Lil Lemon Drop

Lil Lemon Drop
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Sunday, August 16, 2020

Metamorphosis

 


All throughout our lives we are changing. At first the changes are blatantly physical, but as the physical changes slow down and eventually start to pull inward, rather than blossoming outward, the internal changes have the capacity to increase.

Internal changes are more subtle. They can be self-driven or occur due to circumstances. I have always found life is a circle with rhythmic patterns emerging and rising and slowly dipping below to surface to allow others areas to surface for a while. While I am always spiritual, my dependence upon organized religion tends to wax and wane over time. At times, I desperately long to be  part of  some religous organization, and at other times, I am happy with the hodgepodge of beliefs I have put together alone.

On my own, this is fine. I can allow the inner tide to ebb and flow and grow and retract as my soul needs. I think sometimes it confuses my husband. I can't count the number of times he has said, "I thought you liked...." or "but in the past you wanted....."   And all I can do is look at him exasperated, "But that was in the past! This is now. Now is different."

Then I think perhaps I am just trapped in perpetual adolescence with my identity wavering depending on my moon (I meant to write mood, but moon came out through my fingers, and isn't that a prettier thought).  But...I don't think that is it. I think the core of who I am is always present. I am just trying on different dresses to see how each on fits. To really taste what is like to walk a bit in that particular dress. It's just an experience to think about. 

I went to an activity recently which had me viewing other people in a different way. For this activity, I was hugely thankful for outgoing, go-getters and appreciated the role they can fill in getting certain activities done. The more reticent and shy are not as well suited for this activity.  in this activity. It made me think of all the times I technically "showed up," but wasn't particularly useful in that activity. But there are other gifts besides the gifts of recruitment. Some people need more time to feel secure before they open up. Others would prefer to have to have a task and work diligently on that task. I am sort of like that. It isn't who I want to be. I want to be at the forefront and influential and noticed, but...I think my walls are just too high. But I can work behind those walls. I remember in Astronomy club in college. We were doing a public showing at the observatory. I was actually a fairly new physics student (yes, I know. Nothing in me says difficult, abstract, creative math problem solving...but I had to try it out-to taste it, and the Universe is dazzingly romantic). Anyway, it was one of the years when Mars was a little closer to the Earth and relatively bright and prominent.  There were lines of people for hours. I was given an 8 inch telescope, already set up and was to allow people to look through it. I did this. But I didn't KNOW anything. I was just sweetly smiling and shaking my head and explaining I was new. But then one of the professors came over, looked through the telescope, then gave me information about the particular globular cluster the scope was focused on. And suddenly, I had a job. With some general information, I could get excited and share some facts that people could visualize and understand. I didn't have to rely on making awkward small talk. I had a purpose. What is my point? My point is, we can all play some sort of a role, you just have to find that role. 

So Metamorphosis. I don't think I am actively in the midst of a shift right now. I have learned a lot of the past several months, though. I don't have the patience for young children I used to have. Part of it may be, I don't have the large expanses of time I used to have. I always have work to do online, so time shaping my children is taking me away from time developing my plans or doing tasks which need attention. If I didn't have to work perhaps I will feel differently. If all I had to do was get through the day, maybe I could slow down and just focus on developing and enjoying my children. But that is not an option for me. For so many years, I wavered on the edge-desiring to be home and homeschool (not with that online stuff-but my own real, self-designed work for my kids). But now, I realize, I will NEVER get the sense of security I need by staying home. I cannot handle being financially dependent on someone else with the life experiences I have had. It sort of sucks. All I ever craved was a quiet domestic life, with some creative time for writing (I mean who doesn't want to be famous for their hobbies, right?), but that dream cannot be balanced with all the other factors. And it sort of makes me feel weak. Part of me is like, "No! you have to stand up, throw it all away, and go live a simpler life. You have to prove to yourself you can handle whatever comes. You have to do this hard thing because it is the only thing that will make you feel alive! Break out of  the middle class comfort zone, with its insurance and retirement plan and semi-security. Go be real and live where you can feel it." 

