Thursday, January 29, 2009

Sometimes I Wish Things Were Different

When I first moved to Chicago wondered why it was that people did not look each other in the eye when they passed each other by. I had heard this wasn’t unusual in a big city. It didn’t take me long to figure out that doing so can sometimes put you in awkward situations like having to tell someone you didn’t have spare change or worse, giving someone some change and having them wait outside your workplace the next day to ask you again. After the first week or so, I felt like I had a sign plastered to my forehead saying, “I am new in town, ask me for money or tell me a weird story.”

After a few more weeks, I too stopped looking most people in the eye. It’s not like I came from a small town (I grew up in Milwaukee, WI a city of more 628,000) but, transitioning to a city with more than 2,836,600 people did cause me to make some changes. My driving for instance has become a little more daring, why because if you don’t move forward, somebody who thinks there is no one else on the road, but himself (herself) will be on your tail faster than you can say, “Sasquatchian”.

Now, don’t get me wrong- there are a great many things I like about living in a place where not everyone is from the same general vicinity like the variety of people you encounter. I like taking the train to work rather than driving. I like having so many choices in terms of restaurants, museums and shops, but, sometimes I wish things were different. I recently found myself wondering what it would be like to be able to talk to someone without any hesitation. It may seem naive, but, sometimes I wish we could go back to a simpler life before the things and the events that have led us into the state we are in now with so many problems, pollutants, and scandals that if we stop long enough to think about it, it is downright overwhelming.

But, before I get too carried away it is some consolation that there are numerous good things that have happened in recent times such as the election of our first African American president, people coming together following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, and the change of attitude towards our environment just to name a few… if you look them they are there. If we slow down and do something different once in awhile who knows what good we can do or where it will lead. I recently read an article in February’s O Magazine about chance encounters and making your own luck by Ben Sherwood who writes about Coleen Seifert, Ph.D., a woman who was once afraid to talk to strangers, but, changed her life after taking the chance to talk to someone she didn’t know and thought why not try to make things different myself if I find myself wishing they were. Getting to know people is easy when you come from different places all over the world and you can ask people questions about where they came from. And each one of us can make a difference for someone else if we make the move towards something we believe in. After all, if we just sit back and wait for someone to make the changes for us, then we may find ourselves waiting a long time indeed.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Stephen Colbert Was Right!

It started off like a normal Saturday night. My husband and I went to a bar on the east side of Milwaukee for a birthday party of a friend of mine. We had a couple beers and some good food but we didn't know a lot of people there. So, we were making our own fun.

My husband had "cruised" this area 20 years ago and we (other authors of this blog included) used to play there 10 years ago. We were exchanging stories and remembering good times. With our hectic life, we don't get to just sit and enjoy each other's company like this very often. It was really nice.

Then, a younger friend showed up. She is the sweetest thing and I really enjoyed talk to her. She took her coat off to stay a while and there they were...her boobs. They were young and perky and cute and saluting. As she went to grab a drink, I whispered to my husband, "I used to have boobs like that". As the mammalian nostalgia was setting in, the biggest freak show in the world walked in the door!!

It started out as just one guy. He was wearing a suit that was covered in little wood planks that were lined up like shingles such that when he jumped up and down, the planks slapped together. He also had on the creepiest (think witch from Snow White) mask. He proceeded to parade around the party...not speaking a word. Just frickin weird but that's not all...

There was like 30 of them! They were all in costumes, all in freaky masks, all walking around and all making weird cooing noises!! I swear to God I am not making this up! It was like a group hallucination! (Note to self: Stay away from the humus next time:-) The girls that we were with were getting really freaked out. So, I switched into mother-mode. I kept telling the freaks to leave the girls alone. I was sitting on a stool and I assured them that I was at "ball height"and could take a shot if need be. Well, need be...check this out:

As the promenade worked its way through the party, a HUGE man in a bear costume filed in. He wasn't a cute and cuddly bear. He was mean looking and he kept bugging the girls. So, I told him to leave the girls alone. That's when he turned on me! First I pushed him with my hands and when that didn't work, I resorted to the crotch kick. It worked but still really frickin freaky.

