So Far, So Good!

IMG_7461Wow! I can’t believe it’s already May, and I haven’t posted anything since 2012! So much has been happening and so much change is on the horizon for us – I’ve had less than zero blog time lately. Luckily, my amazing hubby has taken the boys for the day as a Mother’s Day gift to me, so I am taking the opportunity to sit, relax, reflect and write. I’ll start with a recap of some significant events over the past few months.

Worst December Ever
In December 2012 my then-18-month-old niece was diagnosed with Retinoblastoma, a rare form of cancer.  By the time the aggressive tumor in her right eye was discovered she had lost all vision in that eye, and drastic steps had to be taken to save her life. I can’t even put into words what our family went through, in terms of emotional turmoil and pure fear. We were all in complete shock over how fast everything moved from discovering something was wrong to processing the required treatment: enucleation. oliveIf you don’t know what that procedure is you can Google it.

My niece, Olive, is a kind-hearted, hard-headed, sweet, beautiful, inquisitive little spirit and she endured all the trauma of this process with strength. I’m awestruck by her. I can’t even begin to imagine the suffering that Jess and Robert (her mom & dad) endured, but the long story short is she is now cancer free and we are gearing up to celebrate her 2nd birthday next month. Jessica has started a blog about the ordeal in hopes of helping other families dealing with Retinoblastoma. When her site goes live I’ll link to it here.


Olive is doing great these days

xmas1Both my husband and Jessica had birthdays the week we learned of Olive’s condition, so xmas3neither of them even wanted to think about celebrating anything. Christmas came and the kids had a great time. We had a good Christmas, considering.

The highlight of January was Dax turning the big five-oh! I still can’t believe my baby is five. He’s an incredible help now – I really think turning 5 was the Magic Transition. He is so helpful and he really wants to do right by everyone. Dax is obsessed with The Power Rangers Samurai and idolizes Jayden, the Red Ranger. He loves to show off his Samurai moves and karate kick & chop any stationary object (doors, appliances, bath tub, car tire, etc.). We are going to try out a martial arts class this summer, just to see IMG_6773IMG_6558if it’s something he wants to really learn about or just play for fun. He loves to climb any tree he can find, and he also loves making “snacks” which is basically combining several unappetizing ingredients together in a bowl and adding some kind of liquid, lots of sugar that David uses for his morning coffee, and then stirring it all together and soaking it in the fridge until he forgets about it.

Here he is making a "snack"

Here he is making a “snack”



Jace has been changing and growing every day, quite literally. He has been having severe growing pains in his legs at night, and he has outgrown almost all his 3T clothes! He loves baseball-type activities, role play games of hunting monsters and bad guys, and sparring with swords and light sabers. My favorite thing about Jace right now is that he’s totally in this “I love you” phase. I think he tells me that he loves me 700 times a day. This is like a night and day difference from this time last year when I could seldom get a hug from the kid!

Jace making a heart-shaped bird feeder at Camp Fire group gathering

Jace making a heart-shaped bird feeder at a Camp Fire group gathering

Speaking of affection, I simply adore our Thursday homeschool play group. We have found the most amazing group of kids and parents, and I absolutely cherish all of them. In

Valentine's Day Party with South Austin Homeschool Playgroup

Valentine’s Day Party with South Austin Homeschool Playgroup

February we got together for a Valentine’s Day party and everyone got a big bag of special Valentines cards, all unique and adorable. The boys were thrilled, and I was ecstatic to be a part of that group.

In February we also made the trip to Missouri to visit my dad and his side of the family. It was great to see the kids play in 6 inches of snow, and also visit “the farm” – a place dear to me that has changed very little since my childhood.

Snow Man

Snow Man

We visited my 108-year-old Grandma and stayed with my Aunt

Science Center, St. Louis,MO

Science Center, St. Louis,MO

Anna Lynn and Uncle Lynn. I’m extremely grateful for that visit because since our visit both my Grandma and my Uncle Lynn have passed away. We visited the Science Center, the Museum of Western Expansion, the Arch, and saw the IMG_8169childhood home of Mark Twain (and the infamous Tom Sawyer fence!).

Inner Space Cavern

Inner Space Cavern

Also in February we joined our Little Texas Homeschoolers group on a trip to Inner Space Caverns in Georgetown. Thank goodness my mom came with me. I have no idea how I could’ve managed that without her. The kids had a blast, and we enjoyed the tour of the cavern.

As if February couldn’t get any crazier, I came down with the flu, suffered a case of walking pneumonia, and also found out some pretty heavy news!

