Random Saturdays – Lake Trip

Every year, Ben goes with his frat brothers to the crappiest lake around here.  They find the crappiest cabin at that lake, pile in the cabin, and pretend to be in college again, without the school stuff.  As my dear husband puts it, “We chose the location for its crappiness because we’re less likely to be around other people, which means we’re less likely to bother other people, which means we don’t have to deal with complaints from other people.”  Lest you think I’m exaggerating, Ben was one of two guys to take a shower at the cabins last year, and he ended up soaked in stagnant dead fish water…straight from the lake.  He is going to skip the shower this year, not willing to risk staph or e.coli this time.

The wives, girlfriends, and girl friends of the guys are mostly friends with each other.  We had mentioned doing our own version of the lake trip before, but things happened.  This year, we finally got around to planning our Ladies Lake Trip.  Well, a few of us did anyway.  It’s funny;  no matter how inclusive you think you’re being, there are always people that you always realize at the last minute that you never invited people that you probably should have invited.  At any rate, five of us are headed to a Groupon Retreat a few hours away for the weekend.  Our place is a little nicer than the guys’ place.  Ours has a full kitchen, wi-fi, and clean water.  We can go swimming, play volleyball, go hiking, feed deer, do a wine tasting, go shopping, dine at fancy restaurants, dine at comfy restaurants, and take showers without getting MRSA.

Normally, I’m all about planning this stuff out waaaaay in advance and making a detailed itinerary.  I don’t necessary have to follow the plan, but I do have to have the plan so that I don’t feel like the world will fall apart.  This time, I was working at night, subbing in the day, sending out my resume, going on interviews, going to football games in the Sahara Desert, sick, jacked up from steroids from being sick, planning birthday parties, planning family holidays, having long conversations with my doctor and the insurance company, and trying not to fall asleep on the toilet.  So, it wasn’t until three days before the trip that I was able to really look into any substantial plans at all.  Up to that point, I mostly just threw my credit card at people and told my Ladies that we would math it out later.

There’s still SO MUCH stuff that I need to do around the house.  I haven’t even put up a single Halloween decoration yet and Halloween is my mo fo favorite holiday of all the holidays in all the world.  Maybe that’s why I’ve spent so much time staring at the same Halloween decorations when I pick up various meds at the pharmacy.  Either way, my brain has shut off already.  My planning, analytical, and guilt-ridden brain has placed an Out To Lunch sign on my cumbersome To Do List.  Everytime I think of all of my responsibilities, my brain just blithers out and dies.  Doing work is hard because I get frustrated and then the four brain cells that were left behind in case of emergencies just yell things like, “This is the type of junk that forced me on a Groupon Retreat!” or “No, no, no, pbblt!”

A single day of no obligations, no responsibilities, and Girl Time.  This is what I need.  I don’t even want to go because I’m so exhausted.  When I think about it, I just want to pass out when I log off work and then sleep until I have to log back into work again.  However, my brain and soul are talking and conspiring for more quality healing time than just a marathon sleeping session.  When I think about packing and driving and walking and talking, I get tired.  Thankfully, that part of my brain is mostly too tired to think about how tired it is.  That’s what allowed those other four brain cells to take care of everything without worrying about math or exhaustion or responsibilities so that I might actually enjoy myself with my girls.  I’m grateful that when my brain shuts down, it’s sometimes for my own frippin’ benefit.  The fact that my friends are super cool really awesomer than everyone else ain’t too shabby either.

 

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Random Saturdays – No! Sleep! ‘Til…uh…hmm…

The Beastie Boys have written part of the soundtrack to my life, which is why it’s so great that the new Star Trek movies have incorporated my favorite Beastie Boys song into their DNA.  The only problem is that I am no longer young enough to keep going on the rockin’ musics and adrenaline alone.  I require that oh so in demand necessity that I once thought was for babies and old people – SLEEP.

When I lived alone and my job was different, I did not get enough sleep.  I found myself napping on the weekends with a kitten curled beside me and PBS making some nice quiet noise in the background.  I’d feel lazy and useless, but well-rested by the time I got back to work on Mondays.  Then, things at work changed.  I began getting to work early, working through lunch, staying late, and then working all night as I got calls.  I still didn’t mind much, though.  I mean, it’s not like I was missing time with my husband or kids.  It was just me and the cat and the cat was fine as long as she could curl up beside me on the couch while I worked.

