Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The World is Waiting for You

Between Nate and I we have almost a dozen younger cousins between us. We're the oldest on both sides of our family, and they are all at those opening gates of adulthood now between ages 19-24. Which as I always say is one of the most exciting times in your life.

One just bought her first house and is expecting her second baby, and they are such great parents. Another just accepted her first teaching job, and I know she is going to be great.  Another is finishing her final semester of college and job hunting, and I can't wait to see what adventures she embarks upon. The others are in college working towards degrees, out in the work force, and many in relationships they hope to make the one. It is such an exciting time for them.

As their big cousins we're so proud of them. As exciting of a time as this is for them, I also know how confusing it can be to fully embark on adulthood with all its wonderful responsibilities and choices. You finally get to make  your own choices, and now you may find yourself at a point of wishing someone would just make it for you.

As excited and as proud as I'm sure your parents are of you too, I also know how parents (God love them) like to impose their older than you wisdom upon you. But remember this. This is your life to live now. Believe it or not they will love you no matter what. Now is the time you want to be true yourself.

One of your parents gave us one of the greatest compliments I've ever received, which was acknowledging us as great individual and couple role models to you and others. However, as great as that is you don't need to be like us, do stuff like us, or live your life like us. Go create your version of greatness, and I know without a doubt you're all going to be great in your own individual ways. As your big cousins we will be here to cheer you on, offer our support, be the listening ear when no one else seems to understand.

It wasn't that long ago we were at those opening gates that you now stand in. It's amazing but it can be hard and confusing. We made mistakes and so will you, but it will be okay. Now is the time to take risks, to chase your dreams, to start building yourself the life you've imagined all the years leading up to this point. Go on, the world is waiting for you, and I for one believe in you and know you will be great!


Your Big Cousins


Sunday, September 27, 2015

Falling in love with Little League Soccer

The first year we signed one of our kids up for a team sport was when my oldest was three. After that experience I said I would never start another one of my kids in team sports again as early as three. It was well, honestly, kind of painful to watch.

She would be interested in kicking the ball for a bit before the game but when the game started she was not interested. She was intimated by the older kids on the team, and the fact that she is not an aggressive child by nature was clearly apparent that year. After that year I looked at my husband and said, "Well, that may be our only experience with soccer. I don't think I can put myself through another season of that."

She didn't play when she was four but when she was five she asked to play because some of her friends were playing so I reluctantly signed her up. After the first game I remember her dad and I were ready to give her an attitude adjustment. She acted like she didn't even want to be there. She wasn't hustling. She was whiney. Now unfortunately my kids have two parents that grew up playing competitive sports and spent the early days of their teaching career coaching so we're not exactly the pat them on the back no matter how they played and say, "It's okay. Good job." We're not complete hard asses either, but part of being an athlete is being able to take constructive criticism .  Four years old or not the poor kid had to listen to both of us get on her about her lack of effort and positive attitude on the field. At that point I said that would be the last season.

But the kid completely surprised me. As I've said my oldest is not the most aggressive child, and I've wondered about more aggressive sports like soccer not being a good fit for her. By the end of the season though she was scoring goals, and she was playing like she wanted to be out there on that field.

Now we're three games into her third season, and it has been so much fun to watch her come into her own. This is her first season playing in the actual league above instructional where they keep score, have refs, and I believe even have a championship game at the end of the season . It's 6-8 year olds so she's one of the younger ones, but so far her team has won all three games.  They have a coach that obviously knows what she's doing, and she's learning so much about how to play the game other than kick the ball in the goal. She's not the best player on the team by any means, but the girl is holding her own. She's scoring goals, she was making passes last game, she's hustling, and it's obvious she wants to be out there.

As someone who never played soccer, never watched soccer, and who found my first parenting experience with soccer far from entertaining, I am loving cheering her and her friends on from the sidelines. It is so neat to watch your kid find her own passion for something. I don't know how long she'll stick with soccer, but I'm totally on board now for as long as she wants to play. The kid I wasn't sure about being an athlete looks like she just may turn out to be one after all.

