Back To School

I’m sure you think this post is going to be about the kids. After all, it’s back to school time for the kiddos – it would only make sense. But, no. This one is about me because I’m the one going back to school.

A little background on me for those that don’t know. I have a B.S. in Anthropology from Michigan State University. My concentration was Classical Archaeology (this means Rome/Greece). I did a Field School while in college so I actually know how to do the physical work and science of archaeology. I still love my chosen field of study.

But I didn’t go to graduate school. When I got out of undergrad, I just didn’t have the dedication of continue school, I wasn’t focused enough, and I wasn’t willing to put up with politics in academia. Unfortunately, there’s not much I can DO in my field without graduate school. So, I went out and got a job in the clerical field. I moved around a lot for a few years after college and worked a number of different jobs. I eventually landed in Pittsburgh when Scot proposed to me and I got a job as a faculty assistant at Carnegie Mellon. I worked there for 4 years until they laid me off when I was 7 weeks pregnant with Liam.

I’ve been a stay at home mother ever since.  I’ve made a couple of attempts to go back to work but they haven’t worked out at all. It just made more sense for me to be home with the kids. It’s not always been the easy path but it felt like the right one.

Now, I am looking toward the time when I will have both kids in school. I’ve made it through those difficult early years when I wanted to be home with the kids as much as possible but I will soon be exiting that portion of my life. In addition, I feel like I’m finally on top of this whole Domestic Diva thing. Given those things, what the hell am I going to do with myself when they’re gone at school all day?

Plus, let me be honest – my brain is bored. Not to be uppity but I’m not stupid. I graduated college With Honors. After all these years at home I’m starting to feel like I need to feed my brain again. Part of that is because my kids are older and more independent. They don’t suck me dry like little vampires of need anymore. (Adorable vampires of need, don’t get me wrong, but certainly energy sucking.) Because of that, I can now focus on more than just getting from one end of the day to the other.

To that end, I’ve decided to go back to school to get certified in medical coding. I can do the entire program online at my own pace. There are a lot of things about this that make sense for my life. I know I can do school without the structure of a traditional classroom. With Jamie in preschool, I will have set time alone that I can work on schooling. Once I’m certified, there are a lot of jobs available in this area – many of which allow you to work from home. Also, there is a transition to a new coding system coming up in October of 2014 and there is a huge lack of people qualified in the new system. So I’m going to make myself qualified.

Even if my life doesn’t allow me to work full time, I’m getting to a point where I *could* work part time and still be home to get my kids off the bus. Ideally, I would like to work from home but I recognize that this may be something I have to earn with experience in the field first.

My first step in the process is to complete a basic Anatomy and Physiology course. Given that I’ve worked in medical offices, have a background in Latin (thanks, archaeology!), and grew up with two veterinarians who discussed surgery over the dinner table, I’m hoping that this will be fairly easy for me so that I can ease into the way that online schooling works. I ordered the book for the class and it should be here tomorrow; once Jamie starts school after Labor Day, I’ll register and get started.

I find that I’m excited about this and that shocks me just a little. It’s not like medical coding is a subject that engrosses me the way that archaeology does.  But I’m detail-oriented enough to find the intricacies of the subject to be interesting. I never thought I’d want to deal with school again – class, and studying and tests, UGH! – but I’m ready. I wish I didn’t have to wait another couple of weeks to begin.

So, as I begin the process of school again, I take with me my father’s oft-shared advice on school: RTPT – Read The Problem Twice – and take no prisoners. I plan to do just that.

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Adventures From The Last Days of Summer

Mere minutes after posting that my children were getting along all summer they started fighting. Luckily it was only 10 days or so until school started so I couldn’t be too upset. Still. Curses! Foiled again!

So, in an attempt to keep them happy up until they could have some separation, we did a few things. Like, have a silly face contest.

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Then I handed to camera to Liam and let him take a picture of me.

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My very best Miley Cyrus impression

Many, many giggles were had by all. It wasted a total of about 10 minutes and broke up the bickering.

Another day I took the kids hiking at Fall Run Park in Shaler. The trail is only about a mile long and criss crosses the stream bed, culminating in a stairway to the top of the waterfall. I packed crocs for the kids to change into, a couple of towels, a water bottle, and my camera. Off we went.

We have had one metric butt ton of rain this year, yet the creek was exceptionally low.

That's the stream bed, NOT the trail.

That’s the stream bed, NOT the trail.

Once we made it up to the top of the falls, we hiked up the stream a bit more then the kids changed into their crocs and proceeded to splash around in the creek.

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The butt mark that Jamie left when he changed out of his crocs.

The butt mark that Jamie left when he changed out of his crocs.

It was fun and the kids really enjoyed it. They got to be in the woods for awhile and splash around in the (very low) creek. We’ll have to try to get back sometime in the fall if it doesn’t get too muddy.

