About & Welcome

However you found this site, welcome!

The most recent posts on this site show up on the entry page. Specific pages with relatively static content are at the top of the sidebar. If this is your first introduction to me, you might want to read the static pages first to get a feel for my interests and passions. Older sites I maintained have not been updated in several years, although they still exist. You can check out babblestory.com, qualitywordworks.com if you wish, but they are both out of date!

[Most recent update May 2023.]

The purpose of this website is two-fold: to allow people who know me to easily find all my projects and interests in just one place, and to provide a platform by which I can establish a sort of “brand” for this name which I have been using for well over twenty years now.

If you know me in person, you may be surprised to find my finger in so many pies. If you know me from online adventures only, you may be interested to know how truly boring and mundane my real-time life actually is!

I am shy and rather awkward in person, especially in large social groups, but I enjoy sitting down with friends over tea, or walking through public gardens and museums. Some people misconstrue my lack of engagement or reclusiveness as being standoffish, but really I am just overwhelmed by trying to keep track of meeting everyone’s expectations. Added to the discomfort I feel in crowds of more than 3 or 4 people, I also have serious allergic reactions to some personal care and laundry products, animals, and other common household items (as well as a long list of foods and plants, see the link at the bottom of the page for some of the specific foods, but not all are covered in this list) and so I often have a physical reaction to being around people, and rarely eat food not prepared at home. I completely lose my shyness in gardens!

I earned a basic college degree, but my only jobs after college needed no more than a high school diploma and perhaps a class or two of college math. Since soon after the birth of our elder child I had been a full-time mother with occasional temporary work on the side for friends and family. In 2011 I earned a Master’s in Teaching, subbing in local schools to pay for student loans, and in 2013 after (to us) a devastating house fire I landed my first full-year position teaching middle school Language Arts. In 2014 I started a new phase teaching elementary school.

If you are wondering if the allergic reactions mentioned above impact my teaching, the answer is yes: because the allergies are increasing in number as well as in severity and frequency, occasionally I have to take booster antihistamines and I carry epipens as well as an inhaler. In years past I would use a strong air-scrubber in my classroom most of the year to minimize the dust, smoke (wood stoves + agricultural burning), and chemical irritants (but in the covid era that requires open windows that is not possible) and I can no longer spend much time in the staff room because one of the newer allergies is to laser printers… which of course the staff printer is in the staff room! I doubt I could still teach middle school or high school… but the younger students are rarely as covered in chemicals as older people!

Another factor of “me-ness” is that the mobility issue of pain in my hips/knees (mostly the hips in recent years) returned with a vengeance in the summer of 2019. It was so bad that I finally bought a wheelchair… and discovered freedom and the joy of teaching pain-free. The school year was going very well…. and then Covid. In the summer of 2020 I made an appointment with an orthopedist I had seen once before and received a referral to yet another kind of doctor (we’re still looking to pin down the cause of the “idiopathic” pain although I know the hips subluxate!!!!) only to have a major family crisis a few days later that put my health on the back burner. I am still occasionally using the wheelchair, but since both Tom and I have been working at home for a year+ and he can reset my hips frequently I have made some small progress in ability to walk longer distances over uneven surfaces. I will continue to use a wheelchair at school unless I am in the classroom, however, because my current distance record using just a cane is about 1000 feet – hardly far enough to get from the car to my classroom, let alone teach and get students where they need to be.

In the 2020-2021 school year I requested and was assigned a fully remote position suppporting families whose K-5 students chose to be remote with no choice to return to in-person. Although the roll-out of the program was extremely poorly executed, in part due to lack of preparation on the part of the district, in part due to the service provider, and in part due to issues in my home life, the students learned a lot, the families learned a lot, and I learned  A LOT. Because I was able to be vaccinated in the spring, starting in August 2021 I returned to 3rd grade in-person instruction.

