First Jobs: What do you remember?

First Jobs: What do you remember?

What do you remember about your first job? My first job was as a sales clerk at our local JCPenney store in the early 80’s. I remember when I interviewed and was hired, the manager said, “I have just the place for you!” Waiting to hear what he said, I heard “the lingerie department!” I was a little shocked, but that is in fact where I was sent and worked for several years. We had a big, 2 story Penney’s that was an anchor store in our mall. I worked at least several Christmas Eve’s right up until close (6pm) when I had to rush off to church to meet my family there for the 7pm service. I think I preferred an opening shift rather than closing because at closing we had to empty our cash drawers, count it, put in a record of our count, and take the cloth bag of money to receiving which was upstairs.  Still, I learned a lot about inventory, mark-downs, sales, and customer service. We also had our share of kooks that would call the department to “discuss” lingerie.

My youngest just finished his third week of work at his first job. He is a stock boy at one of our local grocery stores. Last night I surprised him by showing up in the store where he worked to pick up a few items. He just happened to be the first person I ran into upon entering the store and was less than thrilled to see me! I got, “really mom, you had to come here?!” Yes, I told him. This store is the only place I can get my decaffeinated tea bags! I was amused. He was not. But, by the time I finished, I had run into him at least twice more and he was smiling by the time I left! The next time I see him “at work” won’t be so awkward!

First jobs are important.  I believe that they tone set for expectations that can influence the rest of your working life.  Obviously, one of the most anticipated benefits for young people is to be paid some money for their hours worked. This naturally leads to the application of any money management discussions that might have come before working commenced. Most of us work to pay our bills. When you are a young teen, you do not have many of those, but enough to get one started saving and making decisions on what to spend some of your hard-earned dollars on purchasing. In this day and age, most likely that is going to be smart phone bills, gas money, and paying for dates and/or entertainment. The expectation in our house is that most of the money earned will be saved.

But, there are so many more intangible benefits to holding a job. They include being told what to do by someone other than your parents, being held accountable to the expectations set forth at the place of employment, being prompt, working when scheduled, and learning to interact in a polite, socially acceptable way when customer service is the priority.

Yes, as adults, we work our whole lives. But, I  do think it is important to have a first job when you are young enough to help you form some idea of what you’d like to do (or not  do) with your life. There is incredible value in that experience. So, while we don’t expect our youngest son to work a lot once school starts in a few weeks, we do expect he will continue to work, learn to manage his money, and look towards his future, just as our other two sons have done.

What did you do for your first job? What do you most remember about the experience?

Everybody’s Home

Everybody’s Home

There is not quite any feeling like there is when Everybody’s Home.

Three Boys, Two Girls and a Boy. Three Girls. Four Boys and a Girl. One Boy. A Girl.

It doesn’t matter who, as long as they are yours.

Children home for the weekend, for the week, for a month-long semester break.

You’ll take them for as much or as little time they have or are willing to give.

They are yours. Everybody’s Home.


If you are a mom, you know what I mean.

The house is alive with laughter and even some hard to release sibling rivalry.

You wonder if that will ever change! Secretly, you hope not.

Jabs, Pokes, Wrestling, but also Hugs, Smiles, and Laughter.

They are yours. Everybody’s Home.


When your children start to age

and leave that cocoon of a space you created called home,

their lives are not the only ones that change.

Your life changes too. For all of you

there will be days that will be happy,

days that will be sad,

days that will be frustrating,

days that will be lonely, and

days when you wish you could be together.

But, when they come home, the longing, the worry,

and the loneliness, are all washed away.

You are a mom again. Their mom.  Always.

They are yours. The Greatest Gift.

Everybody’s Home.


A friend of mine and I both have all our children home this weekend. We texted about this last night. This poem is dedicated to her and all the mom’s who are blessed with a brief period of having Everybody Home.

Matt and Mom’s Messy Monday Morning

Matt and Mom’s Messy Monday Morning

Some of my closer friends who read my blog regularly have told me they enjoy my more personal and family related posts. Sometimes, I am reticent to share these, but today is an exception!

