Wednesday, August 31, 2011

3990? yeah I'll be all over that, maybe more like not likely

Welcome back Mrs. Vinsen, Vincent, Benson, Venison, really...

How about Vinson folks, I did used to work here at one point. Just a sampling of some of the ways my name has been spelled on the various items welcome back to full time work need you to fill out paperwork.

Best yet was finally getting my work email operational after not opening it since 4/1/2010. Yes, a full 17 months ago.

3990 emails in my inbox
. The one time I tried to open it during this hiatus, I shut my computer down. Taking that a sign from God that I need to remember my whole work/quality of life ongoing issue, I never opened it again until I showed back up two weeks ago.

It's been a memorable August. Actually I'm very ready to close the door on this month and move on. You know why, I know why.

I mailed the last of the sympathy thank yous today only to receive a two page handwritten letter from my mom's high school best friend. What a nice and unexpected gesture from some lady I've never met. I may keep it, as her words while tear invoking, were genuine, authentic and recalled my mom as young, healthy, with her whole life ahead of her.

Just thinking about the planned trip to see my mom that was suppose to happen this holiday weekend, the one celebrating kindergarten and day care starts is going to make for some hard days ahead. It was the first time in a long time Brian was going on a beach trip with friends. While he is still going, I feel a little lost not about to pack up for the weekend trip and do some of the special things I had planned.

The last time I talked to my mom part of the conversation was her excitement about this weekend,how much she was looking forward to seeing the boys and wanted to be a part of their new school year.

As I move into September with almighty plans to just keep moving ahead, keep trying to make the most of the time with the boys between school pick up and bedtime, trying to stick to my plans of not working more than I need to, plans to keep exercise and sleep as a priority, simply keeping going.

No insane crazy posted list of productivity for September, only to remember priorities. Believe me cleaning out 3990 emails is not anywhere in the top ten.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Warrior Dash = Multi-Shower-worthy

Laura's write up yesterday was a perfect recount of our weekend trip for Carolinas Warrior Dash. In particular I am reeling in disgust and now renounce that I found the lake my favorite obstacle after seeing the algae. Was I SO ready to be done that I didn't even notice the vile filth I was wading through?


More than a couple of students commented on my very nasty weeping blister and skinned knees in class yesterday. When I mentioned a race with obstacles over the weekend, the look was priceless. These new kids have known me 3 days. I'm looking for rock star status if I can keep up this insanity of a teacher who is a really a wanna-be Katniss(laughable).

I'm thinking that if I can pry the hat off Ben I will be wearing it for my World History class olympics this Friday and keep this charade going. A fitting tribute for what was one of the most fun and also physically exhausting days of my life.

At some point after signing up I must have looked back at the obstacles. Surely, I did or was I that nuts not to bail earlier? It wasn't until the riding in the car that a little panic set in as we recounted what to expect. As we took off and I fell behind our group running the first leg I started having a sinking feeling that this was really going to be a struggle to finish and I was indeed the weakest link.

Struggle as defined as punting on the VERY FIRST obstacle. By the end I bailed on 2 of the 8 and walked at good mile of the 5k run. Not quite the finish I had wanted but I finished all the same. A huge thanks to our team for waiting patiently for me to make it to Lake Nasty to finish as a group.

Somewhere after the oh so lovely pulling myself out of a garbage dumpster and rounding the next leg of running did my left arm start tingling and then went numb. It spread to the right and at some point I started walking trying to catch my breath and also figure out what was going on. I realized yesterday that pulling myself out of that dumpster must have lead to some type of injury as I have a crazy nasty bruise developing in a none to fun place for this busty girl.

Warrior Dash was pure awesome adrenaline-fused fun. I never in my life, esp the one where I dreaded having to run a mile in gym class every Monday, that 20+ years later I would be crawling through mud and jumping fire and loving every minute of being able to finish something so physical.

Will I ever do another Warrior Dash? Maybe, post surgery and post some better outside running stamina building. My summer plans were high jacked by summer insanity. As much as I would love to make a 1/2 marathon a goal for my 40th birthday, I now realize just how far that dream is from attaining.

