Friday, May 08, 2015

Happy Mother's Day. Keep on Keeping On!

In honor of Mother's Day weekend, I feel compelled to trot out two little re-shares. They're both so good they deserve many repeat views. Happy Mother's Day, you all! For all we do, here's (1.) a big laugh, and (2.) a heartfelt wish.

First, the by-now-famous post by blogger Jen Hatmaker about the hell that is mothering at the tail end of the school year. Get ready to laugh until you cry.

Seriously, when this post was initially published two years ago and I read it for the first time, all I had to do for a long time afterward was glance at the photo of Jen's son in that ad-hoc Ben Franklin costume--that game expression on his face!--and I would literally laugh out loud, over and over again. It was especially fitting at the time because I had a third grader in the middle OF THE EXACT SAME PROJECT (although she was Abigail Adams, not Ben Franklin).

Now, I have another third grader in the middle of this same project (Albert Einstein), so once again that part of the post is particularly true-to-life for me. But honestly it's the whole thing. This is parenting elementary-school-age children in May. The chaos is unrelenting. The end-of-year field trips, programs, projects, special events, concerts, and ceremonies are endless. It feels like years of school special events and activities are compressed into the last five weeks of school. Why? Whyyyyyyyy.

Second, once again, Kelly Corrigan's Mother's Day wish for all you mamas out there. You'll love it, and we all deserve it. Enjoy. (If you can't watch it here, click over to the youtube link and watch it there.)

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

April Showers

Friends! It's been too long.

What have we been up to over here? Other than spring break and Easter, I'm not really sure, but I do have a (very) few photos.

The week before break, I took a personal day from work ONLY because I get two per year and if I don't use one, I lose it (I can carry over the second). It says something about my job that I wasn't really even very interested in taking a day off, but it just seemed like I'd better do it. I mean, who gives up a "free" personal day? At any rate, I cashed in the gift certificate for a mani/pedi that my dear friend V. in Texas sent me for my birthday. She had called a local nail salon in my town and made arrangements. It was lovely:

Since I used the rest of the afternoon for my annual mammogram, the salon treatment sort of saved the day. I loved it. Thank you, V.!

Spring break was not at all spring-y, but we did escape the ten inches of snow that attacked our town mere hours after we left to drive north to visit my folks. (Yes, we drove 300 miles NORTH, but the weather was LESS wintry up there. Which is not to say it was nice, just that it did not snow ten inches. Ha.)

One day during some shopping, Julia and I happened upon this wall plaque, which Julia wanted me to buy for my bestie for her upcoming birthday. I did not, but I texted her this photo (I'll let you guess her hair color):

After our trip north, we still had some days left on break, so I took the girls to the Science Museum of Minnesota to see the big new Space exhibit. I forced Julia to stand in this astronaut scene so I could take a photo of the two of them:

You can tell from her face that she's basically saying, "I'm humoring you, Mama." Which is fine!

We didn't have any plans for Easter this year, but I cooked my ham dinner (the girls love it and look forward to it), including this pretty dessert which was a big hit with a little vanilla ice cream:

What's not to like, right?

And last night was Julia's last elementary-school choir concert. She "graduates" from 5th grade in less than two months (gah!), which means she's on to the middle school in the fall. SIGH...... No, I am not ready.

As usual, spring has been crazy-busy and also cold. In addition to spring break, Easter, and the choir concert, we've also had parent-teacher conferences and in upcoming days/weeks we have the school's annual arts/literacy festival (Genevieve is reading an original poem), the 3rd-grade's annual Famous Americans program (Genevieve is going to be Albert Einstein, love it), and I've got two work events and the middle school parent meeting, plus four birthdays and planning for the rest of spring (read: elementary school graduation, Julia's 11th birthday, grandparents visiting).

Somewhere in there I will find out whether or not I have this job again next year. Since right now there is no sign of any new ASD-diagnosed kiddos joining our school in the fall, and one of our current students needs less classroom support than he did at the beginning of the year, at least one of us may be out of a job. (This kind of position is dependent on the number of students who need special ed services of each type, each year.) I'd be fine with dropping down to part-time (which every mom I know who works full-time as an educational assistant would prefer, truthfully--we are always talking about how crazed we feel trying to manage everything at home in addition to working full-time), but if my job is no longer after the first week of June, I will cry. Truly.

But for now, onward! The last two months of having both my babes at the same neighborhood school--where I work, even!--is upon me. That is not lost on me. I'm savoring every day.

I hope you are, too!


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

March Madness

 Oh, hey there. Yikes, it's been quiiiite awhile.

Clearly, my new-ish life as a working mom and the act of writing do not exactly go hand in hand. As in, I don't really have time to write.

