Who Stole My Pina Colada? A Lesson in Grace

    This morning I woke up all geared up for a family vacation to Mexico. As we packed into the minivan at 4am, I sat excitedly dreaming of my pina colada later that day by the pool. We bared the Wisconsin cold in our shorts, eager for the warm sun and fun ahead. So imagine my surprise when the lady at the counter said the words no traveler ever wants to hear, “you can’t get on that plane.” Those words knocked the pina colada right from my daydreams!

    I had made a huge mistake…a colossal mistake…a mistake that would cost my entire family. I had ordered the wrong type of passport. I had overlooked one detail, which would cost us our trip. I ordered a passport card for Kennedy and Chase and failed to notice that they could only be used for land or sea travel.

    As the conversations continued, I wanted to sink into the floor. My heart was racing…was this really happening? My ears echoed with my husband’s voice, “maybe we will have to forget Mexico…. we could go somewhere else?”

    I looked at the older berries and the look of disappointment filled me with dispair. Avery asked, “what about the dolphin swim?”

    My huband replied, “screw the dolphins.”

    I waited for it… I pinched my eyes waiting. I took a deep breath and held it in waiting…

    But it never came?!

    Where was the yelling? Where were the nasty remarks? No one said one thing negative to me! I had ruined our family vacation and no one was taking it out on me!

    Instead, throughout the day, I was continually given grace.

    Grace was present in so many people:

    1. Ticket Counter Ladies: They didn’t yell. They didn’t charge us any penalties for my stupidity. Instead, they were pleasant and helpful. They changed us to a flight for tomorrow. It took them at least 30 minutes of their day and yet they chatted with us pleasantly. They informed us of the option to try to drive two hours to Chicago and plead for an appointment to get a last minute passport. At the end one lady even said, “See you tomorrow!”

    Our journey wasn’t done. What would we do? Would we be lucky enough to get a passport?

    As we headed home, we realized that to get Chase a passport would be a process. Last time we needed his mother present and several of her documents. I took a deep breath and texted her for help.

    2. Bio Mom showed me grace! She said sure. She was friendly and helpful. She took time out of her morning (I’m sure she had better things to do at 8am) to come to our house, fill out forms, and take them to a notary. She went to three locations to get the documents notarized so that Chase had a chance at a new passport. I wasted her time and yet later that day she was so graceful that Chase remarked, “seems like you and my mom are getting along better these days.”

    Meanwhile the documents were getting notarized, I rushed Kennedy and Chase to AAA for new passport photos. Then it was several calls to Chicago to see if we could get an appointment. There were none available and things were looking bleak. But we decided we had to try the walk-in option. So we asked Avery to watch Tyler, piled Chase and Kennedy into the car, and headed down to Chicago.

    It was a long two hours. I sat pondering what I was going to be able to do to make it up to the kids. I said many prayers to God, asking him to please not punish the kids for my stupid mistake. Over and over, I berated myself for making such a stupid mistake. I expected the passport office to be like the DMV, with people who don’t like their jobs and are short with customer. Instead as we went through the metal detectors, everyone was friendly, commenting on Kennedy’s cuteness.

    When we got there, I took a deep breath as we walked to the podium. The lady met us with a smile and listened to our story. I could feel the tears well up in my eyes and prayed they’d bless our family with help. Again we met grace.

    3. All the Immigration Employees showed us grace. At the first of three checkpoints, the agent asked many questions and made sure we had all the required documents to pass to the next agent.  After her careful examination, she concluded our circumstance qualified for SAME DAY passport issuance…the tears began to flow. I hadn’t completely ruined our vacation! Next, she sent us to another lady who was empathetic and told us just last week she helped a man who had done the same thing, and said she saved his marriage. I wiped my eyes, sniffling. Chase put his arm around me and said, “It’s okay Sari.” His kindness (and real hug…we are normally just at a back-pat status) made me even more appreciative and emotional.

    They lady filled out all our paperwork and told us to return in three hours to retrieve our passports. Then she recommended a place we could eat lunch while we waited.

    As we found some lunch, the grace continued to pour in.

