Saturday, January 31, 2009

Sweetie Saturday #143

I've noticed a remarkable change in Sweetie this week. Not that it's not been demonstrating itself in little ways leading up to this point. It's just that some major - and not so major - events of this week show that Sweetie - gasp! - is beginning to take things in stride.

I know, I know. My very particular, very stubborn, very "this is the way things must be forever and always so help me God" flipped out girl is actually chilling out a bit.

Exhibit A - Our decision to move.

Granted, this whole scenario - and Sweetie's easy taking to it - may largely be due to the fact that Sweetie doesn't quite understand what it means to move (as far as I can gather, that is). Still, when we let Sweetie in on our decision, she was all, like, "Okay." That was it. - "And we may not be able to take the kitties with us when we go." - "Okay."

Hmmmm... Okay.

Then, earlier this week, Hubby and I started an initial round of cleaning up, purging out, and packing up various items we knew we wouldn't have much call for over the next several months. Clearing out the clutter and all, ya know?

In this same burst of cleaning and packing, we happened to strip Sweetie's bed to wash her sheets. Completely unrelated to our move, of course, but just something that needed to be done. Sweetie helped strip her bed, just as she'd been helpful in the midst of all this purging out unnecessaries from her room.

Later that afternoon, after the sheets had been washed and dried, Hubby and I moaned about which one of us would actually remake her bed. Neither of us jumped at the chore off the bat, figuring somehow by the end of the day one or the other of us would finally get to it. 

But Sweetie was concerned.

But Mama! We have to make my bed for the next kid who'll sleep there!

No, no, no. We're not moving today! It will take a long time before someone buys our house and we have to move. We have to remake your bed for you!

Oh. I thought we were moving today. Okay.

Beyond this incident, I've noticed other little and big ways that Sweetie is becoming more adaptable and/or less affected by changes to the "plan."

Wanting to change up her breakfast routine in order to have a bowl of cereal instead of a breakfast bar, even though this means getting up about 15 minutes earlier than usual on school days. 

Not getting nearly as sad as she would have in the past when I ended up picking her up from school on a day when I suggested that maybe, maybe, I'd have Daddy pick her up instead.

Not even mentioning the fact that I'd forgotten to give her a snack for school one day - an act of misconduct which I'd previously been scowled at and told how it was "all (my) fault" that Sweetie had bad news to report about the missing snack.

Many varied acts throughout each day where Sweetie is either doing something on her own that isn't working out quite the way she'd imagined, or we are doing something together that isn't just the "way" she'd like it to be. Whines do start to emerge from her lips, but then I suggest that she/we do things in this other way that will work just as well.

Good thinking, Mama! Good thinking!

Like this morning: Sweetie comes into our room - before she's "supposed to" - wanting help reading a particular word in a book she'd chosen to look at. She went on to mention that, even though this is the book she really wanted to read, she was sure that there'd be lots of words she wouldn't be able to read on her own.

Usually, my sending her away and telling her to deal with it or chose a different book would have resulted in a flood of tears and angry stomps. But this time, when I simply suggested that she just skip over the words she didn't know, she brightened a bit, saying, Good thinking, Mom!

I'm sure I could tell you about several other incidents, but I think you get the idea. Especially my regular readers who know just how exact Sweetie likes - nay, expects - things to be; this is a major breakthrough. Major.

On the other hand - perhaps Sweetie is more like me than I thought. I can alternately be extremely at ease about how certain things play out and then extremely put out when other situations don't work out to my expectations.

Hmmmm... like mother, like daughter. God help us both.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Proud Amy Keep On Burnin'

For all the times I'm feeling less than confident or relaxed about something, I thought I'd post some items I'm particularly proud of:

The cork board I conceived, designed and made (save the wooden frame, which Hubby made) for my mom this Christmas:


The AeroGrow I bought for Hubby last Christmas. I love gifting people with things they've never even heard of, but which are absolutely perfect for them. We're never without fresh, organic herbs, lettuce - whatever we choose to grow!


My Sweetie - my beautiful little girl.


Monday, January 26, 2009

Mama Monday #49.1

Theme: Choice

- Hubby and I talked to a realtor. To sell our house is an option, but not one with huge (or possible any) profit. But we have to make a choice. Staying or going both have their pluses and minuses. But as far as we can tell, selling seems to have less minuses. So we've made our choice. We're selling. Putting it on the market in a month or so. It's the choice that makes the most sense to us.

- I am registered to study for and eventually take my abcte exam in Secondary English in order to gain my teaching certificate. I have some preliminary items to study even now. I have had a few chances to sit at the computer, more or less uninterrupted, to read over the material. Yet I don't yet feel like I'm getting too "into" it. It's still not real to me. And now, with this decision to move made, I feel quite overladen with all things packing/cleaning/readying - a huge undertaking, if you ask me - and not so much in the mindset to study or attempt to even go for certification right now while other life-changing things are going on. Not to mention, if I get out of the program now, I can still get my money back - meaning less debt on the credit card.

Yet I still see, at the end of a long tunnel, a positive outcome if I do gain certification sooner rather than later. Many more employment opportunities opening up to me. More pleasure in what I do for a living. What I know I have to do in order to achieve greater success - professionally and personally - in my life. Plus, I have to admit, I've seriously considered and seen the benefit of having my certification for several years now. So, despite other stressors invading my life right now, I am making the choice to stick with it. Choosing to carve out more time each week to "get with it" and study. I have to do this, I have to take this seriously, and I have to make the time to make this work. It will be very worth it in the end.

- Back in September, when we first started going to our church, I saw a notice that the current person doing the church newsletter could use some help organizing and editing it each month. Not too many hours each month, and most of the hours spent would be at the end of each month. No big deal.