Hands down I will be moving forward with a Wipeout themed 6th birthday party planing. While no mud, jumping fire, or anything as crazy as Warrior Dash this is happening. Based on Ben's comments watching the WD promo video online, thinking I'm IN it no less, this kid is so ready for a pint sized version to get crazy messy.

Warrior Dash-So multi-post-shower worthy indeed.

Monday, August 22, 2011

I admit I read this book because of ONE cheesy Oprah interview comment

"for such a short time they are yours, and then they belong to the world"

From Rob Lowe's name dropping-a-thon trashy good read in reference to his now teenage sons. I dare say that reading about raising sons and being raised in a family of boys is opening myself up to some community judgement. Pretty-boy Rob Lowe giving parenting advice. Really.

While I don't recommend it to be adopted for the next edition of the Norton Anthology, it was a quick, good time of a read. My attention span has been non existent of late, so this was a nice bridge into the mindless.

A short check in as with the start of school later this week it's going to be a repeat of last week's 7 days in crazytown.

Back full time, full time for daycare after phase in, Kindergarten teacher reveal and assessment. Since I don't have a classroom and am traveling throughout the school day into other teachers' rooms and I'm really tired. I may be 150 lbs thinner since I last had to travel classrooms, but I'm 8 years and 2 kids older.

I spent most of the first days back unpacking a decade+ of teaching into a single cubicle. Even after a major purge I still have too much stuff. The thing is, in teaching since budgets are never really flush with funding, you keep stuff believing you will never have time or money to replace. Hence why I still have 10 year old projects of sponge replicas of the Federal Court Model.

Ian seems to be settling in, Ben is in the last week of camp and will have his single staggered entry day the following week. He's very excited and after MUCH discussion (and Bill doing full on am rush routine alone), has relented to let Ben ride the school bus in the am. Ben is beyond syked to ride a real bus, but is overly concerned about the lack of a bathrooms on school buses in general. Thus leading to many a conversation about why the bus driver will not stop on the side of the road.

Staying busy is helping but in the quiet, still (and rare) moments it's not being able to tell my mom about Ben's crazy bus story or share in the start of new school for the boys. This is the part that is going to continue to be hard to want to check in with her and remember that I can't.

Most likely not back this busy week, but expect by next Monday for some mud covered weekend pics of Warrior Dash Carolinas.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Checking In and also Out for a bit

Thank you to everyone who commented here and also sent me private messages of support in the last week. It meant the world to know that even if I didn't respond that Brian and I were being held in your space.

Most of last week I spent in continuous motion with Brian dealing with planning, making arrangements, and in general doing anything I could to push the impending task of being in her house, getting through the funeral, and the after to start.

The after has definitely started and the drive home and the last couple of days have been very hard. For as much as I was ready for this, I also wasn't. Without turning this into an over-share regrettable post that has no place being public right now, some of the revelations that accompanied last week have almost been harder than the death itself.

Some people keep a lawyer on retainer, me a therapist. I've already left a message with her service for when she returns from her annual August long vacation to contact me. I was wrapping up seeing her and frankly have not graced her door since spring. I felt that I was way overdue to end what has become more like a quarterly check in rather than real work. Looks like in addition to the vacation house I have built out of co-pays that I'll be adding a guest cottage.

With Ian starting day care today, Ben kindergarten Tuesday and me a return to full time work on Wednesday I am dropping out of posting this week, maybe next. It's going to be a really busy week and I need every bit of energy I have to exist.

After my dad died a decade ago I shut down and cut myself off from friends. To my credit I was a 1st year teacher drowning in work and a daily 1 1/2 hr commute. Add to it Bill's long term unemployment on top of coming off of my dad's long illness. I did some real damage to our marriage, to friendships, and to myself for letting regret and guilt consume me in the months after. Even though his sickness and death were the catalyst that pushed me originally into therapy, I let myself spiral downward and it took a really long time to get back.

I cannot do this. There is no room to be anywhere near that despair again. Ben and Ian deserve better, Bill deserves better, and I deserve better. I've been in such a better place of late and I need this school year to go well.

