Nov 30, 2012

Into The Future of School

It's the last day of November, and I can hardly believe it. How did this happen? I mean, I know how it happened, Time and all that, I just can't believe that December will already be here tomorrow. How does that saying go? The days are long but the years are short?

It's true you know. How many of us are just waiting for Friday all week long and then Bam! a whole year has gone by. I look at my daughters and I still see Paige as a baby and Hope as a little toddler. And then I look at pictures of them when Paige was born, and I just can't believe that Hope will be five next month and Paige is already older than Hope was when Paige was born.

This is Hope's last year of preschool. Next year she goes off to Kindergarten and Paige starts her first year of preschool and I just might have two mornings a week without kids. And I just can't imagine it, sending Hope off on a school bus, her big backpack banging against her little back. And dropping Paige off in the very room that Hope is in now.

It's all so crazy and terrifying and amazing. I'm realizing that this parenting gig gets scarier and harder as the kids get older. (Probably why we start out with babies instead of teenagers.) I mean, really, once you get past the stage of taking the newborn home and figuring out how to meet her needs, it's really not as hard as it seems at the time. Of course, maybe that's always how it is. When the girls are preteens, I'll look back at this time and think, Gee, sending the girls off to school wasn't hard at all! But when you're in the middle of it all. My goodness. Some days are HARD. And SCARY. And OVERWHELMING.

What if I choose the wrong school for my daughter? What if the adjustment is too hard for her next year? What if she's doesn't make friends? What if she's lonely? What if she cries every single day all year long?

I know it'll be okay. Right? Right now I can't see out, but once it's past I'll see just how non-scary it really was. But the responsibility of finding a school for Hope feels like a huge weight on my shoulders, an aspect of parenting that I wasn't prepared for. And every time we hit one of these new stages of their lives I just pray I don't mess them up too bad. And poor Hope, as the oldest she kind of bears the brunt of our trials and errors. I'm just hopeful for a minimal amount of errors.

Tomorrow is December and I am determined to visit the potential schools sometime in the month before winter break starts. I think.

Happy last day of November everyone. And remember, if you haven't already, it's time to crank up that Holiday music! :)


Nov 29, 2012

Dear Santa...

For the first two Christmas's of Hope's life, we had her visit Santa. Paige, on the other hand, suffering from Second-Child-Misses-Out-Because-She's-A-Second-Child Syndrome, has yet to sit on the jolly guy's lap. In my defense, neither of the girls actually want to visit Santa. Call me a scrooge, or lazy, or whatever, but I just don't think forcing my kids to sit on an old man's lap when they are adamant against it, is something that has to be done to complete our holiday season.

(Or course, I have nothing against those of you who choose to take your kids and get those cute crying pictures with Santa. We have two of those from when Hope was a little and I love them. I'm just not up for the fight with my girls.)

This year, like last year, we decided that instead of visiting a Santa we would write him letters. Only this year, unlike last year, we actually sat down and wrote the letters. Hope was excited to do some writing and cutting and taping, and Paige pretty much just got some practice with the scissors. But both girls seemed to have fun, and I even let go of making a huge mess right after cleaning the dining room. (Or course, no need to mention that when it was time to clean up I kinda lost my patience. Who me?)

Now I just need to make sure that we get them in the mail. Or whatever it is that one does with letters to Santa.

Do you take your kids to visit Santa? Do they love it or hate it?


Nov 26, 2012

Anyone Wanna Come Over and Fold My Laundry?

I have four piles of unfolded clothes that have been mocking me since they were washed last week. Although they have gotten smaller, it is not because of any folding that has taken place. Laundry is scattered on the floor like a bucket of dropped beads, the piles shrinking but widening as we rummage through the baskets to find a pair of socks or that specific dress needed for the day.

I tell myself, as I put a new load of dirty clothes into the washer, that I will fold all the clothes tonight. Much like, when eight o'clock came too early this morning, I told myself that I would go to bed at nine tonight.

