Sunday, September 23, 2012

Nothing a little wine can't handle...

I have to apologize that it's been so long since my last post but I have a ton of stuff to tell you...

It's been a crazy month. I've gone back to work, the kids have started daycare and I've had lots of drama!

So lets start with the drama.  About 4 weeks ago my sister in law was having a birthday.  My brother in law was planning a surprise get together with her friends.  He was renting a limo and we were all going to go wine tasting followed by a dinner with the girls and their significant others.  I thought it sounded like fun and was planning on attending.  Then he had to change the date because not too many people could make the original day.  The problem with this is that he moved it to the day before I started work again.  Normally it wouldn't have been a big deal but it was going to take all day and was an hour away and frankly I just wanted to spend my "last day of freedom" with my family.  My boys would be starting daycare the next day and I was going back to a job I'm not too crazy about, so lets face it, I really wasn't going to be in the mood to party.  I decided, with this new change of date, that I would sit this one out.  It wasn't that I didn't want to celebrate her birthday, I just knew my mind would be elsewhere and I didn't want to drive all over hell and then have to be up at 5:30 the next morning.  So of course, my mother in law got wind of this and decided she would discuss it with my husband.  She just couldn't wait for the opportunity to lecture my husband on how I was doing the wrong thing, that I always blow off their family, that I have no real reason for not going so I am being nasty, blah blah blah.  Am I surprised? Hell no, of course she has an opinion.  You could sneeze and she'd tell you how you did that incorrectly.  I think what really bothered me the most was two things: one, she has such a double standard for me.  She isn't going to a family wedding because she doesn't want to drive to the location. A wedding! That's ok that she doesn't attend that, but I being a bitch.  And two, that in the beginning I thought my husband was on my side but in the end I had to hear it from him too that it was wrong I wasn't going because I really didn't have a reason for not attending.  I don't think some people get how truly hard it was to go back to work.  I have pretty much been home with my oldest for almost 3 1/2 years and my youngest for 1 1/2.  These two little boys are my world.  And the job I'm going back to- pretty much sucks! And everyone has to give me their opinion, saying that it'll be so easy, no stress at all.  And yes, they are all right, it is easy and low stress but I want my old job back!  I love that job, stress and all!  The upshot to this whole thing- my husband knows I am super pissed at his mother and I haven't had to really see her in about 6 weeks.  I must admit, I have been a little less stressed because of that!

Ok, on to the next thing of stress- my job! I had been dreading this day from the second I found out what my teaching assignment was going to be.  And after what seemed like a super fast maternity leave, I was back at work.  I am excited to be earning a paycheck again!!!  That first one was a really nice thing to hold in my hand.  I feel like I'm contributing, financially, to the family again.  And it is really nice to not have to play check roulette.  But, I miss the creativity of my job.  I miss getting to create something with my students.  This class I have now is a music appreciation course, which is fine but I really enjoyed what I had before.  I am still in charge of the jazz band so that's good.  I'll make the most of it and hope the woman teaching band doesn't stay for too long and I can move back to that position.

So my little boys have started daycare.  My older one loves and it my younger one, not so much.  So I can't win, I have one crying when I drop him off and the other crying when I pick him up.  This is a huge adjustment for me.  I'm racked with that mom guilt again.  I feel like I'm going to miss so much while they are in school.  I liked my little routine at home and the comfort behind it.  These kids will never truly know how loved they are and how much I miss them during the day.  After a bad day, those little faces can really make everything better.  I know they are in a good, safe place and I hope they enjoy their time there.

Since becoming a working mom I just wish I had 2 more hours in my day.  There never seems to be enough time to do anything, like write this blog.  I finally had an evening to myself.  The kids went to bed early and my husband is out at a rehearsal.  So here I am, writing to you, hoping you understand what I've been going through and are willing to bear with me as my blog entries might be spaced out a bit.

And by the way, the wine I'm drinking- Valenzano, white Cabernet.  Try it, especially if you like sweet wines!!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Loyalty, a thing of the past?

Some of you already know this story but I'm going to share it anyways because I'm sure there will be many job related posts this year and this will help clear some things up...

