Monday, June 30, 2008

Are These the Best Days of My Life

You know the stories, the songs and older generation of folks thinking back to the 'old days' reminiscing about the best days of their lives. Today is my birthday. Another year older, a new number to remember.

So, are these the days of my life? I'm not sure. Thinking about how miserable some of the people around me are, things, life in general, is going pretty well for me. I shudder to think of being an old person and thinking back on my life--I'm just not ready to be that old--but I think when I look back, this particular time in my life will be a thought of as a good one.

Looking back though, even now, as young as I am, there are several times in my life that are good ones, and really I can't think of a lot of bad ones.

My 35th Birthday Horoscope

Right now your brain is wide open to new ideas and new ways of doing things. Stepping out of your comfort zone has never felt so good, so take a walk on the wild side and remind yourself what it's like to feel a little out of your element! There has never been a better time in your life to explore a new hobby or interest. How about checking out a career opportunity that you have been thinking about pursuing for a while? You are about to enter a very sweet and worry-free time in your life.

I am really looking forward what my immediate future holds for me. The natural course of change is fascinating and I feel like I'm in a period of transition/change...Oh the things to happen.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Happy Birthday my wee one

She is officially a 6 year old. She'll go to first grade in the fall. She's growing so fast. I woke her this morning with a 'Good Morning, six-year old'. She said to me, 'I was just going to ask you if I was 6 yet'.

Much to my surprise Her Royal Moodiness was in a fabulous mood all day. If only it could be her birthday every day. She had her 'birthday celebration' with her (paternal) grandparents. They take each of the kids out for a special outing for their birthdays.

The inlaws took her to see the new Disney flick Wall-E. She loved it, and the grandparents seemed to enjoy it. They did mention that there was like 25 minutes of previews/commercials that they didn't particularly appreciate. The little one did get a free 'watch', one of those rubber bracelets with a watch built in, the equivalent of a Happy Meal toy.

After the movie they went out for dinner and then ice cream. They also stopped at Walmart for a little photo album, which grandma will cover with fabric that she picked out at the fabric store and fill with birthday celebration photos. All of the kids have these books, some of them are on their second books. The little one only has 3 pages left in her first book, so she was in need of a new one.

When she got home, she was dying to open her present from the family. She was ecstatic to open a Melissa and Doug standing art easel. I put it together and she drew her first picture on it. She's an 'artist' as she'll tell you. She loves to draw...all the time. Lately she draws mostly people.

I feel satisfied that she had a happy birthday. Tucking her in bed, 'good night, birthday girl'. She says to me, 'can you call me that in two days, too?' We're having a party for her in two days, so she'll get two 'birthday girl' days.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Win a Fancy Nancy doll

How cute is Fancy Nancy?! My youngest daughter just loves Fancy Nancy books and checks them out of the library every chance she gets. Here's your chance to win one of your very own.

Here's the link

Win a Fancy Nancy Doll

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Sibling Rivalry? Just plain fighting all the time

I'm really trying to enjoy my children this summer. I wish I could say that it was going as smoothly as I'd like it to.

Right now, the 3 younger ones, 5, 7 and 9 are playing Buzz Jr. on the PS2. It's about to get shut off. All they're doing is yelling at each other. It's driving me crazy.

We can't even take a 20 minute to and from ride in the car without someone having a fit and screaming or fighting. It's insanity I tell you. I've got a headache from the stress of the day already today.

Monday, June 23, 2008

To Rejoin the Workforce or not

As a parent of five children, as you can imagine, money is of the utmost important goals. We have to provide for them. I've spent 13 years working/staying home with the kids. I've babysat, typed transcripts, sold candles, made doll clothes and other hand crafted items all from home. I've decided to retire from the whole babysitting deal. In the fall all five of my children will be in school full time/all day.

My husband wants me to get a job. I can't decide if I want to work outside the home, or get something going here, at home. Of course, I'd love to stay home. But we do have to have some income or we just won't make it. I need to replace an $800 a month income...and soon. I've been browsing Monster and Yahoo Hotjobs for jobs, and actually found one for my father. He started last week with an opportunity that should take him through the rest of his working life.

As for myself, I've seen some postings that have had potential. I guess I'm not sure where to start. I started working on a resume today. That's a joke. Let me tell you. When it comes to experience, I don't feel like I have enough in any one area to get a job that I might enjoy making a living at. I can't even imagine what employers are looking for at this stage in my life.

