Welcome to Doggie Charm School…

Leave it, sit, stay, stay, stay, no…and a finally an occasional good dog. This is my new vocabulary. A chosen one. But words that I am already wanting to expand. Quickly. Coco and King are loved, wanted, but wow…a handful. I blame the small yippie dogs next door to us and the fact that they are allowed to bark all day long. But in reality my pups are just doing their job, too well. They need to quit. Turn in the resignation and spend their days getting spoiled. Breaking their German Shephard bad habits is my task this summer. Some days, I feel like a Master Teacher. But most days, especially today, I am struggling to get a passing grade. Shush, leave it, good dog etc works along with love and treats but they are toddlers mixed with teen brains, so my reputation is high and some days their desire to listen is low.

Their barking is the worst habit. Next up chewing if not monitored, and just overall a level of play that boggles the mind. But my day job is teaching teenagers, so if anyone has the patience, it is me…I think. This morning they wanted to get up before 5 am. Nope. We did go out to create more shit for me to pick up, but back to crates for me to choose their morning walk time. Now this time is akin to a toddler running to the next line at Disneyland, or it was. It took six weeks, but we have a routine with no pulling. No longer do I fly down the street. So, this morning, I will wait. They will wait and perhaps they will learn that I enjoy the light of the day. Or not.

Do I have suggestions? Absolutely not but my new reading genre is self-help for GSD, but if you are reading this and just found a shoe, chair or chairs in tatters. Remember you are not alone. Just stay patient, calm, and take it one day at a time. There should be a group for this…Hi, my name is Tracy, I have two GSD and no patio furniture…insert no judgement and other stories with a prayer to not find disaster awaiting you during your escape. It would fill.

***Please note, my reference to a dog discussion (self-help) group does not make light of sobriety groups. They save lives. I know that, first hand.***

I Don’t Wrap and The 35th Anniversary Gift Saga.

After thirty-five years together, it is the thought that counts and I tend to spoil. Always. But wrapping is not my thing. I learned long ago, when stores were grand, they wrapped for you. I never looked back. Now, I bag with the best of them, just don’t wrap. Don’t ask. Amazon has wrap service which delights my senses but only sometimes. This maddens me especially when the gifts are for our 35th anniversary. Now, for a non-wrapper my love language is over the top wrapping, because I know you can find good stores, that still wrap. Major hint. I asked my hubs what he wanted because I do survive on a teachers salary, unless I “lift” a credit card and deal with the repercussions. I did that once. I bought a Porsche. Yes, yes I did. We kept it, still have it. Those were the days. As we age my budget became well cut-off.

So, we are building a house. It’s all he wants. Can’t wrap that. Phew. The decor is my gig, modern nautical with island whimsy. What does that mean? I don’t know but it sounds fancy AF. I have been plotting items for two years and I definitely want a bit of old with the new. So I searched for our first two antique pieces to give it the old/new/island vibe. Obviously, pleased with myself, as they sit boxed on our kitchen table, waiting for May 28th, number thrity-five. Not as grand as a sportscar but hopefully the true thought, search, and future memories that will come from the gifts, will be perfect for a major years celebration. One that is filled with much love, patience, and moments of change as we head into our next seasons together forever.

The Nibbler

Long ago, in a land far, far away I was a no pain, no gain gal. Since my back injury. I call myself a nibbler. I get to my goals for the day or on most days but in baby bites. I don’t have any illusion, that my body will transform into goddess like looks, but I know I am moving and that is finally what matters. Obviously, I am now back to my physical normality, with limits. I am biking more than five minutes a day. In fact, I can withstand fifteen to thirty minutes, but usually stay with fifteen three to five days a week, because the grazing concept with constant adding of time works at this juncture.

So, whether your a grazer like me, couple miles walking, biking, and back to yoga or the lift till you die or break your foot, kinda gal. Go for it! Movement is movement anyway you can get it into your day. But for those that lift astronomical weights, I watch your videos in awe and fear you will drop them and scream in a pain not meant for your stories. So, please spot, because I worry. I do.

Mothers With Superpowers

All mothers have a special power or two up their sleeves. This comes from years of practice, and frankly out of necessity, because this gig is hard. The baby insta pictures melt my heart but we all know the back story of any photo shoot. Blowouts, crying, begging, the crazy money on the right outfit etc. No child smiles on command. Nope. I like the more natural instas, such as asleep in the car after miles of driving, toddlers walking the planks of planes, trying to convince a one year old that we are almost done with the ear pain, by allowing chocolate cookies to be consumed and somehow all over grandma. No tears. Perfect traveller. Grandma, certified bum status with an embarrassed son, once he awoke. Memories. I did get an airline pin and the grandma of the day award. As things could have gotten loud. Ears are real. Now he hops on the plane, eats snack, either sleeps or watches movies. He is a champ. But I always pack cookies. Chocolate, for the memories and my child’s giggles. Back to our powers. New parents, you are finding your footing, if you are pregnant you are in your own world, we will see you on the otherside with a screaming toddler in Target. I can talk you down, why, I truly have superpowers.

