What to do next?

Life can my mysterious, and life can reveal itself to you. This Friday I am sitting here as the Easter weekend is here and I am listening. I am listening to the kids playing in the living room- very loudly- laughing, singing and having a grand time. I have been catching myself listening a lot lately- to the Universe and to the signs it is giving to me. I have been watchful of the opportunities that have made themselves known to me and am excited about the new journeys I get to take.

Recently I learned about a job opportunity and I decided to go for it. I wasn’t looking for a job, I wasn’t looking for a life change but there it was- right there- waiting for me to grasp at it. I did and luckily it went forward and it is a great fit for me. I am excited that I stopped and decided to start listening about a month ago. Cole’s health had improved, we had some steady days and things were back to “normal.” It was time to start something new. Kids have been successfully back in school since August 2017 and the days were starting to clunk by hour by hour. I filled most of them well enough but I needed more. I needed to engage my brain, utilize my skills and start to fill my days with more than just laundry, dinners, and taxi rides.

I started my new job this week and it’s going great. I love what I am doing and I am good at it. I think that life has proven to be good and I can continue to contribute to society at large. Sometimes as a Mom we feel like we aren’t contributing enough. Mind you I worked darn hard for 5 years providing educational opportunities to the kids while they were homeschooling. I researched curriculum and resources for them to keep them engaged. So my new job as a Research Assistant for the WWII Research & Writing Center seems like the perfect fit. I can’t wait to see where this journey takes me.

Calories and life

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Do we have to count our calories to make our life better? I sure as heck hope not but have learned after going to the doctor with some complaints that now that I am in my mid-40’s my calorie requirement is lower than it once was. I had been able to maintain a 145-150 lbs on my 5’6 frame for years- over a decade in fact and then all of a sudden- I turn 45 and go up to 171.8. Yes- the .8 is in there because it annoyed me. Round it up but NO the damn scale was 171.8 last week and I was ticked off.

My doctor recommended a lower fat diet (I don’t eat greasy stuff but I had some salmon with a cream sauce and it wrecked me). I am being sent for a gall bladder ultrasound tomorrow but meanwhile I had been steadily gaining and had gained 21 lbs since my last doc visit in June 2017. HOLY SMOKES. I knew it was bad but didn’t realize how bad.

My husband had major jaw surgery in July and I don’t think I ate more because of this but maybe I did. He was unable to eat a lot of the things we cooked but we managed to consume them as if he was eating them. Maybe I had 2 dinner portions a night instead of my normal one? I don’t know what I did but last week I did a calorie count of a normal day and egads it was 1800-2000 calories. I actually didn’t say EGADS til the doctor said “Um- you do know that are your age and level of exercise (I lift some free weights and use the exercise bike and walk on occassion) you should only consume about 1600 calories to maintain your weight. To lose you need to go down to 1200 or 1400 calories, depending on how fast you want to lose it.” Holy crap- really? So starting last Thursday I have been measuring and counting and tracking it on Live Strong’s My Plate app. I have not edited my meals so I could see how much each one was. I have been more thoughtful though and added a salad for lunch each day. I so far have done 1600-1700 calories and one day I was able to do 1450.

This week I am going to try for 1300 a day and see how I do. Even with this slight change I am down to 169.6 as of this morning. I realize one can fluctuate so I’m not really counting this weight loss as a real loss but if the scale keeps going down I’ll be pleased. I’m not into being skinny- 145-150 lbs on me still leaves plenty of squish and fat on my body. According to the chart I’m supposed to be 130 lbs, yeah that’s funny. I was 131 lbs in 2013 due to an illness for about 2 months and I looked anorexic and horrible and I had no boobs. So no- 130 lbs is NOT going to happen nor do I want it to. I had an eating disorder as a teen and although it was never officially diagnosed I know I chose to drink several glasses of skim milk at each meal to fill up and I ate very little. I will not go back to that.

So now I have to see what I eat every day and make good choices. I need to choose to walk daily despite the fact my doggie friend is no longer with us. Part of me wonders if that’s how I gained it all. I stopped walking a dog (she died this fall) and the pounds packed on. I didn’t realize that naturally I am not a walker but when a tail wags and you get the nudge – you’ll go out despite the weather. We are not in a position to get another dog just yet so for now I have to walk myself or walk with a friend. I need to get better at making it a daily habit vs whenever the mood hits me, as it never does.