Top my lack of experience with a lack of education and I can certainly tell you that I feel like my options in the traditional workforce are extremely limited. I graduated high school. That's the extent of my education. It doesn't seem like much, especially when you put it down on paper (or computer screen...)

Now for the big question. What do I want to do with the rest of my life? And how can it make me enough money to get by as a contributing member of society--as well as my household?'s frustrating and freeing at the same time. I'm enjoying not 'having' to work right now, just managing my kids and household, the usual stuff--laundry, meals, shopping, organizing, entertaining, kid extra curricular activities and such.

All that's fine, but it seems as though if I'm to stay home in the fall when the kids go off to school, I'll need to have something in place to have an immediate income. It feels like my spouse is really pushing me out the door to get a job, even though I'm not sure the perfect job is out there. I'm not ready to leave the kids completely on their own. A job will have to fit into their schedules as well, not to mention the spouses schedule. Is there really a job out there with the hours of 9-3 so that I can get the kids to school and home again without feeling like I'm abandoning them before or after school?

There are things I'm working on, that I really need to focus on and get going. There's my seamstress 'career'. I make quilts, blankets and bibs for The Storks Cradle. I also have lots of ideas for an online store for handmade items made by me and my mom. My spouse would LOVE it if I could finish just one of the many 'books' that I've started writing and sell it. I feel so unprofessional though, to become an author, though, wouldn't that be cool!?!

I love to take photos, but again, feel like such an amateur. I would love to purchase a couple of backdrops and a small lighting kid to just start taking portraits. I'm not sure if I'm good enough though. I lack self confidence in a bad way to be able to do so many of the things I enjoy as hobbies. Maybe it's focus that I lack. I can't seem to focus on just one thing and make a go of it.

This is my dilemma. Am I ready for the working world? The professional world sounds so scary. My resume is on hold right now as just the bones of it. I need to get creative and focus on what it is that I can get going before school starts. I hate feeling rushed...but time is already running out!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Summers Here. Transitions and good days

Today is a beautiful summer day in the greater Chicagoland area. I'm officially retired as a daycare provider and can be a parent to my own five children. Being retired from that particular fall back career does not provide me any income, so I begin the search for a real job. Perhaps not a real job, but some sort of income provider.

Today is an interesting day because my two older girls, 11 and 13 are participating in a summer enrichment program at our local high school until lunchtime. Top that with my neighbor inviting my 7 and 9 year olds to 'friend day' at their day camp today. They won't be home until just after 4p.m.

In the house it's just me and the 5 year old, who threw a fit this morning when she found out she wasn't going to get to go to the day camp. She's currently happily coloring with markers a couple of coloring pages that we printed out from nick jr.

There's nothing pressing to do. I've got a few errands to run. This afternoon we have to go to the store to get a birthday present for the 11 year old to take to a birthday party this evening. She'll be sleeping over, so I'm sure I'll be discouraging the 13 year old from inviting over anyone willing to have a sleep over here.

Everything has certainly slowed to a somewhat more leisurely pace. We're not quite in the lazy days of summer. We haven't even made time to get up to the library to sign up for the summer reading program. We're hoping to get that done tomorrow morning. Small town library is actually closed 3 days a week, and then doesn't open before noon. Apparently, I tend to be busier in the afternoon, and would prefer if my library was open at 9 or 10 a.m. a couple days a week--or at least one weekday.

There's only one softball game tonight as well. It's a local game, two blocks away, so I can send the 13 year old on down the street so she can play her game--if it doesn't rain. We've got some clouds moving into the area. Even the spouse has got some leisurely plans to go out with his best friend for a few beers tonight.

I'm looking forward to putting the kids to bed, lighting a few candles and chilling out on a nice summer evening with the windows open and a slight breeze flowing through the house...

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Getting the Big Family out the door in the Morning

Getting five kids out the door and on their way to school every morning is no easy task. It seems simple enough. In this 2007-08 school year that is coming to an end, we've done this so many times, but I can likely count on one hand the super smooth mornings we've had.

On a day that the spouse works, he wakes before me and gets himself off to work. I wake when he leaves. I shower and get started with my day. My getting started routine includes a shower, clean clothes, brush teeth, dry hair, straighten hair and all the things that go along with rolling out of bed in the morning. This usually takes me from 6:20 a.m. until at least 7 a.m.

