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Mom's Nag Pad is a place of support for women and moms. I hope that while you're reading the stories about the crazy lives of others, you'll remember yourself and pick up that dream deferred. Like me, everyone should indulge a dream!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Project Number One: Sanctuary!!

I'm determined to finish my bathroom renovation before classes start. The work began in earnest in August, with my brothers providing a little of the muscle. The tiling is done, so now I have to paint the tub, paint the walls and paint the cabinet. I'd love to replace the vanity, but the one I'd like to have is over $500, and I just think it's better to feed the children.

Am I the only woman out there who appreciates the sanctuary of a pretty bathroom? When we moved into this house, it was a putrid Brady Bunch peach with outdated tiles and fixtures. I just couldn't get comfortable in that bathroom. And since I also don't have a bottomless pit for a bank account, everything has to be done by me (and any family member I can lure in with the promise of a free meal.)

Sanctuary is very important to neat freaks like myself. I long ago gave up on the idea of a completely neat home. If you want that kind of house, your only companion should be a finicky cat. Families are messy, and of course, that's part of their charm. So I confine my sanctuary to my bedroom and bath. Those are the places where I will have total control and make no apologies for my clearly undiagnosed OCD tendencies. When it's finished, I'll post some pics. I hope it inspires some to take a sledge hammer to ugly tile all over the country!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Post Christmas Reality

So the last present has been opened, you've gorged yourself on cakes, cookies and pies, and you've visited relatives you only see once a year. You don't go shopping on the 26th because you don't have any money left (and let's face it, you never do), so the day after Christmas is spent eating leftovers and cleaning up the living room. Until January second, you're in some kind of holiday limbo soon to be punctuated by the taking down of decorations.

That was last year. This year, I go back to work on the seventh and my second semester will begin the third week in January. I ordered and received all my books and I plan to get through at least the first chapter of each. This semester, I really will go over my notes every night and keep up with my reading. I will cut my work schedule to the bone so I can spend time with my family and complete my work with as little stress as possible. I'll also finish renovating my bathroom and make some new things to wear.

All those hopes and dreams go in the same knapsack as the new diet we all begin at the beginning of the year. Why do we all begin the year with a lot of unachievable goals? January starts off with such anticipation and by February we're on our way to five pounds of disappointment eating. I suggest we take this in small bites. For instance, instead of promising to lose twenty pounds this year, working on stepping up your exercise program in small increments and cutting out the majority of the junkfood. Pull out your calendar and actually schedule activities like working on a bathroom and making a new dress. It's not as intimidating if you have an actual plan as opposed to a project that's just out there hanging over your head with no start date in mind.

The new year shouldn't be simultaneously exciting and daunting. Take advantage of that new beginning, make some realistic plans and find a way to make your life a little better than it was in 2009.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!!

My Christmas holiday unfolded just as I thought it would. Despite my best efforts and promises to keep it stress free, no such luck. I still had my family over for Christmas Eve, worked the rest of the night as a Christmas elf and then had my kidneys kicked in by the six year old who was too excited to go to bed and slept with me. Christmas morning arrives and I look like something the cat left in the alley. I recharged immediately at the looks of breathless anticipation on my kids' faces (or was it annoyance because I was the last to come downstairs?).

Gift opening was actually fun. The youngest child was excited with everything she opened and the older girls enjoyed the money in their stockings. This was the first year I'd ever asked for an appliance (a stainless steel toaster because I'm changing out the white plastic appliances for nicer ones). For my husband, who has arms like a gorilla, he loved the extra tall clothing I was able to find for him. Then we actually sat down and watched some holiday tv, the parade from Disneyworld, actually. And it was nice.

The holidays usually go by in a blur and we can never remember what happened or if we even enjoyed ourselves. Every year we promise it will be different, but I'm beginning to wonder if it can be when you have large families and limited opportunities to see each other, especially when people live out of town. It's crazy, but on some level we must be enjoying it. Otherwise, why do we continue to do this every year?

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Grades and Money

I just checked Blackboard and I got an 'A' in one of my two classes. I expect to get an 'A' in the other class as well, but it would be good to see it floating around in cyberspace. I will float around on that high until the crush of the holidays starts to get to me.

Who am I kidding? I'm already there. When a woman gets tired of shopping, there's definitely something going on. I've kept my pre-Christmas promise of not going into any of the major stores or malls. If I can't get it online or at Walgreens, you're not getting it. UPS might as well pitch a tent on my front lawn and call themselves Santa's helpers. But it's the onslaught of work parties and school parties and home parties that's killing me. I'll have a party each day for the next four days and I'm exhausted just thinking about. Five years ago, if I had to bring food to an event, I would have been all about making a Christmas tree out of cake and decorating it gumdrops and M&M's. Now I'm about throwing a box of chicken on the table and letting them gnaw until they're full.

In addition, the high cost of living hit me today, but in a different way. A colleague who is also in a Masters program will be leaving us to take a full time job. The satisfaction of what she gives to young children at our family literacy center got trumped by the need to eat and pay the mortgage. I'm sad for her, but not surprised. This is a huge undertaking at this stage in our lives. You know, that stage where you actually have to put others before your own needs and wants (something my teenage daughters don't yet understand). The cost of living, my college and their college.......okay, if I keep thinking about this I'll drop out and grab a blue vest at Walmart.

