Thursday, May 31, 2007

Mixed Emotions

Exhilarated -adjective
1. To feel invigorated.
2. To feel happily refreshed and energetic.

Exhausted - adjective
1. To wear out completely.
2. To drain of resources or properties; deplete.
3. To use up completely.

School's out for the summer.
I've lost a dear friend.

Two extreme emotions at separate ends of the spectrum.
The pendulum swings wildly and I just hold on for the ride.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


Her initials.

Did you ever know someone who just lived their life? And by doing that, made you want to do better living your own?

She was a mother.

So strong.

Her advice about parenting are words that will stay with me my whole life. Her work ethic too. I am changed, having known her. Only for the better.

I've missed you, my friend. And now I grieve.

I have a feeling you are feeding a host of angels as I type.
And they love your cooking too.

Goodbye my friend.
I will remember you always.
I will carry on with those things that were important to us both.

Thanks for all that you were.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Keeping House - The Dining Room Edition

The Before Shot

So we did counter tops how long ago? A month? We still have "stuff" out on the dining room table from that project. To the left is Brenna's Do-A-Dot art stuff that she's just gotten out today. Other than that, it's mail, kitchen appliances, a package of diapers, and other misc. stuff that's landed here and never been put in its place. Today's the day. We're Keeping House!

The After Shot

Mail is piled, ready for sorting. Diapers are in diaper basket. Various kitchen appliances are in their place. Ahhh...

Hubs even brought home this bouquet (gorgeous!) from the district's three high school commencement ceremonies (his school was last yesterday and they were going to throw out these flowers!) which look quite fabulous on our humble table. Yes, they're real. If only the district would throw some of that flower money at my classroom...but I digress.

Mission accomplished. Dining room table is clear.

Keeping House

Over at my 30 by 30 blog, I set goals for myself with regards to diet and exercise...and it's working! I've lost 9 lbs in 3 weeks and am feeling a lot better about myself. So I've got one other area (okay lots, but this one is a priority) that needs some extra attention. Housework. Organization. Clearing the clutter. I found this other blog that's got me all jazzed about getting organized. Swistle also did these great digging out projects (she's way too pregnant now!) earlier in the year and it was so fun! So I'm starting a weekly (or more) quest. Setting one weekly goal (i.e. picking up toys EVERY night) and showing one weekly project. This week, my dining room table. With pictures! Oh, it will be so fun. Can't wait.

Here's my issue. I can't seem to figure out how you get anything done with kids. I don't get anything done with kids. Is it a nap thing? Are moms only allowed to get work done during kids' naps? I'm thinking that's it. It's tough though, when what you really want to do during your kids' nap is nap yourself. So I guess I've got to get jazzed about gearing up and getting work done while the little angels are asleep in the afternoon. That will be my goal today. While my kids are having their afternoon snooze, I'll do some chores. Start digging out!

I'm a big believer in Feng Shui (thanks to my mom) and actually think that decluttering the house will lead to overall self-satisfaction, therefore making it a worthy project that goes along with my weight loss goals. Not to mention calories burned while doing the cleaning. One of my biggest issues is that when I start thinking about cleaning and decluttering, I often get overwhelmed, don't know where to start, and just give up before I even do. So today I'm focusing on my dining room table. And the carpet in that room (dining room and living room). And then laundry. But that's it! (Doesn't sound like much, right?!?!)

I'll post later with pics to show progress. I love to show progress. It's that time of year. I'm itching to clear the crap. These posts from here on out will be called Keeping House. I'm getting way too excited!

