Saturday, April 19, 2014

Mother's Day preview

Every day when I come in to work at my daughters' school, I take the long way from the front office to the special ed classroom, just so I can go down the 2nd grade hallway past Genevieve's room. I don't often see her face then, but I walk right past the large kid projects that her teacher hangs in the hallway. Because they always include original writing on some sort of theme, these art projects are endlessly entertaining.

The other day after school, Genevieve excitedly told me to look for the big Mother's Day project her class had been working on. They were mounted in the hall now, awaiting May, but I could peek at hers as I walked by. So yesterday I did.

The children had made acrostic poems using their moms' first names, on large, painted pieces of paper. I was walking quickly, in a hurry to clock in (plus I didn't want to completely ruin my Mother's Day surprise), so I didn't read Genevieve's entire poem---descriptions of me to match each letter of my name. But I did catch one of the N's: "Never eats fruit dip."

Very true. And, starts with N.

I laughed out loud all the way down that hall.

Sunday, April 13, 2014


There is very little time to write when life is this full.

Life is very, very full. In a good way. I mean, most likely to many people who are not extreeeeeme introvert homebodies like me and limited-stamina munchkins like my daughters, our life isn't that full. But trust me: full enough to keep my head spinning most days and cause me to visit the supermarket three times in one week because I kept forgetting random needed items because my brain is in a million places most of the time.

It's funny. I thought my baby/toddler/preschooler parenting days were busy--and they were. CRAZY busy. No sleep, never-sit-down, need-need-need busy. But that kind of busy is busy in a different way, one that generally involves staying home and not interacting with very many people on a daily basis. Ha.

Nowadays life as a mom of school-agers is busy with swimming lessons once/week, tae kwon do classes twice/week, guitar lessons whenever we can sneak them in plus practice every day, and an actual paying job at a real workplace with other people every afternoon. It's the opposite of parenting babies/toddlers/preschoolers. It's all out-there-in-the-world vs. inside-in-the-nursery-with-just-you-and-the-wee-ones. It's all run-run-run and fit-it-all-in. It's a lot more stimulation and external engagement than I'm used to. It gives every day the excitement of a race--not the must-win, pressure-filled variety but more like the birthday-party-relay-games sort. Just enough adrenaline to keep us all going nonstop from alarm clock to bedtime reading.

At their annual school arts fair the other week.

In the middle of school-day, work-day parenting, I'm slooooowly getting back in shape from the frigid winter and the household bouts of sinus infections and ear infections and strep throat that derailed me completely. Last evening I ran hills for the first time since last autumn, and my quads reminded me all night long (sorry, legs; Advil forthcoming).

Work is great and I'm halfway through the four months of this temporary job. I won't know until late May whether I might be offered something for next school year or not. Fingers crossed; nothing guaranteed. 

I've decided to start a cooking project where I start at the beginning of the ENORMOUS homemade binder of torn-out and printed-off recipes I've collected over the last few years (OMG, enormous, so enormous--and that's just one book! don't even get me started on my cookbooks and the drawer of extra, loose recipes that don't fit anywhere else) and systematically make every recipe I've never tried before, one by one and in order (but for now I'm concentrating mainly on entrees). OMG! Can you imagine? OK, so I just started this the other day. Like, maybe one recipe ago. But yesterday I bought the ingredients for West African Peanut Soup and Linguine with Greens, Feta, and Almonds, so watch out, family!

 Not an entree and not a recipe I've never made before. But good. Gooooood.

Spring is here. Um, sort of? It's not snowing and the grass is tinged with green, so let's call that spring. Hallelujah!

See? Biking at the park and wearing Danskos without socks: spring.

Genevieve is plowing through all the Harry Potters, and Julia and I just finished our April Mother-Daughter-Book-Club pick, Odette's Secrets --a good one by the way, moms of 9 to 12-year-olds, fyi.

Easter is on the horizon and although normally we don't travel or host for it and do nothing more than enjoy whatever the Easter Bunny brought and maybe eat a special dinner, this year I've been invited to bring the girls to the church where their guitar teacher (who is a very talented middle schooler) and his family attend, to see him play in the church band during the Easter service. OK, that grammar was horrible but it's early and I've only had one cup of coffee so go easy on me.

And that's the random round-up of our full, full, cozy, busy, wonderful life. Hope things are going likewise happily for you. After all, it's spring. What can go wrong??


Thursday, April 03, 2014

They Will Probably Go Out and Shoot Hoops in the Snow.