Mother+Teacher+Grandmother equates an obvious Mattel toy coming to stores near you. Super Mother. Hears all, sees all, knows the optimal hours of inside vs errands and bribes with the best of them, and spots a lie from 100 yards away, and can’t be fooled. Wears jeans, white tees, white sneakers, and a blazer or puffy jacket for colder moments. I could go from chasing to lunch in a heartbeat. Those were the days. I later morphed into sporty mom. Same concept but tracksuits instead of jeans. Those were the days.

Now my status took years to perfect and the methods still work on my big kid and the nugget knows what’s up. He knows I glow with superness, but yet he does have my number and I, his. He thinks he is slick but feels at times it is game-set-match, as grandma is still champion. But sometimes even supermoms have limits, especially when he is only turning five. So, whether you are a new mom, old mom, grandparent, or just celebrating your mom. Ladies, we are special and our powers at any stage are amazing. So, enjoy your flowers, gifts, cards, rushed brunches with waiting lists. We don’t do that! Or the spare bottle of champagne you put in a sippy cup for the day. I don’t judge, as we all have the best job in the world, and we are just surviving another day, even if it’s our day, the best we can.

The End of the End

This last week, I have been grumpy. One could blame the early hours, with our new pups. Nope, they are saving me by forcing a couple of miles in the wee hours of the morning, without coffee. All healthy and a true distraction from my grumpy self. I know I used grumpy twice, now three times. But it is my blog so grumpy, grumpy, grumpy.

I hate feeling off without reason. Menopause is a big umbrella excuse but often a cop-out, even though I fight the symptoms. This was a different feeling and one I have not had in a while. As a teacher, we do not miss the group we teach with weepy passion every school year, as one may wish we do. We don’t. I have danced a year or two (after dismissal) and have witnessed a variety of celebratory moves from others during my twenty-eight years. Not this year.

I rolled up with this class and with all their moments, I would do it again. This is the group that comes along every lifetime that is mixed together with societal oddness and obviously full moons, that needs to be separated from each other but individually they are amazing. This group is needy. They will be forever until they see the light. Currently, they are in complete darkness with tremendous academic growth to brag a bit about. They need love and patience and teachers with passion. Most of all patience. But as they rise through the grades, the patience falters as students should be peeking into the light and keeping up with expectations. I worry.

The end of the end of this fabulous ride is in thirteen days. I will be grumpy. Yes, that word. Until I know how to say goodbye. Right now it just hurts.

Sixty…The Art of Aging

It’s a big number that I am struggling with and dearly holding onto my 50’s like some prized possession. My writing has come to a standstill while pondering life in a new decade. Oh, I am grateful and bring on the years, but this number has stopped me in my tracks. It just sounds old. And it is, truth be told. There is no sugar coating this number, it is not the new anything. Nope. Not. I have tried to spin it and it just sounds like pure denial, and it is. So, I will not sell you on sixty. Can’t. But I have a few thoughts and high priced wisdom to share. Life has taught us to be crazy. If we just step back we realize life is meant to be simple and aging is the high art of simplicity. Being on this planet for ALMOST six decades, at the time of this blog still living my best fifty-nine year old life. Here we go, 1. Don’t give a single thought about anyone’s else’s comments about anything. For example, if you love Bravo, watch it. Just saying, and yes, it feels great to step out of my Bravo guilty pleasure. 2. Everyone should eat well, not diet. Golden wisdom right here. For free. Amazing. 3. Puppies are cute but so was thirty. Beware, drink extra coffee, and buy robotic cleaning everything so you bend far less and enjoy the puppies more. If you do make this leap, and we did, it will change you for the better. 4. Accept yourself or head to a shrink. Or both. 5. Stop trying to cook if you hate it, buy the meal kit, eat out, or throw salads together. Stop pretending that one day you will magically make food that is editable. 6. Keep fitness simple and do what you like. You are not thirty. You are not moving that way again. Just move. 7. Plan retirement but never retire just plan to continue what you love. 8. While the Chanel bag might never be yours, if you do you need one, get it! If not spoil your grandchild. The latter will be beyond any superficial item, so give up the logos. Unless it is a watch. Than go big. Really big. 9. Go to bed early. 10. Get rid of shit. Those CD’s ain’t coming back and remember a life streamlined brings peace and as we age we all need as muc as we can get!

Falling Off The Ladder of Classroom Life

I have tried to climb out of education witin the classroom setting, only to be brought back into my four walls, time and time again. I am bored. Not of kids or teaching, but the daily work. I need more. I have tried to leave to give my mind a boost, and the needed new chapter but always end up walking back into the reality of the classroom feeling labeled as just a teacher. Perhaps, I raised my hand in the interview or tied someones shoes. I do both without much thought. Don’t get me started on walking to the right. Don’t.