Progress Note: I have found a TON of links to info that I was craving. From the Organizing Junkie blog to menus4moms to The Nest and so on and so forth. I've got so many ideas - now it's time to get off of the 'puter (as my little B calls it) and get crackin'. Again, way too excited about all of this. I think I've got a little anxiety about the idea of being a SAHM for 8 weeks, when I seem to be so obviously bad at it (no prior experience, so I'm just guessing) and want to start off on the right foot. I also can't imagine spending the summer in this house if it's a crap-hole. So we're keeping house! We, as in me, the kids are just along for the ride!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Grains of Gratitude

I'm grateful this week for support. I've struggled all week with a nasty cold (or allergies?) and had help from several good friends. My co-teacher, Timaree, who helped me out with the students while I finished up end of the year grades, paperwork, etc. To my cousin, who has become my partner in weight loss. She helped me remember my priorities when I really wanted to drown my sorrows in a pint of ice cream. And my classroom para, Natalie, who helped me with grading, kids, name it. She has been so helpful this year and really doesn't get the praise (or pay) she deserves for all of her hard work. It's nice to have help when you aren't 100%.

Only 1 1/2 days of school!!! That is doable. That is so doable. I think I might actually survive my first year of teaching. I'm so grateful to have made it in one piece. The kids I've taught this year have been such troopers, with everything we've been through. I'm grateful for such great students!

Good luck to all - as everyone winds up for summer! It's going to be a GREAT week!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Planning Some Downtime

So I can't seem to come up with anything to write about that means much of anything. I've got IEPs and lesson plans and grades and paper and boxes and more paper and then a little more paper swimming around in my head. But no original thought.

One thing on my mind is summer. Obviously. It's funny though, because I seem to have all of these plans all of the sudden. If I join this playgroup we've been invited to (and I will) once a week, and go to the zoo once a week, and take our two trips like we've planned, and watch my nephews for a few days like I've planned, go to the free movie on Wednesday mornings, and the library on Thursdays...all of the sudden my summer "off" is sort of laughable. Not to mention the 4 contracts I've signed with our district that totals about 40 hrs. of time over the summer.

Ah well, I think I need to realize that I'm a person who likes to stay busy. Have a plan. I've always been a planner. Which is funny, because I really like lounging too. But I rarely allow that. So that's what I'm doing on June 4th. I'm putting it in my planner. I'm writing 'nothing' on my planner for June 4th. Time to make a plan for this lounge time that I so desire. Time to let myself relax a little. Let my brain rest.

Oh, my brain sure could use some rest.

Monday, May 21, 2007


Insomnia has me up tonight and writing in my old journal. You know the kind, where you get an actual pen and write on real paper. Crazy, I know.

Well I've planned for a while that I would post an old journal entry or two (or more). I've kept a journal (always called it a diary) since I was 9 years old. So roughly 20 years. And there are some great entries from the early days, I look forward to posting some of that silliness. But tonight I'll post one that's slightly more recent. And relevant to my life now.

So here goes (verbatim):

Monday, April 28th, 2003

Over the past few days I've been reading my old journals and it's actually kind of upsetting. At first it was just funny to see how silly I was, but I started to get upset tonight, thinking of the time and energy I spent feeling bad about myself. I let all of these immature little boys make me feel less than worthy. They used me - a lot. Thank goodness I managed not to sleep with any of them. I did a lot of stupid things but that wasn't one of them. Probably due in a big way to my mom. She kept a fairly tight leash and by now I'm grateful. I told [hubs] last night I'm really glad we didn't meet until we were a little older and I meant it. I guess the good way to look at all of the heartache I put myself through is this - it all led me to where I am now, which is a wonderful, simple, relatively drama-free life.

The thing is, I'm 7 months pregnant. We have found out it's a girl. Her name will be Brenna. How can I help Brenna to be more self-confident? How can I teach her to pass on the guys who don't respect her? Will I be as strict as my mom and dad were? Is that what it takes?

These are tough questions - I guess I have 13 or so years to think more about it. Maybe if I could become more self-confident and respect myself - - I think that would speak volumes more than any lecture I can ever give her. Maybe that's it...maybe I just need to work a little bit on me first. Starting now.

Wow. That was harder than I thought it would be. Typing that out without editing. But that was it. Just a couple months from having Brenna (who will soon be 4!) and worrying already about how I would help her learn from my mistakes.

