Thursday, March 28, 2013

Adventures in Housesitting- Day 1

I would call myself a big animal lover.  Please don't get your mind twisted or in the gutter when I say things like that... sheesh.  But as I was saying I love animals of all shapes, sizes, colors, species, and usually personalities or at least I thought I did until last night when I had a Mexican standoff with one Itty the Cat!  Now this isn't my cat mind you... I do prefer dogs as my own personal pet of choice, but I've never had any issues with cats either. 

But yesterday I started house sitting for a friend of mine who has quite the menagerie of critters all of which I get along with famously, except for Itty, who until yesterday I thought was the easy one of the bunch.  I had been instructed that Itty could be let out of the house for a little while to explore and do his business and that all I had to do was shake his little treat bag out the door when it was time to come in.  HA.... I repeat.... HA!

Instead Itty decided it was time to go on an 8 hour outdoor safari around the property.  I shook that little treat bag like it was a set of maracas to no avail.  So I decided to give it a rest for a little while and at some point he'd just get sick of being outside.  That was around hour 2 of this little ordeal.  By Hour 4 I was beginning to worry because it was well after dark and there are plenty of coyotes, cougars, and other predators around that would think house cat would make a fine meal.  So I searched the house for a flashlight, bundled up and started searching the property (which is good sized I might add).  I searched around the garden, the horse corral, the chicken coupe, the bunny cages, the front yard, the back yard, the road that goes down to the river, and so on, but never spotted the grey and black striped little fur ball.

By this point I'm getting a little ticked off and sick of searching in 18 degree temps so I headed back up to the house hoping that maybe Itty would be waiting by one of the doors.  NOPE... no such luck.  So I start turning on lights hoping it would be a beacon of love in the darkness... no luck.  So then I turned off all the lights thinking that maybe he'd finally get the clue that it was bed time and no one was going to let him in... no luck there either. Finally around midnight the little sucker started walking back and forth in front of the back sliding glass door.  I was so relieved that I jumped up to let him in and as soon as I came toward the door he right off into the night again. 

This little cat and mouse game (no pun intended) lasted for the next two hours.  Until finally at 2 am I heard a soft little meow at the front door.  I slowly crossed the living room, crept across the front entry way and slowly opened the door.  And there sitting as innocently as could be was Itty (the devil cat) looking at me with the expression of "what took you so long to open the door".  He walked right into the house as if nothing wrong had happened at all and looking for his evening meal which he had earlier refused to eat.  GRRRRRRR!!!!!!

So while his owner says he is allowed outside I do believe Itty is going to be an indoor kitty for the next few days and will just have to settle for the liter box.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

What to do... what to do.

Last week I got a catalogue from an online teacher development program called Learners Edge.  As I was perusing the catalogue to see if there might be a class or two I’d like to take during the summer I found a section that talked about getting a Masters of Education online.  Apparently the Learners Edge programs are linked to several colleges and universities here in the western part of the US that are offering this option to both individuals who are already teaching (meaning they have a bachelors in education and are looking for a pay bump) and individuals like me that can’t seem to figure out what they want to do (meaning my bachelors is in something else entirely).  I have all the prerequisites covered with the degree I already have and because I’m already working at the school as a teacher’s aid and a special ed. paraprofessional I have the resources at my fingertips to get in my experiential portion of the degree while I’m doing the course work at home. 

So to put it quite simply I’m seriously considering doing it.  It’s a 30 credit regiment that is put on the fast track and completed in 19 months starting in the summer and ending the following spring.  There are three options for specialization, one of which is in special populations, which would probably be the one I’d do since I really do love working with these kids that need the extra help both in the areas of learning and coping with emotional distresses.  I find it rewarding and challenging, yet I still come home at the end of the long day happy.

There are really only two things stopping me or at least making me hesitate,.  The first is the expense of it all.  Granted doing it this way is a heck of a lot cheaper than say going back to a brick and mortar school to get a Masters but its still $10,000 for the program which on my paycheck is really, really, really, really tight, but in the end I think it’d be worth it and would give me a lot more options for a career in the future regardless of what I choose to do.  The second is that I’m just plan scared of going back to school.  I know I shouldn’t be, especially if I’m doing everything from home, but still I feel like I’ve been out of the game a while and don’t know exactly how to get back into it.  But are those reasons enough to stop me?

