Category Archives: General

Isolation | Part 2 of ?

This morning I got woken up by a small person at 6:20am. I realized that on any other Thursday morning I’d be up, dressed, yelling at kids, making my lunch, pouring coffee, you know basically doing normal morning things. Instead, I rolled over and attempted to go back to sleep.

We’ve been in quarantine in our homes for the last 18 days. The first 14 were for everyone else’s sake. Since we went to Disney World on March 15th (the last day it was opened) it seemed our exposure risk was very high and as a result we stayed safely tucked away from all family. Now, 18 days later, healthy by the grace of God, we are tucked away because our city and finally our state have ordered us to do so. That’s fine. Where would we go right now anyway? The outside world seems pretty scary, invisible enemy everywhere.

The thing is, I’m grateful for so many things right now not just our health. I’m grateful that I could roll over and get more sleep this morning instead of getting up when it was still dark (raise your hand if you’re like me and not sleeping well.) I’m grateful that I’m not putting 2000 miles a month on my car. I’m grateful that hubby isn’t driving 183 miles A DAY for work. I’m grateful that we don’t have to eat dinner at 7:30 every night- the normal time we eat since Andrew’s swim practice goes until 7. I’m grateful that I can sit and drink my coffee slowly in the morning, while sitting at my breakfast table. For that matter, it’s nice to eat meals at my table and not at my desk or in the car. There are some definite perks to life right now and it would be wrong not to acknowledge that. I feel like everything went from 100 miles an hour to, like, maybe 5. I don’t feel a constant sense of being rushed. That’s a good thing.

Sadly, all that has come at a price and that’s the price we stay for being safe right now. I don’t love eating meals at a work desk but I do love being able to go to work. I enjoy being able to get more sleep but not for this reason, that’s for sure. I love being able to eat dinner earlier but I hate that Andrew isn’t swimming, and that there’s no meet this weekend where I can cheer him on. I hate that my kids miss their friends and that I miss mine.

So I come to the idea of BALANCE. I see the need to slow down but that means sacrificing something and right now I’m still not seeing exactly WHAT that should be. There is nothing right now that I wouldn’t trade to have our normal life back. Not even the extra sleep.

Right now Allison is doing a virtual dance class while on FaceTime with her friends. They are having a hard time syncing up the video with each other but they are figuring it out just like, when all this is over, we will have to resync our lives, putting things back into the little time slots we carved out for them with a new found appreciation for why we are doing them in the first place.

Isolation | Part 1 of ?

On Monday I told the kids I wanted them to do an assignment. They loudly complained since it is technically their spring break right now but I told them I wanted them to keep a journal which will be a primary source document for future generations as what we are living right now is one of those things that will shape their future and something they will one day share with their grandchildren. After hearing what I wanted them to do, they all actually complied.

I figured it’s probably not a terrible idea to do the same. Someday I’ll still share this with my grandchildren and maybe someday they’ll share it with theirs. I hope decades from now we’ll look back on this knowing we did the best we could and got through it with a sense of hope and understanding and not with the horror of someone recounting say, their experience in war.

I can’t help but thinking over the last few weeks, that I’ve read this book. I spent a lot of time about a decade ago, immersed in post-apocalyptic genre novels. Many of them were for young adults/teens. There was one, one of the more juvenile of the books I read, where a virus kills all the adults on earth leaving the children to fend for themselves. Even though the characters weren’t particularly appealing, it was one of the books that stuck with me and has at times made me more driven to teach my kids survival skills, not in a scary way but in a “hey let’s learn how to cook a meal” kind of way. And here we are now, facing a virus that seems to impact most every age group EXCEPT young children. That book, by the way, is part of the Toucan Trillogy and is called Night of the Purple Moon, you know, just in case you want to read mildly terrifying fiction that now mimics real life.