Where's my 'A' cloud?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Free at last.......

I did it! I got through my first semester of college in 25 years. I got through my first semester in college in 25 years and I didn't go insane. I haven't gotten my grades yet, but I either got two "A"s or an "A" and a "B". This semester almost killed me and I've learned the hard way that I've got to cut my schedule to the bone and stay on top of the reading. I'm really proud of the progress I've made, but the next two and a half of years will be a bear.

Now that I have five weeks off, I have to make a real effort to enjoy this time. By January 20th, I'll be back in the hunt for sympathetic professors and classes which won't kill me. But until then I've got the holidays to look forward to. As usual, mine will be the go to house for my family and I'm getting it ready. This is the latest I've ever put up lights and the tree, but I'm not going to worry about that. I want to spend extra time with the family and pick out the perfect Christmas present. I want to eat my weight in Christmas goodies and lament the weight gain on New Year's Eve. I'd like to start the new year with a completed bathroom so I don't have to share with my sloppy family. Somebody, please put a bug in Santa's ear!!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

I hope you all have a great day and enjoy your families. Take a few minutes to really think about what's important to you and give thanks for it. We have a home, we're all healthy and we have jobs. Nowadays, you can't ask for more than that!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Let the holiday weigh in begin.......

As much as I wanted the holidays to start, I forgot about one salient point; the weight gain from all the holiday goodies. Have you been exercising a little bit more, eating a little bit less in anticipation of the spread at your relatives' homes? I know I have, but will it be enough?

Regardless, the end of the semester is coming and so is the light at the end of the tunnel. I have two finals, well, let me correct that; two finals and a paper. I'm lucky enough to be off the entire week of Thanksgiving, and so far I'm very thankful for that. I don't have to get up at six and I've had the time to work on a few projects, like tiling my bathroom. It's my Christmas wish to get my toilet out of my bedroom before St. Nick comes down the chimney.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


I'm in!! After a gut wrenching couple of weeks of preparation and fear, I finally had my interview for the Masters program in counseling. It was a little strange. At times, I felt like I was at the Miss America pageant. Pairs of us had to speak to five different professors, who asked us an array of questions; everything from "How will you fit this into your schedule?" to "What's the difference between a counselor and a social worker?" I had to find that meaningful but nebulous answer that would keep me out of the land of Carrie Prejean.

Once it was over, I really tried to not think about it. I thought it would be a couple of weeks before I heard something, but just a few days later, I get a cellphone call which I at first thought was a telemarketer. Thank God I didn't hang up!! "You're in the program." I finally started to process that statement and I thought I was going to implode.

Now, I have a whole new list of things to consider. How will I plan work and school for the next two and a half years? (It's been recommended to us to work as little as possible during our practicum and intern year. Unrealistic, but true!)

Right now, I'm just basking in the accomplishment of getting in. I think I'll enjoy it for a little while.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Can I breathe yet?

I don't even know why I asked that question. You see how long it's been since my last post. Let me see if I can summarize? Work has been insane for both me and my husband, school has been insane, and we're all stressed out. Did I mention before that I can't wait for Christmas this year?

I finally had the interview for the masters program and I think it went well, but I really don't know what they're looking for and who they'll chose. I'm sure I doing everything I'm supposed to be doing, but I"m nervous anyway. Wish me luck.

I just got back from a retreat and I'm exhausted, so I'm taking the day off. That's only theoretical of course. I have two papers due this week and a boatload of other things, but it's nice to just lay here and not have to think for a couple of minutes.

I'm looking forward to Christmas this year. My brother will be in town from Virginia and we can have a nice family celebration.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Aaahhh, a day off!

Well, not really. I took a day off because I have a take home exam for my multicultural counseling course. I knew if I tried to do this an hour here and an hour there in the evenings with all the family distractions, it would never work. Since this is my first test, I'd really like to knock it out of the park. I'd really like to make a 'B' or higher. This experience will show me if I'm on the right track with my study habits or if I need to do some major tweeking.

You're wondering about the electricity, right? Well, despite my husband's prognostications of doom, it was a minor wiring problem which only cost us $78 to fix. Homeowners are always concerned about home repairs, but when the house is older, you're sure every problem will require major work because things just wear out in some cases. That's the good news. The better news is that we finally got a new dishwasher!!! It's a Frigidaire with a stainless steel look (because I just refused to pay another $50 for true stainless steel) and while I've only used it twice, I'm pleased so far with the results. I also got the three year service plan for $56 since we tend to go through appliances like Kleenex.

Thankfully, my brother was able to install it for us. Just about every store we looked at wanted at least $119 to install a dishwasher. It takes about an hour, but that price seems a little high to me. Thank God for relatives who can fix and install stuff.

Now, if I can just get my bathroom finished!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

When it rains, it pours...