                                             I love her look of determination in this picture.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Sometimes It's Just Time to Move On

I guess at this point we’re already six weeks into the new school year, and it feels so great to enjoy my job every day again. Job change was definitely something I needed for myself two years ago, and even though I knew I wouldn’t find a new fit right away with the temporary assignment I took last year I was more than willing to test out the waters and be patient.

Some of how it worked out was calculated planning on my part and some was just plain luck, and I am definitely happy with how it all worked out. Getting your confidence back from something you’ve lost I’ve found is a process at times, but I definitely feel more confident and definitely less defeated as teacher than I did a couple of years ago.

There have been points where I’ve headed into work with that awful feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach because I know I either have to deal with some kid or class of kids that are going to fight me every step of the period on everything and treat me like scum on the bottom of their shoe. Or I’ve felt that sense of dread, anticipating being criticized for the behavior of a kid or group of kids that I’ve tried to reach but are obviously bent on a path of destruction yet somehow it’s my responsibility to make them behave and care about their education. I spent nine years with the majority of my day working with the lowest level and typically most challenging behavior kids in the gen ed population(and the most frustrating thing was how much they took away from the education of the great students that were in there), and now for the first full year in a decade I was going to be working with higher level, typically well behaved kids with goals and ambitions that for the most part see education as a path to reaching those goals.

I reached a point where the job just beat me down, and between the stress of home at that time and the job I still wonder which one influenced which the most. I knew I wasn’t happy, and I knew I needed change. Two years later I can say I have it. I look forward to seeing my classes, excited about what’s planned for the day, and I leave work again feeling satisfied most days with how the day went. I feel like I did my first couple years of teaching again. It’s not that I don’t have a kid, class, or situation that annoys me ever; I do because that’s just life and work.

Again, depending on how one looks at it. Some could view my desire to move on from working with the most challenging classes as a negative reflection of me personally or as a teacher, or some could see it as smart to recognize when I had reached my limits and to do something about it for the benefit of myself and others. I refused to become an unhappy teacher, mad at the profession and adolescences for the remaining twenty years of my career.

I have always believed we spend way too much time at our jobs, away from our families, to not feel at least a sense of happiness and contentment for our time spent at work. Work should not be a place to dread to go to or something that fills us with anxiety and stress daily after the work day is over. I for one think spending my work days happy is a huge component in our overall happiness, and I'm glad I have that for myself again.

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On the Sidelines



Wednesday, September 16, 2015

What was I Worried About!

As I sat watching my girls play and interact together this past weekend, I reminded my husband how  I  worried years ago about adding a second baby to our family. I wondered what another baby would do to our relationship with our oldest. I wondered how my oldest would handle the addition of a baby that would need lots of our attention and love. How would it change our oldest to have a younger sibling? Or you worry if you and others can love the second one as much as the first one?

Now I seriously think what a waste that was. I had absolutely nothing to worry about. The bond and love between those two just continue to amaze me. Now they're quite the pair. In some ways they're so similar. They are both such friendly, outgoing kids. They have no social fear and can charm about anyone with those big eyes and mischief smiles of theirs.  Yet the things that are opposite in them just seem to complement each other so well. Whereas one is fearless towards about everything (the oldest) the other is my hesitant, more self conscious before she jumps one (the younger one). Whereas one is the people pleaser, almost too obedient to a fault one (the oldest) the other one doesn't hesitate for a moment to stand up and speak her mind (the younger one). They both just have so much personality and passion for having fun and living life.

Now you can't imagine one without the other. We love them each for who they are and love that they're so different from one another yet seem to just go together like peanut butter and jelly. They have their disagreements like all siblings, but the two of them can disappear into their room or downstairs for hours (seriously) and get completely absorbed in some imaginative world they create together. They are all about being the tag team when it comes to teaming up against mom and dad, and they are the first to comfort and come to the defense of the other (especially the youngest defending the oldest) when one of them ends up in trouble.

