I Really Should be Writing This Down

Today I went to the annual spring event at JC’s co-op. He is 7 now, on the very cusp of 8, and attends the drop-off program. This means several things. One is that he makes friends that I do not know well. I hear their names and stories about them each week. It also means we left behind friends that haven’t aged out of the parent-led sessions, where JC and I spent several years getting to know older and younger kids and I spent hours each week with their parents. They became my friends, and a few became my close friends.

Then I got pregnant, JC graduated into the drop-off program, and the time I got to spend with even the closest of those friends became minimal. In fact, the last time I saw most of these parents was last year’s spring festival, right after I’d announced my pregnancy and was sporting just the smallest of protruding belly bumps.

That bump, that little possibility of a person, is now a wriggling, jovial, roly-poly baby boy, desperate to keep up with his big brother even at 5 months old.

It was delightful to show him off to people who followed my pregnancy through Facebook and Instagram and stories from my eldest, who has apparently kept his co-op appraised of all things happening in our world.

Today I had people approach me and say, “are you JC’s mom?” And when I accepted that moniker, bracing myself for whatever was about to come next (because, let’s be honest: it could be anything from “your son just sang every word of ‘The Devil went down to Georgia’ for us!” to “JC told us all about how you went into pre-term labor at your baby shower and threw up just as the guests were sitting down to eat!”, both of which I heard today), I inevitably heard this:

How is it with 2 boys with such an age difference?

Well, I’ll tell you: it’s…fast.

Somehow I managed to go from barely pregnant to having a semi-mobile baby and an exuberant 2nd grader in a year that felt like it happened in a week. The breakneck speed at which my life seems to be going by is both gratifying and terrible. My days pass in a blur and I look up at dinner time and think, where did the time go?!

This is a stark difference to how those early days of first-time motherhood passed. When JC was small, I had not yet met my tribe. I had no other children, and some days, no reason to leave my house. I could spent hours contemplating his baby toes, his belly button, and I remember the late afternoons would stretch on for days while I waited for my husband to come home from work. With no older sibling to attend to and email and social media still a thing of the future (when JC was born I had a flip phone with a grainy camera and had no idea what life with unlimited talk, text and data would be like), life was slower. Now our days start early and I look up after both boys are in bed and realize all I’ve eaten all day is leftover Easter candy and an entire bag of mini carrots. JC has activities, there are math lessons and writing practices to be done, friends who make sure I don’t slip into introverted isolation, and family to share the moments with.

And yet, there is still time.

There is still time to marvel at the wonders of a growing baby: his unique and joyful personality, his chubby thighs, his infectious grin that showed itself at a mere 10 days old. There is still time for a snuggle and a story with JC, who despite his status as a big kid will still jump at the chance for coveted Mom or Dad lap time. There’s time to enjoy the connection my two sons have despite the age difference, then to wonder at the fact that I have sons. That I’ve been entrusted with the care of two fantastic and frustrating creatures. There is still time to think, man, I should be writing this down.

But just because there’s time to think it doesn’t mean there’s actually time to do it. There’s also no time to do laundry, meal plan, train for the marathon I want to run, or do much of anything outside the immediate requirements of motherhood. Some things, of course, must be done. Laundry, for example, or else the baby may be put to bed in an oversized “Someone in Colorado loves me and bought me this T-shirt” shirt and a pair of baby sweat pants (that may or may not have happened today). And, after visiting with so many old friends this morning and being reminded of the swift passage of days, there must be time made for writing, both for my love of it and for the record-keeping of the boyhood details I’ll forget one day as my kids get older. Which is why after I put the baby down after his 1:00 AM snack I picked up my pen to write.

I’ve got plans for this blog: a new name, a new layout, and a list of topics I want to write about motherhood and all it encompasses. But life happens while you’re busy making plans, so tonight as my family sleeps I jumped in with both feet. Because life is fast…and I really should be writing this down.

A special thanks to my readers who are still out there! I’m looking forward to reconnecting with you all. ūüíô

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Mama’s Getting a Promotion

Well, hello there.