These goals I seem to be setting a lot of lately. Goals that, at the time they are set, seem very feasible and realistic, but are, in fact, not so. Not because they can't be done. I don't run out of time with the cookie baking and toilet scrubbing and ten bedtime stories reading I'm squeezing in at night. No, my "after kids are in bed time" is not filled with anything but an enormous need to kick up my legs, turn off my mind, and stare blankly at the television screen.

And lately, I'm okay with that, which is why our shirts are wrinkly and our dust bunnies are mating. I don't always like it, that I can be okay in a house with a layer of dust on every surface and a Kilimanjaro mountain of laundry. But the alternative, being stressed out and crabby and obsessed with keeping a clean and organized house, I like even less.

As it is already we are in a constant push and pull between the ever-growing To Do list and the most-importants of Life.

So, even though I tell myself that laundry will get folded tonight, I won't be surprised when it doesn't, and I end up going to bed after ten. But I won't hold it against myself either.


Nov 21, 2012

Tis' the Season for Black Friday and All That

So, tomorrow is Thanksgiving. And all around Facebook, Twitter, and the blogosphere, people are doing daily thanks and all that. And yes, I am thankful. But to be honest, I've be kinda feeling "bleh" this year. Not about being thankful because yes, I realize I have A LOT to be thankful for. But you know that someecard that is floating around that says, "Black Friday: Because only in America people trample others for sales exactly one day after being thankful for what they already have."? Yeah, that's how I'm feeling this year.

Don't get me wrong. I am an equal opportunity consumer. I have happily and willingly participated in Black Friday in years past. I enjoy shopping (mostly) and can get as excited about a good deal as the next person. But this year? I'm just not feeling it. My husband was quick to point out that it's because, It's not even THANKSGIVING yet! He is a firm believer in no Christmas before Thanksgiving. And while he makes a good point, I know that this is not the reason for my feelings this year.

My heart is sad for all the commercials about buying and buying and more buying. It gets harder and heavier every time those all-knowing advertisers tell me that I need something new, something sparkly, something anything and pretty much everything I don't have in order for me to be happy and fulfilled.

What happened to this season? What happened to simplicity and peace on earth and joy to the world and holiday magic? How can I teach my children to be excited about the lights and cookies and traditions just as much as (and even more than) the presents? Where did the spirit of Christmas go? Because it feels like it's lost somewhere between the five dollar fleece zip-ups, the hundred dollar tvs, and the thirty dollar Barbie houses.

Trust me, I am not on a high horse. I'm about as high on my horse as a ten foot hole in the ground. And maybe that's partially why it's bothering me so much, because I have thoroughly gotten swept away in the material side of Christmas before. And I really, desperately, do not want to take my raft down that river again.

I am excited about the gifts we have chosen for our daughters. And just to prove to you how not-high on my horse I am, I will admit that we are getting our daughter, who will be five one week after Christmas, an American Girl doll. I am happy and excited and have put a lot of thought into the gifts our girls will be receiving this year.

But I am so already annoyed and irritated and mostly just sad by the commercials and advertisements and bombardings of buy this! and you need this! and this is what's most important! The holiday shopping, especially Black Friday? It's not filled with happy and considerate shoppers spreading the joy of the season and looking out for each other. No, we are all out there to grab that great deal before the person next to us does and look-out-because-I-will-use-my-elbows-to-get-you-out-of-my-way. Where's the holiday spirit in that?

It's true, it's not even Thanksgiving (quite yet) and I am already bemoaning the loss of a simple and traditional and non-consumer driven holiday season. But I guess that's why I'm feeling so Blah right now. It's already started. And I am all for starting some Christmas excitement before Thanksgiving. (I have most definitely had Christmas music on in the house already.) But not because I want to get the greatest deal or have the newest thing, but because Christmas only comes once a year and I want to get as much of that deep-down goodness of the season as I can.

Happy Thanksgiving, from my holiday-filled heart to yours.


photo credit

Nov 19, 2012

My Blanket of Anxiety

You know those moments during the month (or every couple months if you're lucky) that feel like there are about one trillion things to do on top of the already long list of To Dos from the regular day-to-day? Yeah. That's where I am right now.  It's cyclical. I go along just nicely minding my own business, feeling okay about life and where I'm at and then, Bam! At some point during the month I have this blanket of anxiety that starts to suffocate me with all the things that "should" be getting done and aren't.

