Sunday, April 29, 2012

Keeping Things in Perspective

Times are tough all around, and I guess until now I have been fortunate to remain relatively unscathed.  Of course, we are a family of seven living in a three bedroom house in what many consider to be an "icky" place, so I guess the definition of unscathed is all a matter of perspective.

We've had our fair share of hard times, but we've remained intact, and the kids seem none the worse for the wear.  I am a part of my district's negotiations team.  A job that would be not much fun in good economic times, it's horrible right now.  I am not very good at it.  In fact, I am terrible at it.  I wept through the last session.  A sense of panic set in that I am not sure how to shake.  In addition my husband has been laid off, so hearing the changes that are to come in some way, shape, or form is to put it simply, terrifying to me.

I probably don't give my husband enough credit, he is my rock.  (There honey, if you ever figure out how to work a computer and how to find my blog you will see in writing how much I appreciate you!)  When I came home all a weepy mess he simply said, "We'll be okay."

I've had to change some plans for the summer.  There will be no pool membership, no family vacation, and no trip to American Girl.  Ruby, I should add took it all in stride.  She simply asked if we could send her doll to the doll hospital so she could play with her.  I think that's a pretty fair deal considering we had been planning a trip to Chicago!

Yesterday was our Opening Day for baseball.  It's one of my favorite days of the year as it signals the beginning of ball season, and all the hustle and bustle that goes with it!  I love spending my days and nights watching my children play ball.  My friends are there, my children's friends are there, and there is a real sense of community down at the fields.  Working together, we manage to provide an almost magical memory making place for our kids, not to mention a really awesome bunch of ball players!   My kids love being down at the fields, and they run wild with their friends while at games and practices.  Our fields are not for the faint of heart.  They're near train tracks, and (gasp) a run down trailer park, but I don't think my kids have ever even noticed.  While they are there, they are a part of that proverbial village being raised by the many parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles that fill our fields any night of the week.

I guess it was the ballpark yesterday that helped put everything in perspective for me.  I don't need to move somewhere better, I don't need to have a fancy house, car, or clothes to be a part of something meaningful.  If I can manage to hold on to what I have I will be alright.  Everything I care for, need, and want is here with me already.

So while the future is uncertain and scary, I've decided to be okay with that.  I am certainly not the only one in that boat, and I can sit around feeling angry or sorry, or I can choose to make the best of it.  I will cut back, buckle down, and weather the storm.  In fact, I might even choose to learn to dance in the rain... (I've heard there can be money in that....)

God is good.  All the time.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


I think I will purchase a lottery ticket this week. I mean, someone has to win... right? What would I do with my winnings you wonder? Here's my top ten list. =) (In case you care!)

1. Pay off student loan. (Boo....) Actually paying it off is about as likely as me winning the lottery, especially in today's pro-teacher climate, but I digress...

2. Take my class to Disney World. Yea.. really I would. I am not saying I would be in charge of supervising them... heck, I would bring a parent for that, but I would pay for them to go and spring for the dining plan so they could eat too. =) I'd throw in spending money as well. Hopefully I would earn a spot as "favorite teacher ever" in the process. ;)

3. Buy a new big house with enough rooms so each of my kids could have their own room, realizing full well that they would probably all still ask to sleep together like they do now.

4. Almost forgot.... Tummy tuck and other modifications for my girls and I.... ;) We would have to go somewhere warm, tropical and margarita serving for our recovery time. No worries ladies, I would hire nannies to care for the kids and hubbies while we are away.

5. Pay off the debt that YPS owes to the state and rename one of the schools "The Rick Snyder Blows Academy" (So worth the 14 million or so it would cost....)

7. Pay off houses or other debts for friends and family.

8. Adopt a baby or two....

9. Hire a maid. A live in maid who likes to clean and cooks delicious meals....

10. Money to the church. Grandma Lucy would be proud. ;) I'd have them put her name on something fancy in her honor.

11. Purchase a pool, hot tub, and Taylor Lautner look alike pool boy. I'd hire a pool girl that looks just like me too, since my husband thinks I am such a babe. (What a goof!)