Hi, friends! Just a quick pop-in to say hello and mention that, despite strep throat, we finished up Spring Break with minimal damage. We even got back to the reptile zoo we visited last year--and yes, Big Al the 14-foot alligator is still there. Yikes!

The girls went back to school--and I to work--on Tuesday, the same day tae kwon do class started up again. So we've been busy. Tonight is the annual arts and literacy fair at the girls' school, and I am reminded of other years when we've left our jackets in the car and walked to the building in warmth and sunshine. Not so much this year, since a storm with 9-12 inches of snow is forecast to begin tonight and last into tomorrow. Ahhhhh.....yes. Still planning my out-of-state move. At least in my fantasies.

After the 10 days of three-girl fun and nonstop companionship that was school vacation, this week has felt a bit jarring, I admit. I must be ready for summer. Yesterday I met up with the kiddos after school/work and, as soon as snack and a little homework were finished, they suited up and ran outside to shoot baskets with our new (used) portable basketball hoop that threatens to fall on and kill me every time I have to roll it out onto the driveway after school because the pole is twice my height and non-adjustable and oh my goodness have you ever tried to roll out (horizontally, because it has to lie down in our garage due to said height and we can't leave it out because we have a homeowners' association) a ten-foot basketball hoop and then TIP IT UPRIGHT without killing yourself when you're about 5'3" and 110 lbs. and it's windy and the driveway slopes? omg.....

Um....lost track of that sentence, sorry. Anyway, they ran out to play and then pretty soon asked if they could go to the nearby park with their neighbor friend, which they do now, and I said yes, and by 5:20 they still weren't back (uh....time to assign watches and return times) and I thought to myself, So, parenting big kids is going to be lonely, isn't it? I'm starting to get that sense.

Ugh, you all! Banish the thought. Also banish the thought of 9-12 inches of snow, gah!

Peace, love, spring. Think those kinds of thoughts instead.

Talk soon. xo

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Best Laid Spring Break Plans...

Right after I wrote my post yesterday, Julia threw up and has had a sore throat and fever ever since, so I am bringing her in to the clinic this morning for a strep test. It wouldn't be Spring Break if poor Julia didn't end up sick.

I guess this is a reason to be glad we're not on some warm trip to Florida or Mexico or Hawaii or Nashville or wherever, like so many families we know. It would be worse to have a truly sick child while far away on vacation than when home in your own town with your own clinic and pediatrician.

And that's called "the bright side."

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Spring/Winter/Spring? Break

My kiddos and I are on Spring Break. It began last Friday afternoon, just in the nick of time, and goes through next Monday.

It has been so, so cold. So depressingly cold and wintry. This is the springiest outfit I have worn so far this year, and it involved cords, so that should tell you something. The bare ankles were honestly too cold for conditions. I barely left the house that day so I got away with it for a few hours.

We have watched "Frozen" on DVD (purchased with intense excitement the day it came out, naturally) twice so far during break. It seems remarkably fitting.

On Monday it turned dark and snowy, and we ate treats in front of the fireplace at Caribou.

So spring-y, I know.

(An aside: During that coffeehouse snack above, Genevieve suddenly turned to me and said, "Mama, remember the old days of afternoon kindergarten and our morning coffee dates at James Gang [coffeehouse]?" And then I simultaneously laughed at my seven-year-old 2nd-grader saying "the old days" when remembering her kindergarten year, and secretly cried inside with nostalgia for when my baby was a kindergartner.)

Despite the weather, I am thoroughly enjoying being home with my girls. We have been staying in pajamas for long periods of time, watching movies, making cookies, and playing school. We have been running errands and going to the college rec center to shoot baskets. We have been taking bubble baths in the morning. We have done a LOT of reading.

And it's only Wednesday.

Right now, however, I would give my eyeteeth for just a smidgen of warmth. Just a bit of sun, the snow disappearing, and temperatures even approaching comfortable. Yesterday morning the windchill was below zero. On the news they kept saying it was January weather. It sure doesn't feel like Spring Break, that's for sure. We are still wearing parkas and boots.

Vivi and I have decided we need to move to California. I'm pretty sure Julia's on board with this plan, too.

Meanwhile, we'll just be here making our own "staycation" fun over Spring Break. Enjoy your week wherever you are and whatever you're up to! xo

Friday, March 14, 2014

What Day is It?

I've been having the kind of month (season? year?) where you (I) can't keep straight what day or date it is. Do you ever do that? I keep writing emails to friends and using the wrong day to describe what's going on this week. Or, I'll be looking at supermarket coupons and trying to figure out if they've expired or not yet, and it literally takes me a minute or two to figure it out. (Yes, I do use coupons. My supermarket puts out great ones and yesterday I bought $150 worth of groceries for $111.) Like, I will stare at it and think, "3/15/14. Is that day over? March 15th. What day is it? We're past that day. Oh, wait! No we're not." This goes on for a long, long time.

