Between Two Loves

Most of the posts I make here, lately, have been about my writing. This is currently on hiatus since I am now back at school with a killer schedule. It is also my senior year. I understand that once I graduate it is time to go back out there and get a job but I also have plans to get into a masters program. Unfortunately, I have two passions that are pulling me in different directions and leaves me with a big question:

Do I get a masters in Literature (my current major)? Or do I go for a History Masters (my minor)?

Two subjects I completely love. At times I even wonder if I made the right decision going with a English masters instead of a history one. I am on the edge. I feel behind in knowledge of those who are in the history program. But I wonder if history is a better match for me?

How do you decide? I will let you know when I find out.

Summer Break… but only from school

Two weeks ago was the end of the Spring semester of school which means it is time for Summer FUN! Or a chance to have more time to spend with my family and work on my novel. The last semester was a tough one but I got thru it with semi-flying colors. Of course, all I want to do sleep and play video games but instead I am forcing myself to open my computer and get back to work on my current book.

It has not been easy since it has been months since I have had a chance to write anything but papers for school or assignments for my writing class and I fell into the trap that happens often when you have to leave a story for a period of time — memory lapse. Yep, I have found that since I am not just writing but have decided to continue the editing from Chapter One and when I found a gap that needed to fill in I forgot several of the names of my characters. This made me glad that a few weeks ago I had printed out all of my information I had written up for the book. Background notes, plans, character profiles, etc. I had been told to write everything down in the past and I am glad I followed this advice not just because it is helping me with organization but also for event such as this. When you know the character but you forget a detail now all I have to do is flip to the book bible.

I will say the other issue for me at the moment is my desire to start a new story. Often inspiration is like lightning sometimes and that is what happened for me. I was researching a paper for school and inspiration hit me, as it usually does when I was reading something fascinating, for a story series. I just don’t want to get carried away with it though because I would end up abandoning my current work and I am determined to finish it. This has been issue for me in the past. I would jump from one story to the next one when I found a new story I wanted to tell. Instead, I am just working on the notes, writing down a few passages as I become inspired when I need a break from my current work.

At least the one thing I got done in the last few months is work on the prologue for my book. I had signed up for a writing class this past semester at school (plus to being an English major) and for our fiction piece I decided to work on this short section instead of writing something new. It turned out well. It helped me focus that aspect of the story and flesh out the history of the book more. I am proud of what it became and the response I received from it. I also signed up for some writing groups – one for mommy writers – people in similar position as me. Trying to balance writing with mothering. It isn’t easy. A lot of my free time this summer is being taken up by taking my son to soccer, swimming, and art lessons, as well as travel. It so incredibly worth it… and it makes my son happy as well.

And now, back to work. kiddo is sleeping and I only have an hour left to work on this chapter.

Another Fall Semester

ImageIn 5 days time I will be starting another semester of college and I know I am looking forward to a heavy semester. I am glad though that the oxygen machine I received to help with my sleep apnea seems to be working and I have had at least a week and a half of full sleep in the past month. Having started out with only sleeping for a few hours of sleep with the mask on – I have now worked up with a consistent 6-8 hours of sleep in 4 nights out of 7 without ripping the mask off in my sleep. 

I have felt that metabolism has been bumped up, seeing as I am actually hungry during the daytime now and not just eating because I need to. Hopefully, this means that I will hopefully start losing some weight just from my natural metabolism working correctly. This, I hope will help with my classes this fall. That I won’t struggle as much as I did in the Spring semester. But my biggest concern is that I will  hopefully not lose time for my writing.

This is one of my concerns because my story is going so well and I do not want to lose momentum. Especially with the writers conference coming up next month. I had planned on having the manuscript done by the time school started, if not the final rough draft that would only have to be edited over the next four weeks. Instead, I have 3/4 of a novel to still write. Somehow I need to manage, along with homework and spending time with my child & husband, to write about 60,000 more words of my novel. Continue the plotting for it and writing a glossary for the world I am creating.

