Difficult Discussions

Mischief has another nickname – The Philosopher.  She’s always been insightful and empathetic beyond what I expect for her years and it’s reflected in what she says.  I was putting her to bed one night shortly after my grandmother died (Mischief was 3).  She looked at me and said,

“Mommy, I know you’re upset that your grandmother died but you could always borrow mine if you’re sad. It just how the world works mommy. People get old and die and they just don’t come back and we get sad. But we don’t want to change that part of the world mom. It’s just how things have to be. Things aren’t always easy, but we just have to deal with them. But sometimes they come back – they just look different when they come back and maybe you can meet them again. It’ll be ok.”

A month later, again at bedtime, she said, “Mommy, can you tell me a story tonight about your grandmother? I know you’re sad that she died and if you tell me about her you won’t forget her.”  Even now, over a year after my grandmother died, Mischief still talks about her.

I was thinking about this and realized that too often we shy away from discussing death with kids.  When she first started talking about my grandmother dying, I tried to change the topic a dozen times.  She’d want a story about my grandmother and I’d ask if I could tell her something fun that she would do with her grandmother.  Death is uncomfortable enough for adults to talk about and deal with.  When children want to have the conversation it’s almost paralyzing.  I don’t think that every child can talk about it somewhat coherently (Mayhem doesn’t seem to have the same philosophical nature as her sister), but I may very well be wrong about that.  That might be me selling kids short.

Kids seem to understand more of their world than we give them credit for (see my above statement).  Yes, she’s a kid and there are things that she doesn’t understand.  However, she’s observant and a sponge when it comes to life.  She’s a member of this family and can tell when someone’s upset and something’s bothering us.  Why do I think that the kids won’t have serious thoughts on serious things?

I think it’s less about kids not understanding death or not being able to think hard thoughts; it has more to do with adults (including me) not being comfortable talking about it.  Too often, conversations that make adults uncomfortable are shied away from because the kids are ‘too young and wouldn’t understand.’  It sounds better than ‘I don’t know what to say so I’m going to avoid this altogether.’  We, as grown-ups, don’t like to say to kids that we don’t know something or can’t talk about something.  We’d rather the kids be the reason for avoiding the talk than our own hang-ups.

I’m trying to change this with the kids.  I talk to them about death as much as they want (my other grandmother is 90 and in increasingly declining health, so it’s going to come up again sooner rather than later).  I try to have conversations that are difficult and treat their philosophy as something to be explored, not dismissed.  I don’t always hit the mark – there are times when I either expect more than they can give or don’t give them enough credit for their thoughts.  I’m working on it though, and love hearing what they have to say.

Concentration Lessons

First thing this morning Mischief came up to me excitedly.  “Mom, I found a puzzle that I want to do!”  The puzzle in question was 500-pieces of a  fairy sitting by a stream, significantly larger than what she’s used to.  I tried to direct her towards something else – drawing, a different puzzle that’s more her size (100 pieces or so), reading, anything else.  She insisted – it was going to be that puzzle or nothing.  “Mom, I just want to spend quality time making this puzzle with you.  Please give me this quality time.”  I don’t know where she heard that expression, but when your kids specifically asks for quality time you don’t say no.

She decided that I would look for all the orange pieces and she would put them together.  I started pulling pieces out and she tried to make matches.  It wasn’t easy for her, not many pieces fit together, but it was wonderful to watch.  She concentrated and focused on the task at hand – make a background.  For anyone who thinks that small kids don’t have an attention span, watch one who is doing something that they care deeply about, it will change your mind.  She put puzzle pieces together for an hour.  How many she found that matched (maybe 20) wasn’t the point for her, it was all about learning the process. 

I sell the kids short too often, assuming that I need to come up with another activity over and over to keep their attention.  Maybe the reality is I come up with things for them to do that they don’t love or that they get the point of very quickly.  To paraphrase my husband, kids don’t have short attention spans.  They pay attention to something for as long as their brains can handle being focused only on it before needing a break.  The activity seems to be kept it in the back of their mind until the new they learned has settled and they’re ready for more.  Mischief’s brain could handle something she wanted to do for an hour before she needed time for that lesson to settle while she did something else.