There was another book I read, again having to do with the moon, where an asteroid hits the moon setting it off its normal gravitational course and closer to the earth. Global chaos ensues as tsunamis take out all the coastal cities, the electrical grid, access to news, access to food, etc. I remember the mother in that book taking her children out of school, giving them each a fistful of cash, and each of them filling a shopping cart to the brim with food as everyone else in the town does the same. And in the beginning they are okay and they eat fairly normally. Then volcanic eruptions block out the sun, winter starts in August, and they cut down practically the entire forest behind their home to keep a wood burning stove going to keep from freezing to death. Last night we got take out and had dessert too and I told the kids, I think we will look back on this as one of the really good meals we had before everything just kinda stops. I hope it won’t come to that. But who knows at this point. That book, is part of a 4 book series called Life As We Knew It. By the way the 4th book sucks and I don’t say that lightly. It made me so angry. If you opt to read this series do yourself a favor and stop after the 3rd book. Ok moving on.

So life is imitating art right now and I think what strikes me the hardest is how normal things were last week. Yesterday was Wednesday and except to go get a prescription filled I didn’t leave the house. Here’s what a normal Wednesday is like for us: 

Everyone up at 6, dressed and ready for school. Leave for school at 6:45 at the latest. Andrew has (had) Model UN team at 7:20 so we had to get to school by then. Drop everyone off and sign them into HOST. Leave for work and hopefully arrive by 7:45. 

A normal work day for me is a class of math followed by a class of religion then break, planning, “Math Lab” which is additional math enrichment where we do life skills math (we were talking about income taxes) and then lunch. I have lunch duty on Wednesday so I sit outside at the picnic tables with the 32 kids in my department. We don’t have a cafeteria at my school so we eat outside. Students have the option of getting food delivered. After lunch I teach my highest level math class and they are doing an Algebra 1 unit on Linear Equations. Right after that class I have my pre-algebra group and then two more religion classes. After work is my weekly PLC. We’ve been having conferences lately. After the PLC is over (and sometimes I have to leave early) I rush across town to the dance studio because I keep Allison’s bag in my car so she doesn’t have to carry it around school all day. Her classes start at 5:30 on Wednesdays. If by chance Andy is back from work early enough he takes Molly to swimming but most of the time we just sit at Barnes and Noble and wait for class to be over. After dance Andy takes the kids home and I go to choir at church. It’s over by 9 and I’m usually home by 9:30 after being gone almost 15 hours. Wednesday is by far my busiest day. It exhausts me. Last Wednesday I did all those things except choir. Yesterday I did none of them. What I wouldn’t give right now to be that busy again, to have all those places I could go and all those people I could see and all those classes I could teach face to face with my students. Knowing it’s only been 4 days and how long it potentially will be before things are back to some sense of normal is what keeps me up at night. I think we are all grieving normal. It’s certainly not that anymore.

What I miss the most is my ability to see my own friends. Over the last 2 years, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday during dance classes, I’ve gotten to sit, relax, have coffee and “mom time” with two amazing women who I love dearly. And for the foreseeable future that’s done with. At the time, it didn’t click for me that last week was our last time doing that for a while. It’s clicking for me now that if Barnes and Noble can’t survive the economic crash as many companies won’t, that might be our last time forever. How did the world change so dramatically in just one week?

I am leaving this for now with a note: Be good to each other. As hard as it is, look for the positives. Cleaner air is a HUGE one right now. More family time, slowing down, having the ability to do all the things that we’ve been unable to do for a while, that’s a huge positive too. I will continue to update as the days pass. Love to all.

Giving Up Shopping for Lent | Final Update

Happy Easter (a little late)! Lent is over! I saw this through to the end but then forgot to update. When I was asked by the 5th person how things went I figured it was probably best to write a final post.

So did I make it? The strictest answer is no but I still think I did a pretty darn good job of it. I did buy a few things. I kept to things that were either a) absolutely necessary (medicine for when I came down with the flu, shoes for a certain son of mine who grew a size during Lent.) b) a deal on something I needed in the future that was too good to pass up (school uniforms) and c) a few basic food essentials- namely bread and eggs. And I was doing so so well but then I went a bit astray. You see I saw bunny ears for cars, you know like the reindeer antlers you see around Christmas? Well I made a stupid whim purchase– $9.99 on Amazon and a day and a half later I was the proud owner of a very dignified and grown up adult like costume for my already mom-i-fied minivan. Yup, that’s where I fell off the wagon. It happened with only a week to go too.