Eventually, a family did calculate into my life and I struggled to figure out how to keep all my priorities, well, priorities.  I kinda sorta found a semblance of what I could pretend was balance, except that my health evaporated.  I had no time for sleep, so I hate high energy foods and drank high calorie beverages.  That might not have been so bad if I had been expending high amounts of physical energy rather than high amounts of emotional and mental energy.  Even worse, my diet and lack of energy meant that if I sat still, my eyes would close and I would fall asleep.  So, even when I was at work or with my family & friends, I was not really with them because I was either willing my eyes to stay open or falling asleep.

I’m trying to eat better now (the whole, smaller, but more regular meals thing), which is working well.  I don’t eat seconds.  I even skip desserts.  Sometimes.  I’m trying to stay active, at least doing more around the house and making sure I get some yoga stretches in daily.  Yet, I still cannot get enough sleep.  Even when I lay down and have time for sleep, I cannot sleep.  My body is exhausted.  I cannot keep my eyes open.  I cannot sleep.

For the past two weeks, I’ve been battling some kind of sinus thing that turned into a head cold.  Before it turned into bronchitis or anything truly fun, I got on the Z-pak and steroid regiment for a few days.  Today was the last day.  It helped me limp through the weekend of outdoor football with the kiddos, but I didn’t really feel any better until I finally got some sleep on Saturday night.  I knew that I would have my first subbing job on Monday, followed by a full evening of my regular job.  So, I was in bed by 10 PM and I did not get out of bed until 5:15 AM.  I didn’t sleep much, but I did rest.  The steroids make sleep difficult.

At school, I ran mostly on adrenaline and steroids.  It was exhilarating and new!  I loved it!  As I told Ben, “I only repeated myself once or twice to even the most confused or worst behaved kids and it was so much better than repeating myself 15 times to someone who gets paid three times more than me to be five times dumber than me.”  I came home and took a nap until Ben was ready to grab a quick dinner.  I also requested a stop by Starbucks for a coffee.

Guess who called on the way out – the teacher for whom I subbed today!  I was baffled, sure that she had called to personally chew me out for doing such a terrible job today.  It turns out, her flight was late and she was wondering if I’d be able to cover for her tomorrow morning.  My first thought was, “No.  It cannot be done.”  Then, I thought, “Well, I probably won’t be able to sleep until tomorrow afternoon when the last of the steroids wear off anyway.  I get off work at 5 AM, which is exactly enough time to have breakfast, have some coffee, take a shower, and get ready to go to the school.”  Plus, wow, this teacher still trusts me enough with her kids that she wants me to sub again?

I felt like this is one of those teensy tiny opportunities that can so easily be thrown away.  Later on down the road, when I have my certificate and am trying to get a job at the school, these teachers might say, “Oh, she’s subbed for me before, and I guess she was okay.  I dunno.”  Or, they might say, “Wasn’t that the weirdo who agreed to sub that one time for a few hours when we really needed her?”  Plus, alot of the teachers are out right now because of colds & flus and I’m just getting over mine.  So, I can feel for them and I might as well try to help where I can.

By the time this blog is published, I may have slept.  Maybe I’ll be in Brooklyn.  Most likely, I will be at the kids’ football games in Nowheresville, TX, trying not to fall asleep.

Random Saturdays – Fall Time, Busy Time

Man, it has been a really long time since my last post.  I think of new blog posts daily, usually when I’m in the bathroom, driving in the car, or falling asleep.  By the time I sit down in front of a computer with internet access, I’m either working, looking for a teaching job, or working on the budget and blog posts are the furthest thing from my mind.

I do not like my job anymore.  I am not proud of the company for which I work.  I absolutely adore the people on my team, though.  There are some other friends that I’ve made at work that completely make it worth having gotten that job at all.  I appreciate my team and my boss being so supportive of me trying to switch careers and allowing me to adjust my work schedule.  There is just not a better group of people with which I could hope to work.  Even so, I feel like all of our hard work is for naught and that we’re all just biding our time until we are let go.  I feel like the only reason to stay in a situation like that is if you really believe in your work and what it contributes to the company as a whole.  I do not feel this way at all.