But it isn't good for kids to be poor. I feel too much anxiety to rely on the possibility of needing the social nets if  things go wrong. I don't trust they would be there.

Plus I cannot stand the idea of not having enough money to get the heck out of Missouri on a regular basis. Why wasn't I born somewhere romantic like Scotland or Ireland? 

I feel like I am still asleep. I guess what I am searching for is that next change. That next shift that gets me excited and feeling alive. I want more and I am ready for a change and something new to think about. 

And I await the Universe for God's perfect timing. 





Friday, July 3, 2020

Lesson Learned-Thanks Covid!

First of all, after an exhausting day, week, month, I just have to say-Covid 19 has been a real eye-opener. Most of the year, we go to work-I am usually gone before the family is up, because I like to get in and have everything lined out for the day, socialize a bit, and drink all the coffee.  After work I get home around the time my daughter brings my toddler/preschooler back and await the kids arrival from the bus. The big kids play out with the neighbor boys and there is screen time and inside play. I am usually very tired, and lament all the work I have to do, especially if my daughter watches my son (along with hers) at my house, because then I usually have to clean up from the day as well. 
Let's just say, being at home sounds like a dream. 

And it sort of was. Working at home was pretty good for me, because my daughter picked up all three kids for the morning while I did my work and then I picked them up around noon and we relaxed most of the afternoon. The bad part was, we could hardly get the kids to do schoolwork. It was a fight for my daughter and a fight for me on days I let them stay home. You would think even asking them to do 30 minutes of Dreambox (math) and Lexia (reading) was asking them to walk over hot coals for the duration of the time. It was miserable. 

When I got an online summer school job, it was more of the same. When I found out I would have two online jobs, I had to leave them at their sister's longer, but their schoolwork issues remained. They were becoming antintellectual. Working all day at home was MUCH harder than working three morning hours. I still had all the housework. I had all the driving. When I tried letting them stay home all the promises to not interrupt during my class meetings disappeared and suddenly they were bored and attention seeking right as I was trying to explain how to do the four operations on fractions. The worst was during my afternoon class when I was screensharing Tynker with a student and my son climbed on the easel. As I picked him up to get him down, the thin metallic whiteboard side of the easel literally ripped the top layer of skin back on his foot. There were bloodcurdling (sp??) screams and oh blood and grossness. I had to end my meeting (who knows what that poor kid thought) and tend a nasty cut (it's much better, but going to scar). 

On top of all this is lawless kids and way too much screen time. It's been bad. When sweet Gabe loses it, he loses it. Liam is always a challenge and 24/7 Liam would try a saint. Alec can be a messy little terror who delights in smearing peanut butter or toothpaste or even worse things all over everything. It's been hard. I am 46, guys. I am not the sweet patient momma of my twenties. 

So what's my point? 
I don't think I want to homeschool. All the times I thought I wanted to be at home homeschooling. Nope. At least not if I also have to work on top of it. It is too much. I don't want to homeschool unless my days were otherwise free and I have a firm grip on the time usage of electronics in my home. I can't. I just can't.

Now, if my kids were in school and I could just tend the house and just Alec alone. Fine. That's nothing. But this three kids, trying to educate, teach house, work, all of the above is just a whole heck of a lot. 

If we do have to return to online schooling, I want clear attendance hours required by the teachers. Make class meeting mandatory and take attendance. Be the bad guys so we tired mommas don't have to. 

That's all.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

A Day in the Life of an Online Summer School Teacher

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash



For the last quarter of the school year and for the month of June, I have been teaching online. I wanted to share a bit of what that looks like on a daily basis.

Rise and Shine!

5:05 a.m. My alarm goes off. I might get up. I might not. If I have K-cups or set up the coffee maker the night before, I am much more likely to get up. Let's assume I do get up.