The newsletter person, back then, did speak with me briefly about my interest in helping and what I'd need to do in this role. And the plan was decided that, back then, we'd get together very soon (within a couple weeks or so) to go over how things are done and what I'd need to do. Fine.

But nothing ever came of it, back then. Now, however, I received a call last week from the newsletter organizer telling me she was sorry to not get all this straightened out months ago, but that she could come over next week to show me everything. She's coming over tomorrow.

Thing is - this time around, she didn't ask me if I was still interested, she just said now was the time to finally get me on board. And last week, during this phone call that honestly took me by surprise (I rarely get calls from people I am acquainted with but who rarely, if ever, call me), I didn't have time to consider the big picture and how my helping (possibly taking over???) the creation of the newsletter would fit in - or not - with my current life situation. 

Now I'm thinking and realizing how much I have going on and how helping out in this capacity really isn't going to fit so well into my overall schedule. 

Yet it's late afternoon on the day before she comes over. And I may find out from her that it really won't add too much to my life to do this newsletter once a month. And I may find out from her that I'm not the only one who'll be working on this - that I have other people to turn to and help out (which is what the initial notice indicated, but was not my impression from last week's phone call). It all may be very manageable and no big deal at all.

But then again - if tomorrow's get-together proves to show a ton of work needed on my part... well, I just don't know if I can do it. Or should do it! I have a right to have other priorities in my life right now, after all. Things change. I was not registered for more schooling a few months ago, nor did I have to plan to be. We were not considering moving a few months ago. Now we'll be packing and selling and moving (hopefully) within months from now. I was not tutoring part time a few months ago. Now I have four hours of tutoring each week, not to mention travel time and preparation time (as I have to come up with and record learning plans and curriculum for my students). It all takes, and will take, an incredible amount of time. It is overwhelming. 

See, despite being out of a full time job, I am nonetheless very busy. Not to mention the stress of knowing my unemployment compensation will come to an end before my teaching certificate is achieved and, anyway, I am required to continue my job search in order to receive benefits even though half the country is unemployed at this point and therefore going for all the same jobs I'm going for. It is extremely hard to not have the attitude, "well, I haven't been able to find a full time job yet, and now that everyone else is unemployed and applying for these same jobs, now I REALLY won't find anything, so why even bother?" But I must.

Short and sweet - I'm stressed. I can't find the time to do what I want or need to do, yet I know how important (and necessary) it is that I do find the time to improve my employment situation in the middle of all this. 

So ANYWAY, back to the newsletter - I feel I both have a choice to make regarding this church newsletter business and do not have a choice to make because it's far too late to change the decision I made months ago under different life circumstances. 

There are far more choices I'm faced with currently, all of which are adding piles of stress on my shoulders. I am one big mixture of confusion, indecision, obsession, worry and dreams of escaping. But, of course I need to work it all out. I need to find the way. I need to do what is right for my family. And, really, I need to realize the importance of doing what's right for me alone...

In that, I have no choice.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Sweetie Saturday #142 - So Not About Sweetie, Abbreviated, Edition

Hi all. I'm in the middle of my 24 (or 48, depending on episodic happenings) hour ambulatory EEG test. I'm not happy. My head is wrapped in gauze like I'm a brain injury patient, I'm wearing a knit hat over the top which both helps and so doesn't in the appearance department, and my forehead hurts where some of the electrode wires/whatever these are are taped to my skin. I'm hooked up to a box in a fanny pack around my waist - with a button on top that I'm to push when/if I ever have an episode. I have a computer/video camera thing I'm to be hooked to as often as possible when I know I'll be sitting on the couch or whatever for a long time - that's to watch me, I suppose, in case I have a seizure-like episode when I may or may not (I know I wouldn't) do anything unordinary. And I'm supposed to keep an hour by hour diary of what I'm doing activity wise.

Oh - and I have a strange bump/inflamed part of my lower left leg. So I'm keeping my left brace off and elevating the leg whenever possible. When I do get up to walk, I have one brace and shoe on, one brace off with just a slipper on that foot. I'm already an unbalanced walker. Now I'm really, really unbalanced. Especially with a somewhat heavy-ish fanny pack around my waist.

All this while trying to go about my normal life. Hah.

Not. Fun. At. All.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Fact vs. Truth

Wow. You guys made it so easy for me. One entrant, one winner. Congratulations, Lara! Thanks for your story. I hope you enjoy this book. I'll be in touch with you to arrange a time I can get the book to you.


The fact is - there are a few life-altering portions of my and Hubby's life that we can owe directly to Sweetie's existence. 

Okay, okay - I do realize that's true for any parents. Of course.

But I imagine (or at least I'd like to believe) that the majority of parents out there would admit that their lives - and I'm talking solely tangible/lifestyle aspects of their lives - have substantially improved since the creation of a larger family.

But I'm here to admit for myself (NOTE: only for myself) that some very major things that are/were not so great at all can be attributed directly back to Sweetie's existence.

The fact is: I would not have the chronic back pain I have - and have had for 6 years now - had I not carried Sweetie for 9 months (okay - just over 8 months) before she was born. My back pain did not start while I was pregnant. Rather it seemed to kick in about 6 months after she was born. I imagine the pregnancy itself, combined with the constant lifting of an ever-increasingly heavy baby worked together to do me in. Now, finally - FINALLY - I think my back is slowing feeling better. I can now walk through a small grocery store, without my back brace, and possibly get out of there without my left thigh going numb and without terrible lower back pain. But not every single time, that's for sure.

The fact is: I would not have had to have a hysterectomy had I not had Sweetie. If I had no biological children, then all my "parts" would have - I can only logically presume - stayed in place, stayed strong, and never given me any major troubles whatsoever. But I did have Sweetie, which weakened my muscles, prolapsed my uterus, and made a hysterectomy essential. (Note: at the time of my hysterectomy, I could find no actual proof that women with spina bifida were more likely than typical women to have a prolapsed uterus after pregnancy. But now, I do believe that documented studies have shown this to be true). 