Note to self... buy a ticket.

God is good. All the time.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Happy First Communion Ricky! AKA Why We Have No Family Photos....

Ricky made his first communion today. We are so proud of him.

To commemorate the event, I tried to take a picture of the kids together...

Here is what I came up with...

Notice Noah's happy face... try again....

Still not too happy looking....

Well... Noah isn't pouting, but Matthew decided to close his eyes...and I am not sure what Ricky is doing with his hand, or his head for that matter....

Matthew can't handle it anymore and is on the verge of giving up when I snapped this one....

Ricky gets distracted by a squirrel...... (or something shiny.... it runs in the family...) I decide to give it ONE more try, and wind up with.....

Well... at least everyone is smiling... even if several of them have their eyes closed. I give up.

Thankfully Ricky and Father Bob have far fewer issues posing.....

Congratulations Ricky........ We love you!

God is good. All the time.

Friday, March 9, 2012

My Letter to the President...

Things I can do while not on Facebook..... how about write a letter to the President?? Thought I would share since it won't likely get actually READ by him!! =)

Dear Mr. President,

I am writing you to today because I am not sure where else to turn. I am not writing for just myself, but for perhaps thousands of public school teachers who are in the same situation as I find myself.

I have been teaching for thirteen years. I never imagined myself doing anything else. My earliest memories bring me back to the childhood wonder and admiration of the teachers who unlocked the mysteries of reading, writing, science, and math for me. In first grade, I proudly wrote, “When I grow up, I want to be a teacher.” Luckily for me, dreams do come true, and I have a job I love, despite the ever-present lynching of public school teachers in the media.

I am writing to you today in regards to my student loans. I financed the majority of my schooling through the use of student loans. When I graduated and got my first job I made $26, 800 a year. As a single mother, I was unable to afford my student loan payments, so I deferred them.

I was blessed to find a wonderful husband, and together we have a family of six children ranging in age from twenty-one, down to our six year old twins. As our family grew, so did the need for me to attempt to get my master’s degree in an attempt to increase my pay. Again, I had to use student loans.

I now find myself in debt, deeply in debt. My student loans prohibit me from getting ahead in life, for saving for my children’s educations, or even saving for a rainy day. Currently it’s all we can do to keep our house, (which is worth about half of what we owe on it) keep the growing children in clothes, and fed, and keep gas in our cars.

Recently, my student loan payments ballooned from $388 a month to over $1,000 a month, which is simply an impossible amount for me to come up with each month. My student loan debt has increased to a ridiculous amount over the years. In desperation, I applied for the Federal Teacher Loan forgiveness program, but was dismayed to find that I do not qualify, despite teaching in a high poverty district for my entire career because I have loans that were in existence prior to 1998. This stipulation simply does not make sense to me, as it seems that those of us that are teachers that are still trying to pay off our loans from prior to 1998 could really use some help!

Our public schools are under attack in Michigan. My little district of Ypsilanti is over 9 million dollars in debt. In addition to concessions that we have made in prior years, as we go into negotiations we know that we will again take pay cuts and pay more for our health benefits making those of us with heavy student loan debt finding ourselves faced with filing bankruptcy, losing our houses and cars, or struggling to feed our families. My American dream is becoming an American nightmare. Sometimes, I simply feel trapped and hopeless. My family and I, and many of families like ours are trapped in a murky purgatory. We make “too much” on paper, but not enough to loosen the noose of debt from around our necks. I guess that is what inspired me to write to you sir.

I do not envy your position Mr. President. I fully realize that the whole country is struggling during these difficult economic times, and there are many people in far worse situations than I find myself. I simply ask that as you consider economic stimulus packages, you consider easing student loan debt for teachers, especially those of us with “old” student loan debt.