The last time we talked it was January. I had every intention of starting 2017 off with a blogging boom. I had lists and schedules and all that stuff–and then I was offered a freelance writing job that took up every free moment of my life until mid-March. Almost immediately after it wrapped up, I got an even bigger promotion. The biggest promotion a stay-at-home mom/writer mama can get.


Nugget will be arriving just in time for Thanksgiving and the holiday season, and we’re all excited about the addition of a Little Brother for JC. In fact, when we told him the big news, his first reaction was, “Finally!” JC has been asking for a sibling since he was 3, and  in his opinion, his father and I have been taking our sweet time fulfilling that particular request.

The first trimester was…rough. I got really sick right after I found out I was expecting, then got sciatica so badly that some days I didn’t leave the couch. The first half of the second trimester wasn’t much better. Then summer came, and I was very focused on having a slow and engaged summer with JC. It has been really nice just to taking our time for the past couple of months: wake up when we feel like it (even though JC “feels like it” at 6 AM), exploring our favorite city haunts, and spending long afternoons reading Harry Potter together.

But fall is right around the corner. Homeschooling starts back up in just a couple weeks, along with my 3rd trimester. Change is in the air for JC, my family and for my little corner of the internet. I’ve enjoyed our slow summer but I’m happy to pick up the pace again.

Are you back to school or still enjoying summer? Are you ready for fall or still clinging to that summer feeling?

 

Creating New Rituals

Happy New Year, readers! I hope you all had a wonderful and fulfilling holiday break. My family and I had many relaxing moments, but I am very happy to be back to the real world today. The week between Christmas and New Years was a bit of a haze for me.

Our homeschool co-op doesn’t pick back up until next week, but we started our second half of first grade today. I’m excited about all the things JC is excited for this year, and I’ll be writing a full blog on it soon.

But for today, I want to talk about creating new rituals for a fresh year. This year I’m not setting any resolutions, because I feel like making a list of things to do and ways to be better is just setting yourself up for disappointment and frustration. I know I’m not the only one who had a rough go of 2016, and this year, I really want to be good to myself. Here are some of the rituals I hope to create this year for myself and my family:

  • Ending our day with music:¬†At the end of the day when dinner is done, parents are exhausted and the kids get that wild, pre-bedtime wind, we often turn on the TV to kill time before bed. I would like to start trading the TV for music and audiobooks. I’d love to see what playlists my family come up with.
  • The Best Year Ever jar:¬†I’ve made room on our kitchen bookshelf for a big empty jar, and I’m encouraging my family to drop a note inside when something good happens or when they’re thankful for something. At the end of the year, we’ll have a whole jar of happy memories.
  • Using essential oils in my showers:¬†Most days, a shower is the only time I get to myself–and some days even then I have a small visitor pushing trains around the bathroom. I would like to utilize some essential oils and scents to help set a tone for my day.
  • Starting my writing time each day with a writing prompt:¬†I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to writing prompts and at least 3 books full of them, all for when “I have time”–and this year, I will make the time.
  • I want to set aside a time each week to be¬†creative outside of writing:¬†I used to love to sew and scrapbook and do crafty things. As a homeschooling mom, it was very easy to let those side projects slide. I’d love to pick some of them back up, though. I started a Harry Potter pillow almost 3 years ago I haven’t finished. Is there really any excuse for that?
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It should not take 4 years to make a pillow.

 


I’d love to know: what rituals do you have?¬†

I’m Going Back to Kindergarten

I think it is time to go back to kindergarten.

No, I’m not talking about JC. I’m talking about us. People. Everywhere.

I don’t have to recap for you what has been going on in the world. I know you, like me, are probably overwhelmed by 24-hour news coverage of shootings, bombs, rape cases, racial tension and a presidential election that makes me wish I could actually vote for the Hermione Granger ticket.

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I’m not going to rehash the details, and I’m not going to give you my opinion. In fact, I thought for days about even pressing “publish” on this blog. The beauty and the nightmare of social media is that when anything happens–good, bad, controversial–people can post their opinions about it. But it seems recently that people have forgotten the most basic etiquette and manners. And so I think it is time to go back to kindergarten and remember a few things.