The fact is: Had I not had Sweetie, I would be a much more well-rested person than I am today. I can count on one hand the number of times since Sweetie's birth that I have slept past 8 a.m. And even on a regular basis, 8 a.m. is a complete luxury - it's usually 7 a.m. Of course, when she was an infant and toddler there was no way for me to bargain with her at all. So whenever she woke up, I was up. Early. It's only been recently that we've gotten Sweetie to stay in her room until 8 a.m. on the weekends. But even then, she has plenty of those days when she just cannot wait until 8 a.m. and she whines for me to please get up because she's bored. Which I do. All the time. It's always me. Hubby has never, ever been the one to get up with her. Actually, I think on my first Mother's Day he did. But I could still hear them downstairs and I couldn't fall back asleep. So I got up too. Mother guilt. Yep - of course I've gained that as well since Sweetie's birth. 

The fact is: Had I not wanted to have a baby in the first place, Hubby and I would have not been so quick to move out of our small apartment and buy a house. A house big enough for two kids - the number of kids we hoped to have. But we did. We wanted to have our first child before I turned 30, which was fast approaching. And I insisted that we could not have a baby in that apartment. Starting a family equalled buying a house. Before we really should have done so, on a financial basis. 

Now - eight years after buying this house - we are still nowhere near getting our debts paid off. For eight+ years, I've pretty much done nothing but stew over our financial troubles. Constantly at the forefront of my mind. My biggest concern for our family. Oh how I'd love to think about other things instead!

Not to mention that we are not having two kids now. I more or less decided that anyway, even before my hysterectomy. Both for financial reason and because, at that time, my back was beginning to cause me serious trouble. But obviously, the hysterectomy made the ultimate, concrete decision for us. No more kids beyond Sweetie.

Yet here we are in this big house, big enough for us to have a larger family. But the fact is - it's too big for just the three of us. We do not need all this space. We cannot afford all this space. 

We are looking into moving. Not far - just to a rentable apartment or small condo to rent. Our mortgage is going up because of taxes. As I said, we're nowhere near seeing the light at the end of our debt.  We don't need this much space! I know I'll eventually need to live in a one-floor living space to more easily get around - sooner rather than later would be nice. We just need to do this. Moving.

The thing is, of course - this terrible economy. Hubby and I talked about moving last night. He is in 100% agreement with me. We need to move. He has no strong emotion about staying in this house. He absolutely sees how, financially speaking, moving would be beneficial to our situation. But - first we need to find out how much a realtor feels we could get for our house. Two summers ago we had a realtor come over to assess. At that time, had we sold, we very likely would have made a hefty profit on the house. But now - who knows if we'd make a profit at all. We still owe a lot on the house. We can't not make a profit. So I suppose the answer truly lies with what the current realtor honestly thinks. If she thinks we can sell it for more than we owe, then we go forward for sure. If not - well... I guess we wait. 

The other part of this is - we'd really rather not have to make any major changes or improvements to the house before selling. I'd really love to list it as "as-is". Hubby can tidy simple, more easily attainable improvements, of course. But nothing at all major. I'd rather not, and Hubby would certainly rather not. As he said - he completely agrees that selling is the thing we need to do. It's just that he does not at all relish the though of doing what it'll take to get the house in sellable condition.

If we don't fix it up, people will be less likely to buy it. But if we do fix it up, it could more likely sell for more money. But just doing the fixes will take quite awhile - I say, the sooner we get out of here, the better. And, anyway, making the fixes only ads to our existing debt - until we sell, of course, and can then pay it off.

Anyway, we've got a call to make. Get a realtor in here as soon as we can to assess our house. Who is really buying houses in this economy? How long does she honestly think it will take to find a buyer? Does she think we should go ahead with it now, or wait 6 months to a year or more? What should we do.

So - back to the point of this post... the fact is, some really not so great things have come about for me and Hubby because of our desire to have Sweetie and, after her arrival, because of her existence.

However - the truth of the matter is - I would not change a single bit of all that if doing so would mean I didn't have my Sweetie. 

My back hurts, yes. But I do not let my thoughts consume me about how my pregnancy and life as a young mom "ruined" my body. I don't think about it at all. Honestly. Of course, for this post I've indeed laid it all out. But let this not mislead you into thinking I'm constantly "blaming" Sweetie for any of it. Not in the least. It just doesn't equate in my mind.

I'm tired, of course. But who's to say that as I got older I wouldn't have naturally started waking up earlier anyway? I suppose I could say that at least without a child I'd have more of the luxury of deciding to stay in bed on occasion. But I'd still have a job to get up for. I'd still have household duties to keep me busy. I probably would get up anyway. But life as it is -  I really do love getting up in the morning with Sweetie. I love cuddling on the couch with her as she drinks her milk or orange juice and eats her breakfast bar or other breakfast treats. Sweetie gives me a wonderful reason to get up in the morning. So much nicer to get up to Sweetie's exurberance and cuddles than for laundry and dishes - that's for sure.

And yes, we likely would not be in such a financially stagnant situation if we'd never moved into a house before we should have. I'd like to think that Hubby and I would have been in a house by now anyway. But after waiting a longer time. After doing things financially responsibly. After taking our time and doing it right - with a smaller, cuter, newer house in the end. 

But we did. We bought this house. I love(d) this house! At the time, it was so very much the right home for us in which to start our growing family. We could see our future in this house. We could see our growing family in this house. At the time, it was exactly what we needed. 

And for what we could see in the house at the time we found it - I am forever thankful. I have no regrets. For that, I do not look at what this house has done to us because of Sweetie, but what this house allowed us to do to make room for Sweetie in our lives.