The house hasn't been thoroughly cleaned in I don't know how long, and the disorganization that started last February when we started work on our half-story is still scattered around in random places. I have responsibilities for Hope's school (which, yes, I did take on myself so it's my own fault) that hang over my head, and this whole "being a parent of a kid going to school next year" gives me a mini panic attack at least once per day.

I feel so much pressure and responsibility to pick the "right" school for my daughter. It is so overwhelming that instead of just making the appointments to visit the schools, which is really the only way I can make an informed decision, I feel stuck in my tracks, like a deer in headlights. The thought of making numerous visits, finding childcare for the girls while I'm gone, and doing this without my husband's input, terrifies me. This fear has been lurking around for awhile, although I didn't really understand it until time started to slip away from me and it's almost December and I have yet to call one school.

When I have all these things that feel important, all of these To Dos, instead of getting myself energized and just doing them, I go into shut down mode. I'm sure that part of this is my personality and part of it is the depression (although that is being managed fairly well right now). That blanket spreads over me, so heavy, and instead of fighting it and checking things off my list, I just want to surrender to it, snuggle up, and sleep.

And I hate that it is such a struggle for me. I wish that I could remember, every single day, what the important things truly are and what are not. Even if I have a To Do List five pages long, I think that's okay, I just think the not remembering those items are not of true importance, that gets to me. Why does it even matter if our house hasn't been cleaned in a long time? So what if we still haven't gotten things put away from our half-story remodel?

Sometimes I think I need to cut myself a little more slack. And then other times I think I've been cutting myself too much slack and that's why everything gets so overwhelming. I have been known to procrastinate a time or two. Obviously, this is one of those times right now, and while I'm really tempted to surrender to the tired and let myself sleep sleep sleep, I also know that the only way to feel better is to take a deep breath and just do one thing at a time. But maybe I'll take a quick nap first.


Nov 15, 2012

What's In A Name?

I am constantly checking Facebook this afternoon. {refresh. refresh. refresh.} I know it's funny because, aren't I always spending large amounts of time on Facebook anyway? {refresh. refresh. refresh.} But this is different. Different because I am waiting with eagerness to hear some more exciting news.

One of my oldest friends just had a baby this morning. And by "oldest" I don't mean old. Our families have been friends since I was a fresh-faced four-year-old. Our dads met on a city bus on their way to work. This was back in the day when people weren't glued to their cellphones (because, hello, nobody had a cellphone in 1985) and strangers were more likely to strike up a conversation with each other.

You know how sometimes there are people in your life, friends or neighbors or other families, who become part of your own family? And I mean, really like family? That's what they became for us. I always say that they adopted us into their family, because we were just the four of us and they had a large extension of family members, but I guess we really adopted each other.

And now, just like family, we are scattered across the country. Or at least, we're kind of scattered. I am scattered. My sister is of course the closest to both girls as one is in New York City too, and the other in the state of New York. (Can you see the jealousy oozing out of me?).

My dear, Chosen-Cousin just had a baby and I am over the moon ecstatic for her. I mean, a) she just had a baby, b) it's her first baby, and c) it's A GIRL! As a mother to two lovely (if I do say so myself) girls, I am overjoyed to be able to give her so much unsolicited advice that her head explodes. Okay, so I don't actually want her head to explode, and I also won't actually give her unsolicited advice but, SHE HAD A GIRL!

So, back to this whole Facebook thing. Why, if she already had the baby, am I obsessively checking and rechecking Facebook? Because this dear sweet baby, my first Chosen-Niece, is waiting on a name and I am dying for it to be revealed. Dying.

{refresh. refresh. refresh.}


Nov 9, 2012

I Won't Be a Chicken

Lately I kinda feel like I'm running around like a chicken with it's head cut off. Which is actually a pretty gruesome visual if you think about it. Do chickens actually run around without heads? I'm too afraid to google it.

