By Carol Rood
When I decided to become a mother it was no light decision for me. I had always said I didn’t want children, and to be honest, I meant it. I had many men come and go in my life, and never wanted to have children. Then the day finally came and I met a certain man and decided maybe being a mom wasn’t such a bad idea.
A few years later along came my “Joe Cool”. I was so excited, and scared all at the same time. I was also full of hormones and went through a short period of “postpartum blues”. It probably didn’t help matters that I transferred from San Diego to Pensacola Florida when Joe Cool was only 6 weeks old. That was a bit crazy. Trying to schedule a military move, and handle being a new mom was quite a doozy!! Not to mention I had a C-section and had to recover from that as well. But we managed, and life went on.
Then a couple of years later we were handed a surprise baby, “The Genius”. He was so different from Joe Cool. He was wiggly, and wouldn’t lay still, and full of energy. Energizer bunny baby for sure!
We definitely had our hands full. Their father was a stay at home dad and went to college in the evenings. I was in the Navy working a full time job, and taking care of the kids in the evening while hubby went to school. It was a busy time. I thought It was demanding. I thought it was difficult. Joe Cool is currently 16, and The Genus is 14. Looking back on those times when they were little and required so much attention, I now realize that those were the easy times of being a parent.
Now don’t get me wrong, those days had their challenges: Learning to poop and pee in the potty. Learning how to do things for themselves. Letting them “cry it out” at night as I sat outside their bedroom doors listening to them cry and call for me, and crying myself. But even with all of that, those years were wonderful years. My boys adored me. I reigned supreme as “The Mommy”. What I said went, and there was no arguing. Just a little time out could work wonders. I always knew where they were, who they were with and what they were doing. (Yes, I know I am a control freak.)
Now that they are teenagers things are so much more complicated. They have internet access, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram and Twitter accounts. They have phones (as long as they can pay their phone bill), with internet access. So I learned about Facbook and Instagram and Twitter etc, so I would understand their world. I put programs on the house computer to monitor screen shots and keystrokes, etc, so I could see what they were up too. I set parental controls on their phones so they can’t text during school, or after 10:00 when they should be in bed on school nights. All of it exhausting work.
Then I had to become a detective. Asking, “Who are you going to be with?” “What are you doing?” “Where are you going?” “When will you be home?” “Who is driving?” “Will there be adults present at this event?” “Will there be girls there also?” “Do you like any of them?” “Will there be adults present?” Around and around I go.
Then just to be even more sure I was getting the straight story I put a “Locator” service on our phone account where I can see where they are based on where their phone is. Anyone who has a teenager or young adult knows that they are NEVER very far from their phones!!
I was proud of myself, and thought I was on top of things. Boy, was I wrong. Because THEN I found out about Kik.
Kik is an app they can download onto their phones for free so they can text other people that have the app, and it doesn’t go through the phone account. So they can text all night long, and I would never see anything on the phone bill, and although I can “lock” their phones at a certain hour, I can’t make the data stop at a certain time, so they can still have access to the internet and their apps.
And THEN I found out about Snapchat. Snapchat is an app where they can send pictures, which can be viewed for just a few seconds, and then never viewed again. What a great way to send “taboo” photos that don’t stay in your gallery so your parent can see them if they scroll through your phone. So sexting via Snapchat has become the new rage. GREAT!! And of course as an adult I know that once something is on the internet it is there forever, but try convincing a teenager of that!
Luckily for me I love in a community where I know many of the parents of my kids friends. I have met them at swim meets, or soccer games, or school events. If I don;t know them personally I probably know someone who knows them. I call this group of parents my “mom posse”, and have used the posse many times over the years.
As a matter of fact I utilized it just the other night. Joe Cool was at work and Karol and I decided to go to the movies. Towards the end of the movie Joe Cool called me three times. I guess he forgot that you shouldn’t talk on your cell phone during a movie (note my sarcasm). When the movie was over I called him and asked what he needed. He said, “Hey, M. and A. want to go to the baseball field and watch the meteor shower tonight and they want me to go with them.”
Now even though Joe Cool is usually honest with me, I was like , “Sure, of course three teenaged boys want to go to a dark, empty field and watch a meteor shower…….right……” So I immediately texted both of the other boys’ moms to check if the meteor shower story was “legit”. I received a response form M’s mom that went something like this: “LOL, yes it is legit. I am on my way to pick up Joe Cool now.”
When they pulled up, I went outside and M’s mom and I had a good laugh about the “mom Posse” and how these teens won’t be able to get away with much of the stuff we did. The boys didn’t seem to think it was as amusing as we did. Oh well!!
I will say that it is a different world then when I grew up in the 80′s. There is more available for kids these days to lure them into trouble. Sure the drinking and experimentation is the same, but there seems to be more opportunities for those things to happen now than when I was a teenager.
So being a detective is as important as being a mom, and unfortunately for my boys, I will always be in their business and trying to keep up with what is going on in their lives. I am not their friend, I am their mom. I can be their friend later, when they have graduated college and they are living on their own. For now I need to parent them and keep guiding them in the way they need to go so they CAN get to college, graduate and be out there on their own living their lives!
By Carol Rood
I have been healthy my entire life. I have never had a broken bone, and have only had the flu once that I remember. However, since I was pregnant when I had the flu that should count as if I had it 3 times. I mean really, it was pretty awful that as soon as I was done with the first trimester nausea, puking nonsense I came down with the flu so I was right back to puking. TOTALLY not fair…..
Seriously, being healthy is a good thing. Karol has many, many health problems she has had to deal with. She has had cervical cancer, eye surgery, surgery to put a prosthetic ear drum and ear bones in her right ear, a Radical hysterectomy, knee surgery, and since she had the hysterectomy she now has lymphadema in her right leg. Oh and lets not forget that fact that she has a brain tumor.
