Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's Resolutions

Painted Maypole's Monday Mission this week is to make a list of New Year's Resolutions. Since she kept hers on a serious note, I will too, since it's something I've actually been giving a lot of thought to lately.

1.) Get accepted into the teacher certification graduate program. This is by far the most important resolution of all. This is my shot at having the career I've always wanted. This is my shot at being truly happy at what I'm doing. I'm working hard to get in, and I'm praying they'll accept me. I will succeed at this.

2.)Find a new job. The job I have now makes me miserable. It forces me to work Saturdays. Right now, I have to cling to it to pay the bills while GH still remains unemployed. This past week, I've been sending out my resume to every decent job I can find. I'm working on it as hard as I can, and I know something will pan out soon.

3.) Loose at least 20 pounds. My waistline keeps expanding, and it's high time it start moving in the other direction. Though this is a resolution I've made before, this year I intend to make it stick.

4.) Improve my jewelry making skills, and other art skills. I've really been working on improving myself as an artist, and this year I'd like to improve even further.

5.) Do more craft shows. Last year I began bringing my jewelry to craft shows. It really helped improve my confidence, and I met a lot of other great artists. This year I want to do more shows, and bring a wider range of art. I hope to do a lot better this year.

6.) Get something published professionally. So far the highlight of my writing career has been a few freelance articles in the local paper. This year, I'd like to see some of my writing in a real publication that people read. And, I'd like it to be something more creative than the local high school's academic decathlon (no joke, that was one of the articles I wrote.

7.) Start saving money. All right, this is something I've always been terrible at. Setting money aside is tough, especially when things are tight. This year, I will put money aside if it kills me. This year is the car breaks down, or I need emergency dental work, I resolve to have money set aside so it will not bankrupt us.

8.) Keep in better touch with my family. Losing my grandmother really drove home how important it is to keep in touch with family, no matter how busy I get. This year, I will send out cards, send out emails, and make sure to attend more family get togethers.

9.) Be a better mother. Spend more time with the kids. Be more patient. Do more fun activities. Be more patient. Show more affection. Be less stressed out. Did I mention be more patient?

We'll see how well this list holds up throughout the year. At least it's here for me to check in on down the road when I start to loose sight of what's important.....

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Praxis Prep a.k.a I Still Suck at Math

Today I managed to find a wee bit of downtime to do some studying for my big Praxis exam, which I have to take for my application to the teaching certification program.
Though my former English professor assured me I would pass it no problem, I figured it never hurts to study and stress out about it until I have a bleeding ulcer.

So far, my studying has proved:

1.) I am still good at all all things English.
2.) I still blow at all things mathmatic.
3.) Math has not gotten any easier as I've gotten older. Despite the promises of many a math teacher, I do not use algebraic equations in everyday life. Ergo, I have forgotten how to do most algebraic equations.
4.) Numbers still make my brain hurt.

In conclusion, math is 1/3 of my test score. Looks like I'll be cozying up to fractions, decimals, and right angle triangles. Wish me luck with my super fun brain hemorage.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Is It Over Yet?

Christmas is finally over, which means time to come out of hiding. Big sighs of relief fill the air, and the children finally began to stop shaking from the combination of sugar, exciting gifts, and visiting family. I am finally begining to be able to see my floor again.

I'm quite proud that I managed to get through the season, and even accomplish some of my list of wild ambitions. I actually sent out the Christmas cards. I made gingerbread houses with the kids. I finished almost all of the necklaces I wanted to give as gifts. Yeah me!

Now begins the time of empty bank accounts, deep thoughts as I ponder New Year's resolutions, and serious stress as I get everything together to apply to go back to school. On the plus side, I will have more time to blog, more time to create, and more time to focus on the ones I love, now that things are settliung back to normal. I even have fabulous photos to post..... eventually.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Holiday List of What Could Have Been

Full of the holiday spirit (i.e. frustration and guilt) I've decided to jump in on Painted Maypole's Monday Mission this week and create my own holiday inspired list.

My list is The List of Holiday Good Intentions, aka The List of Things I Really Meant to Do This Year for Christmas, But Will Not Complete:

1. The adorable little hand puppets I intended to make for my nieces and nephews. The materials sit in a bag, the googly eyes staring up at me accusingly, the super soft fake fur begging to stroked and loved.

2. The Christmas cards. Every year I vow to send these out. This year, I bought the cards and filled them out. They are now sitting in the box, waiting for cute pictures of the kids, stamps, and addresses. Maybe I'll get to it tomorrow.

3. A gingerbread house. I downloaded some spectacular gingerbread house plans from Bob Villa himself. Visions of adorable, edible villages dance in my head. Instead, I made some gingerbread men. Even those didn't manage to get icing.

4. Handmaking all my gifts. Please see previous post for all the lame details.

5. Listing new items on my Etsy site. I really wanted to take advantage of the holiday buying season to sell some lovely new items to potential buyers. But no, even the promise of extra Christmas money couldn't inspire me to find the extra 10 minutes to get this done.