Seeing as it's almost spring break (for the kiddos and for me), and the last time I wrote here was, what, Valentine's Day or something?, well, there's no way to fully fill you in on 4+ weeks of mothering life. You probably wouldn't even want me to. So, a few moments that stand out from my memories of mid-to-late winter around these parts:
  • I experienced WAY too many barely-above-zero and/or windchill-below-zero recesses at school/work. The ONLY part of my job I dislike: recess duty in January/February. Good Lord Almighty humans should not be outdoors in that kind of weather.
  • The girls played a lot of indoor basketball on frigid boring weekends. A LOT.
  • This has been the first winter (in the NINE winters we have lived here) the little hill in our backyard has not been used for sledding. I could cry, just typing out that realization. Because the KIDS ARE GROWING UP. 
  • I gained my usual deep-winter ten pounds. Gah. Meh. Extreme winter in the northlands = carbs & lethargy = ten extra pounds. What are you gonna do? Sigh. Not even my active job could keep these pounds away, apparently. Note to self: fewer cookies, more running.
  • My arthritis flared up, leading to more skipped runs than usual (see: the gaining of ten pounds, above).
  • Work = happiness. I love the structure and the kiddos and the social connections and the comfort of a familiar place where you are needed and others are happy to see you every morning no matter what else is going on in the world at large. Thank God for that.
  • It was spring for one week, when it reached the 60s and all the snow melted. (Last week.) Now it's late winter again, albeit with no snow. But the temp is once again CHILLY.
  • I fell in love with Zach Braff's little Kickstarter-funded indie movie from last summer, "Wish I Was Here," and its hypnotic soundtrack. So I'm approximately seven months late to this particular experience. Better late than never.
  • Starbucks unsweetened chilled coffee for home (cheapest at Target! fyi!); Lena Dunham's memoir (hide from the kiddos, much adult content); Girl Scout cookies; these yummy chocolate bars (which come in lots of other flavors too); weekend days doing childcare for Genevieve's best friend and thus temporarily having three daughters; lazy dinners; coooold walks. 
Parenting school-agers continues in all its confusing, rewarding, confounding glory and chaos. Never, EVER a dull moment, you all. Chins up, soldier on.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Holy Moly Me Oh My

Hey, you all! I apologize in advance for the randomness that will be this post. Much like my brain, it will jump all over the place in a potentially annoying fashion.

So it was my birthday this week. Thankfully, much ado was not made over my continued aging. Just the right amount of ado, actually: friends stopping by with coffee and unexpected and unnecessary gifts, my daughters picking out cupcakes at the local cupcake shop, a free hoagie for dinner with my fam at our town's favorite sandwich place (which gives you a free sandwich on your birthday if you show them your driver's license--ouch). I also squeezed in a six-mile run, which occurred immediately before I gave up all exercise for the remainder of the week due to ridic cold weather and a crazy busy life that drains my energy on the regular. Oh, and then the next day after work I had a surprise gift waiting for me on my car's windshield (love small towns!!), left by a girlfriend who knows my car, knows where I spend my working hours, and knows that I park in the exact same place on the same street by the school every single day--ha. :) SO NICE.

This week also included the girls' Valentine's parties at school and a field trip for my 5th grader. Of course, seeing as how I'm working all day, I did not volunteer at either party nor chaperone the field trip, BUT I did shepherd a few of our special ed kiddos through their classroom festivities, and popped my head into Genevieve's next-door 3rd-grade classroom at one point to see what was up and give her a quick kiss. Have I mentioned how much I LOVE working at my girls' school?!? Nothing better.

Julia started Saturday basketball, swimming lessons continued, and tae kwon do resumed after a week's break plus one lesson that had to be cancelled because of a winter storm. We are not lacking for things to do.

Every time I see something like this (or this), I wonder why the heck am I not wearing bikinis every day at the pool in the summer? Because whatever my particular body dissatisfactions (we all have them!), I have discovered over the years that I have been blessed with a belly that shows no sign of past pregnancies/childbirth and that this is fairly unusual. Who knew?!? Moms don't go around comparing their bare bellies. BELIEVE ME, I think Cindy et al are gorgeous and perfect as-is, and BELIEVE ME, I have other body "imperfections" that I despise, but my midsection is not one of them, and it suddenly occurred to me that THIS WILL NOT LAST. I'm getting old, people. (See: previous discussion of birthday.) Why am I not wearing a two-piece while I can?! Good grief. I should have been happily baring my belly for the last ten years.

And lastly, are you crushing on the Glee version of Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes' song  "Home" as much as I am? If not, you should be!

Carry on.

Monday, February 02, 2015

No Time for Rest

Just popping in to show you this dollop of awesomeness:

This is the Old Navy activewear top I just ordered (because I was also ordering a new tunic to wear with leggings to replace the one that got irrevocably stained at work (see: work at elementary school), had a bunch of credit card rewards dollars, plus got my entire order (which included another needed item too) on sale for 40% off, which meant a final bill of $4.90, omg).....

Because, seriously, HOW COULD I NOT ORDER THIS. It's the theme shirt of my full-time-working-mom life!

Happy Monday, you all.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Wait for It.

Oh, my dear ones. I am so falling down on the job. This will be my remembered refrain of the 2014-2015 school year: "I am falling down on the job!"