When things calmed down, I asked the hostess of the party if she had invited them. She is the type of person who knows everyone so I thought maybe it was part of the party. She said that they were uninvited but she also had the answer as to who they were. Apparently, they were celebrating a German Mardi Gras-type holiday called Fastnacht or Fasching. I would love the have Brenda's take on this. Are there customarily bears who attack during this holiday?

So the morals of the story are:

1. The last time I partied on the east side was 10 years ago when my boobs stood at attention.

2. In the event of Fasching, I will turn into a mother hen.

3. And yes, Stephen Colbert, bears do attack!!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Day of Service

This past weekend like so many others I took some time out to do something for my community in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I joined more than 4,000 volunteers doing one of 50 worthwhile projects at a Chicago Care’s serv-a-thon event. It was a long day, but, very rewarding since I was able to take part in contributing to something that will be a part of a Chicago school for years to come. Here is what I helped make that day.

The project took close to 6 hours , 20 people and 12 sets of dominoes to build. I was paired with someone else to build a section of the mosaic, counted out the dominoes that were necessary, and then glued them on and connected them with the rest of the pieces to form the final picture you see here. The project may not seem that hard, but, it required a great deal of patience. For more information about this project and a new one that looks like Barak Obama, visit dominoartwork.com

Other service teams built and painted benches and bookshelves, cleaned and reshelved the library, and painted small murals for the gym and hallway. In addition to doing something for someone else, I was able to remotivate myself to take part in something bigger than myself on a regular basis.

I also witnessed a great speech by civil rights activist, Rev. C.T. Vivian, who worked with Dr. King himself to protest racial discrimination in the 1960s. He brought to light an important aspect of Dr. King that I had never thought of before. He was one of the greatest volunteers; not because he contributed through an organization that already existed , but, because he organized and lead the movement when there wasn’t one before. This takes profound courage.

A few years ago, I was a regular volunteer for Chicago Cares, an organization where you can choose from numerous volunteer opportunities when you are available and another one called Imagination Theater. IT works with both children and adults to build self-esteem, transcend limitations and improve well-being through interactive performances and workshops. Both of these organizations have served thousands of individuals in so many ways. It was also a really great way for me as a new person in Chicago so many years ago to make some quality friends. I am looking forward to doing this again in the near future. It was a lot of fun and something I really believe in.

The battle to schedule

On my personal blog, I started out this year talking about some of my personal goals for the year. I don't like to use the word resolution because resolutions don't work for me.

One of my goals was to find some me time. I stay at home during the day taking care of our 3 year old and the other goings on of our house. I teach from home online at night. This really doesn't leave me much time to get other things done. I am sure some of you are believers in the theory of you need time for yourself to better be able to take care of your kids. I am really not a subscriber to this theory. I mean, it is a nice idea, but if I have a son who is struggling in school to prepare for the next big test, I can't just say, 'Too bad, I need me time!" Their needs do definitely come first. What I am struggling with right now is balance.

For example, I love to loom knit, but I also love to read. There is just not enough time in my day to get both of these done. I had a good beginning to the year as far as my craft projects, but I have fallen into a zone where I am just not getting anything done. I also have not cracked a book open yet this month. This is highly unusual for me. I am an avid reader, and it just is not getting accomplished.

So, my question is, how do you find the time to get the extras done?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I am an Organic Food Snob

It's true, much to the chagrin of my dear husband. He has every right to complain about my loyalty to buying organic food. Our credit card bills bare the unpleasant fact that buying organic may just put our family out onto the streets not too far into the future. Not only has the price of food increased in general, but organic food can cost 10%-200% higher than even the already inflated prices at the supermarket.

But I just can't help myself. My German background and extensive travel experience in Europe has made me an organic fanatic. The Europeans offer so many more organic and natural choices than we do here in the United States, and the vast majority of the population there can't imagine it any other way. When my now 4-year old son was 6 months old and we started to feed him solid foods after 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding, we were in Austria at the time. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the only baby food available in jars there was organic. When I mentioned my surprise to our Austrian friends with whom we were staying, they were shocked and rather horrified to hear that mostly non-organic jarred baby food would be found on American store shelves.

Ever since then, I've been convinced that buying organic is the way to go. I've done some research, too. I'm well aware that there are conflicting reports about the health benefits of organic versus conventional foods. However, recent studies do seem to suggest that there are indeed higher nutritional levels in organic foods, especially antioxidant phenolics but also various vitamins and minerals.