The truth of the matter is - life can suck. Unpleasant things happen to everyone. No one thinks their life is perfect. Everyone wishes they had more money, more sleep, less pain, etc., etc... But - for me - I know I'd do it all again, adding on 1000+ less-than-wonderful aspects of my life, just to have my sweet girl in my life. Our outward tangibles may not be so hot. But because of Sweetie, I know I am a stronger person. I am a more defined person. I am a better person because of her. She is my life and my love.

And that, right there - that's the truth.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Mama Monday #48.1

Theme: Contest

Hey! Did you know that the word "contest" is part of a pair of homographs? There's "contest" - (n.) an event you compete in, or "contest" - (v.) to dispute or oppose. (There are other definitions of the word as well, but these two definitions seem to be the most popularly known.)

I just learned about homographs as part of my studying for my teaching certificate. More specifically, I learned the differences between homophones, homonyms and homographs. But I don't need to go into all that right here.

Anyway, today I'm using "contest" in its noun form. As in, I'm hosting a contest here for some lucky reader to win Joy Bauer's new book Joy's LIFE Diet: Four Steps to Thin FOREVER.

Joy launched the Joy Fit Club segments on the Today Show last year. She's helped people world wide lose at least 100 pounds each, and she's inspired thousands more to ask how she can help them lose weight and stay healthy for life.

In this book, Joy talks about what life means to her - Look Incredible, Feel Extraordinary. Achieving, and maintain, this sort of life involves four key steps - Release, Relearn, Reshape and Reveal. Get this book and you'll discover exactly what Joy means by all this, and how it can help you develop the healthy body, and outlook, you've aiming for for years.

All you have to do to win this book is tell me - what weight loss programs have you tried before, and what do you think were the main contributors to why those programs ended up not working for you.

This contest is open until 3 p.m. EST this Wednesday, January 21st. I will only consider entrants who follow the rules and tell me their diet program woes. At 3 p.m. on Wednesday, the contest will close, I'll enter all participants' names into a hat, and randomly pick a winner - which I'll announce here in my Wednesday post. 

Please note - be sure to include your first name in the comments area along with your story, and be willing to share your mailing address with me should you be the lucky winner. 

Good luck to everyone! Here's to a happy life and healthy body!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Sweetie Saturday #141 - Funny "Haha" or Funny "Instresting"? Edition

Ya know what? Sweetie isn't really so much funny - in the original sense of why I started Sweetie Saturdays - anymore.

Don't get me wrong. She's still incredibly funny. She makes us laugh several times a day and could brighten the day of the most sullen of grumpsters with her endless supply of non sequiturs and general, all over silliness. It's just - she's now funny in a smart way. A too-big-for-her-britches way. 

She no longer misuses words in a funny way. Now she uses really big - appropriate - words in her everyday speak. And, given her age, that's really funny.

She notes how she'd like certain things to happen immediately.

She mentions how certain things distract her.

She told me the other day that she was sweltering in our car. (It was absolutely freezing outside, so I had the heat up high).

She loves her new globe because, at night, it turns into a map of the constellations.

Sweetie is funny in a "dance like nobody's watching" kind of way.

Take the first part of my last post, for instance.

That incident was very literally followed by a carefree outburst of "dancing like nobody's watching." Seriously - she was like a different child. One moment concerned and searching, the next minute thrilled to bits with life in general, having herself a grand ol' time - singing, dancing and gettin' down with her bad self.

And those beloved non sequiturs. Now those are funny. But in a "funny in the moment" sort of way. Or, rather, a "she's just a strange little girl" way. Nothing that I could adequately portray in a post here with the same sort of odd humor intended.

For example (see? I'm gonna give it a shot anyway...): Sweetie is constantly cracking herself up with puns she fully believe she's making by accident within her regular conversations. Then, when she discovers the pun, she'll always stop, chuckle, and ask us: Get it? I said ____ _____. That's a funny pun. (note - nothing ever is an actual pun in any of these situations. Well - very, very rarely, anyway. And even so - they're never particularly funny. But to Sweetie? Hilarious). 

But it is kinda funny to us that she thinks she's being so cleverly funny.

So, hmmmm... that's why I'm finding these Sweetie Saturdays so dang hard to write these last few months. She's just not so much randomly funny anymore. She's just - funny. Entertaining. Dramatic. Carefree. Wise-beyond-her-years. It's her personality. It's who she is. Not funny out takes from a typically developing toddler and little girl. It's just her - all her.

How very, very intresting.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Reality Bites...

... except for this first tidbit...

We just got back from the school Holiday Concert at Sweetie's school. So, so cute! The curtain opened up and Sweetie was dead center in the middle of all her classmates, 1 or 2 risers up. She was very obviously searching all over for us, which made her usually exuberant personality quite a bit toned down and even worried. You could especially tell during the first part of their first song that she was far too concerned about where her parents and grandparents were in the audience than about actually singing the song.

And then... she found us. About 2/3 of the way back on the left hand side.

In the middle of the song:

Hi Mom! Hi Dad!

Accompanied by excited waving.

Ah! Now the party could begin!

On with the excited Sweetie. On with the silly dramatics. On with the show!

Very, very cute. :)


So anyway, yeah - reality bites.

Okay, perhaps "bites" isn't the right word. Let's just say that the reality of certain things is becoming way, way too real.

I've registered for the abcte exams in order to gain teacher certification. I've been paired up with a mentor who advises me on what resources to use and what course of action to take in order to best prepare for these exams. She's set up a Study Plan for me, including a time line and many, many books, practice tests, etc. 

It. Is. A. Lot. A lot. Really... A lot.

Not that I didn't think it would be. I knew it was going to be a major commitment in terms of my time, energy and abilities. A test of my abilities. A strengthening of my abilities. A lot of work.

