Category Archives looking back

Going After Your Dreams #SwitchersRemorse

Going after your dreams

Imaginative play was huge for me when I was growing up. I can still remember playing house for hours when I would have a friend over. If I was alone, I would often pretend I was a teacher and set up my room like a classroom. I had old school books, attendance logs, and more. I dreamed of being a teacher thanks to the role models I had in elementary school. I wanted to teach the next generation of learners.

In my junior year of high school, my love of science and a subtle push from my mother changed my immediate goal. Since I was a strong science student, pharmacy looked like a wonderful career. The teaching profession was highly saturated in our area and pharmacists had 100% job placement upon graduation. At the start of my senior year, I was in a first ever health explorations class and applied for early acceptance to our local pharmacy college.

Early in the fall of my senior year, I was one of the first students that had already been accepted to the college of their choice. I continued learning and watching my teachers, always dreaming of being in their shoes in a classroom of my own.

At 19, I started pharmacy school with several hundred other naïve college freshman. Freshman year was NOT what I imagined. The ideal college experience was turning into more of a horror story. Our freshman Chemistry professor had to leave because of a health emergency. This class is crucial for everything that follows. The school had other faculty members trade off portions to teach our class while they looked for a more permanent substitute for the second half of the year. This meant learning new styles of teaching and getting used to different types of tests. 

Secretly, I still dreamed of teaching. I wanted to make it through with the goal to possibly teach in a pharmacy school rather than go to a retail store and or be with patients.

Enter Organic Chemistry and second year.

I may have made it though my freshman year with too many professors to recall and wracked my brain over Calculus, but Organic Chemistry would quickly become my nemesis. Tears were shed by many of us. Many of those days were only bearable because I started to go to hockey games to scream, shout, and escape the reality that I was living in.

Fear of failing was real.

Fear of disappointing my parents was in my mind.

Fear of my dreams disappearing were also a reality.

Somehow, I made it to my third year of pharmacy school. This is the time when you switch to professional courses. I still remember a lab where we learned how to punch capsules. Each day we were told that a mistake, even a small one could kill a patient. I was withdrawing more and more.

At the end of the first semester of my third year, I was burned out. I knew I had to grow a back bone and admit to switchers remorse. While I switched and sold myself on becoming a pharmacist, my heart was not into it. The reality was that I did not want to be a pharmacist, I did not enjoy school, and I still dreamed of teaching young children. One of the hardest days was confessing to my parents just how miserable I was. They knew because they saw how I avoided being at the school and had been struggling because I was so unhappy.

That winter break, I signed up at the local community college to retake Organic Chemistry and Biology. My what a difference it was when I knew I would be following my dreams. In August, I started back to school for my undergraduate degree in elementary education. I was more grown up, focused, and ready to make my dream of teaching a reality. Being happy made such a difference. I was focused on a goal. When I made it to student teaching, I was able to breathe and know I had made the right decision.

Photos of my classroom

Going back to my dream of teaching and switching colleges was the right choice for me. I had to let go of the wrong choice I made and know that it would make me a stronger teacher and adult.

No matter what, nobody should be forced to stick with something because they are afraid of admitting to switchers remorse. Remember to follow your heart and reach for those dreams that you may have pushed aside for one reason or another. .

It's Me

Disclosure: This is a paid post for Verizon’s #SwitchersRemorse campaign. If you switched away from Verizon and are regretting it, don’t worry. They’re making it easy for customers to come back. For more information, head over to your local Verizon store. Oh and don’t wait three years to conquer your switchers remorse, do it now!

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Eight and Great

Dear JSL,

Eight years ago today, you came into the world and completed our family. Watching you grow up has taken my breath away at times. I think some of this is thanks to being able to see so much of myself in you. You get sarcasm and have certainly learned to dish it out in recent months. While most people think that you are so quiet and serious, I know a super silly and spontaneous JSL is hidden inside.

 Super JSL at almost eight

Over the last year, you have grown up so much. Right before you turned seven you set a goal to learn to ride your bike without training wheels. You did this in a matter of days and were ready for a new bike soon after that. You love to ride your bike and were so excited when Daddy pulled out a bike to clean it off and ride with you. The simple things really do make you happy.