Not only have I always been mostly healthy throughout my life, I have also always had regular periods. Yes periods….I went there. Ladies, you know how important it is to have a regular menstrual cycle. To know when that crap is coming makes life so much easier. Being able to plan for the bloating, cramps, mess, etc is always a good thing. Although, that really makes me think that the whole thing really isn’t quite fair. I mean what do men have to deal with?
Women start out in their early teens dealing with a menstrual cycle, then we have to deal with birth control (which brings it’s own brand of bullshit into your life…weight gain, acne, etc etc), then we have babies if we choose and then deal with the physical aftermath of pregnancy, (which for most of us means weight gain and for those of us with c-sections flabby tummies for LIFE). THEN after childbirth and all the “loveliness” and the pain free experience of that (note the sarcasm), we go back to having our menstrual cycle on a monthly basis, and THEN, when you are in the middle age of your life, and you are through having babies, and by all rights you should just casually and calmly stop having your menstrual cycle, is that how it happens????
My friend Rikki gave me a birthday card with these ladies on it:
My new best friends!!! (thanks Rikki)
After a lifetime of dealing with bleeding on a monthly basis that also includes cramps, bloating, backaches and a million other kinds of nonsense, the Universe is kind enough to have women go through MENOPAUSE. Oh, but you don’t just get to “go into” menopause, nooooo, that would be too easy. Instead of gently just going into menopause, we have this whole period of “perimenopause”. Which in non-medical terms just means your body is going to mess with you and make your life even MORE complicated……. oh, and just to make it a little more interesting, this “perimenopause” can last up to 10 years!!
What a cruel joke!! And oh yeah, by the way, the Universe has a sense of humor, and likes to gain amusement at my expense, it isn’t enough that I have started down this slippery slope of perimenopause, nope, my body decided it was a good idea to start the crap the week I turned 46. Really??? Thanks!! Like I needed that not so gentle reminder I am aging….. NOT!!
I am telling you the truth when I say that unless I was pregnant my cycle has come EVERY 28 days. I was always one of those women who could circle the day on the calendar and KNOW when my cycle was going to start. A few months before before my 46th birthday (two years ago), my cycle was a couple of days early, then the next month a few days late, then I was right back on track. So I thought nothing of it.
THEN the month before my birthday, (September, 2011) I started getting the typical PMS symptoms. Bloating, water weight gain, tender breasts, some mild cramping. The day my cycle was due came….and went. Then it was day after day after day of waiting. Two weeks passed by and still no cycle. So I called a friend who is a couple of years older than me and has gone through this already to get some advice. And what did my wonderful compassionate, loving friend do? She laughed……..LOUDLY! To be honest, she was helpful, after she finished her cackling…
I decided I was not going to let this perimenopause stuff beat me, so I went to my local health food store and bought an herbal supplement that had the most milligrams of every herb I knew to be associated with menopause symptoms and plant hormone regulation and I found a bottle of pills called Mensosense that has Dong Quai, Black Cohosh, and Chaste Berry. After taking these every morning for a week I felt MUCH better, and lo and behold, my cycle started!! Coincidence? Magic?? Herbs?? Probably some of all three. Whatever, I started taking those magical beauties every day……..
In October 2011 after I had that horrible experience in September I had my annual physical. I love my doctor. She is amazing. I told her what I was going through and asked for advice. Did I mention I love my doctor?? Her answer to me was, “Every woman is different, perimenopause can last up to 10 years, and you just have to be prepared for the unpredictability. Carry an extra pair of underwear and all the feminine hygiene products you will need in case of a surprise.”
Wait, that’s it??? All medical science has to offer is “carry extra undies, pads and tampons” ????? That’s it??? So in other words I need a bigger purse than I already have?? Shit! I still do love my doctor though!
Fast forward two years. My symptoms have all but disappeared, except for the fact that my bleeding issue is all over the map now. Worse than it was two years ago. When I went to my physical this year, my doctor told me the same things about the menopause issue, and this time added, “well, your blood pressure is great but even though you have lost over 20 pounds your sugar is still high and we will need to check that again in three months.”
I am surprised my blood pressure was so great to be honest. I live with two teenagers and two non working young adults, am taking Statistics this semester in college, and am also facing the prospect of 10 years of perimenopause, to which the answer is: carry extra undies and period accoutrement. Seriously???
My blood pressure should be higher than 120/72!! To be honest, given what is going on in my life right now 120/72 is amazing blood pressure, not just great!!
Maybe the mensosense is helping my moods enough that it is keeping my blood pressure down…..they truly are little magical pills!!!
By Carol Rood
I live in Southeast Virginia. I have been here since 2002 when the Navy chose to station me here at a local helicopter squadron. When I retired from the Navy in 2004 after 20 years of service I decided that I didn’t want to move and uproot my kids again, so I decided to stay here in Southeast Virginia. In July of 2006 we bought and moved into a house in a very nice subdivision in Suffolk. When we moved in I promised my two boys that we wouldn’t have to move again and that we would stay here until they graduated from high school. That was very important to me, and so we were thrilled when we found a house we loved in a very nice subdivision. I was a little leery about living in a neighborhood with a Homeowner’s Association, but we had a good feeling about the neighborhood.
Soon after moving in, my kids started school at the elementary school located within a quarter mile from our house, and I was even more excited about the neighborhood! The teachers were amazing, the school was within walking distance, and the after-school care was affordable. The kids quickly made friends, and I started to make friends as well.
I think one of the things I loved most about BG (our neighborhood) was the fact that so many people knew each other and everyone seemed so nice. My oldest son started playing Little league and we met more people who lived in BG. Then the boys transferred from our Chesapeake Boy Scout troop to a Suffolk Troop, and even more BG people entered our lives! Living in a community that felt so tight knit was awesome!!
