About Me

My photo
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!

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.