Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Great Unifiers

Lots of milestones in life unify people for one reason or another.  Home ownership, entering the working world, and becoming parents are just a few of the world’s great unifiers.  But if you really stop and think about it, those things really bring people together.  And when you are in the company of a person with something like that in common, it seems to take quite some time before there is even a slight lull in the conversation.  These unifiers are just the things for which we can all offer differing perspectives, and tell a story.  And because of that commonality, we can relate, be entertained, and just shoot the breeze. 

Many of these unifiers brought me into some fun conversation last weekend.  I attended a holiday sweater party in the neighborhood.  For starters, we all have our neighborhood in common.  Now, I am somewhat left out of this because the neighborhood is filled with custom homes (for none of these do I actually know the name…) and then we live in the original farmhouse.  I know. We are lucky.  Our house is, well, an awesome piece of history.  But, choosing this place, owning a home there, and having a genuine interest in the neighbors brought us all together.  And might I say, it was a supremely fine time. 

Motherhood is another big one.  It is not unlikely to have a glass of wine or two, and then find yourself trading labor stories.  For people who have not yet had kids, or do not plan to have them, this probably sounds completely barbaric.  But I promise you, get one woman talking about pregnancy, and the next thing you know, you have learned most of the labor, start to finish, what the husband/partner was doing that time, and obviously, how it all ended (sometimes down to the last gory detail)… But if you’ve been through it, or want to go through it, it gets pretty darn interesting.  Motherhood unifies us. 

These unifiers brought me to another, rather entertaining, realization:  I probably would not have been friends with ANY of these people in high school.  While I didn’t eat lunch alone or anything like that, I was more of a theatrical person, and my social group reflected that.  I was somewhat shy (until you knew me), and probably didn’t give myself enough credit in terms of a social life.  But, you certainly did not find me at the “popular” lunch table.  I was a nice person (except in fourth grade… I don’t know why, but I was the meanest little brat on earth.  I guess I was insecure.  Why does a 4th grader act sadistic?  I do not know… if I could turn back time I would lay the smack on my 4th grade self!!!) . But in any case, at the top of the social ladder, I was not.  And as I looked around this party, it seemed to me that I was surrounded by people who were probably infinitely cooler than I was in high school.  And this gave me the greatest laugh, because who cares?  Look at us now.  We all pay bills, go to work, or run our households (or both), and we all enjoy donning a silly sweater, having a cocktail, and eating delicious food.  And we can trade some darn fine stories in the process.  Some people dread the real world: the bills, the responsibility, and gasp, the gray hair (well, at least for me!).  But you know what?  The real world can be super sweet too.  Because somewhere along the lines we all get real, barriers come down (if they ever even existed in the ways we thought they did in high school), and we spend time for the sake of spending time.  And we enjoy.  It’s all good, man.  Happy Holidays :)

Friday, November 16, 2012

The teenage mind, and my soapbox

I'm a high school teacher.  I have taught elementary and middle also.  I pretty much liked it all, but middle school was awesome, and high school is definitely pretty sweet.  I'm a reading specialist, though, so you can imagine what kids think about being in my classes in high school.  Understandable...

And, let's be honest, I'm not as young as I used to be (shoot! how did THAT happen!?!?!).  I have been catching myself recently thinking about how students should "know better" and be "thinking about their futures" and blah blah blah.  Well, slap me silly!  Have I MET MYSELF????

I remember when I was in middle and high school.  I did care about my grades, and graduation, but whatever was going on socially was paramount.  School was difficult for me for a while, compounded by the true confession that whatever was going on with friends (in the small social life that I actually had), always seemed like the most important, or the most insurmountable issue ever.  Academics just dropped to number two (well, not to poop, just to second on the totem pole:).  You know I can't resist a little toilet humor... but I digress... I think (I know, we all know) that is just the way the mind of an adolescent works.  Their psychological development is such that they are the center of their universe.  That's not a dig, just the real deal.  And for a while there, in my teaching career, I realized this, remembered it, and relied on it to keep me grounded.  It also helped me remember not to take things (such as students not remembering to do my homework) personally. 

So every time I climb on my little soap box, I think I need someone to backhand me right back off of it!  Of course, if you're thinking "I'll do it! I'll backhand you!  Pick me, pick me!" ya better get in line...  But seriously, is it annoying that sometimes kids expect that walking through the door of my classroom is enough? That by being physically present but not feeling like doing anything to better themselves will suffice?  Yeah, it is supremely obnoxious.  But it is also the nature of the beast.  So I guess I better pony up or peace out.  And we all know I'm not peacin'.... so giddy up!  Ride like the wind... I am SO glad it is Friday :) 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Ignorance: Alive & Well

My kids are bi-racial.  They are half Korean, and half... well... mutt.  White.  Whatever.  Caucasian to be exact.  Sometimes, when I have them out with me, and my husband isn't with me, people will ask questions.  I don't mind at all!  I love my kids. I think they are fabulous... please, ask about them!  Once, at a consignment sale, a lady said, "Where did you get your babies?"   To which I replied, without thinking, "Korea!"  She said, "really?"  I responded, "Well, yeah, Korea and my uterus.  They are bi-racial.  My husband is from Korea"  She promptly apologized, telling me that her babies were from South America, and mine looked similar to hers.  I just laughed, and told her not to worry.  I was happy to have someone notice their beautiful skin tones.  Questions like that, I don't mind. It is understandable that people might think my children are adopted.  And I would be proud if they were, of course, as adoption is the best gift you can give to a child.  I like that people notice differences.  After all, both my husband and I have adoption in our families (that's how he got here!), and we celebrate all sorts of different family make-ups.  And let's be honest... my kids are cute (in my own, extremely biased opinion)!

However, some people have less than celebratory things to say about my kids.  And I don't think they mean it at all.  But on two occasions, I have been extremely shocked (and somewhat appalled)...

Once, when the boy was about 5 months old, I was at the lab getting a blood draw.  My friend (his God Mother) was holding him in the lobby so I could go get stuck.  When I came out, the receptionist said, "Awww, your baby is so cute!"  To which I replied, "Thanks!"  But could she leave it at that?  Nooooooo... she continued, "He's so cute! He has chinky eyes."  I don't even know how to spell that word, but the point is REALLY?!?!?!?!?!? YOU JUST SAID MY BABY HAS CHINKY EYES?????????  Seriously.  I looked at her, and smiled, and said, "Well, that's because his father is Korean..."  She was mortified.  Apologizing all over herself...  Good.  Her embarrassment was a necessary side effect of her ignorance.