My 18-year-old will graduate from high school on Saturday. He plays varsity tennis and has for the last four years. This year has been an unexpected year of crazy schedules and rescheduled matches due to the wet weather we’ve had in the upper mid-west.  There was one week, a short while ago, during which he had five tennis matches rescheduled or regularly scheduled within seven days. It was too much. Today, was to be the sub-sectionals. He was up at 4:30 a.m. to be at the courts to catch a district van to the matches at a school 2 hours away. By 7 a.m. he called me. When I picked up the phone, I thought he was calling to tell me the team had arrived at its destination. But, no. He was calling to tell me it had been cancelled and he was back at our high school. He sounded slightly shaky and tired. Final exams for the seniors are today and tomorrow. He had the forethought to speak with his teachers about missing today for the tennis sub-sectionals. He was to take any finals scheduled for today, tomorrow, when he was back in school. I do not think he knew what they were going to have him do. Probably, the expectation would be to have him take the finals. I understand. After all, he was in school. Better planning ahead was needed in this case, so that he would have felt more prepared to take those exams in the case something like this happened. I hope he could relax enough to think. I heard anxiety in his voice.  I know what it sounds like and although he told me it would be okay, I think he was questioning that, himself. The end is near. He is not in any danger of not graduating – far from it – but I know for a fact this spring sports season put a damper on how he envisioned the end of his time in high school.  The cancellation today just tops off what a lackluster season it has been.

A few short hours later I could relate to him even more than I already do when it comes to feeling anxious. I was scheduled to plant in a school garden today with 170 students. Upon waking up, it was overcast. By 8 a.m. I was in the driveway cutting apart six celled plant trays to aid individual layout for the students. By 9 a.m. I had packed the car and left the house under very overcast skies.  Twenty minutes later, when I arrived at school, it was raining! Planting was not going to take place today! It was wet and would continue to be wet in the gardens even if the rain stopped. I went to each teacher’s room to reschedule – a task that sounds easy but given all the other obligations I have this week and the crazy month of May that teacher’s experience, it was a daunting task to think about.

Luckily, I have used in the past and by the time I am writing this, seven of nine classes are rescheduled for times over the next three days. It is still raining. But, it sure was a Messy Monday Morning for Matt and Mom!


Motherhood – Awe, Joy, and Surprise – The Emotions of Having Three Sons

Motherhood – Awe, Joy, and Surprise – The Emotions of Having Three Sons

Usually, on holidays, my posts do not address the holiday itself. But, today is Mother’s Day. I have a Mother and I am a Mother. It is a role I cherish – the most important job in my life.  When each of my boys were born, I had different feelings connected with their births. This is the story of those feelings.

First Born

I remember laying in the hospital the night after my first son was born. He was beside me in his bassinet – rooming in – they called it then. He stayed with me so I could feed him on demand. Being a nurse that had worked with babies – both healthy and sick – this was a routine I knew well, although had never experienced myself.  I do not remember much of the actual care giving in those first few hours of being a mother, but I do have strong memories of how I felt. I was in so much awe over the fact that my husband and I had made this living baby whose dark, almost black, eyes stared up at me in the dark, I could not sleep! I just kept staring at him thinking, I’m a mom! I did it – I have a child!  It was feelings of awe and gratitude so overwhelming, I could not rest. I was elated. As the months wore on, of course I wish I had slept – because he rarely did – always awake, always observing and soon interacting with his environment, I learned I should always sleep when the opportunity presented itself.

Not Luck…..Lots of Effort

Too many years after I first became a mother, I finally became one again.  Our second son came after years of unsuccessfully trying, and a couple of unfortunate miscarriages. By the time he arrived, we had moved from New York to Wisconsin! This decision was made when we were still parents to an only child and were trying to decide where best to raise him. As often it happens, once the focus was on the move and not becoming pregnant, I found I was expecting again and would be traveling 900 miles during the middle of this second, so wanted gestation, to someplace where we knew no one. We quickly settled in and by the time our second son was born, we had neighbors that had become friends. Undoubtably, my feelings after giving birth this time was joy.  We had done it again, I was the mother of two!