The other option I found while I was perusing this same catalogue was the possibility of getting a special populations certificate.  Now if I did this I’d take 12 credits (9 of which would transfer over to the Masters program if I chose to do that later) with course work dealing specifically with autism, ADHD, emotional disturbances, and at risk youth in the school setting.  Now while I think this would be great for me personally so that I could apply what I learn to the students I have now, I’m not sure what it would do for me in the long run since I’m not already a licensed teacher.

I keep telling myself I should be getting back to doing stuff in wildlife but really I’m having so much fun working in education and with these amazing kids that no one else is giving a chance that I wonder what my calling truly is.  I’m so conflicted that my heart hurts over it.  I worry that my family will think I’m copping out of what I went to school for for all those years.  But really I started with a plan to go to Pharmacy school so I could have a fall back and a way to pay for Vet school.  That didn’t work out.  I hated pharmacy school and it wasn’t what I wanted to do so I switched to wildlife biology, which I loved and I’m gladded that’s what I got my degree in.  But the jobs right now just aren’t there unless I want to travel all over the country for seasonal and temporary work right now.  That’s no way to live and frankly I just don’t want to do it that way. 
So here I sit at another crossroads and I need to figure out where my life is going and what path I’m going to choose.  I need to make sure that no matter which I pick that I’m going to be happy with myself and able to live the kind of life I’m proud of.  That seems like it should just be a simple thing to do but for some reason it feels very complex right now.  I am giving myself a month to figure it out.  The application for the Masters program and the special populations certification programs are both due on April 15th but I figure I need to have it sorted out by the end of February for my own peace of mind.  Wish me luck.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Here's to a New Year!

2012 was in interesting year.  I had a ton of ups and a ton of downs yet in the end it doesn’t seem like a bad year overall.  Granted I’m not working in the field of wildlife which makes me feel pretty disappointed in myself, but I am working which frankly in this economy is a true blessing.  I’d been subbing at the local school for a while and working for the school’s preschool as an aid 2 days a week for the entire 2011-2012 school year and got to know some great people.  Apparently I did a good enough job with those two little endeavors to spark the interest of the principal and she offered me a position as a Special Education Aid (along with continuing to work with the preschool) for the 2012-2013 school year.  Not only that but I was also offered a position as a member of the brand new after school program team.  So I’m working 40 hours a week and come home with energy to spare so I must be doing something right.  I’m still not sure what my destiny is when it comes to a career but I’m giving Special Education a serious consideration.  I’ve come to realize I really enjoy it because each day has new challenges and trials that keep my mind going at full speed.  I also realized that I am a very patient and flexible person and when something goes wrong I generally can figure out a way to still get the job done while making the kids feel good about themselves.  Some of these skills are the same ones I used daily while working at my sister’s nursing home over the summers while I was in college.  I enjoyed that kind of work too so maybe I really should be doing something where I can put those kinds of skills to work for others.  There is a big part of me that still wants to go back to wildlife and use my education but who knows… maybe that’s just not in my cards.  So while I’m enjoying this I’m looking into what it would take to get a Masters in Education specializing in Special Ed.  My BS covers all the requirements except one and that’s Montana History which I know I could easily pick up in a semester but I struggle with the idea of going back to school myself.  It frankly scares me but it might be worth it in the end.

Work wasn’t my only life area with ups and downs.  At the end of last year I was fed up with how horrible I felt every day.  The weight I’d gained while dad was sick and I was stressed was just more than I could handle so I said enough was enough.  I spent the last year transforming myself but inside and out.  I started eating healthier, or at least eating only when I was actually hungry and not bored or stressed out and started working out each and every day come hell or high water.  It hasn’t been easy by any stretch of the word but I’ve lost 70 lbs and am still going. Since working at the school I’ve kind of slacked a bit but have maintained the 70 lb loss but having really done too well losing any more since about October.  I still want to lose at least another 30 to meet my goal and had really wanted to do that in a single year but that didn’t happen and I’m starting this new year with the goal of losing that 30 before the school year ends.  That means rededicating myself to this mission.  Getting up that extra hour early to get a workout in and forcing myself to eat breakfast in the morning before heading to work.  On the bright side I do feel fantastic, look a heck of a lot better, and have more energy than I know what to do with which sometimes drives Mace nuts.  I love being able to go for a run or hike a mountain without hurting or being out of breath.  It’s such a welcome and of course needed change.  I’m just hoping that I can keep it up.