Why is that? Is it supposed to be some test of how you can survive the perils of suburban living? We are finally getting to replace our dishwasher with a brand and a finish I'll like. Then my daughter calls me upstairs to tell me that her ceiling fan isn't working. An hour later, my husband tells me that our ceiling fan isn't working. Coincidence? I think not! It's the curse of living in a house that's almost forty years old. While the big back yard is great, sometimes I do wonder what it would be like to live in a house made to my rigorous expectations, green technology in every corner and an outdoor living space that might actually entice me to sleep while gazing up at the stars. Ahhh, to dream!

I suspect we have a simple wiring problem, or a squirrel with a metal deficiency. Either way, we'll wait a day or so and see if the fans come back on. My peripheral problem is that I usually need the air conditioner and ceiling fan to be comfortable while I sleep.

We're at the midway point in school and with every step my confidence goes up, if only a fourth of a degree. It's funny to now have something new in common with my daughters. The only difference is that they are usually complaining about their teachers and I'm pretty okay with mine. I have a take home midterm in one class, and I'm not sure what I have in the other, but I'll keep up with my reading and going over my notes. Regardless, I'm looking forward to Christmas as I never have before. Well, okay, the first Christmas with my husband, each baby...well you get what I mean.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

I am so tired.....

The weekend doesn't begin on Friday for me. It begins Thursday at 6:31 PM. That's my last class for the week and I can breath. Not a whole lot, because the weekend is approaching and I have to catch up with the things I've had to put off the entire week, not to mention keeping up with my reading for my two classes. I'm now at the point where I spend less time being apprehensive about what I'm trying to accomplish, but looking for ways to make sure I stay on top of the work and give it my best.

And while this is important, I'm trying to make sure I keep the family in the loop. Last week, we purchased a game, had dinner in from a restaurant (saves on drinks and tips), and had a Family Game Night. The girls really enjoyed it, I thought. We played Disney Wheel of Fortune which is great for us because we love that place. This weekend, we'll try to make our own Chinese dinner with egg drop soup, fried rice and a yet to be announced entree.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I think we've hit the wall....

It looks like it's going to be one of those weeks. Everyone's tired, overworked and cranky. My husband worked from home today because he was exhausted. My little one has a cough that will certainly have her down by the end of the week. I have a sore throat and have no option but to trudge on. That's the gloomy news.

The good news is that the bad news is not worse. I continue to get more comfortable with school, but I 'm also seeing how crucial planning will be next year. Currently, I only plan to take two classes per semester, but next year I'll have to take three classes in the Fall and Spring semesters. We're only allowed to take two during the summer because we'll only have eight weeks of classes. My schedule will have to be cut to the bone in order to accommodate the work load from this extra class.

But, I'm jumping the gun. Let's see how I do with this first semester. That which does not kill us may drive us to therapy instead.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Has it really been that long?

I didn't realize how long it had been since I posted. That should tell you a little about how the past week has gone for me. The good new is that I'm finding more and more people in my field and talking about class work makes it easier to understand. The bad news is that my work schedule isn't letting up and it's been a little tough to finish my reading for the week, but I think I'll make it.

I'm not seeing much of my husband, but he's just as busy as I am. We're back to making dates to go out and get a bite to eat or go to a movie. But it's a balancing act to be sure. How do you make time to see him and spend quality time with the kids?

Right now, I'm making dinner for them, but I have class at 7 PM. He did a late dinner last night because I had a project to complete. I can't wait for Thursday at 6:30 PM. That means my second class has ended for the evening and I can take a little breather. For the first time I really understand the saying 'TGIF'!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

It's Making a Little More Sense....

This is our third week of classes and with every class I feel a little better and a little worse. Better because I'm understanding what is needed to make this work; worse, because I'm understanding what is needed to make this work! I am so tired, I can't believe it. The fear of not understanding what the teachers want is abating, but when I think of what the future will bring when I'm taking three classes a week, with papers, massive readings and tests, I need a bag to breath into. In addition, my house is a mess. I know I shouldn't be anal about this, and I can't be if I'm to survive, but I hate a dirty house.

Through discussions in class, I'm getting to know my classmates a little better and we have a lot in common. Many of us are moms with children ranging from grade school to college. Many of us are in transition from the home to work, or from one profession to another. When I hear the stories of how some of these women came to the decision to go back to school, I certainly feel that my situation is not quite as desperate. After all, we're all shooting for a better financial and professional future. It takes a lot of guts to jump back into the fray, when many of us would feel more comfortable with what we were doing before.

Friday, September 4, 2009


And I mean that! Second week of school, first week of work, whew!!! I get tired just thinking about it. I've never been so glad to see a three-day weekend in my life. How far away is Thanksgiving vacation?

If I don't make a date with my husband, I'll never see him again. I know it sounds silly, but we've drifted into a relationship of polite strangers living in the same house. The schedules have been so nuts lately, we're literally passing each other in the night. I think we'll try to have a kid-free dinner this weekend, and I'll do a big family lunch on Sunday. I'd like the kids to be able to sit down with us and talk.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Finding my sea legs....

Okay, I was one of only three geeks who completed all the reading for my Thursday night class. The professor then asked who got through about 80% of the reading and only four people raised their hands. I must be stuck in some time warp continuum from fourth grade, because I didn't know I had the option of not reading all five chapters I was assigned this past week.