Fast forward a few years to when I am daycare shopping.  I show up with the girl this time, and begin the tour of the daycare.  In conversation, I mention that the girl is half Korean, which is why she doesn't look like me.  To this, the daycare provider replies, "Well, that's okay!"  Really?  Okay?  Because I definitely was not just APOLOGIZING for the race of my own child.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Before we speak, maybe we ought to think. Agreed?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Love at first.... nevermind....

It has been a while!  And I'm not so sure I'm going to keep this blogging thing up.  I don't really think people read it much, and I don't see how it will become more interesting.  After all, once the doctoral thing picks back up, I will be exhausted and cranky.  Who wants to read that?  So either I need to morph it, or lose it altogether.

But in the meanwhile- quick update:  I am inactive as a doctoral student until January.  The first week back to work in the new job (where I work at 2 high schools) I realized there was no way I could do all of this and survive.  I e-mailed the university, and they kindly placed me on "inactive" until January.  I have until 2022 to finish all of this, and while I certainly do not wish to take that long, I also need to survive.  So, a leave for half of the school year seemed like the right thing to do.  And, I'm glad I did it. 

Well, the truth is, I love blogs.  I love to read other people's blogs more so than writing my own (hence the massive lag in entries).  When I write my own, I fret over pretentiousness, supermom complex (or the opposite), boringness, bad grammar, the list could go on.  When I read other people's blogs, I just enjoy them. 

Recently, I've read two fabulous entries on meeting husbands... here's one:  She calls it "The Myth of "The One.'"  Then, within a few weeks, someone I went to college with and now keep in touch with over facebook posted this one, called "The Last Five Years."  You can view it here:  It got me thinking about meeting my hubs.

Well, I haven't outright mentioned yet that I'm a Christian.  Not that I was holding it back or anything.  I just wanted to show that people of faith are also normal people.  But then I realized, that's just silly, because no one has EVER accused me of being normal in my life!  Moving on, then....

Eight years ago, I graduated from college.  I was going into teaching, but needed a summer job.  I started working with my friend at a gym.  She worked in cardiac rehab, while I was a lowly temporary receptionist.  Speaking of that friend... she has a beautiful blog too!  Check it out here:  (Who wants to guess that I haven't taken my ritalin in a few days!?!?!).  So, I took that job at the gym.  After graudation, I spent a week in New York at the wedding of two of my dear friends.  Soon after that, another two friends got engaged.  Some people might be sitting in shock right now, as this seems like a very young age for all of these weddings.  However, in the Christian community, we wed young if we can help it!  Some people blame the celibacy thing, but there's more to it than that (but don't get me wrong, we all wish to procreate, yes? Or at least practice...)

I had pretty much resigned myself to singleness.  After all, if I hadn't found someone in my same Jesus boat in college, the idea of doing so in the real world seemed pretty slim.  So, I go to work at the gym, and I'm shocked by all the "men" there, successful in their careers, and, well, they are personal trainers after all... so I need not go on.  One guy caught my eye.  He was kind, a little on the hyper side (like you should be surprised), and a super hard worker.  I was not at all like, "I want you I need you oh baby oh baby..."  I was more intrigued. 

Of course, I could NEVER ask a guy out, so my friend just told him that if perhaps he was interested, he could feel free to ask me out because I would say yes (does this sound like middle school to you?  sorry....).  Anyway, he started bringing me coffee, and then he did ask me out.  And I can only describe our first date with one word: intrigue.  I wasn't in love at all, I wasn't even totally in "like."  I was just intrigued.  I wanted to know more about him, and spend more time with him.  Love at first sight was not the case at all.  I was just interested.

Over time, that interest became love.  I think it was around date 4 or 5 that I had to drop the "I do not believe in premarital sex" bomb on him.  That was interesting, to say the least.  He took it like a champ though.  The timeline looked like this:  We met in May of 2004, had our first date in July of 2004, got engaged in October of 2004, and Married in July of 2005.  Sure, this supports the whole "Christians get married too fast" theory, but the truth is, I'm a teacher, so we had to have a summer wedding.  So it was either get married next summer or wait almost 2 years.  So we just got married!  Our love is a love of comfort.  When we decided to get married, it wasn't "ahhh! I am so in love with him!!!"  I mean, I was, and I am.  I'm crazy about him.  But it was more like, "In 20 years, I want to look up from my dinner, and still see him.  In 20 years, and also for forever." 

So does love at first sight exist?  I'm sure it does.  I fell in love with figure skating at first experience.  I still love it to this day.  But the love I know and trust is the one that is comfortable.  People talk about "getting too comfortable."  I know that has a completely different context.  But life is hard, things change, and overall, there is little you can count on.  Maybe loving your spouse comfortably is something that you can actually count on.  And he still intrigues me.  Sometimes it is intrigue such as, "you looked over your shoulder yet STILL whacked our neighbor's car? That intrigues me!" Or, "Interesting that the sign said 30, you drove 50, and you are shocked by the ticket!?!?  Interesting..."  But other times, it is intrigue at the way he can get our children to behave.  He gets into their heads almost, and makes a game out of it, where I would just be like, "You have to behave because you have to behave.  End of story."  And comfort.  He's not going to send me flowers at work (I have girlfriends who do that anyway), but he will make sure that I know he thinks I'm pretty in my ripped jeans and old tee shirt, and he'll make sure that he always asks about my day.  He's cool like that.  He may work an insane amount of hours each week, but when he's here, he's here.  He's ours.  The way our children light up when he gets home is a gift.  We are all better people because of him.  So much of life is spent trying to keep up with an image, or with expectations that are unrealistic (helloooo teaching, helloooo corporate America).  I see nothing wrong with a comfortable, interesting kind of love.  Maybe it keeps me grounded.

So if there is a lesson in all of this, I'd say we should rejoice in comfort, and if you haven't found the right person yet, let go of love at first sight.  Be painfully practical.  It just might work. But hey, what do I know?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Back to it!