I typically head downstairs and pour a cup of coffee, black please. Then I take my phone into the library (front "formal" livingroom). Depending on the day, I will either sit on the loveseat to listen to something inspirational on Simple Habit, or sit on the floor and begin stretching. It really depends on how tired I feel.
After listening and meditation/stretching for 10 minutes or so, I might decorate a room on Design Home or check up on Facebook to see if anything exciting happened overnight. 

Sometimes I am feeling the need to reach out to people, which I do by blogging about my feelings. Because what else draws people in like a big emotionally driven post about nothing, right? If I am under a lot of stress, I will pray or write in a private, handwritten prayer journal. It has more of the truth, but it is still censored-I mean, I am going to die someday and someone is going to read it.

If the weather is really nice I might sit out on the back deck and enjoy my second or third cup of coffee. 
Around seven, I put my contact (I only have one left) in, and do my makeup.

Work Begins

 As soon as my makeup is done and my hair is pulled back into a ponytail, I do my short daily video announcements for my students. I make conference meeting times and email those links out to my classes. My public school district uses Canvas and we supplement the learning with great educational games like Prodigy for Math. In addition, we are using Scratch and Tynker for my online coding class. 

Then I start getting the kids up and dressed. 
Usually I eat breakfast, I love a good fried egg, bread, and a cutie in the morning. 

Goodbye Kiddos!

 8:30 my oldest daughter comes and picks up the kids. During the spring, she had been watching them from about 8:00 to 11:30, but since the addition of my second class she is watches them from about 8:30 to 1:50. I hold my one oclock meeting then rush to get them and hurry back for the 2:00 meeting. 

Keep on working

I spend a lot of time going over the lessons the students have completed, calling and emailing parents whose child isn't attending or logging in, and grading lessons. I compile information from Prodigy and determine what my lesson will be like for the day. At 10 a.m. I hold a lesson for students who want extra time with a teacher.  
At 11:00, I have my regular class meeting. Often it is the same kids who showed up at the 10 a.m. meeting. We chat a little, go over the assignments, and everyone gets a chance to share if they want to talk. 

Not sure about the schedule just yet

After this meeting, I had been taking a break to get the kids, however, since my second class was added, I need to be ready for a class meeting at 1:00. So I eat lunch, prepare for the meeting, and then at one open the room. This class was late getting assigned to me and just started two days ago. Attendance is quite low, so I spend a lot of time, messaging and emailing parents to try and get them on board.
We talk about the lessons and I give them a chance to share. After that I close down the meeting room and rush to get my kids. At two I come back to prepare for the afternoon extra help meeting, which hasn't been attended yet. I think I may push that back to 2:30 and take my break from 2:00-2:30 from now on.

Step away from the computer. I repeat...

Around 3 or 4, I step away from the computer. If I don't have a headache, I call it a good day. 
Honestly, I love it. I wish the class meetings were attended more, but I love getting to know the kids and often the parents are there, too, and just the general feeling of pride in being entrusted with youngsters by the community. 

That Family Thing

Dinner for me is around 4. I am counting calories after a big slide over the spring, and usually starving. I generally chomp down some salmon or chicken breast and a bag of cooked broccoli. Yeah. I don't love it, but it does work, if I can avoid snacking.

I try to have dinner for the family ready around five. At this time, the boys are usually playing with neighbors, and Alec is going from my phone to out back, to sneaking out the front and running away if I let myself get preoccupied. 

Of course, I work again


Sometime later in the evening, I check my email and classes for messages and make sure I know how to do the work for the next day.

And I relax

 If my husband is in a good mood I might go out for a short drive to listen to music, center a little, and maybe let myself think about the things I need to think  about. Or I might take a long, hot bath, if I am really feeling extravagant. I climb into bed around nine, or as soon as Alec is in bed. Alec doesn't believe in going to bed when it is light out-and I get it. We are also training him to sleep with his door open now. Usually by 10:30, I have played my last Words with Friends games and I am tired. I will put the phone away, make sure my contact is out, teeth are brushed, face is washed, and small fan is on. Then it's sleepy time!