The summer of 2007 we found out that BG had a neighborhood summer swim team, and I signed the boys up immediately. It was not free, we had to pay a registration fee, and buy swim suits, but to have an activity for my boys to participate in that was in the neighborhood where we lived, and kept them busy was a godsend for this worried mother. That summer my boys got hooked and we have been participating in the Tsunami Swim Club for the past 6 years!
The swim club has a short season, only 6 weeks, and we practice in the neighborhood pool 4 nights each week from 6:45 until 8:45 (two one hour sessions divided by age group of the kids). To be honest the first few weeks (from Memorial Day until at least June 20) the water is cold and the swimmers come out with blue lips at times. To their credit parents have to tell them to get out and get warmed up because the kids love the team so much they want to just keep swimming.
In 2009, our Homeowners Association Board of Directors decided it was time to charge us “rent” for the use of the pool. Keep in mind that the Tsunami Swim Club was formed in 1996 and had never been charged fees before this time. We were charged $700.00 for our 6 weeks of practice (where we use only 3 lanes of a 6 lane pool) 4 nights per week, and $200.00 per meet (we usually have 4 home meets), for a total of $1500.00. This is of course above and beyond our normal homeowners dues to use the pool. We said, “ok, that is fair”, and began paying 4 years ago.
3 years ago I became the Team Manager. This is a loose term because the team is parent run, but someone has to organize things, and I became that person. I had to attend the HOA Board meetings in March to “hammer” out the details of the swim club license agreement with them. Every year that I went I heard from at least two board members about how “neighbors complained” about Tsunami “taking over” the pool, and one even said that Tsunami was “trouble” for them. They reluctantly allowed us to continue swimming in 2011, 2012 and 2013.
Each year as I entered the Board meeting in March I knew it was going to be a struggle and was going to have to hear all of the bad things about the team. I always kept my cool and countered each allegation with facts and no innuendos. This past year we were told that they felt “threatened” because our Treasurer sent an email asking for a refund for a night we could not practice. A child has vomited in the pool, and the lifeguards did not have the proper chemicals to treat the pool. If they had we would have been able to have at least one practice. When we asked for a refund due to no proper chemicals being on hand apparently they felt “threatened”. I am still confused about that to this day.
I did receive an email from the HOA President this past summer threatening to kick us out of the pool and “immediately cancel our license agreement”. One of the lifeguards had complained about something one of the volunteer assistant coaches said and I was sent an email about a “substantiated” report of disrespect. My response was that it was NOT substantiated because our side of the story had not been heard. He conceded on that point, and we continued swimming our season.
Last month I received a letter signed by the HOA President telling me that we would not be allowed to swim during the 2014 Season. No reason given. No explanation. Just “you will not be granted an agreement to use the pool.” I immediately shared this information with the swim team parents who were incredulous. We had not been given any warning. We had not been told of any problems. Our fees were raised in 2013, and we paid them with no complaint. I was shocked and couldn’t figure out why the HOA Board decided to vote this way. According to the letter it was a “unanimous” vote. A vote done without any conversation or meaningful dialogue. A decision to ban a non profit community team without a discussion. A team comprised solely of swimmers who live in the neighborhood.
Of course I organized a meeting with the parents to try and find a way to approach the HOA Board in a calm rational manner. We had a very productive meeting and voted to attend the next HOA meeting to ask for a meaningful conversation to try to reverse their decision. We knew we would probably have to make concessions, but were okay with that if it meant we could keep the team.
Then last night the President of the BOD sent out a letter to “all of BG”. In the letter he stated that everyone should come out and state their opinions, and that the Swim Team needs to hear them because of our “perceived importance”. Needless to say I was shocked. I couldn’t believe he would send such an inflammatory and biased letter filled with misinformation to the entire neighborhood. And he used the Neighborhood Watch email to send it. Definitely the wrong platform.
The Vision statement from our neighborhood website clearly states:
The mission of the Burbage Grant Owners Association is to develop and encourage new activities that promote community unity while maintaining the architectural integrity, maintenance, and value of our homes and community property through fiscal responsibility and upholding the highest ethical and moral standards.
It seems our HOA and BOD has forgotten the mission and has forgotten they are supposed to serve the entire community, not malign one piece of it. A neighborhood swim team definitely promotes community unity. We don’t have a “perceived” sense of importance. We ARE important. I guarantee you this won’t be the last word on this issue. We will be out at the Board meeting this week in force, and we will be a force to be reckoned with!
I think what floors me the most to paraphrase from one of our swim team parents is that their arguments are all one sided and without merit. It is without recent quantitative statical analysis or official data-points with any sort of official polling of our homeowners.
Strap on your seat belts it will be a bumpy ride.
If you read this blog with any regularity you know about my struggle with my weight, and how recently (the end of April) I started my family on a mission to change our eating habits from a regular diet to eating real, organic foods.
In August we made some really yummy strawberry honey jam. A few days later we decided to be even more adventurous and made some Blackberry honey jam! It is so good. I did leave the seeds in the jam. Some people like to remove the seeds, but I am okay with leaving them in.
Now in order to can, you will need certain tools. The “must have” tools are:
- Jars (of course) – I prefer the jars without shoulders. I buy them at the local grocery store. For jelly I use the small jelly jars, and for tomatoes I use pint sized jars, or wide mouth pint size jars.
- Ball Utensil set. This set has a funnel, jar lifter, lid lifter, and bubble remover tool. I don’t really use the bubble remover tool, but everything else is essential. This set can be easily purchased online for about $10.00, if you can’t find it locally.
- A Large pot. I actually purchased a canning pot online because was able to purchase the pot with a rack and all the above pictured tools for about $40.00. I didn’t want to mess with a pressure canner, and this does the job quite well.
- A ladle or big spoon to spoon your ingredients into the jars.
