Life around here is about to change with only 17 school days left in the calendar.
We are definitely in the minority in that we don’t sign up the kids for summer camps. Partly because I want them to slow down and enjoy the childhood summer days that I remember in the seventies; and partly because all of the local camps are five days a week without a part-time option.
So effective Monday, June 15th — the “Camp of Mama” begins. Roughly, our days will look like:
- 10ish: Head out for some fun. Swim, bike, picnic, tennis lessons, playdates, nature exploring, berry picking, farmer’s market…it’s all on our summer fun list.
- late afternoonish: Home for some downtime. Typically this involves reading on the hammock and some TV time.
- 5pm: This summer, each girl will be in charge of dinner for one night (Oldest has Mondays, Youngest has Thursdays). There are many things I am doing well as a mother — but teaching the kids basic kitchen skills has not been one of them! Time that they learn how to measure a teaspoon, boil some water and use a paring knife.
- Evening chores: This is a hot topic in our house. The girls are itching for every item under the Calico Critter umbrella. They have a mason jar of dollar bills from odd jobs around the house with the goal to reach $50. I figured the time after dinner would be a good time for them to earn some dollars by watering the plants, weeding, changing sheets, and folding and putting clothes away. Any other idea of age-appropriate things to do around the house?
My favorite month is June. I love the anticipation of summer and BBQs, the picnics with friends before everyone heads off for the summer, the end-of-year celebrations. And mostly, I love that summer is just beginning — the first bike ride to the ice cream store, the first pajama morning on the hammock, the first swim of the season — all are still novelties in June.
Seventeen days left.
May 5, 2014. The date was etched in my memory for over a year. It was the date of a final work project. Every email, PowerPoint slide, meeting and analysis was driven by this date.
I remember carefully selecting my slim fitting black pants, a white eyelet blouse and my turquoise necklace — I wanted to be professional but comfortable. I arrived at work around 7am before everyone else to be available for any last minute mishaps. I was mentally ready for this day — the finish lined was about to be crossed and I was ready to celebrate.
Except I never made it to the celebration. Around 9:30am, the school nurse called to ask that I pick up my then 6-year old who had thrown up in the classroom (or as the nurse so delicately stated, “all over the classroom”). With a husband traveling for work, I was the only available parent and the one who had to yet again, leave my work responsibilities behind while I tended to my little people.
My memory of the rest of the day was chaos. Cleaning vomit between conference calls and snuggling a limp little one while typing with one hand. It was this day that I realized this ongoing juggle was too great for our family of four and that it was time for me to consider being at home full time.
Fast forward a year. May 5th, 2015. And someone started throwing up again last night. That same daughter, now 7, had once again contacted a May stomach bug. Our day was full of snuggles, coloring, gatorade, naps and a whole lot of love. No stress. No juggle. No feeling of failing.
It is not lost on me that I am having a Groundhog Day experience from a year ago. Same 80 degree temps. Same flu bug. Same daughter. Same day. And yet something is significantly different….ME. I strongly believe that a Higher Power is sending me a powerful reminder. And I’m so grateful for that reminder.
…and other miscellany.
So, this happened.
You’ve probably been there, so I won’t bore you with the details. If you have kids and haven’t been there yet, just wait. It’s awesome.
In other news, I have a new girl crush. Eireann Dolan and her boyfriend, Oakland A’s pitcher Sean Doolittle, promised to buy empty seats for LGBT Night in Oakland this June. She has two “hella gay” moms, is incredibly funny, seems very real, and she sucked me into her blog and insta feed for a good few hours tonight. She’s a badass.
And, one last, unrelated topic. The books on my nightstand would have an inch layer of dust if not for my excessive cleanliness. But, I have found a few good things to read here and there. These articles all have a common parenting theme, which I clearly need given my 8 year old’s love note from last night.
- The SAHM conundrum: How I Became the Worst Critic of Stay-at-Home Moms
- The SAHM luxury: Being a Stay-at-Home Parent Is a Luxury … for Your Spouse
- Rupture and repair: I’m Not Sorry for Yelling
- Precious parenting: What Would My Mom Do? (Drink Tab and Lock Us Outside)
What’s going on with you? Can you top my love letter? Any thoughts on these articles, or others I have missed?
Here’s hoping you don’t have the worst day ever.
1. I sleep with green ear plugs from Walgreens. Occasionally they cling to my pajamas and will find new homes all over the house — at which time a disgusted yelp will be heard from the other members of the family.