This year will mark eleven years working in the same school district.  In that time I have taught general music for 3 and band for 7, now going back to general this coming school year.  Instrumental music is where my heart is, which is why going back as the general music teacher this year, will pretty much suck!

When I got pregnant and went out on maternity leave, I was fortunate to have an excellent substitute.  She was smart, sweet and got along well with the kids.  I made up a binder of EVERYTHING anyone would need to know, down to who to ask for more pencils.  This was a how-to guide for this class.  I wanted to make sure the transition was as seamless as possible.  I didn't want the kids or parents upset by this "change of hands" mid year.  I really felt, at the time, that everything was working out perfectly.

I decided to stay out for a year and a half with my first born.  When I informed work that I would be returning the next September, I had no idea I was already pregnant again.  About a month goes by and I soon discovered that little secret.  A wave of emotions came over me on that day- we were moving in a week and had no clue how I was going to handle that, I had just told work I was coming back, my son wasn't even a year and a half yet.  It was a very overwhelming time in my life.  There was a lot of chaos, new house, new neighborhood and neighbors.  I had to return to work knowing I'd be leaving in 5 months to have another baby.  I had to help my son transition to daycare, again knowing he'd be home with me in 5 months.  So being overwhelmed was the best way I could describe it.  Before I decided to tell work, I checked to see if my sub had gotten a permanent job... she hadn't!  I thought this was great news.  I informed my boss and let him know the substitute we had was still available.  Of course she was contacted immediately and I felt like I had that one area of my life under control.

I left on maternity leave in February that year.  The general music teacher informed the school she would be leaving that late spring.  Knowing I wasn't coming back that September, my boss asked me what I would want to teach when I did return.... band or general music?  I did give it some thought but really there was nothing to think about, I really enjoyed teaching instrumental and I wanted to stay there.  I talked this over with him and he agreed.  I thought that the best news of all would be that my substitute who I really liked, would be receiving a permanent contract.

So why am I teaching general music this school year?  No loyalty, that's why!  To make a long story short, and I do mean long... I tried getting an answer on my teaching position in February and wasn't informed of the change until June, the last week of school, to be exact.  My principal has a reputation for doing things that are easiest for him.  He doesn't like conflict or confrontation.  In this case, I really feel like he made the wrong decision.  I thought we had a good relationship, we talked and joked often. I did anything for that school, worked nights, Saturdays, extra concerts, played in the pit orchestras for free.  But in the end I got burned... no loyalty!  So he choose to have me teach general music for one reason and one reason only- I've taught it before.  He assured me his decision had nothing to do with my teaching but that he knew the class would be covered if I taught it.  Although the teacher that replaced me has the same degree, the one difference is that she's never taught general music.  Forget the fact that I've been there for ten years, at the time, and she had been there one.

So here I am, about to start work again in a week.  My thoughts towards my boss?  Well, my loyalty is gone.  I will no longer be working Saturdays or doing extra work.  I will come in and do a good job at my current assignment but I will not be doing anything extra for him.  And through this whole thing it has given me strong feelings of jealousy and hurt towards the substitute I thought was so perfect.  And to top it all off, my mentor who I was extremely close to has retired.  So it will be the first year since I've been teaching that I will have a "stranger" next door.  Wish me luck in September, I'm going to need it!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

He's just so perfect...

Ok, this is going to be a little rant about my family...

My youngest brother is also a musician.  Normally people would think that's great, you can play together, you have someone else in the family to talk about music with, etc.  In this case, it gets annoying.

We all know he's my mom's favorite.  It's no secret, we joke about it all the time.  "He was the easy baby", "He was so laid back", "He was always so sweet", etc.  Well, now that he's also a musician, my mother constantly compares.  If I'm talking about something I did with a private student, she'll respond with, "you should talk to your brother, he has a lot of students".  Yes mom, I know he has a lot of student but I've also been teaching privately for the past 16 years and he hasn't.  If I am talking about a performance she'll respond with, "you should talk to your brother, maybe he has some pointers".  That's seriously the last thing I want to hear!  We know you think he's amazing and great but it gets annoying to hear ALL the time.