And the FDA's confidence that pesticide-laden conventional foods are safe provides me with little assurance, to be honest. My family is already a haven for cancer, sadly. My mom had breast cancer at age 40 (and beat it, thank goodness), and my brother had melanoma that spread to his lymph nodes at age 27 (he, too, is fine). I don't want my son, my husband or myself to go the same route, so I'm doing as much as I can to cut off cancer at the pass before it makes itself at home in this household, too.

I try to buy organic alternatives of those produce items considered part of the "dirty dozen," foods that absorb higher levels of pesticides and chemicals. They include: peaches, apples, bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, lettuce, grapes, pears, spinach, and potatoes. If there is an organic option available for these foods at the supermarket, I'll buy it.

I'm wondering how other people squeeze organic food into their budgets without being kicked to the curb. A recent study of spending habits in Australia and the UK revealed that people spend five times more money on junk food, take-out, alcohol, and tobacco than they do on fruits and vegetables. No wonder we're all overweight and our health is deteriorating. In thinking about my family's own lifestyle habits, we probably spend a bit too much on junk food (but we usually stick to healthier choices like pretzels and baked potato chips - we're not a Doritos or Cheetos kind of family) and my husband does smoke (don't even get me started on that one!), but we don't spend very much money at all on take-out (we rarely go out to eat at that; I figure if I'm spending all of this money on organic food, I might as use every bit of it and cook like crazy, which I do), and my husband does not drink alcohol, so that is never on my grocery list. I guess I see a few possibilities to cut back on these items so that buying organic is more affordable. (Can anyone help me to get my husband to stop smoking?? I've tried I can't tell you how many times!) But, realistically, I don't really foresee much more cash flow coming out of the above cuts. I need more options. Any suggestions??

Monday, January 19, 2009

I Have Funny Mirrors in My House

I have written about this before but it is still relevant and bares repeating. I have funny mirrors. You know...like the kind at carnivals that distort the reflection. Well, I have them in my house. I think I look skinner than I am. I look at my reflection at home and think, "Not bad". Then, I see myself in a store window or look at pictures or on TV and think, "Who is that fat girl?" I have delusions of grandeur.

Now, my therapist says that it is healthy to have a good self-image. It is not healthy if the distortion is leading you into a physically unhealthy situation. That's where I am at. Blood pressure up. Bad cholesterol up. Good cholesterol down. Now, I have added acid reflux to the mix too. No fun. And I want to know how I went from this 6 years ago:




to this now:


So, I have got to do something and you all are my something. I am going to bare my soul to my friends and the blogosphere and say the number. THE number. Here is goes...I am 5'3" and I weigh 216.5!! There...I said it. Now, once a month, I will let you know how I am doing. Accountability is your task. And that first picture, is going on my vision board .

Now, this goal is in direction contradiction to my other blog so for these posts, pay no attention to the fat girl behind the other curtain:-)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Give Us This Day...

...Our daily breast. This post is not really for the squeamish, so if that's you, please just stop reading now.

There's a lot to think about when you're pregnant. One of the most important is whether or not you're going to breastfeed.

I should tell you that I breastfed my daughter for 8 months before finally throwing in the towel. The first couple of months were rough, but we finally got the hang of it.

Now I'm trying to decide whether I should breastfeed #2, and quite frankly, I'm very torn.

I know it's the best food you can give your baby, you protect them from childhood obesity, etc...but my bottom line is this: my breasts are just too big.

I am not kidding, and call me selfish, but I'm not sure I can put myself through it again.

They can't be THAT big, can they, you ask? I mean, come on, what are we talking about?

Before I got pregnant, I wore a 38DDD. I am up to a 38F - and pushing it. And the last time I breastfed, I wore a 40G. I'm dead serious.

No one can tell I'm pregnant because everyone's too busy looking at my enormous boobs.

So, tell me what you think. Should I breastfeed or not?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Revisiting Resolutions

Last year started out on a high note and ended with a clang. Like many of women out there, I am revisiting the resolutions I made last year to see what has become of them. I will skip the little ones and give you the details on the big ones.