I had even been prepared that, on average, a person usually studies about 20 hours a week or more - for several months (usually about 6 to 12) in order to finally feel confident enough to take the exams. 

I had seen an example of what a Study Plan looks like.

Still. To see it all laid out there in front of me? Whoa. This is real. Very, very real.

So there's that...



Next Friday I'm going to the hospital to get set up for a 24-48 hour ambulatory EEG test. For reasons I could write a whole, long post about - but don't feel like getting into right now because of the late hour - I need to be tested to see if certain spells I've been having lately (actually, for awhile now) mean that I'm having seizures again. And, if not seizures, then what the heck is going on with me? 

I'm not sure that this test will be able to say what is wrong if it turns out not to be seizure related. I think it will just, possibly, rule out seizures (if that's the case) and I'll be told I now need even further testing to figure out more about the source of my spells.

My neurologist told me sometime late summer/early fall that she wanted me to have this test. But I told her about my awful insurance (I've got really high deductibles) and that, for financial reasons (I'd basically have to pay out of pocket for the test even with my insurance), I just didn't want to schedule it quite yet.

Then, of course, I kept having my spells and I went back to my neurologist. Again with the wanting to test me. But this time I whole heartedly agreed - yes, I need to find out what's going on.

I scheduled the exam. Then, 2 days before I was to go, I cancelled. I convinced myself that my problems were anxiety related (that was one option my neurologist suggested as a source at my last appointment with her). I noticed that I would have a spell when I was particularly stressed or worried... among other times as well. Not that I've ever felt particularly anxious about anything - but I thought that, perhaps, I really was anxious and these episodes were the means by which my anxiety was expressing itself.

Once I came to that self-diagnosing conclusion and cancelled the test, I actually had a 2 or 3 week stretch were I was all good again. Or at least much, much better. See?! Anxiety! A particularly stressful situation happened to be over for me about this time and I was making a special note to eat really, really well (I usually don't eat very much at all. Not because it's a conscious decision. Just, I don't know. Life gets in the way of me realizing that, hey!, I'm hungry right now). 

Blah, blah, blah... yada, yada, yada.... I now have the test scheduled again for next Friday. (Oh, and another reason I cancelled the December test was because of my ridiculously high deductible on my insurance. If I had the test in Dec., I'd be personally charged the whole amount of the test. Then, come January when it's deemed that even more tests need to be done, I'd be stuck with huge bills again because it's a brand new year with huge deductibles kicking in fresh again.)

This time, I will absolutely not cancel. Something is not right with me and I need to find out what it is. I just think that - like I said - this test will show that it's not seizure related and I'll just have to go in for more testing (I'm on seizure meds and they're not stopping or decreating the frequency of my episodes). More waiting. Ugh.

But at least now I am on the direct path to helping myself find out the problem. Sooner or later, an answer will be found. I'm glad, and relieved, that an answer is - somehow, sometime - on its way.

Anyway - yeah... reality bites. Wondering what my problem is (ha, ha... no mean jokes, please). Wondering if something really, really wrong is going on with me. Worrying that this may not be figured out as quickly as I'd like it to be. It just all... bites. Ya know? Yah.

So... that's it. I'm knee deep in getting my game plan for school all up and going. And I'm knee deep in figuring out what's going on with my head... and hoping to get it all fixed as quickly as I can.

Reality bites. Yep - maybe that is the right word after all.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Mama Monday #47.1

Theme: Order

I've aware - as I'm sure you are - that my regularly scheduled posts seem to be coming later and later into each given day. Seems like life is taking over and this blog is being pushed down the list of Things To Do.

With this new year, I'm desperately trying to maintain some semblance of order. That, or create order where once some was lacking (or was completely nonexistent.) What with my registering for the abcte study course and exams (I did it! I registered and am on my way to teacher certification!) and the several hours of reading and studying I'll need to do each week for the next several months in order to pass said exams, not to mention my regular tutoring schedule (which seems to be filling up nicely) and just plain being a mom and wife (a mom and wife who tries to at least keep the dishes clean, the laundry done and the floors vacuumed, in addition to doing her part to maintain a generally happy family) - well... my (full time) unemployed self sure has a lot of things to employ into her ever busy life!

(Insert what seems to be, but really is completely not, a seamless and witty segue into the next topic of discussion. Something that, ideally, includes the word "order"... about money... and stuff...)

Last year at this time Hubby and I were all about paying off debt and only spending money we actually have (i.e. - no credit card purchases of any kind). And, for the most part, we did succeed in that department.

Sure, my springtime unemployment shocker did a number on us, not least of which was crushing my enthusiasm for keeping a weekly chart of monies coming in vs. monies spent (This is a state of emergency, people! I need to spend my time job searching, not recording data every time Hubby or I decides to buy a snack out of the vending machine! We no longer have the small change needed to make such purchases, anyway! Money calendar - be gone with you!). And we are certainly guilty of taking extra out of savings from time to time (read: at least once a month) to cover unforeseen but necessary expenditures (car repairs, our new health insurance plans, etc...). Then, of course, we shopped a good deal at Target, where Hubby has a store credit card. We shopped there to put off payments we couldn't make on the spot, but the balances were always paid off each month (until Christmas. {cough, cough, ahem}.) Plus the original plan was to pay more than minimum amounts to our credit cards each month. But, yeah - not so much. Minimum amounts rule!

Still. I say we did done good under the lousy given circumstances. You don't agree? Hmmm... So we'll agree to disagree, then...

But now? Since the start of 2009? I - yes I, the queen of not-ever-wanting-a-thing-and-definitely-never-wanting-to-spend-money-on-myself - have already purchased, on a store's credit card I just got, a few pairs of pants for myself (I need new pants, people! I held out as long as I could. And my small sized/petite self cannot for the life of her find too many opportunities in the real world to find such pants! Virtual shopping was the only way, I swear!) and, on my no interested credit card, the price of my abcte course and exams. But that's for my future! A better, more fulfilling future! That too, I argue, had to be done.