She's constantly posting things on her facebook page in regards to his music.  "Here's a link to a music video", "Here's a sound clip", "He's playing this Saturday".... blah blah blah.  I don't remember every seeing a post when I had a performance.  I've sent her sound clips of stuff I've done in the past, have those appeared in her news feed? Nope.

I get it, she's proud of him but could you share the love a little?

P.S. I'm really not mad at either one of them, it's just annoying after a while!

Why must you have an opinion?

Remember a while back, in one of my past posts, I said that I hate when people have an opinion about things when it comes to my kids?

Ever since having children, it seems a lot of people are VERY opinionated.  I'm not just talking about the usual conversation you might have with your mom who did things her way and maybe you see things a little differently.  I'm talking about complete strangers opening their mouths when they shouldn't.

I remember when my youngest was born.  When it came to food shopping, there was an art to it.  At the time I had a two year old and a newborn.  So how did I manage food shopping with them both?  The older one went in the shopping cart, the younger one went in the baby bjorn.  In case you don't know what that is, it's a front carrier for a baby.  Both my kids loved that thing, they loved being close to me and would always fall asleep in it.  And it left my hands free to do different tasks, in this case: food shopping.  So I am in the checkout line getting ready to be rung up when the cashier looks at me and says, "is he OK in there?"  I reply, "yes". Would you believe she made me check to make sure he was breathing before she would ring me up!  Then she proceeded to tell me a story about how her friend had a baby and put him in a carrier on her back and walked around for a long time with him back there and she didn't realize that he had slumped down and suffocated... now really, why did you find the need to tell me that horrible story?!  And the next time I was at the store, she told me again!  I started avoiding that cashier!

Once, I was at the farmer's market and was waiting for my deli order to be completed.  I had my youngest in the stroller and my older one next to me.  My youngest was dressed, head to toe in blue.  I actually had someone come over, look at him, and proceed to tell her husband "how cute SHE was".  I didn't really see much harm in this since she was a stranger and I'd never see her again so I just let it be. But, she continued on and on, repeating herself.  Then she turned to me and asked how old she was.  At this point I just politely responded, "he's 6 months old."  Then she looks shocked and says, "oh, I didn't realize it was a boy, he's just so beautiful, I assumed he was a girl."  Now why would that automatically make him a girl?  Boys can't be beautiful too?  I mean the kid was dressed in pants and a shirt, all blue!! (By the way, this isn't the first time I've heard this comment!)

I remember one day we were outside with the boys.  We had gone to an area that had cute shops and some nice restaurants.  We had met up with some family for lunch and walked around through the shops for a bit before we decided it was too hot and headed home.  As we're walking back to our car, a woman finds the need to stop the car, look at me and say, "it's too hot! Their faces are all red."  Gee, thanks lady, because I didn't realize that.... why the hell do you think we were LEAVING!

As though motherhood wasn't hard enough on the self esteem, you certainly don't need strangers giving their opinion all the time.  I really don't understand it, I don't think I'd feel the need to say anything to a mother unless it was a compliment.  Unless the child is in danger, keep your opinions to yourself, you're really not helping anyone!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Mother's Guilt

Mother's guilt is a horrible thing.  Not sure why it seems some people have more of this than other's but for me, it seems I have a lot of it!!  Everything seems to make me feel guilty since having my boys.

I don't know why, but this is something I struggle with daily.  Literally, everyday!  If I have to run to the grocery store and the kids are whining because they aren't coming with me, I feel guilty.  I don't know if it's a hormonal thing or just how we are individually wired.  Some people seem fine with running out for the day and leaving the kids with a sitter, for me it's like torture.  I love my kids to death but sometimes I need a break and then I feel guilty for feeling that way!  It seems I can't win, and I'm my own worst enemy.  No one has ever said anything to me to make me feel this way, it's just my own head playing games with me.  I enjoy the time I'm away, to an extent.  There will come a point where I start thinking of the kids, what they are doing, is everything OK?, etc. and then the guilt sets in.  I feel bad that I'm out, I feel like I should get home, I even feel bad that it's maybe been a couple of hours since we've left them and maybe we're "pushing it" with the grandparents (aka, our babysitters).