It Won’t Happen Again….

About a year after our second son was born, we joked about trying to have a third child. The first two had been illusive for so long before they were actually with us, that it seemed very unlikely we would be blessed a third time.  So, we joked and said – “Yeah, let’s try. It won’t happen again.”

Surprise! Less than two months later, I was pregnant – an uncomplicated, easy pregnancy, one during which I actually felt sick! I reveled in this as it meant the baby was healthy!  We soon had a third son. I am still stunned at how easy his conception and birth were – although he did show up almost 2 weeks late!  As each time before, I felt gratitude and relief that everything, once again, was okay. Our family was complete. His arrival was definitely a very welcome surprise!

Being a mother is not an easy job.

But, it is the best job in the world!

And, I am so happy I got the chance to be one – again, and again.

Happy Mother’s Day to me & to you!

Red: A Poem

Red: A Poem

Disclaimer: I wrote this poem over two months ago, I believe on Valentine’s Day. During the months of February and March over the last five years, I have written color poems with third grade students. This year, I did not have that enrichment group with which to work. But, I was filled with emotion – the emotion that maybe only mothers have when we are trying to let our children fly out of the nest.  I am happy to tell you that now I do not see the red described in the poem below – only the red of a heart filled with love & hope.


Today,  I am seeing red.

No, it is not the red that is Valentine’s Day; the red of love.

Although, it is a mother’s love that forms the foundation of my concerns.


It is the red of anger.

Much time is spent being angry again,

stewing like a simmering pot of ripe tomatoes.

I know this is not good for me or anyone around me.

But, it is so. I am angry. I boil over.


Anger is the ill-conceived child of anxiety.

Things are done but more are left undone.

The talk is talked, but the walk is left un-walked.

You say you are ready to go but I do not see the signs of that being true.


Apathy, Lethargy, Blaming. Boredom.

Your way is different than mine. I get it. But, the

missed emails, missed-notifications, missed snail mail.

Alert me to a problem.

Is it you? Or has the institution made a snafu?

I want you to figure it out.  I am trying so hard to let you.


Last night’s anxiety led to this morning’s anger.

Lack of sleep nourished the seeds of fear and doubt in my mind.

I am blamed for trying to help.

This, I do not understand. It makes my cheeks burn with heat.





Insomnia: A Return Visit

Insomnia: A Return Visit

Last night my old friend insomnia visited me for the first time in weeks. Not particularly worried about anything, my mind swirled around various topics – on most of which I have not an ounce of control. This happens periodically to me. I waken, lay waiting in bed for sleep to return, and when it doesn’t, my mind travels.

The topics that were visited last night were:

  • checking to see if a label was made by my youngest for a piece of artwork he is shipping to Canada later this week
  • transferring money to our PayPal account
  • ordering a new soccer uniform for the upcoming season
  • the causes of diverticulitis – which I do not have, so why look it up?
  • working on my final assignment to finish my graduate course
  • work on continuing to analyze data for my research study
  • wondering why my hip hurts
  • all the errands I have to do on Monday (today)
  • wondering how long it will take for all the snow (yes, snow!) to melt
  • wondering why I committed to talking to a local community service group tonight
  • knowing I still need to organize and condense my thoughts for a 20 presentation from what should be a presentation 2-3x that length
  • all the jewelry I have left to label to take to the art gallery later this week
  • worry about upcoming life transitions and how they will get handled
  • and more…..there’s always, more! (I know they are all first world problem and therefore, not worth the loss of my sleep.)

I was able to return to bed at 4:14 a.m. after having a warm cup of decaffeinated tea at 3:38 a.m.. I had been awake for an hour before the tea. Of course when the alarm rings at 6 a.m. after a night like this, I am tired. I miss my oldest son who is currently at school, in another state. My middle son has a mild case of senioritis, but is doing fine.  And, my youngest – well, he can still be hormonally snarky at times. Despite well intended support from me regarding his schedule of hobbies and homework, he balked at my instructions during dinner to think about where he can get a job this summer and what colleges he’d like to visit.  I’ll check back with him in a week.  I’m working on handling it all.  But, last night all of the above, and more, kept me awake.

