Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Day 26: If I Won the Lottery....

Today is another one of those days where my blog topic falls nicely in line with the spirit day I'm having at school.  I had a long weekend so today doesn't really feel like a Tuesday, it feels more like a Monday.  It's the day before the start of our state testing, and to kick it off we are all dressing up as if we were going to the Grammy's...or Mappy's as we're calling them.  We're gonna pretend we're loaded, put on nice dresses and duds, and walk down the red carpet to our very own Mappy Award ceremony this afternoon.

Fun stuff.

Which is great, because today I am supposed to answer the questions:  If I won the lottery, what would my life be like? What would I buy?  What would change? Etc.

Well, the first thing that would happen if I won the lottery is wondering how the heck I won the lottery being that I don't buy lottery cards.

No, seriously...let's pretend I did buy a lottery card and I struck it big.  A few million...let's make it $150 million shall we?  That would give me about $60 million after taxes were all said and done...right?

I would take the lump sum payout.  First off.  I don't want to get the extended pay off just because my luck would be that I crock a couple of years in - and would hardly get any money.  I don't mind taking only half of the winnings - because why on earth wouldn't that be enough money?  It would be more than enough.

The first thing I'd do is buy a house.  Outright.  No mortgage, no worries.  Just find a nice house that suits our needs and buy it.  Nothing too fancy...no lavish mansion or anything, because I don't want to have to clean it.  Just a house big enough for our needs...4 or 5 bedrooms, large living area, maybe a pool, a big back yard for the kids to play in.  Simple, but nice.

Then I would pay people to paint it the way I want it and buy all new furniture.  I'd basically just pack up the clothes we have and our personal belongings and leave everything behind in this house: Beds, furniture, kitchen stuff.... I'd start with all brand new stuff.

Once that was out of the way and we were all moved in, I'd pay off the vehicles, the rest of my student loans, our credit cards, etc.  Get all of the debt gone.

And then I'd be left with around $59,700,000.  Because my house and paying off all my debts wouldn't be more than $300,000.  I can find a beautiful home for WAY less than $200,000 in our area...so we'd have quite the house if we did spend that much and then got it all decorated and stuff.

Once my family was taken care of, I'd then help out our families.  I would give my parents, Hubby's parents, and P-Mommy a couple million each.  Enough for them to pay off of all their bills, buy new houses if they wanted, be comfortable and not have to worry about money.  If they go out and blow through it, that's not my problem and that's all they're getting.. HA!  Just kidding.  Not really.

After I've done my part to share the wealth just a little, it will be time to set up trust accounts for my kids for when they are adults.  College money, enough to live on while going to college, and enough to get started once they get out of college...that's it.  My kids won't be raised on silver spoons.  There will be restrictions to the money, and it won't be for them to party hard and waste.  It will be enough to help, but they'll still need to do their parts to work hard in order to get on their own feet once they become adults.

One thing that wouldn't change if I won the lottery would be my job.  I would NOT be one of those people that quits her job because she doesn't have to work anymore.  Hubby might, but I certainly won't.  I didn't go to school for 4 years, wrack up that much in student loans, only to work in my dream job for a year or two.  I'd just work at the coolest darn school in the county, once I'm said and done.

I'd make sure that the school had brand new computers for each student.  We're moving in to the digital age, and our kids need to know how to use computers.  Very hard to do when there aren't near enough computers, and the computers are almost as old as I am.  I'd change that.  I'd make sure our school and our students were well taken care of when it comes to having the latest and greatest in the educational world.

Once that's all taken care of, I'd put the rest in to the bank and basically live off the interest.  Our family would take nice vacations every year.  I'd take along friends and family.  We'll visit all of the places and countries I've always wanted to visit, Hubby's always wanted to visit, and the kids have always wanted to visit.  England, India, Jamaica, Rome, Italy, France...a different country every year.

I'd buy a motorcycle and spend a month backpacking around the country with Hubby.  That's a vacation he's always wanted to do...and I know that would become something we do each year more than likely.  After our fancy vacations.

At the end of the day, it will be very hard not to spoil my kids - but I'd like to teach them to still be responsible with money.  Sure, they wouldn't want for anything... but they don't now.  They wouldn't have an endless supply of money to buy everything and anything their little hearts want.  They'll still be encouraged to find a job in their teen years, will lose privileges and belongings for bad behavior, and will try to be kept as normal as I can keep them.

When they start driving, I won't be buying them fancy sport cars or brand new vehicles.  They'll start out the way I did - with a responsible, used car.  Why?  Because brand new drivers should not be given brand new vehicles.

It sure is nice to think about what I'd do with that much money.  But, honestly?  I don't need it.  When I sit here and think about my life, I've basically already won the lottery.  I have amazing children.  I have an amazing fiance.  I have an amazing family and extended family.  I work in my dream job.  Sure, we don't have money flowing out of our ears, but we're not doing too bad.

One day, I'll have my nice house.  It would be nice to have money to do all of those other things - but the only thing I really want is a new house.  We'll eventually pay off our debt.  My kids may not have trust funds, but they'll be raised to understand that hard work pays off...and there's nothing wrong with getting help to pay for college or to use student loans.

At the end of the day, I really don't need to win the lottery to have everything I want.  Because I'm pretty darn close to it right now!


Monday, April 29, 2013

Day 25: I Love Me, I Really Love Me!

No.  This is not a picture of me thirty years ago... I would have been a year old.  This wonderful picture was taken just a few days ago when I dressed up for 80's Flashback Day at school.  I realized I hadn't really had a chance to share this picture with you all....and today would be a good day for it.

Today, I have to share with you five things I love about myself.  Both physically and non-physically.  And this picture leads me right in to number one on that list...

1.  I love to dress up and be silly.  

If there's a spirit day at work, I'm all giddy with excitement.  I love nothing more than dressing up in cute outfits or not so flattering attire just to make the kids laugh and have a good time.  And, in all honesty?  I really like this picture.  It's obvious I've gained a few pounds this past year... urm..yeah, let's say a few.  But, I don't look that bad in this picture.  My face doesn't look all bloated.  My shirt hangs well enough to not show off a bunch of bulges.  Overall, one of my favorite pics I've taken of myself in a very long time.

Last week was one of the biggest spirit weeks we've had.  I dressed up in western wear, as a hip-hop artist, like a woman from the 80's and like Adele.  Yes, the singer.  Our theme for our MAP tests is "The Mappy's" (think Grammy's).  The biggest is yet to come as tomorrow I dress up in a formal dress and get all glitzed and glammed up for the Mappy awards that will be held tomorrow afternoon.

I've spent quite a few pennies this past week on accessories to pull off my outfits - and I probably won't wear any of it again.  But, it's all for good fun...and it's one of the things I love about myself.  I don't mind being silly.  I love having fun.  And it doesn't bother me one bit to have people laugh at me...it's actually what it's all about.

2.  My Eyes

It's really hard to find a good picture that shows off my eyes... because I wear glasses.  They cover them up in pictures and I don't like it - but not enough to get contacts.  My eyes are the one physical feature I love on me.  They are so dark they look almost black.  I've received many compliments during the years about how "seductive" or "mystical" my eyes look.  Don't really care much about that... but I do love the color of my eyes.  They are not just a boring brown color (no offense brown eyed people).  They are so dark that you can't really see where the color ends and the pupil begins.  And I also love that they won't change no matter how fat or thin I am.  They are always the same.  I can dress them up with some eye shadow, or leave them all natural...and I love them either way.  And even though my glasses cover them up in pictures, they heighten them when I'm just normally dressed.  In fact, I've had many people tell me that the glasses compliment my eyes.  So, I guess the glasses stay.  HA!

3.  My Sense of Humor

I'm confident enough with myself that I can say that I think I have a wonderful sense of humor.  I'm a funny person.  Some people may not think so, but my family, my kids, my students, and many of my kids' friends think so...and that's really what's important.  I get through life cracking jokes.  I don't cry very often, and I'm convinced that's because I can make a joke out of the worst of situations.  In fact, I've said many times that if I didn't laugh so much I'd cry a lot more.

With my constant joke cracking, I'm also very fluent in sarcasm.  Oh, who am I kidding?  My first language is sarcasm.  In fact, the students in my class are becoming quite fluent in sarcasm themselves.  When they first walked in to my classroom 8 months ago, they just didn't get what I meant when I said "no...really?", "shocker", or "yeah.....no".  And just using those phrases right now out of context probably doesn't make much sense... but if you spent five minutes having a conversation with me - you'd probably hear all three of those phrases muttered in my most sarcastic of voices.  They didn't understand them then, but now it's nothing out of the ordinary to hear them utter those same phrases to their friends or other teachers in the hallways, classrooms, and cafeteria.  It's hilarious.