That something else also was time consuming.  She wrote all the names of the Disney princesses on separate sheets of paper and stapled them together to make a book.  I helped her spell and she diligently printed the letters.  After she finished the first book, I was informed that we were going to make five because she’s five years old.  It felt tedious to me, but for her it was practice at both focusing on writing for a long period of time, and a way to incorporate something she loves into her day.  This was another hour spent on one thing.  I thought about asking if she wanted to break for snack at one point, it was when she normally eats after all.  However, I realized that I would be annoyed if I were doing something I cared about that deeply and someone kept interrupting me.  I decided to let her work.  She meticulously wrote and stapled until she had her books made.  There was so much pride in her eyes as she read them to me one by one.

This has been the benefit for me of homeschooling.  I’m learning more about my children’s abilities than I feel like they are from me.  I learned today to let them set their own pace and trust in their own abilities.  I could dictate everything we do all day, but as long as she picks something within the bounds of play-learning (i.e. not a day of TV), why stop her?  I need to trust that she will pay attention to the things that she gets some form of learning out of even if I can’t always see what that is.  I need to trust in her attention to details.  I need to be willing to be taught about concentration by my child.

My Mom

As it is International Women’s Day, I thought I’d write about the most amazing woman I have the pleasure of knowing, my mom.  While she was and is an extraordinary mom, that doesn’t come close to encompassing how incredible she is as a person.  My mom is one of the smartest, most compassionate, and most intuitive people I know.  She looks at a situation and can figure out what needs to be done to improve it.  She is always working towards everything and everyone being the best possible.  She refuses to accept injustice because she firmly believes that we, as a people, are better than that.

 

When I was dealing with school issues, she was at the front of the fight to get me a safe and high-quality education.  She realized before I did that safe was the far more important of the two.  I could supplement school with books at home, but there was no work around for my safety.  My parents (and my dad will get his own profile later as he is just as amazing) loved and love me and my sister through the best and worst moments of our lives.  In my darkest moments, my mom was there to cry with me.  In my best moments, she was there to celebrate with me.  I was shown what love – total, complete, and unconditional love – looks like.

 

She has that love not just for her daughters, but every student that ever had the pleasure to be in her classroom or school.  She never seemed to have 2 children, it has always been more like 80.  All of her students had her support and concern unconditionally.  Even when she wasn’t being loved back, she never gave up on their goodness and wonder.  Some people see middle school girls as a headache, she sees them as a gift.  She doesn’t see the frustration, but the potential inside each of them to make a difference.

 

When the opportunity arrived for her to help build a school from scratch, she saw not fear, but a chance to help girls bloom into their authentic selves.  I remember being scared for her, but if she felt that she never showed it to me.  After the school’s success, she never changed her focus from the students and making sure that they were in a safe environment where they could learn.  She would win awards and didn’t tell people about them, but if one of her students had a successful moment she would be the first one to share that.  Learning to her doesn’t only mean math and writing, although there is plenty of that.  She sees learning as a process of being introduced to one’s own self.  It doesn’t end during school, but that’s the ideal place for it to begin.

 

If I’m stuck on a problem or having a bad day with the girls’ education, I ask myself ‘what would mom do.’  That’s generally the best answer.  My husband calls me a paladin, but I learned it all from her.  She doesn’t see a tantruming 3-year-old as the tantrum (like I too often do), but as a small and vulnerable child trying to work out something that is too big for their understanding of emotions to handle.  As I said, she always sees the best in all of us. 

 

My goal is to be half the woman she is.  I figure that if I accomplish that, I’ll be twice the woman most people are.  I don’t expect to succeed.  I don’t think that I can be the person she is.  But, watching her it gives me hope.  Hope for people in general and hope for myself.  Hope that the world will become a nicer place for everyone.  Hope that my children will grow up in a better world.  That is the sign of a great person, they inspire something wonderful in others.  That’s her.  She inspires everyone who meets her.  I am blessed to be her daughter, and thankful every day to know her.

