Thursday, February 07, 2013

For All My Teacher Friends

Finding Those Hidden Heroes

For many years Lowell Milken has been a strong force in the field of education. Milken had considered creating a center that would foster teaching excellence and quality student performance in America's schools and in 2007 that vision became a reality with the opening of the Lowell Milken Center. The center operates a wide range of projects which aim to change the world by teaching the importance of understanding and respecting all people.  


The Lowell Milken Center believes that when schools use available resources properly and imaginatively they can prepare students for the changing world by providing them with a successful and meaningful educational experience. The Center emphasizes elements that are not adequately addressed by the present educational system, principally the goals of regarding each person as an equal regardless of that individual's race, nationality or creed. 


The Lowell Milken Center strives to produce superior educational performance by rewarding teachers and students who create learning models that stimulate the students' analytical skills and produce quality research material. 


The Center invites individual students and groups of students to develop a project of interest in conjunction with the Lowell Milken Center. Project options may include performances, documentaries, exhibits, essays or websites and focus on individuals who have impacted  the world around them but, for some reason, have not received adequate recognition. Students are required to maintain records of their research which should include a project outline, research that involves both primary and secondary resources, data analysis and a thesis.


Students and their teachers are rewarded for submitting quality project material via the Milken Discovery Awards, one of the Milken Center's projects. To date, students have submitted many significant research projects including a play based on the life of Irena Sendler, a Polish woman who saved thousands of Jewish children during the Holocaust, a documentary on two white students who supported the Afro-American students who integrated Little Rock's Central High School and a re-enactment of the story of Mary Bickerdyke, a Civil War nurse.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

christmas is coming

this goose has gained a pound or two, but that's ok. :) we've been in full swing in the spec household. decorating the tree, cookies, gifts... it's enough to make my head spin. i can't imagine having more than 2 kids!! how do you people do it?? besides all that, i work a full time job along with craig and have charlotte's gymnastics and we're always running here or there for this or that. it's a good life though, i wouldn't trade it for anything. charlotte's newest obsessions are gymnastics, and the princess bride. she knows all the major lines, "you are no match for my brain!" and "he was a farmboy, poor and perfect." it's hysterical. i hope she's into it next year so she can be buttercup and colton can be the dread pirate roberts. they sit together on the couch and watch it over... and over, .... and OVER. colton is even getting into finding "fisbee" our little elf on the shelf. he's only one and four months, but he knows that every morning we go looking for fisbee and he usually finds him and he starts freaking out. it's so cute. i'm guessing christmas morning is going to be really exciting at our household, can't wait!

haunted hotels and tattoos

my sister is getting a divorce. it's sad, but, i know for her, it's the best thing. so i decided to take her on a girls excursion to a bed and breakfast for some adventure!
we had a blast. we got lost getting to sunnyledge in shadyside, then checked in and the place was certifiably haunted looking. we slept HORRIBLY - so maybe it's hard to sleep in haunted places? we sat on the bed, talked about music and checked out where the shops were. then we decided to go get tattoos, or, at least check them out. 
we got there and it was hard to say no to a place that has the line, "old fashioned assholes" on their business card. it was super exciting and i've always wanted the mama bird and her "two little stars" - so i got my star i had cleaned up and just went for it. it came out so amazing! meg got the eiffel tower and "love" in french. i thought that was pretty amazing since love hasn't always treated her well. we ended up going to dinner afterwards at buffalo blues and then out to a hole in the wall, kelly's for nachos and drinks. the waitress had a HUGE pittsburgh bridge tattooed across her chest, so it made me feel a lot better about my little wrist tattoo! i hope to make this an every year event - or at least spend more time with meg. we had a blast. we both needed it. 

merry xmas to me...

i've wanted a new black jacket and watch forever. i decided while shopping with charlotte yesterday that it was a good time to just go for it. 
they both are classic styles... just what the doctor ordered for this rainy, dreary season to brighten my mood. and i told craig he's off the hook for xmas. 

