Last weekend, I went on my first ever birding trip – a “vacation” dedicated solely to locating and identifying different species of birds. After spending the last year becoming more and more interested in backyard birding, I felt ready to head out to see what I could see in the big wide world. I had previously identified over 40 different birds species in my backyard, and it was my goal to get a minimum of 12 new birds ...<< MORE >>
I have an 18 month old daughter, which in no by way makes me a parental expert. I have no idea what I'm doing way more than half of the time. Still, one and a half years in, I've learned quadruple the amount of information about babies that I knew before my daughter was born. With the impending birth of my BFF's first baby only a month away, I offer these five tidbits of info to her and her hubby – ...<< MORE >>
As many of you know, I’ve recently taken up birding as a hobby. Though I have very little experience (my first “birding trip” ever is in April), I have gained a lot of knowledge about the birds in my backyard. I’m lucky enough to have the perfect setting to attract quite a few birds to our area daily. If you’ve never had the same luck or if you’ve never really paid much attention to your avian visitors, here’s a little information about a few of ...<< MORE >>
I’ve spent the last decade of my life working for, with, and in education. After five years of college, struggling through tons of ridiculous interviews, and slogging my way through too many tedious days of subbing, I’m finally tenured at a good school filled with great people – most of whom I actually like and enjoy working with! So, why in the world am I considering giving it up?
I have never before considered a more radical change to my life. Deciding to get married, deciding to have a kid – these were things that were just right. They were effortless choices. My life has a trajectory and I have never veered from course. Now, at the age of 31, I feel I’ve finally hit the first big fork in my road. As an English teacher, I’m apt to quote the over-used Frost poem: “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood…” The problem is that both paths are appealing to me. One day I want to go left, and the next I’m certain right is right for me.
When I was in my mid-twenties, I always said that I would be a stay at home mom. I was very righteous in declaring that I wanted to be the one to teach my child all the basics and that I wanted my children to know that I was there for them just as my mother had been for me when I was young. I didn’t want anyone else raising my child. Of course, that was all before I got a permanent job. Once I started working, my attitude shifted. No doubt about it, I wasn’t giving up the job I had worked so hard for and that I got so much fulfillment from for a kid! I could do both – work and be a fantastic mother. And up until the birth of my first child, this is how I felt for many years.
Now, after 7 months of maternity leave, this damn kid has me entranced. All those cliché things that people say about having kids – the ones that, before you have a child, you doubt could possibly be true and roll your eyes at – the ones that they write about in boring greeting cards and talk about in cheesy Lifetime movies – are completely true. It’s just this big – HUGE – emotion that can’t be described or explained. And it’s really fantastic. Being with my daughter makes me feel incredible happiness. Showing and teaching her new things has been just as/more rewarding than most of the teaching I’ve done in the classroom – and she’s really just starting to learn!
I know, I know...I have it hard, having to choose between two appealing paths. I have three months until I’m supposed to go back to work, and my current opinions wildly pendulum back and forth, back and forth. On Monday, I’m crying every time I even look at the baby and think about leaving. On Tuesday, I’m devising a new lesson plan to use upon my return. On Wednesday, I’m writing a resignation letter. On Thursday, I’m checking my work email and talking to co-workers about next year. And on, and on, and on… It’s gotten to the point where the decision between home and work is on my mind far too much, at times making me a complete mental case. This morning, it was the first thing I thought about when I opened my eyes, and I’m sure it will be running through my mind tonight when I trying to get some sleep. It's bringing me down!
Unlike many new moms who have to go back to work for monetary reasons, I am lucky enough to be financially sound without working. My husband – who completely supports whatever decision I make (but really enjoys having me stay home) – makes enough money to support us and our lifestyle. That being said, I am a financial planner and worrier. To me, having a second income is safer and it allows for more savings, vacations, comfort, peace of mind, etc. Plus, it feels good to earn an income that is mine. People like to say that life isn’t about the money, but let’s be honest. Money affords the ability to do more things, to see more places, and to feel less vulnerable.