I got a job placement (just to follow up on the last post)... It was the one I wanted.  Not only was my need met, but my want was met as well.  Phew!

I was waiting on a reimbursement check to start my next class, but I figured I would outline it anyway, because that is the first step to starting any course at this University.  I have to outline it, choose when to have discussions, and make sure it can all be done in 16 weeks.  In the first course, this was pretty much done for me. 

As I was typing out all of the readings, I realized that my first course was NOT hazing.  It was easy.  The reading was minimal compared to this.  Maybe I just don't understand how to lay it all out, but whoa.  The amount of reading is insane!  Not complaining, just a teensy bit shocked!  After spending over 2 hours outlining the first section of the course (a month's worth of reading), I thought perhaps I was making more work of it than was meant to me.  I stopped there and e-mailed my mentor (the Dean, conveniently) to be sure I was doing it right.  I'll wait to hear back before I keep at that outline. 

This feels like the real jumping off point for me.  If I can get through this class, I will be confident in my ability to endure the journey.  With the new job, I don't know what to expect in any realm.  My hope is that since I will have fewer students, I should have less grading and be able to devote the time I used to devote to grading to this.  However, the learning curve will be steep in the fall.  Perhaps I can push and get most of this class done in the summer... I don't know... But there will be more posts as it all unfolds.

I find this themed blog to be slightly boring.  Sorry... but this is life as a doctoral student.

In other news, my summer vacation is starting off nicely.  I'm LOVING being home with my kids, and swimming in the pool every day.  This summer, my little cherubs seem to genuinely like each other, which is a massive first in our book!  My son will be 4 in 2 weeks, and my daughter is 2 1/2.  They got off to a rocky start (I knew I was up the proverbial creek when my son asked me to put his sister, then a newborn, outside... in the blizzard of 2009... and 2010.  APPARENTLY she cried too much for his liking... he does not remember his own crying...).  When my daughter's first reaction to a possible conflict with her brother is to take whatever she has in her hands and clock him over the head (or between the eyes if she's feeling feisty), my hopes for their friendship diminish.  But these past 2 weeks of summer have proven to me that they do indeed love one another, and are starting to figure out how to play together.  I am so excited.  They are also HUGE fans of me right now, which never hurts!!

At 12:28 a.m., I know I will be getting up with them (and the sun) before I know it. Goodnight!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Goodbye, Cliches!

I'm in an interesting situation with my job.  Everything is okay, it's just that because of hiring and contract rules, when a school has to "downsize" (aka, population decreases thereby causing staffing needs to decrease) the most recently hired gets the boot.  Luckily, in my case, "the boot" just means I get reassigned to another school somewhere in the county, teaching something.  Presently, I still do not know where I will be assigned.  You can imagine (I would think), that after a while this uncertainty leaves me stressed.  I have good days and bad ones.  Since I don't know where I am going, I don't feel like there's any finality or closure to the situation, which can eat away at me. Especially considering for 2 months I've known I have to transfer, and for 2 months I have heard no news in regards to my new placement. And, the last week of school is coming up, and I'm really sad to leave.  I love my school & my wonderful friends there.

In any case, during this time of uncertainty, I've heard every consolation in the book.  Everything from maybe the new job will be better, to it is all about how I handle it, even to the good old everything happens for a reason.  And you know what?  That's all accurate in my book.  I am blessed to have a job.  I know this, and I thank God for this.  But at some point, the cliches can turn to guilt trips for me, for my lack of thankfulness for the blessings that I do have. 

So, coming to the point of this post (which is way too wordy... are you still reading?)... I heard an interview with Jason Mraz on the radio in regards to his song "I Won't Give Up."  You can read about it/watch it here:  Essentially he said he wrote it at a time in his life where was really bummed out.  And he got choked up and said, "I hate it when I am bummed out, because everything I've ever needed I've gotten..."  And he goes on to talk about a relationship that he chose not to give up on.  After hearing this, and mulling it over a bit, I though, "Dang, Jason! You just took this girl to CHURCH!"  But in all righteous honesty, I too have been given everything I ever needed.  I don't always get what I want, but I cannot look back on my life and think of a need that wasn't met.  As a child, I needed the chance to explore many activities (helloooo attention deficit), and my parents provided that, knowing full well some of these things I'd abandon as fast as I started (tennis, lacrosse), and some would become major sanity savers (skating, music, theatre).  As a teen in a high school (full of kids I did not go to middle school with), I needed friends.  I found a group of girlfriends, God bless them, who were amazing.  We gave each other flowers on valentines day because none of us had boyfriends, we drank Starbucks as soon as we could drive there, and we made sure none of us ever had to sit alone at lunch.  I had to wait for these friends, because nothing happens right away, but eventually (before I lost my mind, and before the end of 9th grade) that need was met.  Not in my time, but met nonetheless.  I needed a stable family.  In the mix of the fun we put in dysfunctional, that need was also met, thanks to good honest communication, and a strong shot of reality--mixed with laugh-till-you-pee humor.  In college, I needed a good therapist.  My parents found me one and funded that as well.  When I finished college, I needed a job. I got hired where I student taught.  Again, it took time (I was a little worried when August 1st rolled around, but the job happened).  I stopped working (first baby) right before the economy went to heck, causing husband's job to bring in about $400 under what we needed to live monthly.  Our family helped us, and I got a job within a couple of months.  Not because I wanted to return to work, but because I needed to (which turned out to be a blessing anyway... yes, cliche I know).  There are so many things in my life I have needed, and all of these things have been given to me.  And when I heard Jason Mraz saying that very thing, my first thought was, "psht.  privilege."  But then I thought it over more and realized he didn't say he got what he wanted.  He said his needs were met. 

I am so grateful to be able to come to that realization.  I feel like it throws all the cliches away and just gets real.  I also know that to some, this is a soap boxy, my-life-is-so-perfect-I-am-so-blessed" kind of post.  But truth be told, it was like a 2 by 4 whammed me in the nugget and said "GET OFF OF IT WOMAN!  Your needs will be met."  And they will.  Amen?