Between 7 a.m. and 7:10, I pause what I'm doing and wake any children that haven't already gotten up on their own. Lately, that's all five of them. The boy hates to get out of bed when I wake him. If he gets up on his own, he's fine, he'll go start his breakfast or at least turn on the tv or something before the girls join him. So, I have to give him a shove and some sort of inspiration to get him out of bed. This week the inspiration to get out of bed is one of several prompts such as, you have a tball game today, there's only 3.5 days of school left, one more day til olympic day at school.

I move from his bedroom to the shared room of the younger girls. There is a rescue pet alarm clock in this room, but it doesn't push them out of their beds, so I usually have to wake them both. The older of the two (9 year old girl) is a pretty easy up. Give her a tickle and she's awake and doesn't take too much prodding for her to get out of bed. Sometimes I'll skip the bottom bunk and go to the next room before coming back to my youngest, who is at her most pleasant when she's sleeping!

I give a tug on the oldest girl's pillow, which wakes her easily. She lays there for a minute while I attempt to wake the sleeping log. My pre-teen 11 year old girl is rough on the waking and has taught every snotty thing she knows to the littlest princess/demon. I nudge her, tickle her nose with her hair, pull off her comfy blankets, shake her shoulder and tell her its time to get up before I get a reaction.

Once she moves around a bit, I can go, because she'll get up once she's awake. I return to the youngest, hating that I must wake her, but give her covers a little shake and her eyes flutter open. Will she be a princess or a demon today? I never know what to expect. I tell her bunkmate to get moving and she climbs down the ladder and heads downstairs for breakfast. I ask the little one if she wants to pick her clothes or for me to pick them. She wants to do it. I tell her to get moving and go down for breakfast while I finish up in my bathroom.

On my way back to my room for any finishing touches, I tell the boy he'd better get downstairs before the girls do or there won't be any of his favorite cereal left. He reluctantly climbs out of bed. I make it to my bathroom to finish whatever is left, moisturizing, a little more straightening of the hair. It's not more than 2 minutes before the demon starts yelling.

Today she is screaming at an older sister to get her something to drink. Her siblings think she's spoiled, but she's likely just misunderstood. She doesn't want to be left out and can only do so many things for herself. She's little, what do you want. I shout down the stairs for someone to help her get her breakfast ready and the 11 year old complains that she did it yesterday and 9 year old is already eating and doesn't want her cereal to get soggy.

The oldest says she'll do it, because as she says, she 'does everything around here'. I beg to differ with that statement, but am satisfied that breakfast is underway and it's not even 7:30 yet. I finish my stuff, and head down to supervise breakfast clean up because without daily reminders, no one will clean up after themselves.

After they eat, most of them head back upstairs to get dressed. The demon whines for someone to push her chair out so she can get down, something she can do herself, but today refuses to. I ignore her and tell her to get dressed. I've brought an outfit down for her. She finds it on the spouses recliner, but decides it is not what she wants to wear. Demands I fetch something different.

I cannot, we're running low on time. I put together 2 butter sandwiches, 1 peanut butter sandwich and 1 pb&j and put them in the lunch boxes. Once their dressed, they'll come back down and put the rest of the things they want in the boxes, juice box, granola bar, etc. I add 3 slices of salami to the demon's princess lunch box, a juice box and a granola bar today because I know she won't be ready to do it herself. I still have to brush her hair.

She finally realizes that I'm not fetching her clothes, much to her loud demands and arguing with me she goes upstairs to find something better. She can't find what she's looking for and I end up going up there anyway and opening the next drawer and handing her the outfit she was looking for. I go brush the hair of my 9 year old girl. Direct the boy to get his lunch finished and in his backpack.

The older two pretty much do their own thing. Once they've eaten breakfast, they're in their room primping. After primping they finish making their lunches and get ready to walk out the door. I yell to the little one to hurry so I can get in my last bit of torture, the hair brushing. I pull out yesterdays rubber bands at 7:56. There's no time for a cute french braid, so a ponytail holding the front hair off her face will do. She whines and complains the whole time. By now I've shooed the rest of the kids into the minivan and they're waiting on us. We're doing good if we get in the car before 8:05.

We drive the .75 miles through town to the middle school to drop off 11 and 13. They request a ride home. The little one is cold and didn't bring a jacket. I don't have time to run back home. Back towards home and pass the elementary school and drop off the other 3. She still wants a jacket, which she wouldn't have needed if she'd worn the outfit I'd originally picked out for her, which I of course mention. She ends up taking 9's sweat-jacket with her.

I head back home to wait for my daycare kids to arrive, which happens around 8:20, minutes after I get there.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Job vs. Career: On the Job.

