Monday, March 30, 2015

Working Mom

Before I had kids, I worked.

I worked at a nearby camp. During the summer I was the waterfront director (best summer camp job EVER!) and in the spring and fall I was working at the same camp teaching environmental education.

I actually went to college and have degrees in elementary and special education but I never used them. I felt like a school/classroom setting was just too confining for me. I'm thankful for people who work well in that situation but it wasn't what I wanted for myself. When I discovered environmental education I thought I had found the best job possible. I couldn't believe I was getting paid to take a group of kids that were on a field trip to a stream so that we could talk about a food web and look for critters.

Plus... it was seasonal. Work for the fall months and have the winter off. Work during the spring months and have the summer off. I was set!

And then I got pregnant with Liza and became a full-time stay-at-home mom. I LOVE being a stay-at-home mom. I'm really thankful that it was an easy choice for our family.

The years at home sometimes felt long. With two kids, only 17 months apart, I was busy enough. I was also always tired. I love being at home with the kids but I'm not going to lie... I looked forward to the year that they would both be in school all day. That year would be my well deserved break! I had dreams of doing NOTHING. Reading books. Taking walks. Watching movies. Meeting friends for a hot drink. Working on my hobbies.

Then they both went to school and I didn't know what to do with myself... so I filled up my calendar with things to do and somehow I became really busy again... just in a different way.

Just before Christmas things seemed to really settle down for me. I was enjoying my break. I had found a good rhythm to life with kids in school. I was reading books and watching movies and visiting with friends. But I was also getting bored.

Shortly after that, the email came about rejoining the environmental education staff. I had always told them that I would come back when both of my kids were in school so I guess it was time.

Last week, for the first time in over eight years, I got in the car and drove to a job that would give me a paycheck. Right now we are just training but it's all coming back to me and I am looking forward to the days when buses pull up and the air is filled with the voices of children. I look forward to taking them to the stream or teaching them to build shelters and fires. I'm excited for days of helping kids learn how to work together as I lead them through team building exercises.

I'm excited to have a job that I love!

And it couldn't be more perfect for this time in my life! It's still seasonal so I get to be home with my kids during the summer. And the schedule is quite flexible so I'm home with my kids in the morning and again when they get out of school. It's quite perfect! Because it's like I just added another hobby to my life.

I'm so thankful that I discovered environmental education all those years ago!!
I'm a working mom... that's still mostly a stay-at-home mom. :)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A Date With My Son

One morning last week, shortly after I woke up and headed downstairs, Jason told me there was a note for me on the fridge. He has a dry erase board and we leave messages for each other from time to time. This one said...

I love you mom. You are my favorite garl (girl). Do you want to go on a date?

How could I say no to that sweetness!!! So we put it in our plans and had to wait for Saturday to arrive.

Jason is always practicing sentences in school. From time to time he'll come home with one on the back of a worksheet he had to do. He was pretty proud of this one...

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I'm saving it.

Saturday finally came and Jason took me out to dinner at the pizza shop that just opened on the corner... no more than a five minute walk from our house. We've been waiting for it to open for about two years now! He held my hand as we walked and he insisted on keeping the money in his pocket so that he could pay.

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Jason is such a sweetheart. He's thoughtful and kind and I love going on dates with him! Snuggling in the booth. Silly faces. Giggles. It's the best!


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Bald Eagle Live Cam

We have been watching a Bald Eagle nest through the PA Game Commission's website. They have put together a team to bring us live feed of the eagles. There are two eggs and they expect them to hatch this weekend!

We tune into the live feed several times a day. Sometimes all we see is an eagle sitting on the eggs but once in a while we catch something much more exciting... like the second eagle flying to the nest with dinner! That was kind of a gross experience to watch but we watched it anyways while saying "ewwww" an awful lot.

We can't wait for the babies to hatch and we are excited to watch how the mom and dad eagles take care of their kids.

The following are screen shots from the live feed...

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You can tune in and watch on the Pennsylvania Game Commision's website. We will definitely be watching and waiting this weekend as the expected hatch date arrives!

I also came across another live cam on another eagle nest but if you trouble with  motion sickness you won't enjoy this one on a windy day. You can check out this nest HERE. This eagle couple lost one of their eggs a few days ago but the one that remains has an expected hatch date to happen next week.

In the meantime we are looking up some facts about bald eagle... and learning things like they can have up to a 9 foot wingspan! These birds are HUGE!

