Reviews -Chelsea Does, How to Be Single, and Dr. Strange

I haven’t done a review post in quite awhile.  With the Thanksgiving holiday coming up in the U.S., it’s a good time to watch some t.v. and movies.  Here are a few suggestions on what to watch.

Chelsea Does – This is one of Chelsea Handler‘s series on Netflix.  I turned it on while cooking dinner, thinking it would be something funny to listen to in the background.  I ended up having to start the show over once I finished cooking so that I could really pay attention to it.  My favorite episode from season one was about Racism.  She did a brilliant job of exploring America’s complicated and difficult relationship with race.  Chelsea Handler is hilarious, intelligent, and honest.  Expect to hear adult language and maybe see a boob here or there while watching the show.

How to Be Single – When I saw that Rebel Wilson and Leslie Mann were in an ensemble cast movie about being single, I knew that I’d watch it, but I didn’t have high expectations.  I can’t remember the last ensemble cast movie that I’ve liked, much less one about single ladies dating around.  (Oh wait, does Sisters count?)  It was on HBO Now, which meant that I didn’t even have to leave the house or put on pants to watch it.  It was a good movie, though.  It has plenty of cliches, but attacks them in different ways.  It’s not like other rom coms. SPOILER ALERT – At the end of the movie, all the women do not end up with handsome boyfriends/husbands who finally validate the women’s existence.

Dr. Strange – If you’re on the comic book movie bandwagon, then you have to go see this.  If you have no interest in comics, any of the books based on comics, action films, or Benedict Cumberbatch, then do not see this movie.  That’s really all there is to it. If you have the option, you should probably see it in 3-D because the visual effects are basically a character in the movie.  I was worried about this movie because Dr. Strange is, well, strange.  I love his story, but I wasn’t sure how it would translate to the big screen.  The movie is less than two hours even though most of the Marvel movies are over two hours.  How in the world were they going to explain the crazy world of Dr. Strange?  I was pretty impressed with the movie, though.  As soon as it ended, I wanted to watch it again.  I’m hoping to be able to see it again before it leaves the theaters.

Well, that’s it for my reviews for now.  There are plenty of great movies out in the theaters and ready to stream right now.  Use the holidays as a time to relax and catch up on some t.v. as well.  Or, you know, don’t.



Random Saturdays – Welcome Holidays!

The holiday season is here!  If you’re old like me, you find yourself saying, once again, “I can’t believe it’s already November.  Where did the year go?”  If you love the holiday season like me, you are also excited that the holiday season is here.  Canada has already celebrated Thanksgiving, and Halloween and Election Day have just passed in the U.S.  The next big U.S. holiday is, of course, Thanksgiving.

The holiday season is also the birthday season in my world.  From October – March it’s a non-stop birthday celebration.  I used to be one of the few summer birthday people that I knew.  Now that I’m married, half of the family have birthdays during birthday season, and the other half of the family has birthdays in the summer.  I’ve always felt sorry for people who had birthdays around the holidays because their birthdays are overshadowed by the big holidays, especially if you’re born around Christmastime.  That’s why I try to make a point of giving separate Christmas and birthday presents to Christmas babies.  Plus, there are so many great sales during the holiday season that it should be easier to shop for holiday season babies.

Oh and shopping.  There’s the neverending fight between shopping vs. meaningful holidays.  I really don’t think that they are mutually exclusive.  I believe you just have to be aware of the meaning in holidays and you have to try to share that meaning with others when you are giving gifts.  This is especially tricky with kids because they are naturally inclined to just want stuff, lots and lots of stuff.  If we don’t teach them to be grateful for what they have and to think about what they can give and do for others, then they turn into ungrateful adults who have the nerve to think they can actually criticize gifts given to them and favors done for them.  That is the type of attitude that kills the holiday spirit and turns everything into a debate about the “true” meaning of any given holiday in a bad way.

This was our first holiday season together. The kids are about twice the size as they were then. My stomach is about twice the size s it was then. (From left to right: Dora, Lego, Ben, Minecraft)

I am American and I celebrate Thanksgiving.  I love the food.  I love time off from work.  I love spending time with my family and friends. When I plan Thanksgiving at my house, I always try to do it as low key as possible, but then find myself stressing myself out by trying to cook everything perfectly and make the house look immaculate.  I do it to myself.  Not once has anyone ever criticized me for not having enough food, the right food, a dirty home, ugly decorations, etc.  It’s all in my head.  With the kids, I’m trying to be more aware of that and remember that if I stress myself out over this crap that doesn’t matter, then they will learn to stress themselves out over crap that doesn’t matter as well.  Just as bad, they may start stressing others out about crap that doesn’t matter and think they are entitled to criticize the cooking and entertaining abilities of others.  So, I’m trying not to pass stress and judgement on to my kids.