We’re expecting a baby in October! My head was spinning from about mid-February until mid-March, when I finally came out of the fog of all my various illnesses. It’s hard to be excited about being pregnant when you’ve just been hit with a stomach bug, at the same time as your two kids! Everyone’s excited and happy about the news, including me now that it’s sunk in and I’m not sick anymore. We’ve had a series of tests done and now at 18 weeks I can say the baby is perfectly healthy in there. So far, so good!

March was fun because we were able to get back in the swing of park days and hanging out with friends. Some of our favorite parks to visit in Austin:

Circle C Park

Windmill Run

Windmill Run

Dick Nichols Park
Windmill Run

Nature Science Center

Nature Science Center

Rollingwood Park
Zilker Park
Austin Nature Science Center
Springwoods Park
Play for All Abilities (Round Rock)
Mueller Lake Park

Mueller Lake

Mueller Lake

Mary Moore Seabright Park
Bull Creek Park

Bull Creek

Bull Creek

All these parks are great for just spending the afternoon just playing and having a picnic lunch. March was full of birthday parties and park days, and basically I’m considering the whole first quarter of the year to be our Summer Vacation, since we’re about to ramp it up with the curriculum this summer, for real.

The best part about April was the camping trip we went on with our Camp Fire group! Six IMG_7909families set up sites at McKinney Falls State Park and we had the greatest time just starting fires (er, watching them get started by someone – I didn’t start any) and eating potluck dinner, roasting marshmallows, hiking, swimming and watching the kids run wild like feral children. It was a fantastic trip and I swear I slept better out there then I usually do in my own bed. I can’t wait for the next trip with this group!

Also in April I turned 36, but nevermind that!

What’s Next?

We’re officially starting a homeschool curriculum for Dax this summer, so I’m trying to iron out some kind of morning schedule, which we’ve never really had. I go back and forth on our homeschooling “philosophy” and to be honest, I’m still trying to figure out their learning styles. Jace is very drawn to the computer, but I’m not being too serious about the effectiveness of his screen-time academics. He’s obsessed with, and

Jace listens to a song on

Jace listens to a song on

thankfully, it’s just fun for him. He’s 3 years old; I’m not worried about curriculum at this point. I’m thrilled that he can count as high as he can and he likes to ask about how words are spelled – I’m not even going to make that seem like work for him!

Dax is ready for more challenging stuff. He couldn’t possibly care less about, or any other online learning tool (Time4Learning was a yawn as well). He needs more face-to-face interaction and encouragement. We are getting

Writing Thank-You Notes

Writing Thank-You Notes

through Book B of the Explode the Code primer (Get Set for the Code) and I just received our Summer project: Saxon Math level K. I’m confident that he can breeze through at least half of these lessons, so I’m being ambitious and we’ll try to get through it over the summer. My goal is to be ready for first-grade curriculum by the fall. I can tell already what won’t work for us: Waldorf (I guess I



won’t be buying Oak Meadow), Christian-based curriculum such as Abeka, Sonlight, and most Charlotte Mason resources. I say most Charlotte Mason because I think I’ve found a happy balance that we might start in the Fall called Build Your Library. It seems like everything I love about the Charlotte Mason approach but without the religious aspects. I’m searching for more reviews but unfortunately it’s fairly new and not much out there in the way of input. I’m also a fan of Critical Thinking Co, and we’re considering Calvert for the upcoming grades but not at this point. So, those ideas plus lots of BOB books, and “twaddle” reading are what I hope to work on with Dax in the coming months. Maybe I’ll scrap all that jazz and we’ll just keep ‘unschooling’. Who knows. For now, everything is so far, so good!

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Six Impossible Things

impossible_burr_11. I went to school from the time I was 5 until age 22 and managed to learn very little about world history, government, or economics.

ImpossibleI mean, I learned what I needed to remember to pass my quiz/test/course/grade. I remember my goal of senior year government class was to learn how to get out of a traffic ticket, which didn’t happen. My government teacher failed to spark an interest in anything more than that, so I memorized what I needed for that quiz/test and nothing more. I  learned how to guess, how to manipulate my teachers, and I had a lot of good times along the way. However, I am just now learning how much I don’t know. I’m making up for lost time, and it’s amazing what’s out there. Check out my links to various learning sites on the right side of the screen. If you feel like you have it all figured out and there’s nothing left to learn, I guess you won’t find anything of value in this blog. Congratulations to you!

2. My kids will learn to read, write, navigate math, explore science and dissect history without my expert mastery of these topics.IMG_6270

I’m not a historian, or algebra expert, or professionally-trained reading expert. My 4-year-old is starting to read and my 3-year-old is on his way because, like all children, they are programmed to learn. I’m there to help them on their journey, and guide them. They have a vast network of support and encouragement to help them with what they are already busy learning. Welcome to The Information Age! This is a wonderful time to be a child – especially in Austin, TX – where culture, literacy, art, history, science, engineering, naturalism and more are all available for exploration just outside our front door, or through our cyber windows. All we have to do is make the effort, and give our kids the opportunity to partake. I will continue to strive to get them the best mentors and the best sources for learning material but the momentum will have to originate in them.