4.  My Ears

It's weird, but I really love my cute little ears... but trying to find a picture where you can see them is HARD!  Here's the only picture I could really find...and you can't really see my little ear that well.  But, another good pic, right?  This was taken a couple of years ago, when I was still in college.  It's also a good picture of my eyes with my glasses on.  But the main focus is the little, cute ear that sits on the side of my head.

I have tiny ears.  Not tiny enough to be considered weird looking, but small enough that I can wear my hair just about any way and they look cute.  They don't have any weird shape, they don't stick out, they are just small and perfect for my size of head.

I don't know many people who love their ears.  And to be honest, I didn't really think about it until I was putting my hair up in a pony tail a few minutes ago, even though I've thought about how cute they are many times looking in a mirror.  My ears don't get enough love.  I have a really hard time finding parts of my body I love in my current state.  Focusing on things that don't change with my ever expanding waist line makes me happy.  My eyes don't change with my weight, and neither do my ears.  They stay small and cute no matter how big I get.

5.  My heart.

Sorry, folks, no picture of that body part.  But, my absolute best feature about me really has got to be that muscle pumping gallons and gallons of blood around my body.  After years of abuse from eating junk food and not taking near enough care of the body that it's running as I should - it's done a pretty darn good job keeping up with me.  It somehow still gives me the ability to run around with kids.  It still allows me to walk around for hours without feeling like I'm going to die.  It gives me the belief that I will run again and lose weight and it will support me every step of the way.

I know many people that aren't as lucky.  Once they get to certain weight, tasks as simple as walking around a grocery store, climbing a few stairs, and even being on their feet all day in a classroom can become the hardest of chores.  I am thankful that my heart allows me to do all of those things...despite the size of clothes that I wear.  I can spend 7 hours on my feet and include some dodgeball and then go and spend a couple of hours walking around a track meet...and come home as if I just went out for a 5 minute stroll.  My heart is awesome.

The inner part of my heart is just as great as the physical part.  I have a big heart.  In the sense that I'm a loving and giving person.  The decisions I make in life are fueled by my heart.  I love what I do, I love the people I work with, I love my family, I love my friends....and I still have lots of room left for complete strangers and acquaintances.  I care about lots of things, a lot of people.  I can watch a commercial on TV for the Humane Society or starving children and tears well up in my eyes.  I want to help as many people as I can.  I want to volunteer my time at activities and events that benefit others.  I enjoy doing my part to put smiles on faces of those that don't have much to smile about.  It's just who I am.  Driven by heart.  And what wouldn't I totally love about that?

So, there you have the five things I love about myself.  I wish I could say that I'm not a fan of bragging on myself or showing love to myself...but that would be a lie.  I think it's very healthy to love yourself.  Even though there are a lot of things I don't like very much about myself - mostly physical stuff - there are many things I do.  I know I can change the physical stuff...and I will eventually.  But, what's on the inside is very important.  It makes me a beautiful person.  I am a beautiful person.  I just need to remind myself that more.  


Sunday, April 28, 2013

Day 24: Family Dynamic Now vs. Family Dynamic Then

There's only six days left of my 30 Days of Random Blog Posts.  It seems weird that for three weeks, not one time have I had to sit at the computer and ponder what I'm going to write about.  OK, some topics have been more interesting than others - but I've had fun writing all of them.

Having only six days left means that at the end of these six days, I should be able to share with you my big news that I've been putting off for a month.  Where I'm sitting right now, it seems very possible that I will - indeed - be able to go forward with my plan of doing the big reveal on the 31st day.  Fingers crossed.

Today's post is what I consider an interesting one.... I get to compare the family dynamics I had growing up to that of the family dynamics I keep now as a mother raising my own children.  Am I model after my own parents?  Am I the complete opposite?  What situations did I go through as a child that I now use or refuse to use with my own kids?  What is my relationship like with my significant other in comparison with the relationship of my parents growing up?

Interesting, right?

And before I begin, let me give a little disclaimer to my mother - who I know will read this:

Mom, please don't take any of the following information to be offensive.  I'm sure I'm going to say some stuff that may cause some hurt feelings... but they are not meant to.  At the end of the day, I had a great childhood.  You were and are a great mother.  Just because I live somewhat differently to how I lived as a child isn't a shot to how you raised me.  Many of my parenting techniques I took away from the best teacher I had.  You.  There are just some things that I don't want to impose on my household the same way you do in yours...and that's OK.  They work for you, they just don't work for me.

OK...let's do this.

Like I just said to my mom, I really did have a good childhood.  Of course, I complained many times as a kid because I thought certain things weren't fair... but now, as an adult I understand them more.  As the oldest of six kids, I had quite the responsibility.  Luckily, it was really only for a short time - as the youngest two kids came along towards my approaching adulthood, so I didn't take care of them near as much as I did my other brothers and sister.

I had chores.  I had to keep my grades up.  I learned to cook and clean and change diapers and feed babies at a very young age.  However, I wasn't a slave to my family.  I was allowed to go to sleepovers and friends' houses, I did a lot of extra curricular activities, and friends often came to stay with me.  I was a happy kid.

Those same values I instill on my own children.  They have chores, they have to keep their grades up.  Peanut learned how to change diapers and feed a baby at a young age.  She spends a lot of time taking care of Jelly, but her rewards are countless.  She can spend time with friends, is involved with many extra curricular activities, and I shuttle her friends around when they need it.  Butter has his own set of privileges that he chooses which usually involves playing outside or playing video games.  His social wings are still in development.

The only difference that comes with how my life was back then and their lives are now are my appearances at extra curricular activities.  Because both of my parents worked long hours when I was a kid, they were unable to show up to concerts and games and events that I was in.  I had a strict rule after my kids were born that that wouldn't be the case in my house.  I would be there for as many games, concerts, and activities I can.  Which is just about all of them.  Of course, it's a lot easier for me being a teacher than it was for my parents.  However, even when my kids were younger and played t-ball and softball, I was there.  I even coached softball for two years.  My time strain was immense, but it's just something I felt I had to do.

One thing I do feel strongly about, which is something I got from my father more than my mother, is my kids being able to take care of themselves.  The only chores my kids have are chores that involve taking care of themselves.  They wash dishes.  They do their own laundry.  They keep their rooms clean.  Butter takes out trash.  They clean their own bathroom.  All valuable life lessons they need to have.  Some people think it's mean that I make my kids wash their own clothes, but I had the most terrible problem with spending hours doing their laundry only to find it all over their floors the next day.  Making them wash, dry, and put away their own clothes has helped with that issue.  Jelly is only 5, but has already been well emerged in to learning some valuable life skills.  She's become obsessed with learning how to wash dishes, and often helps the kids.  She is also having fun learning how to get her own drinks, make her own sandwiches, get her own snacks.  Of course, both of the older kids went through these fascinations - and learned the harsh lesson that they weren't special privileges  they were life lessons.

There are a few minor rule changes that vary in my house compared to the rules I had when I was younger.  One of the rules I had - which I hated - was not being able to talk on the phone outside of ear shot from my parents.  Don't ask me why, it was just something they felt strongly about.  If I was going to talk on the phone to friends, I had a time limit and it was done where they could hear my conversation.  I'm not sure it was a trust issue more than they didn't want the phone tied up for hours.  Knowing I had to talk in front of them, with only a 15 minute time limit took care of that problem.

Peanut definitely doesn't have that rule.  She had a phone in her room before she got a cell phone.  We did limit no phone calls after 11pm, but that's just to make sure the girl slept.  Butter would have the same privilege  too, if he ever used the phone.  But he doesn't.  His friends call me occasionally on my cell phone, and he's free to take the phone in his room to talk - if he wants.

One thing that hasn't happened yet, but Hubby and I feel strongly about is the extension of trust we will have on our kids...and their ability to enjoy their teen years.

This is where, Mom, you have to take everything I say lightly..m'kay?

When I was 16, I got my first job away from family.  I had worked in my grandfather's restaurant prior, but now I was branching out to the world of fast food.  Once I started working, stuff in my house changed.  My parents starting imposing more rules.  I had more restrictions.  I started to feel like I wasn't trusted, even though I had done nothing to show them I shouldn't be trusted.  My parents made a rule that if I was going to be working, I needed to pay to live in my house.  I also wasn't allowed to hang out with friends as much on my days off, because my parents felt that I was out of the house quite enough just going to work.

Now, once I started to feel my trust was being tested - I have to admit, I made stupid mistakes.  I figured if I was being made to feel there was a reason not to trust me, I gave them reasons not to.  I started lying about my work schedule in order to spend time with my friends.  I would tell my parents that I was working when I wasn't, and then sneak off to my friends' houses.  Yes, it was stupid, but I had my reasons.