I am looking forward to this semester though because I am finally starting to take the upper level courses for my major/minor instead of only required classes. I will be studying a lot on two of my favorite topics: mythology and English history. I have a feeling my struggle course will be my linguistics class since I have no idea what it will be about, well other then the history of English language. l’sigh
Wish me luck and less stress over the next 18 weeks. Oh, and weight loss. Image

Annotated Bibliography Suck, Part 2

Okay, now that sonny-boy is down for the evening it is time to finish up my last blog post. I already gave a quick run down on the War of 1812 and the Bombardment of Fort McHenry, where 1000 men were bombed for 28 hours straight. And I complained that I didn’t like annotated bibs even though I will have to write them again in the future… or speculated that I would.

Now, why do I dislike them so? It’s not that I think they are useless, they have their purpose. They breakout for the teachers where you are going with your research and your paper. It helps you compile everything into one area. Where are you going to go back to, to get your research on. I hate them because they are so damned difficult. I can write a bib, no problem, with a little help of the Owl at Purdue (probably the most important resource for anyone in school at any level). It’s the description part of it. I never feel like I get it right or I am doing it correctly, and I hate this feeling so much! I hate feel lost and discombobulated when I am doing something for school. It brings back all those bad emotions from when I was a kid. I can still hear my English teacher from 6th grade shouting in my face about how stupid I am.

Yes, I know, I need to get past these things and I am for the most part. I think everyone gets these emotions during their bad moments. Those doubts that ate away at you in the past can rear their ugly heads when they feel you are vulnerable. School can do this to me so easily. Yes, I love being in school right now but there are times it is such a struggle still. I didn’t give up in high school because I was lazy, I gave up because I knew in my head I was too stupid for it and it wasn’t worth the energy. I believed this whole-hardheartedly. It was draining. It still can be. I can still end up in tears with the pain that courses through my body when I begin to doubt myself. I had support at home but as anyone who has ever been a teenager knows… that doesn’t matter when everyone else around you helps confirm those doubts.

These are the same doubts that stall my writing as well. I have always wanted to be a writer, it was my secret dream but I am scared shitless of the possibility of success and/or the negative reviews that will come my way. Even the best writers in the history of the world have their haters. I do not know if I can successfully navigate that minefield when it comes down to it. The question than becomes… is achieving my dreams worth the negativity that will be aimed in my direction. Will I be able to, emotionally and mentally, survive it. I am luckier now then I was a few years ago… I have a husband who believes in me and will do anything to protect me. He also doesn’t allow me to drown in my own doubts, which he doesn’t understand why I have any. I don’t understand how he can’t see it. But isn’t that usually away… we are our own worst judges. I am harder on myself then anyone else could ever be; which could be a blessing but it can also be a negative because nothing is ever good enough in my own mind (when I think of my own expectations of myself).

So, the annotated bib? I will be doing it, even though it may be late, because I need to. I will swallow my doubts and get on with my life. It’s only a couple pages right?

Annotated Bibliographies Suck…

I am currently working on several papers for school. One is due next week in my English class and I am supposed to write a critical study for one of the short stories in our book for class. The other one is in my History class and due at the end of the semesters and counts as our final. We could do it on any historical subject in American History prior to 1865 (the class title as well). But its not that we can just wait until the end of the semester and write it all at the last minute. We have several deadlines in class that will be graded that get us through major steps. Our first one was the topic – with the help of my prof I decided to focus on the bombardment of Fort McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore/War of 1812.

Now, tomorrow, we have to turn in our annotated bibliography for the paper. If anyone has ever written one, you kinda know why they suck to put together. Instead of having months to research and find your documentation, we have a few weeks to gather together what we will be using (5 primaries, 5 secondaries) for our research. Not only listing them but putting down a description of the item and the reason for using it. What it will support, etc.