“Knowledge that is acquired under compulsion obtains no hold on the mind.” – Plato

IMG_37973. My kids will be creative, physically fit, and will learn the difference between fantasy and reality despite the fact that they play video games.

My kids play together on their various mobile devices, and often times their dad will join in and lead them on some sort of mission. They have become nimble in the virtual environment, and they have learned how to work together and help each other in these worlds (Minecraft, Rift, etc.). We don’t play overly violent games, especially military combat games like Call of Duty or Black Ops. I have strong opinions about the direction IMG_4340our military has gone with regard to civilian casualties, and when we hear those numbers of innocent people (women, children, elderly) killed and dismissed with a shrug it astounds me. I hope my kids never play games that desensitize in that way. Though, yes, I’m okay with them clubbing pixelated, boxy, green-faced zombies because guess what? Zombies aren’t real. Monsters aren’t real. I like that my 4-year-old is not afraid of imaginary things.

4. My kids will learn how to camp without the freaking Boy Scouts.

IMG_2620The boy scouts have recently (since the original posting of this blog entry) revoked their policy of disallowing gay youth from joining their organization. The refuse to allow gay mothers and fathers (did you know, gay people can be parents too??!! Go figure) to participate, which irritates me. I thought “no girls allowed” was a stupid rule when I was 7 years old, and my opinion hasn’t changed much. Fortunately, we have found a group called “Camp Fire USA” which has a local chapter in Austin. I think their core values are preferable to the Boy Scouts code of *ethics*. From the Camp Fire Balcones chapter website:campfire

  • We believe that children and youth are our most precious resources.
  • We believe in an approach to youth development that builds assets and empowers individuals.
  • We believe that the best youth development occurs in small groups where children and youth are actively involved in creating their own learning.
  • We are committed to coeducation, providing opportunities for boys, girls and families to develop together.
  • We provide caring, trained mentors to work with children and youth.
  • We are inclusive, welcoming children, youth and adults regardless of race, religion, socioeconomic status, disability, sexual orientation or other aspect of diversity.
  • We respect and celebrate nature.
  • We foster leadership, engaging children and youth to give service and make decisions in a democratic society.
  • We provide safe, fun and nurturing environments for children and youth.
  • We enrich parents’ and other adults’ lives by expanding their skills and encouraging them to share their talents and build relationships with children and youth.
  • We respond to community needs with our programs and expertise.
  • We advocate on behalf of children, youth and families

5. My kids are not, and will not, be sheltered from awkward or painful social interactions.IMG_2010

Dax has already had his heart broken by his first crush, they both have witnessed and experienced bullying and I have already consoled some hurt feelings. There will be unavoidable turmoil in their social lives just as readily available as in public school. IMG_1902I don’t jump in and tell them how to navigate every social situation, nor do I encourage them to come tattling to me every time someone lets their mean flag fly (except in situations where someone is in real danger, but I digress). They are learning how to deal with all kinds of personality types and all kinds of situations. The good news is, all relationships are voluntary at this stage and parents are at least kept informed as to what is going on. The kids have plenty of space to grow their own relationships.

6. My kids will make friends.

Homeschool Halloween Park Day - Learning without Limits

Homeschool Halloween Park Day

No, they might not be surrounded by several hundred kids at any given moment, but they have friends. They have favorite friends. They choose the people they want to spend theirIMG_6148 time with, and for better or worse the relationships don’t have to continue unless both people want to keep the friendship. My kids have found common ground with other kids – some their age some not, and have built solid friendships based on similar interests rather than sitting next to them randomly in a class segregated by age.

Next year we plan on buying and moving into a house several miles away from where we live now, and I’m hopeful to find some

Our Wednesday Playgroup

Our Wednesday Playgroup

neighborhood kids for my boys to befriend and play with. When I was 6 or 7 I met a girl, a year older than I was, who lived down the street and we became best friends. I also became very close to a pair of sisters (two years older and 1 year younger) who lived a few houses down, and none of these girls were my age. I didn’t see any of them during the school day although we were all in the same building, but we managed to form a lifelong bond that exists to this day. It’s simply not true that my kids will miss out on friends because they won’t be going to school. They will have their own experience, not necessarily the experience you or I had. They will choose their own friends, and those friends will choose them for a friend as well.

this can't be possible, can it?

this can’t be possible, can it?