Saturday, May 5, 2012

A Working Mother's Rant

I love it that moms can stay at home.  I do.  I love it that they love it.  I also appreciate that staying at home is a really, really, hard job.  I know this.  But the thing I don't appreciate, is the subtle remarks in blogs, editorials, etc., that indicate somehow that those of us that have to go to work, or choose to, in addition to raising children, somehow aren't REALLY the ones raising them. 

Excuuuuuusssseeee me.  I can't count how many times I've read things like, "We make sacrifices so that I can raise my children."  If this is naked insecurity, then forgive me or look away.  I've done it both ways, and circumstances say I have to be a working mother.  And for anyone to say that it means I'm not really raising my kids reeks of ignorance.  Somehow, I go to work, and also raise my kids.  When I was staying home with my son, I really couldn't even wrap my head around how people worked and raised kids.  I thought he'd be in diapers till kindergarten because I would not be able to potty train him ever.  But then I had to work, and guess what happened... he ditched the diapers around age 3 with no struggle, and little bribery.  I waited longer to train him, yes, but I was glad because it really wasn't that hard. 

I have written before about how I relinquish some of my mothering duties to the caregiver.  This is true, because she sees my cherubs for more waking hours during the week.  But it doesn't give me a free pass on child rearing.  I think people need to respect choices, and realize that those of us who work, come home and still do everything else too.  I mean, maybe some working moms have housekeepers, but not this one. 

Everyone does the best with what they have, for what they have.  I really believe this.  I want the rest of the universe to believe it too... we should all be patting ourselves on the back for doing our best.  And stop saying one is better than the other.  We all have to do what we all have to do. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

look what I just done did...

Well, I'll be darned.  Remember that assignment that I was worried about?  The one where I design my next four courses?  Done.

Check it off the list!  How it works really, is I submit it, and then the dean responds with anything I need to fix (another phone conversation), and then I fix it.  Then I hand in the fixed copy.  And know what happens after that?  After that, I will have successfully completed the first 4 credits of the 60-62 on the doctoral to-do list.  Sweet!

I thought these courses were my very next 4, but it turns out that I have eight required courses in education before I get to these 4 I designed.  After those eight required courses, I can choose to edit these four, or leave them alone and complete them. 

I'm not sure if this is an accurate conclusion to draw, but I believe that perhaps this first course was one of those "are you cut out for this kind of academics" sort of course.  I'm happy to say that I loved it, and I believe I have done extremely well.  My transcript will tell the truth, but all signs point to 'A'!  I was really elated when I finished this template.  Don't get me wrong though, I had coffee (with caffeine) at dinner time... Zzzzzing!  So that helped. 

We shall see if the dean approves of my work.  In the meantime, I have to get back to my middle school work (lesson plans), and equally important, sleep.


Sunday, April 8, 2012

working mother survival

disclaimer:  these are things that help me survive... I'm not playing the Holy One here or anything like that....

Ten Helpful Survival Hints for a Working Mother (of young, not school-aged children):

1.  Accept that your caregiver will not do everything just like you do it.
2.  Accept that your children will likely behave better for the caregiver than they do for you.  Then, think forward a few years to when they are in school, and be grateful that they behave better for their teachers than they do for you.  Think minimal parent-teacher conferences here. 
3.  Understand that you will never feel 100% caught up in any area of your life (and if you are 100% caught up in all areas of life, see my supermom post, and unfriend me on facebook immediately :)
4.  Pack all lunches the night before, or better yet, get your spouse to pack all lunches the night before.
5.  Do not feel guilty for eating lunch at your desk... after all, you leave one job, and you're "on" automatically at the next one (family), which is the most important.  If you need to work through lunch to feel more grounded when you get home, go ahead.  I cannot tell you the number of lunches I have spent in front of my doctoral work.  It helps me feel more present at home, instead of anxious over all I have to do when my cherubs are in bed.
6.  Allow the caregiver to take over some of your parenting roles.  My kids get phonics and sight words at daycare.  I certainly do not go home and repeat the process.  I happily allow the daycare to fill that role, so that I can then fill the mothering role and hopefully "plate up" less frozen pizza (again, see supermom post) as well as spend more time just playing with my children before they go to bed.
7.  Realize that what works for you may not work for others. Like in #5, eating at my desk to work makes me feel better.  For some people, they would go nuts without adult conversation over lunch.  Know what you need, and do that.  Everyone is different.
8.  Look good.  Really, it helps if you are somewhat satisfied with how you look when you go to work.  Even if you jump straight into pajamas after work!!! 
9.  Limit screen time and sleep.  Screen time can eat up hours of what could be sleep time.  This perpetuates the exhausted to coffee cycle for so many. 
10.  Exercise... I know that to some people, working is already too much time away.  It is for me too, honestly.  But I have learned that going to the gym increases my patience in the evening, and helps me fall right to sleep after I put my kids to bed (sometimes WHILE I am putting them to bed.  Exercise is good for me, and my kids have no idea I pick them up 45 mins later three times per week.  Take care of yourself. 

Just my thoughts...  :)

Saturday, April 7, 2012

not. super. mom.

What is a super mom?  Is it she who revels in every little detail of baby/child rearing?  Is it she who has the patience of a saint?  Is it she who always has a clean house, nice bod, and perfect children?  Or maybe, is it she who never seems stressed and never yells?  Maybe it is she who has no gray hair (or covers it well), never requires more than four hours of sleep, and always makes home-cooked organic meals.

I don't know who super mom is.  But I can tell you, that it isn't me.  And if she exists, I do not want to be her friend.  Why? Because I would feel like the worst person ever every time I was in her serene, perfect presence.  And that, friends, would really make me mad.  I'm not saying that there aren't some moments (although they are few and far between) that I do have a clean house.  And I'm not saying I'm not patient.  For the most part, I am pretty patient.  But far be it for me to say that I never lose that patience.  That'd be a lie.  I also enjoy organic food as much as the next girl.  But some nights, I'm "plating up" some frozen pizza for dinner (yes, I do cook it first).  And you know what?  That just has to be okay sometimes. 