I am sure they have a purpose: figure out your research, have it all focused and such. And I am sure this won’t be the last one I will ever write (especially since I am thinking of taking the next section from the same Prof) over the next few years for school. I am guessing they are necessary for thesis papers and such. My hubs and I have discussed the possibility of me going for my Masters after I get my Bachelors… I am sure they will be due then. But it is hard, having to find ten resources on what is considered a very minor skirmish in a war most people don’t even know happened. Strange as it may seems.

One would wonder why I would go for this subject then. Why not go for an easier topic like: Salem Witch Trials, Ben Franklin, Jamestown, etc. Other then the fact that they are super obvious to me as topics (I actually heard two people discussing the Witch trials with the prof), I grew up knowing about Fort McHenry and what was important about the day of the Bombardment beyond that of the writing of the National Anthem. My grandmothers family is from around there… about a short 10 minute drive, so when we would go to Baltimore for vacation and visit family it was always a destination we would visit as well. Why not? It is a beautiful place, full of history.

Why was it important? It kept the British from taking Baltimore, which at the time was considered more important then Washington being burnt down. Washington at the time was just starting to become the hub of the American government. The White House was there, famously burned down by the Brits, and the Capital but it was not the city it was today. Many people were afraid that if Baltimore (one of the countries richest and leading ports) was taken, the Brits could make their way to Philadelphia. So, our 1000 men at Fort McHenry, holding off the Brits for 25 hours and making them turn around was a big moment in our national history. That was in 1814, before the famous Battle of New Orleans with Andrew Jackson and two years after a war began with our invasion of Canada.

This year is also the bicentennial of the start of the war, I bet you had no idea. We didn’t really celebrate it but we should because it really affirmed us as a nation in the eyes of the rest of the world because we were able to hold our ground.

Now, I would love to lecture more but alas my son just woke up and I need to go get him.

Back 2 School, Mama!

Here I sit, in the campus library, during my third week of school. I am exhausted, getting over being sick and looking at the books from the two classes I am taking. All the while feeling completely overwhelmed already but at the same time satisfied with being here. My parents are almost always shocked to hear about how much I love being in school now because I was a horrible student when I was younger and hated having to go. In fact, I probably missed more of my classes then I attended because I could care less by the time I reached my senior year. I had learned that I didn’t matter after I got tested for LD’s (learning disabilities) and I really didn’t care. I knew I was going nowhere in my life.

Enough of the self-pitying. It took years for me to come to the conclusion that I wanted to get my degree, no matter what. It hasn’t been easy. It took me eighteen years to get my Associates Degree, as well as attending five or six different community colleges in three different states, and I am now working towards my Bachelors. It also took me that long to realize that I wanted to get a degree in something I loved. I could care less about getting a degree in something that would guarantee me a big paycheck. As well as the fact, that I wanted to be able to get into a field where I could hopefully work around my child/ren lives, and not them live around mine.

My biggest hurdle was that this semester I was going to have to put my Son into daycare if I was going to continue working towards my degree. My hubs and I had long conversations. I wanted to just give up and stay at home with Son and any future children, I didn’t need a degree right? He pushed me and encouraged me to keep going. Son is almost a year and a half, he has spent his entire life up to now with just me. It will possibly be another year and a half before we can even comprehend having another kid. He needed to be around other children, to learn to socialize with kids his own age. I know there are some out there that consider my decision to go back to school as a selfish act, because I am putting that above taking care of my Son. Hell, I feel that way as well but I keep reminding myself that getting my degree will hopefully benefit him one day as well. He is also seeing that education is important because I am studying with him and in front of him. That as long as you have a dream, you can fulfill it no matter what your age or barriers that come up. My barriers were self-inflicted: I never thought I was worth the work to get a degree. I felt I was no one special so why try. Just like in relationships, my lack of self-love was hidden behind a false front of confidence (I didn’t need no one or anything to make me happy) when I was dying inside. I don’t want my son to grow up seeing that in a woman… a self-hatred, lack of self-respect. I want him to see me as a strong woman, who works like crazy for her dream.