Tune in! It's fun!


All images courtesy of Pennsylvania Game Commission.


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Making Afghans

It's no secret that I LOVE to crochet. I find the monotonous rhythm of a simple pattern to be very relaxing. Hats are my favorite thing to make because I like that I can make one in two or three hours and be done. I like the feeling of accomplishment that comes with the completed project.

Hats are a gazillion times faster to make than afghans.The HOURS that afghans take. So. many. hours. And usually when I'm about 1/4 of the way into it I start thinking what was I thinking!!! But then I keep going... because I have to since I already purchased enough yarn to finish it and I can't just stop once I've started. Then I hit about 3/4 of the way to completion and I get really excited because in the end it is always worth it to make an afghan.

My latest afghan was made as a gift for my friend Melissa. :)

She bought a house back in October and on the day that she closed I decided I should make an afghan as a house warming gift. I knew that she was decorating her home in grays and turquoise-ish colors so I picked out my yarn and got to work. Then life happened and I had to put it off for a while. Then I planned a trip to go visit her and would be there over her birthday so I HAD to get it finished.

I finished up the afghan about two weeks before heading to Louisiana and then started wondering if I would actually be able to part with it! I am in love with this afghan and I'm pretty sure I need to make one for myself.

I didn't have room to pack it so I mailed it to arrive while I was there. It was so much fun being able to be present when she got it in the mail! And I'm glad I decided that I could actually give it away instead of keeping it for myself.

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I love the simple lines and texture.

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The colors work perfectly in her home.

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It's my favorite afghan yet! (I've made four large ones so far... all of them different... this one the best.)

And Melissa loves it!

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If you crochet and want to try this one out you can find the PATTERN HERE.

My yarn stash is getting out of control so I have told myself no more buying yarn until I use up most of what I have. I've been doing some knitting and am also working on a baby blanket. I need to work faster because it's really hard to not buy more yarn!



Monday, March 16, 2015

Teaching Kids to Deal With Their Own Problems

Every once in a while Liza and Jason will come home from school with a "problem". I could simply call their teachers or send an email and get things worked out for them. Or... I can teach Liza and Jason how to deal with life on their own.

I always try to go with the second option because I like to parent with the future in mind. This means that since Liza and Jason will one day need to grow up, leave my house and do life on their own they will need to know how to deal with issues that come up. The easiest way to learn is by doing it... so I take the time to coach them on some different ideas and then send them of to deal with life.

Thankfully, the situations that have come up so far are simple ones, but regardless of how simple they are I am proud of my kids for dealing with them.

Examples...

1. Earlier this year Liza came home from school and told me that she kept getting in trouble because her seat was next to one of her good friends and they kept talking when they weren't supposed to. I could have asked Liza's teacher to move her seat so she stopped getting in trouble but instead I had a good conversation with Liza. With a little guidance she came up with the idea of asking her teacher herself to move seats. She went into school the next day and did just that and stopped getting in trouble for talking to her friend.

2. Jason wanted to start AR. When Liza was in 1st grade last year she had been doing AR for months at this point. Jason's class has not started. He has been working soooo hard on his reading and there is one girl in the class who takes AR tests. He would come home every day saying he wanted to do AR at school so I finally said, "Why don't you talk to your teacher about it?" He went into school the next day, told his teacher he wanted to do AR and he has been doing it ever since!

Hopefully Liza and Jason will continue to learn to ask their own questions and solve their own problems. It's a necessary life skill.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Outtakes and Going Home

Can I just start by saying that I miss Louisiana and my friend! And vacation. Can I go on vacation again? I could live traveling. So much to see!

Anyways... the camera basically came with us everywhere we went during my week in Louisiana and as a blogger I tend to share what I consider the best ones and often leave out the "outtakes". Today I am going to share some of the outtakes.

I'm not used to being in front of the camera. This is me all "I have no idea what to do! Tell me how to stand. What do I do with my hands!?" You would think I would know these things.

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This is me trying to copy the statue but completely unable to hold a serious face... I'm a dork.

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Again... the awkwardness of nobody knows what to do!

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Very true to what I did all week... stuff my face with food.

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Powdered sugar EVERYWHERE!

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This is what happens when you ask someone to hold your camera while you run to the bathroom. It's no different than what happened when someone got a hold of my camera in high school. :)

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I was insanely excited about seeing GREEN!!!