Play

My kids live a play-heavy life.  They make up dances and shows, build trains and play pretend.  Both of them have baby dolls that they carry around and are ‘raised’ by their respective parent-child.  I want them to be able to make up games and stories and play the way they want to.  As part of this, I’m fairly free-range when it comes to watching over them in the house.  The bathrooms stay locked, mainly so Mayhem can’t flood them (again), but they have free access to the upstairs.  It means that sometimes their rooms are totally and utterly destroyed and they mess up stuff in my room. However, it’s giving them time to figure out how and what they want to play.

Just yesterday, they went upstairs to play while I made dinner.  Twenty minutes after I sent them up, I went and checked on them.  (Yes, I let them play that long unsupervised.)  The had an entire story about a princess rescuing a dragon from a knight with Mischief as the princess and Mayhem as the knight.  The dragon was played by several different stuffed animals.  It’s not a game I would have come up with if I were directing what they were doing.

Adults, myself included, have decided to break play down into its parts to see its value as a learning tool.  We need it to mean something, to educate kids towards something.  College prep is always on the mind of grownups these days.  When I was ‘helping’ them play, I was too involved; their creativity was interrupted by my ideas.  Since I’m the parent, my suggestions are the ones they’re going to default to.  It was only when I stepped away that I saw just how wonderful and elaborate their play can be.

I take some heat for this.  We’ve had people ask if we even know what they’re doing.  (Not always, but I’m keeping an ear out.)  People have said to me that I don’t deserve to have kids if I’m not going to watch them all the time.  My question is why do I always need to know exactly what they’re doing in their child-safe room.  Yes, they’re going to get into mischief and there’s going to be some mayhem.  Two kids left to their own devices will create some havoc.  However, how are they supposed to play pretend and make things up with an adult voice always in the background dictating and supervising everything they do?

I’m reading Erika Christakis’ The Importance of Being Little and she talks about this.  On page 155, she says, “Once again, we see an adult encroachment of play habitat…The resulting message to a young child is that she can’t really enjoy life without big people always there to coach her through it.”  I won’t be around for every moment in their lives.  Even now, there are times where they have to figure things out on their own with kids their own age.  I can’t always step in and save the day.  My girls will have to create and think and problem-solve on their own.  I could monitor every moment.  I guess there would be fewer fights.  There would also be fewer giggles, less silliness, and a more structured environment to their free-time.  If it’s structured, is it really free?  There would be fewer lessons learned about dealing with someone else.  Handling social situations is one of the most important things that they learn from play.  Why take that away from them?

Homeschooling Begins

On day one of homeschooling, I laid out several centers for my daughter to play with.  There was a place for her to build, one of books for us to read together, markers, clay, and sorting bears.  I thought she was going to happily pick a place to play and love the setup.

“Mom?  I don’t get it.”

“Don’t get what?  Pick where you want to play, it’s up to you.”

“What do I do with all of this mom?  You have to tell me how to play with it all.  Give me directions.  I can’t start until you tell me what I’m supposed to do to get a sticker.  How do I get on green?” 

She sat there confused for ten minutes before she grabbed the sculpey.  “Is it ok if I just try and make something?”

She was tentative at first, not wanting to make a mistake.  I told her that there was just exploring that day, no mistakes to be had.  She would learn from what she did, good or bad.  As she worked with the material she became more and more confident that it would be ok.  By the time lunch rolled around, she was so lost in her work that she didn’t want to stop.

The first thing she made was a flower.  She had an entire story about it and why it doesn’t look like the rest of the flowers, but that makes it special.  When I told her we could cook it and make it hard, she got excited.  “Can I make more things to cook?”  I had creations going in and out of the oven all day.  My favorite sculpture of her is a snake that she made into a circle.  On it, she put four balls of different sizes.  She said that it was a racetrack and the different sizes were to show that the car was going fast.  The speed makes it look different from different places. 