- An analog or digital scale. Many ingredients need to be measured. Mine is not an expensive one. I bought it from my lovely Pampered Chef consultant for about $30.00
- A potato masher. You will want your fruits to be mashed so your jam is “jammy” and not just cooked fruit. (I received a kitchen “power tool” for Christmas last year and used that to smash my fruit, but a good old potato masher is perfectly good as well)
Blackberry-Honey Jam recipe
- 3 pounds of organic blackberries
- 1 cup raw honey
- 1 apple, grated
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
Rinse the blackberries. Place them in a large pot on the stove over medium high heat. (I used my caldero, but any nice large pot will do). Add the honey to the pot. Grate the apple (including the skin) down to the core and add to the berry honey mixture. Add the lemon juice. Stir it together and heat to boiling.
Once it is boiling, turn the heat down a bit so it is a light boil, and cook for 30 to 60 minutes. The time variation really depends on how thick you want your jam. The longer you boil, the thicker it will become. However, this recipe will not be as thick as store bought jams, or jams with pectin. Scrape down the sides of the pot as the fruit cooks. It will burst while cooking, so don’t worry if that happens.
Mash the berries with a potato masher. Some foam will form on top of the berries as they are cooking. Some people skim it off and discard it. I just stirred it in, and didn’t worry about it. The taste of the jam is the same either way.
Meanwhile fill the canning pot ¾ full with water, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Be sure to wash all jar pieces in hot soapy water first.
Once the water is boiling turn off the heat. Test the temperature with your thermometer and when it reaches 180 degrees F put the jars, bands and lids into the pot. Leave everything in the hot water until ready for use, removing one at a time as needed.
When the jam is done cooking do a taste test to make sure the thickness and flavor is to your liking.
Remove the first jar from the hot water using your jar lifter tool and shake out excess water. Don’t touch inside of the jar in order to keep it sterilized. Insert clean canning funnel and ladle the jam into the jar leaving ¼ inch headspace at the top (this is where the headspace tool can come in handy – leaving more space at the top might not give as good of a seal). If there are any air bubbles you can slide a clean knife along the inside of the jar to remove them. Using a clean rag wipe excess off the outside of the jar and rim.
Using a magnetic lid lifter pull the first lid out of the hot water and set on top of the jar without touching the bottom of it. Then while only touching the outside of the band screw it onto the jar just firmly enough so it doesn’t feel wobbly on the grooves. Repeat until all jars are filled.
Process the Jars: Bring large pot of water back to a boil. Using your jar lifter (or canning rack) carefully lower as many jars that will fit without overcrowding into the boiling water so they are covered by at least 1 – 2 inches of water. I use a rack inside the canner, so the jars do not directly touch the bottom of the pot (so hot water can flow beneath them). From the moment the water is boiling and the entire first batch of jars are submerged set the timer and process them for 10 minutes.
When 10 minutes is over use the jar lifter to carefully remove the jars from the water. Put them on the counter and don’t move them right away. You will hear your jar lids “popping” which means they have been sealed properly. If jars aren’t sealed within 12 hours then move them to the fridge and eat within 3 – 4 weeks.
Remove bands from sealed jars and with a clean, wet cloth wipe off any jam that has congealed on the outside rim of the jar. This prevents mold from forming on the band. The band can be reapplied, but don’t screw them on too tightly.
Label jars and store in a cool, dry, dark place for up to 1 year.
There are so many great things about this jam. It is made from organic ingredients, it has no refined sugar or artificial sweeteners, it is only about 25 calories per tablespoon compared to 56 for commercial jam, and it is so good!
When I told people I was making homemade jam they were like, “You must have lots of free time!”. To be honest this was so much easier than I expected and SO yummy!! I am already planning blueberry, raspberry, and any other combination I can think of! Homemade jam all winter long!! YUM!
By: Carol Rood
I am a mother.
I am a mother of teenagers.
So far being a mother of teenagers has been uneventful for the most part. They get decent grades in school. (Yes I have to nag). They do their chores. (For the most part, but sometimes I have to nag). They don’t sass too much. (Most of the time.)
Actually I think I am pretty lucky in the kid department. (Their rooms are nasty though.) I gave up the room battle years ago. Now as long as I can walk across the floor without stepping on stuff I am okay with it. I choose my battles. Battles over grades will always win out over battles about their rooms. The way I look at it, good grades means opportunities, and clean rooms just mean clean rooms. Opportunities trump clean rooms, in my opinion.
So I am a mother to teenagers.
It went by so quickly. It seems as though just yesterday they were little, and were showering me with hugs and kisses and love. These days I still get love, but it is less frequently, and sometimes peppered with wise ass comments. They make fun of me if I cry during a movie, and while they will still hug me on occasion, kisses on my cheek are forbidden. (They will still kiss me if I ask nicely, and throw in a bribe)
But I can’t really complain. I enjoy my kids. I laugh with them, and goof off with them. I tell them everyday how much I love them. Sadly, I have friends who have lost children. My mother lost my brother. I can only imagine the pain and loss these women feel. I am sure they cry every day missing their children. I am grateful for every day I have with mine. But I know another day with them is not guaranteed. So I make sure every night before I go to bed I kiss them (they know resistance is futile), and make sure they know how much I love them.
When they were little I was always afraid if something happened to me they might not remember me. Now they are old enough to know how much their mom loved them if something happens to me.
But even with all of that, with the good foundation I have laid with my children about right and wrong and good decisions and bad decisions. About responsibility and foolish choices. About drugs, and friends, and sex and drinking. Even with that I worry. I am entering the years where I have little control and have to just hope and pray that the guidance and structure I gave them throughout their lives will win out when they have to make a decision.
When they are at a party and there is alcohol. When they have a girlfriend and the topic of sex comes up. When they are with their friends and someone pulls out a joint. I won’t be with them, and I have to believe that the values and ethics I tried to instill in them actually took hold, and they will choose to leave the party, choose not to have sex, and choose to walk away from the group of friends with drugs.