Week two has been a little more enjoyable, if for no other reason that week one is over and I survived. This week was a little more easygoing, and having discussions with other class members makes it easier to relate to this material.

On the family front, it's been an exhausting week for us all. This year, my youngest is in the first grade and actually has homework which is being graded. She takes a spelling test each Friday, and she's done well, so far. In New Orleans, the children can take their report cards to Krispy Kreme and get free doughnuts for every 'A' or 'B'. That is her constant motivation. My older girls are doing well. The college girl started this week, but she'll have to decide if she really wants to take 19 hours! And unfortunately, the 16-year-old got one of those teachers who piles on the work just because she can. I never understand this kind of teacher. I wish they'd deal with their personal demons before they get to school. I don't need to know how tough this woman is, I just need her to teach my daughter a subject in school without driving us all crazy.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Settling In

Week two of classes has begun and the sheer hysteria and panic I felt has ebbed to managed sheer hysteria and panic. After reading five long chapters, outlining, reading and ordering books for the suggested reading, each day I wonder if I've taken on too much. I'll let you know after I've actually gotten a grade for something.

I started my second year with Americorps this week, as well. I'm working at a family literacy center. The primary lesson being taught to these mothers is that they are their children's' first teachers, and literacy should begin right after that trip down the birth canal. It's very inspiring to watch these young mothers struggling with adult education, some of them learning a new language. The children are on one side of the center with child care workers while their mothers are in class. Mid morning, they have what is called "PACT" time, parent and child time, where they sing and read. Now today this was mostly accomplished while two or three children were screaming so loudly they could have wakened dead vampires from almost any crypt in New Orleans. But somehow, I think they appreciated the reading of "Brown Bear, Brown Bear".

Sunday, August 30, 2009

I'm reading, and reading, and reading......

I didn't know what to expect of course, but I knew the reading would be extensive and I was right. For the past year or so, my brother, who just retired from the Marines, has been pursuing a Masters in Business Management. His constant lament is about the amount of reading he has to do. Those first couple of days I was completely overwhelmed, asking myself what I had gotten myself into and how could I manage these courses, maintain at least a 'B' average, work and occasionally pay some attention to my family. Oh, did I forget to mention that my brother and I have been working in my bathroom this entire week? Once the bathroom is complete, that will be a big load off my mind and my work schedule. Maybe I've got a little OCD about a perfect surrounding before I can accomplish something else. I'm sure to find this out if I make it past the first semester.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Second Day

I barely made it to my 4:30 class because I had to pick up my daughter at 3:45. I basically dropped her off, watched her walk into the house and drove off. (Of course I called her when I got to class to make sure she was all right.) Once again, our class was a little too large and was split into two.

This class is about cultural diversity in counseling and our professor warned us it would be a 'button pusher', as did the writers of the textbook. Amusingly, he observed that white men usually taught these courses and he couldn't figure out why. His syllabus was very interesting and gave us a variety of ways to earn points towards our grade, including blogging about movies and restaurants of other cultures.

The number of assignments does not particularly worry me, but the amount of reading and additional reading does. I'm going to have to schedule my time carefully to make sure I get it all done. At present, I have five chapters to read by next week's classes. Since I'm a visual and kinesthetic learner, this will probably mean meticulously outlining each chapter so that I get the most out of the reading, but I've read that listening to music while studying helps.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The first day, continued.....

Okay, of course I couldn't find the classroom on the first day, and when I did, it was packed! The school was obviously unprepared for how many moms were going back to school. Mostly, it felt like every first day of school you've ever had, except half the students already had kids and the other half had had hysterectomies.

Deciding the class was far too large for the personal attention we'd all been promised, we were promptly split up. It's a good thing I hadn't made friends yet. My professor looks like Santa Claus in the off season. He asked lots of probing questions, and initially learned that few of us were enterprising enough to have read the first three chapters of the textbook. (I had read up to the middle of the first chapter, but I didn't want to be a suck-up.)

Our first assignment was to write a 'reflective paper' on what we'd gleaned from the first class, no more than two pages, double spaced. Wouldn't it be great if it stayed that simple?

I'm exhausted from this day, but I'm too excited to sleep. Class two is tomorrow, as well as another orientation day for Americorps, and the possibility I'll get another $40 parking ticket because there's no where to park in New Orleans that isn't residential near the Loyola campus.

The First Day

Last night, I nervously looked at my schedule, making sure I was going to the right class on the right day in the right room. I put out my books and notebooks, pens and highlighters. The last forty-five minutes of waiting for the class to start was miserable, but my fellow Americorps members had wished me well earlier in the day with smiles and encouragement. I'll tell you what happens later.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


Tomorrow I start a week long orientation for Americorps. For those of you who are unaware of this organization, it is a nationwide volunteer organization that helps out with everything from building homes to literacy. I'll be working on the literacy end in a family program which promotes education to parents and children. Members receive a living stipend for a year of service, and an education award if you complete a specified amount of hours. This is actually my second year (you can only do two), but I'll receive an education award of $4700 dollars which will go a long way towards paying for my tuition. If you're interested, check out the site at www.americorps.gov.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

It's getting closer, and I'm not talking about school

As you can see from this picture, I truly have the ugliest bathroom in New Orleans. Most of the nasty peach tile is gone. I'm not going to take up the tile on the floor, but tile over it with larger porcelain squares. I plan to extend the tile work on the wall, but for the tub surround I"ll have to go with what's call an 'easy up adhesive wall set'. This is the problem with older homes. Nothing in them is standard sized. I couldn't find one hard wall tub surround that would fit in my bath, so the 'easy up' set was my most economical option.