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‘Round Here

I love the way the sun is shining through the windows differently this week. The light looks crisper and more golden. Fall can’t get here soon enough. I’m so ready to snap out of this Summer purgatory of 106-degree temps. Pools are closing, splashpads are off, but the heat continues, as does the threat of West Nile, so we stay in a lot more. Here are some of the books we’re reading, in between mind-numbing video games and Dragon Tales:

  1. The Monster Alphabet, by Michael Spradlin
  2. Tale of a Tadpole, by Karen Wallace
  3. Goodnight Goon, by Michael Rex
  4. The Runaway Mummy, by Michael Rex
  5. About the Rainforest, TIME for Kids (numerous editors)
  6. Children Just Like Me, by Barnabus and Anabel Kindersley (and UNICEF)
  7. Back of the Bus, by Aaron Reynolds
  8. Cars Galore, by Peter Stein
  9. Duck and Cover, by Jackie Urbanovic
  10. Peter Pan, by J.M. Barrie

We are also working on All About Me projects, and the boys have made extensive lists of words, activities, and other things to describe themselves. Now we have to make a collage of pictures and ‘nonsense’ and see what can be created from all these descriptors.

Every morning we listen to some kind of audio story. We choose from Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Anderson, Perrault, or Aesop’s fables. The kids are pretty good about staying quiet as long as I give them something to do while they listen, like, play with blocks, or <ugh> play Minecraft on the iPad. As they get older I will be more concerned about retention and whether or not they can talk about the details in the stories. Right now we’re all about exposure to the literature, the words, the rhythm, language, etc. As soon as I start taking the fun out of the experience, they reach for the Wii remote. I’m not sure how Waldorf families resist, but we still do TV and video games. Although like many lessons I learn as a mom – it becomes really obvious when it’s time to unplug!

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A Rabbit Hole, or Iceberg, Depending on your View

Photo by Lea Ciceraro, Heavenly Peach Photography

I’m gonna come right out and say it. We have made the decision (eons ago, actually) to homeschool our kids. This is a love it or hate it idea, and we adore it. I’ve looked at the government school buffet and I’m totally ordering off the menu. This decision was an easy one for us, though it has ruffled some feathers of those who are strong supporters of nationalized, compulsory education. Yes, I had a great time in public school, I met some dear friends there, and my school was top-notch. I don’t know if I ever saw a fight, or (other than 7th grade) dealt with gangs. Nevermind David’s horrendous experience – that’s a whole can of worms. We’re not opting out of government schools because we think we can spare our kids from bullies, gangs and pedophile coaches (though, I guess that’s a plus if it works out that way). We’re also not opting out of public school because we want to teach our kids that dinosaur bones are part of a big scam and the world is only 4,000 years old. We are opting out of public school because, frankly, we can. Dax and Jace have an opportunity to learn by doing. David and I have the opportunity to give them a custom-tailored education; one that can be enjoyed without busywork, or having to cater to a mass of kids who have different needs. We can set our own schedule, take field trips, play at a park with scores of other homeschooled kids, and teach from a set curriculum developed by professional educators. Or, as I’m doing with pre-K, pick and choose and build it myself. Most importantly, Dax and Jace can learn in an environment that fosters creativity, leadership, kindness and individuality – for a lot less $ than private or Montessori school (which I think is great, too!). Here’s the shocking news: we’ve already been doing it, and it’s fun.

 The emphasis has been on feeding children static information and rewarding them for doing only what they’re told, instead of helping them develop the transferable, higher-order skills they need to become life-long learners and thrive in an uncertain future.

John Abbott, director of the 21st Century Learning Initiative.

I have no intention of teaching my kids chemistry, advanced geography, or calculus. The kids will not sit at my kitchen table listening to me babble on about stuff I have no business teaching. I will outsource what I can’t provide. One of my favorite homeschool-mom-bloggers beautifully captured this concept in her blog here, likening homeschool to building a house, where the parent is not the construction worker or the builder or even the architect – but they make it happen. Sometimes I will be all of those things, especially early on, but my immediate role as teacher will be less and less as they get older, and I become the facilitator. They will learn from experts, take classes in groups, and I will keep my expectations in check: my job is to help them learn how to learn, and to preserve that love of learning. This is not just a fringe idea anymore, or an option considered by religious fanatics. This is a trend. DIY education for kids is becoming more commonplace, as public school test scores tank and budgets are slashed. People like me are looking for a better option; a different philosophy on education.

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. William Butler Yeats

I don’t want their love of learning to be extinguished, and I’m going to work hard to help them find the things they are passionate about, and then give them the tools to explore the world piece by piece, fueled by their discovered passions.