God Bless America, and may God continue to bless you Mr. President.

God is good. All the time.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Things you Never Want to Hear Your Daughter Say....

I am afraid this could be a common title during my Facebook free Lent...

Today while driving home from CATECHISM (you will understand the caps soon... trust me) my Matthew and Ruby were discussing their doctor's visit yesterday.

Matthew: "Mom, don't forget the doctor said to take everything out of Ruby's room so she will be bored and sleep."

Me: "Matthew, that is a great idea, but it's not going to happen unless the doctor rents me a storage unit and does it for me. Thank you for worrying about your sister's sleep hygiene."

Ruby: "Well I don't care WHAT the doctor says, you are not taking my American Girl doll"

Matthew: "But you should take her doll mom, she likes to play with it when she is supposed to be sleeping."

Ruby: "Well she better not take my doll, that would just make me mad. Besides, she could take everything from my room and I could have fun with just a pole."

Matthew: "A pole?! What are you going to do with a pole?!"

Ruby: "All sorts of fun stuff if I have to. I am good at doing stuff that is fun."

Yea, I am not making this up. Nothing like having your daughter announce that her future involves fun with a pole on the way home from church.....

Pray for me.

God is good. All the time.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Random Thoughts....

I have a lot of extra time on my hands lately. I could use the time to clean my house, but truth be told, I hate cleaning. My sister loves cleaning, and she has a time share in Disney World. Sometimes I wish I were my sister. That's what I had kids for, I imagined they would help me clean. Sadly they have inherited my "hate to clean" genes. Collectively we drive my husband crazy. Good thing we are cute!

We tried to have a family movie day yesterday. We went to see The Lorax... Ricky and Noah ditched us and my husband slept through most of the movie. On the bright side, I had enough points on my FMG card to get a free popcorn and pop, AND the concession stand was so busy the lady gave the kids slushies instead of pop in their snack packs. They thought this was great... I got a belly ache from eating too much popcorn. I have this innate drive to shove as much popcorn in my mouth at the movies as possible. I am sure it is not pleasant to sit next to me... I always eat too much popcorn. I do not do this with other foods... if you have an idea on how to solve this, let me know. I am open to suggestions.

Speaking of things I enjoy shoveling in my mouth, I love Chocodiles. They are chocolate covered twinkies. I guess you can only get them on the west coast, and maybe not even everywhere there. My friend just moved to Arizona. I am hoping that she can get chocodiles in her part of town and send them to me. She is a vegan, so she probably doesn't really eat twinkies, I am guessing vegans do not eat twinkies, or maybe they CAN eat millions of twinkies because they are made out of only chemicals, but that would kind of defeat the purpose of being a vegan... eating chemicals can't be all that healthy. Do vegans eat chocolate?

Speaking of vegans, my hero Ellen is a vegan. My DREAM day would be Ellen showing up at my work, with a box of Chocodiles (or two...) and saying "Hey! I just paid off your student loans, and I am taking your class to Disney World!"

My husband thinks I am weird because I have said that if I ever won the lottery, I would totally take my class to Disney World... of course it would have to be a fairly large jackpot, since I would have to pay off my bazillion dollar student loan first, but I so would just book us a plane and a floor or two of rooms and off we would go. I wouldn't even get it approved first. Maybe I would bring the curriculum director with me so she would approve the trip....maybe.... I would certainly invite the new Student Support Services coordinator, maybe she could smooth things things over with the curriculum director for me. ;)

I am torn between watching The Bachelor Women Tell All episode tonight and The Voice. I am DVR'ing both.

Hope all is well in your worlds.

God is good. All the time.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Lent is taking a long time...

Lent is hard, but nothing compared to what Jesus endured for us, so while I wish I could log onto Facebook and spend mindless hours, my "suffering" truly lacks in comparison....