Still, the money issue really isn’t weighing on me so much. I could always pick up a part time job at a school or a library or as a tutor or editor. I’m pretty smart, so I could really do anything – maybe even go back to school or work on that dream writing career I’ve always talked about been never really whole-heartedly attempted. If I quit my job, I probably wouldn’t quit working all together, but I would be stepping off that career ladder that I’ve started to climb. When I begin teaching again after my children start school, I will be starting over in a field where there are tons of applicants and very few available positions. In todays’ world, it has become more popular for a woman to be both a worker and a home maker. Whether it is because of a poor economy or the presence of more single mothers, the Census says that more than 60% of women who had recently given birth were in the work force. It’s the norm to be a working mom. It seems to be what’s expected.
For me, working is not an impossibility, but is just as much of a sacrifice as staying at home would be. If I go to work, there are going to be things that I can’t do – things that I’m not going to have time for – for myself and my daughter. When I do something, I give it all of my attention and effort. During the school year, I’m at work early, I stay late, and I am always grading or making plans. It’s all I seem to think or talk about. I could never be that lazy teacher who relies of tenure and just sits back while the kids run amok. I could see a chaotic world where I divide my time between work and home, but I worry that other areas are going to suffer. When will I have time for my husband or myself? Is that crazy, always on-the-go life what I want? Right now, I get to spend all the time I want with my daughter AND I get to do a lot of things that I've always wanted to do but have never had time for. Am I just being lazy? Is this fair to my husband who doesn't get a choice?
Really, I have the perfect situation and job for being a working mother. My mother and mother-in-law are available to babysit, so I wouldn’t have to send my daughter to daycare, and I would have those long summers to enjoy being at home. Still, the thought of my child spending the majority of her time with people other than her parents makes me sad (even though her grandparents are hands down the best). Do I want to hear about Olivia’s firsts or do I want to be here for them all? Do I want to be there each morning when my daughter wakes up? Do I want to be the one to show her the world and teach her about everything? Or would I be satisfied sharing in those responsibilities?
When I think about what’s best for my daughter, I think the answer is clearly me staying home. These last few months have been the best of my life, and all of my family has never been closer or happier. I even get to spend more time with my parents, sisters, in-laws, and friends. I wonder why I would mess with a good thing. At the same time, my future gets a lot scarier and lot more unpredictable if I’m at home. If I go back to work, I know what I’m in for every day, and that reassurance could provide the stability that we need to sustain our happiness. I love my job, and although it frustrates me to no end at times, I can’t imagine not being a teacher. It’s how I’ve defined myself for many years now. What would my life be without that definition? If you take away the lines that define me, do I become airy, peaceful, and light or do I just ooze out all over the floor in a lumpy mess?
When I share this issue with others, I tend to see two strongly opinionated sides: some people think I’m insane to stay home while others think that I’d be nuts not to. Mothers tend to say that they would have chosen to stay at home if they could have afforded it. I hear a lot of people saying, “You will never get these years back” while referencing how fast their own children seemed to grow up. Someone very smart asked me which I would regret more at the end of my life: staying home with my daughter or quitting my job. I think that’s definitely a key question I am asking myself. There’s no way to know how I’m going to feel in a year (or tomorrow, for that matter), so all I can do is hunker down and try to figure out what will make my family the happiest and the most content.
Please, share your ideas and opinions with me! I want to know what you think about being a working woman vs being a stay at home mom. Leave a comment below or message/email me your thoughts! As I struggled with these ideas, I remembered the good old blog that I've neglected for the last year, and I decided that airing out my brain online might be tortuous fun. It’s taken me a week to write this in between naps and quiet moments alone, so while I’d like to promise more writings in the immediate future, I can currently commit to nothing (as attested to in this blog). Man, they need to invent a pill for indecisiveness.
Oh, I just noticed I’m publishing this on National Teacher Appreciation Day (May 8). Apropos, don’t you think?
As the readers of this blog well know, Oscar time is throw down time in Casa Lovely/Parry. With less than two months to go until this year’s Academy Awards (airing February 27th), official movie watching has commenced. Each year, Entertainment Weekly’s 25 movies to see before the Oscars list gets hung up on our fridge, and the movies get scratched out with a red Sharpee as we wind our way through as many as possible. We’ve never hit all 25 movies, but in past years we’ve always been close. It all, of course, leads to our cut-throat contest (current reigning champ: me), where we secretly vote on each category and see who can predict the most winners.