Because of the stupid mistakes I made, I refuse to impose those kinds of rules on my kids.  If they have the gumption to go out and get a job when they are 16, I will be jumping for joy.  They won't have to pay me to live in my house - but they will be able to start being more responsible with their money.  Like paying for their own car, gas, insurance, entertainment...stuff like that.  If they want to go and hang out with friends after work or on their days off...so be it.  As long as I know where they are and who they are with - I'm OK with it.  I'm making the firm promise that I will never give my children the thought that I don't trust them - unless they give me a reason not to.  If that does happen, then God help them.

I pray to all things holy that the relationship I now have with Peanut stays firmly in place.  She shares her life with me.  She feels comfortable talking to me about anything and everything.  She doesn't feel embarrassed to have me around her friends.  The quite opposite in fact.  I just hope that as she continues to develop in to her teen years that the bond stays in tact.  I understand she probably won't share everything with me, or want me around when she's with her friends.  But, if she feels comfortable having them all at my house to hang out - then that works for me!

So, hand in hand, there are only a few minor changes to the dynamics I had growing up to the dynamics that take place in my house now.

Now, let's talk adult relationships.  Again, Mom...take it easy...

Hubby and I couldn't be any more opposite to my own parents.  It's obvious that my parents love each other, but their ways of interacting with each other just doesn't work for Hubby and I.

For the most part, my parents are very happy together.  But, when they're not, you know it.  You can walk in to the house and feel tension in the air.  Their way of solving arguments are one of two options... sit and stew on them, or fight about them.  That's it.  Which, from my experience, is the dynamic in probably 99% of households.  People that have been together as long as my parents have just know which buttons to push to tick each other off.  They know their style of solving problems.  They know the looks and body language that warns others that danger is approaching.  They can tell when there's something on each other's mind - but for the most part act as the world is peachy until an explosion happens.  And I mean explosion with every sense of the word.  If my mom gets mad, she yells.  If my dad gets mad, he yells.  They, then, yell at each other until they're done yelling, and then it just gets swept under the rug...never really accomplishing anything.

That is NOT what happens in our house.  In fact, I'm very happy to admit that in the 8 years Hubby and I have been together, we've never fought.  In the sense of the word fight.  We don't yell and scream.  We don't say hateful things to each other.  We don't go in to bouts of silence, waiting for the other to apologize.

That doesn't mean we don't have problems.  Oh, we have problems.  Any couple that tries to tell you otherwise are either liars or completely oblivious.  Being the product of my parents, I often have the feeling of wanting to scream and yell and pout when stuff is bothering me.  Hubby and I have been together long enough that he can see the signs as they are emerging.  However, his take on the situation is something I'm still trying to get used to.  He wants to talk about it.  Not yell or scream about it.  Talk.  Tell me what's bothering me.  Tell him why it's bothering me.  And tell him how he can do something to make it better...or at least compromise to something we can both agree on.  In fact, he won't talk to me if I'm yelling.  He wants me to go and cool off and then come back again when I can have a civilized conversation about it.  The same can be said for him.  When something's bothering him, he tells me about it.  He knows I may not like what I hear, but I always love the fact that he's honest with me - and explains that in order for us to get through our problems we have to confront them.  We never walk away from a dispute without a resolution.  We never go to bed angry at one another.  We never just agree to disagree.  We communicate and resolve and compromise until we are both happy with the results, and we know darn well that there won't be any lingering resentment.

That works for us.

Now, I'm not saying my parents way of dealing with stuff is wrong.  Heck, they've been together long enough to know that it works for them.

Our lives are just completely different.  Hubby and I both speak to our exes...the ones that we're still friends with.  We have friends that are of the opposite sex.  I can go out for a night on the town with my girlfriends while he stays home with the kids.  He can go out and ride his motorcycle for hours while I stay home with the kids.  We have our own individual likes and dislikes.  We can openly make comments about members of the opposite sex being attractive with each other.  And it's totally OK with us.  It doesn't bother each of us one bit.

My parents are a little more old fashioned in that sense.  They don't do things the same way.  And that's OK for them... just not for us.  And that's OK too.

I'm OK with the life lessons I took away from my parents.  Some gave me an understanding of how I wanted to live my life, others had the opposite effect.  I don't think that my family dynamics now are any better or worse than the family dynamics I had growing up.  Times change.  People change.  But, the values my parents instilled in to me are strong and dominant in my adult life.

I'm sure that when my kids grow up, they will have similar takes on some of the things Hubby and I do as a couple and as parents that they will use and won't use with their own families.  And that's the circle of life, really.  As long as my kids are as happy as I was as a child, I did the right job.  As long as my kids can have healthy, happy relationships as adults, I've done my job.

I don't expect my kids to completely follow in my footsteps, just like I'm sure my parents didn't expect the same for me.  Every family has it's own dynamics...and how they are molded and used in the future are a compliment to those that first started them.

And I have a wonderful family now, because of the wonderful family I had as a kid.  Period.


Saturday, April 27, 2013

Day 23: And My Hobbies Are....

Hobby:  Noun.  An activity done regularly in one's free time for fun.

My Hobbies:  Nouns.  Anything done for fun - even once -  on the slight occasion I get free time.

Yeah, that about sums it up.  Today, I'm supposed to share with you some of my favorite hobbies and why they are my hobbies.  Well, when a hobby is defined as something done regularly during free time... that kinda limits me.  I don't get that much free time.  Not enough to do something enjoyable regularly.

But, I do have a few activities that keep me entertained during those down times when I'm able to sit and relax for a while....

In fact, after all that, I do have one hobby that I do regularly.  Every day in fact.  Sometimes a couple times a day on the weekends.  And that's write.  Duh!

Writing is probably my one and only hobby that is done faithfully - and something I'm still enjoying after years and years of doing it.  I get bored easily.  I lose interest pretty fast.  I take something up thinking I'll enjoy it - and then it gets lost in my lack of time to follow through or my lack of motivation to follow through.  Urm... kinda why I'm still fat after all these years of wanting to lose weight.  HA!

But, here I am, after three years of sitting down at my computer almost every single day writing in my blog.  It's kinda graduated from hobby to habit - but it's something I enjoy doing very much.  In fact, just yesterday, I realized that I've been wanting to write about some stuff that's going on in my life - and have been putting it off with this 30 days of blogging topics thing when the whole time I could have been writing about it in my "secret blog".  Yeah, I have one of those.  Something that's completely private and not available to anyone but me.  I haven't written in it for some time, because I sorta merged this blog with telling the entire world what's going on in my life.  So, today, I'm going to dust off that blog too and get a couple of entries posted there about other stuff I want to write about but can't yet.

The reason I love blogging so much is very simple - I enjoy writing.  That's it.  No other reason except I love to just share how I'm feeling, stuff that's going on in my life, and just general thoughts I have on an array of topics.  Blog writing isn't the only type of writing I do.  I also write poetry, on occasions.  Haven't written any in a while - but when the feeling comes to me, I'm able to put together a pretty cool verse or two.

When it comes to other hobbies, they are more seasonal.

During the winter, I enjoy crocheting.  I only ever crochet in the winter.  I think it has to do with messing with yarn...not really enjoyable when it's 100 degrees outside.  There's just something about curling up on the couch with my crocheting, a blanket, and knowing it's freezing cold outside that makes it enjoyable to me.  I taught myself how to crochet several years ago, and each year find a different thing to focus on.  I've made afghans, scarves, headbands, hats, blankets, ponchos, gloves, and slippers.  I even knocked out my first purse this past winter.  Although it's still in pieces because I haven't sewn it together.  I hate sewing.  That takes the fun out of the crocheting.  I tend to focus on stuff that can be made with as little amount of sewing as possible.

During the summer, I enjoy reading.  Just laying out in the sun or in the air conditioning if it's too hot outside.  It's the one time of year I don't have to worry about work, and actually get some free time...kinda.  Last year was my first summer off, and I spent the first month babysitting for my parents and the rest of the summer getting stuff ready for my classroom.  This summer will be the first year I actually can dig out some books and just enjoy reading them.  Other summers, I've just read on the weekends when I'm at my parent's house or in my own house.

I also enjoy fishing.  But don't get to do that near enough to technically be classed as a hobby.  In the past couple of years, I can count how many times I've been fishing on one hand.  And that would be the three camping trips I've taken.  Fishing is yet another hobby I enjoy because it's peaceful.  I can throw out my line and just take in the scenery and the water until something bobs my line and gets me all excited...only to feel the let down of it being a twig or a turtle.  But, it's OK...it's more about the hunt than the actual catch.