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And this is something else that happens when I am on the other side of the camera... I start feeling really weird and then I bust out a ridiculous pose in hopes that the person taking the picture won't be fast enough to catch it. Problem was that Melissa was using MY camera, which is plenty fast, and got it.

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And then it was time to go home. Saying goodbye is always the worst part of visiting friends. It never gets any easier.

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But having these little people to come home to makes saying goodbye to friends possible.

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It's nice being back home and our weather is finally starting to warm up. 40 degrees feels like summer and the neighborhood has come alive again. Kids are knocking on my door and sitting on my porch to talk to me. They are sharing their stories and making me smile. As much as I love traveling, I know where my heart calls home and it's always nice to come back home again.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Thoughts on Slavery

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While I was in Louisiana we visited Rosedown and Nottoway plantation homes. I loved the beauty of both of these places but in the back of my mind lingered the thought these lands once held people captive.

There was a little bit of an inner struggle going on. How can I walk this place and be amazed by its beauty when it was built as a place where the owners thrived on slave labor? It's impossible for me to not think of that time... the history... the horror... when visiting a plantation.

But then I realized that it truly is a beautiful thing... because when we walk those grounds we no longer see slaves. These plantation homes and grounds are beautiful because they now stand as a symbol of change... of victory... of freedom.

And then I am brought back to the present time where I am reminded that slavery still exists.

Everywhere.

Every day far too many women and children are being sold for sex.
They are held captive.
They see very little of the money they make... if any at all.
They are abused...
Used...
Victims of modern day slavery.

It's our turn to stand up and continue the fight for freedom for all. 

I'm going to list some resources and hopefully you can find a moment to check some of them out. Awareness and information are the first steps.

This statement is from the book The Slave Next Door...
"Through our ignorance and worse yet, our lack of interest, we enable slavery. Unless we heed the wake-up call, slavery will continue to spread. Our children are also endangered by a different, subtler threat--apathy. Kids learn from their parents, and if noninvolvement is what we teach, by word or example, then that is exactly what they will learn and how they will live."

More books:
Renting Lacy
Somebody's Daughter

I have at least one of the books on kindle and the others I have a hard copy of. Let me know if you want to borrow one... or all of them.

Facebook pages for several organizations that fight human trafficking:
A21
Destiny Rescue
Polaris
She Rescue Home
End It
Girls Are Not For Sale (I LOVE my sweatshirt that I bought from this organization.)

Pittsburgh local: Living in Liberty

Destiny Rescue (linked above) also gives you the opportunity to host a jewelry party. The jewelry is made by survivors and the money goes back to helping them earn a living. I hosted a jewelry party a few months ago and it is very simple... you send an email and sign up for a date. They send you a box of jewelry. You sell it (take it to work, have a party, etc), collect the money and then mail the money and unsold jewelry back to them.

If you have an article, book or organization that you know of that deals with human trafficking please share it in the comments.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Louisiana Vacation - Nottoway Plantation

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I love touring old homes so when we had a day that was supposed to rain but didn't I was excited when we decided to go check out Nottoway Plantation. We had debated about whether or not we wanted to pay $20 to get a tour of the home and I am so glad that we decided to do that because it was a beautiful home, we had a great guide and it's always neat to hear the stories.

Nottoway was finished in 1859 and owned by John Randolph, who was a sugarcane farmer and had 11 children with his wife. The house has been renovated over the years and has had several different owners but it is still decorated with time pieces and is a stunning home! I know I already said that if Mike ever wants to marry me again it will have to be at the other plantation that we visited... but when I saw this one I changed my mind. :)

You can even stay at Nottoway! I thought it would be so cool to get a room and spend a night with Mike sometime in the future... and then I noticed that the beds were short and he would likely be bothered by the fact that his feet hung off the end. Maybe they aren't as short as I thought they were... but they certainly looked short! The beds we saw had the original bed frames that were put in the house when it was built. They were beautiful!

Anyways... You can read more about Nottoway at the link in the first paragraph or on wikipedia. I'm going to show you far too many pictures... because they actually let you take pictures on this tour!!

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Original chandelier...
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The next pictures are of the white room... I want a white room... and ridiculously high ceilings and doors. 

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Original doorknob... so cool! I like it. 
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You could stay in this room..
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I'm pretty sure there are a lot of things about this home that need to end up in my dream home! I loved visiting Nottoway Plantation.

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