By late afternoon, she looked up at me and said, “It makes me feel like me again.” 

“What does, honey?”

“Working with my art stuff and being creative.  I feel like me again.  So, let’s keep doing days like this.”

It hasn’t all been sunshine.  I don’t always feel like I know what I’m doing, and she keeps asking for Netflix only to be disappointed with an answer of no.  But, her creativity is starting to come out full force.  It’s like watching a flower that has been too long unable to grow start to come into full bloom.  She’s finding what she likes, and some things that she tries and doesn’t like so much.  However, it’s her decision not mine as to how she does and doesn’t want to learn and be taught.  I’m finding that I’m learning as much about her as she is.

My Story

I have written about my thoughts on my daughters’ education, but haven’t provided any background on the education that I received and what I lived through.

I went to a private school from grades K-4 and 5-8.  The break was a year of fifth grade at a public school.  I was significantly younger than my classmates and holding me back seemed like the right idea.  In Kindergarten I had a wonderful teacher and lots of friends.  I remember spending time tracing our outlines on huge pieces of paper and riding on turtle riders down the blacktop at the playground.  Kindergarten me was pretty convinced that school was going to be amazing.

That proved true until third grade.  My teacher was domineering and used her fair share of humiliation when she caught a student making a mistake.  I made (and still make) lots of mistakes.  I misspelled the word ‘color’ as ‘colar’ once and she announced to the whole class that I couldn’t spell something that simple correctly.  As an adult, it doesn’t sound like a huge deal, but for a kid that made me feel about two inches tall.  The school nurse got used to me coming into her office with a stomach ache.  I wasn’t a big fan of school that year.  I didn’t realize how much worse it would end up getting.

Middle school was when it changed from loving my friends but disliking my teacher to living in hell.  Girls can be cruel and my classmates made it a point to show me that in spades.  In seventh and eighth grades I was bullied.  Not the ‘she didn’t like my shoes and pointed at me’ bullied.  It was the ‘these kids are freaking psychopaths and the teachers don’t care’ bullying.  In seventh grade, rumors were spread that I was sleeping with all the boys at our brother school.  I was called ‘slut,’ ‘whore,’ ‘trash,’ ‘bitch’ and about anything else you can think of.  I was told I was a waste of space, my family was poor (we weren’t but it was a school where that was one of the worst things you could be), and that I was too stupid to ever do anything.  It was hell.

My parents are amazing people and did the best they could to save me.  I remember the summer after seventh grade they tried everything in their power to talk me into changing schools.  I didn’t want to feel like I let the bullies win, so I went back into battle.  In eighth grade, the teachers would ask why I didn’t try harder to make people like me.  They told me it was my fault that I didn’t have friends.  That was also the year that a group of girls tried to pay a group of guys to gang rape me.  These were not people I wanted as friends.

I left after that year – there wasn’t any reason to care if the mean girls won.  My safety was more important than going back.  My parents made it clear that the decision was no longer in my hands.  I was suicidal, depressed, and hated everything about learning.  Learning meant school, school meant hell; I had no need for it.  As an adult, I look back on that and am amazed that I lived.  If social media were around, I wouldn’t have.  I could go home and not hear the things being said.  If it were now, those words would follow me into my bedroom instead of being stopped at the front door.

The K-8 years were only a small part of my education, but they left a lasting impression.  It took almost 6 years after I finished high school (which I didn’t have a choice about) before I went to college with any feeling of belonging.  Even now, there is a sense that I have to be cautious around people stemming from my time in school.