    4. The Hotel and Excursions showed grace. Our hotel was able to shift our stay. While it will cost us an extra night, we can still go. The dolphin excursion the kids were worried about… I was sure they had a no refund policy. I waited as this last piece had to be sorted…sure it wouldn’t happen unless we repurchased it. Yet again…grace. They happily moved our appointment to Sunday.

    As I looked out the window eating lunch at the cafe, thanking God once more, I saw the lady from the passport agency who helped us. She smiled and waved. That smile meant a lot… we are all human and make mistakes. She was able to get past mine, and soon, I was going to be able to forgive myself.

    On the way home…more grace. Family, friends, colleagues… people who were willing to make changes in their lives to compensate for my mistake. By the time we were home, 13 hours from the point we were told we couldn’t go to Mexico, we had all the issues resolved. The dogs were taken care of for our change of dates, the flights were booked, and all was sorted.

    Most importantly, the kids were happily talking about the trip ahead and laughing off the strife of the day.

    I thanked my family for the grace they showed. My brother replied, “I’m sure you would have shown us grace too.”

    Would I? Deep down I’m not sure I would have. Would I have remained calm as extra money was being spent, and a whole day was wasted if it wasn’t my mistake?

    I hate to admit deep down I probably know the answer.

    Tomorrow I will probably get to sip that pina colada because God answered my silent prayer and A LOT of people showed me grace. But today I was given an even more important reality check, and a glass of humbleness and gratitude for those around me (in addition to one much needed glass of wine!)





    Body After Baby: Regaining your Pre-Pregnancy Shape

    body backHaving a baby has been the highlight of my life thus far. However, the part that is not so glamorous is getting back to your “normal” size. Having accomplished this in 5 months, and while still enjoying life, I’d like to share what worked for me.

    Disclaimer: I don’t have a magic secret formula. I don’t have a perfect body. I’m just a normal mid-western girl who likes wine and Cheese-Its and doesn’t want to give those up. This is how I lost those 35lbs each pregnancy in a reasonable time frame without giving up those things I love!


    3 Tips for Getting Back your Body:

    1. Fitness: For me, this was my focus. While I know they say that diet is more important, I’m not willing to spend my life rigid in my food. So I know that I need to be very active. Here’s what works for me:
      1.  Fitbit: My Fitbit is arguably my best friend. I have a small addiction to making my step goal. I firmly believe walking is good exercise and was able to cut 2/3 of my pregnancy weight gain simply by being active walking. While I was pregnant I aimed for 10k-15k steps a day. As soon as I left the hospital, I quickly resumed a 15k step a day lifestyle. Having two dogs helped, and many days I take two walks with the dogs. If you want to make a simple change in your fitness, walking is an easy way to do it.
      2. Les Mills on Demand: Once I hit a plateau it was time to take it to the next level. While I have a YMCA membership, getting two small children to the gym proved difficult (and I really didn’t want to leave a newborn in daycare). I LOVE Les Mills classes. It was great when someone told me about this outlet. Now I can stream all Les Mills classes on my Roku and it’s only $12.99 a month! What I love about it is that they have 60 minutes and 30 minute options for all their classes. As Chase says, with all the things I have to take care of and my part-time jobs, I really don’t have much more than 30 minutes a day. This makes it possible to squeeze it in first thing in the morning, or during a nap!
      3. Use Your Phone! There are so many great free applications you can get on your phone! I don’t even have a fancy phone, but love trying new fitness applications to keep things interesting. I use these here and there to mix things up in my fitness routine. Here are a few of my favorites:
          • Rock My Run- free music playlists
          • 30 Day Fit- a few different plans to target abs, arms, etc. Great to do in front of the TV at night!!
          • 7 Minute workout- Another quick workout you can fit in any time
          • 10k Trainer- Helping me get back into running shape after having two babies back to back.