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

our vacations 2013

it's been a FAST year.  time has been flying by, organic and winding. so much has happened and i see the last time i blogged was summer! i feel kind of free in a way, because i haven't felt tied to my blog. i've been living my life, working my ass off and generally just eeking by. i do things when i can. i grocery shop when i can, i grab milk when i can, and if i can't... then we go without it for a couple days. one thing we did do is made time to take TWO vacations this year. (well, i had 3 if you count going to boston without craig and the kids!) 

we were lucky enough to be invited to deep creek lake to stay for free with some friends who also have a daughter who is 6, and charlotte just loved her. i think she was a little annoyed by charlotte, but it was still cute to watch! we ate out, had bonfires, drinks, more good food and lots of laughs. charlotte and colton were given their first boat ride by captain tom. charlotte loved it so much she fell asleep. 

our other vacation was in september and we went to ocean city. i mis judged that one a bit, it was a little chilly! but i think we all had a good time toher than being a little bit cold! the hilton had an amazing play/water area for the kids and charlotte is a little fish thanks to her grandparents owning a pool. the room was also amazing and HUGE. i could've stayed in there the whole trip. i loved being with my family, every time i get to hang out with my kids for long periods of time, i feel like we know each other a little better. they are becoming such amazing little personalities. charlotte is such a ham. and colton is such a little DUDE. he really is going to be such a boy. i'm not really prepared for this. i'm too used to girls. at least i can count on craig to reign him in when he gets too wild, which is most of the time. we ate out at so many good places, i'm shocked we didn't gain 40 pounds each. it was WAY nicer this year, NOT being pregnant at the beach. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Never say never i guess!

i married at a relatively early age but i'm mindful of my friends who are still looking for their life partner. some are ambivalent about entering a long term relationship but others, like my friend lydia, are very upfront about their dream of settling down and having a family.

lydia lives in northern california and has never had trouble meeting guys. she maintains a healthy lifestyle, (yoga all the time) takes care of her appearance and has never said "no" to a blind date "just in case." i think that's a healthy attitude. but for all that, the right guy hasn't appeared.


i got a call from her a few weeks ago and I'd never heard her sound so excited. She had signed up for a new matchmaking service called Table for Six Dating that runs in several locations throughout california. lyd told me that it's a completely different concept than most other dating programs because it's set up to allow singles to meet in an unpressured atmosphere, get to know each other in a natural environment and basically have a good time while meeting new people.


i guess the concept is that Table for Six creates comfortable dinner engagements that bring six singles together for each dinner date. the participants meet at a restaurant in their area and get to know each other in a relaxing environment of good food and casual conversation. after the dinner, if two people want to see each other privately, they can make their own arrangements. i like that she is meeting these people in a group. it feels safer to me that way.


she said she talked to the people there about her fears and said everybody was really easy to talk to and it wasn't "weird."i guess they interviewed and screened all of the participants before the events and that put her at ease when she went to dinner with the groups.


she went in with zero expectations, and i guess she is dating one the guys that she met at a T46 event. i hope it works out! 


Friday, July 13, 2012


is my family. i am seriously so lucky. even though we got lost and almost ran out of gas, we had a good time!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

gratuitous bubbies shot...

not those kinda of bubbies. you guys are scandalous.

am i... why yes i am!

i am reading again! 2 kids, and basically 5 years later, i've finally figured out a convenient way to read. my new kindle fire! it basically started out with me thinking that i needed a treat for getting my new art director position... but it've proved to be so much more than "novel." i've, of course, started slow. i'm basically reading some brain candy books. at the end of the day, after the kids are in bed, i just want to turn off. 

i enjoy reading on this SO MUCH. i never, ever thought i would. i can toggle between my book, to facebook, to words with friends seamlessly and i love that. you also get 5 gigs of space on an amazon cloud to do whatever you want with. i have all my music backed up, which is pretty sweet. craig especially loves the night reading mode so my bedside lamp can be off and he can sleep better. the downside? i want to buy all kinds of books now. and apps. and movies. and tv shows. 

i'm going back and forth between the hunger games, and 50 shades of grey. like i said, brain candy for sure! maybe i'll work up to war and peace. (maybe not.)

