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I Am Recovering from a Birthday

Well, not recovering exactly, but still a bit shaken. This isn't one of my typical posts.

I had one of those birthdays a few months ago. A big decade birthday. Not 40, not even the decade after that. It's the one after that.  The one that starts with a six.

Honestly, a birthday has never really thrown me the way that one did. The (false) image I have of someone in this decade is not how I picture myself. (Whenever I think like that, though, it helps me to think about my sister, who at 66 is more like a 40 year old in looks, energy, and lifestyle.  She does not fit my image of someone in this decade.)

Anyway, those big birthdays always have a tendency to make me look back, with some valuable insights.

I was a young "career woman" in the late 70's and early 80's.

As a young woman in one of the first generations of women with careers on our minds, I had some pretty strong feelings about things.  Housework?  Disdainful. (Stay with me here.)  Give us "quality daycare, and let us get out there and be "career women." (I had no kids yet and actually had no idea what "quality daycare" meant, and I had no idea what the term "career women" actually meant either. I had vague images of women in business suits with briefcases. Women were breaking new ground.

I had always gravitated to artistic, creative types of activities, but I also saw myself in one of the "helping" professions--a social worker, maybe.  I loved kids, and I could also see myself working in education. Those aren't really briefcase professions, but the options were wide open.

In my college dorm, drawing

Eventually, after much indecision,  I completed my Bachelors degree in Psychology, with the intention of one day getting my  PhD and becoming a school psychologist (or an Occupational Therapist...)

I was almost dysfunctionally eclectic. "Make up your mind, already!" I want to scream at that young woman.

Fresh out of college, I decided to "work for a while" before getting my Master's.  I had the mandatory 80's business suit with padded shoulders, and yes, the briefcase, and I briefly held a couple of positions in managed health care.  I had worked in a hospital for almost the entire time I was in college and loved it, so being around healthcare appealed to me.  HMOs and PPOs were in their infancy, so I accepted a position as a Provider Rep., and I enjoyed presenting our plan to doctors and hospital personnel.

I moved into management early on. I didn't always feel that the work was the best fit for me, but I felt kind of important on that elevator with those padded shoulders and that briefcase. (Which is kind of funny to me now, given that I wasn't really doing the work best suited to me. Pun unintended.)

Fast forward.  I became a young stay-at-home mom. Getting those advanced degrees was still on my mind, to be completed some time in the future.

Guess what?  That "disdainful" housework became much more valuable when I saw how difficult it was to keep up with, with two small children. Having an organized, inviting home became much more important to me, when I saw how important it could be to a family.

It was a steep learning curve for me. I hadn't paid much attention to home management growing up. My mom had always made it seem so effortless. Whoa, it's not effortless.

As a stay at home mom, my naturally thin skin took a beating sometimes, as working moms would send some thinly veiled barbs my way. Comments about stay at home moms getting too involved in their kids' lives, because stay at home moms had "too much time on their hands," etc.  Wowza, those hurt.  Especially because, as my kids grew into puberty, they became chronically ill, and we were homeschooling.  My life felt completely out of my control, and I certainly didn't have a lot of time on my hands.

While a stay at home mom, I expanded on the education classes I had in college and completed my teacher training. I'm a reading tutor, and I absolutely love my job. So, I have kind of come full circle.

Things are different now than they were when I was that young college student. It's nice to see that women have made headway as "career women," (although I would have hoped for more equality by now...), it's nice that there are so many more options available for moms who want to work both in and out of their homes, and that those stiff business suits aren't necessary anymore in order for a woman to be considered "serious about her career." I'm glad that nesting and keeping an inviting home are seen positively again.

But, I'm sad that there are still "mommy wars" and that some  moms who work outside the home and some "stay-at-home moms" still seem to have trouble understanding each other.

I'm glad that I have a fulfilling, (although never easy, because whose life is truly easy?), life as a reading tutor, sometimes photographer, and ever wife and mom. (We will always be moms, no matter how old our "children" are.)

Maybe you're having one of "those" birthdays, and you are taking some looks back.  Or maybe your life has taken some incredibly difficult turns, and you're wondering what your future will be.