This state of mind isn't so unusual, for me or probably most other moms; when the kiddos are young and growing up, our lives are often a whirlwind of kids and meals and school events and homework, and there's often scarcely time to think straight. But I think this month it has been magnified by a.) my husband being gone for over a week for a bike-race trip earlier this month, which meant there really HASN'T been time to think straight lately, b.) my job, which I definitely love but which has generated ripple effects on my life as a stay-at-home mom that I am still getting used to,  and c.) the unfortunate fact that everything seems to have been scheduled for the same three-to-four-or-so-week period: doctor check-ups, parent-teacher conferences, annual mammogram, various school events and work trainings, etc. You'd think that fact would help keep the date firmly in mind each day, but no. All it does is make me frantically consult my calendar on a near-constant basis to make sure my kids and I are where we're supposed to be at the moment.

It's all good, though. The world is melting. Water is running in the gutters. The skating pond is no more. (Well, it's still there; but now it's a goose habitat.) I have received my first regularly scheduled paychecks (i.e., not unpredictable book royalties or random freelance/coaching/consulting payments)--two of them, as of today--in nearly ten years. They go straight into my own checking account like, paychecks do when you're paid for your work. Okay, so they're tiny; it doesn't matter. It's a big deal.

Maybe it's not all good. With every passing day I can't keep track of, my babies keep growing bigger and older. That may be "good" in some theoretical way in the grand scheme of life, but almost daily I just want to wail, Noooooooo! and stop the clock. Of course I've said this countless times here before. But I can still be brought to tears by a fleeting impressionistic memory of driving around town with babies in carseats in the back, or of taking toddlers to library storytime, or of having company at home in the mornings. It feels how I imagine a phantom limb must feel.

Ah, best not to think too much about that. It's March. Tonight is Family Movie Night at my girls' school. It's time to make green cookies. Spring Break is a week away. The "Frozen" soundtrack still runs on repeat around here. Winter is waning. The sun is stronger every day, and so are we I guess.

Happy whatever-the-heck-day/date-it is. Enjoy your weekend. xo

Monday, March 03, 2014

Standing Frozen in the Life I've Chosen* (*sorry Demi Lovato)

out for a verrry cold walk a couple of weekends ago. don't let the grin fool you. it was not pleasant outside.

I am starting to think longingly of living in California. As a lifelong resident of the four-season Midwest, I never thought I would say that. But I read a couple of blogs by California moms, and their photos each day of sun, green grass, leafy trees, and kids in shorts instead of snow pants are starting to kill me. I spend a little too long gazing longingly at them.

It is "meteorological spring" today. No, I'm not sure what that means either, but it's something they said on the radio and it sounds momentous so just go with me here. It is March 3rd, at any rate. Do you know what the temperature is outside as I type this? Twenty-one below zero.  Yes! In March!

Here's the thing about life in California vs. life in Minnesota. It occurred to me that one of my greatest joys is exercising outdoors in nature (and not the nature that's 21 below zero and blanketed in two to three feet of snow, either). It keeps me happy. When I can't partake in it, it makes me sad. And yet, I live in a climate where for five to six months of the year, doing so is uncomfortable if not iffy or impossible. This equation does not add up, people.

Too bad my husband's beloved job and our SUPER-beloved town is here, not in California.

Moving on.

I have been solo-parenting for the past week. Christopher is on another bike-race trip, this one extreeemely far away. The girls and I have been in a good groove. Between school, work, homework, and guitar practice, we've squeezed in plenty of fun. Such as going out for ice cream on one of the coldest days of the year. (Don't even ask why.) And watching "Tangled." And paying to spend a weekend afternoon swimming at a local hotel because gah, it's been days and days and days since the kiddos could play outside and everyone's going crazy and/or becoming a total sloth. In that regard, I also took them to the college rec center where they shot baskets while I ran the track.

At night, they sleep in my bed and it's the best thing ever. Not only do I get to snuggle with my babes all night long (bliss), I get to sleep with Vivi's lovey, Phillip:

Apparently I am a toddler at heart, because I find Phillip adorable beyond words. You can't tell from the photo, but he's very small--like a Beanie Baby.

And that's all from here, friends. Rocking it solo-mama, freezing-cold-Minnesota style. Hope things are going well where you are. xo