Then there’s Christmas.  Let me say now that I am not Crhstian but I do celebrate Christmas.  I grew up Christian, spent many years in a crisis of faith, and have finally found myself in a good spiritual place, the details of which I am not going to delve into during this post.  I celebrate Christmas because it’s what I grew up with and it represents a time of giving and spending time with loved ones for me.  When I had the Great Santa Claus Crisis around the age of 10, my mother told me that she believed in Santa Claus because he was the spirit of giving.  So, no matter how old you were, you should always believe in Santa Claus.  No matter how much or how little you got in your stocking, you should always believe in Santa Claus.  I decided to adopt that belief as my own.

We just had the kids write their letters to Santa because we won’t see them much in November and we wanted to make sure that Santa had plenty of time to get their letters.  They asked for some surprising gifts, but also had interesting conversations with Santa.  Dora was concerned that Santa might not like the milk and cookies she wants to leave for him.  Minecraft told Santa that if he were lucky, he would get cookies and milk.  Lego just wanted to know if Santa and Mrs. Claus were doing okay up in the North Pole.  They all decorated their letters with colorful pictures and included phrases like, “Santa’s #1!”  Three years ago, their letters to Santa just told Santa what they wanted.  It might not seem like much, but to see their thought processes go from “Here’s what I want,” to “How are you. Here’s what I might do for you.  I think you’re great!” is pretty cool.  They also helped each other write their letters, with no help from Ben or me.  We did have to get onto them once for arguing over marker colors, but they worked together well otherwise.  Now, I can add cooperation, mental growth, and emotional growth to the great things that Santa represents for me.

As I typed this, it was about 6:30 AM and I had been awake for three hours with a terrible headache.  The kids were just picked up for school by their bio-mom and Ben had just left for work.  The cat was running circles around the house, chasing invisible toys.  The Excedrin has moved from making my head a bit numb to making me rather dizzy and the cat has begun her grooming routine, signaling that she is ready to curl up with me for her morning nap.  I’m going to take the cat’s advice to end this post and get some rest.  I hope that you are as excited about the holiday season as I am and that it holds as much meaningful promise for you as it does for me.  Happy Holidays!

To Vote or Not To Vote

November 8th will be my 5th opportunity to vote for the president of the U.S.  That means that in my voting life, I’ve only been able to vote during some really jacked up elections with extreme issues and world problems on the line.  The first election during which I was old enough to vote was Bush, Jr. vs Gore.  There was so much wrong with that election – the candidates, the Nader “throwaway” votes, voting system scandals, etc.  This election time, the U.S. is voting on Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump or a bunch of other people who have no chance of winning.

How did we get to this place???

We can speculate from a logical standpoint, from a historical standpoint, from a political standpoint, or from a ridiculous standpoint.  The truth is, none of that matters.  Those are our choices and there’s no going back now.  Due to the lack of support behind either candidate for most Americans, I think we are going to have record low voter turnouts this year.  That makes me pretty sad.

Women have had the right to vote for less than 100 years in the U.S.  The country was established over 200 years ago, but we’ve only been able to vote for less than half of that time.  Women outnumber men in this country.  A woman is running for president this election term.  Most of the women I know (who live in the metroplex) are not voting.

That’s not to say that I think that women should vote for Hillary Clinton just because she’s a woman.  I just think that they should vote.  Even if you think it’s a throwaway vote, it’s not.  Find someone on the ballot whose record supports your values as much as possible and vote for that person. That is the best way to get out of this two system voting party craziness that leaves so many Americans feeling like their votes don’t matter.

More importantly, there are other offices and issues on the ballot that will affect your everyday life directly.  Don’t let the presidential election overshadow local elections and propositions that will affect your housing taxes, education policies, local businesses, and even the cleanliness of your drinking water.  It’s not too late to learn about all of the other important issues on the ballot and vote.  You don’t have to pay money to vote.  Voting doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll have to do jury duty (even though it’s your civic duty and you should be proud to be included in the process no matter how much of a pain in the butt it can be), and you can take notes into the voting booth with you so that you don’t have to remember exactly how you want to vote on every issue or seat.  Here are some great resources to help you navigate your local elections and issues on this year’s ballot:

League of Women Voters – Don’t be fooled;  this isn’t a women-only resource.  After women gained the right to vote, they wanted to make sure that everyone had the opportunity to make informed choices.  So, they switched gears from suffrage to voter education.  They do a great job of questioning candidates on issues and providing answers on common voter questions.  Just go to the site above and enter your address to find info for your area.