Yes, I am giving up three days a week with him… well, partial days but our time together now is more precious. For three days a week, it is just me and him. On Saturday and part of Friday, its only daddy who exists. I am also giving up time with my husband. We now only have one day a week together because of my school schedule but those days are more about us being a family then me being with Son while Daddy works around the house. Hubs gets Fridays while we are at school to work and get things done. By the time we get home… we can be together. Saturday we can go out. Or they go out and I stay at home and study. Its working, it’s not easy but it works for us in the hopes that one day we can take bigger vacations together and show our child/ren the world, or get them into better schools, help them with activities, etc.

I also look at the benefits of Son being in school; I say school not daycare because they do learning time even if it’s a very broad amount of learning. In less than two weeks, his language skills are getting better (he says bye now), he is learning to wash his hands, put on his shoes, drink from a cup, serve himself food, etc. The school is also on campus, which helps me feel more secure. If something happens, I can be there within two minutes from anywhere on campus. He has an actual teacher who leads his classes, and comes up with lesson plans as well as at least four other ladies he can flirt with while he is there. He listens better than before, though he is still a handful, and like I said this is just after two weeks of classes. Maybe it sounds like I am justifying myself and in a way I am because I want to make sure he is happy. Yes, we have gone from not caring that mommy is even the room to screaming when I leave; but it doesn’t last long and when he takes his naps, we have a ton of fun when we get home. Some days there are screaming fits, especially when he is over tired and he is constantly wanting to be outside now but he sleeps better than ever (actually tries getting into his crib himself).

So, here I sit, wondering still if I am doing the right thing for our family and the answer will always be yes. We have goals for our family and to reach them, I need to be able to attend school. But I couldn’t do it without the support I get my Hubs. One of the benefits of marrying one of your closest friends, is you know that they always wanted the best for you and always will. While yes, we have to sacrifice time as a family and some alone time so I can study, we see it as being worth it. I lucked out with my Hubs cause he believes in me in a way that I wish I could believe in myself. Guess I need to take the time and look at myself through his eyes more often.

Workouts 7-4-09 to 7-11-09

You may of noticed I didn’t post workouts last week and there is a reason for that – I took a week off from working out. I was stressed and my body just wasn’t working like it should and when I would go to the gym I would just be blah… I did workout for part of the last full week of June but I didn’t record it because of my mind set. In truth, the break did me well. I gave myself the ability to not worry about counting calories and could just breathe and relax. I was able to just restart and jumpstart my body again. By the time I started back on the 4th of July, I was ready and my mind was back into the game as well as my diet.

While I did gain weight from eating poorly… It is now coming back off. I redid my calorie intake guide for each day and reduced it around 100 more calories to 1880 per day. So far so good. I am determined to eat cleaner as well, as much as I can afford to because well – little cashes and fresh foods are NOT cheap. I am almost back to my lowest weight.

With my workouts – I have decided to keep working out 5 days a week but I am going to be limiting my workouts to 1hour – 1hour 30mins at the most. There may be one day every few weeks where I will do one of my 2 hour workouts but for the majority of the time, it will be the shorter workouts. This will give me a true workout and also allow me to not stress over taking time away from everything else going on. This is essential to my mind set since I am getting prepared for the fall semester at school and will be taking 3 classes. Not an easy task but I have figured out that if I want to get my associates within a reasonable time I will have to take 3 – 4 classes a semester and I will graduate in about 2 years time. Luckily, if I pass these current classes – my science requirements will be over with and then I just have to deal with the math. Once that is done, I should be good. I will post my classes once I get signed up and everything.

Okay – this past weeks workouts (my workout weeks will be from Saturdays to Friday, since I started back on Saturday – the day I declared my indepence from fat – get the 4th humor?! ha!)