All things considered, I think this was appropriately challenging and an effective sacrifice for the spirit of Lent. It was hard and it led to a lot of self-reflection. It made me realize how often I browse and it was freeing not to be tempted by wanting stuff. It was also time saving to skip the grocery routine. I’m happy to say that while we ran out of many things we did not run out of food. In fact I was a little disappointed that we didn’t clear out more so I bagged up a bunch of things and donated them instead. I saw the bottom of the deep freezer for the first time in many months and we ate a lot of things that would have otherwise continued sitting on the shelf of the pantry indefinitely.

What things did I miss most?

I missed sweets. There were no cookies or fun snack foods for the last month or so (with a couple exceptions of other people bringing us stuff because they are super nice like that.) That’s a very decent diet plan actually. If it’s not there you can’t eat it and feel guilty about it. We ran out of chips, crackers, goldfish, and pretzels too.

What things did we truly need to replenish?

Running out of bread was a no go. I didn’t realize how often my dear oldest son eats a PB&J before bed. Since overall, he doesn’t eat enough I didn’t want to discourage that. Plus, when you run out of other lunch type foods, sandwiches are really the only option. So we got fresh bread a few times. We also ran out of eggs which we eat a lot. Could we have done without? Yes, but it may have prevented the kids from eating as much as they should. We ended up fine on milk. I’m sure they wouldn’t have minded more bananas and apples but they also ate ALL of the fresh ones I bought after this whole thing was over and none went to waste so maybe that was a good lesson? Time will tell.

Did the kids get annoyed about not having things?

Not really, no. I had given them a lot of warning about this so when things ran out they ran out. There was some fighting over the lasts of things but they were fine. Actually it really limited the asking for things because they knew I wasn’t setting foot in a store or ordering anything.

Finally, where was the first place I shopped?

We went to Lowes on Good Friday to purchase some basic home repair items and then we went to Target and loaded up on fresh fruits, vegetables, yogurt, cheese, eggs, bread, meat, and other things like cat litter. I definitely didn’t go crazy or anything. I find that while I still love shopping, I didn’t miss the list making and meal planning at all.

Overall, I hope to do this again next year and this time not slip up but try to make it the whole time without any unnecessary spending at all!

Thanks for following J

Giving Up Shopping for Lent | Update 4

Well it’s been over a month since I started this endeavor. I confess I did fall of the wagon so to speak, just a little bit, last week. As my husband joked, yeah, you really went to town there! I got a fantastic coupon for school uniforms which have to be purchased regardless so it seemed foolish to waste that. So those have been ordered. I also purchased a baby shower gift for a dear friend and I bought a lighting transformer because my dad is helping us install landscape lighting and that was the only thing keeping us from moving forward. I took my mom to the mall this weekend but bought nothing myself. On the same trip I took the kids to Toys R Us to use up their gift cards because there is varying information on whether or not the stores are closing and it also seemed foolish to take chances on losing the money so off we went. So, frivolous? No, but shopping nonetheless. I have still not stepped foot in a Target store in over a month and I find myself really looking forward to going to one again. I think over this last month I have realized that truly not shopping at all is next to impossible because things just pop up that you can’t predict however, I do like the look of my bank account at the moment which has had so few transactions that I have to open it to the 30 day view to see anything. That’s pretty cool!

Today I did a planned shopping trip for bread, milk, and coffee creamer. I knew we’d need to do that eventually. The sort of frustrating thing is that we have yet to come close to using up all the food in our pantry or deep freezer. I really wanted to clear those things out. I think one way or the other I’m going to make sure we finish that stuff even if Lent is over.

Until next time!!

Giving Up Shopping For Lent | Update 3

This is hard y’all. I have always loved shopping and even when I don’t really have the money to shop I have still enjoyed browsing. I love walking through stores and getting ideas for future projects. Good, bad, or indifferent, I get a small thrill from buying something fun and new no matter how small (Target dollar section is my favorite!) And more than anything, I LOVE a good deal! So this past weekend we had a swim meet in Sarasota and I was driving through St. Armands Circle just itching for a stop into the amazing stores they have down there. But no. I didn’t. I also came across a fab deal on Amazon but no, I didn’t buy that either. Be proud! Haha!