My plan is that over this summer, I can try a few new things and see if I can build my hobby repertoire.  Maybe some gardening.  Or get back to jogging.  Possibly take a few art classes - just because I'd love to see if I could ever learn how to paint something.

My hobby bucket is kinda on the empty side - not by choice.  I love trying new stuff, but like I said I get bored pretty easily.  It has to be something that really grabs my attention for me to follow through and continue doing it.

I used to really love and enjoy my early morning running.  It wasn't about the exercise, but more of the meditative calmness it gave me.  Putting my music in my ears and blocking out the world around me.  It completely rejuvenated and recharged me.  Yes, I really must start doing that again.  It gave me so much relief when I was going through my job hunt turmoil - and once I found my job, I kinda gave up on it.  That was silly of me.  I don't have to be depressed and stressed to enjoy running, I must keep telling myself that.

At the end of the day, I love lots of activities.  Do I get enough time to focus on them and make them a regular activity?  Not really.  But, that doesn't mean I can't count them as a hobby.  I'm a person with lots of interests.  Not a lot of spare time.  Couple those things together and you have a person that tries new things, has a lot of fun when she can, and just enjoys various experiences.  That's me.  And I'm totally OK with that.


Friday, April 26, 2013

Happy Birthday, Hubby!

Let me start out by saying that I'm a pretty horrible fiance.  For three years, I've been writing this blog and this is the first time I've written a post specially for the man in my life.  Probably because he's not a fan of me discussing my personal life with the world... but he just doesn't get how close the world and I have become.

It's even worse that I got up this morning, hobbled myself to my computer desk, and didn't even say a word to him for almost an hour.  It completely left me that it was his birthday, even though I knew when I went to sleep last night.  After a cup of coffee, it hit me...and now I feel terrible because I forgot and it took me so long to at least wish him Happy Birthday.

Hubby's not really that in to birthdays.  At all, actually.  He says countless times that his birthday is just another day, and he's not a big fan when I go and do something like make a big deal out of it.  Like, oh I don't know, write a big birthday post especially for him.

Let's start from the beginning, shall we?

Around 8 years ago, I was a single mother taking care of two young children, working a full time job, and trying my hardest to ignore how lonely I was.  I had been single for about 4 years..and was finally coming to terms with my position of mother and sole provider.  I'd been on a few dates here and there, but never really found anyone that caught my interest enough.

Rather than try and find a man to fill the void of adult interaction, I took up online chatting.  Back then, it was very popular.  I could do a quick search on Yahoo and discover a plethora of local chat rooms full of men and woman in the area who were just looking to chat.  Many nights I would have conversations with people at the other end of their screens as if I were in a bar or at a social mingling event - totally in my pj's with the TV playing and the kids nestled soundly in their beds.  It worked for me.  I didn't have to sit and stare at the walls after my kids were asleep and wallow in my self pity.

One night, I got to talking to one of the guys in the chat room.  He was funny, didn't ask me inappropriate questions, and we spent several nights private messaging one another.  I'm not going to say that there was some kind of magical spark right off the bat.  He was just a nice guy who I liked talking to.  We talked about jobs and our families and life in general.  And then he asked me if I'd like to meet him in person.

At first, I was a little thrown off.  I hadn't really made any plans to actually meet people from the chat room.  The chat room was my safe haven.  A place where I could mingle in total privacy.  But, we'd spoken for a while and I thought what the heck.

I'll admit, I broke the cardinal rule of meeting someone off of the internet.  I invited him to come to my house.  I know, I know.  It was a very stupid mistake... and dangerous for both my kids and I.  But, I was young and stupid and totally new at meeting people off of the internet.  Thankfully, I lived in a duplex complex - had neighbors on both sides of me...and thinking back, had something bad happened a quick scream would have notified someone to come help.  Hopefully.  Glad I didn't have to think about that.  Man, was I stupid, now that I'm really thinking about it.

Anywho, that's neither here nor there.  He came over.  To my house.  I will admit, the first meeting was kinda awkward.  He didn't really say much.  We chatted a little about the chat room, and then we got in to the chat room to speak to some of the friends we'd made in there.  He thought it would be kind of amusing to share with some of them that we were at the same place, chatting together.  Especially some women that had been acting pretty friendly towards him.  And, we spent a couple of hours doing that before he decided he needed to leave to go to work.

And then he left.

My first reaction would be that I wouldn't hear from him again.  He'd dodge my messages, go offline when I was online...that type of stuff.  He had shown no real interest in me at all - other than just being someone he could talk to in a chat room.  I brushed it off, because his almost cold shoulder had turned me off at looking at him as anymore than a friend also.

Then, about 20 minutes later, I received a text message from him: "I had a great time.  And, you're really hot! Hope we can do it again sometime".

I was shocked.  I guess I had totally misread his thoughts and actions while he had been there.  So, the next night he came over again....and then the next...and some nights we just talked for hours alone online.  We got a little more personal, a little more friendly, and within a couple of weeks we were making out like teenagers before he had to leave to go to work.

A few weeks of him coming over and chatting online seemed to be going really well.  I hadn't told anyone about our meetings - I didn't really know what our relationship was becoming.  He'd only ever come over once the kids were asleep, so even they didn't know I'd had a man in the house several evenings.  Then, he dropped a bomb on me that his brother (and roommate) was getting married and he was going to be homeless unless he found somewhere to live pretty quick.  Without hesitation, I told him to come live with me.  As a roommate.  Help me with some of the bills, have a place to leave his stuff... he worked 3rd shift, so he'd sleep while I was at work, I'd sleep when he was at work.

And the rest is, how they say, history.  We've been together ever since.

The first few weeks were...urm... interesting.  The kids were kinda thrown off by this guy suddenly in the house.  He was very nice to them...played with them...fixed them food and drinks when they wanted it.  I heard a lot of disapproving comments from people I knew about how stupid it was for me to let a man in the house without first getting him around the kids to see how he did with them.  But, within a month, they were totally accustomed to him being there.  In fact, one morning about two months after he'd been there, when he'd cooked breakfast for all of us, Peanut asked him if she could start calling him Daddy.  I was mortified.  I figured he'd be out the door quicker than a bullet.  But he didn't.  In fact, he just told her that he'd talk to me about it.

I thought he'd brush it off... but he didn't.

We sat down with the kids, and had a long discussion (as long as you can have with a 4 and 3 year old) and explained to them that he wasn't their daddy, but if they wanted to call him daddy - he'd be OK with it.  We told them that he was my boyfriend, and he would be living with us and he would help take care of them.  I was scared out of my mind that something would happen and my kids would get attached to this man, and then he would disappear suddenly... but I figured I'd give it a go.  They deserved a man in their lives just as much as I did.

And again... history.  He's been their dad ever since.  And, a few weeks after that incident, he surprised me by asking me to marry him.  No glorious proposal, just a simple question... "would you marry me?"  I, of course, agreed.  I even got to pick out the ring I wanted...which was awesome.  We've been engaged ever since, and one day I will commit to filling my end of the agreement and actually marry him.  But, my hesitation to get married isn't because I am unsure about marrying him - it's just the simple fact that I want all of our other ducks in a neat row, AND I want to look hot in a wedding dress.  HA!

I am fully aware of the mistakes that I made... but, thank goodness everything worked out.  And, I couldn't be happier with this wonderful man.  He's not just the man I love, but also my best friend.  Starting our relationship off the way we did was fast - but we'd spent a good amount of time just talking and getting to know each other.  We shared secrets with each other, our pasts, our ups and our downs.  We weren't strangers when we first decided to move to the next level - despite how fast it all seemed.

I had never been with a man that was so interested in how I was feeling or that wanted me to talk about it if I was upset or angry or happy or whatever my feelings were.  He refused to argue with me or fight.  Which was totally out of my comfort zone.  The only serious relationship I'd had prior was a violent one.  It seemed totally weird that I was now with a man that believed in discussing problems rather than duking them out.

In the 8 years we've been together, we've had our ups and downs.  But, not the normal ups and downs.  All of the ups and downs we've gone through together - mostly being on the same side of each.  We've had money problems, and living problems, and job problems... but all problems we've tackled together.  He was my saving grace when it come to going to school and bettering our lives.  He has sacrificed so much for the kids and I.  He wants nothing more than to find a better job for himself, a job that he enjoys as much as I enjoy mine.  But, he put that on hold.  For me.

We don't fight.  Ever.  We get disgruntled with one another, sure.  But there are no raised voices or arguments or tantrums.  We just talk.  We compromise.

At the end of the day, it may be Hubby's birthday - but I'm the one that got the real gift in all of this.  Him.  I couldn't have asked for a better man or father to come in to our lives.