I've been called supermom, and superwoman before.  And don't get me wrong, I'll take the compliment anytime.  But the truth is, I do not know that woman.  I love my children, and most days, seriously, I could eat them because they are so sweet and cute.  But then there are other days that all I wish for is bedtime.  Is that wrong to say?  Somewhere between work, mothering, being a wife, and then throwing a doctoral student load in there (just for fun!), oh, and my husband working two jobs, I've just realized that our "normal" is somewhere in the madness.  My house can be a mess, my kids can eat pizza sometimes, and I can just leave the two feet of dirty clothes on the laundry room floor.  Because honestly, what does it matter if we aren't totally caught up all the time?  Usually, not much as long as we get to it eventually.  But sometimes it DOES matter, and gets the best of me, and those are the times that I start absolutely freaking out about everything.  But hey, I'm not supermom, so I don't really have a reputation to uphold, now do I?

So how do I take it all "in stride" you ask?  I don't, really.  I'm not supermom, remember? :)

But seriously, stay tuned for a post on the survival of the working mother... I have a few ideas, trivial as they may be.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Rules of the blogging universe...

Since giving up Facebook for Lent, I've found some other blogs to take up my time (I know, not such a great "sacrifice" now that I put it that way).  Lucky thing, many of the blogs I found actually repulsed me and frightened me, rather than cause me to have a certain stuck-to-the-screen-ness.  I stumbled upon one particular blog that was really something.  One of the posts contained some rules for blogging.  As I read these rules, I realized that I am not following many of them.  For example, one rule was to maintain complete anonymity.  Well, while I don't state my first and last name, social, and family member's names, I still post my blogs to Facebook (when it is not Lent) and share it with friends.  In fact, the purpose of the blog was to share about my doctoral course load.  But by doing this, I have to mention work and family, and then it becomes hard to maintain whatever anonymity I had left.  Another one of her rules was to share everything.  She praised over-sharing, calling it a way to get readers (or whatever it is called when you have a lot of people go to your blog).  And while I can appreciate transparency and openness, I can't go so far as to "tell all."  Transparency, while enticing, is just not my thing.  (If you want me to be transparent, sit down to a meal with me!! haha!)

So what's new?  And what's acceptable to post?  Last week, I had my final discussion about the readings required for this cornerstone course.  Now, as I have mentioned, I am on to designing the next two years or so of coursework.  So, the only discussion I have left is the one where the university tells me whether or not my proposed design is any good, and what changes I have still to make.  My first course ends May 4.  I am so excited that I have made it through this with minimal meltdowns (I have had plenty of meltdowns, to be clear, but fairly unrelated to the doctoral program).  So now, I get to finish the course, and get a tuition reimbursement.  These last three months have been financially quite tighter than usual because we have to make tuition payments without the help of a reimbursement check.  Once I mail my transcript to my county of employment, I get a check, which will cover about 3/4 of the tuition payments for my next course... thank God!  This doctoral endeavor has a hefty price tag.  My husband has been a saint for putting up with this... I mean, we both work, but he balances the checkbook, so he has to look at reality a bit more closely than I. 

This week I am on spring break.  I'm using some of the days to organize my house while I can still use daycare.  Call me a mean mom, or whatever you want, but when husband has two jobs, and I'm in school as well as teaching it, and I have pretty much two toddlers... my house is a wreck (in fact, I could do an entire post about that alone!)... so we snapped into survival mode about mid-March, and I promised I'd make a dent in this pit of a house over the break. So, here I am... blogging.... haha... and having a cup of decaf starbucks.

And on that note (and almost the end of my coffee), I'm out.  I'll probably write more this week.  But hey, let's be honest, if I'm not over-sharing, making my audience uncomfortable, or being totally anonymous, who's gonna read it?  :)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Facebook vs. EdD

I heard on the radio one day, that Facebook actually depresses people.  According to this study, people tend to only publish happy moments of their lives to Facebook.  And who is to blame?  After all, no one wishes to publish his or her entire life to Facebook, and no one wants to read a facebook page that is a 24/7 complaint publication.  But there must be something in the middle there... In any case, I find it to be a pretty accurate description.  People have a few minutes before bed, or in the middle of the day, and they hop on Facebook. They look at pictures, read the news feed, and suddenly, feel less "great" than they did before logging on.  Often, according to this study, it is because people internalize all of these happy posts, and begin to think that the rest of the world is happier than they are.  And aren't we all guilty of this?  After all, if I have a rough day at work, of if my kids are throwing tantrums and wiping their snotty little noses all over my clothes, am I going to update my status with this?  Unlikely.  I don't want to look "unprofessional," and I also don't want to gripe.  When my daughter took her first steps, did I post that to my wall? Absolutely.  Nobody likes to read complaints, but nobody likes to think that their life is inherently less happy than someone else's either.  Solution?  Quit facebook. 

No, I'm kidding.  But in all honestly, that stuff has to be taken with a grain of salt.  I gave up Facebook for Lent, and I have to say that it was a pretty selfishly-motivated sacrifice.  I was tired of the person I was becoming when I wasted my last few minutes of the day on there, when I could have been reading, or even grabbing a few extra minutes of sleep.  My other Lenten sacrifice (because I know you are so interested) is giving up swearing.  That one is a little tougher. 

So why title a post Facebook vs. EdD?  Well, the doctoral degree I am pursuing is not a PhD, it is an EdD (or Educational Doctorate).  The big difference is, instead of a dissertation, I get to write a giant legal publication.  This is much later, however, considering I am in about week 8 of the entire 6-10 year process.  In any case, here's what I'm finding:  Yesterday, I had a terrible day at work.  Whatever, it happens to all of us, and far be it for me to pretend that my life is perfect, or that I respond perfectly to all situations...  I don't.  So I get home, I'm frustrated, I'm just about in tears, and I'm mad about that, too, because it has nothing to do with my family, but for some reason I can't let it go.  Thus perpetuating my vicious cycle of annoyed-with-myself-ness.  Anyway, the kids and I get to playing, we have a nice night, I put them to bed, and then, as per usual, I am asleep within minutes.  I wake up today, and I have one hour to get work done before the husband leaves for his job.  (Obviously, much was accomplished or I would not be writing this presently).  I got to work on my next assignment for the Doctoral program. And do you know how I felt?  I felt great.  I felt accomplished.  Was it challenging? Yes.  Was it tedious?  At times, yes.  But it was mine.  It is mine.  I am in control of it, and the only thing happening to me as I work, is that I am learning.  I'm making connections, and this is all because I chose this.  I'm not going to pretend that I love this all the time, because I do not.  When I have to stay after school until 4:30 so that I can have an uninterrupted 90-minute phone conversation every week, or every other week, I am not thrilled, because I hate picking up my kids that late.  But overall, no one is worse for the wear, and I am (slowly.. ha ha) getting smarter. 