Things were also a bit stressed on the family front.  In September my mom had another gall bladder attack that was so severe that she developed a case of pancreatitis.  It also caused a severe UTI which of course needed to be treated before the doctors felt comfortable removing her troublesome gall bladder.  This isn’t the first time she has had problems with this particular organ.  When she was at the Mayo Clinic getting her heart checked out several years ago she had an episode of issues with her gall bladder and her doctors there suggested it be removed.  For some reason, which frankly I’ve never understood, she didn’t have it taken out then even though she’d had several problems with it through out her adult life.  Anyway the most recent problem created a domino affect of health issues for mom and she was in and out of the hospital 5 times in the course of three months and was staying for weeks at a time.  Of course having allergy problems with antibiotics and severe reactions to certain anesthesias didn’t help her out much either.  But by Thanksgiving everything seemed to be back to normal and I’m happy to report she doing fine –minus the gall bladder.  But 2012 brought some great things to the Bennett clas as well.  My sister Brenda started a new job as an administer to a residential nursing home and assisted living facility for a non-profit Christian based company just down the street from her house.  The first month was rough for her with employee issues but those have sense resolved themselves and she is learning the ropes of assisted living work which is a new endeavor for her.  She seems happy and for that I am always greatful.  Brenda wasn't the only one that started a new job this year.  After working for Mulvaney G2, and archetechtual firm in Portland,  for the past 15 years or so, my brother gave notice went in a new and adventurous direction.  For years a buddy of his from college had been half joking about starting a private archetechtual firm with him and Brian had always kind of kept it in the back of his mind.  When the kinds of projects that Brian wanted to be involved in started dwindling (ecomony issues), he stayed loyal to Mulvaney but after several years and a new offer from this buddy to partner up he made the switch.  From the sounds of things, he seems really happy and has more free time to enjoy his family.  Plus he is lining up projects that he is really excited about and learning all the ins and outs of owning your own firm. 

After months of not getting home til 6 and trying to get normal daily things done in the few short hours at the end of the day I’d been neglecting really getting out and having fun in the woods like I love to do.  I mean on the weekends Mace and I would go for short hikes or most of the time, because of the constant need, go cut firewood for the winter but non of it was really satisfying my need to be out in the back country.  So for the past 10 days that I’ve been off of work for Christmas break I set out to go frolicking in the woods near by as much as possible.  I love playing in the snow and going out with all the tree’s flocked with feet of snow and working my way through waist high drifts reminded me of going Christmas tree hunting with my family as a kid. I of course took my camera with me everywhere and got some incredible pictures, including a few of Mace being a goofball which is a rarity.  All in all the last 10 days have been an amazing ending to an interesting year.

I’m not at all sure what 2013 holds for me but I’m determined that whatever comes my way I make the most of it and just roll with it.  Life is way to short to stress like I have in the past and when I’m stressed I’m truly unhappy.  There are certain kinds of stresses that are normal parts of daily life but still I think minimizing those parts are critical to both mental and physical health.  So I look forward to the coming year and have and open mind and open heart to what lies in the future.  I wish you all a very Happy New Year and hope that you too will also find peace and joy in what the future holds.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Post Thanksgiving Bliss

I have never understood those people in our country that get up at 2 o'clock in the morning the day after Thanksgiving to stand in line and wait for stores to open up for their Black Friday Sales.  All the pushing and shoving, and stress that seems to exude from that whole deal has never appealed to me.  Frankly with all the cooking and eating and family fun that we always had growing up on Thanksgiving just wore us all out and the following day was naturally a day to laze around, eat left overs, and recuperate. 