I don't get the chance near enough to tell him how much I love him - or show him, for that matter.  I just know that I couldn't imagine my life without him.  He is my rock.  My lifeline.  My best friend.  I see us spending the rest of our lives together... because I just couldn't imagine my life without him.


Thank you for being you.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Day 21: What Does My Future Hold?

So, yesterday, I shared some of my memories from my childhood.  I flashed you back to the 80's and 90's with some of my stories, which was fitting for the spirit day I was having at work:  80's Flashback Day.

Today, I get the chance to gaze in to my crystal ball and think about what I think my life will be like 5 and 10 years from now.  Unfortunately, this doesn't go with the spirit day I'm having today...which is to dress up like our favorite artists.  I'm going as Adele.  Because I love her music, I can sing her music, and because she's the only..urm... "heavier" singer that fits that category.

But, that's not what today is about.  I have to concentrate... because my future telling is a little rusty.  Here I go gazing in to my crystal ball....it's coming to me... coming....

Five years from now, I will be 36 years old.  That I do know.  It will be a very busy year for me, because it will be the year that Peanut graduates from high school.  There will be proms and band trips and sporting events that I'm running here and there to.  On top of that, there will be trips to colleges, helping her fill out applications, and making sure she's taken all of the tests that she needs to take in order to get in to the college she wants to attend.

On the home front, we would have finally moved in to a nice house... one that I'm proud of and isn't falling apart.  We've been living in it for a couple of years, actually.  When I'm not working or playing soccer mom to a senior in high school, a junior in high school, and a 4th grader, I'm playing hostess mom to friends and boyfriends and girlfriends that are constantly in and out of the house.

Work is awesome, and I'm still full of passion and pride for teaching.  I've finally found my groove with my classroom, and have said goodbye to those newbie fears and frustrations.  And yes, it took almost 5 years for that to happen.  Some of my first year students still come and visit me - as they are freshmen in high school, now.  I'm happy at how well the kids have done through their school life, and they continue to strive for the best.

Hubby and I finally bit the bullet and got married.  It was a small little affair...at our new home a year or so after we moved in.  Close friends and family came to witness us say our vows, and then we spent the night partying it up and enjoying ourselves.

I was finally able to feel comfortable about getting married, because right after we moved in to our new home I rekindled my relationship with trying to lose weight - and finally succeeded!  I realized that my life was just about complete once I got out of that old house, and I started to get excited about going for walks, and then jogging, and finally started running again.  I'm by no means skinny - but I can fit in to a size 12 with ease, and I look OK in a bathing suit.  I dropped a total of 80lbs.  And that's just from eating better and being a lot more active.  No crazy diets.  We moved to an area that has sidewalks and a park close by.  I have a small little yard where I enjoy doing morning yoga on the weekends.  I even bought a bike, and Jelly and I ride our bikes to the park on the weekends.  Peanut was my personal trainer, going with me to walk and then jog and finally run.  We now enjoy doing 5K's and color runs together...and pretty soon I'll be tackling my first 10K.

OK....five more years in to the future I go...

Holy cow, I'm 41!  I'm still rocking my lighter body...and don't look too bad for 41, if I say so myself.  It's hard to believe that I've been teaching for 10 years.  Both of my older kids graduated high school and went about their lives.  Peanut will be graduating from law school next year, and Butter is driving a truck all over the country.  After high school, he wasn't really up for college and decided he wanted to go to truck driving school.  He also got certified as a truck mechanic, and makes pretty good money traveling around and fixing trucks - when he's not driving a load himself.

Peanut has settled down with a really nice guy.  She doesn't want to get married until after she graduates.  They've been dating for a few years, now, and I think he may be the one that she walks down the aisle with. Butter is dating a nice young girl.  He doesn't get to see her very often because of his traveling, but they are making it work.

Jelly is 15 and a freshman in high school.  She's crazy smart, and is involved in about every club and organization and sport there is.  She's also a social butterfly, and my house on the weekends is usually full of her friends.

Hubby and I are enjoying our house somewhat quieter, and we get to go on little vacations during the summer on our motorcycles.  Yes, I finally broke down and agreed to learn how to drive one - and bought one.  When we're not out riding, I'm running in races or going to yoga classes or doing some other fun athletic activity in my spare time.

My teaching fire still burns strong.  I considered going back to school to pursue my Masters in School Administration.  But, I made the quick decision that being out of the classroom just wasn't for me.  I spent so much of my life trying to get in to a classroom, that I just couldn't imagine life not being in one.  Each year I see a new set of faces, and my fire is rekindled.  I love staying in touch with my past students...and it's quite often I receive emails from my past students to tell me what they are up to and how they are enjoying life.

Jelly has expressed an interest in teaching...and I'm thrilled about that.  It would be amazing to have a child teaching along side me one day - either in my district, or where ever she decides to travel off to.  But, one step at a time.

Life is amazing.  I'm living it strong and enjoying every moment.  In no time I'll be a grandmother, I'm sure..and will get to enjoy having grandbabies around the house and spoiling them rotten.  But, not until Peanut finds her path as a lawyer and Butter finally settles down.

OK, crystal ball is starting to get fuzzy, which means it's time for me to get back in to today and go and get ready for work.  Let's see if I can pull off an Adele look alike.  HA!


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Day 20: Childhood Memories

Oh yes, that beautiful little munchkin in the photo is me.  And today's topic couldn't be any more fitting for the day I'm about to have.

Today, I'm supposed to share some childhood memories.  Which is fitting, because this week is spirit week at school and today's theme just happens to be 80's flashback.  Which was when I was born and was a child.  Perfecto!

I was born in 1982, so while people were rocking their neon mini skirts, leg warmers, and side pony tails - I was wearing cute little numbers like the plaid dress pictured.  Not really.  Well, kinda.  I still got to rock some side ponies and wear my share of neon.  I just missed out on the crazy make-up, stiletto heels with leg warmers, and Madonna-ish lace corsets.  Oh darn!

My most dominant memory of the 80's was making my first trip to America.  Remember, I still lived in England.  Moving to America wasn't even a thought in my parent's brain during the 80's.

Every couple of years, my grandparents would make a trip to Pennsylvania to visit with friends of theirs.  I would remember when they would go, and how much I would miss them.  Then, one year, when I was 8 - so technically 1990, but close enough - my grandparents asked my mom if they could take me with them to Pennsylvania.

It was the coolest thing I'd ever done.  At the time, I looked like this...

It was my first time on an airplane.  And probably the coolest vacation I've ever taken in my life.  For three weeks, I got to explore the mountains of Pennsylvania, see my first Amish village, visit Atlantic City and the ocean, and eat so much buffet food that I porked up about 20lbs on that trip.

During that trip, I would get my hands on a prized and coveted 80's possession.  A pair of Neon L.A. Gear, with 4 neon laces per shoe.  Oh, how I had wanted a pair of those for AGES.  And finally, I was able to buy a pair WAY cheaper in America than in England.  I wore those things until my toes came out of the ends of them.

If I think back earlier in my childhood, I have blips of stuff that happened.

I remember when I was really young.  Probably around 4, because my brothers were around 3 and 1.  We lived in a tower apartment block on the 8th floor.  It was a slummish type place where the elevators smelled like pee and there was trash just about everywhere the eye could see.

One morning, I decided I wanted to break out of our apartment and take my brothers on a little outing.  I yanked my younger brother in to his stroller, grabbed my stool that I used for going to the bathroom and brushing my teeth, ordered my other brother to come with me...and out we went.

I used the stool to work the elevator.  I pushed my brother's stroller.  And we made it all the way down to the small stores located across the concourse of the apartment complex before someone paid attention that a 4 year old was by herself with two smaller children.

And you want to know the worst part?  When I was discovered, nobody called the police or held me until my parents were contacted.  I was told to go straight home.  By the guy who discovered me.  Just go on home, little girl...all by yourself with your two younger brothers.  So, I did.

When I got home, my parents were still sleeping soundly.  I didn't shut the front door when I left - smart, wasn't I?  And I didn't shut the door when I got home... because the noise would wake my parents.  What happened when my parents woke up is a blur.  I remember my mom discovering that the front door was open and that the stroller had been moved.  But, what happened after...whether I was beaten within an inch of my life or it was just played off as a weird phenomenon I don't know.

Another huge memory from my childhood was, of course, moving from England to America.  I was 12.  It was 1994.  I looked like this...

Beautiful little thing, wasn't I?  And slender!!  Ah, what I'd give to have that frame to my face now.  This picture was taken not long before everything was packed and we were jetting off across the world for our new home destination.

At this point, before leaving, I was excited.  I hated the thought of leaving my family and friends behind, but I thought I was moving to the coolest place in the entire world.  I'd watched enough Saved by the Bell and Fresh Prince and other American teen shows to think that America was AWESOME!  I thought of golden coasts and fancy cars and big houses.  I thought all of America was either like California, New York, or Pennsylvania.