In the last full week at home before school started, Granddad (Scot’s Dad) took the kids on a mini-vacation, just the three of them. They headed up to Erie, PA and did Waldameer Park, then stayed over night in a hotel, and did Presque Isle beach the next day. By all accounts they had a great time. Judging by the fact that they were tired for 2 days afterward, I’d say they enjoyed themselves.

At the beach!

At the beach!

Finally, it was time for the first day of school for Liam. Third grade! Half way through Elementary School!

My big third grader

My big third grader

So summer is over and it was so much better than I thought it would be. Scot not having a job for several months was incredibly difficult but at the same time, he got to spend a lot of time with the boys.  I think they enjoyed the extra time.

7 Quick Takes: End Of Summer Edition

1. Scot has been at his new job for several weeks and seems to really like it.  The adjustment to a different schedule is still throwing all of us for a bit of a loop but we’ll get there (just in time for school to start!). His mood is much improved. He comes home and greets the kids and the dogs (and me!) with joy instead of dread. I’m really happy for him that he’s found a way to get off the merry-go-round of unfulfilling jobs and find something that stimulates his brain again.

2. I hesitate to say this for fear of spoiling it but…here goes. This summer has not been nearly as bad between the kids as I anticipated. I honestly thought these two would be at each other’s throats night and day. They haven’t been. That’s not to say they haven’t argued – ha! –  but they’ve played together really nicely most days. Liam makes up games for them to play and helps Jamie do things he can’t do alone. They’re both independent enough now that I don’t have to get up the second they wake up and most days this summer I’ve been sleeping until 8 am. I have not done that since I birthed Liam 8.5 years ago. The 7 am alarm to get Liam to school is going to be quite the rude awakening in two weeks. They’ve gotten to do lots of fun things with their grandparents and their cousin (while she was visiting) plus we’ve gone out and had our own fun. I know I say it a lot but I *LOVE* having older kids. I loved my babies, too, but I’m really done with how work intensive that was.

3. Jamie is tooling along with speech therapy. Color me shocked, but he’s actually made a lot of progress with summer even with so few sessions of therapy (5 sessions over 3.5 months). He’s intelligible 90% of the time now; he can tell stories to me and I don’t get lost in the middle; he can clearly communicate his wants and needs. ‘K’ and ‘G’ are still issues for him but now he can actually MAKE those sounds even if it takes prompting to get it right. That’s huge progress. He’ll continue therapy until he starts Kindergarten next fall (OMG!) and I really, really think and hope that he’ll have minimal work to do with the school therapist at that point.

4. Liam starts third grade in two weeks. He’s officially half way through elementary school. Time just keeps speeding up on me. We find out next week who his teacher is and then it will be time to make sure all is in order for back to school.

5. Molly is really settling into the household and fitting in great. She’s NOTHING like Animal Friends said she was. I’m not really surprised by that. In the space of the 10 days they had her, she’d been through transfer from another kennel, a spay, vaccinations, and then coming home with us. Their assessment was BOUND to be off. Now that she’s settled, she’s playful (they said she wasn’t), she’s affectionate and she seeks it out (they said she didn’t), and she’s not shy at all (they said she was). She and Ellie play together like crazy canines and make the funniest noises while doing so. This morning they sounded like tauntauns. She’s really become a part of the family. Related: I now need a minivan.

6. Speaking of Molly, we had quite the drama with her the other day. I thought she disappeared from the yard (after passing fence training with flying colors). I called and called; I searched the house high and low; I searched around our property high and low. No Molly. I loaded the kids in the car and we drove the surrounding neighborhood calling and looking for her. No Molly. Scot was at work and frantic. I was frantic at home. She was gone for two solid hours. Scot got home, dropped his stuff, and went to get in his car to continue looking (he commutes via bus). He opened the car door and found … Molly. Curled up on the driver’s seat. Turns out she never left the yard. She jumped in the open window of his car and made herself comfortable.

A few days later she disappeared again. This time I knew where to look first and there she was. Curled up in the driver’s seat. That night I took her for a walk. That seemed to wear her out.

7. I am apparently the last person on the planet to discover these books but I am going to tell you about them anyway. They’re by Veronica Roth. The first book is called “Divergent” and the second book is “Insurgent.” A third book, “Allegiant,” is due out in October. I don’t know how I missed these books before now but they are fantastic. I downloaded them to my kindle before we went to Michigan this summer. I devoured both books in the space of two days while I was there; they left me breathless for more. Like The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins, they’re Young Adult books and the story is set in a dystopian future with a young female protagonist. That’s where the similarities end though (Oh! With the exception of the fact that Divergent is being made into a movie due out March 2014).  If you have not read these, go straight to your library or local bookseller or Kindle/Nook to get them; do not pass Go, do not collect $200. I’m waiting on tenterhooks for October.