So there you have it, the top 5 reasons why I suck at Christmas this year. I think my family should be pretty grateful we have a tree up at this point. So please, feel free to bask in the complete and utter failure of all my best holiday intentions.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

A Half-Assed Handmade Christmas

In my "spare time", I make jewelry, and various other crafts, and attempt to sell them on a site called Etsy. This site offers a great, super-supportive marketplace, and community for independent artists and crafters.

Well, this year, in the spirit of avoiding toy recalls, and support all things handmade, the lovely crafters at Etsy started a campaign to get people to give only handmade gifts this year, either made by yourself or a fellow crafter.

Even though I didn't stick the icon on my blog (because I'm lazy and HTML, even copied and pasted, still freaks me out, I took the pledge to keep my Christmas handmade.

For the women in my life, the easy answer was jewelry. They would all receive a piece of jewelry. The men would receive scarves, the only thing I'm capable of knitting. For all of the kids, I decided to make fun, timeless, hand puppets. Oh, and for certain families, quilts. No biggie.

With the best of intentions, I went out and bought all of the supplies. Yards of fabric for the quilts. Fake fur, googly eyes, and felt for puppets. Glass, chain, and beads for jewelry. Piles of yarn for knitting.

Then my grandmother passed and I spent an unplanned for week in Vermont. And then I decided to go back to school and needed study time for the PRAXIS exam. And then my bum tooth got infected and incapacitated me with days worth of pain, followed by days worth of antibiotics and Vicodin. And so on. All of these things and more stealing away precious days of gift making time.

In short, here is the handmade gift total as of now, 10 days before Christmas:

1 scarf in a light lime green no man will wear
7 half completed necklaces

I blow. Does it still count if I hand make the cards?

I will keep an ongoing total of what I manage to complete from my overblown ambitions. Feel free to laugh and point, and taunt me freely.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Life Changes

There's nothing like the passing of a loved one to make you take stock of your life, especially the things that are most important to you. It also makes the regrets that much sharper and clearer.

With all of that weighing down on me, I've taken careful inventory of the pantry of my life. There were a lot of dusty cans and boxes that I pushed to the back of the shelves like so much creamed corn. Some of them were labeled things like "Staying In Touch With Relatives" or "Sending Holiday Cards". I've dusted each one off and have promised myself not to let them be forgotten again.

One of the biggest, bulkiest boxes I've pulled out was "Career". This is one that that gets neglected the most often in the crush of needing to pay bills and take care of day to day duties. In the box are my dreams of being a teacher and a writer, resting next to my hard earned English Literature degree. It's this box that I have made the most demanding promise to tackle.

The one thing that is standing in the way of my dreams of teaching, is an official state issued teaching certification. While I was in college, I was all set up to earn this in conjunction with my English degree. Unfortunately, with the demands of being a single parent at that time, I just couldn't finish the educational portion of my degree. I told myself that would be fine, that I could just find a job teaching at a private high school that didn't require teaching certification.

Little did I know what a pipe dream that was. Out in the real world, even private schools want certifications, or experience equivalent to one. After an ambitious round of job applications, I put my teaching dreams in a box and shelved them. I pursued jobs in publishing, but in Maine, these are few and far between, and even with my degree and previous experience, I was denied time and again. With that, those ambitions were tossed into the same box, and shoved out of sight, out of mind, while I took the best job I could in order to pay the bills.

And here I am now, with I job that is frustrating, and out of my field. While it is rewarding, and does pay the bills, there is no future for me where I am now. It's not what I worked four long years to achieve. It's not my dream.

Now there is an opportunity staring me in the face. At a local college, they offer an intensive program for people who already have a four year degree to earn their teaching certification in just 9 months. It's a grueling dawn till dusk program, and I wouldn't be able to hold a job while I was in it. I contemplated applying last year, but chickened out and missed the deadline. I told myself that it was impossible.

But now, after staring at this box, dust covered, and brimming with faded, but powerful dreams, I tell myself it is possible. If GH can find a decent job, and I can pull off some serious student loans, it could happen. It would mean sacrifice for all of us, but in the end, it would pay off, I just know it.

The first application deadline is January 9th. There's little time to make it on that first list. I've emailed former professors who have promised me the required letters of recommendation. Today, I took the ultimate step and called to arrange to take the required Praxis exam on January 7th. It was a large chunk of money, and it's right at the deadline, so I have one shot to pass, to get it right.

So I'm doing it. No more giant dusty boxes. Life is to short to not be doing what I love, what I've always dreamed of. No more boxes, tins, or cans of regret.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Back From Blogger Hiatus

Recent developments in my life caused me to M.I.A from the internet in general. I have fallen behind in reading my favorite blogs, and way behind on posting myself.

The biggest event that kept me offline was the death of my grandmother. There were a lot of family issues involved there, and it's taken a while for me to pull my head together, and to make sure my mother was on stable ground.

Now that things are settled, I have some catching up to do; blogs to read, stories to share, and holiday madness to kvetch about. Can't wait to jump back in and get caught up.