Little did I know that there was a place right in the middle of the country that spouted none of the appeal that California, New York, or Pennsylvania had.  That would be Oklahoma.  It was just fields, and cows, and old houses.  The first thought I remember when taking the first ride through the town that was going to be my home...the night we arrived... was "Oh my goodness!  I'm going to be living in a Freddy Kruger movie!"  The streets were dark.  The high school looked like a haunted, run down mansion.  And the streets were lined with little shacks that were passed as houses.

I remember waking up the next morning and just wanting to go home.  That America was nothing like I had pictured.  The people wore big cowboy hats and cowboy boots and said "ya'll" all the time...whatever the heck that meant.  They chewed tobacco.  You had to drive 40 minutes to the closest thing that resembled a city.  I really thought my life was destroyed.  I wanted nothing more than to be packed back up on an airplane and sent home to the busy streets, houses jammed right next to each other, a place where I could walk or ride my bike to my friends' houses or the stores or the market.  And I could get on a bus to go to the city with my grandmother.  And a place where people didn't make fun of me because of how I spoke or how I dressed.

It took some time, but eventually I learned to fit in.  I forced myself to lose the accent that caused me so much attention and grief.  It's amazing how mean kids can be when an outsider moves in to town.  I regret that, now... but it's how I coped.

Now, of course, I wouldn't move back to England if someone paid me.  I love my life here.  I'm glad that I moved out of the town that caused me so much original misery... even though I eventually made some amazing friends and enjoyed my high school years...and I discovered there were some amazing people and amazing towns not so far away.

All in all, I had a pretty amazing and exciting childhood.  I'm glad that I still remember so much about it.  The good and the bad.

And on days like today, I get to relive a little of that past by dressing up in funny clothes, fixing my hair in a funny way... and just having a good time.  Which is exactly what I'm going to do.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Day 19: My Dream Home Destination

You may or may not have noticed that technically, I should be on Day 20.  I kinda skipped yesterday, because I was frantically woken up at 6:10 yesterday morning by Peanut.  I overslept.  Big time.  Although it's not really that surprising.  A field trip on Friday, up at 3:30am on Saturday, gone all day for another field trip, a day full of shopping on Sunday.  I was EX-HAUSTED!

So, needless to say, I had just enough time to roll out of bed, get dressed, and rush to work yesterday morning.

Today, I am to answer if I could live anywhere, where would it be and why?

Well, I guess I should start out by saying that if I could move anywhere, as in a different country, state, or whatever - I probably wouldn't.  Just because I have to be close to my family and my job and there's no moving away from them any time soon.  Now, if the option was to just move out of this house - I'd jump on it in a heart beat.  I'd take anywhere.  Anything.  In a twenty mile vicinity from where I am right now.  Cause it would be better than what I'm living in... but that time will come when I will get to move and leave this house in my dust.

I think today is more about dream destinations.  The Bahamas, Hawaii, maybe even Paris?  I don't know.  But, really, if I could and money and work and all that weren't hurdles - I don't know where I'd go.. specifically.  There's only one place I'd really love to live, and that would be by the water.

Ocean, lake, river... I'm not picky.  I would just love the chance to wake up every morning and look out over the water.  Drink a cup of coffee on my balcony and soak it all in.  I could spend hours just sitting and looking at the water.  It's my calm place.  If you're a horoscope person, you'd probably say it's because I'm an Aquarius, a water sign.  That's what I've been told, anyway.

I don't know what it has to do with anything except for the fact that I absolutely love being by the water.  I don't think I'd be a very productive person if I did have my dream house by the water front.  I would take up daybreak yoga.  I would swim a lot.  I would fish.  I would read and read and read some more.  I would be in my own little paradise.

So, now that I think about it, I would have to move there after my kids have all left home, and after I've retired.  Because once I'm there, I probably wouldn't leave very often.

All of my life, I've always enjoyed visits to the lake.  We live by a few, and I've gone camping and fishing out by the lakes many, many times.  I've taken drives out to the lake, by myself, on days that I just need to get away from everything and everyone.  Sometimes I've gone to cry, other times to think.  Most times, I haven't told anyone I've gone - I've just disappeared on a shopping trip or other destination and ended up there just sitting and looking out over the water.  The water offers me calmness and clarity.  I spent a lot of time out by the lake while job hunting.  I'd go to an interview, and end up at the lake processing.

I remember the exact moment I feel in love with being by the water because of the calmness and tranquility it gave me, and know that was when I wished I could live by the lake.  I was 16.  My boyfriend at the time took me out for a drive to the lake.  Not for anything bad... to just talk.. and sit...and enjoy the quiet.  We sat by the lake for hours sharing our future dreams.  We were going to get married and have a big house that looked out over the lake.  We were going to wake up every morning and enjoy the sunrise, and sit and watch the sunsets together.

That, obviously, didn't happen... but I did take away the dream that I have held on to since.

I enjoyed the lakes, however, even as a young child.  My dad would take me fishing and I just enjoyed every minute of it.  Hooking worms and getting dirty from smelly fish didn't bother me.  I never got squirmy or "girlish".  Bugs have never bothered me when I'm by the water.  It's almost like I'm a different person when I'm there.

The highlight of the past couple of years with my own kids have been camping trips out by the lake.  We pitch a tent, build a fire, set up our fishing poles, and spend the weekend "roughing it".  Our camping trips have been our mini vacations, and the kids love being there just as much as I do.

Anywho, I suppose there you have it.  My dream home destination would be by the water.  Maybe one day, I'll end up out there... but for now, I'm just going to focus on moving out of this house.  That's really my dream destination.  HA!


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Day 18: For Me, It's Either Forgive Or Forget

I was up this morning around 8:30 after collapsing in to bed last night around 9 PM after my EXTREMELY long day out with my kids.  I accompanied the 6th grade and Jr. High band to Pittsburgh State University for a music festival in which all of the students performed solos, ensembles, and band performances.  We had to leave at 6 AM and it was go, go, go until 4 PM when we loaded the buses to head back home.  I have to say, I had so much fun.  It was a great opportunity to step out of my teacher role and in to the role of a parent spending time with her kids and their friends.  I laughed.  I teared up.  I clapped.  And I watched as my kids ran around on the grass playing football, climbing trees, and just have a good time.  I don't get to do that near as often as I'd like.

Today, my blog topic is a tough one... a deep one... and I almost considered skipping it and finding something else to discuss - maybe a minute by minute replay of my day yesterday.  But, I managed to break down my day in a paragraph - so I figure I'm going to move forward with the intended topic.

What has been the most difficult thing you've had to forgive?

What an extremely tough question to answer.  In all honesty, I'm a person that doesn't really hold grudges.  There have been many times in my life where I've been hurt or mistreated or double crossed, and I've eventually just moved on and forgotten about it.  The people that I consider to be harmful to my being are let go and I find comfort in those that mean a lot to me.

I have to say the most hard forms of forgiveness comes from those that I love the most.  You can't just move on and leave stuff behind when you see them often.  You are constantly reminded of the hurt or betrayal each time you look at them... and to overcome that kind of forgiveness is an extremely hard feat.. but not impossible.

When I really sit and think about it, I have to say that the most difficult thing I've had to forgive is hearing my own son tell me how much he hates me and how he wants nothing more than to be taken out of my home and to find some other family to live with.

Hurt with a side of ouch with a side of knife to the heart.

It was back when we were dealing with Butter at his worst.  At the time, I didn't know it really wasn't his fault to say those things... I just knew that my son enjoyed hurting me and wanted nothing more than for me to feel pain.

I was justifying my behavior as for his own good:  Don't do your chores, lose a privilege.  Misbehave in school, grounded.  Deliberately destroy property, loss of property.  And on and on... until eventually, my son had no belongings in his room except for his bed and his clothes.  And he spent a lot of time in his room because I sent him there after he would verbally attack myself or one of his siblings or Hubby.  Trying to sit down and talk to him was like sitting down on a bed of needles.  I knew that no matter how soft and caring I tried to sound, he would bite back venomously calling me nasty names and attacking my parenting skills.

I would cry for hours when he would get so mad that he would run out of the house, and I had to call a police officer to come and calm the situation down just to get him to come back in the house without fear of him hurting one of us or destroying the house in the process.

Throughout the two years of severe hardships Butter went through, there are more times I felt pain and hurt than I care to admit.  Forgetting all of those horrible memories is hard.  Probably impossible.  They will always linger in my mind... but he is my son.  I made a promise to him through the pain and the agony and even the breaking point where I had to admit defeat and have him placed in a hospital to seek more professional help:  I will always love him and stand by him and find a way to make him feel better.