This experience should never happen to anyone.  This is where my mind goes when I see the stories of kids being badly bullied in school.  This is what causes kids to commit suicide to get away from hell.  This is what I fight against to make sure my children never come close to dealing with it.  This is teachers failing kids.  It’s kids failing to be part of a community – a breakdown that starts with the adults.  My daughters will be raised in a community of learning and understanding, not an ‘everyone for themselves’ environment where students are pumped full of facts while the important things are ignored

Done

I sent my child to school with hopes and dreams and a backpack.  She was a kind child who didn’t throw tantrums.  She put her dishes in the sink without being asked and she wouldn’t dream of hurting her sister, no matter how frustrated she was.  She went to bed without complaint, woke up and got dressed without being asked, and talked to me about how everyone’s job is important.  She was excited to start school and had an amazing sense that she wanted to be there.  She walked up the steps onto the bus that first day thinking that this would be the best experience of her life.

 

It became harder to get her awake and out the door as the weeks went on.  Mornings went from a relaxed two hours to a rushed 45 minutes of trying to get everyone fed, packed, and dressed.  She had friends at first.  Unfortunately, as the months passed the girls went from liking her to trying to control her.  She wanted to play with the Ariel puzzle and the other girls were playing with marbles.  She didn’t want to play with the marbles, but she didn’t want to get made fun of for liking Ariel.  She asked me one night, “Mom, do you think if I decided to like what they want me to like that they’d start to like me too?”  The child that I trusted the school with 100 days ago would have done what she wanted and been confident in her decision.

 

She was off this week for winter break.  She cried about kids being mean to her in school, acted out, screamed, thrown tantrums, worried about not being around us when school starts up again, and generally been difficult.  Several times I found her staring at her class picture and crying.  She’s so determined to be good at school that all the stress and anxiety is building up and coming out in her behavior at home.  She told us that she’s a failure.  We’ve never told her that.  We’ve never insinuated that.  SHE CALLED HERSELF A FAILURE AT 5.  She told me that she wishes her bully would die.  That’s so far outside the bounds of an acceptable thing for her to say.  It took a minute for the shock to wear off before I could deal with it.  What the hell is going on during the school day that a child, an amazing kid, would say these things.  It’s heartbreaking.

 

We’re done.  Finished.  Bye-bye.  This stops now.  Her Dad and I talked about it and she’s been pulled from her school.  She isn’t going to have her self, that amazing thing that makes her her, strangled and standardized down to a kid who doesn’t play how she wants for fear of alienating other kids.  We will find the homeschool groups and activities that she will learn positive things from.  She’ll learn about apples from an orchard, not a book.  She’ll see a real farm, not a video.  She will be taught how to be part of a family and community while also being taught the wonderment of her.  She will never again tell me that she doesn’t know anything and is stupid.  Her education is looking up.

Mayhem’s Education

I haven’t yet written about my younger daughter.  She is three and not in school which makes me feel like there isn’t anything to say about her education.  The truth is she learns just as much as her sister does only in a different environment.  She spends all day with me going to PTO events, playgroups, running errands, and helping me around the house.  I don’t do flashcards with her.  I don’t drill her on her letters.  There aren’t any worksheets.  I’ve had people ask if I was worried about her ‘getting behind’ –  whatever that means for a three-year-old.

 

She learns through play, that’s her medium.  She’s too young to have much of an attention span, and frankly too chaotic.  Her nickname is Mayhem as building and destroying things seems to be her main pastime.  She practices writing by drawing circles and straight lines, but only when she feels like picking up a pencil.  Coloring doesn’t occur inside the lines here, but neither does life.  Her favorite thing to draw is a windstorm which means she scribbles all over the page.  Earlier I wrote about my oldest coloring and cutting a leaf.  Mayhem was there too; she just drew a scribble-circle on the paper.  When the adults tried to tell her to focus on the leaf, she informed them that she was putting it in a storm.

 

In a few years if we send her to school, then she can have her days of worksheets and inside the lines and flashcards.  She’s a full-time kid, not a student.  This doesn’t mean she isn’t being taught.  She doesn’t have chores in the house, she has responsibilities.  We have a dog and she has the responsibility of letting the dog out and in and feeding her.  She hands me the dishes from the dishwasher and she gets the ingredients from the cupboard when it’s time to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  In those activities she’s being taught how to take care of herself and be part of a family.