And, what is it? January 12th? Yeah. Oh well. We're starting the year out with a bang, I guess. At least it's a well dressed, career enhancing bang. Heh heh. 

Still. Our mortgage payments are going up this year. And, thanks to Christmas, our credit cards did end up getting used just a bit - enough to make minimum payments more than a little higher each month. And that "deferred" payment I was so proud of myself for making for a few Christmas gifts? Well, guess what, Slappy? I best be paying that off real soon too, or else the interest rate on those purchases will be unfathomably high. As for Target, like I said, after Christmas they, too, would love to see more of our money than ever before.

Hubby and I need, NEED to sit ourselves down and put our finances in order - as best we can. Where can we make sacrifices? (Uh, can anyone say "no multiple trips to Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts each week?" Hubby?) Where can we cut costs? Where can we find extra (ha!) money? How can we achieve greater income while not fooling ourselves that doing so allows us to spend a bit more freely during that timeframe? 

Dude. I know. I know! Discipline! Hasn't anyone ever taught us financial discipline?! Uh.... kinda, I suppose. Yes... We, uh... we're just so ingrained to live our lives from week to week that if one week seems totally comfortable and great, well then... we have enough money to go out to dinner or buy a new treat of some sort, don't we?! Yes!.... oh, no. Nope. We really shouldn't have done that. Uh uh.

And that right there? That's all me. I'm the one who knows if a week feels really tight or is comfortably loose. I am the one who makes judgement calls that bonus treats can or can't be made at a given time. Then, two weeks later - I see it. Why'd we spend our money there when we need to spend our money here? That was dumb. I've learned my lesson.

Then - nope. Same thing happens again the next time. It's an endless trap. Cockiness leads to frivolous spending leads to financial worrying. Yuck. And double yuck.

So. There you have it. Hubby stops for coffee way more than he should (but it's only $4 or so each time! That's hardly anything! - Yeah, well it all ads up, ya know?) And I allow us to spend, every once in awhile, on bigger treats - either because one or the other of us is stressed, celebrating, or just plain nagging - that I later find out (again and again and again) was really not a good idea at all. (Hello?! Now how are we going to pay this bill?! Or this one?!) 

Yup. Looks like Hubby and I better order up a big ol' helping of GET A CLUE pie. And then, while we're at it, stop eating so much dang pie! Pie is hardly ever - if ever - necessary! We don't need no stinkin' pie... to eat!

Not that I want everyone out there restating or further pointing out the stupidness that Hubby and I have been living, but... if you do have any money saving tips or ways to scrimp or sacrifice without really feeling the loss so much... well, then... have at it! Today is National Delurking Day, after all. So what better reason to finally make yourself known to me than to inform me of some simple and painless ways to make finances more manageable and in order? 

Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? 

(Oh, and by the way. I already know about Suze Orman and her free, downloadable book at Been there, done that. Now I just have to read - and use! - it!)

Friday, January 09, 2009

Sweetie Saturday #140 - Sweetie Takes Over Edition

Everybody will have a great day!
Everybody will say hooray!
Super (Sweetie) will save the day!
(I don't know what else to say.)

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Learning As I Go

Chalk it up to one more instance of talking first, learning later.

I've found out some more details about my plans to go back to school and, ultimately, become a Reading Specialist.

The "courses" at are not courses. The ultimate goal, going that route for teacher certification (which is a valid alternative route in this state - as told to me directly from my state's Dept. of Education), is to pass two exams. At, a mentor teacher helps you come up with a study plan, based on your personal goals, schedule and needs. You then engage yourself in several months worth of intensive studying - with study guides, practice tests, and various other helps available to you on their site for getting you closer to your goal. When ready (usually after 6 - 12 months of studying), you take the test and, if you pass, you are then able to teach in a classroom under a Beginning Teacher Certification. After 3 years of classroom teaching, you may then apply for permanent Teacher Certification. 

Okay, fine. I can do all that. I want to do all that. Go, me!

However, my state does not recognize abcte's Reading Certificate as eligible for teacher certification. Furthermore, upon deeper investigation, I now know that to be a Reading Specialist, one must complete a Master's program in Reading Education at an accredited college or university. That is the only way.

That's not to say, I suppose, that some private or charter school wouldn't hire me after acquiring the abcte Reading Certificate. But I know even they would much, much prefer to hire someone with a Master's degree and not "just" a certificate.

My next option is to either go the English Education for grades 6-12 route or the Elementary Education path - both available at abcte and both completely recognized as certifiable within my state.

Or I could get on the Critical Shortage tract, where I am placed "immediately" within a school as a Reading Specialist, but with the understanding that I am registered somewhere and will complete my Master's degree in Reading Education.

Honestly, I am not "feelin'" the whole Masters degree thing. For one thing, we don't have the money for me to go this much more expensive route, especially considering that I am still far away from paying off my original college loans. I do not want to add more college debt on top of what I have already.

Plus achieving my Masters is a whole heck of a lot more difficult and time consuming. First there's a whole process involved to even get in to graduate school. Then it's at least a couple years before you've finished your degree. 

Not that I'm saying at all that I don't appreciate a good challenge. Ask Hubby - I love challenges! He often says I go out of my way to make things as difficult for myself as possible. But I do it - without complaint and with great satisfaction when I'm done. 

But just remember - I have been under the impression that gaining my Reading Certificate, after maybe up to one year's time, through the abcte program was all it was going to take to at least get me most of the way toward becoming a Reading Specialist. Even though I know, by reputation, that the abcte study load and exam requirements are very intensive and very competitive - still. It was going to be a year, max, until I had what I needed to move on down this career path.