Many of my brothers' friends came to both the funeral and also to the house afterwards. Most I didn't know and I am so very thankful that he has their support. I asked the same of them that I ask everyone who knows me to not let us disappear.

Please don't take our mutual stoicism that we both subscribe as a badge of honor for more than it is. Call us out for lying to you in the days, weeks, months ahead that we are totally fine and back to normal.

While I'm not looking for Thanksgiving invitations or hand holding, know that even though we both knew that the end was coming at some point, finally being here is unbelievably hard. Leaving the graveside services to ride alone in the family funeral car as parent-less children was gut wrenching difficult.

My mom kept a car from Ben and a rattle from Ian on her kitchen table to remind her that they would be back to visit. I included both along with a letter and photo of the grandsons I know she loved.

I know she wanted us to be happy and move forward with life after she passed. I also know that for all the regrets I have now and the encroaching guilt of missed opportunity, I have to move ahead and love Ben and Ian for her.

I'll be back with news of kindergarten and daycare starts and hopefully that I'm figuring out a new normal in the days and weeks ahead. In the meantime tend to all your relationships, even the hard ones that you want to control, with unconditional love.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

the other side

My mom died yesterday.

When I asked what life without her might look like last December I was prepared to let her go.

I wasn't yesterday.

Brian and I planed a funeral over texting, as neither could talk on the phone without losing it. Last night I called what seemed half of her church and my dad's extended family with the funeral details.

Next step? Keep it together, think about how and when to tell Ben, figure out what the kids can wear, get summer grades posted, go by school to move some stuff so I can snag a decent cubicle for my year of traveling classrooms before the new people show up this week, haircuts for the kids, mow the grass at the old house, run anywhere as fast as I can once the kids are in bed.

Keep busy and really not think about this until I actually can say that the one thing I have dreaded/anticipated/guiltily wished for, outloud without wanting to puke.

I hope you are happy, talking up the last ten missing years with my dad, in a good place with no pain. It was not the ending I had braced myself for, but an ending all the same.

Damn. Not Expected. Not Ready. Messy. Released? Can I get a re-do on that last rushed Sunday night phoned-in conversation? This is where one story ends and another begins.

Know that I hope I made you proud as a mom to Ben and Ian and that truly loved you for my 36 years.

Marilyn Hall Jobe Hendricks 6/20/49-8/8/11

Monday, August 8, 2011

I really wish I had a Flobee to rid this house of rat-tailed children

Happy weekend all around with a date night to finally see Super 8. Think if Lost and Red Dawn had a most amazing kid it would be this visually epic, reminiscence of all great 80s films movie. Bill has managed to see a movie a week in his annual summer movie season of explosions, superhero, and goo-pod qualifying movies.

What can I say, he doesn't own a boat, fix up cars, between gadgets and first run movies this is what he does with his blow money. I on the other hand negotiated going to the grocery alone with my 2 hours of time and only taking one kid to shop for school supplies. Priorities people.

This is the one week between the end of summer school and the start of fall online semester as well as the start to back to full time. Being the last week of freedom you know this lady has some plans.

1. Gradually work my wake up time back to 5 am. Boo.
2. Massive freeze ahead to restock my freezer and prep an upcoming SC run. 3 items a day to the tune of a $250.00 grocery bill for supplies yesterday.
3. Oil change, pay vehicle tax. Clean out car of summer gunk/sand.
4. Mow the grass the the old house or rent a goat.
5. Box for passing all 6-12 month baby clothes.
6. Check out the status of Ben's back to school clothes. Got athletic, nylon pants in a size 5. I'll take all colors.
7. Massive clean out of two boxes of paperwork and an annual file cabinet purge.
8. Clean out fridge/freezer in the garage for use for overflow groceries.
9. Try to finish the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo on audio. Damn, saw that Christmas release trailer again this weekend. Even if the movie adaption totally sucks I am totally buying the soundtrack. Badass I tell you and so worthy of a workout playlist.
10. Ian Dr appointment with shots and meet his teachers for day care start.

Other stuff like catching up on the last weeks of SYTYCD online, making a giant weekly task list to laminate for the fall, trying on all my school clothes, getting 25 miles logged, buying new bras. LOTS of fun going down this week.