I am entering a new phase of parenting. An unknown phase. I was talking with a friend recently who has an 8 year old. I told her, “You are still molding your child. I have finished molding mine and am now just fine tuning.” And I truly believe that. I no longer tell my kids to say please and thank you. If I am still trying to teach them good manners, I missed the boat when they were 5.
I do think I am a good mom, and I have spent the last 16 years trying to be a responsible parent and raise two young men. I have always felt it is my responsibility to help them become responsible, polite, respectful, productive members of society who know how to be nurturing and kind. I think it is important that we give back and I have tried to instill compassion and a sense of doing right by others. Now the wait to see if my diligence paid off.
Now that I am the parent of a high school Junior, and a high school Freshmen, I will be able to see if what I tried to teach them actually sunk in.
I will let you know how that turns out!
My children have been blessed to attend schools here in a town where they have had many, many wonderful teachers. I have friends who are teachers. I know they are overworked and underpaid. I know they have to spend a lot of their own personal finances on things for their students and classrooms. I know that in order to teach they have to love it, because the financial rewards are not great.
My son The Genius usually enjoys his teachers but this past year in 8th grade he especially loved his English teacher. He loved the way she taught, and he always felt valued in her class. The other day on Facebook I ran across a post she had written and I feel compelled to share it with as many people as I can. My reach is more broad here on the blog than on my Facebook page, so I asked her permission to repost her words here and she agreed.
This post is written by 8th grade Teacher Karen Pierce, who my son told me is his “favorite teacher of all time.” As a matter of fact when I read it, I thought, let me see if he can guess which of his teachers wrote this. So I read it to him, and when I read the part about teaching on her feet, he said, “Oh, that is Mrs. Pierce. She never sits down when she is teaching.” Mrs Pierce you have made a difference in my son’s life and are an exceptional role model. Thank you for allowing me to share your words with the world!!
Teacher Thoughts….for what it’s worth
I have spent the summer reflecting on my job & have some thoughts to share:
- I teach because I love it. Paying me more will not make me a better teacher. Paying me more will enable me to support my family without working 2 other jobs.
- Contrary to popular opinion, having summers off is not the same thing as a paid vacation. We are paid for working 10 months. If you know a teacher who gets paid in the summer, it is because he/she had pay withheld until summer.
- Politicians (national, state, local) make huge decisions regarding education…..usually without asking for teacher input. If they ask for it, they do it solely for show and have already made up their minds.
- I spend about $1,000 a year on my classroom. I would do so no matter how little I’m paid….it’s necessary.
- I am making 10% less than I was 7 years ago when factoring in the increase in medical insurance premiums, the state’s reduction in retirement that I must now pay, no raise, and the rise in the cost of living.
- I go to work early to be prepared for the day. I teach on my feet, not from behind a desk. I try to make learning fun, not only so my students will retain the content, but because we both have to be there…why not enoy it?
- Over 20 of my past students are dead or in jail. We DO have a national problem….educating students in poor, crime ridden areas is not the same as in affluent ones. You simply cannot compare apples to oranges and tie money into student performance.
- When asked what I do for a living, I say “teach” but really on a daily basis I hug your child when he or she is having a bad day, give bandaids, counsel when guidance sends the child back after 2 minutes, protect from bullies (bullying today is NOT the creep stealing lunch money!) , feed hungry children, provide basic school supplies such as paper and pencil, build self-esteem, etc, etc.
- I have over 500 books in my classroom library for my students to borrow. I also let other students borrow them when they ask. Approximately 20-30 disappear from my shelves each year. I have replaced some novels more than 5 times. Instead of getting upset about it, I believe I’ve given a pretty nice gift to someone’s child. A friend asked me when helping me in my classroom last week if I paid for all of those books. Of course I did….unlike when I started teaching in 1988, teachers today have to buy their own paper clips, staples, cleaning supplies (would it shock you to know my classroom floors are mopped twice a year and desktops are only cleaned when I do it or provide students with the supplies to do it?) etc.
- I teach in a city that has a beautiful school with wonderful technology. Weird how all of our city wide meetings are held there rather than the other 3 that are decrepit, mold ridden, and have 1 dinosaur smartboard that is bigger than my dry erase board and wheeled from room to room when not broken. Should I mention that our dry erase boards are actually construction white boards from Lowe’s or Home Depot purchased and mounted by us…..a far cry from the gorgeous white boards in our “model showroom sister school” across town.
- Finally, the best gifts I’ve ever received from students are when they tell me what a difference I’ve made in their lives because each of them has made a difference in mine.
I want my thoughts to be food for thought rather than just a teacher’s venting. I wonder if this will go viral like those cute videos of small girls dressed like teenagers singing a Nicki Minaj song? Probably not, but feel free to share.
I teach because I love it. Paying me more will not make me a better teacher. Paying me more will enable me to support my family without working 2 other jobs. I am looking for a non-teaching, better paying job at this time. If I find one, I will take it…….but I guarantee I will never be able to say that I love it and mean it as much as I say, “I love teaching!”
Karen Dugas Pierce; 8th grade teacher in Virginia
By: Carol Rood
So, I recently wrote about how Facebook changed my memories of high school and how my 30th reunion was coming up soon. I decided a while ago I was going to go, and Karol (the woman formerly known as Bluebell) said she would go with me. I was excited when the reunion was first announced. I shared how people on Facebook had reconnected with me in such a positive affirming way, and that really reassured me that it would be okay.
However, I must admit that as the time for going got closer and closer, I became quite nervous. I started having more anxiety about my weight, and my life choices, and the fact that many people had stayed in Connecticut and seemed to still be friends, while I had joined the Navy and never really looked back. My parents stayed in Fairfield for a few years after I graduated because my younger brother was still in high school. However, they also moved from Fairfield, and there was no reason for me to return. Would I fit in?