So, let’s get on with it. I think pre-K has got to be the most fun of all levels to teach (maybe I will say that about 1st grade, who knows), mostly because it’s stories and art and writing letters in trays of cornmeal and, well, fun stuff. My kids have attention spans that last 15 or 20 minutes, and beyond that it’s running, jumping, climbing, wrestling, role playing, hunting for bugs and expending energy in general. I don’t know about other little boys but coloring books are out. Art has to be a messy, full-contact sport. Mediums like painting or gluing or building something, preferably a spaceship or car of some sort, will fit the bill. Audio stories are a hard sell, and there has to be plenty of conflict. Red Riding Hood has to be eaten by the wolf. Chicken Little has to just barely get away. I’ve had to dig into the English (British) versions of literature to compete with Transformers video games. Math will have to be taught with manipulatives – colorful tiles or snappy blocks – something to see and touch. The choices for math curricula are endless, and hopefully I’ll find the right program for them. Phonics are on the horizon for Dax and I’m trying to take the Montessori approach with regard to the order in which the letters are introduced. Beginning September 10th Dax will be taking a cultural arts class at Austin Monday Co-op, a secular homeschool enrichment program that offers classes from pre-K up through high school. He also takes a weekly gymnastics class. So far we are only using the following resources for academic enrichment for Fall 2012:

Get Ready for the Code

Get Set for the Code

Go for the Code

Developing the Early Learner, books 2-4

Science is Simple

Count on Math

Other than those, there are countless websites like this with lesson plan ideas and printables for pre-K. Most of our other resources are arts & crafts books and local kid-friendly activities & events, as well as the Austin Public Library. This is supposed to be fun, y’all.

We are trying to build our home library and if you are so inclined, feel free to check out our wish list on by clicking here. (Update: thanks to my mom for purchasing every item on my wish list. I’ll have to add to it next year! Mom, that was amazing.) Dax and Jace will thank you for any contribution – most likely in the form of handmade art (or maybe some handmade lotion!)!

If you are still hung up on the issue of whether or not homeschooling is a good idea, you’re not alone. Many people are skeptical, and in my opinion, there are some legitimate reasons. Look at The Duggar Family, for cripes sake. I don’t want to go into the specifics as to why we feel as strongly as we do about homeschooling, but if you’d like to know more you can start by reading this essay on the topic. There are numerous studies that indicate homeschooling results in smart, happy, well-rounded adults, and we can agree that this is a worthy goal. If it turns out that this isn’t what they want, or for whatever reason it’s not working out as planned, they will be free to choose their own path. Self-determination is one of the most important virtues we can instill in these kids, so that’s a clearly foreseen variable.

We are on the path. I’ll document our progress on this blog for whatever purpose it may serve. Hope you enjoy seeing this journey unfold, as we are enjoying making these memories! Please wish me luck, as this is going to be my biggest challenge yet.

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My Baby is 3


Today my little Jace turns three. His legs are longer, his muscles are stronger, he’s lost all his chubby baby padding, and he’s communicating in full sentences. He smiles, laughs hysterically, runs everywhere, talks to everyone and loves everything (except soup). He can go from sheer brute force to sweetly rocking his ‘baby’ caterpillar without skipping a beat. He is fearless. If he gets in trouble he tries to blame his imaginary friend, Andrew. Don’t sing to this kid – he doesn’t like singing unless it’s coming from some digital device. He loves to be silly, but the moment I start dancing the party’s over. He’s impatient, compassionate, unpredictable and tough as nails. He saves me from monsters nearly every day. I don’t know what I’d do without my baby big boy Jace. Three years old.

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Honeymoon’s Over

So many people have posed the question to me, “How are you liking your new job?” referring to my recent transition to life as a full time mom. I never really know how to sum it up in a quick response, though I usually say “It’s great, I love it,” or something similar. What I’m thinking is “I am so glad the honeymoon is over.”

What I mean by that is I have finally gotten a clear picture of what it is I am doing, at least for now. The first few weeks without my old 9-5 I would sleep in until 7 or 8am, spend too much time driving here and there cramming in every activity I thought up, and trying to emulate what others were doing with their time. I cooked elaborate meals and stressed out about my surroundings not being up to par. Good grief that’s exhausting. Something had to give. Come to think of it, I have learned quite a bit in the last year of 24-hr shifts. This isn’t going to be a flat-out sales pitch to all my friends to commit one partner to stay home full time. I don’t get into the business of advising men or women to quit their day-job and be a mom/dad full time, because it’s like buying someone a puppy for Christmas. There are a lot of variables and it’s not for everyone. The purpose of this blog is to sum up my personal experience so far, for those who are interested to read on, and how this has benefitted us. This is not meant to fan the flames of mommy wars or plead my case – I have let go of any desire to justify. I am merely speaking to those who are considering the same path or want to know what is like for me, and for my family. I have drummed up a short list of the pros and cons of stay-at-home life, from my perspective. Again, this is not for everyone, do not try this at home without considering your particular situation, results may vary!