    2.Food: Remember when I said that I love wine and Cheese-It’s? Well I am back to my normal and still enjoying these. I don’t do diet plans because the first moment I tell myself I can’t have something, I proceed to only think about food, and end up eating everything in sight. Here’s a few things that work for me:

    1. Plan ahead: Staying at home with two toddlers, there isn’t time to sit down and have a meal. I found that what I was                 putting in my mouth was junk or scraps from their leftovers. What helped me kick those last 10 pounds was planning ahead. For me that included making healthy meals ahead of time that I could quickly reheat. My favorite right now is a simple egg bake by Kayln’s Kitchen. I make it on the weekend and find both myself and the toddler eat it once a day.
    2. Make one change at a time: If you’re like me and fell to some pregnancy cravings, it can be hard to get back into the swing of things. I found that eliminating one element at a time made change a lot easier. So maybe I started with eliminating brownies for breakfast (wish I was kidding), but making small changes each week helped me ease into things and not feel like I was dieting.
    3. Keep an eye on the clock: This one may seem silly, but it works for me. As a person who likes to graze as opposed to meals, staying at home all day can be difficult. I found I was constantly in the cabinet. What helped me (and still does), was to look at the clock when I eat. I make a mental note of the time I’m eating and count forward 3-4 hours. This gives me a time that I shoot for before stuffing my face again. This simple step helps me eliminate some of the mindless eating.

    3. Faith: Sometimes this can be the hardest, but most important step. It’s hard to be gentle on yourself when your skinny clothes are staring at you from the closet. But have faith that your body will get back to “normal.” I hated hearing this but it’s true: your body took 9 months of change to have your baby, it can take that long to get it back. Remember that your hard work will pay off and eventually you will get back in shape if you focus on fitness and food. Personally, I know it was hard to read about other people who were back to normal in two weeks. However, make sure your inner dialogue stays positive and you focus on your accomplishments!

    I’m happy to finally button those jeans again and continue working to be the healthiest I can be for my little munchkins!

    I’d love to hear if you have other strategies or ideas for getting in shape/staying in shape after a baby!


    Why I’m Rocking Motherhood: A Stepmother’s Edition

    This week I was nominated by Adventures with My Littles to take part in the Rocking Motherhood challenge. Each rocking mom is asked to list 10 ways that they are rocking motherhood. The challenge was started about a year ago by White Camellias. To pay it forward, I have nominated these lovely mothers:

    As a mom, there are many days you feel you aren’t doing enough or that your are surely screwing up your children. This was a great way to reflect on the good things happening during motherhood and for me to personally focus on the the positives amidst the daily struggles.

    I think that it’s hard to say what exactly a mother does to rock, but I think it shows up in the behaviors of our children. So my list will include 10 Examples of Motherhood at its finest in my home!

    kids3So without further ado, here’s my Top 10 Examples of how I’m Rocking motherhood!

    1. I was pretty happy when my 1 year old started saying please! I did a silent fist pump when that started! I always say. “Manners are very necessary!”
    2. Our family is going to Mexico. It may not seem like a good example of rocking motherhood, but it’s how we made it happen, that is special. Even though I am a stay-at-home mom, I work my butt off to ensure all the kiddos can come. I nannied children and braided dog toys (yep, you heard that right…probably at least 300 of them!) to raise the extra money to allow my step-kids to join us. My little kiddos were free, but it wouldn’t be a family vacation unless we ALL were there. I sacrificed my time and spending money, AND that will be a rocking mama moment when we are all on the beach together!
    3. Our 9 year old now requests to read at night. For a mom who set timers, had family book clubs, required summer readings, etc. this felt like I totally rocked at not giving up… AND I got a reader
    4. IMG_7971A conversation this week really made me feel like I am raising a loving family. We were discussing having Chase be an honorary godfather to Kennedy because it’s clear that the two have a very special bond.  Avery began talking about her bond with Tyler.
      • Avery: Do you think I have a bond with him because I’m his godmother.
      • Me: I don’t know.
      • Avery: Well I feel like I’m his mother. Even though I’m not the one who carried him or gave birth, I feel like I am.
      • Me: Well now you finally understand how I feel about you.
      • Avery: (huge smile) followed by hugs. Definitely felt like a blended family Hallmark moment.kids2
    5. When my toddler finished an art project last week, he packed up the supplies and handed them to me! In the constant fight for cleanliness in a 6 person, 2 dog household….this felt huge!
    6. Avery came home and told us about how someone referred to her as “having a lot of goals.” That was a “cha-ching” moment. Inour family we’ve done family goals, goal books, and image books (photos and captions of things we want for our life). If her peers know she has goals, it means these lessons were instilled in her! And that’s a life lesson that will help her for the rest of her life (an awesome example of rocking motherhood).kids
    7. Everyone warned my youngest would probably be difficult because my toddler is such a good baby. Instead, baby #4 has been the easiest. I’m going to attribute some of that to the calmness overall in the house. Yes, we all get uptight, but the majority of the time in my house Kennedy receives a calm mother in response to her cries or any distress.
    8. Our oldest loves to go to church and often is the catalyst of our going. On the few occasions we don’t, like when Tyler had Croupe last year, she calls and gets a ride there herself. As a child who tried to get out of church, I feel we are doing something right in that category. Though I also have to give that credit to the amazing church we attend!
    9. Children in our home do laundry, have chores, make meals, etc. In a world where many young people have the attitude of entitlement, we are teaching our children that it takes hard work and everyone pitches in.
    10. I hope that those who know me have countless examples of the last one…but I feel I’m rocking motherhood because I’m one of the pillars of a really strong blended family. I treat ALL my children equally and show love to all four of them. That means I’m rocking Motherhood and Stepmotherhood!kids 2017