So- I guess a doctoral program trumps my old pal Facebook.  Not to say that I won't be all over Facebook when Lent ends, but at least now I know where I stand.  Fulfillment takes some effort.  And while I get annoyed, greatly, with this effort, the end result is satisfaction. 

Hate to be cliche... but I have to close with this quote:

“Education is about the only thing lying around loose in the world, and it's about the only thing a fellow can have as much of as he's willing to haul away."

-George Horace Lorimer,
American journalist and author 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Assignment 4...

... really?  I feel like I have been doing this school thing FOREVER, but somehow, I am on #4.  Holy Moly.  And I am pretty well stuck, because for this assignment, I have to draft my next four classes.  I have to select readings, and plan out my next FOUR classes!  I am at a loss.  Really, I do best when people tell me what to do... Although, if you asked my husband (or my parents) about that statement, they would strongly disagree.  They would probably say, "um, hello? Have you MET HER?  She DOES NOT do well with people telling her what to do!" Maybe the university knows me better than I realize...

Truly though, I really do not know what to write.  Luckily, it is a draft, or a mere "exercise" in what course designing is.  Despite all of that, it has brought my progress to a screeching halt.  I'm sure that within a day or two, I will be back in full swing, but presently, I am in a state of absolute confusion.  I guess that is a "welcome-to-the-strange-and-perplexing-world-that-is-being-a-doctoral-student."  Initiation, phase two, perhaps?  I bet there are many, many phases...

In any case, I'll keep swimming along.  Otherwise the university will need to throw me a raft... and at this stage in the game, I think it is wise not to ask just yet...

Saturday, February 25, 2012

one of THOSE people...

You know how there are some people who always feel the need to give you "perspective" when you are down?  Or those who, no matter what, always act like they are taking things in stride, and always looking at the positives?  And I'm not talking about being this way some of the time.  I'm talking every. single. minute.  And you can't help but wonder two things:  1.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME? and 2. ARE YOU FAKING THIS OR DO YOU REALLY BELIEVE IT?

Well, I was thinking about my reactions to life's small, and large, challenges.  Let's be honest, consider my last post.  You can imagine that plenty of people would like to offer me the bright side of that situation.  And given some recent events, I too have been reminded that it is not the end of the world.  But I never said it was, I just said I was sad.  And I am. 

But I got to thinking... do I come across as one of THOSE people?  I mean, generally, I'm pretty satisfied with life.  Generally, I can remain calm in difficult situations.  But that's just generally.  I also completely lose it sometimes, say the wrong things, and become emotional even though I wish I wouldn't.  I just can't help but wonder if people look at me and think that either I am removed from reality, or perhaps a grand perspective giver (which no one needs...). 

My response to all of that would be that I am the way I am because of what I have lived through.  I'm not going to stand here and say that my life began with suffering, because it certainly did not.  Nor did suffering follow me throughout my life.  But I have endured some pretty rough things (which, obviously I have no intention of publishing in detail).  So, if I seem to be a perspective girl, it is merely a result of what I have already experienced.  Very little surprises me, because very much I have witnessed first-hand. 

I laugh out loud when people excuse themselves for swearing in front of me.  Once I stop laughing, I remind them that they need not excuse themselves... And I suppose that my religion plays a part in the apologies for obsceneties.  But again, my religion is not a coincidence... it is what it is because of life's challenges. And also, I too have quite the trucker mouth (but I'm working on it!).

I want people to know really how I am this way, and really what "this way" is.  Not better than anyone, not nicer, calmer, wiser, or holier.  I am who I am because of where I've been.  For better, worse, and everything in the middle.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Who are you, and what have you done with the person I know?

At some point during my short stint as a stay-at-home mom, I realized that I would have to return to work.  This was a whopping 6 months after we had our first child.  (Obviously, Math was not our strong suit...)  This realization was heart-wrenching.  I couldn't come to grips with anyone else taking care of my child.  For the first 2 years back, I worked 2 days per week, so my husband watched him (and then, them-yeah, they are 17 months apart), one day, and a grandparent the other.  I adjusted to it eventually, after all, 2 days is nooooot a lot of time, and obviously the kid(s) adore daddy, and their grandmother.  After those 2 years, I started working every day. Kids started three days of daycare, and kept one grandma day, and one daddy day. One year it was shortened days, and presently, I'm back to full time.

I look back at those early days, when I literally wept almost every night before I had to go to work.  And now, I look at myself, and am not sure where that weepy woman went.  Not that I really miss her (and I can tell you that the weeping likely got old to the husband too, though he never let on)... But I have evolved, so to speak, into this career minded mother, and I have no idea how I got here.  Never, ever, in my life, did I expect for this to happen.

I'm a teacher.  I'm not going to sit here on my high horse and talk about all the lives that I may or may not have shaped, inspired, etc.  But I work in the field for the students.  And when you're in that field for the right reasons, it becomes all-consuming.  This is not to say that my own children have suffered from this, as the "all-consuming" parts tend to happen when they are asleep (grading, planning, etc), or during my work day.  But it becomes this thing that you eat, sleep, and breathe.  And I realized one day that I honestly didn't mind that.  I define myself as a wife & mother first, but the teaching thing is right there behind.

So this works out okay for me.  I started working on my doctoral degree, which, with any stroke of magic, should be finished in six to eight years.   And I love that too.  I've actually been in school most of my teaching career anyway, so I fell back into it pretty well.  At least for now, in the beginning phases...