I’ll start with the drawbacks, because that’s newsworthy:

* it’s dirty work, the hours suck and the s**t-to-pay ratio is not in my favor. These are self-explanatory. However, I remember one day at my old job, my boss made me take down an entire wall of a/v equipment, shelf after shelf, and put it up on another wall. After I had finished the task he came over, looked at it, and made me put it all back. I’m pretty sure I was 10 weeks pregnant with my first kid. It was the most pointless, fruitless effort I had ever put forth, and I can’t say anything I have done in the domestic arena has felt more pointless than that. I will never get that time back, and that was hours of my life spent. However, at my job I received a paycheck, two raises, letters of recommendation and adoration which have all been printed out and will be treasured forever. Not to mention the countless tokens of appreciation (mostly from a lovely young woman named Adria, whom I adore) from generous professors and a department chair who showered his office staff with nice lunches out and the like. Black & white, clearly-expressed appreciation. While I know my kids appreciate me, my husband appreciates me, I do good things, blah blah – it’s not coming to me framed for display on the wall. I’m okay with this. I won’t make you want to gag yourself by itemizing my favorite displays of affection by these people, but I’ll give you an example of the fleeting ones that surprise me. As I was dashing out the double-doors of Central Market with my 2 impossible children the other day, one screaming, harnessed to the double-trouble cart, a sweet old lady stopped loading her two little bags into her trunk. Dax looked at her and smiled, and she put her hand to her mouth and looked as though she was holding back tears. True, this lady didn’t know if I was going to go home and drown my kids in a tub, but we had an unspoken moment, and I try to hold on to those moments.

* The “Mommy-Guilt” really doesn’t let up just because one devotes one’s entire life to being a mom. I read a Huffington Post article recently that spoke to this. In ending your career (I would hardly say my administrative associate/media grunt string of jobs count as a “career” but whatever) you are really just trading one set of tasks for another. Each set has it’s rewards and headaches, but it’s not like I feel like I’m doing right by my kids all the time. Being a mom means you will beat yourself up and agonize over almost everything. When you work you agonize because you dropped your sick kid off at daycare, and when you stay home you agonize that your kid isn’t socialized enough. When you work you think you should spend more time at home, and when you quit your job and resolve to stay home, you wonder if you are setting the right example of a good work ethic. I’m not a perfect mother and no one except the mom I had will ever be perfect. I’m over that. I get it. I feel guilty that Dax isn’t reading or writing sentences and he’s 4. I feel guilty that Jace has an underbite and I haven’t consulted a pediatric orthodontist to make sure there isn’t something I should be doing. I don’t teach them yoga poses. I quit forcing them to sit through Spanish lessons from the lady with the mean kid. We don’t volunteer at nursing homes. Yes, I know I should do all these things. Mommy guilt is there. It’s everywhere. Part of what I mean by “The Honeymoon’s Over” is that I have made peace with not being Superwoman. I can’t do all this. There are people who DO! Great, your kid is 3 and reading himself to sleep at night and composing sonatas. Well, my kids are bright enough and they will read. They won’t be sleeping in my bed when they are 14. I’m sure they will eventually learn not to open people’s refrigerators just to see what’s in there, or touch people’s faces without asking. They are two and four now. Now is just as important.

* Remember the last time you sat for hours at a coffee shop reading lengthy articles on your laptop, enriching your own journey of personal interests? I don’t. Wait, yes I do. I occasionally go get a ‘pedicure deluxe’ from the nail place nearby. In that span of time it’s all about me. Meanwhile, whatever poor soul is saddled with the responsibility of keeping my kids alive is suffering the tantrums, laboring to feed, clean up after, play with, read to, wipe the tush or nose of, or otherwise tend to my busybody kids. This realization will creep into my mind as the nice lady points out my unkempt eyebrows, again. These personal enrichment experiences, from showering to wasting time on Facebook or going to a movie once in a blue moon or a date; these are all tainted with a newfound realization as to what it means to “pawn the kids off” on someone else. I don’t want to say that it’s impossible to enjoy any alone time, or time away from my kids, because that sounds so horrid. However, I am keenly aware of how much work they are, and how dependent they are on me. I know how to circumvent bad behavior situations, I know what words to use in the particular order to get Jace to brush his teeth, Dax is happier falling asleep with my elbow than anyone else’s. It’s simply my job, and it doesn’t let up. Spending time with family and friends is completely different than leaving the kids in someone’s care. Truly, that sticks with me everywhere I go. See, “mommy-guilt” in previous paragraph. There’s no structured drop-off routine to aid in distracting them. No status-quo of handing them over. I am their primary caregiver, and that’s my job. There’s no budget for a babysitter, and calling in favors from family gets old, at least for me. “Just get a sitter” isn’t the cure-all pill it seems. I’m sure it will be different when they are older; it’s just not that kind of smooth sailing at this age.