The weekend arrived, and I was nervous, but excited. So we packed, got into the car, and headed north. The drive was pretty uneventful until we hit NYC. After many bad words were spoken on the drive in from NYC, we arrived at the hotel, changed and went to dinner at Luigi’s Pizza! Karol had been told by a coworker (who was raised in Connecticut) that she had to try pizza while in CT because it was like “nothing she had ever tasted”. She agreed!! The pizza was amazing!!
We headed out to the beach where some friends had gathered, and I nervously headed to the sand to look for them. I found them pretty quickly, and was greeted with love and friendship! It was so nice to get hugs and smiles, and to catch up with old friends! But that was just the beginning!
On Saturday we had lunch with a wonderful woman who was very close to my family. She and my younger brother had dated for several years, and she really was considered part of the family! We met for lunch at an all organic restaurant in Norwalk called Savor Healthy Pizza. The food was WONDERFUL. Pizza, wraps, salad. My friend P had a chicken wrap which looked so yummy, and Karol and I had the chicken ceasar salad!
It is a good thing the restaurant wasn’t crowded because we spent over two hours together. Chatting, laughing, catching up. It was so wonderful to spend time with this truly amazing, beautiful, intelligent woman. I didn’t know her very well because she and my brother are 4 years younger than me, and they didn’t start dating until I had already joined the Navy and left home. After my brother Brian died she and I reconnected and have stayed in touch ever since. To come together as adults and chat about Brian, and our families, and her son, and husband, and her life now was such a special treat for me! It was wonderful to share memories of Brian with someone who knew him so well also! And beyond that, to reconnect as adults was amazing! She is a very talented writer, and was actually was the one who encouraged me to start writing and blogging. For that and so much more I will be forever grateful to you P!!
After we left Norwalk, we headed back to the hotel to change and go to the reunion of Roger Ludlowe class of 1983!!
As we parked, my heart started to pound a little. We walked up to the Seagrape (the bar where the reunion was happening), I took a few deep breaths, screwed up my courage and headed on in. At the door I saw one of the three classmates who had organized the reunion, and found my name tag with my high school picture. I looked around the room, and saw that it was full! I was amazed how many people had come out to this event! I recognized so many people!
Immediately I saw a woman I had been very good friends with all through middle school and most of high school! We hugged and chatted for a bit, and Karol and I started to make our way around the room. While doing so the most amazing thing happened!
Over and over people greeted me, and hugged me and we chatted about where we were living and what we were doing! I was so surprised by the warmth with which I was greeted. A recurring theme was that most of the people who I talked with also had hazy memories of high school, just like I did! I thought I was alone, but we were all feeling the same way. We talked about the “girls” and “boys”. How the “girls” all looked the same, but not all the “boys”. To be honest, most people looked as though time had stood still.
Again and again people talked about how they felt in high school. Muddling through, feeling like they didn’t fit in. My perception of them in school was so vastly different from their perception of themselves. Everyone I spoke with had the same thoughts about adolescence! As the night wore on, the years melted away, and so did the awkwardness. These people who were walking around hugging and chatting, and enjoying each other were an important part of each others lives. Friendships that had faded away were renewed and new friendships formed.
Throughout the night I noticed a few interesting things. Most of the people in the room had outgrown the adolescent ideas of cliques, and separatism. Life has a way of doing that. People who I wasn’t really friends with in high school would say hello and chat for a bit. I noticed people who were in different “groups” in school mingling and that made me feel good that somehow time had removed the walls and as we all neared 50, we had let go of some of our old paradigms. However, upon further inspection I found that wasn’t completely the case. There was a particular group who I walked past at least 4 times. I noticed they didn’t really socialize with anyone but themselves, and although they all saw me each time I passed, they didn’t speak to me. This group was part of the group in school who wasn’t very nice to me, and although at the beginning of the night it bothered me, as the night wore on, it didn’t matter at all. I realized that while 95% of us had grown and changed and become better people, some were just stuck in their worlds and opinions of themselves. Some people really don’t change. That seems sad to me.
I spoke about this with a classmate as we stood outside the bar and the party was winding down. She pointed out that maybe people like that just haven’t had their world view change enough. Maybe they had not experienced loss, or struggle, or other events that would cause them to shift their focus. What a gracious way to see the situation! I decided to adopt her view on things, and see the positive aspect of the situation.
So many of us had grown through loss and life experiences. We had been unemployed, lost siblings, children, parents, spouses, and life had given us ups and downs. They left their mark on us that were invisible to the eye, but visible in the way people were so generous and kind to each other. Life had given us both positive and negative experiences, and caused bruises. To borrow a thought from a popular Train song, these bruises and experiences had made us all more equal.
One of the most touching moments of the evening happened about 30 minutes after we arrived. I was making my way around the room, hugging and talking with one old friend after another when another old friend approached me bringing someone else with her. She said she was so glad to see me and that the man she brought with her had something to tell me. I looked over and saw a familiar face. He proceeded to say that he was so sorry he was “such an asshole” to me in school. He didn’t know why he was mean, but that he really felt badly about it, and wanted to apologize. His apology brought tears to my eyes and joy to my heart! It was proof to me that in school we were all just trying so hard to fit in with our peer groups, and maybe we did things we knew weren’t right but had to do them to “fit in”. I have him a big hug and told him all was forgiven. His apology was a testament to me about the man he had become, and how could I NOT forgive him?
Not many of us brought our significant others, and I was concerned Karol would be bored. At one point I was chatting with a friend, and looked over, and she was deep in conversation with a classmate who works at Sikorsky. Her husband works there too. Maybe Karol is planning a move to Connecticut? The youngest child graduates in 4 years, so after that, anything is fair game. She actually chatted with quite a few people, and it was nice to see her fitting in so well!!
All in all, it was a wonderful evening. Not only were there people from our class, but also from the class a year ahead of us and a year behind us. One of the girls I was in band with who is a year older than us was there and it was so awesome to spend time with her. We were such good friends in school. We spent an hour every day, 5 days a week together, hours upon hours at marching band practice, band trips, concerts, etc etc. She was so much fun then, and still fun now!!