TAP that.

Charlotte and Colton are still young but I keep a close eye on the local school system because I want to be sure that that, when the time is right, my children will have the best educational opportunities. A new school initiative has been attracting attention lately and from what I see, it may be a program that would fit our neighborhood schools.

The program, called "TAP --System for Teacher and Student Advancement" is a project of the Lowell Milken Family Foundation which is at the forefront of some of the newest and most innovative educational programs which operate in America today. The goals of the program are to cultivate the potential of students of all ages by providing them with tools to help them develop the skills, knowledge and experiences that will prepare them for their future lives. The key word of the TAP methodology is "future" as the objectives of TAP include guiding students towards productive lives and becoming contributing members of society. 

TAP is based on the belief that our nation's future is in the hands of our children and if we can successfully educate the next generation, our nation will thrive.

The TAP program encompasses educators from all levels of a school system, from the school administrators to the classroom teachers. TAP invests money in schools which are concerned with creating a positive learning environment for students and educators alike. The TAP program aims to recruit and retain talented teachers by rewarding successful educators and pairing teachers for peer mentoring. TAP schools give teachers extra planning time including team planning. Periodic assessments are conducted which evaluate each teacher's successes. Teachers who demonstrate significant achievements in the classroom are rewarded with pay bonuses and professional advances.

TAP is supervised by the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET), also created by TAP founder Lowell Milken.

I don't ever think it's a bad idea to breathe new life into teachers daily routines and collaborate on ways to make education better. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

our first candid family photo shoot

the lovely and talented candace of "eye candy" photography is going to be shooting my family's first outdoor "on location" photo shoot. i'm pretty psyched and i even made a mood board of the outfits we will all be wearing. i've always liked gray with baby blue/yellow but this is my first time coordinating our outfits and i don't want it to look TOO staged. i tend to obsess about these types of things and really want them to come out amazing. my first thought is that the colors might be too washed out but i don't want us in things that we don't feel comfortable in either. plus, my husband isn't really a crazy color guy and i'm lucky that our dining room is orange. so i tried to be sensitive to his needs. ;) i wanted to play upon some things we already had, like shorts/shoes and most of charlotte's outfit to offset the cost of being matchy, match-ish. the shoot is next month! stay tuned.

Monday, April 09, 2012


i am doing several things that i am afraid to do lately. 

i quit my job. my job i've had for almost 6 years. tomorrow is my last day.

i am becoming an art director at a new job. this terrifies and excites me.

i told my children's daycare provider that i had to pull them because of said new job.

i am putting my kids in a new daycare.

if i didn't worry, if i didn't CARE, it would mean i didn't give a shit. and i do.
i love my family enough to put their needs above my own and i have to be convicted
that what i am doing is the right thing for everybody.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Perception and letting go in 2012

I am by no means a writer. Add in the fact that Charlotte keeps messing up my pillows and Colton is screaming because God decided that a 6 month old should be able to chew through a piece of steak , and I honestly don't even know if this will make any sense at all. So, if it doesn't, I'm completely sorry but this is some stuff that's been knocking around in my head lately.


I often find myself seeing something, or doing something, and thinking, "What's the point?"  I don't know if it's a mild depression, or if it's just acceptance. The other day, I went to lunch with co-workers and realized that I have a mini van, but couldn't drive because A: I'm pretty sure they'd leave with a goldfish cracker or worse stuck to their butt (NOT that this happened to me the other day) or B: They would see the state of my van and report me to childrens service as a hoarder. 