When do I shower? If my hair is dirty I will shower either in the evening or first thing in the morning. Otherwise I usually take baths. 

I realize there is little husband time in there. It usually depends on if we are into any TV shows. If we have an ongoing show, we spend a lot of time doing that. Right now we don't, so our interests are very different (he likes music and I like quietly reading). We sort of manage the kids and do our own thing. Sometimes, we do sit out on the deck or build a fire in the firepit in the yard, too. 

Obviously, I am doing laundry, handwashing dishes 2 or 3x a day, and spending time with the boys throughout the day, as well. I just don't have a set time for that.

Online Education Learning Opportunities

Personally, I love doing distance education. As a parent, I find it difficult to get my kids to do their own work, so I understand what some parents may face. However, for some of our kids learning online through educational portals and educational games with the support of a teachers is fantastic option. I would have loved the ability to do middle school at home. 

Welp. There you go. I think this may be the most boring thing I have ever written. But now you know!

Thursday, April 16, 2020

My Worst Job Interviews Ever


Photo by Amy Hirschi on Unsplash


Let me start off by saying when you are not a natural public speaker and you struggle with self-esteem, interviews can be a killer. I have watched more outgoing and less qualified people talk their way into jobs that those who knew them knew they were NEVER going to keep, while I was getting turned down by Waffle House and KFC. It was so frustrating!

So without further ado here goes:

1. Kentucky Fried Screw-Up- It was November of my junior year and my mom was pushing me to get a job. Now, I was about the shyest thing since baby Bambi, so it was pretty traumatic. "Just say you are looking for holiday work. Everyone needs to hire more people for the holidays," my much more outgoing mom told me. Embarrassed I dressed up (because Mom) and headed into nearby fastfood restaurants to apply.
I filled out the application at Kentucky Fried Chicken and the manager behind the counter asked what I was looking for. "Um, holiday work?" saying what my mom had told me. The assistant manager chuckled and said, "We don't hire for that." Meanwhile a boy from my year at school was working and I wanted to crawl under a rock and die.

2. Waffle House. I had waitressing experience and yet somehow I could not get hired at the Waffle House. I don't really remember the details other than the north side one interviewed me and suggested I try the one a few miles away. The south side one stuck her nose in the air and made it clear I wasn't what they were looking for. Too old? I was 27. Too young? I don't know. Too fat? I was about 145. Not chatty enough? Most likely.

3. Division of Family Services-Senior division. I was sitting on a psychology degree, not really relishing the idea of getting a masters. I had been in a few master's programs because the ultimate goal for anyone who loved college was to become a professor, right?, but nothing was really calling out to me enough to put that much work into it, and whenever I tried science (the Master's of Geosciences was calling to me), my self-esteem issues got in the way.  I decided to try being a social service worker. I went into the interview so nervous. I was literally sweating all over the place. My hands sweating were a given, this was prior to learning how to stop the hand sweat. However, I had sweat dripping down my back, across my upper lip-it was awful. They actually told me to just relax. I didn't get the job shockingly. They were super nice, though.

4. Another social servicy job. This was at the food stamp office. I had some doubts about the interview time, as I was excited and nervous when they called, but I was too embarrassed to call back so I thought it through and thought I had it right. I went to the interview and they called me up. They asked me questions and talked about what a responsible, organized, and punctual person was, how I kept track of records by writing things down, and juggling appointment times would be not trouble. Then one lady cocked her head to the side and asked,  Why then, had I been ten minutes late to the interview? I was mortified.
They didn't hire me and I am glad. I would have been good at it and trapped in it forever most likely.