And that's what I did.  I never gave up hope that something would work and he would be restored to the caring, loving, sweet boy he once was.  If my pain was the price to pay - I'd pay it a thousand times over.

The hospital and after care was the answer to all of my prayers.  Even though there are still a few rocky spells here and there, I got the help I also needed in order to forgive and forget the things he says to me and know that it's not really him at the control panel.  He has a disorder, and has overcome the most harshest of obstacles to battle that disorder and bring himself full circle.  He no longer needs medication, and has learned coping mechanisms to deal with his anger and impulses.

So, the hardest thing I've had to forgive is my own son tearing me down piece by piece... but at the end of the day, it wasn't his fault and I know that.  I am his mother and I love him dearly.  I will always stand by him and help any way I can.  I know that there are going to be times where he loses control and spouts off nasty stuff at me, but I've learned my own coping mechanisms.  I have never and will never hold a grudge for the tough times.  I've learned from them, and so has he.

One day, I know that he and I will both look back at those rough times and he will understand how hard it was for both of us - and the reasons I did what I did.

But, just like all of the bad times I've endured in my life - those times made me a better person, a better mother.  I could have given up.  I could have just thrown my hands up in the air and said to heck with him.  I could have just let him continue destroying our house, his relationships, and everything around him.  But I didn't.  I knew it wasn't my son really doing those things, I knew that something was going on under the surface... something making those things happen.  And I'm so glad I continued to push until I found out.

And now, we both can move on as mother and son and learn from our pasts in order to brighten our future.  Forgiveness is a tool provided to make us stronger.  Dwelling on sadness or frustration only eats away at you until there's nothing left.  It all has to be let go... in order to make room for the good and love and happiness that is all around.


Saturday, April 20, 2013

Day 17: I Wish I Was Good At....

I had to get up at 3:30 this morning because I'm accompanying Peanut and Butter to their band contest at Pittsburg State University.  It's a two hour drive from the school, and I'm chaperoning the trip... so we have to be there at 5:30.  On a Saturday.  Awesome.

I wanted to try and get my blog post in before I left... hence the getting up at 3:30 part.

Day 17 asks:  What is something you wish you were great at?

I have thought about this topic for a couple of days.  There are several things I wish I was good at.  But, one thing that I've always wished I was better...good...great at would be art.

I am the worst drawer.  Seriously.  I can't draw a face or a person or..well.. anything.  When I try and draw out something for my students, we have a good laugh at my expense over alternate things my "drawing" could be mistaken for.  Nine times out of ten, the picture doesn't resemble anything I'm actually trying to draw.

Just the other day, I tried to illustrate how the earth rotates around the sun.  By the time I was done, my picture looked more like a fried egg.  The kids got what I was trying to tell them... but it was frustrating not being able to draw something as simple as a circle with some dotted lines around it.

But, honestly, it's not drawing simple sketches that I'd like to be great at... it's art in general.  I've always wanted to be one of those people that could drag out an easel and paints and sit in a park or my back yard and paint something beautiful.  Or carry a sketch book and pencil around and quietly and peacefully sketch pictures of my kids playing or family members.

I consider myself to be a pretty artsy type of person.  I enjoy looking at art.  I enjoy music of all varieties (except country..HA!).  I enjoy the theater and watching movies. I love visiting museums and cultural events showcasing cultural art and customs.  I enjoy things like meditation and yoga... and dream of having my own little garden one day where I can sit and relax or do some yoga among beautiful flowers.  It would also be nice to add drawing or painting pictures of what I see and feel.

Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure Jelly could do a better job at landscapes and capturing the beauty around me than I could.  Drawing, painting, sketching... just not things I can do.  At all.

I'm currently drinking coffee from a mug I painted at a birthday party I attended last year.  It was one of those parties where you go to an art studio and paint something ceramic.  I chose a mug.. because it was huge and could hold a lot of coffee.  While the mug came out looking OK, it's not something I could show off to people as a high accomplishment.  I had a hard time staying in the lines..and the flowers I painted on it are a little...urm... skewed.  Again, I loved the experience, but sure wish I had better control over a small paintbrush to be able to stay in the lines of a stencil.

Oh well... I can't complain too much.  I have been blessed with other talents.  And at least I have appreciation for the arts.  Maybe one day I'll take a painting class or join an art club.  Maybe.

But, that's one thing I wish I was great at.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Day 16: I'm Just Full of Passion

The past couple of weeks, I've shared a lot of stuff about me and my life.  Most stuff you already knew, other stuff you might not have known.  Even though the list of blog topic posts came to me from a quick Google search, I've still managed to attach almost every one of them to teaching in some way or another, even though the intent was to be different aspects and events in my life.  Most have been positive - sharing strengths and things that make me happy and the influential people I've had in my life and so on.

You was expecting to me to say that today was going to be different, didn't you?  Well, I'm not.  Today is very similar to stuff I've already posted about... in fact I think I've probably mentioned everything I'm going to talk about today.

Today's post is explaining some of the things I'm passionate about.

Well, you know where my obvious path would be...and that would be teaching.  But, let's steer off that highway for a while and try and focus on some other passions I have.  I consider myself a pretty passionate person.  I often have strong emotions about a particular subject or activity and can sometimes become fixated on it.  It's just who I am.  I consider myself a go-getter, and when I want something I do everything in my power to follow it through.

The other day, when I wrote my strengths post, someone mentioned to me that I left a big strength off of that list - and that would be my writing.  I hadn't even thought about it, to be honest.  I don't even know if I consider my writing as a strength.  In my mind, my writing is more of a passion.  I do it because I love doing it.  I do it because I feel so much better after I've let some steam escape through my fingers.  I enjoy talking about writing, teaching writing, and writing all different types of stuff.  I've been told that I'm a good writer.  I think I'm pretty OK at it.  But, I don't write because I think I'm good at it... that probably wouldn't matter a bit.

I am passionate about writing.

At some point during the past couple of weeks, I've shared with you that I have some trouble making friends.  I think that a lot of that has to do with the passion that I attach to my opinions and ideas.  If I'm asked for my opinion, I'm going to give it... even if it's not what the other person is wanting me to say.  Definitely not a strength of mine, but it is something I'm very passionate about.  My position is if you don't want to hear what I have to say, then please don't ask what I think or how I feel about something.  In fact, I have strong stands about a lot of political, religious, and general hot topics of discussion - and if I'm asked, I'm going to give my stance.  However, that is often misconstrued as me thinking that my opinion and ideas are right.  That's not the case at all.

Which leads me to something else I'm passionate about - respecting the ideas and opinions of others.  You'll see me write about this more than I will my own ideas and opinions.  I get so angry and frustrated sometimes just moseying around on Facebook.  I can and will say that there isn't an ounce of me that thinks that my religious, personal, or political beliefs are any better or more justified than anyone else's.  I don't think there's any part of me that has the right to cast judgement on others nor impose on the rights of other people just because of their beliefs or lifestyle.  Who am I to say that one religion is more justified or better than another?  Who am I to think that certain people should not be in relationships with other people?  Who am I to cast judgement on certain races, classes, genders, etc.?  Who am I?  A nobody.  In that sense, anyway.  Yes, I can have opinions - but I can also respect the opinions of others.  In fact, the only opinion I have on the subject is that I don't remember anyone being discovered to be the One.  I don't remember Fox News reporting that the decider of right and wrong is among us and making these decisions.  No, I know that there are lots of people out there with their own opinions, that don't give a flying hoot what anyone else's stance or beliefs or sides to the story.  They believe their opinion is the only opinion and will bash and hate and hurt others to stick by it.  I am not one of those people.

And that's something I'm very passionate about.

My opinions and ideas, my thoughts about other peoples opinions and ideas... both something I'm passionate about and that's because of one other passion:  Honesty.  I'm an extremely honest person, probably to a fault.  I hate lying and I hate to be lied to.  Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not going to sit here and tell you all that I've never lied in my life.  That would be the biggest lie I've ever told.  I'm a mother.  That automatically puts me down to slipping out a few white lies here and there.  And I'm not talking about some of the lies that may escape my lips during certain holidays.  I don't consider them lies, I consider them tales of imagination.  I don't speak of those things to deceive, I speak of those things to encourage and excite.  No, I'm talking about those little white lies that all parents tell their kids at some point or another.  I'm pretty sure there's a whole section on this in the parenting manual if you look it up.  And I already feel pangs of judgement seeping through my computer screen.  Well, keep it to yourself... cause I just can't believe for one second that there's a single parent out there that hasn't stretched the truth or told a few lies here and there to their kids.