But everyone knows that education is subject to the powers of politics and government.  And herein lies my most recent crisis.  I'm not here to bash anyone, nor question that which I cannot control.  But my job, that I know and love, has been drastically changed.  The outcome is that I will still have a job, somewhere.  I don't wish to minimize the relief that that is, especially during this economic disaster in which we are currently living.  But it is, in all honesty, of little consolation to me presently (in this stage of "grief" so to speak).  I throw my heart and soul into a community, and a school, and it all gets changed.  I am crushed.  Now I know, I know, that what lies ahead of me will be a blessing.  I know that God works for good in all things. I know.  And I know I still have a job. But I also know that some teachers are rejoicing as I cry, because these changes look better for their jobs, and my job is of little concern to them.  And, well, "it is what it is."  But for me, the job that I know and love, will be no more in the fall.  Something (that has been reduced to elective status, thereby tremendously reducing any credibility) will be available for some, and for others, we just have to lean on our other certifications for placement.  I'm sad, I'm angry, I'm offended, and I'm exhausted. And I am sorry if that sounds crazy...  But I won't excuse my tears.

But all of this to say- What on earth has happened to me?  When did I become this career-minded mother, doctoral student, etc.? What happened to the young mom who cried all the way to work every day because she had to leave her children in the care of someone else.?  WHERE IS SHE???

I don't know...  But I do know, that my life is fulfilling.  That my children might even be better off thanks to being with other children, learning how to take turns, learning how to share, learning how to read, and enjoying a "school" environment.  That my husband is so excited for me as I pursue my Doctorate.  That my brain thanks me tremendously, and my children see me as a patient mom (and yeah, the Ritalin helps with that too:)  And I also know every cliche in the book about things working out in the end.  I know, I know, I know... so where did my first mom-persona go?  Maybe she's in here, surrounded by the intellectual, and the humanitarian.  Maybe all of this is proof of saying that though I know not what lies ahead, that I will embrace it, just like I embraced working-motherness.  I have to... No choice in the matter... Who knows what new character traits might evolve from the present situation...

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

DIscussion 1

I had myself so nervous about this!  It is pretty intimidating to know I had to be on the phone for ninety minutes to discuss my reading.  Of course I read the material, several times over to be sure.  But this was my rookie discussion.  I was sweating, and had a terrible headache.  I was honestly probably purple, sitting in my classroom, talking on my cell phone. 

Once the discussion got into full swing, there is only one way to describe the discussion to you... Nerd Glory.  Seriously, this was exactly what my nerd thirst was requiring.  It went great! And it wasn't even really that scary!  Phew! 

So today, I submitted assignment 2, and scheduled discussion 2.  We're rolling for now.  The screeching halt I anticipate next is when I have to design my next 4 courses.  Yes, that will be a challenge.  For now, I'll "just keep swimming... just keep swimming."

Friday, January 27, 2012

On Quitting (Caffeinated) Coffee, and Starting Ritalin

Quitting caffeine stinks--no two ways about that.  Sure, I gave it up when I was pregnant with my kids, but when I was pregnant, particularly with #1, I didn't have anyone to chase around or get me up early (besides my job), so it wasn't so much the dependency that it had come to be as of late. Anyhow, in order to maintain doctor's requests, I dropped the caffeine and swapped it for Ritalin.  That first week was nasty, nasty.  FOUR DAYS of headaches.  But after taking Advil around the clock, they subsided. I've been caffeine-free for about two weeks now, maybe close to 3.

A colleague and friend commented to me today that I look very "professorial" since I have started my doctoral program.  This was such a nice compliment, to which I replied, "It's probably the Ritalin."  Now, I don't want to get all "where have you been all my life" on you... but in all honesty, I started taking Ritalin and it was like, "Ohhhhh, so this is how normal people feel!"  Apparently, feeling like you are literally going to crawl out of your skin anytime you have to sit and focus for more than a few minutes is actually not normal.  Know what else isn't normal?  When your to-do list gets over 2 pages long, and then when you look at it, you go load the dishwasher instead of working to shorten it.  And finally, when given twenty minutes to work, it is not normal to waste fifteen of it straightening your classroom when you have 60 essays to grade. I'm just saying.  After 29 years of living that way, I finally got a taste of how life can be with the ability to sustain focus. 

Obviously, I could get over these hurdles, as I did graduate from undergraduate and graduate school with a less-than-shabby GPA, but everything was done under extreme pressure.  So did I procrastinate? Yes.  I had to be down to the wire to produce work.  Problem was, on the wire---I produced mighty fine work.  But now that I have 2 kids, husband, full-time job, and doctoral student workload--- I couldn't do the "wire" anymore.  Not while maintaining sanity anyhow, which is a definite priority, even to she who has the attention span of a fly.

This week, assignment 2 week, I spaced my reading out and worked a little every day.  For most of the population, this is a no-brainer.  For me, this was like magic.  I finally can see how to prioritize my life.  Tonight, I am typing up answers to questions that aren't "due" till Monday.  And to top it all off, I know exactly what I am teaching every day of next week. This is lots of people's "normal."  But for me, it is totally new.

To some, there is a misconception of Ritalin being similar to speed.  For me, this was not the case.  In fact, quite the opposite.  I feel very calm on Ritalin.  Calm and focused.  I see a to-do list, I prioritize, and I work.  I don't need eighteen million post-it notes just to remember to do my job.  I can think more clearly, my anxiety levels are extremely low, and I have found my normalcy.  I like it here.

In other news, discussion #1 is Monday... I'll let ya know how that goes...

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Assignment 1

Sweet mother of Mary, people... yes, a doctoral program ups the ante in the rigor department, incase anyone was unsure.  Nothing I didn't really already know.  But I assumed (and we ALL know what happens when we assume) that by doing my careful, oh-so-careful readings, taking notes, highlighting, reading again, consulting my friend Webster, noting textual complexities, and yes, reading again, that the rest would be cake.

BAH!  I just proceeded to "finish up" assignment one, from the hours of 11 p.m. till 2 a.m.  Thanks to the ADD, I think really clearly, and write really well in the middle of the night. I discovered this strange clarity of middle-of-the-night writing when I was getting my Master's.  

And please, don't think I am complaining about teensy assignment one of the next six to ten years of my life. No complaints, just a real wake up call.  I am learning that working a little every day, or every other day, will be a saving grace in this process.

So I sent the assignment in, wanting so badly to preface it, with, "ohmygoshisthiswhatyouwantedbecauseholycowIamtotallyflippingoutrightnow."  But that lacks a certain sense of professionalism, and overall intelligence.  So, I left it out.