My brother is in town to help me put up new drywall as well as the surround. Once I tile the floor and wall, I can put the toilet back in place. At present, it's sitting in a corner of my bedroom covered by a pretty shower curtain, but it's still a little close for comfort.

This renovation has taken a little longer than I thought it would. It's been raining for the past few days, which makes it hard to use any kind of adhesives because of the humidity. Of course I wanted to have it finished by the 24th, but that's not going to happen and I have to be okay with that. Just rethink the plan and make a new one; that will have to me my new motto for the next three years.

Friday, August 21, 2009

I hate to beat a dead horse!

They were staring at it like ancient cavemen who had just invented the wheel. Of course this observation can be used for any instance involving the cleaning of anything. I'm referring to the Holy Grail of slovenly family habits; putting a fresh roll of paper on the roll. Why?!?!? It's like they've barely graduated from rubbing against a tree like bears. By the way, just how stupid is that commercial? When they first came out, their biggest selling point was that this particular brand of tissue didn't leave any lint behind. All I could hear was that it didn't leave any lint on your behind. I guess that's why they changed the wording. Regardless, if that's something which bothered you, you are either a contortionist or clearly have too much time on your hands.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Final Hurdle

Today, I went back to the college to get my parking pass and ID (one of the worst ID pictures I've ever taken, so I hope I don't actually have to show it to anyone). The only thing left to do now is to go to my first class, which is a week away. I'm feeling kind of ambivalent tonight. On one hand I'm really excited, but on the other, I really wonder what I'm getting myself into. Do I have the tenacity to put one more huge thing on my already overflowing plate, and how can I juggle family and work with it as well?

In the meantime, I've taken a look at some graduate level papers, and I feel that if I'm careful about content and structure I can handle it. One thing the professors shared with us is some of the same advice I've shared with my daughters, which is to ask for help when you feel you're beginning to flounder, not when you're ready to hang yourself. I think I should write that on the top of each of my notebooks.

This time I really want to do it better. My undergrad career was all about getting away from my parents' home and having the life I didn't' have as a teenager. The problem is you can't always do that and have a successful academic career as well. There are a million things I would change about those years, but the problem with changing the past is that your future would be substantially different. And there are things in that future I'm just not willing to part with.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


It took three and a half hours! I had no idea orientation at a small college could take so long. And I'm still not finished. The ID machine went down, and I didn't have my proof of insurance or registration, so I couldn't get my parking pass. So it's back to school tomorrow (or the next day) to complete those things.

Ever since I applied, I've wondered what to expect on the first day. At today's orientation, the professors stressed how important writing skills would be, and that if you had any deficiencies in this area to take the non-credit graduate writing course. I write all the time; fiction and non-fiction, manuals, etc. but I think I'd better go to the library and look at some graduate papers to see if I need this course. I don't want to be derailed just because of a lack of technique.

So easy a caveman could do it....

It's not true you know. On the evolutionary scale, when it comes to the simple motor skills of replacing a roll of toilet tissue, cavemen are smarter than my family. I even have a built in excuse now. Remember my kitty cat burglar? In addition to her many talents as a high wire artist, she likes to indulge in shredded toilet paper art as well. So, I tell the family to put the tissue on the roll to avoid this. What do I find the very next day? Empty brown tubes on the rolls, and toilet tissue on the floor. Husbands and children are missing the 'tidy' chromosome, aren't they?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Oh, I forgot to mention.....

I hope you'll enjoy the pictures on my blog of the Greater New Orleans area. The birdhouse in the last post is from City Park's Botanical Garden.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Do your teenagers still need you?

This is a question I ask myself a lot as I watch my older girls turn into young women. The oldest is nineteen, a sophomore in college, drives her own car, and occasionally makes her own money. The next one is sixteen, incredibly self reliant, and possibly the most stubborn person I know. Most of the time she walks around with a sense of self assurance that would make a Supreme Court Justice take a course in confidence building. But don't be fooled. When it comes to handling their own problems, that five-year-old they think they left behind in kindergarten will reappear.

If you've paid any attention at all to your kids over the past decade, you should be able to read the signs. With the oldest, I'm addressed as 'mommy' when she wants something, and 'mom' with anguish when she's distressed. With the second, it's just tears. This is significant because she's not a crier, and is embarrassed at the thought of having to wear her emotions on her sleeve. And the chances are she's exhausted every other possible solution to her problem before coming to her parents. This is good.

It's good because she's tried to solve the problem on her own. It's good because after she's seen she can't solve the problem on her own, she moves on to a higher power, and I don't mean a round robin of her usually clueless friends on Facebook. I think this is what all parents want. We want kids who are self reliant, but we want them to be able to turn to another source once they've hit a wall.