That's not where I was going... I was trying to make the point about how passionate I am about being honest.  And this actually goes hand in hand with my opinion rant.  I just love it when people say "I want your honest opinion on something".  OK.  No problem.  Hit me with it.  And then I give them exactly what they asked for - and then they get mad and upset and don't speak to me for days.  Urm, how about next time you say "I want your opinion, but only if it's the same opinion as I'm having m'kay?"  That would make my life a lot easier.

In fact, I honestly believe that one of the reasons I had such a hard time finding a teaching job is because of my honesty.  And no, that doesn't mean I finally got my teaching job because I lied through my teeth during my interview... I was honest there, and it was finally appreciated.

Actually, I remember an interview when I knew it was game over because of the honest answer I gave.  I was asked what my stance was for expectations in the classroom.  My answer?  "I hold children to very high standards.  Good enough is not good enough for me.  I will always push my students to do better, give me everything they have.  I honestly don't care what a state test says about them - I want them to speak for themselves.  I want them to feel good about the accomplishments they make, even if it's not to the standards the state requires.  If I can push a child to at least go from not caring about their education to having passion and excitement about their education, then I feel I've done my job."  That was quickly followed up with.. "thanks, we'll call you when we've made our decision".  And I received my Dear John letter a week later.  Any guesses about what signed my death certificate at that school?

The minute I showed my nonchalant attitude about the state testing... the door was quickly opened for me to leave.  By giving my honest answer wasn't saying that I didn't care about the test... I've been in schools long enough to know about how important those tests are... I was merely offering my honest opinion about my teaching.  However, that was a quick red flag to a prospective employer.

And look at that... I managed to end up talking about what I wasn't going to talk about.  My teaching.  But come on, do you really think I could write a post about the things I'm passionate about without bringing it up?  Of course not!

I don't have to sit here and explain that passion to you, I don't think.  Anyone that has read this blog at all could hopefully sense that in just about every post I've shared about being a teacher.  All of my passion is focused on and around my teaching and my parenting... which kinda go hand in hand.  I parent my kids with the exact same passion as I teach my students.  It's why I think of myself as such a great mother and teacher.  My kids are pushed with the same expectations as I impose on my students.  My students are treated with love just as my kids are.

It's just something I'm very passionate about.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Day 15: It's a Hard Job, But Someone Has to Do It.

I'm not sure if I'll be able to get all of this blog post done this morning, if this lightning keeps flickering my power.  It's raining absolute buckets of water down on us right now... I know, because I'm collecting buckets of water in the playroom.  Thank goodness we actually got it all cleaned out, or all of Jelly's toys would be ruined.  I freakin' hate this house.

But, it's one of my jobs to make sure that water doesn't run all over the house - so I'm keeping on top of it by changing out towels and replacing pots and pans.  Again, I freaking hate this house.

There are just some jobs that you gotta do, whether you like them or not.  And that's what today's post is all about, my best and worst jobs.

I'm pretty sure the last time I counted, I got up to 13 jobs.  Twelve different places of employment in the 17 years I've been working.  I technically had my first job at 10, when I did a paper route, but I'm not even counting that one.  I had my first, real job at the age of 14 when I worked in my aunt's convenient store.  I cleaned and stocked shelves and stuff like that.  I enjoyed it because it was my first real job, and I felt important getting to "go to work" and earn a few dollars.

After that, my grandfather gave me a job working in his restaurant.  I became a waitress at 15, and that was another job I really enjoyed.  Talking to customers, getting to know the regulars, getting giddy at the tips I received each night.  To a fifteen year old, $5.15 an hour plus tips was a high paying job.  Especially when I brought home anywhere from $20-$50 a night from tips!

I'm not going to sit here and share all of my working memories...that would take way too long.  But, I can talk about some of my best and worst jobs.  That's easy.  I have literally worked over a full spectrum of areas including retail, fast food, customer service, clerical, medical, and manual labor.  It's been a wide array, all of my jobs offered a lot of experiences to my future endeavor - and that was finally going to college.  I'd been around the block, I'd learned a lot of skills, and I was prepared and ready to enter the college life prepared and planned for my future career.

Of all the jobs I've had, there's only one that I really hated.  And that was working in a factory that made pies.  Dessert pies to be exact.  My job consisted of standing next to a line for 12 hours a day, minus a few small breaks here and there, watching as frozen pies went through the line.  My job was to take off damaged pies or throw pies on a cart if the box machine malfunctioned and got a jam. That happened a couple times  a day, but the majority of the time consisted of just standing there... watching.  Talk about the most boring, long days of my life.

The best thing that happened to me at that job was spraining my wrist as I was throwing pies, causing me to go on workman's comp - and then forcing the staffing service I was working for to replace me and find me something else.  Hallelujah!  I ended up getting an awesome job working as a receptionist for a counseling company after that... and I stayed there for a few years.

Other than that job, I've enjoyed all of the jobs I've had.  Right after Peanut was born, I got a job working at a Casino.  I was 18 and finally allowed in to the casino, so my first time in there I applied for a job - and got one.  I sold bingo books.  I thought working as a waitress brought in the big bucks, but oh how wrong I was.  Working at that casino was like striking gold to an 18 year old.  I made $7 an hour plus tips - and my tips ranged from $100-$300 a night in tips... sometimes more if I sold winning bingo cards to someone.  I remember one night, one of my regular customers stuck it big and won something outrageous like $10,000.  He remembered who sold him the books and gave me a $500 tip.  I literally thought that moment was what it would feel like to win the lottery.  A mom trying to raise a newborn and a good for nothing man who sat around all day doing nothing can do a lot with $500.  I was laid off from that job, however, when the casino went through a renovation and did away with the bingo hall.  Otherwise, I'm convinced I might still be working there.  Best money I've ever made.

Right after Butter was born, I got a job as a CNA in a nursing home.  Technically I was a NA - because I had to get certified, but I did and then became a CNA.  I even dabbled with the thought of going to nursing school while I worked there.  I enjoyed helping the elderly, despite the manual labor that was involved.  Cleaning out bedpans, changing soiled sheets, and bathing people didn't bother me a bit.  I worked there for quite a while before moving out of state.  When I returned back to Oklahoma, the first place I went to get a job was a nursing home... but apparently being in an office building while I was away weakened my stomach.  One day back on the job of being a CNA and I blew chunks...literally.  I just couldn't stomach it anymore.  And that was the end of my nursing pursuit.

I've always enjoyed my clerical jobs.  I answered phones for a long distance company and a credit card company - and really liked doing it.  I have some fun memories of being yelled and screamed at for bills being too high or service being cut off or hidden fees...as if it was my fault... but that was a part of the job, and honestly... the best part.  Because it always made me laugh at some of the things I could be accused of.

Then, as I said before, I was the receptionist for a counseling office.  That was such a great job because I really got to know many of the clients.  People shared things with me that brought me to utter tears, and that also made me laugh hysterically.  Not at them.. with them.  It was working there that made me realize eventually I would go to school and get my teaching degree - because it was in my blood to help people (especially children).

Before making the move to go to college, however, I got my most favorite job behind teaching.  And that was working for the retail giant themselves.  Wal-Mart.  I started off working in legal, then after a year I transferred to be an administrative assistant for a vice-president.  I absolutely LOVED that job.  I had an amazing boss, I loved the people that worked for her, and I just loved working at the home office.  It's so much different being in the belly of the beast than being in the stores... I know, cause I've worked in the stores too.  And, even though I had already made the decision that eventually I would go to school... it was my bosses that really forced the issue and made me do it.  The VP I originally worked for got transferred to California, and I was left to work for the director that worked for her.  I loved her just as much as I loved my original boss.  Both of them became good friends of mine and it was their pushing and shoving that made me bite the bullet and apply to go to community college, just to get my prerequisites out of the way.

One semester in, however and I realized that I just couldn't carry a full time job as demanding as I had and a full time load at school - so I said goodbye to Wal-Mart and started my career path towards being a teacher.

And here I am.  My dream job.  The most amazing job in the world.  There is nothing more satisfying or enjoyable than waking up every morning and knowing that I have fulfilled my dreams and I'm driving to my dream job every day.

The kids.  The other teachers.  The administration.  The other staff members.  All pieces to the puzzle that makes my career life complete.

Don't get me wrong...there have been days I've been frustrated and cried and wondered what the heck I was thinking... but it only takes a few minutes to be reminded.  When I look in to the eyes of one of my students.  That makes everything better.  I know that there is no job on the planet that offers sunshine and roses each and every day... but I'm in the job that gets you as close to that as you can get.  I have said this many times, but if I won the lottery tomorrow - you'd still see my behind at work on Monday.  Cause I'm not there for the money, I'm there for my students, my dreams, my ambitions.

And anyone that can say that about their job has the best job in the world.