 

I can tell by watching that her mind doesn’t ever stop.  Grocery shopping is an event.  She wants to learn about everything, so we talk about all the fruits and vegetables – how they grow and what we can make with them.  At the store with live lobsters she asks the employees to take a lobster out so she can pet it and we talk about why it has claws.  She is fascinated with how various animals protect themselves, that’s a constant source of discussion.  We’ve watched videos of different animals eating as she likes learning about what their diets consist of.  And while I’ve never formally taught her any vocabulary, her’s is considered advanced by her doctor through me talking to and with her constantly.

 

This isn’t right for everyone, but it is for us.  I get asked how I know she’s learning anything.  I see it in her train tracks that span the upstairs and in her shows that she has her stuffed animals put on.  For that matter, even if she isn’t that won’t stunt her academic growth forever.  She’ll have plenty of time for formal learning.  If there was a quality non-academic preschool in the area, she would likely go.  She only gets so many years before academics start, why speed that up?  She is going to build her education on the foundation of life lessons that will serve her well, or at least that’s the hope.

Emotional Safety

As a society, we do everything we can to protect our kids.  People have started stepping into other’s parenting choices to do what they can to save other people’s children too.  We have babies sleep on their backs to try and prevent SIDS, we debate if children should be rear-facing in their car seats until they’re four to help keep them safer in a car wreck.  There are discussions about baby monitors and breathing monitors and people call the cops when an eight-year-old walks home alone two blocks.  It seems like we’re wildly (overly) concerned with the safety of children, ours and others.

 

Today I was thinking of how we handle a child who is suicidal.  Too often, I hear people say that suicidal thoughts are just someone looking for attention.  Even cutting is considered to be ‘attention-seeking lite’ in a way.  We look out for a child’s safety in so many ways, why not try to keep them safe from themselves?  Mental illness still has such a stigma around it that people would prefer to leave alone an obviously hurting child instead of risking their death.  Even if the child (and for that matter adult) is just looking for attention, if they’re that desperate why not give it to them?  These are kids who are obviously hurting.  There is a problem, it should be talked about.

 

When society addresses mental health, it tends to be all talk and no action.  My daughter has brought projects home on nutrition, stranger danger, fire safety, and exercise, but they haven’t talked about mental health.  Maybe it’s because she’s young, at least I hope that’s the case.  I fear that it won’t be covered at all, or if it is it won’t be covered well.  If it’s anything like my time in school, mental health will be glossed over and mentioned in passing in fifth grade so the block can be checked. 

 

America has an ongoing conversation (I unfortunately don’t think it rises to the level of debate) about sex education – how young it should start and what the curriculum should be.  Why isn’t there a great debate to make sure the best emotional education is being taught too?  Why aren’t we as parents demanding that this issue is addressed by the schools, and addressed well.  Sadly, I would guess that most children aren’t learning about it at home either.  These are the hard conversations that we have to have with our kids.  The hardest ones are the most essential.  We owe it to them.

Liebster Nomination

In the blogging world, there’s something called the Liebster Award for new bloggers.  It recognizes people just starting out in a ‘pat on the back’ way.  I have been nominated for it by Celina at QuirkingitOut.com (Thank you!), and as part of that I was given a set of questions to answer.  My answers follow and my nominations for the award follow those.

1. What inspires you?
Most of my blog is about issues my child is dealing with at school, so a great deal of my inspiration comes from watching her. She’s smart and funny, and is just quirky enough to have issues fitting in. It’s wonderful watching her grow, and heartbreaking watching her try and be like others while keeping track of herself. I’m also inspired by what I read. There are some amazing books out there (I’m finishing Most Likely to Succeed right now) and they make me see things differently. My final inspiration, and one of the biggest that I have, is my husband. He challenges what I think and how I see the world. We don’t have a marriage where we always agree on everything, but rather one where we both hold our own. Discussing things with him makes me have to clarify my thoughts and arguments, and not infrequently realize that my original position wasn’t quite right.