    Mother Confessions: I Loathe you Working Mom

    I have had a taste of stay-at-home mom life and I have to say that while I’m grateful, there are days I loathe the working mom. This is especially true in the dead of winter, spending many days stuck inside with lots of time to fill.

    I see you working mom, leaving your house in your business attire and high heels. I’m jealous. You are leaving the house. You dress up each day before you leave. You have a reason for high heels and a reason for make-up. I quickly back away from the window so you won’t see me in my robe and pajamas. Then maybe you won’t know I will still be in this attire, with no make-up or shower, until the afternoon or until someone in this house takes a nap.

    I loathe you working mom. I daydream of your meetings. Of your adult interaction. You are probably sipping coffee and laughing….at adult jokes. I’m sipping coffee too…and watching Baby Einstein. My work colleague can’t converse unless you count “bababa” as deep conversation. My other colleague is probably the most demanding I’ve met. He stands at the cupboard shouting, “Mooooommmmm” off and on all day.

    You have a jammed packed day. A stressful day. I miss stress. I miss having too much to do. I now look forward to laundry days and grocery trips so I have a sense of purpose. I robotically clean the house, play with the baby, and wait the return of the rest of the family.

    I am jealous working mom. You have a business lunch. Something delicious and healthy I’m sure. You have the choice, to eat in or eat out. My lunch consists of pureed peas and crackers, or any leftovers I quickly shovel in my mouth. There’s no time to feed my demanding colleagues while simultaneously enjoying a peaceful meal myself. I could eat out, but that would require nearly a suitcase for transportation…and lets not forget, I’m still in my pajamas.


    I see you coming home, tired from your day, and I loathe you. You are tired from a day of productive work. You’ve accomplished a lot in your stressful day and you are excited about seeing your family and spending those moments with your children. I’ve had many moments with my child, but my hopes for tonight are that someone will watch these children so that I may have a moment which doesn’t include blocks, babies, or balls. You’ve been gone all day. If I’m lucky I may have left the house once, to grocery shop or take a child to an activity. You look forward to getting home… I look forward for a reason to leave.

    I loathe you working mom. BUT- I also understand your plight is real! I know you could very well be on the other side of the street envying me (See: Loathing the Stay-At-Home Mom)

    So kudos working mom… enjoy all that you have accomplished today and enjoy your night with your child. You deserve it!