I did find however, that any time you take a road trip, even a small one, purchases are fairly inevitable. Because hotels were $200 a night, we opted to drive back and forth from home each day but that allowed me to justify Starbucks because, yawn, I gave my entire weekend to my son’s swimming. I also said on a whim that I’d buy him the state championship t-shirt if he surpassed his goal time which he did by a lot- in fact he set a personal record in 5 of 6 races. So does that count as shopping? Perhaps not exactly but I can’t possibly justify it as a necessary purchase. We also stopped for ice cream because, well, he asked if we could and sometimes I just want to be the mom that says yes. So I did. And we had an incredible weekend. I don’t feel badly about the few spending choices but then again I do because this is supposed to be hard and not something where you give in just because. In the moment, I weighed keeping with this goal vs making happy memories with my kiddo. I went for the happy memories.

As far as food goes, we still have a deep freezer full of food- breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Our refrigerator is pretty low on everything. Our main freezer is also running low but definitely has a week or two more of food in it. Our pantry looks full but there are a lot of things that don’t really go with anything else unless you’re on one of those chef shows where you get random ingredients and make a gourmet meal. Since I’m not that talented in the kitchen I’m not sure what to do with the random stuff except to use it as a side with something else. A person who shall remain nameless went and bought us bread and eggs which we were out of. I didn’t ask nor did I do the shopping. But I guess that’s kinda cheating. So far the kids haven’t really noticed that we have run out of some things. They tend to be more “see it, eat it,” type kids and don’t seem to care what we have or don’t have. I have no doubt we’ll be able to get through at least another week or two, probably more, with what we have. Until next time…

Giving Up Shopping for Lent | Update 2

Well accountability in this form sure is a powerful motivator!

This week continued to go well as far as shopping goes but I did have to make an exception. I went ahead and bought more carpet cleaning solution for our machine. Most everyone in our house suffers from allergies and I felt that it was more important to get the carpets cleaned now than wait it out for another month just for the sake of avoiding a purchase. So Amazon came to the rescue (which was actually helpful since I didn’t have to enter a store) and our carpets are freshly shampooed and definitely cleaner. I’ll chalk it up as a medical necessity.

Along the same lines, I will be making a stop tomorrow to get more allergy medicine since I ran out and being a functional adult is definitely a necessity as well.

We are still nowhere close to running out of food. The kids have wasted some things that infuriated me and it hasn’t hit them yet that those crackers they spilled all over the floor are a snack they won’t be having later. I want this to be an effective motivator against waste but so far it hasn’t made a difference. On the other hand, I love seeing the pantry clear out a little and we definitely ate some things that would have otherwise continued sitting on the shelf until they expired.

This was weekend number two of no grocery list making, no shopping, no food unloading and having that time back in my weekend is spoiling me.

So there you have it, total purchases so far = 1 for carpet cleaner. Browsing is way down as well. I use it as a time filler and it’s as much a waste of time as spilling a sleeve of crackers is a waste of food. This week I expect to need to purchase the allergy medicine and the salt for the water softener. So far so good.

Giving Up Shopping for Lent | Update 1

Well today is Sunday so it’s my normal grocery day. I didn’t make a list, I didn’t load the kids into the car, I didn’t spend an hour+ at Target getting groceries. I didn’t spend time unloading and putting them all away (or yelling at the kids to do it).

And it was GLORIOUS!!!

Do you realize how much time I gained by not doing all that? Oh my goodness!! I also didn’t make a plan for the week of meals and I’m a little nervous about that but I know we have so much stuff in the deep freezer that I can’t get near the bottom so there’s food to eat in there, plenty of it.