And that's one of my problems. I don't know how people see me. I even brought this up at lunch. I know how I WANT others to see me. But with 2 kids, a full time job and running a household, I just don't measure up. I don't think I ever will. How do you get to the point where that's "ok?" When will I feel "ok" about leaving work first to get to my kids daycare, leaving it all behind (FIRST?) When will I feel "ok" about buying store bought invitations to a birthday party because "I'm not tacky like that." Plus, I'm a graphic designer. People probably expect something cool.  I don't buy organic food. I don't make my own baby food. And do you know what my daughter eats at LEAST 3 or 4 (ok, 5 or 6) times a week? Hotdogs or chicken nuggets. No joke. You know why? Its EASY. I could plan meals on Sunday and freeze them, but I don't. I'd rather spend that time with my kids or on the couch watching Brian Cox try to explain the universe to me.  The one thing that I do do, is breastfeed Colton. It's a personal choice and I'd love to tell you it's for the health benefits, but that's only half of it. It's free. My body totally responds to it, and it's free.  It's a pain in the ass but it saves me  a million dollars a month in Enfamil. It makes me feel needed too. So see? Again, totally selfish. So even doing something I should feel good about leaving me feeling like a huge douche balloon.


And I know why a lot of people have trouble with Facebook. They think everybody is busy trying to prove who has the "sweetest, most super bestest husband!" or "cutest most awesome kids!" Nobody broadcasts that they feel emotionally distant from their mate, or that they are late on their bills or burned dinner the night before and then exploded into a crying coma that lasted roughly 1 hour.


I'm pretty sure I'm in the majority of mothers who don't "do it all." In fact, I know I am. I used to trick myself into thinking I did. Because making Colton's mobile or having my husband sand down our fridge and painting with chalkboard paint made me feel like I was winning at life. I think that's why Pinterest is such a slippery slope. It's amazing as a resource, but it can also make you feel like a huge loser if you don't have a 5 story birdhouse hanging in your frontyard that you crafted from some old soup cans, bra wires,  pipe cleaners and bubble gum.  It can also make you feel like a hobo because you live in a normal house with very little natural light and tiny rooms that actually look lived in. It always leaves you wanting MORE. It's super oversaturating.  So watch out for that one. And in a huge dose of reality, my kids "playroom" and a playroom from on pinterest. Totally realistic. 


I'm like a "winning at life" addict though. So all this is VERY enticing to me. Looking at my RSS blog feed of my OVER 200 blogs that I read is almost like a release. I bet it's what a cutter feels like when they cut. A HUGE release and a dizzying high of glimpsing into other people's WAY (seemingly) more awesome lives.  It's like chasing the ghost. There's no way I could ever compare. Or measure up. How do they have time for all this? I convince myself their bathroom smells like pee or that their children are neglected and will surely leave them in a nursing home to rot as payback.  It gets me through.  There's no way, in my constantly rushing life, that I'd ever have a spotless house that smelled of febreeze and sugar cookies 100 percent of the time. In face, right now it smells like farts from our frontloading washer and I'm pretty sure I smell like crusty old milk. 


So, long story short, I have to figure out how to overcome all this. How are you doing it? Am I crazy for feeling this way? I feel like I'm just eeking by on life most of the time. Did my parents feel this way? I think a lot of parents or people in general in our generation are a bit more selfish and are always chasing the ghost of what could be. I think our parents knew how to deal with it  because being a Mom was what fulfilled them. (I could be completely wrong) but I think about that and then wonder why I'm such a selfish asshole because I want to be MORE than a mom. I don't know the cool new music out there anymore. The emo stuff I used to listen to almost reminds me of a time that I could've been ANTHING.  I could've done anything.  I took walks for hours, just me and my headphones, dreaming about what life could be like. I took time to watch the sunset on the bayfront. I took time… for ME. What a concept.  