That being said I feel the need to mention that I see Cadbury Eggs everywhere I go. (I also eat them...) Despite this observation, I have counted up, and see that I still have 35 DAYS until Easter!! I guess Cathy was right, the Sundays of Lent do not count, so I could cheat.....

Here is a short list of things that I wish I had given up INSTEAD of Facebook....

Chuck E. Cheese... I could TOTALLY give up that place for 40 Days and some Sundays as well...

Roller skating. I did that not too long ago, fell down, and bruised my knees. I could do without roller skating....

Sitting in hot tubs in the snow. Now that would be a little trickier, but notice I have the whole "in the snow" clause... is it to late to add a clause to this year?

I could give up Clara having surgery on her legs....even if she does make cute funny faces while on Versed...

Or lastly, I suppose I COULD have given up creme brûlée..... but that would be just silly.

God is good. All the time.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Too many days to keep track of... For Debra....

"Anybody can sympathize with the sufferings of a friend, but it requires a very fine nature to sympathize with a friend's success." 
- Oscar Wilde

I do not have a very fine nature. My co-teacher, my partner in crime, my sounding board, my FRIEND has gotten a wonderful opportunity and instead of helping her celebrate I cry every time I see her.

I am the QUEEN of DENIAL, and I do not want Monday to come. I can't even begin to wrap my brain around how different things will be when I can't walk by room 1 and see Debra. I never went to Perry expecting to find such a wonderful mentor, exercise partner, and more importantly friend. I think I often take for granted how amazingly lucky I have been for the past six years.

I will miss our daily chats, especially during my Facebook free Lent! I will miss your funny toe running shoes, even though I just point at them and giggle and refuse to run. I will miss you saving me a seat at PD days, you always know how to keep me focused. I will miss marathon IEP days during conferences, and the Good and Plenty that you always have on hand when I most need them.

Thank you Debra for being an amazing friend. I will miss you more than you can imagine, even though you are just across the district.

"I'd like to be the sort of friend that you have been to me. I'd like to be the help that you've been always glad to be; I'd like to mean as much to you each minute of the day, as you have meant, old friend of mine, to me along the way." 
- Edgar A. Guest

(I am totally NOT calling you old, that was just in the quote...)

Debra, I wish you the best of luck in your new position, and nothing but happiness with each new day.

God is good. All the time.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

37 Days... Oh Ruby.....

Well being off of Facebook is no fun, (just in case anyone is wondering) but I am going to keep trying to stick to my plan!

Today Ruby had a twirling competition. She did well. Better than she ever has before, but it was a very long day, especially for a six year old who couldn't sleep the night before!

Ruby and her partner in crime Elly, manage to take it all in stride. They prance, strut, and flit around having a ball, only to be interrupted by those times that they have to actually COMPETE. It's a long day for us moms. Thank goodness for MY partner in crime Jody!! =) I couldn't ask for a better twirler mom to hang out with. =) Sometimes I think Ruby goes to the competitions strictly to socialize, or for the concession stand. Why is popcorn so much more alluring when it cost me $1.25 a bag? If I had popcorn at home, she would surely want to eat something else.

Today the girls were getting tired, and we still had their duet left to perform. Thankfully the boss lady who runs the show took pity on them and let them perform their duet early... otherwise we would probably still be there!

As we dressed the girls in their outfits, Jody suggested that the girls practice the their duet one more time. Ruby replied, "We don't have to. That's why they call it a "duet" you just look at your partner, and you do it!"

Out of the mouths of babes.... (They got second place in case you were wondering!!)

Good is good. All the time.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

39 Days... Cheating is allowed... on Sundays!

So while I was lamenting about my Facebook break, a good friend told me that I could Facebook on Sundays. I figure she knows what she is talking about. She was raised SUPER CATHOLIC, and my religious upbringing was mostly going to catechism, and church on Christmas Eve and Easter.