What else is new? We lost a lot of friends and family in the last few years, mostly not directly due to covid although our beloved brother-in-law David did succumb to that disease. Our garden is looking well-loved since the amazing Pedro finished a path to and enlarged that little patio by the goldfish pond in 2021 (making it wheelchair accessible allows me to work on that space independently!). I put up a birdfeeder that spring and we had one batch of Junco fledglings before the end of school. A second brood was not successful. It was not the same mama bird because she build an entirely new nest on top of the original one in the wreath by the front door…  perhaps a daughter of the original builder?

Also in 2021 I started a youtube channel called Stidmama Sews which has one or two videos up – again health and family needs slowed me down, but I have the raw material for another post which will appear “sometime.” The impetus for the channel was wanting to document my growth as a seamstress and costumer – I have been reinvigorated this last year by watching amazing “Costubers.” You can see more on the Stidmama Sews page on this website (see the menu).

Some technical details about this site… our domain host is DreamHost, and we use WordPress as the CMS/blog software. WordPress is free, but requires some ability to understand what to upload and how to connect things on your server — probably not for blogging beginners. If you are looking for a domain host, and decide to use DreamHost, there is a bit of a bonus to us if you tell them we sent you. From a personal point of view, we have used them for well over a decade and they provide good service with only one short downtime that I can remember. Tom handles the technical stuff, but from what I remember early on with the user interface for them it was pretty straighforward and easy to use. For me, easy is the deciding factor!

Kathleen’s Dining Guide (takes you to a new tab: “Snack Safely” website)

OLD content from this page is below!

In 2007 when this was originally published, I wrote: I am a forty-plus mother of two, spouse of one, pack leader if you prefer (my dogs do). I like to garden, sing, paint, draw, play on the computer, write, dream and make pretty things.

I imported previous blog entries from stidmama.blogspot.com and the wordpress blog I kept at the family website — these are not well-labeled, and the timeline overlaps.  But it extends the archives back an extra couple years.

I still occasionally make a tech post on my livejournal site… but now usually cross-post between both when I have something to say about technology.

If you wish to read the story I write (was working on before I went back to school), please visit Babblestory.com. Like so many of my projects, the story had to take a break while I was a student again, and hasn’t been picked up again (yet). Soon, I hope!

(2014): I am a fifty-ish mother of two, spouse of one, teacher of many; student, learner, gardener, singer, painter, artist, time-waster, writer, and dreamer. After a long and difficult 18 months following a house fire, the residents are fewer in the home, but the garden remains, and we are all growing and improving daily — as the plants do.

Now (August 2020): I am on the downslope side of 50 and rushing -so it seems- toward 60. I spent the last year in a wheelchair for the same hip/joint issues that have plagued me since 1981 or 1982…  But the last teaching year was the BEST year because I could teach without pain and with a lot less exhaustion. I no longer need the chair at home, but use crutches for longer distances on flat ground and the chair when the distance is uncertain or the terrain is uneven (as when walking Wally). We are STILL trying to figure out why I am having trouble, but it will happen.

More on 2020: And of course, “COVID.” I continue to teach, but the coming year (2020-2021) due to health concerns I am stepping out of the in-person classroom and into a position supporting online “homeschooling” families who will officially be enrolled in the school but using an online learning program: I am going to be a family support person more than a teacher, but that’s a good way for me to keep my foot in the door while I figure out my health issues. And we had hired a landscaping contractor (hello Pedro!) to finish a ramp to the front patio in March, so once the weather improved (July of course, when I have been at home for so long…) I have been able to be outside gardening and working. So finally it has irrigation, and FINALLY it feels “complete.” On one side…  need to replace the lovely Quince which has been ailing since the house was rebuilt. It’s a good respite from the worry and stress of the pandemic and the terrible mismanagement of national relief/almost total lack of reliable guidance from the federal government. [stepping off soapbox]

(this paragraph was written in 2014) I have had a small business doing minor web design; and another making greeting cards and small clothing items (currently hand-painted scarves and ties). Those activities were put on hiatus while I attended graduate school for a Master’s in Teaching, and then while I got my career started. Now that we are “home” again I hope to begin painting again, and perhaps add in some web design later.

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