JSL Riding a Bike

Your love for the world of art and being an artist came out a lot over the last year. You beg to do art projects and ask for gifts that are related to crafting. It should be no surprise that when it was time to get your first pair of glasses, they could not be plain. No, you insisted on a blue pair because that is what an artist would wear. We also went to a local museum where your artwork was selected to be on display. You were SO proud of this accomplishment. In addition to this, you became quite the book worm this year. Out of the blue, you learned to love reading chapter books. Solo book reading opened up the world for you and you always have a book with you. Thank goodness you still like to read with me. We are reading the Harry Potter series together and it’s fun to watch your reaction to everything taking place.

My little artist and reader

It should be no surprise that you also focused in on being more of a geek. You love Star Wars, Minecraft, Doctor Who, and superheroes. While you may drive me batty walking around humming the Imperial March, it makes me smile to see you move up from the Indiana Jones tune.

My little geek in training

Thank you for sharing these special moments with me JSL. I love you with all of my heart and am so lucky to be your mother. I can’t wait to watch you finish up second grade and continue to be excited to learn, write, explore, and create as an eight year old.



Past B-day posts to JSL:

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Favorites from 2014

When I look back at 2014, it was a year filled with changes. I did not post on my blog as much because I was focused on specific freelance work that is now over. More responsibilities came with personal life commitments. I continued to fight for public education through educating others about the corporate takeover of the educational world. Then, on the flip side, I worked hard with our school to get my son ready for the transition to middle school. Stress meant trying to give myself more time for ME. This included reading and crafting in whatever small amount of time I could squeeze in. Of course, the me time spurred an interest in pampering my own nails and starting a business which I hope to grow more in the year ahead.

Now it’s time to look back at some of my favorite blog posts that I wrote in 2014. They are in chronological order, just because it’s easier to share that way.

The Other Reality Television – An episode of Parenthood really hit a nerve with me. As a parent who has been through a child being diagnosed as on the autism spectrum, I often sit and watch the show with tears in my eyes. There is just something about Max that reminds me of my kiddo and his personal struggles with peers, school, and even family members.

Puffy Paint Snowmen and the Last Snowman Blog Tour – A friendship with artist/author JC Little spurred a memorable painting experience with my boys. We had so much fun making puffy paint and creating our own snow people that I have a feeling we will repeat it again this winter.

Last Snowman Puffy Paint Creations


Autism and Sensory Overload – In an attempt to share more with others about autism and help them to be aware, I wrote this post about sensory overload. It really can be hard to understand what it must be like, but to individuals on the spectrum they simply don’t know know that we experience the world in a different way. The video I shared is something that everyone should watch at least once.

Autism and Sensory Overload

Choose to Refuse in New York – For the second year in a row, we refused to allow our oldest son to take the New York State Math and ELA exams. This year it was my mission to get more people to understand why the tests are not something we should allow kids to take. At least 60,000 kids refused the NYS tests last year and it is expected to increase again in 2015. The following quote is what keeps me fighting for my children:

For too many years, we have been taught to blindly trust those in charge of the world of education. Right now, families across the nation and New York are standing up and saying that enough is enough. We are not going to sit back and let this testing madness continue. Our children deserve a proper public school education like past generations. If we don’t stand up and fight, the victims will be our kids who have already suffered enough in recent years.

Choose to Refuse

Capital Region CANstruction 2014 – The CANstruction events across the country are absolutely amazing and we are lucky enough to have one that takes place in the Capital Region. The boys have learned so much and they are powerful because they teach kids about helping others.

Capital Region Canstruction - Toy Story

VZWBuzz posts – There were so many during the year, but ones like Smartphone Video to the Rescue where I showed how my Lumia Icon saved the day with video remind me how lucky I am to be a member of this group of bloggers. Of course, while I am connected most of the time, my phone helps me to capture natural beauty like in Capturing Natural Beauty on the Go.

Beautiful orchid

Tuesday Tales – Grossology Exhibit – Our science museum membership got quite the workout thanks to the Grossology exhibit that was there for several months. The boys adored going multiple times to explore everything. There is just something fun about watching your child climb into a nose.

Going into Grossology at miSci NY

Saying Goodbye to Elementary School – The boys would never be in the same school again and it was an emotional time. The end of NHL’s elementary school days hit hard.

First Days of Elemtary School

Movies and Sensory Concerns – A trip to see Guardians of the Galaxy inspired a post about sensory concerns at the movies for many individuals, especially those on the spectrum.

Movies and Sensory Concerns

The Middle School Phone Debate – When a new phone arrived, it made me debate whether or not my son needed his own to head off to middle school. I listed five items to think about when making this decision in your family.