I could write more and more, but I think this post is long enough. This was the first reunion I have ever attended. I did not go previously because fear kept me away. I went this time because I no longer had as much fear. I am so much more self aware, and have the maturity and self confidence to be proud of who I am and what I have accomplished. Social media had changed the landscape of my high school memories and friendships. People I had renewed friendships with online really WERE that nice in person as well!! I was also quite surprised to hear people compliment me on my writing, and tell me they enjoyed reading it. I had no idea people even knew I wrote.
So the evening was wonderful for me!! I had a great time, and it was made even better because of Dee and Chris and Mike, and Brian and Peter, and Julie and Diana and Arlene, and Sharon and Jackie and Jacqueline and Kim and Kim and Kris, and Laura, and Claudia and Patti, and Erika and Sue, Mary Anne, and Sharon, Beth and Mark, Lynn and Lisa. If I have forgotten a name, please forgive me, it was an amazing night, with so many people to talk to. When I was looking at pictures on Facebook I saw so many people I didn’t even get a chance to chat with, but I will in 5 years!!
Or shall we do this again in two??
I am a 47 year old woman who has been a member of many families. First, there is the family I was born into. I am the second child in a family with three children. I am the only girl with two brothers. I lived with my two brothers and my mother and father until I was 18 years old. I grew up in the 70′s and 80′s which was a time that was different than growing up now. We didn’t have all of the technology that kids have these days. I think of it as a simpler time, but to be honest that may be because I was a kid and didn’t have the responsibilities I have as an adult. I don’t know if my parents would call it simpler. My family was far from perfect. We had our struggles, and our good times. We had dysfunction and we had function. But over all when I look back on my childhood, I remember being cared for and not worrying too much. We had food on the table, and were taken to the doctor and dentist regularly. My father always had a job and we always had a house to live in. My parents did the best they could, and frankly I think they did a good job.
Then there was my Navy family. When I was 18 I joined the Navy and my coworkers became my “family”. We all shared a similar vision, and frame of reference. I think in many cases people in the military bond so well because “teamwork” is talked about all the time, and we are in such close quarters, both living and working. If you are a young person in the military you probably live with your shipmates (or fellow soldiers as the case may be), and so a certain camaraderie and sense of “family” is established.
So now I am a grown up and have a family of my own. However, my family is different than many other families and I am going to tell you why:
I believe that kids should get good grades. Getting an education gives you options, as I always tell my kids, and unfortunately for my 16 year old, I talk about his grades and his education ad nauseum.
I have always expected my kids to get a job when they turn 16. I am relentless about them looking for work. I make them keep a list of the places they have applied and the dates, so they know when to contact the managers and check up on their applications. I have done this for the 20 year old, the 18 year old and most recently the 16 year old. These days it is not as easy for a young person to get a job and follow up is very important. The squeaky wheel get the grease, and the kid who goes back week after week to “check in” with the manager of a place of employment gets the job. (The 20 year old, 18 year old and 16 year old have jobs by the way)
My “adult” graduated from high school children pay rent if they live in my house after graduation. Now before you get upset about that, you need to know that it is a very small amount, and I actually put it aside and give it back to them when they move out so they can use it to buy things they need for their own apartment. I believe that a young adult needs to understand responsibility and staying in our pocket forever will not do that for them.
A big way our family is different than most is that the teenagers in my household do NOT get a cell phone unless they can pay their bill themselves. We do have them on our phone plan so their bill is only $50.00 per month, but since they earn an allowance, they use it to pay their bill first, and then use the rest for their own enjoyment. We feel as though a phone is a luxury not a necessity, and luxuries need to be funded by the person who wants said luxury. If they blow their money and can’t pay the phone bill, I suspend the phone line, so it can’t be used until it can be paid for. Isn’t that what will happen to me if I don’t pay my bills? Why not teach them the responsibility of paying bills while they are teenagers?
There are also many ways my family is JUST LIKE millions of other families. We fight with each other, but are fiercely loyal to each other. We joke around and have fun with each other. We love each other and can’t stand each other alternately. (Some days more than others). Sometimes our feelings for each other change on an hourly, even moment by moment basis.
So, you can see that just like millions of families around the world, our family is just like some families and very different from other families! The differences and the way we parent makes a significant impact on the kind of adults we are raising, and we really want more than anything else to raise adults who are kind, caring, responsible, compassionate, productive members of society.
Oh, and I suppose I forgot to mention that one other small way our family is different than others. We are a two mom household. And believe it or not that makes NO difference at all in the way our family functions, or how we relate to each other. It doesn’t change the fact that our kids play sports on school teams, that one son is a Boy Scout, that we like to be together, and we need space from each other. We fight and love and laugh together. Having a family with same gendered parents does not make our family function any differently than any other family, and it isn’t better or worse.
It just is what it is, and we are quite happy with it!
I want to start by giving you all an idea of how the world was when I was in high school. I graduated in 1983. We didn’t have cell phones, and our computers looked like this:
Madonna was still a virgin, the Brat Pack and Molly Ringwald ruled the screen and BIG hair was the look. Along with acid washed jeans, parachute pants, leg warmers and banana clips.
My memory of high school has never been great. I wasn’t the kid who had a “bestie” all through school that I still keep in touch with. In fact, I didn’t even have a best friend who lasted throughout my entire high school career. I had some good friends in 8th grade who were still my friends in high school, but we drifted apart, and weren’t such good friends by Sophomore year. I had different friends in Sophomore year than I had in Junior and Senior year.
I wasn’t particularly pretty or athletic. I was in the band, and in theater. I definitely was not part of the popular crowd. They sat at the lunch tables right next to the doors leading out of the cafeteria. I sat FAR from those tables.
