiting both of our families I was asked if I really liked them and really liked being there with our families. This made me smile. I know lots of people who really have strained relationships with their own families or their in laws. We do have a good solid relationships with both of our families, and I think both Nate and I feel fortunate with the in laws we ended  up with. However, our families or our relationships with them are not perfect. We always stay with my youngest sister when we go home. On one of my first trips home back in college, I remember her and I screaming at each other in the hallway about 1 in the morning over something as ridiculous as the fan. I'm pretty sure, in our twenties or not, my father probably contemplated knocking our two heads together. My youngest sister and I can only handle so much of one another before it's like we regress to our teenage selfs and want to argue about everything; however, I do love staying at her house when we come to town :). It's kind of the same way with my mother. Her and I are too much alike so too much time together we start to drive each other a little battier than normal. I know my family and probably my in laws too can probably take only so much of me and my sometimes high strung, yet absent minded self before they've had more than their dosage of Ang for the moment.

2. After telling someone we brought both the dogs with us with the kids of course on our trip they replied with, "Wow,  you must be a great team." Haha! Maybe on some days it seems like it, but there are lots of days I think we're operating on two different planets. Some days I feel that he has no clue and there are others I'm sure he's wondering who is the psycho, moody lady in his kitchen when he gets home.

It's easy at times to project the image that everything is rosey and peachy. Positive energy makes it so much easier to focus on that, but there are still chaotic moments. My kids still fight going to bed almost every night. And I'm still convinced we're the worst parents with bedtime consistency. Some days I yell at my kids because I'm tired, cranky, and short on patience. Some days I think what a great man I married; other times I think one of us is going to kill the other today. Some days I think my kids are about as close to perfect as can be; other times I'm not really like them because I want to lock myself in my room and turn my deaf ear to their constant cries of "Momma!"

I got lots of compliments at the beginning of this blog because I was known for keeping it real. Many times those real, chaotic moments we're suppose to hide I guess, were what lead to sometimes insightfully funny posts that many enjoyed. The other day I was even thinking how, "Man it sucks that my life  has to be chaotically messy for me to be funny." But my life is in a much better place than it was a year or two ago. Unfortunately, sometimes I feel that people would rather see us at our lows than our highs. I guess those lows make us more real because they show our struggles and our weaknesses, and people can more easily relate.

For now don't take our high to mean we're perfect or found perfection because we definitely haven't. Maybe part of finding that high is letting that ideal go in the first place and learning to find contentment in the imperfections.

If you've missed any recent posts check out  2014 in Review, The Invisible Monster of Cancer, and The Days are Long, and It's Great!

Help me start reaching my 2015 sales goals with my book,  Moms, Monsters, Media, & Margaritas.. The print copy is currently for sale for $8.  The book is also now available on the Amazon kindle for $3.99 and the Barnes and Noble Nook for $4.99.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Invisible Monster of Cancer

I'm not sure if I can explain my odd fixation with childhood cancer or really cancer in general. I am not a big worrier. I leave that to my little sister and even my husband who worries about the girls getting hurt from this or that.

However, for years cancer has been like this monster lurking in the closest to me. I always worry when will it show its ugly face again. Cancer is something I imagine few families have escaped. Both mine and Nate's parents lost siblings to cancer by age 40. We've both had family members that faced it in their old age, but your 40s is still such a tragic age to die. I met my first child with cancer when a friend of mine's cousin lost her battle to a brain tumor at age 10. I follow countless media pages of children fighting this horrific battle. These children are amazing warriors. Their stories will break your heart and inspire you at the same time.

I often wonder do my friends with their young families look at their loved ones and worry who will it strike. Nate and I spend quite a bit of time, especially on our long drives, reading up on cancer research. As we work towards being able to make donations throughout the year cancer research and charities is always my first choice.

I'm a control freak. Those that know me well know this. I also have a hard time not doing or saying something when something brothers me. Cancer has always seemed like this invincible monster that I can't do anything about. I've seen more friends than I can count face this battle with their loved ones; I've followed, prayed, and cried for people I don't even know as they've faced this battle. Just as I'm praying for them,  I've also prayed please never let it be me or mine.

So as we head into a new year I think about what can I do. I hope to continue to make donations, but in the meantime I wanted to share a site for immunotherapy for cancer that I've been following. Radiation and chemotherapy I don't believe is the answer. It's such a deadly poison on its own, and I've read too much about what a money making industry radiation and chemotheraphy is to the pharmaceutical companies. It just seems in this day and age there has to be more options. We need to be focused on new treatments, and I really hope this one is as promising as they hope. So in 2015 I'm going to be following and supporting this new promising treatment for pediatric and hopefully all other cancers. You can learn more about this treatment as they move forward in 2015 by following their facebook page Strong Against Cancer or visit their website.