Like¬†to¬†BE NICE. When bad things happen, and when people get hurt, we want to put the blame somewhere. You know that saying, if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all? I feel like social media needs a gigantic dose of that.

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And to TAKE TURNS. Social media allows us to talk. And talk. And not pay attention to what other people might be saying.

Or to PLAY. Being connected all the time is exhausting. Go outside, read a book that is made of paper and has no buttons. Walk around a zoo and see real animals, not just videos of them acting cute on YouTube.

Make sure to have a SNACK. When you’re hungry, you’re crabby. When you’re crabby, you take it out on other people.

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Do something with¬†FOCUS.¬†Little kids have an amazing ability to focus intently on things–whether it be building with legos, poking things with a stick, or walking very, very, carefully on an imaginary path when you’re in a hurry. Can you remember the last time you focused on one thing because you loved it, and not because you had to?

That we need to USE OUR WORDS, NOT OUR HANDS. Is it just me, or is the violence out of control? Situations escalate far too quickly. It is so, so frightening.

Finally,¬†DON’T LIE.¬†Just don’t. It will eventually come back to get you–and if it doesn’t, you know what they say about karma.

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What lesson do you think the world needs to remember right now?

Reasons Being a Grown-Up is Fun

Lately, JC has been telling me how life is going to be when he is a grown-up.

“Mom, my kids are going to go to bed whenever they want. So probably 11:34 every night. And I will have much more screen time. I will have screen time whenever I want, right? Because that’s what being a grown-up is.”

I always pat his head and tell him not to worry about being a grown-up quite yet. After all, childhood is magical, right? Of course it is–when you’re an adult looking back on it. When  you’re an almost 6-year-old boy, it looks an awful lot like a bunch of adults telling you what to do. We have always tried to include JC in decisions, but there are obviously things he doesn’t get a say in. Like that 11:34 bed time.

Bedtimes are important.


I can’t explain to him why adulthood isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Money worries, laundry, jobs, colleagues, what to make for dinner–there’s a lot of tedious parts of being a  grown-up.

But then I stopped thinking about all the tiresome aspects and started looking at it from his point of view. And I have to be honest–sometimes, being a grown-up can be pretty fun.

When you’re a grown-up, you get to choose what you want to eat. Sure, we should all eat healthy but on the days when you just want a giant milkshake and a chili dog, you can have it. And you have keys to a car that allows you to procure it.

You can eat the middle out of the brownie tray if you want. Or, as I’m likely to do, the middle of the lasagna. Or all of the yummy cheesy chex out of the bag of chex mix.

You get to pick the music you listen to in the car. And you always get to sit in the front seat.

You can call in sick to work. You can’t call in sick to school unless your parents let you. I was lucky–I had cool parents who let me stay home from school on my birthday and every now and then for special occasions. Of course, this was before hardcore attendance rules.

You can wear as much make-up as you want without anyone making you wash it off before you leave the house.

You get to stay up late and watch TV. In bed. Watching TV in bed is the best. I dreamed of doing it when I was a kid–we had a staunch no-televisions-in-the-bedroom-rule at my house–and as an adult it is as cool as I thought it would be.

Of course, when you’re an adult you understand that all these choices have consequences. When you stay up late, you’re tired the next day. When you wear too much makeup, you might get some funny looks (I say ignore them and rock that sparkly blue eyeshadow). The chili dog will inevitably come back to bite you, and you can only call in sick to work so many times before you no longer have a job to call in to.
The secret to adulthood? You’re so busy being an adult that you don’t get to do all that fun stuff. But every now, the stars align. So if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go watch Dawson’s Creek in bed with a giant milkshake and the middle of a lasagna.

What’s your favorite part of being a grown up?

 

Just Yell “Plot Twist!”

Oh, 2016. You are a doozie.

2015 was a very trying year for my family. I had hoped that when we ushered 2016 in, we would be done with transition and change. I was wrong.

Two weeks ago, my husband abruptly lost his job. No warning, no signs. Any time a job is lost, it hits a family hard. But when you’re a single-income homeschooling family, it’s a Really Big Issue.