That’s why I decided to switch gears and get into teaching.  I see all of these ads encouraging people to become teachers.  I read article after article of how in demand good teachers are in Texas.  I have known people who are in teaching for all the wrong reasons and cannot understood how they were ever hired in the first place.  I figured that if I was going to have to deal with the difficulties that come with any job, I would also like to have the feeling, at least once a year, that I may have actually made a difference to at least one person – one child.

Becoming a teacher, especially if you are switching careers and cannot afford to work for free for a year is extremely difficult.  I’ve learned that I just have to to bide my time, and wait to jump on every tiny little crack in the door that I find.  I have never pursued a career so aggressively in my life.  I am SPAMming people with my applications.  I am updating my online applications weekly.  I am reading articles and literature, trying to find advice for teachers, for their struggles, for their successes, for teaching methods, for all things education (especially in Texas).

I did get accepting as a substitute into a local school district.  It’s actually a really top notch school district and I consider myself lucky that my first foray into teaching will be in such a great school district with wonderful support staff and eager students.  Because of my primary job, my family obligations, and my health, I will only be able to sub on Mondays and maybe the occasional Friday.  I wish I could sub more, get to know the schools, employees, teachers, and students in the district more, but I’m lucky that I get to have a full-time job and still sub.  Tonight, I signed up for my first job subbing at an elementary school!

I.  AM.  SO.  EXCITED!!!

I’m sick, feel like crud, running on fumes, and filled with cold meds, asthma meds, allergy meds, and steroids.  It’s going to be a struggle to get through this week, and I’m not completely sure how I’m going to get through Monday.  It’s important that I kick this teaching dream into gear, though.  Part of the reason I’m on all of these meds is because we have our kids this weekend and have to spend all of Saturday in Nowheresville, TX for the boys’ football games.  (I’m not going to rant about that right now.)  Why am I spending Saturday in towns that I hate watching the only sport that I hate?  Because I love my kids to the moon and back.

I almost didn’t accept the subbing gig on Monday because I thought maybe I’ll still be sick, maybe I should use that time to rest, maybe I should wait until a better time, blah, blah, blah.  Then, I slapped myself, realizing that if I want to teach, then I need to teach.  I’m lucky that my first exposure to this is as a sub because I have minimal responsibility and can follow in the express guidance of an experienced teacher.  I can get the feel of teaching, get the feel of this school district, and get the feel of this school without putting my entire career on the line.  That’s purty danged cool.  Plus,  Monday is the last day that I’ll have the steroids and antibiotics.  So, if my health doesn’t improve after I’m done with this round of meds, then I’m going to be sick awhile and will need to go back to the doctor, which will delay teaching even more.  Instead of looking for reasons to delay my dreams of teaching, I have to find ways to make it frippin’ happy.

This weekends plans:  Work.  Cook a buncha pancakes for brunch on Saturday.  Spend the rest of Saturday in Nowheresville, TX and Other Nowheresville, TX for small town elementary school football games.  Go to church.  Work on the budget.  Get family photos done.  Laundry.  Clean.   Prepare to teach.  Get healthy.

That’s not so bad, right?

 

Random Saturdays -School

I recently heard a coworker talking about his plans for getting his kids through college.  He was banking on mostly scholarships, even though neither of his kids are even average in school.  He did all this math to figure out the grades needed in classes to get a certain GPA that would get scholarships.

I have never in my life done math to figure out the least I could do to make the highest GPA.

I think I did school wrong.

In fact, I know I did because that sentence I just wrote bugs me (i.e. poor grammar).

Right now, we have three kids in elementary school and I’m frightened of what will happen when they reach college age.  There are plenty of non-school reasons for this, but I primarily wonder (1) What if they don’t go to college and (2) What if they all go to college?  If none of them go to college, we have failed as parents.  They probably won’t get good jobs.  They might not be upstanding members of society.  They will probably blame it all on us.  If they all go to college, how are we supposed to afford it?  Are we going to have to do a bunch of math to figure out what grades each child will need to get in order to get enough scholarships and grants to pay for school?  What if they all three want to go to very expensive schools with very crappy scholarship programs?  Or worse, what if they all want to go to very expensive schools with very incompetent student aid departments who leave applicants’ financial aid documentation sitting in the bottom of a pile of papers on the desk of someone who is on vacation for the summer?  (Uh, yeah, that really happened to me.)  How much will college even cost when they’re old enough to go?  It’s almost doubled since I graduated from high school 15-some years ago.