But without saying I gotta put taking the boys for haircuts to rid them of their redneck rat-tails is tops. We are at a record for needing haircuts. I would ask around if anyone had a Flobee just for the laugh factor alone.

Countdown to fall restart starts now.

Friday, August 5, 2011

A New Phone Friday Series- Room by room, it's all RAD!

Thanks for good thoughts on going back. I got my schedule yesterday and as expected I would call myself bottom of the totem pole. I will be traveling to different classroom/floors with an all Freshman load. If I thought I could count my miles per week walking for the competition, I might consider it. Instead I'll be pulling out my most geriatric shoes and stocking up on protein bars.

It's all good and in the end, I'm thankful in this economy, esp when normally recession-proof teaching jobs are being cut that I have a job with a reasonable commute.

Since the house is completely put together, I feel good sharing something other than just the exterior. Instead of some crazy long post with pics room by room I thought for the next few Fridays I would do a include quick pics I like about the new house.

Up first a big reason we love this house: lots of open space downstairs.
When we opened the door we saw an open kitchen, sunny breakfast area, and the porch/deck that you can see from almost everywhere downstairs.

I LOVE this space. The area is open, lit with natural light all day. I seldom turn on the lights and just work at the kitchen table under the sunlight.

We put the play kitchen which was a great decision for the mealtime rush and given the perpetual mess in the playroom, this is easy to clean up by the boys.

Since a mudroom was among the few things I didn't get with this house, we are instead using the storage bench for shoes, backpacks, lunchboxes. Ben already was accustomed to putting his shoes and backpack here already, so it's a great place to catch everything as we come in the door.
I cannot tell you how much we love this house. We were prepared for the long haul that it may take to sell our our old home when we took this leap of faith to buy before selling. I know that every reason we said yes to our new home has been confirmed every time I walk in the door.
Happy weekend.

A much needed and overdue date night planned. Prediction of planning for the return to full time schedules to be discussed, budget fun, kindergarten and daycare starting. Not romantic, but needed.

A completely work free week coming up. I can't wait, getting oil changed and paying my vehicle tax never seemed so fun.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Inevitable or the whole returning to full time work post

**yeah, it's long. Probably because I made this decision then sat on it for several months. Even with several edits, it's just a long post no matter what I cut.
The short version is I'm going back to full time work as on Aug 17th, read on if you want the specifics, why the wait, how the year as a WAHM played out, and why in the end this is a good decision**

Thanks for support as this was a monumental decision in the works for a while

After an afternoon of rehire paperwork signing yesterday, this is really going to happen in about 2 weeks.

In late March, my Principal contacted me about my intentions, letting me know that instead of being released to the county to reassign me to any of the 20+ high schools, that he had requested me to come back to my school.

This given the politics of our public schools was the best situation in which to return if I ever had any intention to teach in this system again. Also, unlike the 2010 decision, this one was under new circumstances. Enter in a new house with a higher mortgage, having a house still on the market, a 25% across the board salary cut from my online position due to state budget cuts and well the decision made itself.

When I took this year off I really hoped that the asinine question I posed last summer would have only one answer. The outcome is that all fears aside I made this year work. At times it was soul crushingly monotonous, uber lonely being in my house taking care of a very active, frequently non-napping baby with little adult interaction.

I made myself get out of the house whenever possible. Almost everyday to work out, walk the dog, go to Target, and if possible once a week to put on earrings and have an adult conversation with someone named Vinson. At times it was really trying juggling the kids, the house, and attempting to work the online gig and not feel like I was drowning. I learned that "at home and part-time" have very different meanings than what I expected.

I know that in a game of misery poker I will always have a loosing hand. This year could have been SO much tougher had two+ babies, children who were sick, my mom's ongoing health issues that while not resolved, are in a holding pattern, Ben's discipline that finally rallied by fall, being stubborn and not owning up to things not going well and refusing to ask for help. Any could have really sidetracked me and fortunately by comparison my life has been a cakewalk compared to what could have played out.

But it was hard enough and at times it felt like the walls were caving in in part to not saying no to more work while parenting an increasingly fearless child as well as trying to reconnect after an awful summer with the other.