  1. I thought that I would become a mom in 2008. Turns out, my husband and I are continuing to wait.

  2. I also thought that we would purchase a home in 2008, but, because of a technicality with my husband’s job and a housing market that had not yet experienced its downturn, we are continuing to rent for another year. (Progress: At least, we moved and the landlords aren’t a major company that does not respond to us because we are just one of a hundred under their roofs.)

  3. Here is one that I can check off- I finished my Masters in Education. After three years of taking classes one or two at a time, I am done with spending hours in front of the computer researching and writing papers.

  4. Lose weight. I know, I know…This nearly one is on everyone’s list. And I nearly made it through the year not having made any progress, but, I am happy to say that I have lost some weight and am continuing to move forward.

In December, my husband and I started working on a common goal- to get healthy and lose that comfortable, married weight we’d gained over the past 2 ½ years living in the suburbs. We started working with a personal trainer at a health club and drastically altered our diet. Both of us can already see the difference. Not only are we strengthening our bodies, but, we are strengthening our relationship. And we quickly learned this was even more valuable than the goal we had set out to accomplish in the first place.

Prior to starting our plan, we were struggling a bit with our new surroundings, our communication and our motivation. Ben had confessed to me he would rather wait to have children. With this and the prospect of owning a house out of my reach, I felt uncertain where to put my energy next. My job is an easy one, but, I know I needed something more. Then, Ben threw me for a loop. He said that he would rather not have kids if it meant that I would be even more out of shape and unable to enjoy our lives together. This hurt. After all, it is not like I was seriously overweight, but, I was approaching more than 40 pounds what someone my height should be. The truth is, I wasn’t happy with myself either and it was beginning to show.



After a month or so of feeling miserable and procrastinating, we began our journey and agreed that it was something we both should do for ourselves.

So, here we are prior to starting the plan.(Not the most attractive photo, but, it is the most recent one I have that shows the majority of my body and the state I was in.)And here I am approximately 30 days later with some of the contributing members of our blog. From left to right: Brenda, Kari, Therese, and Susie.

I haven’t lost a great deal of weight, but, I know I have gained muscle and lost inches. I am done with the excuses… something I have become very good at over the years. There are always a billion things I can be doing besides working out and cooking better food. It is something I wanted to do before having kids, but, I have never had anyone challenge me to really follow through with it.

Ben has been helping by cooking our breakfast in the mornings and preparing dinner before picking me up from the train in the evenings, shopping for food, and encouraging me with compliments. It has been good for us because we are learning how to communicate better and stay strong together – some tools I am sure we are going to need if we are lucky enough to become parents some day. Other tools I recommend include the free information available on the Today show web site for Joy's Fit Club and About.com's article on losing belly fat. These exercises are very similar to the ones I am doing with my personal trainer that took inches off my waist fast.

I am also finding that I need to follow through with a few other things like volunteering, journaling and photography I gave up with the excuse of working on my masters. In 2009, I will be taking on those things as well. I know what you are thinking… it is just the New Year’s resolution mumbo-jumbo talking, but, this is serious stuff. I need to get my act together if I am going to be successful at paying attention to my children, my work, my husband and myself. Learning to take care of ourselves is probably the hardest lessons we women need to work on continuously. Not for our husbands, not for our children (future children), but, for us. After all, we only have one life and one body.

I am also testing my faith. I am leaving it in God’s hands that I will be lucky enough to still have kids on our own even though I am in my late 30s. It is a gift for myself, because, in the end, I know I will be proud enough to share more of who I am with others and be more confident about moving forward. I will continue to post photos occasionally in the coming months. Of course, I will blog about other things, but, I thought this would be a good thing to start with and sharing it with you would also strengthen my commitment in the coming months.

Causes

I am sure we all have causes that are near and dear to our heart. Today, I thought I would write about one that is important to me. Recently, someone close to me (who I will not identify out of respect for her privacy) was diagnosed with breast cancer. She is currently undergoing chemotherapy.


When those someone I love is hurting, I want to do something to help. Other than prayers, there was little I could do to help in this situation. I did some research, and I came up with the Pantene Beautiful Lengths program. This program takes donated hair and turns it into wigs for women who have lost their hair due to chemo. It is similar to Locks of Love, except LoL uses donated hair for wigs for children suffering from baldness. While LoL is certainly a worthwhile cause, I wanted something specifically designed to help women going through chemo.