Then, I think about how I spent the first half of my life measuring my self-worth entirely by numbers – my grades, my weight, my income (or lack thereof).  I think about how depressed I was about being dumb, fat, and poor.  I think about how much time and effort I wasted on being anxious about how I would explain a B in statistics to any of my future employers.

Still, I turned out just fine.  I don’t have a big-paying job, but I do have a job that pays my bills.  I started saving for retirement.  I have affordable health insurance.  My husband is great.  My step-kids are loving.  My family is supportive.  My friends are like family.  I never got into drugs.  I don’t have a drinking problem.  I’ve never been to jail.  I have excellent credit.  I’m really good at finding discounts and rarely purchase anything full price.  I recycle.  I Pinterest. I get my 10,000 steps in a few times a week.

In short, life is good and so am I.  Life and I are both also short, but that’s beside the point.

The point is, when I sit back and really think about it, I realize that I don’t actually have to stress out about the kids’ educational futures.  We’ll just keep working with them, helping them in any way that we can, and will hope for the best.  It’s hard to plan for something so far away with so many unknown factors over which you have no control.  Hopefully, they will all want to go to college for the sake of learning, bettering themselves, making lifelong connections, increasing their chances for getting good jobs, etc.  Hopefully, they’ll also learn that having a degree is not a requirement of having good life and being a good person, that those things depend on your actions way before you get into college.  I hope that my kids are able to understand the importance of arithmetic without torturing themselves with numbers.

Random Saturdays – Plotting Baby

I keep having ideas for posts right before I fall asleep or while I’m driving home from work.  Those are not ideal times to write blog posts.  I did find this gem online today and figured it would be a nice first post of 2016 until I can find time to write something longer.  Happy New Year, everyone!

Plotting Baby

This baby is already plotting which crappy nursing home he’s going to send his mom to in a few decades.

Random Saturdays – Random Saturdays

As I write this, I am working on a Saturday morning, or rather, waiting for someone else to do his job so that I can finish working.  We have on-call rotations at work and this is my week.  It used to not be a big deal.  It was usually a matter of logging in, working for 15 – 30 minutes, and logging off.  You maybe got five calls during the whole week.  Now, it is a nightmare.  We all dread it.  Just because of the organization of the company, being on-call has become a thing that we all hate.  I think the company should start giving a week’s worth of valium to each person as she rolls into on-call.

Surprisingly, Ben is the one who got the 4 AM wakeup call this morning.  He’s not on-call;  he’s backup on-call.  For his company and his team, that really means that he’s on-call.  So, he got up this morning and went into the office at home to work.  Needless to say, he wanted to sleep in more than me this morning.

Oh, and the kids.  They’re not on-call, but they are busy little buggers.  Dora is in cheer.  Lego is in basketball.  Minecraft is in football.  Normally, I’d be excited about this, but since they live so far away, our weekends have been eaten up with driving them to all of their games.  Let me remind you that they live over an hour away from us.  So, some of the games they have at other school are even further than that.  Today, we have a football game from 2 PM – 4 PM and then we have a basketball game at 5 PM.  So, we’ll be spending the entire day driving out to Nowheresville, shuttling 3 kids between two games.  Then we have to drive exhausted and sweaty kids back home.  We also need to make sure they do homework at some point this weekend.

Ben and I are also on-call during all of this.  *STRESS*

Also, per the divorce papers, the kids’ mom can decide that she doesn’t want to take them to games or practices if, for example, she decides to plan one of the kid’s birthday parties at the same time.  We do not have that choice.  Per the papers, we have to take the kids to every practice and game, even if the kid is so sick that he can barely stand.  This was decided after Ben tried to appeal a few times.  This is what the courts think is best for the kids, I guess.

It’s really difficult to make any plans when you have no idea what will be going on.  They changed the times of Minecraft’s game at least five times in the past two weeks.  Lego knows he has a game today, but had no idea what time it was or where it was.  Once again, since we’re not the primary caregivers and we live so far away, it’s harder for us to stay in the loop on the kids’ schedules.  We end up being the annoying parents who text coaches constantly to verify the information.  Then, we have to bring phones and laptops to the games in case we get calls.  Lately, because of the weather in North Texas, we also have to deal with whatever last minute crazy weather is thrown at us.  The other day, we had to flee from a pending tornado, and thankfully missed the tornado that we were driving towards.