I keep getting questions about milk and fresh foods but my answers remain the same. I haven’t worried about that yet at all. I did realize that we will run out of salt for our water softener and I’ll need to buy more in about 2 weeks. I also need to clean the carpets and I don’t think there’s enough solution to do the job so I might have to get some of that too (or just wait to clean the carpets). So far it’s stuff more than food that I’m thinking about needing to buy. It’s really making me focus on what we really need vs just what I think we need. The kicker there is, I already thought I was pretty good at that. I know how to budget and pinch pennies. I was already not spending a ton but now it’s even less. I’m proud of that!

I am also trying REALLY hard not to be swayed by advertisements. I have given up Facebook for Lent twice now and I’m not this year but I really get sucked into the Facebook ads that are marketed directly to me. They know my weaknesses, damn them! So forcing myself to ignore that stuff has been tough. I never even buy the stuff but I always browse. Maybe that’s why I’m writing now, all my free time!

So that’s your update for now, more next week!

Giving Up Shopping for Lent

I haven’t really used this platform regularly in a while but then on February 13th I announced that I was giving up shopping for Lent. My post read:

For the sake of accountability…
This year I’m giving up shopping for Lent- that’s ALL shopping including groceries. I took one last shopping trip to Target today to get stuff for Easter Baskets and one last click in my Amazon Shopping cart and we’ll see how far this takes us. I’m not sure we have 6 weeks worth of food in the pantry but I know no one is going to starve. This might be the hardest thing I’ve ever given up for Lent. Wish me luck!

Not just to be clear this isn’t something I took lightly. I’ve given this a lot of thought and I also got buy in from my family because realistically it can’t be done if they’re not on board but they are and so we began this little test of endurance and sacrifice Wednesday and it will continue until Easter, April 1.

Oh the questions! I didn’t really except more than a few “good luck” comments but I got several questions publicly posted as well as privately from people who had read my post and wanted to know more. I offered this follow up to my original post:

We have exceptions. 1) any medical necessity is a given 2) any school necessity including things I may need for my class. But necessity is key. Sorry book fair (unless the kids bring their own money) 3) if we really truly run out of food of course I’ll get more. But we have a ridiculous amount right now and I’m tired of the kids wasting food. They need to become more conscientious of the waste. Plus, the apocalypse ready level of food we have currently is making it hard to know what we have and stuff is going bad. We need to become more aware of what we have and this seems like a good way to do it. No one will starve. We can get creative. If I need to get some staples part way through then so be it.

This really boils it all down. The point of giving up something for Lent is to actually give something up and for me that’s a lot of things- it’s the thrill of shopping (I love you, Target!) as well as the time filler of browsing for things online, things that I will want and then know I can’t/won’t buy for whatever reason usually because I simply don’t need it. But for the kids it’s understanding waste and realizing when they run out of something it’s gone until April. I want them to understand the first time they go to the pantry and don’t find what they want, that I’m not going to get more of it in a few days, that they will have to wait.

I got questions about milk, bread, and fresh fruits/vegetables. My answers:

Milk: We drink almond milk which has a longer shelf life than dairy milk. I purchased enough to last 6 weeks IF it is not wasted. If we run out I have some shelf stable almond milk to supplement but no one really likes milk that much anyway so it won’t be missed.

Bread: I’ll admit this is one of my biggest worries because one of my dear children would survive solely on PB&J and it’s our go-to quick snack. But when the bread runs out he will still be able to eat peanut butter on crackers, pretzels, or dried apples.

Which brings me to fresh fruits and veggies: Well considering I have 6 rotting bananas on my counter right now and recently found 3 very shriveled up apples in the refrigerator, I don’t think my kids are appreciating the fresh fruit and vegetables too much as it is and it’s being throw out. We have lots of frozen vegetables and I mean LOTS. I’m not worried about this. It’s called a sacrifice for a reason. Their meals will still be nutritious even if the green on their plate was frozen first. Oh, and since all 4 of them eat at least one meal or snack at school, all of which include fresh fruits and veggies, they will still be getting it daily.

So that’s the run down for now. I figured this is as good a place as any to post updates on our progress. In 3 days I have spent zero $$. I did browse online but stopped myself from buying what would have been an awesome deal. I was proud of myself. I can tell this is going to be VERY hard.