I know this is just the beginning of their wonderful sister relationship, but I am so excited to see their love and bond for one another grow as they do. I know at times them and us will maybe think they're drifting apart, but I have faith that these early years are creating such a strong bond that they'll find their way back to each other as they travel through the bumps in the road of life.

                                   "Come on, sis, hold my hand. I promise not to let you fall."

"I have  you, little sister."
Loves to take care of her sister
Spunk and spunk
                                                    When they first met and fell in love

Thursday, September 10, 2015

On the Sidelines

As I was trying to fill in Nate's baseball schedule, his aspiring leaders course schedule, his cooking class schedule, and then Ave's schedule with horse lessons, soccer, and girls scouts I was struck with the one schedule that was missing that in the past had been one we needed to work around at times, mine. For a brief moment, every now and then, I will have a moment of feeling like something is missing, like I should be doing something more. Maybe I should have taught that college class, maybe I should have signed up to sponsor a club at work, maybe I should start trying to take classes for the grad certificate I want or even yet start looking into the PhD programs that are on my big maybe one day dream list. Those thoughts last very briefly. They are honestly quite fleeting; they are there but I don't spend much time thinking much past the initial thought. Part of it I wonder if it's guilt because I'm use to being the one to pick up extra work because as a high school teacher there were always more options available, I see other moms taking on extra commitments with work and kids so I think I should too, and I'm use to pushing myself honestly beyond my limits. However, I know that is not a healthy place for me to be in, and right here on the sidelines really is the best place for me right now.

Unfortunately as a teacher part of the reflection on how dedicated of a teacher you are is measured in the extras you take on after the regular school day. I've talked to too many new teachers that after the first year start stressing how they need to sign up to sponsor clubs or coach sports now because there is such pressure to get involved. Again after spending ten of the last eleven years (I did not oversee or take on anything extra the year Kenzi was born) that guilt that I should be doing more because that's what's expected, or so and so is ,or just because I always have can sneak in, but honestly again if I look back I needed a serious step back. Not just personally but professionally because I lost my enjoyment of teaching and with it my confidence. I think to build both of those back up I really needed to be able to focus on what I can do to be better in the classroom for the students I serve in my class. I have that chance now, and I am loving it in a away I haven't in years. With passion again comes motivation to try harder, to try new things, to challenge yourself. That is where I need to be right now.

The best part of all, professionally and personally, is I am really enjoying being right where I am right now.   I love being home to get Ave off the bus, to run her to activities and watch her engage with friends and things she's coming to love. She reminded the other day how I teach her things because I worked with her on how to hit a pitched ball, catch the ball in the air, to ride her bike, and to tie her shoes. I've even taken up cooking dinner once or twice week this year so by the time Nate walks in the door he doesn't have to worry about it, and with me here every afternoon and evening if something comes up with work foe him it's no big deal because I'm here every night for the girls.

Stepping back has also been not just a huge improvement for me professionally or as a working mom but has made such a huge difference in my relationships too. It's definitely improved my marriage. I don't snap at Nate as soon as he walks in the door because I feel overwhelmed and like I'm taking on the world alone. Unfortunately, when I look back I think in some of my most peaked moments of overwhelming stress I think it really took a toll on my relationship with Averi ( I think Kenz was too little),  and I feel I'm  in a much better place with her now too.

So to some maybe I did place myself on the sidelines, but again we all have to evaluate what is best for us and ours. That call has to come from within us, not from what everyone else wants from us. It's so easy to always think more is better. The more I can do the better mom I am. The more money I make the better our life will be. The more time I work the better employer I'll be.  Sometimes I feel as if by not doing more I am less, but the thing I have to remind myself is I have done it. I've been the working mom that took on the extra commitments after school and with grad classes. I have done that balancing act, and I would do it again if I felt there was a need, not a want, because I know I can do it but I also know it comes at a cost to myself. I definitely learned we are the caretakers, moms, and I had to make taking care of myself a priority for everyone's benefit. If you need me I'll be on the sidelines, coaching and cheering on team Glenn, because that really is the best place for me right now.