I will admit, I am tempted. I mean, if SHE could cheat as a child on Sundays then it's okay... right? I thought about it, but I've decided that I will NOT cheat on Sundays. I am going to stick to my whole Lenten Facebook free pledge. My cheats will be my Donors Choose posts (keep an eye out for those the week of March 12th and feel free to donate) and my posts of my blog, which do not require me to look through my home page. =) Of course, this is only day two... things could change. ;)

I have not undone my Facebook notifications, so I have gotten emails letting me know that my dad is checking on my will power, and my friend Kelly wants to know what alms are. I have resisted the urge to reply, so on the off chance you read it here, Kelly, (and Jackie too) Any material favour done to assist the needy, and prompted by charity, is almsgiving. I figure Jackie's charity could be keeping an eye on you my dear friend, since I am NOT on Facebook for now! (That should answer your question too Dad!)

A few years back I gave up salting my food. Now this might not seem like much to some of you, but I am a certified SALTAHOLIC. If there were a 12 step program, I am sure that I would be a founder. At first it was not so bad. I may have even eaten less. My biggest temptation was when I went to the movies and ordered popcorn. I LOVE movie popcorn!! I also take a napkin full of salt to shower over my popcorn while eating it, lest I run out of salt. I was at the movies with several friends, and was drooling all over the counter as my friends salted their popcorn. Lucky for me, one of them spilled some salt, so I was able to convincne her to throw some salt over her shoulder (you know, to ward off evil spirits...) while I may or may not have stood behind her. =) She did not take salt into the theater, so while I may have cheated A LITTLE I took a LOT of grief from my friends. The salty popcorn was delicious, however it was a bit tainted by my guilty conscious.

Here are the posts you WOULD have seen today if I WERE on Facebook...

1) Why do my dogs insist on eating socks and barfing them up, after the first two or three, wouldn't you think that they would think...EATING SOCKS is BAD?

2) You know that dead slobbery bird that was in my living room the other day? My husband SAW it on his way to work and LEFT it for me to clean up!!

3) I still wish I had a hot tub....

4) I wish I were in Disney World, even if birds sat on my head....

My mom is in Disney World with my sister. While at the beach, a seagull landed on her head. She says she felt a "weird pinching" and thought that she was getting stung by a bee. Now WHY she didn't start flapping and screaming on the first "weird pinch" I will never know, but apparently a seagull had perched ON HER HEAD!! My sister was laughing too hard to take a picture, and the bird flew away. I miss all the fun.

God is good. All the time.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

40 Days....

I've given up Facebook for Lent. It seemed like a great idea a couple of weeks ago, not that today is the official first day of Lent, and I am on Winter break from school, I am wondering what the heck I was thinking! So since I have lots of extra time on my hands, I guess I will use it to blog. I tend to use Facebook as an outlet for the random thoughts floating about in my head, so on the off chance that my head could implode trying to hold it all in, I guess I will get thing out today.

Thoughts for today:

1. Delivering 300 boxes of cookies sucks. I am very happy that Clara met her goal and sold 300 boxes and will win a stuffed giraffe, but next year I think I will sell a few boxes and buy her a stuffed animal. It will be much less painful. =)

2. Only 40 more days until I can use Facebook again.

3. I wish I had a hot tub. We just got back from my friend's house and she has a hot tub in her back yard. I am pretty sure that if I had a hot tub in my backyard, I would never have any reason to leave my house. So it could keep me from going out shopping, which could save us money. I wonder if my husband will go for that reasoning.....

4. I have decided that sharing my blog on Facebook is not actually USING Facebook, and that way if all my friends who live in Facebook want to comment on my blog, I can still kind of know what they are doing.

5. All my imaginary plants are going to suffer a long and terrible imaginary death in Monster World.

6. Why do I even PLAY Monster World??

Well, that's it for now. It's about time I get out of my pajamas and accomplish something. I would bake cookies or something, but I am pretty sure there is an unwritten rule about baking cookies when you have 200 boxes of cookies left to deliver.....

God is good. All the time.