Calories and life- we need water and food to live yet we eat too much and we become unhealthy. We have to manage things in regular life too- we need to manage our stress, our anxiety, our job requirements, our responsibilities, our family life. It’s all a balance. It’s like taking care of your car- you get oil changes and you make sure it gets the best fuel to run well. Our bodies are the same, we need good quality food and we need to exercise in order to run well. I know this- we all know this but it’s a struggle.

I’ve heard numerous friends say “Menopause and getting older sucks!” and I think that is part of it too. My doctor mentioned that as I am walking into Menopause that my metabolism takes a real hit and that activity needs to increase, calcium intake needs to increase along with Vitamin D, and our food intake needs to go down. Ugh- I don’t feel super old or anything and at 45 I’m not, but man I want my waist back. I want to fit into my bathing suit from last summer -it’s cute- but I had to buy another one just in case. So to all of you who are struggling- you are not alone. I

t’s ok- and I hope to share this journey with you. I am not planning on counting calories for long- that’ll take me back to old habits. I plan on eating the foods I like but in moderation. I know I can get back to my old self and regardless of what happens I know I need to choose to love myself NOW because NOW is who I am – 169.6 pounds, 5 foot 6 inches and salt and pepper hair. All of me isn’t my appearance or my weight. I am a writer, mother, friend, daughter, sister, and wife. I am more than calories and it’s going to be just fine. Sharing this helps. I hope that you accept yourself for who you are today too. We all have flaws and that’s ok- our goal is to improve ourselves to be a better self and that is my plan too!

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Resumes

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Resume- A place to summarize your work experience, your skill set and more. To put your life onto one piece of paper is daunting. How do you go about it? What jobs do you choose? Some of us, like myself, are in a new phase of our lives. I was a stay at home mom for years, homeschooling mom for 5 years and now looking for employment opportunities. It’s daunting.

I look at my life and I have a ton of skills that are not affiliated with any formal job. I am a writer, author (of 2 books about to be self-published), mom to 3 kids (that’s a whole lot of organizational skills right there), former homeschooling mom to 3 kids from grades 1st to 7th, wife, medical researcher, hobbies galore that all access a skill set that is job worthy. Part of me is excited about putting my life onto one piece of paper and the other part of me is scared out of my mind.

I wonder how other moms feel who are in the same boat? Do they doubt their life choices? Do they wonder what if? Do they think about their husband’s career spanning decades and wonder, why not me? I sometimes question my life choices and then I see my kids as they successfully navigate their first year back to school after homeschooling and I think- yeah I did the right thing! It’s not always easy and it hasn’t always been easy. Life has been a challenge. Homeschooling meant one income and a huge load on me. In addition to managing a family of 5 and dogs along the way, it was my job to educate 3 kids and keep them busy and research educational opportunities throughout their homeschooling journey. It was a full-time job and I think I did a good job of it.

Life is about to change. I am about to dip my feet into the job market. I am not going to go gung-ho and do a full-time corporate job. No- I am looking for niche jobs that highlight my unique skill set. I am organized, I am a research geek, I am thoughtful and caring and I want to help people. I can type well and write well and communicate well. I am inspired by others and I find myself inspiring others as well. I am in tune with the universe and I listen to opportunities that avail themselves to me.

I heard such an opportunity recently. I am excited, genuinely excited because this job seems like the perfect fit. It will utilize my research skills and organizational abilities. It will require me to be organized and thoughtful and it requires great care. I can do all of that and it’s interesting.  I began my working career as a babysitter at age 11 and quickly by age 13 realized I could work at the local public library. That provided me a great opportunity to be with books and boy do I love books. I was able to learn how to organize and file and I learned great communication skills when working at the front desk. By age 15 1/2 I quit high school to venture to the local community college. Illness had prevented me from fulfilling the proper amount of school days to matriculate so I was bored and didn’t want to stay back. I went straight to the community college and earned college credits for my schooling. While there I worked at the tutoring center and by my 2nd year was working 34-40 hours a week in addition to taking 5 classes. I worked various and sundry retail jobs over the years and learned a variety of skills there as well. When I went off to Northeastern University where I studied African-American Studies and Anthropology I worked at the media center. I never knew of a time I didn’t work.