My commitment to put the family/kids before work regardless of how and when I finally got work done led to that slippery slope of sleep issues. Again. This spring was esp tough carrying 3 sections and a contact to write test items. In hindsight I took on way too much and then was stuck. The decision this summer to only take a single section when offered more was a really good call given the house move.

Why did I take on the extra work? Money to make up for the deficit in not working full time, taking on a new subject to give me more opportunity should my subject demand dry up since it will no longer be state tested.

Why test writing? More opportunity to keep the at home thing going as long as possible by checking out a new venue. Frankly, I don't know of many teachers that only work one job, everyone has side work. It's the nature of being chronically underpaid.

Somewhere there is also some crazy work productivity/self preservation argument, but I'll leave that alone. It's been analyzed and picked apart and just is part of who I am.

In general that I don't think I am suited to day-in, day-out SAHM life. Yes it was nice to make my own schedule and I took on other items that I am convinced would not have happened had I been working full time. I don't think the new home search and subsequent move would have happened nor a real commitment to loosing weight and getting serious about hopeful future surgery.

Add in that most anyone who I worked with or just knows me would agree that burned out = not the teacher you want for your kid. I needed to take time off and decide if I really wanted to stay in the profession for the long haul.

From working with my online kids this year, all of which were repeating the course, many in not optimal situations including many students in a group foster home or many that were frequently incarcerated one truth stood out. Because I believed in them and worked closely with their schools, many of them believed they could pass and finally graduate. This is what keeps me in the profession. I can't explain it other than I know I am really good at this aspect of my life, and I can't just walk away.

As far as did I answer that asinine question. Yes, I think I was a better parent for taking the year. I have not one single regret that I had more time with the kids. Which sounds in theory utterly ridiculous for anyone NOT to want to have more time. But as I wrote last year, would more time be better quality? The last thing I wanted was to be trapped in some Betty Draper-eque life in which I resented my kids.

I spent so much more time with each child. Watched Ian grow from an infant to a toddler in ways I missed with Ben. I also worked on my relationship with Ben and our joint parental Of late I am working on greater responsibilities with him. There's a post in here someday about what I'm sure looks like poor parenting and likely to draw criticism but at age 5 and the start of school there are some things that I think are the right direction with this plan. So far we are having one of the best years yet with him at a more mature stage than ever.

So am I going back to rerun past mistakes of existing in a permanently exhausted state of negativity? I hope not. Already this summer I've been trying to put things in place that by school start will be 2nd nature. Yes to more sleep, curbing work earlier, making the changes that need action and not just lip service.

As much as I don't want to admit that better living through chemistry works, it has for me. I feel so much more on an even keel most days. Overall I feel less stressed, less intense, more ready to roll with the punches. Add lots of exercise and weight loss and I am really in a good place going back to full time life.

I already know that going back means up super early, a longer commute, juggling the house along with a true full time job. I am keeping one single section of my online class as not to loose my place for future work. It's good money even with the salary cut and frankly given the economy and the 2nd mortgage we can use it. One section is manageable in every scenario I've played out and discussed with Bill.

How many people can say they had a 16 month maternity leave? It was a good run and our family was better for this time.

How very glad am I that I took this leap of faith and trusted myself that I knew the right answer all along.

Monday, August 1, 2011

I got your ONE word for August!


Get it planned, get it tested, get it tweaked, get it in motion for the return to full time work, 2 kid drop off am scramble pre 7:30 am (gulp), startin' kindergarten, startin' day care, getting in the Vinson Zone of productivity to milk this maternity leave final two weeks and start back on top.

Weekend of everything we wanted. Trade time for down time, SLEEP, pool time, time with the kids, exercise, TRUE BLOOD season 3 finale!!!, RAIN, final push to get the garage inhabited by TWO cars (which will be possible once the kid you not, 40+ paint cans are gone)

Plus.. I made these amazing Veggie Crepes. Repeat please. I (heart) summer foods.

AND on tap is to make these gut-bustin' insulin dependent Peanut Butter Stuffed Fudge cupcakes.

Happy August.