The tradition in the ol Bennett household was to sleep in til whenever you felt like getting up.  There was no rush, no panic, no plans.  Family members would get up at their own speed.  Being that I was (and still am) a morning person I'd usually get up first and make coffee, cocoa, and hot apple cider for the rest of my family when they decided to get up.  My sister Brenda usually was up around the same time and we'd chat, drink coffee, and peruse the newspaper for possible movies we might want to go to or look at the Friday funnies.  And as the rest of the family got up the house got more active.  Some of us would shower and get dressed while others preferred to laze around in pjs.  But no matter what, once everyone was up we'd gather together again for breakfast.  And not just any breakfast.  This breakfast was comprised of leftover pumpkin and mince meat pie.  I can't remember a day after thanksgiving where we didn't have pie for breakfast.  Even since living on my own I always wake up the next day and have pie and coffee for breakfast.  Again this simple meal would last a long time just because we'd end up talking, laughing, and in general enjoying being together.

And the rest of the day would be just as nice.  We'd kind of split up and do our own things.  The guys usually found another football game to watch, The gals would chit chat, play games, go to a movie or just go for a walk.   And when we felt hungry we'd go to the kitchen and dig out left overs to make sandwiches and just graze.  There was no time table we had to follow and frankly it was perfect.  We all have such busy and hectic regular lives that this was one of the few days we could just completely unwind.  And that is something my family taught me that I'll forever be thankful and grateful for.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Griz- Cat Meet Again

Like my fellow UM Griz alumni and fans I've been waiting 365 days for this afternoon to come around again.  If you truly follow this blog or know me at all you know I'm talking about the 112th meeting of the University of Montana and Montana State University  GRIZ - CAT game.  These two football teams have been battling it out for 112 years for goodness sake which in and of itself is pretty amazing.  But really its the rivalry before the game and the camaraderie after the game that is so amazing to see. 

Pre game both Griz fans and Cat fans alike can be down right nasty to one another.  Tensions build in households where normally husbands and wives from opposing schools can coexist in perfect harmony.  Little jibes here, crude jokes there, and the nanny nanny we won last year and are going to do it again inevitable arise.  But when you get right down to it, its truly about a mutual respect for each others school.  Montana is not exactly a densely populated state so this one particular football game truly is a way for all of us to come together behind one team or another and say better luck next year to the fallen team afterward.

Being a second generation Griz grad myself I'm rooting hard for my boys in maroon and silver.  Even though they have quite possibly had the worst season I've seen in 25 years (yes I was indoctrinated in Griz football when I was very young).  I am not a fair weather fan and will root hard for them in the good years and the bad.  Montana State on the other hand is ranked #2 in the Big Sky Conference this year (normally that's the slot that UM has) and though I will deny this if asked by my Cat buddies its been pretty fun watching them do so well.  My dad would probably roll over in his grave at that last comment but I think he of all people would understand my appreciation for such a formidable rival.

Courtesy of Sebrina Brown at the 112 Griz Cat Game in Missoula 11/17/2012
 As I said at the beginning of this post I've been looking forward to this game all year long for several reasons.  First no matter what the teams records are before the game this game is always the biggest, the toughest and the most exciting game of the season.  Second its something that makes me think of my dad and how we'd find a sports bar somewhere just to watch the satellite feed of the game with other Griz and Bobcat fans (again a great way of coming together and talking about a wonderful place to live). And third it takes me back to great memories of college going to the game, sitting in the stands, and feeling the rumble in my chest when the crowd around me, and me included would cheer for the Montana Boys!  Just can't beat that.  So to my fellow Griz fans.... lets go get em. And hopefully we'll be saying better luck next year to MSU in about 50 minutes!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Christmas... oops I mean "Holiday" Bazaar Today!

Today I had totally planned on taking the whole day and going hunting. But a few days ago the After School Program coordinator that I work with asked if I would help her out today at the program's booth at the local Holiday Bazaar held in the school's gym.  So I revamped my plans and am still hoping to get out this afternoon to hunt but if I don't I always have tomorrow.  All of that is kind of beside the point though.