This is why I don't question my approach to parenting. I'm not at all concerned that because I provide structure, discipline and love, that my kids will grow to hate me. Put simply, I don't care if they don't like washing dishes or folding clothes. Making their beds and doing their homework is a part of their life at present. Sure, we sometimes have bitter fights over the need for clean bathrooms and swept floors, but at the end of the day, my kids know that I'm their staunchest defender and their biggest fan.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Are you tired too?

The school year just started here and I'm already exhausted. Keep in mind that only two of my three kids are in school, thus far. I don't start myself, until the 24th, and my oldest starts on the 31st. Already we've spent more time buying school supplies, looking for shoes, and reasonably priced school clothes, than I'd like to admit. And the paperwork, oh my god! Is this what people go through when they want to join the Secret Service? The only thing I didn't send back was DNA!

Regardless, the first day has come and gone for the younger girls and they're settling into their new classes, new teachers, and old and new friends. But when did school become so overwhelming? My 16-year-old is already stressed out because of the work she's getting from two very demanding schools, and she hasn't even made it through the first week. There's a lesson she needs to learn early; worrying never solved any problem. It only magnifies the problem and makes it seem insurmountable. I hope she learns this lesson before she hits her twenties and the ulcer is irreversible.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The boy we never had...

Why is it that we expect little girls to be cleaner in the bathroom? My part-time princess, part-time quarterback distinctly has some male tendencies. Every time I go into the bathroom, she's left a little surprise on the potty seat as well as in the bowl. I actually listen. When she's done, there's no flush and no running water. Do you think she's just trying to save water? Her radical wanna be left wing sisters have certainly schooled her in the art of being a faux environmentalist. We can hardly pass a large SUV on the street that she doesn't scream "Tree Killer!" Though I notice her righteous indignation over the state of clean air and water seems to fly right out of the window as she's dropping the wrapper for an ice cream sandwich on the ground. To be fair, her attention span is shorter than that of a husband, which makes it almost non-existent.

So this is the day before the first day of school and we have big plans. She's getting hair cut really short, and yes there is an explanation. My girl/boy has absolutely no respect for her hair, and as such treats it badly. Her hair is already dry, she swims constantly and rubs the back of her head on the carpet. So of course, she has major breakage. In addition, she hates having her hair done each day; the combing, brushing, curling, oh my! All things being equal, I think she'd rather take a bullet for Hannah Montana.

I offered her the option of getting her hair cut short, and she jumped on it faster than Jon Gosselin on a 22-year-old. I took her to a local barber and it took less than ten minutes. She's thrilled. Then it's on to the mall to get her ears pierced. Okay, this didn't go so well. She was really excited at first, but then as reality set in, she changed her mind.

Once we got home, she asked, "Are you disappointed in me?" Of course, I told her no, then she burst into tears, saying how much she really wanted to get her ears pierced. So, I took her back to the mall, back to Claire's and she jumped into the seat. Throwing her arms around me, she buried her head in my shirt, the two technicians loaded their guns, and in a half a second, it was done.

She didn't flinch and came up smiling. "Is it over? I didn't even feel anything!" For the next ten minutes, my six-year-old showed her earrings to everyone who would look and listen. She then picked out some new earrings, and walked out of store feeling like the coolest first grader on the planet.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Super Kitty

Sugar is tenacious. As cute as she is, she's got a head like a rock. I can toss her off my bed more than a dozen times in the middle of the night, but she still doesn't get that I don't want a little fur ball curled up above my head, chewing on its tail and purring. If I wanted that kind of action in bed, I'd talk to my husband. She's also a climber and will walk across, perch or scale anything her claws can adhere to. She's managed to walk across the top of my headboard, perch on the back of an office chair and scale every other piece of furniture in the house. I'm thinking about putting double sided tape on some of these surfaces to discourage some of her more reckless behavior. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

It's Starting to Feel Real!

I went to the bursar's office today to hand over the proof that I 'd had the MMR vaccination, gotten a tetanus shot, and to find out to the penny how much my education would cost for the first semester. I've ordered my first two textbooks from Chegg.com, a book rental site. Now I'm waiting for orientation two weeks from now. There must be a word to describe that feeling that is somewhere between exhilaration and terror. I am there!

There are days when the decision to go back to school feels great, like I'm turning a page in my life and the future is bright. But then there's the other 90% of the time when I'm already overwhelmed at the weight of what I'm attempting. I don't have any time to myself now, and I'm adding classes two nights a week, homework, papers and exams. I'd better keep a paper bag in my purse for hyperventilation.

Friday, July 31, 2009

A Much Needed Break

I've got three weeks off from my teaching job (unpaid, unfortunately), but nevertheless, I'm ecstatic. Now, if I had any sense I'd rest and relax, but us Type A's just aren't wired like that. I've already spent the first day organizing my home office because I can see clutter even when it's hidden behind a curtain. This will serve me well during the first semester of my quest for even higher education.

The laundry list of home projects to be completed includes installing a surround in my bathroom and staining the front door. Ridiculous sounding, right? Not for me. If these things are completed before August 24, I'll be able to focus on the fact that I haven't been in a classroom in 25 years.