The night we found out, I sat down with my computer and applied for every job I could find. I was so lucky and so blessed to find a job in under a week as an editor for an Atlanta-area publishing company. And I’m actually getting to use my English degree, which is awesome.

But it’s a huge change.

It’s a change for me, a change for JC, and a change for my husband. It’s a change for our schedule, our co-ops, and my writing. And, to put it lightly, I am change adverse.

I wish I could say that this was going to be the last change for awhile, and that my family was going to sail along smoothly through the rest of 2016. But I don’t think it it. I think there’s a lot more transition in store for us.

There’s a funny thing about being a parent: when things happen, or the sh!t hits the fan, or something happens that you need time to process…well, tough. Sometimes you just have to put on your big girl panties and slap a big smile on your face to keep things normal for your kid. And that’s just what I’ve been doing.

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We’re having a major plot twist right now. But every good story needs a couple of plot twists, right? That’s what makes it interesting. That’s what makes it better.

There’s always a silver lining. I love editing, and I’m getting to put that fancy degree that’s hanging on my wall to use. JC is getting to experience different teaching styles and ideas while his dad pitches in with homeschooling. And I get a chance to be the parent he’s SUPER excited to see at the end of the day…which is pretty cool.

Have you had any major life changes happen recently? How do you deal with life’s plot twists?

Holiday Photos and Other Realities

My social media feeds have been filled with photos of my friend’s adorable children, dressed in their holiday finest, sitting on Santa’s knee or posed, pink-cheeked and smiley, at a Christmas tree farm. Being the modern Mommy that I am, I also take a round of holiday photos early in the season–both for practical purposes (like sending them out in Christmas cards) and for assurances (how long will that adorable white sweater with the silver reindeer on it survive while on a 5 year old boy?). And I did get my one perfect picture: JC in front of the holiday model trains at our city’s botanical gardens, smiling happily. It’s the photo that most people will see, and the one that will most likely end up in our holiday memory book.

 

the perfect photo: how sweet (and edited!) it is

 
It is one photo out of 300 that I took that morning. The other 299 are him flying around the trains, making train noises at the top of his lungs, or with his face in a weird contortion because he never stops talking.

  
 Oh, and there are about 75 of him being an At-At Walker. Because, you know, Star Wars.

 

Yoga? Nope. At-At walker.

 
I really love my one perfect picture. But you know what? I kind of love the other ones more. Because they show my son as he is all the time–full of words and thoughts and movements. Perhaps those are the ones I should be showing to the world: the true images of my boy at this stage in his life.

Because, honestly, I’d love to see the outtakes of some of these perfect holiday photos I see online. I’d love to see the hundreds of shots it took to get the sweet shot. Except for your kid terrified and screaming on Santa’s lap. I despise those pictures and kinda judge you as a parent for making your kid cry.

Looking at all my photos this morning made me think of all the other holiday realities that aren’t always as perfect as they seem: getting the lights strung on your house (and falling off the ladder and cursing the very existence of outdoor illumination); having a big holiday meal (and remembering why you don’t spend time with these people year round and feeling sick from all the decadent food); and hunting for that perfect gift at the mall (while standing in line for 45 minutes while the cashier flicks her light on and off and calls out “price check at counter 7!”). I realize that paints a pretty bleak picture of the holidays. However,  you have to look past the realities and peel back the imperfect to get to what really matters:

Like spending a whole, beautiful morning outdoors with a happy kid and my mom and being lucky enough to capture every stinking moment of it.

Like seeing your kid’s face light up when you light your outdoor lights for the first time (I guarantee they aren’t going to point out the imperfections!).

Like the joy of eating your father’s pie at Thanksgiving–after all, no one makes it like him. The pleasure of catching up with people who have known you since before you can remember, and being surrounded by your own personal brand of crazy. We all have it, you might as well embrace it.

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There’s one in every family

As for standing in line at the mall…well, there isn’t much I can help with there. I suggest internet shopping, and then using the time you’ll save to make hot chocolate, find your favorite crazy relative and make some imperfect memories.

What is your favorite not-so-perfect holiday memory?