This year, for some reason or another, we’ve gotten a pretty good head start; we’ve already watched 11 of the 25 movies. Below you will find opinions on and odds for these contenders.
In one word: Over-rated
Inception was an average movie with a unique plot. It is easily understandable by anyone with the remotest sense of an intellect. I was largely disappointed, and I didn’t think about the movie at all after having watched it.
Chances for an Oscar: Little to no chance in any category other than special effects. It may get a Best Picture nomination based on its popularity.
In one word: Timely
There is some great dialogue in this movie, and the subject matter was very interesting (although I question the amount of truth present), but it wasn’t anything more than what I expected it to be. I feel like a movie that is popular because it is about something, like Facebook, that is so prevalent in culture needs to also affect the viewers’ opinions and make them question things around them. This movie was all about exposition; I didn’t really learn anything worthwhile.
Chances for an Oscar: High – This movie has won all the important awards so far. I think people like it because it’s all about such a “hip” topic. Whatever. I did really like Jesse Eisenberg’s performance. He’ll definitely be nominated for Best Actor. Best Screenplay and Best Director, will also be categories this movie shows in.
In one word: Trippy
This film turned out to be exactly what I was looking for – an intense, thought-provoking movie. My husband and I discussed this film more than any other. It was one of the only films that I had a real reaction to. As usual, Aronofksy blends reality and hallucination perfectly.
Chances for an Oscar: High – this will be another top contender. Natalie Portman really should win Best Actress. I can’t even imagine how much work went into this role. She pulled off bat-shit insane well. I would think it would also definitely be up for Best Director.
In one word: Intense
Despite the fact that anyone going to see this movie already knows what’s going to happen, the suspense is riveting. You will sit on the edge of your chair with your hand over your mouth and your eyes half shut as you watch. The movie will remind you how incredibly weak you would be in any situation that remotely resembles Aron Ralston’s. Amazingly, I wasn’t bored for even a second watching a movie containing really only one character and taking place in one claustrophobic set.
Chances for an Oscar: Nominated for Best Picture, but no chance at a win. James Franco is the host of this year’s Oscars, and I suspect that his new-found popularity might lead him to a win as Best Actor. Danny Boyle should get a Best Director nomination for what he did with so little.
In one word: Affleck!
I really, really liked this movie. I also feel that it is the movie that would most appeal to the masses. I can’t imagine that anyone would dislike it. Interesting characters, as well as tons of action and suspense, make this movie compulsively watchable. My love/hate relationship with Ben Affleck has moved more towards a love/love relationship. Damn you, Affleck!
Chances for an Oscar: Affleck won’t pick up even a nomination for acting or directing, but he might pull one out for adapted screenplay. I would like to see this movie nominated for Best Picture, but it’s a tight race this year. Jeremy Renner has gotten a lot of buzz, and I’m sure he’ll get a well-deserved nom for Best Supporting Actor.
In one word: Weep-fest
You know what’s crazy about this movie? I watched it immediately after watching Rabbit Hole (see below), and of the two, I wept uncontrollably only at Toy Story 3. Gah. Stupid children’s toys and growing up! Why does Pixar feel the need to make their audience cry so much?
Chances for an Oscar: Although I haven’t seen any of its competition yet, I can’t believe that any cartoon will beat TS3 for Best Animated Film. It will likely also be nominated for Best Picture.
In one word: Over-hyped
I was completely unimpressed with this movie. It was good, but it wasn’t anything special. It is supposedly the movie that finally depicts a gay couple and their family in a completely natural way, but it seems odd to me that it has gotten all of its notoriety for this very reason. Frankly, I was bored at times when watching, and I thought the ending was completely disappointing.
Chances for an Oscar: This movie is a favorite with the critics. It will definitely be nominated for Best Picture, but I don’t think it will win. I’m sure it will have several acting nominations. Annette Bening was good, but I don’t think she was anywhere near Natalie Portman in Black Swan. If she wins, it will be because of Hollywood favoritism.
In one word: Stark
This is a little-known film that your average moviegoer hasn’t even heard of. Just the landscape of the movie – impoverished, rural middle America – is more desolate than any desert in 127 Hours. Watching the main character of this film try to hold together a family in this environment is quite powerful. The story is interesting enough, the acting is fantastic, and in the end, there’s a scene that will stick with you for days.