Last Friday, I went to my favorite salon, and cut my hair. The stylist asked me if I wanted to wait a couple months more, but I said that it was time as chemo had started the day before for the person I was doing this in honor of. I should clarify a few things at this point. I do not like my hair short, so this was kind of a scary thing for me. I had to close my eyes as she cut the ponytails. She cut off eight inches. I am really glad I did this! It was for a great cause!

Here is the result:






Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Bilingual Parenting - auf Deutsch!

Today, I thought I'd focus on the positive and share one of my successes as a woman and mother with you. Actually, to be totally honest, my husband deserves more of the credit for this than I do, but I do play an important part, so, heck, it's my success, too. Since the birth of our son, Kurt Jr., in 2005, my hubby and I have been raising him in a bilingual household. Here's a little bit of background about us:

My husband, Kurt, and I are both non-native speakers of German, hold master's degrees in the subject, and have been long time teachers of the language. We both also claim German ancestry. Kurt's great-grandparents were German immigrants. My father was born and raised in Germany and came to this country in his early 20s. Both Kurt and I were fascinated by the German language and culture because of our heritage. Although Kurt's dad has a very basic academic knowledge of German, the language was never spoken at home, and Kurt first began learning the language in earnest during his college years.

My father came to this country in the late 1950s as a young man. I don't think he had the easiest time of it here being German back then. During the 50s and 60s, Americans were still mending their wounds from World War II, and he faced quite a bit of discrimination. After all, for many Americans, every single German they encountered was a Nazi or a Kraut, at best. So, my dad made a point to work hard and assimilate in his new home. When I was born, he wanted me to be a true American and so he rarely ever spoke German with me. I can remember only three exceptions; every night before bedtime, I recited a short German prayer, I also remember loving a game he played with me, called "Hoppa Hoppa Reiter", during which he bounced me on his knee pretending I was riding a horse, and, finally, to this day, my dad has always called me "mein Schatz" ("my treasure" - I know...AWWWW, sweet, right? I still smile every time he says that.). Growing up, the first opportunity I had to learn the language formally was in high school. I remember that I just couldn't wait to start really learning German. Right around my junior high years, my mom and I would always harrass my dad, begging him to speak German with my younger brother and me. But he just wouldn't do it. For whatever reasons, he wasn't comfortable with that, and I believe my brother and I suffered for it. My dad left family behind in Germany, so we had (and still do have) an aunt and cousins there. I was never able to really communicate with them until I was 20, something that, since I am very close to them now, was unfortunate while I was growing up.

So, I'm sure you can imagine why Kurt and I wanted to raise our son with German as well as English. We were a little initimated with the idea, though. After all, neither of us are native speakers of German. And although we are decent speakers of the language, most of our experience with it lies in classroom usage as teachers. We decided to give it a whirl, though. We wanted to give young Kurt the advantage of early bilingualism that neither of us had. We wanted to give him an early appreciation of other cultures and the ability to communicate and connect with a wider range of people. We wanted him to understand and talk with his "Opa" ("grandpa") and all of his other German relatives in their native tounge and understand all of the nuances that the language possesses, something that took both of us YEARS to learn and still challenges us even today.

We looked at the research and decided to try the method of bilingual parenting called OPOL (One Parent, One Language). Although my German accent is more "standard" and I'm more knowledgable of "native" speech patterns, my husband's German is just overall "better." He really knows his grammar and vocabulary. Plus, he is just a lot more diligent and focused than I am in many regards; we figured if either of us could hold out for the long haul speaking German with Kurtie, it would be my husband. So, we decided that he would speak the target language of German with our son and I would speak mostly English. And that's what we've done, since his birth.

My role in the matter has been more of a support figure, but a crucial and active one at that since I know German, too. I've ordered a lot of German books and music CDs for our son over the last several years. I do speak German with Kurtie, but just not nearly to the extent that my husband does. I enjoy singing and reading with Kurtie in German and teaching him cute little poems and the games that I've learned from my dad and all of my schooling over the years. Additionally, as of this past August, Kurtie now attends Houston's Deutsche Samstagsschule (German Saturday School) where he is in a Kindergarten class that is taught exclusively in German. Truth be told, I am so jealous of all of my girlfriends who still live in Milwaukee. The German Immersion School there is one of the best schools in the area; I would love to be able to send my son there, but Saturdays will have to suffice for now here in Texas.