Then there's the guilt if I'm not doing art projects or taking them on "field trips" or playing outside.  For some reason I have it in my head that I need to be doing something with these boys 24/7.  So if there's down time or a day we just need to slow down a bit, I then feel bad about it.  I mean I will literally look at a calendar and make sure they have something fun planned every couple of days.  The only problems I've seen with this is: I get tired, fast! and now they kind of expect it!  It's not uncommon for the older son to wake up and say, "what are we doing today".  I'm not sure if it's my personality or if because when I was little my parents used to take me to work with them- in Manhattan!  Traveling into the city everyday certainly gave me the itch to want to do "something" everyday.

And then the guilt about what they eat.  I'm constantly thinking, what did they have for breakfast, now lunch, then dinner, etc.  They can't fend for themselves and I don't want them growing up overweight or have issues with food.  I certainly do and it's not fun.  I want to teach them how to make good decisions and enjoy the healthier options.  I remember when my oldest was 1, everyone wanted to give him chocolate.  Chocolate ice cream, chocolate cake.  For some reason, I did not want him eating chocolate.  I just felt like he had a lifetime to eat it, why did he have to eat it so young.  I will say though that he makes excellent decisions about food.  If given the choice: cake or fruit, he will pick the fruit.  He loves fruit!  I felt so guilty when we were on vacation and everything on the kids menu wasn't a great choice.  Chicken fingers (fried), Grilled Cheese, Hamburger, Mac and Cheese, and of course, everything comes with fries.  That's fine for the first day of vacation but around day 3, I start feeling really bad that they are eating this.  Sure, it's only for 1 week but I still felt guilty.  The sad thing was that when I would ask the restaurants to substitute the fries for fruit, almost every place said they didn't have fruit.  NONE at all!  I was shocked by this! None?  But vacation is over and we're back to our normal ways.

This week my oldest son had his first official dentist appointment.  My husband has a family member that is a dentist so my husband and boys go there.  So they've seen the dentist (just to get used to going there he will "pretend" to check their teeth) but never for a cleaning and this was going to be his first official visit!  So along comes my guilt...  Maybe you haven't heard horror stories of kids teeth if you're not a parent, aunt, uncle, etc. but I've heard my share of them.  The most recent one came from my brother who has two kids, a boy (2 1/2) and girl (8).  My nephew evidently has horrible teeth!  Bottle rot!  In case you're not aware of this condition, it's when you give your child a bottle to sleep with at night and because they are sucking on it all night, the milk kind of sits in their mouth and basically rots the teeth.  Because my brother and sister in law have done this he has to get "baby" crowns on his front teeth.  This is a big procedure for such a little guy, he even needs to be put under anesthesia.  His sister, my niece, had the same issue when she was his age, only she had cavities.  We've never done this, no bottle in bed.  I actually didn't think of what it would do to the teeth but rather what a mess I'd have to clean up when the bottle leaks all over the bed!  So these stories play in the back of my mind with the dentist appointment looming over my head.  So I keep thinking, "what if my kids have that, I'll feel horrible".  I mean, after all, I am the one responsible for brushing their teeth.  And my husband and I are good about it.  We brush them everyday, twice a day, both boys.  But still, the guilt sets in.

The visit went great! No cavities, nothing wrong, perfect teeth!!  Finally, after worrying about this for 2 weeks, I breathe a sigh of relief.  Until the next thing will come along and start that guilt up again...

I said before that it's nothing anyone's ever said but maybe that isn't entirely true.  My next post will be about things people say without thinking.  I'll be better about posting, I was kind of lazy this past week but I think I'll have a good amount of stuff to "get off my chest" in the next month so keep reading!!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Making a house a home...

What do you do to make a house a home?