I don’t remember hanging with the same crowd during the four years I was there, nor do I remember really having a great time. I was full of angst, making my mother crazy, getting into trouble and always pushing the limits.
There were “cliques” in high school, the jocks, the brains, the stoners, the cheerleaders, and the whole earth kids. I didn’t belong to any of those groups. In fact, I never really felt like I belonged anywhere. I tried to fit in, but never really did.
After high school I went into the Navy, left the town I grew up in and never really looked back. My parents lived there for a few years after I joined, so I would go back to visit them and would occasionally run around town, but I never reconnected with the kids I went to school with. Then my parents moved from Connecticut, and I haven’t been back since.
Of course we had high school reunions I knew about, but I never felt any desire to go. High school was not a fun time for me. Kids were mean to me. I was called names (I was large breasted and “two ton tittie” was a favorite of some). I was shunned and teased by my some kids in my homeroom class (thanks to one of my older brother’s girlfriends), and in my mind a reunion just meant more of the same.
As the years went by, technology changed, the internet was born, and a website called “Classmates” emerged. Of course I checked it out. I suppose it was my voyeuristic need to see what “everyone else” was doing. These were the early years of the internet, and unless you paid for a “gold” membership you really couldn’t see anyone’s profile. I did reconnect with a girl I had been friends with in 9th grade. I even went to visit her in Kentucky when I was driving through to go to an Amway conference. (Yes I did Amway, but that is a story for another day).
Fast forward a few years. The internet has grown, and Facebook was born. Of course, just like everyone else I jumped on the Facebook bandwagon, and got started. I reconnected with dozens of people from my years in the Navy, and then started slowly reconnecting to people from high school. Remember this was 2004, and by this time I was in my 39, as were all the other people I had graduated with. I have to admit I was surprised by some of the people who wanted to “friend” me. These people were not my friends in high school that I remembered. Some of them had not been very nice to me. Why did they want to be my friend now? It made me start to think that the kids who were mean to me didn’t remember being mean. I remembered.
Then a strange thing happened. Facebook started changing my memories. People would send me messages like, “when we were in high school you were always so friendly and always said hello to me. You were so nice.” Or, “I remember you talking to me when I was having a hard time, and you really helped me.” I even had someone send me a message that was, “I know you don’t know this, but high school was really hard for me, and you were one of the only people who was really nice to me. I will never forget that, You meant a lot to me. Thank you!” That one really floored me because I had no recollection of that event, but it solidified my belief that we don’t always know the impact we have on people, positive or negative.
I once described myself on Facebook as an “average Jane”, to which a classmate said my perception of myself was funny because she would describe me as anything but an average Jane. That surprised me as well. In fact recently I reconnected on Facebook with a classmate who is a successful author, blogger, freelance writer and radio show host. I had made a comment about the negative comments on the Huffington Post article I was in, and she said that she really liked the article and thought I always had something interesting to say! I was floored. I couldn’t believe she had even noticed me. She was a popular girl in school, and is a bestselling author today!
It made me realize that I wasn’t the only one who struggled and felt alone, or awkward. I was a nice person in school who had a positive impact on people’s lives. I am sure I probably had some negative ones also, but nobody has come forward to yell at me…… yet.
So this year when a 30 year high school reunion was announced, I decided to go. I have to admit I am a little nervous. The crowd I “hung out” with in school isn’t going, and I wonder if anyone will sit with me or talk to me. Just because they seem to like me on Facebook doesn’t mean they will want to talk to me in real life. Will they all be too busy with the high school buddies they have stayed friends with all through the years? Bluebell is going with me, and surprisingly my two teens want to go for the weekend as well, to see where I grew up, and hang at the beach.
Reconnecting with people on Facebook has given me the courage to go check it out and I think I will have a good time. It changed my perception of high school and the other people who wandered those halls with me. Now I will go see if my changed perceptions are true. Wish me luck!!
By Carol Rood
When my children were young I took them on vacations. It was a struggle as they were still in diapers. As a matter of fact, I took Joe Cool on a family vacation to Barbados and Puerto Rico when he was almost two, and I took both of them on vacation to Puerto Rico when Joe Cool was 4 and The Genius was 2. I potty trained The Genius while on that vacation. I just let him walk around diaper-less, and within a week he had it figured out. Don’t judge, we were in a house with no carpeting so clean up was easy.
I took them on vacation as they became older as well. I have taken them to the Poconos, Shenandoah, and Orlando (a few times). They have always enjoyed themselves and since we usually stay at RCI resorts they have participated in activities like arts and crafts, putt putt golf, basketball, etc while we were on vacation.
Last week we took them to Massanutten Resort for Spring Break. We arrived, brought in the luggage and groceries and this is where the two older teens ended up:
On day two it was pretty quiet. We did get them out of the condo to go to the Massanutten indoor water park. But they wanted to come home after only 2 hours because “It is boring and the little kids are annoying” This is what they did the rest of the day:
The Genius (who is 13) was not happy because he was having a good time and the older teens ruined his fun. (Don’t worry I bought him a three day pass and made sure he went back and enjoyed himself two more times).
On day 3 we all went and made tie dye shirts.
Then the older teens spent the rest of the day like this:
On Day 6 we got them out of bed to go out just for a couple of hours. Joe Cool and The Genius went ziplining. Otherwise they spent the day like this:
Fun right? Sigh…
On the other hand, Joe Cool, Bluebell and I had a ball! We made tie dyed shirts, we played Candy Bag Bingo.
We went to the rec center and played pinball. I worked out and walked. Bluebell took two camera classes.
The Genius made glycerin soap:
He made a stepping stone:
And won this super cool light playing games in the arcade.
His older brother even spent some quality time one evening teaching him how to play Black Ops….oh joy!
I did get the older two boys out a couple of times.
But The Genius had a ball!
I may just take only The Genius on vacation next time!
At least he gets out of bed.