I wish we could just take the kids up the street to the local schools and enjoy a weekend in our neighborhood with the kids.  I wish that most of our time with the kids wasn’t spent driving.  I wish that I didn’t have to hear comments from the kids like, “Oh, you’re working again?  You’re always working.”  If I did hear comments like that, it’d be nice if I actually had a comeback like, “Well, if you want to live in this big house and wear designer clothes and have your stepmom be one of the only female CEOs in the tech industry, then I’m going to have to continue to work and I wish you would be more patient and understanding with me.”  No, no.  I have to say, “Yes, I’m sorry, and by the way, we can’t afford to do anything else since all of this driving is eating up money on fuel.  So, I’m sorry that I have to work again and your dad and I still can’t afford to get you a new desk that won’t collapse on you or new clothes to keep up with your growth spurts.”  It makes you feel like a terrible parent, a bad person, and a horrible employee all in one go.  Ben and I both feel completely hopeless in so many regards when it comes to the kids.

Still, I’m glad the kids have found activities that they enjoy, even if I wonder how much they enjoy them with some of the lack of interest they show the day of the games.  I’m glad that I do have a job that allows me to drive across the state to go to the kids’ games.  I’m glad that I don’t have to drive into work if I get a call, which is what my dad always had to do when I was a kid.  I’m grateful for any time I do get with the kids.  Not having much say over how we spend time with the kids makes me grateful for any bit of freedom we do get.  I’m thankful that Ben understands my work situation and doesn’t make me feel any more guilty any time I have to choose work over the kids.  We just have to take what we can get sometimes.

Stuff People Say – Amanda

The following is an actual email exchange I had at work.

Coworker — Hi Team.  How do I determine which [person on another team] will be working the following CR’s[…]?

Angela — Have you checked with [the other team]?

30 minutes later

Coworker — Yes, I did.  Thanks Amanda.

Angela — *giant sigh*

Random Saturdays – Pokemon Birthday

When I told my dad that Lego wanted a Pokemon birthday party, he said, “The only problem with that is you gotta catch ’em all.”  I didn’t even know Pokemon still existed!  Amanda’s little sister loved them when she was about 6, but she’s in her 20s now.  Apparently, kids still love Pokemon, even though they’re harder to find and cost more.

Since we now own our lovely home, I we decided that a birthday party would be the perfect butt-kicker motivation to get unpacked.  We’ve been working really hard and making alot of progress, but the boxes seem to be multiplying.  Still, thanks to the beauty that is Pinterest, I got a lot of great ideas for Lego’s birthday party and I’m hoping he’ll have fun.

One thing Pinterest couldn’t help with is the whole broken home thing.  Without going into too much detail, let’s just say that Lego’s bio-mom moved as far away as legally possible.  The kids had alot of trouble adjusting to the move, the new house, the new school, making new friends, leaving their dad, etc.  They’re finally settling into things, which is great, but school functions, holidays, and birthdays are still a bit weird.  The kids have one birthday party with their bio-mom and one birthday party with us.  I asked Lego if he wanted to invite any friends from school, if he thought anyone might be willing to drive out that far for the party.  The school also has a rule that you cannot bring invitations to school unless you invite everyone in the class.  We’re fine with inviting Lego’s entire class over, but we didn’t want him to feel bad if nobody in the class wanted to come since it’s so far away.

Also, Minecraft is in football this year.  He has a game on Saturday, which would be the normal day that we’d have a birthday party.  So, we talked it over with the kiddos and they decided that we would go to Minecraft’s football game on Saturday, we’d do a family outing Saturday afternoon, we’d have Lego’s birthday party on Sunday afternoon, and Lego would invite two kids who live in his bio-mom’s neighborhood to the party.

It made me sad that it had to be so complicated, but it makes me grateful that our kids are so mature and considerate of each other that Lego didn’t want to overshadow Minecraft’s football game and Minecraft didn’t want to overshadow Lego’s birthday party.  Lego didn’t make a big deal out of who would or wouldn’t be at his birthday party either.  He was just excited to see what I’d do with the cake, decorations, and games and he’s looking forward to seeing any family and friends that do show up.  It warmed my heart and made me feel like a big ol’ Jigglypuff!