My ramble today is cathartic, yes. It's my way of looking back and realizing that my life events, even the ones I hadn't planned for, even the ones that were horribly difficult, all culminated in my life today. So, maybe it can be reassuring to some of you.

It boils down to some simple things:

  • Your first passions and career aspirations shouldn't be ignored. (I came full circle to become a reading tutor, fulfilling my first inclination to work with kids.)

  • If you are considering a master's degree or other advanced degree, start working on it now if you can.  The "future" comes very fast. BUT,  don't waste time regretting it if you didn't reach that early educational goal. Life is flexible!

  • The most terrible things that happen to you in life often provide the most growth. (This is one of those ideas that we think we know and that we think sound trite, but we need to examine more thoroughly!)

  • Perseverance is often more important than IQ, opportunity, or many of those other things we think are so, so important!

  • Each new decade is a barometer of how far we've come in our thinking, our perspective, our lessons learned, and our appreciation of this life. 

 Can you relate to some of my ramble?

Treasure Hunt Notes ~ A Reading Game

Hello all!  I hope you are enjoying these early days of summer!  If you're needing a fun learning activity for your kids at home, read on...

One of my (many!) early career aspirations was to become a preschool teacher, so I really enjoyed spending time at home with my kids (well, I usually enjoyed it!) when they were little.

We were often in the living room, singing and dancing to a Spanish cassette tape (cassette tapes, whaaat?),  playing memory games, or writing little stories to make into books created from the wallpaper sample books we'd collect. There was a little paint store, not far from our house, that always had a bunch of old wallpaper sample books to give away.  It was one of my daughter's favorite places, and the wallpaper samples were wonderful, pretty free paper.

My inner child and my inner teacher thrived.

Many of the activities we did involved letters, books, and reading. (I'm a reading tutor!)

One of the fun, simple things we did as my kids were learning to read was a treasure hunt inside the house. The treasure hunt required reading multiple simple clues that eventually led to a prize.

Reading game at

Brush Lettering with Crayola Markers

Recently, I've learned Crayola markers can be used for brush lettering. So I wanted to try it. It works!

Brush Lettering with Crayola Markers at

Now, I do have a lot of brush markers already... (Obsessed, remember?)  Maybe, though, you want to give brush lettering a whirl, and you don't have a brush marker yet.

Home Matters Linky Party #109

Welcome to the weekly Home Matters Linky Party. A great place to come, share your blog posts, and make new friends. 

Home Matters Linky Party #109!

Brand Logo HMLP 2015 ©
 Thanks for stopping by Home Matters and partying with us!

Fun Ideas for Your Fall Parties and Crafts

Ok, this Ewok costume was going to be the finale of this post, but how can I not start with it?  Isn't Sunny the cutest Ewok you've ever seen??  Even despite the fuzzy phone picture?!  And, no worries, Sunny loves it.  (We wouldn't do it if she didn't.)

Ewok dog

Multisensory Gel Bag or Board

Senora Schlatter was my Spanish teacher in 4th, 5th, and 6th grades. She was amazing and was one of the biggest influences on my own teaching style. The first two years, our group was small, and we learned colors and numbers with a game called Lo Tengo (which was actually Bingo. Well, it literally translates to "I Have It.") We learned the Spanish names for the items in the room with labeled index cards--la silla (the chair), la mesa (the table), el lapiz (the pencil), etc.  It was so much FUN to learn Spanish. (Learning Spanish that early also helped me a lot in Spanish classes all the way through college.)  But, this post isn't about Spanish.

Flash forward to reading tutor me.  I have found that keeping kids engaged, the way Senor Schlatter did, is key to keeping them learning. If you have a preschooler at home, learning should be about play and fun anyway.

And this gel board is fun.

Multisensory Gel

I have seen many versions of this gel board online, and I instantly fell in love with it when I saw one.

Home Matters Linky Party #101

Welcome to the weekly Home Matters Linky Party. A great place to come, share your blog posts, and make new friends. What a week I've had! I truly hope yours wasn't as crazy.  (My computer died, but I'm back with a much faster model, so I'm grateful for that, despite all of the hassle!)  I'm so glad you're here for the party.

Home Matters Linky Party #101!

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