2. If you could visit me in Paris, what’s one thing we would have to do?

During Spring Break when I was in tenth grade I visited Paris with my sister. My mom told her to make sure I saw the Musee d’Orsay, but we ran out of time. Instead, she took me to a postcard stand outside the Louvre and showed me postcards of “the 10 best paintings in the Musee.” I was told to tell our parents that we’d actually gone to the museum so they wouldn’t get mad. If I were to visit you in Paris, that’s where we’d go – it’s on my bucket list.

3. What is your biggest goal with your blog?

My blog started as something I was going to write almost as a journal. As I’ve written more and more, that’s changed. Now, I see it as a place to better my writing as I head into graduate school. I’ve also been asked if I’d ever consider publishing a book of essays, and my blog is a place to start collecting them and clarifying what I want to write about. With that said, I still want to keep it a calm place for me to go and reset my head when I’m having a rough day.

4. What is your biggest fear?

My biggest fear has always been failure. Unfortunately, for the first thirty or so years of my life that fear meant that I didn’t do anything. Over the past few years, I’ve started putting myself out there (the fact that I even have a blog is an indication of that) and it’s been interesting where that’s taken me. There are still days where I want to hide, because if I hide from everything I can’t fail at anything.

5. Would you rather be wealthy and stuck in one place, or poor but able to go anywhere?

I would rather travel. The world is a fascinating place and that’s something that all the money in the world can’t teach you if you don’t ever go anywhere. Looking things up on the internet isn’t the same as finding out what the smell of the docks in Charleston, SC is. Pictures are nice, but they don’t do justice to the look of the Mojave Desert when the heat is so bad that it makes everything start to look shaky.

6. Donuts or coffee?

Coffee. You can’t be awake enough to find the donuts if you haven’t had your morning coffee.

7. Most embarrassing moment?

I wore a grey, smocked sweat suit to school one day in second grade. While that should have been embarrassing enough in itself, I spilled spaghetti all over myself at lunch and was made to wear my stained clothes for the rest of the day. I still remember the feeling of spending the day covered in lunch, which wasn’t good to begin with. It was years before I ate spaghetti again.

8. How do you start your day?

I start my day with a 5 am workout – either the rowing machine or abs. I hate to exercise, but I’m determined to get in shape this year. With two kids it’s the only time I can be sure they won’t bother me. That’s followed with coffee (sweet, sweet coffee) and breakfast. Then there’s the insanity of getting a five-year-old to the bus stop with a three-year-old in tow. The most important thing in all of my morning is the hug and kiss from my husband and checking in with each other before the day gets out of hand.

9. What do you do when you don’t feel like writing?

When I don’t feel like writing, I read. I love my books and getting lost in them. I read almost exclusively non-fiction, mainly education or politics/history. Usually something I read can tweak my head into finding something to write about.

10. What’s the absolute best thing to watch on Netflix?

I’m a politics and history person, so my go-to is West Wing. It’s brilliantly written and acted. I think I’ve watched the whole series 4 or 5 times.

11. Which of your dreams/goals scares you?

Of everything I want to do, writing a book scares me the most. It’s nerve-wracking to write something and put it out there for other people to read. It’s a strange enough feeling with my blog, but publishing something that could be found on Amazon or in Barnes and Noble terrifies me. Through that fear, though, I can see how amazing it would feel to be able to walk into the store and see my name on something that will get picked up and (hopefully) appreciated by someone I’ll never meet except across my words.

My nominations are:

hardcorehope.com (Rose Fischer)

ourrachblogs.com (Rachel Hawkins)

lifeintheusa.org (Anita Desabhatla)

shutterfliesphotography.wordpress.com (Paige Butler)

 

My questions to them:

  1. What is your favorite book?
  2. What is your favorite place to go to regularly?
  3. What is your favorite food?
  4. What is your dream vacation?
  5. Describe your biggest success…
  6. and your biggest failure.
  7. Who is the most influential person in your life?
  8. What is your happiest memory?
  9. Coffee or tea?
  10. Who was your best teacher and why?
  11. What is your favorite season and why?