The fruits of our labor over the last several years have been paying off. Young Kurt just turned four. He can understand basically anything one says to him in German. We learned this the hard way recently. I had bought him several Geotrax items in December for both Christmas and birthday gifts (his birthday is Jan. 2nd). Just after his birthday, Kurtie was really fussy one night. We still had one Geotrax present left that we were going to give to him at a birthday party on the 11th. With Kurtie in the room with us, I was attempting to find a way to make my son more agreeable and told my husband in very mumbled, quiet German, thinking Kurtie wouldn't understand: "You could give him the last present we have, the bridge with the airplane." My husband said no that we should wait to give it to him on the 11th. The next morning, my son and I were playing Geotrax together. Suddenly, Kurtie said to me, "Mommy, you know what we need? The bridge with the airplane you were talking about." OKAY! That made me realize that Kurt and I can no longer use German when we don't want our son to understand something! Definitely a good sign but quite a surprise!

As far as output is concerned, young Kurt has been speaking certain German words since he was very small. I actually think that Baby Sign Language helped. I used that with him a lot starting when he was about 9 months old. Eventually, my husband began to use it with him, too, but while he spoke German with him. So, I think, interestingly enough, the sign language acted as a nice bridge between English and German. Kurtie was an early talker and had a fairly strong command of English very quickly. We are still waiting for extensive German output, though. Kurtie will speak more German with my husband, naturally, but still not too much. From what I've read, it sounds as if extensive second language production won't occur until around the age of six.

We are encouraged by recent research which further propells us in our cause. In October of 2006, Dartmouth researchers discovered that people who are bilingual appear to utilize more of the brain that is available for language and cognitive processing than people who are monolingual. Bilinguals actually use parts of the right brain in addition to the language centers of the left brain when switching between two languages, whereas monolinguals only exclusively use their left brain during language tasks. Interesting, huh?

Until next week, Auf Wiedersehen und schoene Woche noch!

Monday, January 12, 2009

What Kind of Woman Am I?

I pondered this question when I was thinking of ideas for this blog. What kind of woman am I? What kind of woman do I want to be? This is what I came up with:

I have a perfect example of what kind of woman I don't want to be: my mother. She is sickly; I want to be healthy. She is a "Nervous Nelly"; I want to be able to handle things well. She is helpless; I want to be independent. She is weak; I want to be strong. She is an eternal victim; I want to be my own hero. Every decision I have ever made has been in direct reaction to something she is.

It is difficult growing up when your mother is a mess. I didn't have a good example on how things should be done. I didn't have footing...heck I didn't even have a rug to be pulled out from underneath me. All I have ever had is me and myself and I. I have learned everything on my own and I have spent half of my life trying to get the love that I need. In the meantime, everyone else has gotten college educations, great careers and a wonderful start.

Now, don't get me wrong...I am not whinning. I am just recapping in the interest of establishing my point of view. I am the only one out of the five of us who does not have a college education. So, I may be the least eloquent but I am every bit as smart as everyone else. I have a lot to offer from the school of hard knocks. I empathize with other peoples struggles because I have had a least than ideal approach to life.

Now that I have found someone to love me for me, I have the freedom to spread my wings. I don't have to worry about finding a place to belong. I belong here. I no longer have to be the loudest just to be heard. I don't have to be the life of the party to be invited. I don't have to be larger than life just to know that I exist. Now that I am out from under the pain, I am trying to be less narassistic. But, my therapist tells me that a narassist doesn't ask if they are narassistic. Hee, hee, hee.

What I do have to worry about is being the type of woman that my girls can be proud of. And so, what kind of woman am I? I am a loving woman. I am a strong woman. I am a smart woman. I am a creative woman. I am a proud woman. I am a kind woman. I am a nuturing woman. I am a funny woman. I am a determined woman. And these are the descriptions that will lead me forward in addressing you.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Diane

My entire life can be summed up in one word: passion.

I am passionate about everything I do. Being a mother. Being a wife. Being a journalist.