Still haven't gotten that figured out yet, but I'm still trying!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Grains of Gratitude

Gratitude. There are so many things to be grateful for. So many. Tonight I plan to make this post short though, because I'm trying so hard to go to bed early. I've come down with a nasty head cold and my head is full of goo. In a little bit, the Benadryl will kick in and I'll be off to sleepy town. I'm grateful for that for sure.
  • I'm also grateful that hubby covered for me this morning and helped out with Brenna's preschool Sunday School class. I had offered to sub this morning, but was just a wreck. Head ache, chills, stuffed up nose. Didn't think I should go and share my germs!
  • For a semi-relaxing weekend. We did a lot, but were at least able to stay in town. Seems like any plans we end up with always require travel, it was nice to be home.
  • Today I was grateful for a nice, spring breeze. We went to a nearby high school and flew kites with the kids. Brenna has been fascinated with kites because of the Berenstain Bears (we've seen the kite episode several times on PBS and also own the book!) and has also been watching Mary Poppins. This was so exciting for her and the day was perfect for it!
  • For only one more full week of school! Summer vacation is just around the corner and in 10 days, the school year will be finished. Woo hoo!

Must drag myself to bed now. 5:30 will come awfully quickly...I'm hoping that tomorrow I will feel better.

I'm thankful for Christine, who started Grains of Gratitude. It is becoming one of my favorite posts of the week! And a wonderful way to spend Sunday, reflecting on the GOOD things that are in my life. Feel free to play along!

Have a great week.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Waking Up

There are many women in the world who say that they were never more beautiful than when pregnant. That having a baby made them feel empowered and special and beautiful. For me, it was different. Suddenly, I was invisible. I literally disappeared. Twice.

There was this new person on the planet and my pride, joy, and love was so all-consuming that I suddenly could not care less what I looked like. If I was chubby. If I had even bathed. It just didn't matter anymore. All that mattered was the care and feeding of this tiny angel. This little being that I have given birth to has become the center of my existence. Who has time to care about the calluses on their feet when they've got such responsibility? Who can worry about a few extra pounds when there is this gorgeous new human on the planet. A new person that you made and are now RESPONSIBLE for. So I'm chubby? So I have horrible hair, breath, toe nails? What does it matter? Look how beautiful my baby is, don't look at me.

I can remember with Brenna, when I sort of woke up. I'd say she was around 18 months old. Suddenly I looked in the mirror and thought, man I need a hair cut. Or geez I should shave my arm pits. And hey, I'm still beautiful too.

It's happening again. Mason is 13 months old and for the first time since April 11th, 2006, I sort of care about taking some time to wash my face. Hey, I'll even try out this green tea warming mask that I haven't made time for since I got (wonderful, by the way). Hey, my husband's sort of cute. Maybe he'd like to snuggle.

I love this part of it all. When I feel human again. Alive. It's all part of the cycle, and I love it. I hope that this means maybe I'll try a little harder before leaving the house. Maybe I will shave and primp and wash...just a little. And if I don't, even then, I still feel beautiful.

It is so good to be back.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Another One Bites the Dust

Have you ever sort of gotten into a t.v. show? How about a small t.v. show on a smallish network, that no one really watched? I've been watching one for seven years now. Seven! Doesn't sound like a lot. Until I think of the fact that when I started watching it, I was paying $80 a month to live in a friend's trailer, in a trailer park. And that we usually watched while drinking fruity (and cheap) malted beverages out of fancy glasses with twisty straws. Or that I didn't even know my hubby when I started watching this show. Yeah, we've been through a lot, the Gilmore Girls and me.