When I graduated in 1999, I was ready to work full-time. The problem was that no jobs were willing to hire me for my majors from college. I was able to type, and was well-organized so I found myself working at one of the dean’s offices at Northeastern as an Administrative Assistant. It was a good job, paid well and it was an honor to work there but I was bored out of my mind. The work was easy and the typing was immense but I handled it well. I answered phones, filed documents, and worked on managing patents and more but I was bored.

In June of 1999, just before graduating from Northeastern, I met my boyfriend, John (now husband). He was lovely and he was a software engineer and he was smart, and witty and we had a great time. By October, 1999, we were living together and managing a newly formed household and we began to plan our future together. I was working at Northeastern and it was the beginning of a journey that would change my life forever. John’s job changed and we moved to central Massachusetts and I began to work at a school. We were in the process of buying our first home in September 2001 and I worked at the school as a Para Professional and substitute teacher until I became pregnant in December of 2002 and began to have pre-term labor in the Spring and I quit my job.

Since 2002 I really haven’t formally worked that much. We moved a lot for John’s work. We moved from Littleton, MA to Shirley, MA to Seattle, WA and to Somerset, MA and in 2013 we moved to Illinois. During that time in 2011 I began working at the kid’s school as a Para Professional once Cole, our youngest, was in preschool and in the fall of 2012 we began homeschooling our 3 kids and that became my full-time job until August of 2017 when they all returned to school. Since August I have taken up a part-time driving job (5/6 hrs a week) and not much more. Health related issues for one of the kids made it impossible to work full time but things are back on track now and I am excited.

For the first time in my life I am bored again and I can’t wait to fill that void. I am constantly online researching this and that. I tried a while back to have a website called Allie Knows, but it just didn’t take off. Instead I get calls from friends, relatives, friends of friends to do research projects and I do them for fun. I don’t charge anyone because I feel like I can find information so easily why not just do it for the joy of doing it. But I realize that out there in the universe is a job for me. A job that will allow me to work from home (most of the time) and allow me to utilize all the skills I have acquired over the years. I just hope I can fit it all into a one page resume.

Locker Room Talk

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I assumed that Locker Room talk is all that well – boys talk about. I figured it’d be where my 9th grader would be exposed to all that “talk” we didn’t want him to hear. Ends up the locker room is the best conversation. He said that they talk politics, sports, about their classes. Sex, and girls are never a topic of conversation and Gym class, which he has daily, he said is one of his favorite classes and an opportunity to relieve the stress that has built up from his academic classes. I was in shock- the locker room isn’t what they say it is. Or is it just his locker room?

So we began to talk further. Ends up the sex, the girls, the relationships, the rude conversations do happen, just over lunch. He sits at a table that he found the first day of school. He doesn’t have any friends at that table. I think routine is so important for his anxiety that even though as he calls it- he sits with the “asshole” table full of jocks and popular kids who talk a lot during lunch, he remains sitting there to keep his daily routine the same. Meanwhile “the weird kid” (he called himself that in this context) sits at the corner alone doing his homework. I asked him why he didn’t want to change tables and he said it was “interesting to hear what people talk about and it’s a good way to know what is going on at the school.” He also said “Mom- it’s good to know what people spout about. The sex, the girls- it’s just bravado. It’s all bull-shit!”

I am prouder than proud. The “locker room talk” I was worried about does happen but my kid hasn’t fed into it thus far. He’s a respectful young man who I hope will continue to be just like his dad, quiet, thoughtful, with a good heart. I am happy that he enjoys Gym class (I hated it and it was the worst class of my day). I grew up being bullied in gym and made fun of as I was not the most physically gifted person. Quinn is really tall and built like a football player and he is well respected in Gym. I find this so interesting. He’s also like his Dad in this respect. John is tall, and looks like a very sports oriented man but inside he’s a nerd through and through. Quinn is the same and it’s great that he manages to socialize throughout his day, just not at lunch.

So I am not sure what I need to be worried about but what I am glad about is that we have open communication at home. We invite friends over and we hear what they talk about. We are a pretty easy going family and I am open to talking to kids about pretty much anything as long as they bring it up and they are comfortable with it. So far we’ve talked about Sex, politics, Girls, relationships, marriage and parenthood. I haven’t asked my daughter about her locker room yet and I just might and my youngest isn’t there yet. But when he is, I hope he can talk to us about what goes on at school and that he feels comfortable to share it with me or his siblings.