We moved into our house two years ago and have slowly been re-painting and decorating each room.  I am pretty particular about my taste and style.  It took me a year to figure out the colors I wanted for my first floor.  We just had our foyer and upstairs hallway painted and I recently re-painted our study.  My husband did the basement when we first moved in.  As of now, the only room that needs to be re-painted is our bedroom.  That is my fall project.

Little side story about our study... remember when I said my mother in law always argues everything?  The color I choose for the study is titled teal zeal.  It's a darker color than I usually go with but I am so glad I choose it.  I always feel like I choose the lighter shade of what I really want and then when I put it up on the wall I always think, "I should have picked the next shade darker".  When she asked me what color I choose for the study I told her a teal color.  She gave me a look between surprised and disgusted.  I likened the color to something she had in her home to give her a better idea of the shade.  What response do you think I got back? You probably guessed it, "that's not teal".  I looked her dead in the eye and said "yes it is, the color name is TEAL ZEAL!",  She then went on to say, "oh it looks like my bedroom color".  Which, by the way, is a pastel green.  I just dropped it at this point because, really, there's no point in arguing over a damn paint color.

Back to painting... it's not my favorite thing to do.  And anyone who says they enjoy painting, has either not done enough of it or has inhaled too many paint fumes.  My husband doesn't have the steadiest hand when it comes to this task so he is not allowed to paint anymore.  Some days, I swear he was sloppy when we first painted so that he wouldn't have to do it again.  And because he doesn't partake in this glorious homeowners' task, I don't listen to him when he comments, "there's a little spot here", "you have to fix this one thing", "aren't you going to do the ceiling?".  The latter comment really gets to me. No, I'm not going to do the ceiling because it is a HUGE pain in the ass and right now, I'm OK with the one tiny spot that ended up on the ceiling.  He asked the painter for a quote to do our downstairs ceiling, at least he agreed with me that it will be WAY too much money to have it done and we can live with it for a little while longer.

We have new neighbors.  A nice couple with a little girl and a dog.  Our old neighbors had the place decorated beautifully.  Each room had a great color choice and was nicely done. Unfortunately, the husband cheated on his wife for 5 years, the mistress contacted the wife to make her aware of the affair.  Not because she wanted him to get a divorce but because she found out he had a daughter.  I guess this was the breaking point for the mistress, it didn't matter he was married?  So they got a divorce and went their separate ways.  Now, new neighbors next door.  They took about two weeks to move in because they had everything under the sun done to the house.  They hired a painter to paint the ENTIRE house, basement, first and second floor.  It must have cost a fortune! Then the wife decided she didn't really like the basement color or her bedroom color so they had to have the painter come back to re paint it!  I would have killed my husband if he even thought of this.  They had the appliances replaced in the kitchen.  I doubt that was necessary, the house is six years old.  They replaced all the outside fixtures.  This is funny because the one they choose for the front porch was way to close to the front door and jutted out so when they opened the door, they broke it.  So they had it replaced, again, but now with a different style than the ones by the garage.  Now, it just looks silly.  They replaced the lights in the bathroom, which I can't blame them.  They are those "dressing room" lights, you know, the ones that are in a row and have the huge light bulbs on them.  I will be replacing mine this year too!  I go back to work in September and this will be one item I'm saving for.  The husband told me the other day that he's having the painter come back to paint the front door and shutters.  I think there's four shutters.  I guess I'm just cheap because I would have done it myself to say some cash.

We know a couple (the Disney wife from a previous post) who COMPLETELY re did their new house.  They moved into a townhouse maybe five years ago.  This is a three bedroom two bathroom townhouse with an eat in kitchen and living room.  Nice townhouse, didn't need a lot of work, maybe a few cosmetic changes.  Well, here's the list of what they did to it: ripped out the kitchen counter tops, threw out the refrigerator, ripped up the linoleum floor, ripped out ALL the carpet, threw away ALL doors, ripped out the bathroom vanities and mirrors, as well as, toilets.  Now in addition to re painting the entire house here's what they replaced.  Replaced the formica countertops with new FORMICA countertops, replaced the linoleum floor with new LINOLEUM flooring, replaced the old bathroom medicine cabinets with, you guessed it! the same cabinet!  They even had to special order it because after they threw it out, they went to buy another one and realized that the only one that would fit into the space was the EXACT, SAME one they threw out.  My two most favorite things they replaced are the fridge and doors.  The fridge because they replaced it with a cheaper model that had less features than the old one and the doors because they ran out of money at the end so the only door they were able to replace was the bathroom door.  They, slowly, replaced the others when they had more cash.  This is why you work on one room at a time.  Oh and the carpet they ripped out, they ripped it out themselves (well, actually they hired some people to do it) because they were convinced that there was a hidden cost in the carpet installation for the company to rip out the old carpets and put in the new.  Guess they were surprised to find the quote never changed after they ripped it out "themselves".  So in the end, it ended up costing them more!