Obviously, when you apply for an underlying job in an agency that most of the state was cheering for you to win the lead position, there are problems. I can do any position with my hands tied around my back and eyes closed. As a teacher, I have seen it all, and understand far too much, none of which, I need in my current daily work position. The lowest yet highest level of education is where I currently reside, classroom teacher. Most of my desire to leave comes from the cocktail party circuit, “Wow, you are still in the classroom! You are a saint…yadda, yadda, yadda.” Or my favorite line. “No firm has snapped you up yet?” After an inner eye roll, as most are just uninformed and out of touch. They truly see me in their world. But I am more, just in mine. I usually joke that tying shoes and opening juice boxes is not in high demand. All giggle and we move on to world peace.

This last attempt at leaping out of my box, hurt. Now, while I am still in the running for a very long title, that I will not turn down, I have made peace that my higher-power is pointing me back to my 7th grade room, without proper air, and far too many kids. While I sweat, all day long, even with two tower fans, courtesy of one of my minimal checks. I just refer to them as beads of love. My kids do bring me joy. Normal adults cannot relate. I light up at their silliness, their attempts at jokes, and their love for me, on any given day. As this is March, I am seeing the fruits of countless weeks of repetitive directions and lessons and reteaching on a consistent loop. While not quite ready for 8th, they are almost there, and that of course is my goal.

So, while I hate to lose, and I might have…the question in my mind remains, did I not really win?


Picture getting to choose what you want to learn and when you want to learn it. That is the premise of Outschool. I joined a year ago, the same time I joined Varsity Tutors and created Mrs. Livingston’s World, my educational tutoring mini-company. A year later I am finally creating, writing, and hopefully driving students to my eventual successful educational business. Finally. Yesterday, I created my first Outschool class and actively took Varsity Tutors seriously. So, why now? The fear of boredom within my eventual retirement from the classroom. So, in essence building for my future. I have five or six years. 😅

My classes will revolve around writing. For the next three weeks, join me as I take the basic Jane Schaffer model of writing and make it friendly. I want students, that usually have tears when facing the task of paragraph creation, walk away with skills and no more tears. Below is my link to join a class and $20.00 off your first class!


I Fear Retirement

Spring Break brings me a sense of peace, quiet, and the organization and rotation of clothes (love a good closet), and silence. This brings me joy, a needed recharge, and since I am nearing the end of my career, it causes me great concern as to what’s in my future retirement plans. Long ago, in my fantasy phase, We would hop on a cruise and do the world. Yes, with the hubs. “We” would go from port to port in utter class and see the world. I priced that. Not happening. But a yearly big trip can be organized and afforded. Yes, it can. One trip a year. Just one. A cruise maybe two, Denmark, Ireland, Fiji, Australia, Philippines, Japan, Germany. Italy, and a revisit to France and England. I love to go see, go explore, and go experience other cultures. So does the hubs, he just does not like the planning or spending. But we deserve a yearly exploration. Well, that is two weeks out of the year including packing. Now what. Truly, I draw a blank. Golf? Bad back. But I do like the fact that it takes all day. Again, bad back. Not an option. Besides, had a tantrum on a course with the hubs and picked up the ball, clubs, and chucked them. They did not go far. But it felt good. We went home, clubs in tow. My hubs won’t golf with me anymore.

Volunteering. Possible but when I cross the finish line of teaching, my giving myself for free, is over. But it’s not out of my possible options. Not sure who wants a retired teacher but someone might, or in reality, I might need them more. The fear of boredom is quite real and with golf out, traveling limited, grocery shopping with my husband out, way out. Have you seen those cute couples who banter about what cut of beef they want and actually enjoy the grocery experience? We are not them.

We are building a dream home up north and have another down south. Very south. Will we spend time there? Yes. But both places are in gorgeous areas with an abundance of quiet. I like a balance. Less and less as the years go on, but purpose and a little noise in life is needed. Teach online? Get my restorative yoga certification, open a Montessori school or a yoga studio in Neebish Island? Just continue my essays and complete the book? Or just waking up everyday to a new adventure and let the day unfold…Nah. structure is needed. Heck, I even ask to go to the bathroom and always will, so while retirement scares me the options are amazing.

Education is Forever

It’s been a minute since my son was in school. His back injury, and rightly so, took away that MOJO. I was crushed for many reasons but not finishing school was one of them. After much needed introspection, I realized it was not for me but for him. Education is the one thing that cannot be taken away from you in this life. I tell my students this daily. Have a two or four year degree that will give you a position in the workforce, if needed. Have something. While our adult kid is an EMT, the back took that away. He is a stay at home dad, and the best. But one day, as all moms know, there are no cups to fill or snacks to create. I have warned him.

While not good at waiting. I waited and mentioned. Shut up and waited more, along with a few more mentions. I am annoying. A couple days ago after a few awkward texts back and forth we were led to the nugget of truth. He is taking a class. Just one, but we are thrilled. It is a step down the path of his choice, but a step in the direction of more options in life. While school is not everything for everyone the options it holds are endless. As a mom and a teacher my pride is huge, even though it might be one and done, but maybe not. The best part about school is that there is no rush or time limit. Just go, learn, meet others, and grow as a person. It’s a beautiful place and yours forever!