Unfortunately, I'm one of those people who likes a clean house before she goes on vacation. I don't know about you, but I'm always exhausted after a trip, and the last thing I want to do is walk into a filthy house. I'm certainly not well rested after a trip to Disney World, and cleaning a kitchen won't get me there either.

I guess it's the equivalent of getting new shoes and notebooks before the start of school. You're starting with a blank slate and everything is possible. The tools of your trade are fresh in your hands and there's a sense of exhilaration. This excitement will get you through the first class. It will take sheer willpower and limitless amounts of belief in yourself to get through the rest.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Second Career

Suddenly, I have more sympathy for my kids. My sixteen-year-old and I each got vaccinations today; well sort of. She got the last of the Gardasil trilogy, I got a tetanus shot, and had blood taken to see whether or not I'd had the MMR as a child. I had mumps as a child, so I guess the odds are high that I'll need another vaccination. Anyway, the phlebotomist took all my blood and gave me a cotton ball in return. I can't tell you how much I'm enjoying my re-entry into higher education!

In addition to that, I got my financial aid award letter, and just like buying a new house, they're trying to lend me more money than I need. I've got to sit down with my financial advisor and make sure I don't borrow more than is absolutely necessary.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Going Back to School

One more piece of paperwork and I shall completely embrace a lifetime of stupidity and para professional positions which only pay ten dollars an hour. Today I had to request a transcript, I still have to get my family doctor to write off on the fact that I'm in good health, and filling out the FAFSA should be reserved as punishment for people who kick kittens and trip old ladies. No wonder the USA is behind the rest of the industrialized world in education. The paper work alone is enough to make you reach for that vest at WalMart.

But then of course you have to ask yourself, "How much do I want this?" And I must admit I really do. For years I've thought about the feasibility of getting a second degree, as has my husband, but it always seemed like we didn't have the time or money to put into the endeavor. Throw two or three kids into the mix and and the crush of commitment is suffocating.

At some point, the family will sit down around the kitchen table and talk about how this will affect their schedules. Correction, my teenage daughters will complain about how this will ruin their lives! The good old days of mom working from home are virtually over and for the next three years, I'll be working during the day and going to class at night. They'll have to assume more responsibility, which means I'll be even crankier because my house will be even messier.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

I've chosen a field; well sort of.

I've been thinking about an advanced degree for the past three or four months. My first choice was a Masters in Social Work, with a desire to work with foster children and adoption. I was very close to registering for classes, but I just couldn't pull the perverbial trigger. Being an adult student puts even more restrictions on your choices. When you're 18, your biggest obstacles are whether or not you can get into the program you want and can your parents pay for your education. Let's add family, work, and more complicated finances to the mix. Clearly, you're not going away to school (no matter how much you'd like to), but grad school, even at the smallest schools, is not cheap.

The program I was looking at would have required one year of taking pre-requisites. Grad school part time means three years. The school I was considering didn't seem to have many classes at night, and that would be a problem for my work schedule. I had to look for other options.

I'd looked at every local college, except the one which is a mile from my home. A small Catholic university with a good reputation, I took a look at their website and found they had a Masters in Counseling. Counseling and social work are under the same umbrella of working with the public and helping them with their problems, offering referrals, etc. So, I called and made an appointment with the head of department that same evening.

When I told her I hadn't been in a classroom for twenty-five years, she joked and said, "Well, that has been a while!" Later, she told me the oldest person in her program was 66.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Second Career

With the economy being what it is, three kids who need a college education, and the ever increasing costs of living, I've been seriously thinking about going back to school. It's time for that second career! For the past twenty years or so, I've basically been at home with my kids and running a sewing business. Staying at home was very important to me, and it still is. Our house and lives just seem to run better when I'm at home. But reality has a way of hitting you in the face about some things, and it's almost impossible these days to make it on one and a half incomes.

So these are some of the things I've been thinking about: a Masters in Social Work, a Masters in counseling or an alternative teacher's certificate. There is a method to my madness. During my years at home, whenever I did venture out, it was in the capacity of helping others. Aside from helping out in the kids' schools, I've mentored children, taught adult education, tutored and managed non profit programs. I love helping people, so maybe I should get some kind advanced degree or certification in a field where I could continue to help and make a nice salary as well.

Picking a second career is the easy job. Trying to navigate today's education superhighway is not. With one daughter in college, I already know the hoops one has to jump through to get into school these days, and it's been just as annoying as I thought it would be. If you've been out of school for more than twenty years, schools ask for information that doesn't even exist anymore, like immunization records. I haven't a clue where they are, but rest assured that if I haven't contracted measles by now, it's not likely to happen. This is New Orleans, and those records could have been swept away by flood waters on more than a few occasions. What if they ask for your old test scores? You can't get any of that stuff without a PIN number. Guess what? There were no pin numbers in 1980!

Which schools do you look at; brick and mortar or online? I'm a little worried about the accreditation credentials of some of the online the schools. Most are accredited by some board, but if these boards are not recognized by the US Department of Education, potential employers may look at you sideways. After you've poured thousands into an education, imagine not being able to get a job in your field.

Speaking of thousands of dollars, how are you going to pay for your education? You're already tapped out because your oldest is already in school, and now you have to decide if you want to take on more debt in hopes of a larger payday in the future.