    You Know your Daughter has become a “Tween”

    Well we’ve been living with a tween full-time for over a year now. I have come to find that a tween girl definitely shows different characteristics we hadn’t experienced before. Some days I really miss the young, innocent girl who has been replaced. Signs that show your daughter has hit the tween stage include:

    9 Signs That You’re Living with a Tween!

    1. You suddenly have an instant expert in the house. “I know” becomes the phrase heard most often. Normally this is the response when you give any reminders to this tween.
    2. You worry about their eye health… is that a spasm, a twitch? Oh no, that’s just another round of eye rolls heading your way.
    3. You move into new territory… embarrassment status. Case in point: Avery had a sleepover and seemed mortified Dad had a stain on his shirt (“What? It’s just some pizza sauce?”).
    4. Your level-headed child is replaced with a volcano of emotions of which are unexplainable. They storm through the door one day in tears and the next day in hysterical laughing. Don’t question it, just nod.
    5. You’ve been replaced …by their friends.
    6. You find yourself suddenly questioning their hearing. Why else would the volume of their voice suddenly only have one decibel…extremely loud. Soon your own hearing will be in question (“I’m standing right next to you, why are you talking so loud”)
    7. The GIGGLE! Need I say more. Why do they do that? Did I do that as a young girl? Who taught tween girls that it was cool to giggle over everything?!
    8. The word “like” is starting to make you cringe.  Like this, and like that, misuse of this word is driving English teachers mad. How many times can this word really fit into a paragraph or sentence?
    9. There are humans in the room… would they know? Probably not as they are always on those cell phones. They can text, they can Musically, but can they hold a conversation? Not always. I imagine lunch time in middle school is quieter than a silent study hall. Their mentality: why talk when we can text.

    All I can say is what I tell myself every day, “God grant me the patience to survive this tween-ager stage.”  I really love my tween and I know that while she can wear adult shoes, deep down there is still a little girl there. At the same time, I’m already prepping myself for the even more challenging teenage years that are just around the corner.


    You Bought What?! A Tween Economics Lesson

    That moment when you log into the lunch account… and realize your tween has disregarded your advice to not abuse the freedom of the à la carte lunch menu in middle school!

    Middle school opens up a whole new paradigm of yummy treats your adolescent can add to the lunch account without parental oversight, or even exchanging cash.  Chips, cookies, and Izze Pops abound! All seems well, and the sugary debauchery continues for several months until that fateful email arrives that alerts you to a zero balance on the lunch account.   A quick online audit of activity reveals that our tween was indulging in the over-priced treats.

    izzeThat was the conversation this week at our household. We’d asked our tween to stick with hot lunch and milk, or pack her own lunch at home; but it was clear the temptation of Izze Pop was winning the battle. As a family who sticks to a budget, we were mind-boggled how she was blowing the equivalent of a Subway meal at school while poor dad, a grown man, was eating a bowl of cereal for lunch at his desk to save money.

    We decided that we needed to have a consequence that was more of a teachable moment. So when Avery returned home after a weekend at her mom’s, that’s just what we did.

    Economics Lesson: How Far Can Your Dollar Go? 

    First we itemized all the treats to show her what she had spent. Then it was time for her to cough up the $18.00. This $18 was used to teach her the value of the dollar in the grocery store. Our $18 bought her 10 treats. We wanted to show her why we didn’t want her to buy the school snacks and use her own money to learn this lesson.

    We headed off to our local grocery store as a family. She has her $18 in hand and the list of what she bought during school lunch time. It was time to see what she could buy for that same amount.capri

    The biggest cost item was the Izze drinks. At school they were $1.75 for a small can. We headed that way and when we got to that section Avery confessed she didn’t really even care for the Izzy drink and was happier having Capri Sun lemonades. We threw those in the cart and headed to the chip aisle.

    Avery was enjoying $.60 chips at school. We found a sale at our grocery and were able to buy 32 bags of chips for $10.99. We got out the calculator to show her that these same chips were only costing her $.34, half the price!

    Next it was to the cookie aisle where we again looked for sales. Her cookies at school cost $.80 while the Oreos she wanted were $3.49 and would provide many more servings.

    avery store

    She’s was a good sport, despite being annoying by our parenting!

    With her remaining $1.50 she decided she wanted doughnuts. This provided a great lesson about the bakery produce at the end of the day. At night those fresh doughnuts were now half-priced. Turns out Avery didn’t even know that they were made fresh each day at the store!