Here it is 2018 and the last time I posted it was the last day of 2014. So much has changed since that last post that I feel like an imposter here, looking in at someone else’s life. For one thing, we doubled the number of children we had to four. But the world has changed. It is no longer prudent to put yourself out there the way I used to. It opens you to unwanted criticism, hateful judgment from perfect strangers, and general wrath from people who look through the window of your life as though they have some right to peek inside- and I suppose when you are sharing your story for the world to see, they kind of do. In any case, I used to enjoy writing and sharing my life here. I like to think that I was a blogger before blogging was a thing tons of people did. I built this from the ground up, teaching myself along the way. And for now I’m moving on. I will keep my life more private for my children, and for myself. If you’ve stopped by here and we know each other or even if we don’t, say hi. I can’t promise new posts any time soon but it felt like an update was needed. Until next time…

An Unreachable Goal of Perfection

I love to sit in the evening and scroll through Facebook looking for interesting articles or silly quizzes and things of that sort. The other day I came across a Buzzfeed list called “19 Secrets Teachers Won’t Tell You“. I read through it. Agreed with some of the things, got a little chuckle and moved on. I didn’t even bother to repost it. For whatever reason however, I decided to look at the comments. I should never look at the comments because in virtually all cases, comments on public articles are utterly horrifying. These were no exception.

There were dozens upon dozens (at the time, probably hundreds now) of people tagging teacher friends asking them if the list spoke truth. Others were calling out teachers for being horrible human beings should the list be true. Others still, saying that any teacher who doesn’t love all his/her students equally should be out of a job. It was basically criticism after criticism. Now the list itself was a very poor representation of what teachers feel on most days but I think just about any teacher could have said or written some of those things on a bad day and that’s where people who comment these mean things really lose me.

Why are teachers held to such a ridiculously outrageous expectation of perfection? Nothing less will be acceptable. Not only must you get kids on target in all their subject areas, you have to make sure they get along, don’t participate in bullying behaviors, feel loved, eat all their lunch, and get into the best college and lets not forget those teachers who also have shielded their children from crazed gunmen and tornadoes, too. There is no gray area here, it’s not a sliding scale. To some, this is an all or nothing thing and if you’re not doing all these things you’ve failed miserably and should look for a new job. And you know what? As a teacher I was okay with these expectations. They are things I’d have put on myself even if others didn’t. But according to these people commenting on this article you also have to love every student every moment of the day, you cannot ever vent to others when you are frustrated, you may never have a bad day where you put in a movie for the kids, you must be filled with joy when you see students outside of school and on and on. Say what? Are these people asking for a human to teach their children or some sort of robot? News flash– these things ARE true. Not always but sometimes. Do parents of multiple children not occasionally feel frustration towards one child while not with the others? Are there not days that even the best of parents think (not say, not act, but think) that they love their child but don’t like them very much in that moment? As a teacher there were moments of frustration. What made me a professional was that I could and did still show my students the respect they deserved. But now, according to these people, I wasn’t allowed to think the frustration either.

And these thoughts are what led me to thinking about my current job as a mom. The message we get as moms is a complete 180 from what is expected of teachers. Having a bad day and are frustrated with your kid and yelled? Don’t worry, it’s okay, all moms have bad days. You still love your child. Not feeling well and put your kids in front of the TV? It’s okay, moms need time to themselves too. Moms don’t get sick days. You just have to do what you need to do to get by. Your child is 7 and not reading yet? Don’t worry, all kids are different and grow at their own pace. They will get there eventually.

Why are these the messages that moms are given yet if you turned it around and replaced mom with teacher it would be deemed completely unacceptable? We are forcing this already greatly under-appreciated profession into a realm of expectations that is so wildly unrealistic that it is driving teachers to leave the classroom and seek other careers entirely. And it’s a terrible shame. So my request is this. Next time you get upset at something a teacher says or does, ask yourself it it’s an expectation you’d want held to you as a parent. And if you can’t honestly say you never would or could do whatever that thing was, then cut the teachers some slack. They are human too.

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