I guess these two stories go to prove a theory my husband and I have.  Nowadays, we feel no one wants to take the time to truly decorate a house.  It needs to be done immediately, no thought just finished product.  So in the end, the painters are called, the appliances are ripped out (not because they don't work but because they're not stainless steel) and a trip to Home Goods and Kohl's is in order.  I don't mind Home Goods, you can get some great stuff there at a decent price.  I've found a unique lamp or two as well as some mirrors and pillows I really like.  I guess what really bothers me is when people buy artwork from these two stores.  If you fall under this category, I apologize in advance.  It just bugs me, probably because my parents are artists and I feel no one wants to pay for good artwork.  I guess it's too much money to purchase quality artwork, it's easier to buy the mass produced "Bistro" sign or the generic European coffee house scene.  I don't even think I would mind one or two of these in a house but here's an example of over kill:

My brother in law... owns a four bedroom, two and a half bathroom house with a finished basement, kitchen, dining room, living room, family room, etc. You get the idea, it's a nice sized house.  Every. Single. Room has a "theme".  Not just any theme, or a generic theme (such as, lemons for your kitchen), we're talking themes that have been taken over the top.  Here's the current themes: The living room is now titled "The Atlantic City Room".  The dining room is now themed "Wine".  The family room is "Travel".  The most over done room of the house, the basement.  Although, this is probably most guys dream room the way he has it decorated.  The best way I can describe it is, it looks like Applebees threw up!  It's even equipped with a REAL traffic signal.  The thing is HUGE!  So they are in the process of decorating the "wine" and "travel" room.  So, of course, a trip to Home Goods was in store.  When they got back they showed us their loot.  His fiance described a wine holder that looked like a wine bottle, I figured this was a table top holder.  Boy, was I wrong.  This thing is about four feet high with gaudy, metal grapes hanging off of it.  It hangs on the wall, try to picture that!  He already has hurricane glasses full of corks in there and a painting his fiance did at one of those painting parties.  Have you ever been to one? Maybe I'm a snob but I kind of equate it to a "paint by numbers" party.  Literally, an artist comes to your house, equipped with supplies and everyone there paints the exact same scene.  For the travel room he bought the "generic European scenes".  Here's the thing, we've travelled to quite a few places and I've taken (what I would consider) good photographic shots of these places.  I'd be more than happy to print out copies of my photos if they wanted it for their "travel" room.  Anything over the burlap Rialto bridge scene that will be the focal point of the room.  I'm sure there will also be the generic "wine" sign in the dining room, just in case you couldn't figure out the theme and probably a travel signs, such as "Venice", "Paris", "London" all over the living room.

I prefer to live in a house for a little while, get a good sense of space, shop around and see what I do and don't like.  I like to collect art work and collectibles from places I've travelled or cute stores I've shopped in.  I like to put up my own photographs and original artwork (again, I'm lucky to have parents as artists).  I think I partly blame HGTV for the need to have the room completely "done" in a weekend.  And the other part, to this "instant gratification" that it seems a lot of people crave nowadays.

How do you decorate your house?


According to my "stats" on this blog, I have readers in Russia!!  Awesome!!  Big shout out to my audience out there, hope you're enjoying my stories... Keep reading, pass the word along!!

Privet and bol'shoe spasibo!!  (if this is wrong, blame google translator!)