    In the end we walked home with a bundle of junk food. Overall, for the same price we found she was able to get 4x as much as she did at school!

    As she tucked these treats in a safe, secret spot (not wanting to share with her brother’s cold lunch) we hoped she had gained a valuable lesson about money and hopefully this will lead to no more extra charges on the lunch account.

    Now maybe our next lesson should be on nutrition!


    Ham ‘N Cheese Crescent Rolls

    My mom made these Ham ‘N Cheese Crescent rolls for our family as a meal when I first had Kennedy. As I’ve been looking for things that Tyler will eat that also serves the family, I decided to try to make them myself. I love how easy they are to make! They are also perfect to reheat quickly as a meal. I paired them with a salad and the kids ate them with some fruit and pasta.


    Ham ‘N Cheese Crescent Rolls


    3-oz package (1 cup) thinly sliced ham

    3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

    2-4 T finely chopped onion

    1/2 tsp garlic salt

    8 oz. can crescent rolls (I found that I actually used 2 containers)

    2 tsp. butter



    1. Preheat over to 375 F. Grease a muffin pan.
    2. In small bowl, combine the first four ingredients.
    3. Separate the crescent rolls into triangles.
    4. Spoon the meat mixture onto wide end of each triangle. Top with 1/4 tsp butter. Wrap the dough around ham mixture. Completely cover mixture and press edges of dough tightly to seal and prevent leakage during baking.
    5. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown.

    Recipe makes 8 (I found I got 14 when I didn’t stuff them too much)

    These don’t last very long in our household. I hope that your family will enjoy them as much as mine!


    How to Make Your Tax Return Multiply!

    Everyone loves or hates this time of year: Tax Season. If you have to pay taxes, well this article may not be for you. But if you are lucky enough to receive a refund during this season, how would you like that money to multiply?

    Here are 5 Ways to use your tax refund this season. Each way promises to grow the refund you’re eager to spend if you just have patience!

    The old me would have been planning the next big trip with my refund. But now that I’ve put Dave Ramsey’s practices in to place, I’m more excited to see how this money can grow! Here are a few suggestions:

    1. Put your Tax Return towards your Mortgage. Yeah, it’s not the most exciting wmortgage payoffay to spend your money this season, but it will yield big gains down the road. What if I told you that paying an extra payment on your mortgage each year could shave 4 years off your loan? That may not sound like much. However, if you think of a $200k mortgage at 5%… that’s over 32k in savings. Tons more than the meager amount you are getting back this season. Here’s a cool tool for seeing how much you can save by putting more towards your mortgage. It’s a mortgage payoff calculator.  We plugged in our numbers and put in an extra $200 a month (you can see how it looks on the right). Look at how much we will save over time! I’d say I’d rather have an extra $32k down the road instead of a few thousand now.
    2. Give it to the Kids. No, not literally right now. Instead, take that tax refund and use it to set up a 529 plan for your child. It’s a tax deferable account that can accumulate money for your child’s college fund. You can gain money from your money, and less headache when it comes to college. Another bonus is that the accounts are transferable if your child decides that college isn’t for them.  And in some states, including ours, it is tax deductible.
    3. Hit Zero. On your credit card that is.  Eliminating balances on high interest credit cards should be your first move as soon as you come into cash.  You had to have it “now,” but now it’s time to pay up.
    4. Remove a payment. Is there any current bill that you have that your tax refund could pay to zero? Pick something in your budget to pay off and eliminate. The savings over time will be greater than the payment you made, and you’ll be able to put the money each month towards another bill….saving even more over time.
    5. Divide it in half! If you can’t stand the thought of not spending your newly acquired cash on something you’ve had your eye on, try this! Divide your refund in half. Take half and use it towards that something you wanted and take the other half and put it in a savings account. Did you know that 69% of Americans don’t even have $1000 in the bank? Check out these shocking statistics by USA today and other budget ideas. Are you part of the majority or minority? What will you do when the furnace breaks, the kids need braces, or your car needs new tires? While this one won’t grow your money, having an emergency fund will save you later in times of crisis and prevent you from wasting money by using credit cards to bail you out. We all have had an emergency before, so use your tax dollars to make sure next time you don’t have to classify it as an emergency.