I believe that you live life once. Never settle. No regrets.

What you can expect from me:
  • Provacative posts
  • Total, brutal honesty
  • Open to ideas

What else am I passionate about? Women. I have always tried to support the women around me. Quite frankly, I can't understand why more women don't feel that way. I think it's because many women are jealous by nature. We hate it when other women succeed. Not because we don't want them to succeed, but because we think their success, means we are failures.

If you're curious about the mundane details of my existence, here they are: I spend most of my waking hours in a TV newsroom. I have a 3-year-old daughter and a baby on the way. I'm a stepmom to an 18-year-old boy who lives in Florida. I've been married nearly 8 years.

Say anything you want to me. I am not easily offended. If you can carry on a rational conversation without calling me names, chances are, I'll enjoy it (what fun is it if we agree all the time, anyway?)

One final thought on passion. It's from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (which should also give you another clue to my personality).

"Passion. It lies in all of us. Sleeping, waiting and though unwanted, unbidden, it will stir, open its jaws, and howl. It speaks to us, guides us. Passion rules us all, and we obey. What other choice do we have? Passion is the source of our finest moments. The joy of love, the clarity of hatred, the ecstasy of grief. It hurts sometimes more than we can bear. If we could live without passion, maybe we'd know some kind of peace. But we would be hollow, empty rooms, shuttered and dank. Without passion, we'd truly be dead."

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Kari

My personal advice on taking the sting out of going back to work the Monday after a holiday:

  1. Write yourself a “to do list” the night before. 1st on the list- call in sick! Hmmm... probably not a good thing to do in this economy.
  2. Ease yourself into the work day by starting with something manageable... like getting yourself a cup of coffee and catching up on your email.
  3. Ignore your “to do” list and think about what you would rather be doing at home for the first half hour.

What would I rather have been doing at 8 am than staring at my computer screen in my cube trying to rack my brain about the projects that I was working on before Christmas vacation? That’s easy… easing my way out of bed and making a cup of coffee and breakfast to enjoy while watching the movie my husband and I didn’t quite finish the day before. But, back to reality!

Allow me to introduce myself as one of the women “at work all day” away from home that is. I am Kari, an instructional designer living in Chicago who develops online courses for adults in a variety of fields including visual arts, health care, business, IT, and next month who knows what. My husband Ben and I moved back into the city this summer after a several months of house hunting and then finally realizing that we were required to live there because of my husband’s job as a public school teacher. Instead of a house complete with a yard, a kitchen with a dishwasher, our own washer and dryer , etc. , we are renting a three bedroom upper flat from a nice older couple who live downstairs. We don’t have a dishwasher- this is rare in the city unless you live downtown and we share our washer and dryer with the other two families in our building. Positives- It’s the first place I have lived in Chicago where I can usually park in front of my home and not the next street over.

Ultimately, we are more at home here, we are closer to friends, thousands of restaurants, more distinctive shops, the lakefront, museums and so forth and we have started a new chapter in our lives. Currently, Ben and I do not have any children. Instead, we have a two year old cat named Mocha who follows me around our apartment, gets into plenty of trouble and loves to cuddle up at night on our laps to sleep. Other than spending quality time with my husband and our friends in the city, I love taking photos, volunteering, visiting the museums, journaling and watching popular TV series like Lost and 24. Lately, a good deal of my time has also been devoted to working out. Next week, I will fill you in on the details of that endeavor as well.

I am looking forward to sharing with you my tales, pics, what’s its and blunders from my little corner of the universe, making new friends and continuing my friendship with these four other incredible women. Bye for now.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Therese

Hi Everyone! It's Therese from The Musings of a Mom. Wednesday is my day, and so it is my turn to introduce myself.



Over on the sidebar, I said that I am passionate about my family and my faith. This is very true. I have been married to my wonderful husband, Andy, for 12 years, and we have 3 beautiful sons, ages 8, 5, and 3. We hope for more children, but we will see what God has in his plans for us. I also come from a large extended family. I am the youngest of 5 children, and between all of us, there are 25 grandchildren. My boys, and my nieces and nephews were my parents' greatest joy while they were alive (I often think they are smiling down on us from heaven, too!).