Step 2? Because I know you are just dying to know... a NINETY MINUTE TELEPHONE CONVERSATION on these readings...  I'll let ya know how that goes.  And I'll be glad to have one under my belt so that I'll know what to expect in discussions to come. 

Alas, in two hours and fifty minutes, my alarm will be going off.  I will not be nearly as witty and fun as I am right now.  Especially since I gave up my dear friend caffeinated coffee in exchange for Ritalin... but that's for another post... Goodnight:)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

I can A.D.D

I love men... pardon me if this is blatant sexism, but many of the males I know, thanks to their chromosomal make-up, just tell it like it is.  They don't sit around wondering how it will all play out. They just tell the truth, like it or leave it.  Not to say this applies to all men, but it certainly applies to the one I am about to describe...

When I was in college, I had an English professor say to me, "I see a lot of myself in your writing."  Of course, I was elated, yet all the while slightly confused because he had just scored my paper a less-than-breathtaking D.  Then he went on, "Yes, and I have ADHD and dyslexia..."  SLAM.  There it was.  My darling student, your writing leaves a lot to be desired... It sucks.  Now, he didn't say that last part, but he may as well have.  Naturally, I took what he said, swallowed the massive golf ball in my throat (after all, it looked like literary criticism just might not be my thing... and his suggestion to change majors confirmed that), and finished the meeting we were having to correct my D paper.  Then, like any self-respecting individual, I ran to my dorm room and cried.  Following a few days of wallowing, I did what I always do:  I took the bull by the horns.  I changed my major, and met with a learning disability specialist at my college.  She basically told me that having ADD was a very real possibility, but my compensatory skills were so strong that she didn't see need for me to do anything about it unless I so desired.  I considered medication, but then other things (that are not worth a single sentence of my blog) got in the way, and I had worse/bigger things to deal with. 

Thanks to those "compensatory skills," I finished my undergrad in Elementary Education (where, according to aforementioned English Professor, "lots of LD students find success...") and completed a minor in French.  A year later I got married, and 4 months later I was back in school getting my Master's.  The glorious thing about not having kids, working, and getting a Master's all at the same time is that you CAN stay up all night to get things done.  This was a very good thing for me seeing as I am the queen procrastinator.  I'm one of those people who literally MUST wait until the last minute.  Problem is, I wait until the last minute, and then I produce some pretty nice work. Graduated with the MEd having a not-so-shabby 3.9.  All the while I was a teacher, director of youth ministry, and graduate student.  We won't talk about my housekeeping skills though.  There is never enough pressure to complete tasks in that area of my life!

At present, we all know what I am pursuing: Insanity.  No, that's just what some people think... but we'll just call it what it is.  My EdD.  Having 2 kids and a full-time job lands my house in disarray.  This is no surprise to anyone, but for some reason, I feel like mine is worse than everyone else's.  You won't find me on an episode of "Clean House" or anything... but you might find me on the "Help-me! I-cannot-finish-what-I-start-and-I-procrastinate-like-it-is-my-job!" show.  Granted, I can compensate for my inability to focus for a longer period of time than a fruit fly would focus, but it is exhausting.

 So, I decided to get myself evaluated.  I spent an hour of my Saturday with a Psychiatrist.  I answered all the questions, I filled out the inventory.  And guess what? I have A.D.D.  Not the kind of A.D.D that people think they have when they can't get things done occasionally; no, I have the kind that prevents people from getting things done every minute of every day.  I was that kid who always made stupid mistakes in algebra.  I was that kid who messed around with her binder for half of the testing time, and then scribbled down some vague answers for the second half.  I was the kid who couldn't stay organized.  I was the kid who "wasn't listening."  And then I became the adult who worked her butt off to lose those labels, but still gets slammed from time to time for taking too long to do things; or forgetting to show up to a meeting because it is on the calendar but I didn't look at the calendar; or because no one in the house has clean underwear (or it isn't folded, so no one can find it, nor can they distinguish the clean piles from the dirty ones).  But I also figured out along the way how to take these hurdles in stride, and keep moving forward (even if I am doing eighteen other unrelated things at the same time).

I bet you're wondering... since I found out I have A.D.D, what will I do?  Just keep on compensating?  No my friends, no.  I am taking the road yet to be traveled... Ritalin Lane :)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

My bundle of "joy" arrived today...

...and I'm not talking baby (2 is plenty for me)!  My "bundle" of books arrived at my house today.  When I pulled up from work, I found this...

At first, I did a double take... whaaaaaat?  Yes, I ordered all the books for the entire doctoral program, but still... This is a LOT of books!  In sets panic!  So, instead of puking, or reconsidering, I grabbed my cell phone and took this picture. 

I've thought a lot in the last week or so about this decision to go on in school.  Is it selfish?  Will I regret it?  Will I finish the program?  How many times a month will I be in tears from exhaustion or stress?  Am I smart enough?  Will my family suffer as a result of this decision?  Was the decision the right one to make?  And I suppose the answers are, I don't know, I don't know, I don't know, and I still don't know.  I'm not the type to not finish something, so quitting is unlikely.  But the rest--we will have to wait and see.  For now I'm resting in the feeling that this is the right thing for me to do.  I just rely on those nerd juices to keep me going.  And more than the nerd juices, it is the settling feeling in my heart, that most likely this is part God's plan for my life.  I can't take a doctoral degree to heaven, nor can I take all these darn books!  But, I can use it to make a difference, and that's what I hope to do. 

As a final thought tonight, before I get to my reading and stay awake this time.... When embarking on a journey into unknown territory, especially one that seems challenging... I rely on my dad's wisdom... He says, "If you start to panic, you might get light-headed.  So take a deep breath, put your head down between your legs... and kiss your arse goodbye!"

Love that humor :) 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Let the Reading Begin!

I sat down last night to officially begin my doctoral reading.  I grabbed my snuggie, my books, my highlighters, and my pen.  I was feeling very special (the nerd juices were really flowing...) to begin this process.  I started responding to one of the pre-reading questions found in my course materials...

... and I fell asleep.

The end.

(Here's to take #2 tomorrow!)