I graduated from high school. That was my big accomplishment, that was my goal in high school. To graduate. And I did. But I didn't strive for more than that. I didn't think that going to college was an option for me. I would say I was a 'B' student, but with a little academic pushing, I could have tried harder and made better grades. I didn't see the point though.

I probably should have gone to the cosmetology vocational class, but I didn't think my parents would want to pay for it. I could be a hair stylist--everyone's got hair. Well almost everyone. I could have gone for scholarships and that, at the least been encouraged to go to community college to study something.

I was pushed to get a job. I dreamed of moving out of my parents house and providing for myself. To do all of that, I needed a job that would pay me. I had standards, I wouldn't work at a fast food place--couldn't stand the thought of any job that might include hairnets. I wasn't afraid to work or learn something new.

A couple months out of high school a friend recommended a place. A cafe. It was a sandwich shop open for lunch in Geneva, Il. I didn't go there right away, until summer was almost over and I was getting desperate. I got the job.

I quickly moved through the ranks at the deli, and was soon babysitting the head sandwich maker's 10 year old son a couple nights a week. After I bought my very first car, on my own--a Red Geo Tracker w/ white ragtop. I was promoted to the chain store the deli owners had in St. Charles, Il. I had a nice thing going there, working at the deli 6 days a week, never past 5 p.m. But I eventually wanted more.

I needed to get into a world where there was more room for advancement. A friend and I applied at an upscale discount retail chain that was building a store in a blossoming Batavia, Il. We were hired. For a while before the store opened, we worked stocking shelves and training on cash registers. I worked the deli by day and went straight to the discount store after the deli as many nights they would give me.

I eventually got promise of full time hours at the discount store, so I quit working at the deli and went full time for the big corporate chain store. That is where I took my first and only maternity leave from. That's the last 'Real Job' I had.

Thirteen years later I'm trying to decide if I should just get a job or follow a passion or a hobby and make a career. Am I too old to start a career. Does a career have to revolve around only one area of expertise? Could I still be a fashion designer or an architect? A writer or a business owner...entrepreneur?

End of the Year. The School Year

Today I'm getting ready to call the school year over. This also marks the end of the work year for me. Summer Vacation. For millions of parents all over the United States, the school year is coming to an end. The children will be off school for something like 11 weeks before they go back and start a new grade, a new school year.

I do not have to go back to work though. Well, not in the sense that I worked this school year. I'm currently employed as a day care provider. I work from home. I've only a few days left of this career before I take a family vacation and embark on a work at home mom adventure.

We are kicking off our summer vacation with an actual vacation. So, I'm keeping myself busy these last few days of 'work' with getting ready for summer and ready for vacation. I'd like to start the summer on a good note, an organized note.

I'm cleaning up my office, getting it ready for when we return from our vacation. I'll need to dive right into my work, figuring out what my new career will be. I'm doing a little bit of everything today. Everything includes changing diapers, feeding children, catching up on General Hospital, pre-vacation tasks like charging my Dell Jukebox and other misc. tasks.

With the school year coming to an end, final report cards will be here soon along with backpacks full of papers. I cleared out my school paper bins, keeping only one out of three bins full with papers to keep and report cards from throughout the year. I'll sort them by kid after I get the last day of school and put them in their baby boxes.

I also started clearing out the bins/drawers that I use for my day care kid supplies. Extra outfits, misc socks and pacifiers all have been tossed into a paper bag to be returned to the family at the end of the workweek this week. I don't know how much I really condensed as I'll still need to use diapers and wipes and bottles, but at least I've got a bag set aside so in four days I can just toss the rest of the stuff in the bag and hand it over to daycare mom.

I will continue my contract sewing gig, so I'm straightening up my sewing area so that I can dive right into my work once we get settled into a summer routine after our vacation. I'm a starter of projects, many of which don't always get finished, or get finished up in a hurry. I move stuff around hoping that it looks clean, feels clean in my office. I work better when it feels clean and straight, but I've got so much stuff it's hard to get that feel and keep it.

Every little bit helps, I guess. I still have to place a photo order. I've got some collage ideas for some empty photo frames in my room. On the back burner is a birthday party at the end of the month, as well as a family reunion and my own birthday. Would love to start making curtains for the house this summer. I think window coverings would help a bit with utility bills.

This will be a busy week getting ready for summer and summer vacation, but one that I've been looking forward to for months. It's hard to believe it's finally here. The winter blahs seem to have lifted for the most part. I mean, there's still PMS to deal with, but for the most part, things are going well, or at least I feel like they are.