Not to mention that the abcte path is much less expensive than the Master's degree route.

Expensive - yes. But not as expensivee as going to graduate school.

(Oh - and that's another thing. A negative, actually, about the English Certification (or Elementary Education Cert.) plan at abcte. Both of those are about twice as expensive as the Reading Certificate program I was initially interested in. So, yeah. This is still going to be expensive. But not nearly as expensive as graduate school.)

So now we're back to that - deciding if I want to/should go for the English Education Certification (I pick that over the Elementary Education Certification). The question - again - where I ask myself "do I want to be a classroom teacher."

Hmmm. Let's think about that a minute.

It was in H.S. where I decided, without a doubt, that I wanted to major in English in college. I had some really great teachers there and absolutely loved my English classes. Analyzing novels, reading great works of literature, learning about the historical events happening during the time in which these great works were written. Everything. I loved it all.

In college, I did, for a time, really really want to be a college English professor. To have all that knowledge in my head and to be able to share it with my students - exciting them and inspiring them to want to learn more and think deeply. I really did want that.

Then I switched schools. Had second thoughts. Just got off the path. I did have those worries that I was too shy, anyway, to be a teacher. I also wonder if my physical disability had something to do with that shyness (yeah - I'm sure it did. I'm sure it is a big part of my hemming and hawing now, in fact.)

I could be an English teacher. I do think I would love it. Yes, I have questions regarding how I'd manage my disability. For one thing, I cannot stand for long periods of time. How would I conduct a class successfully if I wasn't on my feet? (now that seems really silly, as I review that sentence. As if my knowledge could only express itself if I were in a standing position.) I don't recall too many - if any - of my teachers or professors teaching from a seated position behind their desk, or even to the side of their desk. Not that it can't or shouldn't be done. I just think it would be strange.

Still - not too strange, I imagine, to hamper the actual teaching and learning that would be going on within my class. Heck! There a teachers out there in wheelchairs! There are teachers out there with all sorts of physical disabilities! Just because I haven't run across any doesn't mean they're not out there and not among some of the best teachers in the world. 

Anyway - I could do it. I am certainly interested enough, passionate enough, and I dare say knowledgeable enough about the subject to know that I would love doing it. It's just that - hmmm... it wasn't the end result I had in mind when I decided, yeah, I want to go back to school and do something with my educational/English related knowledge.

Yes, our economy is just awful right now. Yes, employment is way, way down and only falling deeper. But now, more than ever, after being unemployed for these past many months, I see much more clearly that simply having a B.A. in English isn't enough to get you anywhere professionally. It is a far too generic degree. One needs a concentrated degree or certification in order to get a much more specific job.

Hubby studied graphic design. He got a job in graphic design straight out of college.

Medical students get medical jobs.

Lawyers get jobs in the legal field. 

Tradesmen get jobs in their specific field of study.

Teachers get teaching jobs.

I have always been interested in the educational field. I have, via all my time as a tutor, been involved in the educational field for years. I have had several people tell me what I great teacher I would make. I have, until now, pushed that possibility aside. Indeed, I've hardly even considered the possibility.

Well, I think I need to think differently now. I need to do this. I need - and want - to pursue my certification in English Education.

And beyond that? Who knows. I can always go for my Reading Education Masters later, if that is what I want. By that time, I will - presumably - be in a school and will know that much more clearly if pursuing a Reading Specialist career is really more of my thing or if I am truly very happy as a classroom English teacher (as I suspect I'll be). 

Plus, I just know that having my teaching certification will open so many more doors for me. Like I said - a more specific degree/certification = a much clearer understanding future employers will have about what I'm capable of doing and what I wish to do with my career path.

So - there you go. I'm still going to talk it out some more with Hubby and my extended family. I'm not going to sign up this minute for anything. I have no deadline for when I "need" to make a decision. But I do suspect I'll make a decision relatively soon. I want to get on with pursuing my future as soon as I can.

I guess Sweetie doesn't get all her curiousness only from her Daddy. I, too, love to learn. I am a puzzle solver, a game player, a reader and a questioner. I love a good challenge. I enjoy keeping my mind engaged.

To be a teacher would successfully keep my brain active and allow me to activate the minds of my students. Academia is the place for me.

Onward and upward. Always learning as I go.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Mama Monday #46.1

Theme: Wind

I'm going back to school. Going for my teaching certification in Reading. My aim is to, one day, be a Reading Specialist in a local school.

Didn't see that coming, did you? Hmmmm... well I'm not entirely sure that I did either. Although, in hind sight, I suppose I really should have.

I've been tutoring reading (and writing, comprehension and study skills/test prep) for 15 years now (off and on). I've been tutoring Reading on-line for a couple months now at And now, under the No Child Left Behind act, I'll be tutoring Reading for area elementary school students. It's work I'm familiar with and work that I really love. I enjoy it so much, in fact, that I hardly even consider it work. It's simply something I'm capable of doing, that I love doing, and something that gives me a real sense of accomplishment and pride when a student I'm working with turns a corner, sees a lesson(s) in a new light, and can confidently go on with their studies, working off the stepping stones I've laid down for them along their way.

Plus - I've recently said to a "new" old friend (someone I reacquainted with via Facebook) that I wished I could tutor professionally.

Then I realized - hmmmm maybe, in a way, I could.

Reading Specialists, as much as I'm aware, work one-on-one (or possibly in small groups) with children to improve their reading skills when they're not quite up to snuff with where they should be academically. They tend to work mostly with special needs students, but typical students can sometimes use the extra reading assistance as well. 

Wow. Sounds like just the right job for me.

(I also have seen quite a few help wanted ads, over the months, recruiting Reading Specialists. I've always been so interested in those listing, yet knew I didn't hold the proper certification to even apply).