2. I had a six month spree where I called 911 monthly. Saw a stumbling drunk woman trying to get into her car; noted a wheel loose on an 18-wheeler; smelled gas by the neighbor’s house…if I was slightly suspicious, I called.
3. I didn’t start flossing until age 40. My husband was not a big flosser which resulted in a painful deep cleaning — I’ve been flossing every day since.
4. I’m a classic introvert and need solo time each day. In the winter, this most likely means 30 minutes in the bathtub to warm up before bedtime; in the summer, I grab a good book and enjoy a quiet 30 minute of reading before making dinner.
5. I was in the Los Angeles riots. I was attending University of Southern California and living in an off-campus apartment – blocks away from where local business were being looted and burned to the ground. I didn’t feel fear until my Dad showed up with a gun to whisk me away to safety (didn’t even know he owned one).
6. I still don’t carry recycling bags to the grocery store and feel a need to make up a story — “Oops, I forgot them”; “Oops, we are using them for library bags”; and “Oops, I wasn’t planning on stopping at the store and didn’t bring them”.
7. I am no longer a natural redhead. After years of highlights to hide the grey, I finally bit the bullet and started to go the single process hair route in September.
8. Turbulence makes me nervous. I’ve been known to assume the emergency position on more than a few occasions.
9. I feel very protective of Friday nights. While I’d love to be the type to have impromptu dinners with other families or grab a date night with my husband — I find that by Friday night, all I want to do is to re-connect with my family of four.
10. I’m much happier at 42 than I was at 32. My frantic pace has slowed and my gratitude has grown. I can only imagine and hope this will continue with each decade.
No, not digging out of snow like Mia and all of our friends and family in Boston. Rather, more like digging out of a bunch of little rock slides that piled up over the course of a few weeks.
It all started with minimum days at school for my boys. Seems rather innocuous, but having only 8:25-12:20 sans boys for an entire week-plus really rocks my world. Productivity hits an all-time low during minimum days, and this time was no exception.
Then, my sweet dog experienced a health setback that caused some more disruption in our schedule. For a week, she would only eat if it was out of my hand. Sweet, but with boys only at school four hours, 30 minutes of hand-feeding a day put a serious kink in the schedule. She is getting back on track, I think, so that is a start.
On the heels of that was a trip to Arizona and a baseball tournament for my husband and oldest son. They had a great time, but the prep and packing was crazy and the aftermath of that included a ton of laundry and the stomach flu for my oldest (which, in turn, caused more laundry). Of course, the illness was over the two days my husband was in Seattle.
Just when I was getting back together, I lost my house key on Thursday. I actually think I left it in the door (!) and after a few deliveries it was no where to be found. I booby-trapped all of our doors that night, didn’t sleep a wink, and was so thankful for the locksmith who arrived at 10am on Friday.
This weekend was consumed with more baseball and the dreaded science fair project. You know the funny quotes and write-ups about how awful the science fair is that you see on Facebook? All true. My son conducted his experiments all in a timely manner, created a fantastic report, but the seemingly simple task of creating a trifold presentation board was nothing short of challenging. I wouldn’t call some of our interactions over the weekend my best parenting moments.
However, it is now Monday and – aside from my dog falling down and skinning her cute little nose today on a walk – I think I have dug out of the rubble and am back on top of things. Looking forward to this new week with full days of school and a few more hours a day to get things done.
Before I get to my to-do list, though, there were a few bright spots amidst the rock slides:
We have a big decision to make and are currently evaluating the best choice for our family.
Big decisions are tough — Should I follow my heart and move to San Francisco with my beloved? Should my beloved and I move from San Francisco to Boston to chase a dream? Should I go back to work with my newborn at home?
I remember having a really difficult time with that last question. My firstborn’s colick started to disappear right about the time I was due back at work. My heart wasn’t ready to leave this new life right at the time she was awakening to the world — but I was afraid of “giving” up my career. I finally worked up the nerve to speak to my manager about options and she gave me the best advice:
Make a decision on what makes sense for the next 6 months and keep re-evaluating every 6 months. You’ll know when it’s time to make a change.
Suddenly, everything became really clear. No longer was I making a “forever” decision, but one that would be for the short-term. That felt doable — and I decided to go back to work (part-time) and kept re-evaluating until 18 months when it was time to take on a new change.
So as we are yet again faced with another big decision and I’m relying on that same advice. And sure enough, once we broke down our decision into 6 month increments, we found our answer. And some much needed inner peace as well.