7-4-09, Saturday

Warm Up
15m – Elliptical Crossramp, Crosstraining, Level 7

Workout

10 – walking planks

Bicep Curls w/ ez bar – super set with triceps
12 @ 25#
10 @ 35#
8 @ 45#
10 @ 35#
12 @ 25#

Tricep Pushdown w/ v-bar
12 @ 30#
10 @ 40#
8 @ 50#
10 @ 40#
12 @ 30#

5 – walking planks

6m – Stair stepper, Weight Loss Program Level 5. 1m straight, 1m left, 1m right

3 x 10 @ 15# (each arm) – Hammer Strength ISO Shoulder Press
3 x 10 @ 10# + bar – bench press

6m – elliptical, glute trainer, level 8 (3m forward peddle, 3m backward peddle)

2 rounds of:
10 @ 6# medicine ball – Jackknives
10 – Ab Wipers on the floor
10 @ 6# medicine ball – Back Extensions w/ twist

Cool Down
15m – Stationary Bike, Hills, Level 5

Est. Cal Burn: 1020
Est. Time: 1h 20m

7-5-09, Sunday

Warm Up
15m – Elliptical, Level 4, Weight Loss Segment

Circuit

4 rounds: (about 1m break in between rounds to cool down, the humidity was insane today and my inhaler ran out)

10 @ 22lb barbell – Sumo Squat w/ one leg on step (5″ high) Left Leg
10 @ 22lb barbell – Sumo Squat w/ one leg on step (5″ high) Right Leg

10 @ 22lb barbell – Step Up w/ Kick Back, Left Leg (on a 18″ step)
10 @ 22lb barbell – Step Up w/ Kick Back, Right Leg (on a 18″ step)

1 Length – Walking Lunges, about 6 or 7 yards

30sec – Wall Sits

10 @ 22lb barbell – Deadlifts

10 @ 8lb Med Ball – Wood Cutter w/ squat (started in squat, stood and went to the left with moving the ball above my head w/ straight arms. Back Down to the squat and then back up to the right – this was 1 rep)

10 – Plyo Side Skip over 1 level of a stair step. (one skip over and back to start was 1 rep)

Ab Work

3 rounds (no breaks in between rounds)

20 – Leg Pull Ins (sat on the step up step and leaned back at a 45 deg angle and pulled my legs in to my chest)
15 sec – flutter kicks, laying on the step up step)

Time: 1h 15m
Est. Cal Burn: 954

7-6-09, Monday

Rest Day

7-7-09, Tuesday

Warm Up
10m – Elliptical Cross Ramp, Crosstraining, Level 5
5m – Stretching

Workout

4 rounds of the following – no breaks
1m – Side lunges with one leg on step box with Walk Over
1m – Regular Lunges
20 @ 15# – Dumbbell Swing
15 @ 2 15# dumbbells – Chest Press
1m – Row Machine

Cool Down
5m – Stretching

Est. Time 1h 5-10m
Est. Cal Burn 803

7-8-09, Wednesday

20m – Treadmill, Intervalls, Incline 3, 2m walk – 3.0, 1m jog – 5.0 (186 cals)

3 rounds
12 @ 35# – Squat w/ row
10 – chin ups, counterweighted at 180#
10 – dips, counterweighted at 180#

15m – elliptical cross ramp, glute trainer, resistance 7 (175c)
5m – elliptical cross ramp, cool down, resistance 4 (50.5c)

5m – stretching

Est. Time 1 hour
Est. Cal Burn 621.5

7-9-09, Thursday

13m – Elliptical Crossramp, Weight Loss Program, Resistance Level 6

3 rounds:
20 @ 8# dumbbells – lat raises
15 @ 8# dumbbells – tricep kickbacks

2m – row machine

Abs
20 – crunches
3 x 20 – v crunches
10 – v crunches
5 – 10sec planks
2 – 30sec planks

10m – elliptical, fat loss program, level 4

17m – treadmill, intervals, level 5

Est. Cal Burn: 620
Est. Time: 1 hour 5 mins

7-10-09, Friday

Rest Day