    So which piece of advice will we be using?

    We currently use all five strategies in our home (practice what you preach). This year we will be using our new refund and applying number 5. Half will be going in the bank to continue our savings and half is being used on a new (used) minivan. Utilizing another one of Dave Ramsey’s  principles, we were able to pay cash for the van, and now have two vehicles which can fit our huge family.

    So how will you spend your tax return? We’d love to hear other ideas you have on how to make your tax return help your family financially!


    Why It’s Time I Said Goodbye to Teaching

    This week is bittersweet for me as I make the decision to throw in the towel as a teacher. While I will miss the relationships I developed with colleagues, parents, and most importantly students, it’s time for me to say goodbye to that career. I came to realize that I can’t be a good mom and a great teacher simultaneously, so I choose what’s most important, motherhood.

    As I hemmed and hawed this year, there were really three reasons in my mind why I am leaving teaching. As I talk to more and more “former teachers,” I realize I’m not alone in these reasons:

    Three Reasons for Leaving Teaching

    1. Lack of Pay! It’s not surprising that this would be a factor in leaving the profession. No teacher ever went into teaching expecting to be making the big bucks. However, I don’t think when you’re in the midst of college or student teaching, that you realize the weight of that statement. Many teachers I know have second or even third jobs to make ends meet. Notice I said “make ends meet” and not “have luxurious lives.” I’m lucky enough to be part of a dual-income home. However when we analyzed my paycheck after taking out daycare for two kids, there was less than 1/3 remaining. I’m able to make that 1/3 working a few small part-time jobs AND my kids don’t have to go to daycare themselves.
    2. Overloaded with Work! Teaching isn’t like we remember it as children. Kids don’t do cutsey crafts projects and color all day. Parents expect lessons to meet their children no matter what level they are at. As a parent I understand and want that for my kids too. However, if you flip the lens and look at that from a teaching perspective, that’s about 12 lessons I was developing on a daily basis! This doesn’t include grading papers, parent communication, or state mandated work that needs to be completed. While working during Tyler’s first year, I found I was often pacifying him in a bouncy swing so I could finish something school related. I was heading to school before he even woke to finish work and during the two hours I spent with him each day, many times I was doing something school related during those hours. I couldn’t even begin to wrap my head around how to care for two kids and all that work at the same time.
    3. Diminishing Respect! This was the least influential factor in my decision making, but still had begun to bother me. The lack of respect that upset me most wasn’t from parents or students, but from the state! When I was in the business sector of employment, I had an annual review. We’d talk about my work in a few categories, set a goal together, and I’d be on my way…small incremental raise in tow. That’s not how things have gone in the educational sector of work. Now, the state mandates that teachers have to set two yearly goals: one in professional practice and one for students. That part I agree with as I regularly set goals for myself in hopes of improvement. The part that feels wrong is that I must now prove I met these goals with evidence. I must upload to a website artifacts that PROVE I met the goal. Remember #2? I’m already overloaded with work helping my students excel. Now I have to prove to someone that I’m doing it. I feel like the state doesn’t trust teachers to do their jobs. In any other area of work, a degree and credentials means you’re an expert. However, in teaching I feel questioned whether I can do my job. This doesn’t even include the 24 part evaluation teachers have to fill out every three years. Or how many school districts are tying success in these goals and evaluations to pay. For those of us with kids, how much control do we parents really have over our children’s motivation? Now teachers are basing their livelihood and raises on the motivations and productivity of a room of little tikes. Teachers are motivators, but not miracle workers!

    So in the end, I realize teaching is not in the cards for me at this time. I really enjoy teaching and couldn’t imagine myself as anything other than a teacher. I hope my silent prayers are answered by the time I re-enter the workplace and some of these issues are resolved in our system. More importantly, I hope there’s resolution before my little berries are schooled in an age of overworked, underpaid, and underappreciated teachers!