As far as my faith, I am a practicing Roman Catholic. We belong to a pretty orthodox parish, and absolutely love it! We moved back to our parish where we were married at so our sons could attend school there. So far, we haven't been disappointed.

I have a background in special education (Master's degree, actually). I taught Deaf and Hard of Hearing students before we started our family. I really never thought that I would teach again. Then this great opportunity came along! I found a program teaching remedial reading and math, online. When I was in grad school, had someone told me I would teach online I would never have believed it (particularly because the Internet had barely taken off at that point!). What I love is that I get to stay home with my boys, my hubby comes home for dinner, and I go teach! it really works perfectly for our family!

In my free time, I love to cook and bake. I also have taken up loom knitting which is quickly becoming an addiction! I share progress on these project on my personal blog on Mondays if you want to check it out!

I want to take a moment to re-iterate what Brenda said yesterday about each of us following different paths. The five of us have been friends for what seems like an eternity, and we are as alike AND different as any group of women can be. Hopefully, this place can become one of support.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Brenda

Greetings! I am delighted to be one of the five contributors to "At Work, At Play or At Home All Day," a blog which I hope will become a forum for women to discuss our life experiences. Whether you are a single working woman or a stay-at-home mom, we aspire to create here a network of support and fellowship among us all.

That said, please allow me to introduce myself... After living for 27 years as a true blue midwestern girl, I flew the coop and now embrace the southern lifestyle in Texas where I've been for the last 10 years. Marrying my husband, Kurt, is what brought me here (along with a healthy dose of German Wanderlust), and we are the (usually) proud parents of a four year old son. Kurt (who lived in Houston at the time) and I met in grad school while we were enrolled in an overseas German degree program in Austria. (Let me tell you, when one falls in love in Austria, those hills truly ARE alive with the sound of music, honey!) After tying the knot, I joined him in Houston where we both continued our careers as high school German teachers. Fast forward 7 years and our son is born. I took one look at his teeny tiny, defenseless face and decided to resign and stay at home with him. That decision might have been a bit hasty. Although I know I made the right choice for me and my family, I missed work terribly back then...the social interaction, the intellectual stimulus, the ownership of a classroom, and the control (as a first time mom, I felt really out of control...what a wake up call having a baby is and finding out that the universe does NOT in fact revolve around you). So, needless to say, I struggled a bit the first couple of years with my son and had to find my way. It turns out, after dedicating myself solely to my child for the first several years of his life, my way involved working part time. I am currently entering my second year as an adjunct instructor of German at a local community college. I teach one evening class per semester while my son whoops it up at home with Daddy.

The female experience takes us all down so many roads in this life. Sharing our experiences, knowledge, successes, and, yes, those ever frequent failures with one another allows us the inspiration and hope we all need to continue on this journey. I look forward to sharing it with you!

Susie

Welcome to At Work, At Play or At Home All Day: A Blog for and About Women. This blog is brought to you by five women who have know each other for half of our lives. Since our friendships started we have spread out over three states. Some of us are SAHMs and some work outside the home. Some of us have kids and some are still growing their families. We literally are everyone woman and here we want to explore that great feminine that is in all of us, no matter how she chose's to manifest herself. I hope you enjoy the journey.

I decided that my first post would be dedicated to introducing myself as a woman to our readers. So, this is me: Susie the complete woman.

Just like my bio states, I have been happily married to my husband Jeff for 5 and a half years. (Wow!! Has it been that long already?) I stay at home with my almost 5-year old daughter and I love every minute of it. I didn't get to do that with my 18-year-old who is a Sophmore in college. It's her second semester but credit-wise, she is already a Sophmore and I couldn't be prouder. I also take care of my almost 67-year-old mother which is a full time job all on its own. She is a diabetic breast-cancer-survivor who has a weak heart. Keeping track of her medication and doctor's appointments are challenging but I have it down to a science now. And that is the family side of me as a woman.


Personally, I am budding blogger and entrepreneur. You may know me from my blog Susie's Homemade or my chocolate shop on Etsy. I started the former to support the latter but I have received so much fullfillment from both. Over the last year, I have explored my creative side and I really feel like this is what I am meant to do.

So that's me in a nutshell but I am more than just who I belong with or what I do. I am excited to explore all that is me without all that.