Have you ever liked a t.v. show so much you felt a little weird about it? A little attached to the characters like they're your friends or maybe neighbors? Like somehow you just have coffee with them once a week, even if they are always two-dimensional? How about when they finally announce the series finales, the WEEK BEFORE it airs, and you get sad? And then while you watch said finale, and everything falls into place, your eyes fill with tears. Yup. That's me. I'm kind of a dork. Then once my eyes were good and welled up with tears, they just spilled right on over...and I let 'em. There's this mother-daughter thing with this show. It's always touched me. And the picturesque setting. The lovely way the townspeople all know each other and say hello in passing as they go about their days. It was all surreal and so lovely. Of course, there was the whole East coast thing. I love the idea of the East coast, even if I will always live in the Midwest. And Yale. That was great too.
There was this point, over the years of watching it, when I began to relate more to the mother than the daughter. Oh, I'd say right around the time I started bearing children? I used to relate to Rory and all of her school days woes. Then I had Brenna, and the mother-daughter thing hit me. That's when I really got into this show. I really enjoyed the mother-daughter banter, the bond they shared, how close they were. When I became a mom, I could relate to the lead character on the show. She's a mom too.

I'll miss this show. And the dreamy Luke. And Rory, who I always thought reminded me of a good friend I went to school with (No really, not an analogy here, my friend Kelly looks a little like that actress). It was a great show, and I will miss it. Even if I'm the only one.

Now I think I'll start my own little savings plan for buying the entire series, just to irk the hubby. For I do believe he is celebrating this finale tonight and is quite smug. Rude, really.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Grains of Gratitude

We got home from my parents' yesterday evening. I was sort of useless for the rest of the evening, aside from watching the kids play in the sprinkler, washing out the kiddie pool, drawing with sidewalk chalk, putting two little ones through the bath and getting them to bed, and then a little laundry and a Sunday night TV show. Our house sort of smells like a locker room, it has been so humid lately. I try to get all trash taken out and keep the laundry up, but nothing seems to help keep that smell at bay for too long. I can't imagine what it will be like when I have teenagers!

But that is not what I'm grateful for. I guess that was to explain why I didn't get my grains up last night. Here are the things I am grateful for in the past week:

  • My mom and hubby's mom. We both lucked out in that category and ended up with caring, nurturing moms. Moms who don't let ya down. Moms who you want to talk to on a bad day. I hope I will be that kind of mom to my kids some day.
  • A nice trip back to my hometown. My parents live in the country and have so much for the kids to do outside. They enjoyed the swings, sprinkler, sand box, outdoor play kitchen, and acres of green grass. I was grateful for the sunshine that allowed us to be outside playing.
  • A safe trip home. It's always nice to be back in your own bed.
  • A day to look forward to. Hubby and the kids gave me a certificate for a back massage, which I plan to use the day after school's out. A little incentive for surviving the next 3 weeks!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Friday Reflections

It was a day. Today was this horrible barrage of mishaps. We were short-staffed. I felt short-tempered. Luckily, it is over. I am amazed at how spring goes in a high school, at how the kids' behavior is. It is incredible how they seem to have forgotten every social skill I've taught them all year. So we do review sessions and we practice and we role play. And then they get out in the halls and they are crazy. I can attribute it to only one thing. HORMONES. The boys are coming out of the their skin. The girls are discovering their powers and using them to the fullest. The pent up frustrations come out in tantrums and work avoidance and extended versions of head locks and noogies. And I'm just a referee. A bitchy old referee. Is this what I really signed on for?

Then there's my own kids. Mason is a heap of emotions and cries puddles every evening. He's so tired from playing with all of those kids all day, he just crashes. And my little Brenna, all sweaty and whiny and weepy. She's also a little ball of emotion. She's informed me that Baylen, a sweet little blond boy at preschool, has asked her to marry him and she has agreed. The way she says boyfriend, I need to get it on tape. It's so funny. Boo-ey-frennd. That's what she calls him. She's so young to start that business.

They've been learning about farms at preschool and took a field trip. I wasn't able to go, but this is the report I got in the afternoon: There was a piggy. A black one. And it scratched its bottom with its back foot. And the farmer? He said the piggy got too big to live in the house so some people just left it right on the road! So the farmer brought it to live here. So it lives at the farm.

A two hour field trip to the farm and that's what she got out of it. Her stories honestly do crack me up. There's so much inflection behind it, she really puts some thought into every word. Too cute. I wish I could bottle this time up and save it for later. This time when her mind is so open and she wants to know so much. Then when she's 13, and hates us all, I'd like to let some out to remember this time. This perfect, crazy time.