Local Newspaper Websites – The Dallas Morning News has a great Voter Guide, and if your values align with that of the paper’s, you can even see which candidates they endorse for each office.  If you enjoy more independent magazines and newspapers, look up their websites and they can help you find candidates and issues that align with your values.

Google – Type in Voter Guide 2016 and you can search for early voting guidelines, voting locations, ballot issues, etc.  If you’re wondering about a specific race, candidate, or issue, type that into Google and off you go.

Whatever you do, don’t think that your vote doesn’t matter.  It does.  If everyone who didn’t think her vote mattered actually voted, we could see more options on the ballot and politicians would realize that they are directly accountable to their constituents.

Since I’m in Texas, I’m going to offer a couple of FYIs for my fellow Texans:

  • Early Voting is October 11 – November 5.
  • Statewide elections are being held for important positions like Railroad Commissioner, State Supreme Court Justices, State Appeals Court Justices (this is where your Making of a Murderer and the Serial podcasts addictions matter!), and House Representative.

Random Saturdays – Lake Trip Withdrawls

Last weekend, I hung out with some girlfriends at the lake and had more fun than I’d had in a long time.  I can’t remember the last time that I really had that much time away from work, job searching, studying, cleaning, paying bills, small town football, or even my husband.  That’s not to say that I don’t love spending time with my family, but the lake trip was a break that I didn’t realize I needed.

We drove in two separate vehicles at two separate times and had two sets of travelling stories to compare.  Within the first hour of driving, we already had jokes that will never die, involving such phrases as, “the Liquor Depot” and “cute little road”.  You just never know what kind of stuff will be hilarious when you’re with friends, right?  By the end of Friday night, two of the three women already had new nicknames.  We tried very hard on Friday night to get drunk, but none of us got more than tipsy.  We ate our combined weight in pasta, bread, and cookies too.  We played games, made up jokes, and just had a blast in general.  That was all Friday night.

Saturday, everyone got gussied up in someway (except for me).  I think it’s really cool how much hair and makeup can transform you, but I’m far too lazy and my skin is much too sensitive to do any of that regularly.  This was a special event and I should have gotten all fancy, but I chose to meditate, doze, and crack jokes instead.  We treated ourselves to pedicures that afternoon.  I have never had a pedicure before, but it was amazing.  I had a middle-aged Vietnamese lady who really knew how to work the knots out of my foot.  I meditated during the massage and while my toes dried, and felt completely relaxed by the time we left.  It was a bit expensive for my tastes, but I’m glad I did it.  Since I have some pretty strict personal policies regarding my feet and nail polish, I might try it again some day before I die, but not any time soon.

That night, we barely drank at all and were completely sober.  I think we may have had an even better time than the night before.  We are just such a good group of friends and balance each other out so well and I am in love with us.  If I saw a group of friends like us on tv, I would add them to my Imaginary BFFs board on Pinterest.  We did some more impressions with T-Rex arms, played some Cards Against Humanity, sang along to a billion songs, and stuffed our faces with burritos, nachos, cookies, and chocolate covered strawberries.  It was every bit as much fun as the first night.

Sunday was time to leave, so we cleaned up and headed home.  We stopped at a local restaurant on the way out of town, which turned out to be closed.  So we defied death by crossing the street to get to another local restaurant whose sign said, “ALWAYS OPEN”.  It was pretty good home cooking with lots of grease and carbs.  On the way home, each group sent each other texts about our weekend of jokes to remind us all of how hilarious we think we are.  My car group stopped at the Dutchman’s Hidden Valley on the way home to stock up on souvenirs and handmade truffles.

Before we even got home, real life started settling in on my car group and we got pretty bummed.  Ben had to remind me that vacations are not supposed to be like real life and that’s why we look forward to them.  Bah!  The ladies and I have been texting and Facebooking each other ever since we left the cabin, telling ourselves how funny we are and taking our jokes way too far.

It’s crazy how we all live in the metroplex and still find it so difficult to get together.  We all have different families, different jobs, different routines, and even different tastes in liquor.  This is the case with most of my friends in the metroplex.  It used to make me very anxious and guilt-ridden that I couldn’t spend equal amounts of time with all of the people who are important to me.  Now, I understand that sometimes you will spend more time with some people than others, and that doesn’t necessarily mean that you are neglecting the other people.  When you get together, you will pick up where you left off and make a slew of in-jokes in less than 10 minutes.  That is how you know that you have quality friends.  They will make hilariously inappropriate jokes about the rough times in order to help you get through the rough times.


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.



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.