I let my husband read a little of this, and he turned to me and said, "So,… what? You don't like your life?" ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I LOVE my life. I'm just trying to figure out that balance, or maybe I'll need therapy in a few years to convince me that because I didn't make that 5 story birdhouse, that my kids won't grow up hating me or thinking they had a lame mom.  I think we put too much pressure on ourselves (and other Moms) and it probably needs to stop. We're growing up ourselves (and definitely our children are) in an age that exists out there to make us feel like we're doing it wrong. There's a bazillion books to tell you how to raise your kids. I refuse to read any of them. Mostly because I don't have time , but also because I'm doing what works for ME and I need to believe 100 percent in my decisions and how I parent.  I'll totally get there. I might even let Charlotte design her own Valentine's box next year. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

going through the motions

ever feel like you're going through the motions of life? i cannot keep up with things and i always feel this impending feeling of being a hamster on a wheel. does anybody else feel this way?  work and kids take so much out of me that there's really no time for much else. i see all my friends doing cool things, going cool places. me? not so much.

i feel like there's more out there. i'm going to have to explore.

i want to be one of those people that doesn't have a spot in the back of their brain that nags them while they sit at work that the kitchen counter is messy, or that the xmas decorations still need to be put away, or the fact that the family is bumping elbows in their tiny house and WHY do i have to wait until we have more equity to start the new house project? because i'm responsible. i've become responsible. it happened. it finally happened. and it's kinda boring. but it's kinda awesome too i guess. i don't have to worry that the bill collectors are coming after me. or which awesome restaurant or bar i'll blow too much money at. you know why? because my money is already blown on new shoes for the kids, or a head scan because charlotte ran into our kitchen counter and was vomiting the next day. head scans are totally the responsible way to spend your hard earned adult cash.

i know that my children are a blessing. i totally get it. nobody ever said this parent stuff would be easy and it's not. i felt like it used to be, but with 2, everything is magnified. i don't feel that freedom to just take off to target, or go shopping all day by myself or spend hours on the internet looking at eye candy. it's not feasible. instead it's filled with who doesn't have what/who needs what/do i have shampoo, soap, baby wipes, diapers, etc and "how will i pay for purple light up shoes" because charlotte "needs" them.

i feel like i miss my husband too. we work all day then come home and it is ALL about the kids. TOTALLY. then by the time it's bedtime he falls asleep in charlotte's bed until 10, then it's time to go to sleep for real. note to self, date night. PRONTO.

i meander a lot. see how i meandered with this blog post. world's worst meandering blog post.

bottom line, suck it up d. we need some sunshine!

Thursday, February 09, 2012

currently addicted to...

wrap watches. this one is mine. all mine.

Monday, January 30, 2012

my little typographer

i don't think i knew how to write my name until the 1st grade. she's 3. in fact i KNOW i didn't know how to write my name until the first grade because i was traumatized.

my 1st grade teacher had our names written on a cute piece of paper that went across the top of our desks so we could look at it and cheat when we needed to write our names on our tests, etc. and when we had learned how, and didn't need that cheat sheet anymore, we took it up to her, so she could throw it away and we got a prize. (necco wafers) a BIG pack too. not the little ones.

well, imagine my mortification of realizing that it was down to me and one other student who still hadn't mastered the skill. and SHE was GETTING UP to go to claim her prize. i instinctively grabbed mine off my desk, and took it up and proudly accepted a present i didn't deserve. i remember panicking and thinking, "what will i do when i have to write my name?"

so... what DID i do when test time came?  i drew a girl with pigtails of course.

here's a story...

about my awesome co-workers....

i made this

yes i did. with twine and hex nuts. via honestly wtf and it is SO COOL.
highly recco.

5.5 months old

is he.

he laughs now.

he has 2 bottom teeth.

he has thoughtful looks, he has "i made a stinky" looks.

he holds his feet with his hands while on his back and makes raspberries.

he won't cry if the hairdryer is on.

he wants to eat "real" food so badly. but settles for his baby food.

he doesn't want to sleep in his co-sleeper. he wants me. 24/7. so we've become a co-sleeping family to save the sanity.

he has had 1 ear infection.

he has peed in my mouth while i was singing to him.

he takes his pointy little tongue and darts it out and over the the side.

i think he's the bomb.