Not the ACTUAL, paying job, of course; I feel (and hope I am right) that I am performing that job quite well. It's the other job, the one of mommy and household manager/CEO, whose tasks I cannot seem to get done or stay on top of. (Clearly I can no longer stay on top of grammar, either, given that last sentence.)

I have not printed out photos for our family albums since the first day of school. Nope, not from Halloween or fall field trips. Not from the 5th-grade fall choir concert or Thanksgiving. Not from CHRISTMAS, nor New Year's, nor the school Winter Sings. Nothing. I do not have time to sort and cull and decide and order. I have tried, and yet, it has not been done.

This is just one example, of course. Life continues to be insane. I dropped mother-daughter book club after failing to obtain the month's reading selection for three months' straight. I consistently run out of groceries before finding the time to replenish; I can't count how many last-minute gallons of milk I've procured. I skip household chores on the daily and then have to catch up at some other, dirtier time. I rely too often on freezer convenience foods for my growing girls, eaten fast between homework and Tae Kwon Do lessons. I have yet to figure out anything regarding new guitar lessons for Julia, although I gave her a bigger-kid, "real" guitar for Christmas.

(Let's ignore the fact that she begged and begged for one and has not touched it since she received it. GAH..... But there is no time for regret.)

True, January has probably been the worst month, a somewhat atypical example, for all this, due to Christopher's numerous absences for bike race trips. It's a hard month to solo-parent: all the putting away of the holiday decorations, the purging and re-organizing the small house to accommodate new possessions received as gifts, the harsh weather that discourages outings and outdoor play, the low light, the cabin fever. Things will likely improve as winter wears on and life changes bit by bit by bit, again.

But still.

The good news is that I love my full-time job--the paying one, the one that's turned my mom-and-housewife life upside down--immeasurably.

Oh, this job. This job may be the savior of my mental health as I enter the dark years of tween parenting. As I said to my friend Kath the other day (another full-time SAHM-turned-working-mom, who also works in a school now), it is a blessing, when your children seem to fight with each other nonstop during every waking moment of the day and you swear you can actually feel your blood pressure rising as a result, to be able to go somewhere else every morning where you can (and need to) turn your attention away from your own children/home/life and instead focus 100% on other children, with other needs, and other everything. Who knew?!

Nothing makes me happier than showing up at work each day to the smiling faces of my supervisor and co-workers, and to spend the next 7-1/2 hours in a busy whirlwind of elementary school children and teachers and classrooms and the six busy boys in our Neurobiological program. Love it love it love it. Hallelujah. How did I get so lucky.


Monday, January 12, 2015

Solo Parenting in the Arctic

So! No, we haven't dropped off the face of the earth. We DID all finally recover from the illness Armageddon that was Christmas break. And, the New Year is off and running in all its usual frigid glory. If you call -35 below windchills glory.

Last week we all returned to school (= work for me) and it was so unfathomably cold that the kiddos had indoor recess the entire week. And we have hard-core recess weather rules, too, people. A week of indoor recess means that for five straight days, the windchill was colder than 10 below zero. Because, believe it or not, the kids (and playground supervision staff! which would be me!) go out if it is, say, nine below zero with the windchill. Which, um, I believe is what conditions are going to be like TODAY. Lord help me.

I've been on my own for a week, while Crazy Biker Husband (as in bicyclist, not as in motorcycle gang) does a 200K winter wilderness trail bike race in Idaho. In case you are wondering, 200K means you're biking for, like, 28 hours straight.

The last time he did this bike race, I was a stay-at-home mom. It was challenging and tiring being a solo parent for a week in the winter, but now that I'm doing it as a full-time working mom, I look back on that week last year and think, OMG whyyyyy did I think that was hard??? Because I had all day while the girls were in school to get everything else done that no one was around to do but me.

This time around it's not all that different from regular life--trying to fit everything in around work hours, juggling the kids' activities and the shopping and all the rest--because I do all that all the time anyway, but it's more like nothing ever slows down or ends or really gets done when there's only one adult around. Sometimes you really, really need someone ELSE to run to the store at the last minute to get more children's ibuprofen, you know? Luckily, I have some of the best friends on the planet, who have my children over to play and help me out more than anyone should be expected to do.

But. The girls and I still make a pretty good team when we're on our own. After surviving the week of one-parent at home and frigid cold at school/work, we went out for dinner on Friday night and, naturally, got ice cream for dessert. Because that's what you do when you're Minnesotan, apparently. We managed the homework and chores and a freak child accident/injury (all is OK) and the usual bedtime angst and the start of a new swimming lesson session, and survived the weekend intact, if just barely. We'll survive another frigid January week too, of course--what choice do we have?

But inside we're all dreaming of summer afternoons at the pool.

And with that, I'll leave you with this favorite poem that I may have shared with you in previous winters, one that seems fitting right now:

I Heard a Bird Sing
Oliver Herford

I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December.
A magical thing
And sweet to remember.

"We are nearer to Spring
Than we were in September,”
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December.

(Sorry for the wonky text placement; cannot for the life of me figure out why it's doing that and it won't change.)

Soldier on, my shivering friends!