School is just a microcosm of our society. It reflects real people and real life opinions. It’s where we can shape and help our youth to be tolerant and kind. I know my daughter is very vocal about her opinions at lunch with her friends. She has friends of varied cultural and religious backgrounds and she studies about children with disabilities using Ted Talks and You-Tube documentaries. I am very proud of her. After homeschooling for the past 5 years, I am proud that Quinn, Meghan and Cole have integrated into their school communities and that they are willing to share their experiences with us at home.

What’s going on in your kid’s locker rooms? Talk to your kids today, and be sure to ask about lunch conversation! 🙂

Fight for what you believe in

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When you think something is unjust, when you feel you need to advocate for your child, do it. Don’t hesitate. Pick up the phone, put pen to paper or send an email and fight for what is right. Recently I got myself in hotwater doing just that. I fought for equality within an organization that is currently all boy and is transitioning to more of a family approach and including girls. Slowly at first but by 2019 sometime it’ll include Girls. I have 2 boys in the All-Boy program and was excited that my daughter could join her brothers. As a family it would be a tremendous opportunity to be in once place on one night at one function, together.

Last week that all changed when news came out that in fact my daughter can join the organization but that we as a family, as a sub-organizational unit will have to start a whole new group that will be all-girl. I was beyond upset. My daughter was beyond upset. She had wanted to join her brothers, be equal to her brothers. That was not the message sent down from the heads of the organization.

This is how I found myself in hot-water. I wrote a letter and I included some loose quotes from the local head of the organization who I had heard in a public forum mention that in fact my daughter could be with her brothers and that this organization in it’s future (years down the road) would eventually become more progressive and would someday be co-ed. I wrote that in my letter. Mind you I had written 2 letters previously to the local head of the organization with no response. So a few days later I composed a letter to the National organization and hit send. No sooner had I done that, I suddenly got emails from the gentleman I quoted. He wanted to sit and talk with me.

I was being called to the principal’s office and it was not a good feeling. I felt awkward and fired up and defensive. I did nothing wrong and I know I didn’t even today. I, out of courtesy, sat down with him and brought a friend who is also a parent in the organization and we sat and we talked. It actually went quite well. I am purposefully not stating what the organization is because I was asked NOT to mention the man I spoke with in public ever again. I still may but for now I will be respectful of our conversation because it turns out- he agrees with me but has to as a professional “tow the company line.”

I want my daughter to be fully included in clubs and organizations. I think the time has come to stop having genders be separate. Apparently there is a lot of research for girls and boys at the teen years to be separated but all I have found is that this research only applies to academic learning and I value that. Girls do learn differently than boys and vice versa but in a youth program that is not academic centered, I don’t understand why boys and girls need to be separated to benefit best from the program.

NO matter what, I will continue to fight for the rights of my daughter and also the rights of my sons. I value my sons having formed great bonds with other boys and that will not change if their sister and her friends join the organization. So whatever your issue is- fight for it. It will get you invited to the table, it will get you involved in the conversation and that is all I wanted. I wanted to be heard.

The Bra Fairy

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Well in our house, having a teenage daughter means the tooth fairy gets replaced by the bra fairy. My daughter is 13 and began wearing a simple sports bra a year ago. She’s still able to just wear that type of bra but clearly needs a larger one. Will she try them on? NO.

So my solution, I gauge her size, I give her a hug, I measure her waist for pants (or so I say and maybe just maybe I miss and the measuring tape leaps further north…) and I manage to find out what her size might be? She’s in a women’s large top or medium even though she’s small. She’s got really broad shoulders and is 5′ 3″ tall and 122lbs. She’s in a size 6 pant. I figured that part out at least.

So now, I scan the clearance racks for sports bras. I found some great ones by Jockey. Now the tricky widget is they have to NOT be padded. So I find the ones you can slip the cups out of. I scored last week with 2 – marked at $14 each on sale and they rang up at $1.92/each. This was at Kohls, where I regularly score my bras and hers.

I shop, I drop them into her drawer in the night and the fairy has delivered. YET, the bra fairy is not sure they fit. So I have to strategically plant myself in the hallway when she’s getting dressed in the morning and barge in just as she’s about to put her shirt on. Usually I’m too late but last night, I hit at just the right time and sure enough the bra fairy was RIGHT ON!!! And she proceeded to get 3 more bras right away.

Phew- this bra fairy job is far harder than dropping a few quarters or a buck under the pillow. I’d much rather be a tooth fairy any day of the week.

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