5. A teaching job.  I had been working at Greenfield which, while I loved the little kids, wasn't quite what I wanted long term.  It was literally an hour's drive each way.
I was interviewing for a school district which was only 30 minutes away. It was a science position and I felt reasonably confident in by ability to handle middle school science. In the middle of the interview, the principal looked me in the eye and said, "Define loyalty." She was so hostile about it I knew I was trapped. She wanted someone who would stick out the position for several years, I think. Fair enough. But her hostility had me tongue-tied. Clearly I was interviewing for this position from another school (and people do this all the time. People change jobs and look for something closer to their calling ALL THE TIME. IT IS OKAY). The other interviewers looked embarrassed and looked down at the table. And I knew, I sure as heck did NOT want to work at that school. The position was open again the next year, by the way.



Those were my worst interviews. I am sure there are other moments I may have forgotten, like the time I interviewed for a seventh grade social studies job that I REALLLLLLLY wanted and said, "Y'all" when when answering a question.

Or the time when an assistant principal called me to set up a phone interview for a time I had had tickets for over a month to see a movie with my daughters. I didn't handle it well, and then mortified called her back and left a message to go ahead and do it. I sat in the summer-hot car in a parking garage outside the theatre with the windows rolled up in fear of getting robbed. I was definitely sweating. I did get the job, but I don't think I was their first choice.

Well...they say it is good to get uncomfortable and step outside your comfort zone. Noone can argue I haven't done that, right? And I think all these embarrassing moments and all these mistakes are just an indicator to not give up. Go on your interviews, answer their questions thoughtfully, and then adjust your answers accordingly at the next interview. At first this may seem dishonest, but it really isn't. Just as I was unwilling to promise I would stay at a school a certain amount of time (beyond the contract), I also found the the act of changing my answers also changed how I viewed the job and approached the question. For example, if I said I was perfectly comfortable calling parents, well, then I was making phone calls to parents without complaint. If I said the office was a last resort, then I was promising the office would be a last resort. Changing your answers to fit the interview isn't really a lie. It is a learning experience about what the job expectations were and your willingess to meet those expectations.


Man, if I didn't believe in growth mindset before, I sure do now!

Enjoy learning!

Jillian






Don't forget to check out our kids' clothing shop! 

lillemondrop.net

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Quarantine Fashionista

My day job consists of going out to work every day dressed in some form of apparel. Every few years the boss will share some tips to help us dress in appropriate clothing. Usually there is something funny like shoes with bows or Mary Janes. But overall, what I take away from it, is no jeans except for Friday and "special" days, and probably no sneakers. I have noticed a lot of people wearing sneakers anyway, and I sort of get it (I do it, too). I mean we are walking all over the place, standing up a lot, comfort matters.

For me this could be anything from dress pants and skirts with a blouse or sweater to leggings and a tunic top and a pair of boots. If I wear a blazer, I try to save it for dress-down jeans Friday because who wants to look too stuffy?

Suddenly now though, I find myself in this new and exciting world of working at home (and I sort of love it!). So I thought I would share a few of my favorite pieces which get me through the week:
This post contains affiliate links.

Pajama Chic!

Photo by Chase Fade on Unsplash

Pajama chic is PERFECT for the morning after an anxiety-induced sleepless night worrying over bills, whether your job will survive, loss of FREEEEEEEEDOOOOOMMMMM (thank you, Mel), and you know, whether you and your kids are going to end up "living in a van down by the river" picking grubworms to eat for lunch.
If there is a chance a neighbor will knock or an older child might drop by, you might want to go ahead and throw your favorite sports bra on, because these tops tend to be very thin.
Something like this should be just about right...





Joggers!

Photo by Andrei Mike on Unsplash
When you are feeling a little better about things and think you might even get a little laundry folding in between online assignments and report writing, these are the pants. You can even make that panic trip to Walgreen's in them, if you find you are out of a staple like milk or bread.



Zoom Meeting Dress Shirt:

Time for your weekly Zoom meeting? Dress it up, girl! This shirt has you covered from the waist up (just don't forget and stand up to yell at your kids to GO Watch TV NOW! unless you take the time to at least throw a pair of jeans on, too (I kid, I have a 9 year old, no more pantless days for me).