The Middle School Phone Debate

Middle School is Just What the Doctor Ordered – Worries for years started to melt away when NHL landed on his feet and loved middle school. It was hard to write this post because you never know if it could change, but I wanted to focus on the positive and share with others who are getting ready for this big transition.

Transitioning to Middle School

Tuesday Tales – The Albany Children’s Book Festival – Reading is huge in our house and the boys love getting to see the authors and illustrators behind their favorite books. We had a lot of fun catching up with several right after Halloween.

Bad Kitty sign drawn by Nick Bruel

Planning a Bar Mitzvah – Reality is coming whether I like it or not, and so is my son’s eventual Bar Mitzvah. Sharing how the planning process must move from denial state.

Bar Mitzvah Time Traditions

So many other posts with books that we adored, events that we went to, technology that I shared, and topics near and dear to my heart. Thank goodness we can look back to remind of of the year gone by and what goals we hope to accomplish in the year ahead.

What is your primary goal (I don’t like resolutions) for 2015 and why? I know for me I hope to maintain focus. If I allow little bumps in the road to allow me to have a squirrel moment, it is too easy to get districted and lose that focus.

It's Me

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Goodbye Hoffman’s Playland

Hoffman’s Playland in Latham, NY is officially no more. For 62 years, the Capital District favorite has been a treasure for families to go to. Many children rode on their first amusement park ride while at Hoffman’s.

Hoffman's Playland 2014

I remember going to Hoffman’s as a child with my parents and extended family. We rode on our favorite carousel horses, celebrated being tall enough for the bumper cars, and loved getting dizzy as a family on the Tilt O’ Whirl.

It was only natural that when NHL was born eleven years ago that we would want to take him to Hoffman’s with Nana and Papa. His first visit was in the summer of 2004. He was just shy of one and still unable to walk. Still, he loved riding on the Merry Go Round and other rides. We actually started a tradition that year where Papa would take NHL onto the horses for their annual photo together.

Hoffman's Playland 2004

Hoffman’s was a place where we could all be a kid at heart and let our hair down. We could scream at the top of the roller coaster hill, or watch the beautiful scenery while taking the classic train around the park.

Hoffman's Playland 2007

When JSL was born, we took both of the boys to Hoffman’s and continued the tradition. Of course, big brother loved showing JSL all of his favorite rides.

Hoffman's Playland 2008

A few weeks ago, NHL decided that he wanted to go to Hoffman’s on his birthday. We knew it would likely be our last adventure to the park several generations of our family have grown up with. It was bittersweet walking around and thinking of this piece of local history gone.

While we will miss Hoffman’s, I am thankful for all of the memories. We still do not know if the rides may be in another location next year, I know that the boys and I will always have the magical moments from years gone by.

If you have ever been to Hoffman’s Playland and have memories to share, I would love to hear them in the comments below.

It's Me

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Saying Goodbye to Elementary School

First Days of Elemtary School

Watching your child grow up often comes with mixed emotions. This week has given me so many of those moments all at once. Monday morning, I cried driving the boys to school.


It hit me on the ride over that it would be the last Monday I would ever be taking both boys to the same school. NHL and JSL will never be in the same school again. This was the last year. The kids saw that I had tears in my eyes and asked why. I was honest and told them. They were so sweet and held my hands on the way into school. Clearly, they knew that Mom needed a little TLC.

Of course, more emotions were there on the last full day that both boys would be in the same school. Over the last month or so, I have watched each afternoon as NHL and JSL would grab each others hands and walk to my car. They would go ahead of me and talk about gym, lunch, class time, and homework. There was something special about this time and I will miss witnessing it.

Brothers Holding Hands after School

Now, the school year is basically complete. I wanted to cherish all of this more, but living in the moment you often forget to do this. What hurts most is knowing there were days that I wanted this school year to be over, but in reality I never did. I liked knowing that the boys had each other in the same building if there was ever an emergency. I loved being able to see both of their smiling faces if I happened to stop by to help in one classroom or the other.

In September, things will be different. NHL will be off to a new adventure in middle school and JSL will continue along for the next four years in elementary school. As summer break is about to begin, my goal is to relax and enjoy the time with the boys. I want to have fun, explore, and help them to make special memories. We will try not to worry about the unknown that lies ahead of us with middle school and keep focused on summer and the next two months we have together.

It's Me

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