Research all your options. Talk to other moms who are juggling family, work and school. Will a couple of years of total insanity kill you or make you stronger? If after looking at all the options and realizing how much less time you''ll have to yourself, you still think you can do it, jump right into the deep end. I hope you can swim!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Do You Blog?

When I decided to jump into the world of cyber journalism, the young lady who designed my website, of course, suggested I run a blog as well. I was already overwhelmed with the idea of managing a website, much less a blog. I only realized what blogs were during the last Presidential campaign. Everyday, I would think about my blog in cyberspace, sitting empty, not having one idea of what I should posting, but like everything else, you've just got to get out there and learn.

I teach an adult literacy class, and you would be surprised how many 60 and 70 somethings want to come and learn computer skills. They want to be able to surf the net, send emails, and communicate the way their children and grandchildren do. If they're not afraid, I shouldn't be either. The point of www.momsnagpad.com is to connect with other women and moms so we can lean on and learn from each other, and hopefully take resources to make our lives richer and our dreams a reality.

Spring Cleaning

In my house, it really should be called "Spring Sprucing". Lots of home improvement projects culminate for the beginning of June. Our youngest has her birthday party then, and of course, I've got to have the perfect house by then. Usually I get close, and I'm pleased with the results, but we folks with Type A personalities are never really happy with our surroundings until House Beautiful does a spread. Anyway, this year, there's yard work, hopefully getting a new swing set, restaining the front doors, putting up a new gate.......no wonder my husband has a headache. I genuinely enjoy this kind of activity and would gladly spend two uninterrupted weeks in my home trying to achieve them. I guess this is what happens when creativity meets with perfection: genuis or insanity! What projects do you have going for the summer?

A Pet for Our Youngest

The Obamas finally got their new puppy, a Portuguese Water Dog. I've never heard of the breed, but the puppy is pretty cute and I hope the family enjoys it. Our soon to be six year old has basically been promised a puppy for her birthday in June. I love cats, the rest of the family hates the idea of a dog and my little one can't pass a canine on the street without stopping to pet it. This is one of those times when you have to pretend you really want your kid to be happy and give in. But what dog? We need something bigger than a chihahua, but smaller than a lab. It has to have good energy for our little one, but not so much it drives the rest of the family crazy. It has to be a sturdy pup, because its new owner is pretty strong. It has to be trainable, because I'm not the kind of pet owner who lets an animal tear up the home. Any suggestions?

Monday, April 13, 2009

One of my favorite past times is watching reality shows about different types of families. I love to watch Jon and Kate, 18 Children and Counting, etc., but I also love the HBO show "Big Love". I admit I didn't know much about polygamy before the show, and it was hard to believe that they are trying to mainstream this lifestyle in regular suburban neighborhoods. My only views on polygamy included dirty old men chasing teenage boys off compounds, so they could monopolize all the teenage girls for themselves.

My family is not average, so I guess I have a soft spot for those who buck the trend a little. As long as the women and children are not being exploited in anyway, I'm of the belief that you should live and let live. I don't know how accurate the portrayal of the Hendricksons' life is as it concerns polygamists living in the United States, and the separatists who try to make us believe that taking child brides helps to build a celestial family can talk till they're blue in the face. Forcing a teenage girl into marriage is exploitative and disgusting.
I had one of those days when I was feeling completely unappreciated by my husband and daughters. On those days I take to my bed and say very little to them, and that's when they know something's wrong. For the next hour, I'll get that uncomfortable stare from the hallway, my family wincing as they ask the ridiculous question, "What's wrong, Mom?"

Sometimes, it just gets to be too much. After twenty years of marriage, I should expect that my husband can pick up on some of the clues, but you'd be surprised how dense men can still continue to be about these things. I guess I have to be married to him for thirty years before he figures out that a dirty house makes my skin crawl. (This is another issue all together and maybe I do need some therapy for OCD. No, I just like a clean house!)

The kids....well, they're just kids. Nineteen, 16 and 5, and unfortunately they're doing just what they should be doing; bitching, whining, and wailing. Guess there's not much I can do about that without sporting an orange jumpsuit and sharing a really ugly dorm room with a convicted felon.

I know I'm not alone. So, like a good housecleaning, I had it out with just about everyone and cleared the air. Now I realize in the long run, my house will never be a clean as I want it to be, but for right now, I'm feeling a little bit better.
Is it time to get down to your lying weight? You know the weight I'm talking about. The one you actually put on your driver's license. It's the one you tell health insurance agents. It's the one you stick to when you have to go to the doctor's office, and would rather risk the life of your mother than stand on the scale and see the truth. Yeah, that lying weight is right in the underwear drawer with those little satin bikini panties you know you'll never feel comfortable in again, but you keep them anyway, hoping for better days.

What's your lying weight, and what are you doing to get back to it?

Friday, April 10, 2009

Happy Easter, everyone. It's been a hard week for a lot of people, especially those in Italy. I used to be in the television news business, and one of the reasons I left is because I couldn't stand the relentless beat of unhappy stories. With the explosion of 24 hour a day news and the internet, it's pretty easy to think and feel that the world is not a happy place. Please, if you have a job, a home and a healthy family, be thankful.