I really do not know why insomnia visited last night.

Maybe, I just need it to be spring and the sun to shine!

Yet, it’s still snowing!

Come on, April – act like yourself!

Investments in Home Maker Spaces

Investments in Home Maker Spaces

About a year ago, we got a 3-D printer. As parents, we try to support our children’s interests. Outside of school, each of our sons have some self-cultivated abilities that seem to be serving them well to complete their well-roundedness and sense of accomplishment. To a very large extent, they are innate talents, supported by hours of self-imposed practice, and an internal desire to learn and excel.

Our eldest son was musically supported with years of music lessons, a piano, two saxophones, a clarinet, and various reeds, oils, stands, microphones, sheet music and such. Although deciding not to be music major, music filled this child’s youth. Despite the lessons being helpful, the desire to play well and share his talents, were self-imposed. Hours, especially during the stresses of high school, were spent on learning piano concertos and instrumental pieces, culminating in two exemplary  performances at our state level solo ensemble. It is hard to believe that was five years ago!  Right about now, during the stresses of graduate school, he is probably wishing he had more time to practice his musical abilities. I know I am wishing that for him. Perhaps, by June he’ll have time. Investments pay off over time.  The music is there waiting for him.

The 3-D printer, although purchased as a “family” gift, has been solely used by our middle son. He is our inventor, entrepreneur, and tinkering maker – essentially a wanna-be engineer – which he plans to pursue formally this fall.  He took to the printer right away, learning its controls, types of plastic filaments, and tricks to producing the products he sought.  The printer, as with any tool, is not perfect. But, the imperfections have led this child down a road of persistence, inventiveness, and self-reliance. The printer has been fixed a number of times. Again, this has been solely our second son’s “deal”.  Not once in the last year, has he asked for help fixing it. He just figures it out on his own, orders the correct parts, makes the repairs, and starts printing objects again!  This last repair involved the direct soldering of wires because he discovered the plastic connector the company had used was not the right grade for the degree of electricity that was traveling through it, so it melted. Despite the fact that during this process, my table got ruined from the soldering, I am finding it hard to be mad about it.  The table can be refinished and the printer got fixed, yet again!   The amazing thing is that none of the skills he’s used with his work on the printer have been formally taught to him.  He is self-taught because he wanted to learn how to use (and fix) this machine. Isn’t that what school should be all about? School should foster the love of life long, independent learning. If this can be augmented at home, it should be.

Our youngest is an artist and his abilities are also self-taught. Like his brothers, work on his talent is self-imposed. He’s drawn some fabulous portraits, won a drawing contest  sponsored by an olympic athlete, tried out watercolors, and now is learning how to use oil paints. Like most artists, he is self-critical.  His first oil took 30 minutes, (pictured below.)  Although we love it, he does not. A couple more oils were tried and unseen, as they were “trashed” before we could get a look at them. Yesterday, true to form, he developed his “own” methodology  (like he has in the past with his pencil drawings) for layering the oils. Like his brothers, what he produces and the persistent determination, self-reliance, and degree of self-teaching amazes me. Again, I am glad we have the resources to be able to support these talents that are not gained in the current educational climate. For these abilities and the co-existing self-determination are not taught and I am beginning to believe they cannot be.  It takes self-reflection, access to instruments, materials and tools, and the desire to learn, improve, and contribute – whether it be musically, physically, or artistically – and whether or not there is an associated “grade.”   It also takes time and freedom to learn self-expression.

I know now that what I might have sought for my sons in the past from educational institutions, my husband and I have provided at home – right in our own maker space(s). And, while they do not receive grades (nor seem to need them for motivation),  they learn, they improve, and they flourish under their own will and self-imposed guidelines.  Perhaps this is the best kind of learning, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!