And - you know - I didn't exactly take the Praxis II exam for my health. Despite more or less knowing that I didn't want to be a classroom teacher - still - I feel that in some way, shape or form, the educational system, in general, is where I'd like to be.

After all, I did, once upon a time, take a semester's worth of education courses back in college. Looking back, I kind of remember that the main reason I got away from that tract is because I transferred colleges and, at the time, was more concerned with properly transferring credits and graduating as close to on time as possible than anything else.

I also felt, at the time, that I was entirely too shy to be a classroom teacher. So - no classroom teaching = no need for a teaching certificate. Back to the B.A. in English, only.

Now - jumping back to the present - I only wish I could, in turn, wind back the hands of time so that I could have gotten my certification in the first place. Oh, if only we could start off with the forethought and experience needed to successfully make important decisions when doing so would be most advantageous!

(Not that Reading Specialists - or, for that matter, Reading Education Certification - were even a thing to consider 10+ years ago. I don't know. Maybe they were. They just weren't something I was ever aware of until recently.)

So, yeah. I'm going to do it. Last week I emailed my state Dept. of Education, asking what more I need to do, beyond passing the Praxis II, to apply for/earn my certification. The woman there informed me that I had to complete the abcte courses and exam. She pointed me to the appropriate website. And there you go. An intensive, competitive course load of on-line classes. Lots of work, no extra travel. Reading Certificate - I'm on my way!

As far as I understand, in my state and for this certification, the tutoring work I've done and am currently doing suffices for the student teaching needed to gain certification. I'll still have to apply for certification once I've passed the course. And who knows exactly what is involved for completing that step. But I know I'll get there. With Hubby's 100% support, with Sweetie's understanding, and the help and support of my extended family and friends - I know I can do it. 

As we enter 2009, we can all feel the winds of change coming - politically, economically, personally. For me, things are definitely going to change for the better. "It's gonna be the perfect year for Amy!" That's what Hubby wrote on our kitchen chalkboard. Let it be so.

And for all of you as well. Let it be the best year ever for us all.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Sweetie Saturday #139 - Little Miss Bossy Edition

Yes. Sweetie can be very bossy. Shocker, huh? Yeah. She doesn't hesitate to tell others what to do. Ugh.

So... Hubby and I try to be vigilant about catching Sweetie in the act and asking her to rephrase what she's saying in a more polite manner.

But one instance of Sweetie's telling me what to do, earlier this week, had me laughing at her seriousness about the matter and her just plain cuteness.

It was dinner time and Sweetie already had her plate and drink in front of her at the table. Then I sat down with my food as Hubby finished up plating his own in the adjacent kitchen. I took a small sip of my drink.

Mama! Sweetie whispered out of the side of her mouth. Do your manners! Eyes of serious insistence widening as she first looked to my drink, then to me: Don't drink yet. Do your manners, Mama!

She's right. I supposed I shouldn't have eaten or drank before all of us were seated with our food, ready to eat together. 


Sweetie got a word search book in her stocking for Christmas. Yesterday, I asked her if she'd like to sit with me and I'd help her work on a puzzle. Yes!

So we set to work and quickly saw that the first puzzle had us finding the names of famous lions, tigers and bears (Simba, Tigger and Yogi, for example). Then, when we got to Yogi (a character Sweetie is not at all familiar with), I started to do my best impression of the lovable bear.

Hey, BooBoo! Whatcha got there in your pic-i-nic basket?

(Okay, okay. So my "best" impression was really quite pitiful. Still - it entertained Sweetie).

Sweetie found me to be so completely funny that, when we got to Tony the Tiger and I started to do  a New Yorker accent (Yo, Tony! Where ya hidin'? Badda bing, badda boom!), Sweetie was practically rolling on the floor with laughter, not able to calm herself down enough to continue on with our solving for a few minutes. She even told me, through her fits of laughter, that:

You're so silly, Mama. You're the silliest mama in the world. It's from Daddy & Sweetie's Silly School!

Yes. That's right. You told Daddy and I all about the Silly School the two of you have - complete with lessons in Silly Dances, Silly Voices and Joke Telling. I guess I finally took note and learned a thing or two. Thanks for pointing out to me, again, that I need to take some lessons from you two. And thanks for noticing that I actually can be funny if you give me a chance.


A couple days ago, in the afternoon, I noticed that Sweetie had small red dots - like a rash - on her face at the outer corners, and just under, her eyes. Since my mom is a retired pediatrics nurse, I call her a lot to ask medical-type questions (much easier/cheaper than calling the actual doctors' office and taking her in for, ultimately, no real medical problem at all). So - I called my mom about these dots.

I had just started describing where this rash was on Sweetie's face and what exactly it looked like, when Sweetie stood in front of me demanding (see? bossy!) that she talk to Nana herself about all this.

Fine. I gave her the phone. At which point Sweetie instantly went into:

Here's the answer to the problem, Nana. I was rubbing my eyes a lot to get the things away from my eyes while I was waiting for 8 o'clock (that is - while in bed that morning waiting for her clock to turn to 8 a.m. and she'd be able to wake me up - something was in her eyes so she was rubbing them). That's the answer.

And then she indignantly walked away, obviously frustrated that I didn't believe her obviously valid reasoning (that she'd previously tried to convince me of) for the mysterious rash. 

(Mom's explanation? Was she sneezing, coughing or crying hard earlier that day? - Yes. Crying. - That's it, then. Broken blood vessels from crying too hard. Don't worry about it.)


In other news.... after WEEKS of no school, Sweetie will finally return to classes on Monday. Hurrah! She's excited about this and - other than having to get up and dressed and ready to go so early - I am too. It will be quite a change to have her away for a few hours each morning - again.

I wonder if/hope that some of the holiday-type festivities that were meant to happen in the weeks leading up to Christmas actually get a chance to happen now in January.