How do you go about big decisions?
While the rest of the Boston Irish are downing green beer, this Freckled Redhead will be quietly wishing my grandmother a happy birthday.
Today would have been her 93rd birthday. I remember…
- her love of wool cardigans and long sleeve polo shirts.
- the brown/orange lipstick that complimented her Greek olive skin and was worn 24 hours/day.
- her tangy Italian salad dressing that she’d serve in round wooden salad bowls.
- the beach towels that she had embroidered with each of her five grandchildren’s names.
- her golf swing that was perfected after 50 years of golfing.
- the smell of her perfume mixed with Aquanet.
- her folded newspapers consumed at 4pm each afternoon with a glass of dry sack sherry.
One of the last times I saw my grandmother was when my oldest was 9 months old. Her dry and wrinkled hand held my little one’s baby-smooth chunky fingers. At the time I was struck by the contrast between old and new; lifeless and full of life. Yet now I think of that memory a bit differently – it was as if she was sending her last bit of love and energy to the next generation. And as I look at each of my children, I can’t help but see a bit of that social and feisty Greek grandmother in each of them.
Happy Birthday my lovely Bobo!
Spring is here! At least for 24 hours. We had a unusual 60 degree temp day today which was such a sign from the heavens that we are slowly inching towards spring. Good things come with 60 degree temps — the driveway is now clear of ice, the 8 foot snow banks are now 6 feet, and I finally wore shoes WITHOUT SOCKS! An epic day to remember. Now back to our regularly scheduled March with snow anticipated this weekend.
The biggest observation of the past 24 hours has been my mood – instantly elevated with the sun and warm weather attire. I was full of hugs, smiles, kind gestures and patience. Amazing what some vitamin D and optimism can do for a gal.
I love this photo from a few days ago. We have a neighborhood pond a few blocks from our house and it’s the perfect distance for family walks. Somewhere under all that snow are two park benches — gives you a sense of how much more snow needs to melt. This white stuff could add a major twist to the Easter Egg hunt!
In other news, I’m LOVING this J.Crew skirt. Finally, skirt lengths for the 40+ crowd! The color and shape just scream spring to me….can’t wait to see it in person!
Last week was full of challenges. I re-sprained my previously broken pinkie toe for the second time in a month, limiting me to the ugliest pair of winter boots to wear. We had our sixth ice dam leak, this time leaving a two foot stain on my favorite grasscloth wallpaper. And Mama caught the stomach flu while Husband was traveling for work.
At 2pm, I was feeling sluggish. By 5pm, I was in bed with the chills and awful stomach cramps. By 7pm, I was on the floor and could barely communicate. It was a rough few hours.
It wasn’t until 10pm that the peak of the storm had passed and I was able to survey the surroundings. Little clues helped me piece together what these two sisters were up to. It looked like homework was completed, Mexican casserole was re-heated for dinner, school lunches were made (with carrots!), baths were drawn, and two sisters were snuggled next to one another — fast asleep in Big Sister’s bed.
The focus of this blog has always been to find the goodness in our life experiences — even if it is the smallest little nugget of goodness. And last week taught me that even in times of absolute surrender to the world, there was still plenty of goodness right in front of me. Like two sisters that can take care of themselves and one another. That makes me a happy Mama.
Does your family have regularly scheduled family meetings?
Last night, I went to a parent education night and the speaker was a local family therapist. The topic was “Managing BIG Emotions”, and it was fantastic. In addition to the talk about managing emotions, she shared some of her tips on how to maintain a (mostly) harmonious house with children. She is a strong proponent of weekly family meetings that last about 10-20 minutes.
Here’s her advice on how to structure the meetings:
- Compliments: The meetings should start with compliments for each other, then delve into the business of the family.
- Business: She suggests an open agenda, in which anyone can add their issues to discuss. Issues such as cell phone usage, screen time per day, routines or chores, and the like. The goal is for everyone to have input and buy-in to decisions that affect the household. Items or “pilot programs” that require follow-up can be put on the agenda for the following week.
- Fun: She then suggested planning something fun during the meeting – an upcoming trip, a Sunday Funday, or even a trip to ice cream during the week.
- Schedule: Finally, she suggests ending the meeting with a schedule sync for the week for that everyone is on the same page.
Sounds pretty reasonable, doesn’t it? I have called a family meeting for this coming Sunday, and am hoping this is a great way to enhance our family communications.