The good:


* i will go ahead and state the obvious: Time with my kids. Spending quantity time with my kids has afforded me the chance to notice and appreciate the subtle changes in them, and not just the big steps. I am noticing the gradual curve of complexity in Dax’s imagination and story-telling, and I am sitting right there watching Jace have epiphanies about words and sentences and body language. I meet imaginary friends, and help the kids find real ones. Little things as quiet and small as the sound of a butterfly or major improvements in their fine motor skills and word pronunciation; I notice these things in my kids. I am realizing why people have always said “Oh just wait until you have kids, you’ll understand.” I have changed my mind, changed my rules and given more thought to obscure and borderline-radical approaches to things like parenting and education for my kids, now that I see first-hand how amazing and fragile they really are. They are so affected by people, relationships, words both harsh and kind, and I am there to help guide them through the process of digesting these experiences. If David were to lose his job and if all technology just suddenly disappeared from the earth, and be it that I were the one capable of holding down the more lucrative job then it would be David home with the kids, and we agree on this. It’s a priceless gift for me to be the one to watch this unfold. As it unfolds I am there to document their story with photographs and words written in cute little books about them. Hopefully they will be interested in the details, like I was as a child. I love my kids, and I want to be with them. I want to give them what they need, and it’s obvious that what they need right now is me. I know this time is finite, and as they grow I will be needed less and less. They will have many teachers, mentors, coaches, friends and trusted adults to share ideas with. However, right now they are ‘little’, and I’m not entrusting this precious time with anyone else. I’m unapologetic about this observation.

* Just like my favorite quote used often by one of my favorite women, “There are so many ways to be crazy,” There are also many ways to make money. I don’t earn a paycheck, but I consider what I do to be saving money that we would otherwise be spending. Although, I don’t like the idea of tallying up all the things into a dollar figure because that just further devalues the work that I do, by only giving power to work that generates money. Look, it costs a lot of money to work full time. I enjoy finding ways to cut our household expenditures by putting time rather than money into basic things, and producing items or services we typically have to shell out money for. While this may seem counter-productive to the progress made in times since the industrial revolution, I have made it my view that the more people participate in the race to success, the more stress they will have and the more distant they will be from those they love. Some people thrive on stress, some have to be a dual income family just to survive (our society is so screwed up!), some people are comfortable putting walls up, and some people need a career to feel fulfilled in life – I understand it’s not a black & white issue. I am bringing this up because I have had some very uncomfortable conversations with feminist friends of mine who expressed their concern about me falling into some kind of dreaded category or desperate housewife. My favorite comment from a Ph.D. graduate student was, “How long are you going to make it before you go insane?” Ironic, because I was just wondering the same thing about her. We all pick our poison I guess. There’s a lot to be said about rejecting an ideology that places value only in material wealth and money earned outside the home. I could have a job and pay someone lower on the social totem to do the domestic drudgery, but really what are the implications of this attitude? Those who are so obsessed with wanting to prove that working moms can have it all don’t even realize that by trying to keep both parents on the 9-5 hamster wheel, we are perpetuating a “care” deficit in society. In order to have more and more we outsource care the way we pay someone to mow our lawn – and the cheaper the better! A blogger I like, Katrina Alcorn cited a book passage from “The Second Shift” by Arlie Hochschild:

Hochschild says the women’s movement did a bang-up job empowering women to “stand equal to men”. But it failed to value the caring of others.

“Without our noticing, American capitalism over time embraced empowerment and sidetracked care. So in the absence of a countermovement, care has often become a hand-me-down job. Men hand it down to women. High-income women hand it to low-income women. Migrant workers who care for American children and elderly, hand the care of their own children and elderly to paid caregivers as well as grandmothers and aunts back in the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Mexico…[and those] at the end of the care chain pass child-care duties to oldest daughters. The big challenge in the years ahead–the challenge at the heart of this book–is to value and share the duties of caring for loved ones.”

What would it look like to value and share the caring of others?

Today, for most professionals–women and men–a full-time job means more than 40 hours per week. Many low-wage workers have to work more than one job just to get by–and studies show Americans work some of the longest hours in the developed world. You can have a perfectly equal marriage at home, but if you’re both working 40-plus hours, there simply isn’t enough time for the second shift.