Why is it that we can't say Christmas anymore?  Is it so horrible to say a Christmas activity rather than "Holiday".  Granted I have Jewish and Muslim friends and they celebrate other important holidays during this season and I absolutely respect that... but not a single one (that I know personally) is offended when I say Christmas.  As a matter of fact most of them refer to this as the Christmas season.  So why can't I?  I am not ashamed of being a Christian or my desire to celebrate the birth of Our Lord.  And honestly I think most people feel the same way.  I understand with school functions there is supposed to be a separation of church and state but we still say the pledge every day with the line "One Nation under God" so isn't saying Christmas along those same lines? 

Maybe I'm way off here.  And I know it probably irks some folks when I go Christmas shopping or just out to the local store and when the cashier says "Happy Holidays" (because of course they are trained to be politically correct) I make a point of saying "Merry Christmas" in return.  Keep in mind I do this AFTER Thanksgiving.  Currently since it is still before Thanksgiving I'm saying "Have a Happy Thanksgiving".  I think its important to give each specific holiday their time in the spot light. 

But anyway... that's my rant and rave for the day.  Its probably unimportant and most people will just roll their eyes at this and that is certainly your right.  For me however I will wish you great joy in your Thanksgiving preparations and hope to see a few of you at the CHRISTMAS Bazaar today!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Tis the Season... The Busy Season

I can't believe that October is already over and done with.  The days and weeks are just going by so fast this year and we're only two months off from a whole new year that I'm definitely not ready for yet.  I've had a lot of ups and downs over the past one so I'm not sure if the next one is something to look forward to or something to dread.  I guess it really doesn't matter since its coming no matter how I feel about it.

I guess I am glad that October is done since its been such and odd one.  Generally its one of my favorite months in the year because it embodies everything that is FALL.  But while the leaves were turning and I was doing my best to finish my Halloween costume in time, things were not going well with my mom health wise.  Over the past 4 weeks she's be hospitalized 3 times for various "ailments" yet not a single doctor can figure out the underlying cause.  I'm not going to get into details about what is going on with her because frankly she's a very private person and I know she wouldn't want me to post anything about it on here, but at the same time she has me and my brother and sisters very worried and in a bad position if something very serious is going on.  As of Thursday she is back out of the hospital but still with no known reason why she's been having such trouble.  I know she has a litany of specialist referrals from her docs and I'm really hoping she follows through so we can get some concrete information finally.  Maybe with the start of the new month things will turn around. 

She asked me to come home for Christmas and I'm torn about what to do.  In some ways I of course want to go home and spend time with her, but at the same time traveling that time of year in this neck of the woods is a hardship.  The roads are horrible and flights are constantly cancelled and delayed.  Plus I've started making my own Christmas traditions with Mace.  I'm seriously thinking about telling her that I'm going to put off a visit until at least spring when the weather is better.  But then I'm worried about her health and I never ever ever want to miss an opportunity to be with my family when possible or when there is threat of any kind of problems.  So I'm sure you can see my dilemma.  But I'll figure it out one way or another.

I keep looking at my schedule from now until the end of the year and I don't honestly know how I'm going to squeeze everything in.  The school has the holiday bizzare, the fall concert, the scholastic book fair, ski trips, and who knows what all else packed in over the next 3 weeks before Thanksgiving and I've somehow managed to volunteer myself to help out with a bunch of these activities on top of normal work hours, and my involvement in the after school program.  I may have bitten off a bit more than I can chew.  Oh and I'm trying to get as many pictures as possible for the yearbook (which again I committed to).  Its no wonder that by 10 pm I'm crashed out.  After Thanksgiving we have even more projects, concerts, and activities to pack in before Christmas and for the first time ever I'm not ahead on my Christmas shopping for my family and I'm really not sure when I'm going to be able to do it.  I always like to get it done before the snow starts flying so that if I need to go to Missoula or Spokane to shop I get it done before the roads get bad.  I guess whatever I plan on doing I'll have to make it online shopping and pay those ridiculous shipping prices.  Oh well.  If you have any gift giving ideas I'm certainly open to suggestions.  I keep trying to think of some cool scrapbooking idea that I could make each of my family members and send them but I'm coming up pretty blank. 

So I guess that's whats going on with me right now.  I know this was a bit of a spastic post but that's just how my brain is working right now. Hopefully next time it will be a bit better.  Hope everyone's holiday preparations are going well.  Love to you all.