As I shared before when I wrote about pediatric cancer back in August with my Fighting Childhood Cancer post this is a disease that I feel is everyone's fight. The country went into almost mass panic when Ebola threatened; however, the outcry against the monster of cancer seems so silent in comparison even though it's probably claimed thousands of lives since the outbreak of Ebola. I don't mean to take away the importance of fighting Ebola, but to emphasize the importance of building the fight against cancer. It is there, the invincible monster, waiting in the shadows, for any one of us because none of us are immune, and I have seen what it can do. I do not wish that on anyone.

For now I hope you'll check out this organization and what they're doing. Consider donating to them in 2015, and as for myself they will be the first organization we donate to in 2015. Hopefully we can all celebrate some promising results from their research this year, and maybe this is the year cancer  will go down.

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Saturday, January 3, 2015

2014: Finding Contentment

I feel that 2014 was a good year for me. When I look back on it I think of  it as the year I found contentment. Even though we bought our house in 2013 it was a rough year financially, which also lead to a rough year mentally. So 2014 was like the rebound year. I think part of that rebound was to learn to let some things go and embrace the moment more.

I've  really enjoyed this past year of little kids in the house. Even though it always seems our babies grow too fast I don't miss the infant or toddler years as much as I thought. I love seeing the people my babies are becoming. Averi started kindergarten and is still one of the sweetest, loving little girls I've ever known. Her independent and helpful nature has continued to grow with school. She is such a great role model to her little sister, and Kenz adores her. I always think God sent her to me first because he knew how much I would need her as a young mom away from family.

As for Kenzi it was like discovering a new child this year. She really came into her own. I think learning to talk really gave her the opportunity to shine with her own individual personality. She was not an easy baby and with that and other things I feel like this was the year we all completely fell in love with this sassy, determined, independent little girl. This girl makes me laugh every day. She has so much spunk, and I love it. She can be a handful at times, but I would not have it any other way. She is such a miniature of myself so she gets angry or emotional easily at times, but she must know her Momma understands because whereas Averi is a huge daddy's girl Kenz is a momma's girl.

Now that they are both little girls rather than a little girl and toddler or toddler and baby, the bond these two share still never ceases to amaze me. They talked me into letting them share a room this year, and even though they definitely have their moments of mischief and occasional fights, they really are the best of friends.

As a family, we began 2014 at home but ended it with probably one of our biggest travel years in awhile. Between two trips home to Missouri, four home to Erie, PA, weekend trips to camp in West Virginia, the beach in Ocean City, a trip up to NYC finally, and our vacation to Disney World in Florida we traveled somewhere every month from April to December. Getting home to see family is probably about #1 on my priority value list so even though it never feels like enough time I am so thankful we were able to get home as much as we did. Mountains and beaches each in 2-3 hours is one of the top things I love about living in Maryland so any year that I can make use of that makes me happy. I love to check out new sights and experiences, and even though I'd been to Disney World before seeing it through the eyes of my girls who still believe in its magic is a memory I'll treasure forever. Even though the trips are a lot of work at times with kids, pets, packing up and unpacking, and budgeting, it has always been worth it to me. I love seeing the anticipation of a road trip on my kids' faces. People always ask how they travel, and I always joke that they never had a choice to be anything but good travelers. They really are good travelers thankfully.

After rotating back and forth between the two of us with getting our masters after this year we both finally have our MA +30, which has given me the opportunity to teach college courses at the local community college and Nate to pursue jobs here in the next few years in educational leadership and administration. We will hit the ten year mark this summer since we moved out here together to start this life of ours, and to have finally completed this milestone has definitely felt like a huge weight off our shoulders.

I had a personal goal to publish my own book, even though it wasn't the kind of book I wanted to publish, this past year, and make a little money off my writing. My goal was $500 and depending on how you look at it I either just missed the goal or exceeded it a little. I lost money on having the book converted to the ebook format. If I look at the cost with the ebook I'm $90 in the hole on that, but made $540 with print books and other writing income so overall I ended up at $450. I donated $125 of it, used $200 towards our Disney trip, and the other $125 went towards August, our super tight money month of the year so it probably went to something exciting like my electric bill. If you haven't gotten my book check it out here for $8.

Overall, it was a great year, and one of the greatest things that I think made this year great was I feel that I made progress on learning to just let things go and choose happy. So what are my plans or goals for 2015? I have a fictional writing project I'd like to complete, I'd like to complete our family with a hopeful third, healthy baby (perhaps a boy???), I'd like to continue to work on improving my eating habits and consistency with working out ( kind of got off track with that with the holidays here the last month or so), I'd love to see Nate get the new job he's been working towards and with that maybe I'd get my dream come true and get to teach part time.

So my New Year's resolution for this year is to just keep on keeping on with what made 2014 so great. Spend as much time as possible with the people that matter to me, let the ones that criticize and judge go, spoil my kids with time spent together and love, sneak in some dates with the man that s on this never ending adventure with me, travel and write because I simply enjoy it, and live, laugh, and love every day in 2015. I hope you have a blessed 2015 with lots of love and laughter with the ones you love.

Some of the best pics of 2014:

Spring 2014

Summer 2014


Fall 2014

Holidays 2014