Monday, May 7, 2007

30 by 30

Can I do it? It's my "new" goal (I've been on a up-and-down weight roller coaster since the day I turned 18). I'm going to lose 30 lbs by my 30th b-day. That's in October. I have 21 weeks. That means staying on task for 21 weeks. My top so far for staying on task for ANYTHING is about 2 1/2 weeks. But it's happening now. 30 by 30.

That means when I'm turning 30 I will fit comfortably into my size 12's (instead of the 16's I am comfortably in right now). I'll have a whole new wardrobe that's just waiting for me in my basement. And I'll be able to buy some fun new clothes too.

I can do it! This is it. I weigh in tomorrow morning and it is on! Be watching - I may just get brave and post a "before" photo (fully clothed with proper lighting and angles of course). Think lifestyle change over crash diet. Think overcoming bad habits over starving myself. Think good health over wishing for a size zero. Think trying to burn off the baby weight.

30 by 30 is my new second blog. As opposed to the other diet/exercise journals that I always start and never continue past that 2 1/2 week mark. For those with an interest in a maniacal ride with one young mom who needs to shed some lbs. And struggles to do so. It's going to be
here. All are welcome to play along.

Wish me luck! Any helpful tips/advice are WELCOME in comments here.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Grains of Gratitude

Top of my list this week: my kitchen counter redo. How fun to have an update to a part of our house that was so run down. Now we're talking really boring updates like furnace/air cond/water heater. BO-RING!

I'm also so thankful for my parents, who were so supportive as I reached the breaking point this week. They came to the rescue, two-hour drive and all, and took some time to comfort me. I'm so grateful to have parents whose visits are a comfort to me, rather than the alternative.

Grateful for spring. Grateful for rain. Grateful for the approaching end of the school year.
I love May!

Thursday, May 3, 2007

a little redo, a little renewed

What I love about home makeover is that it makes you feel a little new too, ya know? Swistle did this great series about digging out, which got me hooked on her blog. Before and after pictures rock! I love when bloggers post pics of projects they're working on because it shows a little glimpse into their lives, into their homes. Voyeuristic? Perhaps, but fun nonetheless.

One reason that we bought our house here is that it didn't need a ton of work. Our first home needed a lot of work. This house was okay. SO SO. But the tax money came and we decided that our sad, sad sink had to go. So if you're doing the sink, you've got to do the faucet, if you're doing the faucet, why not the counter tops? We ordered these "solid surface" counter tops, LG Volcanics, Hi Mac something or other. I'm very technically involved, as you can tell. I liked the color and I loved the integrated sink. So here's the before:

or I should really say during. This was when the old Formica stuff was pulled out. There's a piece sitting on top of my stove. Cream, flat, boring.

The sink was gross, as was the faucet. It was time for something new.

So, good-bye sink. Good-bye Formica. Good-bye nasty, crusty faucet.

Hello Beautiful!

It's fun to be so vain. And to get something shiny and new. Hard to do it justice in a photo. My kitchen is TINY, so angles are tricky. But you get the picture. Not quite the gourmet kitchen off of the LG web site, but it's mine and it's new. And I feel a little renewed. Ya know?

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

already better...

So today I'm feeling so much better. Thanks for the nice comments.

My parents came down yesterday for an unexpected visit and it was exactly what I needed. They stayed on for dinner, we ordered some delicious take-out, and really enjoyed a nice visit. It recharged my batteries like nothing else could have.

Today I'm home with my kids. They both are having "issues" in the restroom area, I'll spare the details. They both feel fine, are acting normal, just aren't "regular". Yuck.

The nice part about it is that we get a nice day at home with no plans. The best kind of day! My father-in-law is coming to rip out counter tops because tomorrow I am getting new ones! I am so excited.
This is what the counter top that we ordered would look like in a gourmet kitchen, if we upgraded the edging. But you get the picture, at least about the color. Have I mentioned I'm excited! They're getting put in TOMORROW! I'll put a real picture in of our non-gourmet/80's kitchen version then.