I am not writing any political propositions to address the economic disparities of the US or he world. I’m addressing my own circumstance, which was a choice I had in continuing to work a rewarding and enjoyable job with good pay and great benefits, or choose to stay home with my kids and halt my professional development. I’m glad I made the choice I did; I just wish society saw the value in it.

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Career Change

When I first met David, he was the only music producer in Austin who would record a band for $15 per hour. I needed someone cheap, and since David was living on coffee and cigarettes he was more than affordable. I knew he was the one the day I met him – and I know people say that all the time, but I really knew it.

David has always been a workaholic. He would pull 80-hour workweeks in 4 days in the studio. We spent the first few years of our marriage sleeping in a twin bed, eating once a day, maybe, and spending most of our money on 2 dogs and a horse. With the help of a few friends he has built 2 recording studios from nothing, and he single-handedly fixes everything that breaks. Since the birth of our two sons, our lives have become more complicated. We were sustaining for the longest time in shifts: I worked the day shift, he worked the night shift, then he would work the day shift with the kids, then an evening shift with bands, followed by overnights at a hotel as Night Auditor. Weekends were a joke as far as quality family time. If it were not for the help of our friends and moms through that time we may have actually fallen apart at the seams.

When he set his sights on a different path, he had our family in mind. Trying to reconcile being a small business owner for 10 years and needing more free time was like wanting to be a pilot despite a paralyzing fear of heights.

At about the same time, our friend Eric saw an opportunity for David to come on board with Dell as a contract employee. Eric was sure that David would shine there, and was very supportive, and borderline insistent, that he give it a try. He told the right people “You want this guy,” and within a few days David had a start date. After saying goodbye to his overnight job at the Hotel St. Cecilia, David started working at Dell in October. After 6 months of busting his ass he managed to prove himself in the tech arena there, and was offered a full time position doing basically what he has been doing for the last few months. Monday, April 18th was David’s first day as a full time Dell employee. So proud of you, baby!!!!!

What this means for our family is essentially financial salvation. In the next few months we will be digging out from under a significant amount of debt, my kids will have Santa and Easter Bunny and birthdays and vacations, but more importantly, we will have weekends together as a family. The other significant change this facilitates is going to impact me in a few weeks, in that I will be initiating a career change. I will go from full time job as administrative associate at UT to being a full time mom. Pay cut, harder work, longer hours, but it’s my dream job and I never thought in a million years this opportunity would pick me. I get to trade in tearful drop-offs and morning goodbyes for leisurely breakfasts and puppet shows. I’ll get to buy groceries on a Monday, or hell even a Tuesday afternoon, when the shelves are freshly stocked instead of Sunday night at 8pm when everything is either out or running low, or worse. I can take the kids to free shows and playgrounds and storytime instead of paying someone to do it for me (thank you, Aaron!), and finally I can be an active participant in the daily shaping of my kids little selves, instead of merely keeping them alive/safe and paying various people to also keep them alive and safe. Summer will mean Barton Springs, swim lessons, camping and adventure! I am ready to start this phase of my life!

However, this also means I’m having to let go of a place I have grown to love. Not many people can say they truly love their job, but my career thus far has been a far cry from the rat race. I work with gems like Jennifer, Deanna, Barry, and the faculty and grad students who have enriched my life over the last 6 years – nevermind I have only technically been at my current “appointment” for one year, and one year ago I was sure I’d be there forever. Bah. Kills me. Now I’m the one crying and having the tearful goodbyes. It is for the best though, so I hear. I hope everyone in CMS knows that my intentions are good and I am doing what I have to do for the benefit of my family. I am literally tormented by the administrative fallout of this move landing squarely on the shoulders of the people I care about the most in that building.

Anyway, the point of this blog post is basically to announce that I will be going Full Time as “Mom” sometime after this semester is over, and no later than June 1. Would love to hear any words of wisdom or advice from those already in the field. Or even discouraging words from those who want to shake their finger and try to convince me that the best thing I can do for my kids is institutionalize them with “professionals” while I go off to toil for money in an effort to teach them work ethic. That’s entertaining to me, but not a new concept. Thanks all. Oh, and my job posted today so if you know anyone (no crazies) at UT with mainframe/accounting/travel/inventory experience please encourage them to apply! 🙂

♥♥ oh, and thanks, David, for all you do for us. 🙂


This letter is to my concrete half

not the thinker, not the artist

I am no optimist, I cannot embrace peace.

This is to the one who made me leather

taught me to look at hands before eyes

taught me to know no fear; to run out into the night

Taught me to work like two men, never ever ever ever make mistakes.

These things are more of me, these things are more of me,

these things are more of me than music.

– Hero to Human, Creeker

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