Photo by Bibarys Ibatolla on Unsplash



Evening Time
Finally get those rascals in bed? Or maybe you just gave up and handed them a tablet and sent them to their rooms?
It's wine time, pretty momma! Relax in style in a simple flowy tank dress like this:
 

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

Not only slouchy and sexy, but it hides that Covid 19 y'all better be putting on, too, so I am the not the only one who emerges from this with a greater resemblance to Jabba the Hut! Solidarity Sisters!




Now you have some simple styles to get you through these long weeks in style! Stay tuned for hairstyles next week!


Enjoy dressing,

Jillian




Don't forget to check out our kids' clothing shop! 

lillemondrop.net

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Handling it, but not as well as I could

Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash
It has been about a month since our Disney trip was cancelled/postponed and stores began slowly closing. A month of uncertainty, a little fear, a lot of anxiety, and the ever-encroaching boredom gnawing at my brain.

The thing is, I love to work. As much lip service as  I pay to being home, I like to be actively doing something with my head, working on something, finishing something, creating something. And here I am feeling like this big "SUCK" has latched onto my brain, and is sucking out the light and blowing in the darkness. The idea of not going back to work until August is really hard to hold on to.

Just lots of disappointment all around. And it's not just me, I know. The fact that everyone else is feeling the stress brings a feeling of solidarity. The extreme sleepiness bothers me, but I apparently this is a much larger stress to our mind than we might realize.

So what to do?
Well, I am still working on the 50-walk challenge. It's a little hard to get motivated when day after day is dreary and chill, but once I head out the door and walk, I never regret it. I am well on track with that goal.

I am slowly working on a much needed cupboard and cabinet cleanout. The struggle with that sort of cleaning is there is always a crazy mess right in the middle. But I am getting there. I want to paint, but I am embarrassed about getting paint. I feel like someone is going to stop, point me out, Invasion of the Body Snatchers style, and scream, "NOT AN ESSENTIAL PURCHASE!" But my keeping myself emotionally healthy and busy is essential, too. So maybe I will grab a daughter for moral support and head up and get paint. Are they still mixing paint? I guess I could call.

If I, as an ultra-introvert, am suffering, how are the extraverts handling this? How many people are REALLY following the guidelines and how many are pretending, too, but breaking little rules here and there? I am curious.

Anyway, goals are important, so I plan to get from 10 books read on my reading challenge to 15 books by the end of April. I plan to paint my three-year- old's room. I plan to organize all the kitchen cupboards. I do have some paperwork for work which will take up a chunk of time. Maybe I will just go through it r e a l l y  s l o w l y to stretch out the time it takes. If I am working a lot, I will appreciate the downtime more.

The jury is out on gardening. If I don't have summer school, I will have enough time to do a great vegetable garden, but I am sort of sick of the mess. I am leaning towards just throwing out grass seed and having a green lawn.

Eventually, I will pretty these thoughts up, put a lovely filter over them, adjust the lens, and make them into something else. But for a little while longer, I am just going to feel the reality.


We've got this, right?
Jillian




Don't forget to check out our kids' clothing shop! 

lillemondrop.net

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Analyze Your Writing and Discover Your Personality?

Photo by Hannah Olinger on Unsplash

I have found this superfun (if you are a self-seeker) website which analyzes your writing style and makes a prediction on your personality type. After you cut and paste your text (with a substantial amount of your own writing), it will analyze your word choice and give a qualitative description of your personality as well as rate you on the big-5.

Now it doesn't do an MBTI test, but you can generate that yourself if you are familiar with the test.

I used three samples of writing. The strongest indicators which persisted through each piece for me personally was that I am philosophical, open to new experiences, and introverted. The rest depended on the particular piece of writing.


Give it a try here!  Personality Insights

I would LOVE to read a comment regarding your outcomes and experiences with this! Drop me a line.

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