Chances for an Oscar: I think this film will get a nomination for Best Picture, as well as a Best Actress nominee for Jennifer Lawrence – an amazing young actress. John Hawkes deserves a
Best Supporting Actor nomination for his portrayal of Teardrop, the best named character of the year.
In one word: Surprising
For a movie that really hasn’t gotten much attention, Rabbit Hole really surprised me – in a good way. I enjoyed it. It has just the right amount of dark humor and sadness. As a person who enjoys a film that will make me cry, I was surprised at how the story was more uplifting than depressing. Unlike the make-me-want-to-die Revolutionary Road from a few years back, this is a film about two people who survive tragedy and learn how to rebuild their lives.
Chances for an Oscar: I’m thinking it might not even get a Best Picture nom, but both Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart deserve nominations.
(I have also seen Alice in Wonderland and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, two films on EW’s list of 25 must-see’s that I feel won’t make much of a splash at the Oscar’s. AiW will get a special effects nom and TGwtDT’s Noomi Rapace should get a Best Actress nom but sadly will not.)
We still have several films left in our queue to see (most excited for The King’s Speech), but that’s all for now! Let me know if you’ve seen any of the films above and what you thought about them. You still have over a month before the Oscars! Get viewing!
This year for Christmas, my husband (the almighty genius that he is) scored us two tickets to the Winter Classic! Thanks to some guy's spelling mistake on Ebay, we were able to score great seats – front row balcony just left of center ice. We had a fantastic view of the ice, as well as the massive crowd around us. Armed against the weather with multiple layers of clothing, we spent the night watching hockey under the stars (er, clouds).
I hesitate to mention this, but I have to confess that Parry and I could have been the cause of our loss. Going against every hockey-loving-superstitious bone in my body, I agreed to switched seats with some guys who wanted to sit with their friends. True, the view was the same, but what if our slight shift to the right was just enough to upset the hockey gods and send the Pens into a downward spiral of goalie blunders and lackluster play?! Couldn't be...
So yeah, we didn't win, but it was still quite awesome to experience.
Here are my highlights and lowlights of the evening:
Hearing that many freakin’ people chant “Let’s go Pens!” as they crossed the street outside the stadium and marched up ramp after ramp to get to their seats. It echoed through that stadium.
The return of a much missed Jordan Staal
The fact that the stadium was at least a third Caps fans; it made it more rival-liscious
The city and the Christmas tree gloriously lit up in the background
The overwhelming BOOOOO! that surged over the crowd every time Ovechkin appeared on the big screen. I respect the Capitals and actually enjoy a few of their players, but I CANNOT stand that prig.
The introduction of blue jerseys that don’t suck as much as the throwback baby-blues
The little kid who held up this sign on the jumbotron:
Watching the game under the lights. I was happy the game was moved back; night-time made it more standout unique.
Kris Letang making pretty much every shot on goal. I like Letang.
My new thermal shirt and pants were magic! I never felt even a draft. Witchcraft, I tell you!
“Free” seat cushions and trading cards….oooooooooooooooooh.
We played like crap; the Caps won.
Rain (Although I will say it wasn't that bad to sit in, really. I'm sure it was a bitch to play in.)
The way the Steelers infect everything in Pittsburgh; they were everywhere. Ugh.
$40 to park…miles away…
Commemorative hot chocolate cups: sold out before I could get one.
Neither Crosby nor Ovechkin earned a point. Most disappointing rivalry ever!
Shitty bands: some band I can’t even recall and The Clarks (yawn). Styx, of course, played “Renegade.” At yet another Pittsburgh event - surprising. I would have enjoyed any other song.
Single moment that made it all worthwhile:
As we all shuffled down the exit ramp, instead of being surrounded by boastful or bitter words, the crowd was suddenly united, swept up into a chant of “Flyers suck!” A tear came to my eye. It was a great moment.
Overall, despite the painful loss (that I'm sure will hurt even more after Wednesday's 24/7), the Winter Classic was totally worthwhile. Though more ideal circumstances would have been preferred, it was a good time - something to experience that I might never get a chance to see again! I'm only sorry that I couldn't have spent a little more time cheering ecstatically and a little less time shaking my head in disbelief (I'm looking at you my sometimes fictitious boyfriend Fleury!).