Run, run, run, Bonk. Run, run, run, Bonk. -- This is me as I'm running around and randomly hitting obstacles I don't, or can't, see. Sometimes it's because there's so much going on, and sometimes it's because I don't know what I'm doing.

I really dislike it when I feel like I don't know what I'm doing.

This is probably why I'm not good at trying new things, stretching myself to do more, or taking risks and putting myself out there. It is why I like when people give me step-by-step directions so that I don't mess up or feel confused. I don't like it when I don't know what I'm doing. I don't like feeling confused. And trying something new, always involves a learning process. Which usually starts with overwhelming feelings and a lack of knowing what one is doing. (Let's not even get started on my fear of failure.)

You know, I wish I could be one of those people who embrace new things with zest and excitement. Who laughs at herself when she doesn't know what she's doing, and is energized to figure out just how to do it. I am slowly learning in my life to accept who I am (although sometimes I'm still not exactly sure who that is), and one of the things I guess I need to accept is that that person? That is not me.

I have to figure out a way to be okay with this part of who I am. But that doesn't mean I can't work to be less stressed in new situations or with new responsibilities. It doesn't mean I can't try to slow down and relax and figure out a way to enjoy the newness instead of dread it. I'm just not sure how I go about doing that.

But that chicken who is running around all crazy-like? I'm going to try to not be that. Having busy moments or hectic days are pretty much a guarantee in life. But I can certainly control how I respond to them. And I'd rather have my head on, thankyouverymuch.


Nov 6, 2012

We Interrupt This Day to Bring You a Party

I am plugging away. Plug. Plug. Plug. My mind gets all in the way with all it's crazy there's-way-too-much-to-do, how-am-I-going-to-get-everything-done, and I'm-so-overwhelmed-I-just-want-to-shut-down-and-cry. But then, surprisingly, I'm all {deep breath} take-one-thing-at-a-time and just-do-it. And it works.

We interrupted the busy fall, which already has whispers of winter, for a very minor get-together with a few friends today. I am lucky to have inspiring people in my life (and not in my life because some of the blogs I stalk also inspire me), who throw such lovely gatherings and parties and get so much joy out of doing so. And I've always wanted to be a party-thrower I'm just usually too terrified to do it, so I threw my hat over the fence last week and invited a few people for a little Election Day fun -- for the kids, of course.

I'm not going to get all Election Dayie on you, but I thought it a cute idea and promised the few parents that we wouldn't actually talk politics. But the kids got to vote for the puppy or kitty and we had some patriotic treats. And then everyone just played. Or rather, the kids played and the moms stayed in a different room to chat.

I got an idea of the craziness that would involve six kids, which is not actually on my life plan. But I do eventually want four kids (much to Adam's dismay) so it was good practice for me to be able to stay calm and not freak out about messes or broken toys.

We only had one casualty (ie. one thing got broken), a record I thought was pretty good for a five-year-old, two four-year-olds, two three-year-olds, and one two-and-a-half-year-old.

The fact does not escape me that these children were not all mine, and having them at our house for a few hours is nothing like having four children twenty-four hours a day. Don't worry, I am under no illusion. I know I have a long way to go to get to the laid back nature I probably need to possess (if it's even possible for me to possess) to be calm around the chaos of more than two kids.

In any case, I learned something very important about myself. I actually enjoying throwing parties. Or, at least, I enjoyed this one. Which was little. And minor. And not very overwhelming at all. So, I'm maybe not on my way to Martha Stewarting my parties, or even throwing a huge one any time soon, but I feel good. I feel happy.

I am proud of myself for making something special for my kids (and even keeping it low-cost) and inviting more into my life. I'm not always very good about inviting more into my life. But today it was good.

Happy Election, everyone! And don't forget to vote.


Nov 1, 2012

Halloween Memories Made

Here's what I want to remember about Halloween 2012:

When initially asking Hope what she wanted to dress up as she had no idea. We gave the standard suggestions of puppy and kitty (well, standard suggestions for our animal-loving girl) and then the other standards like witch, princess, soccer player, etc.

Several days later, when asked again, she finally decided on what she wanted to be. Herself. My not-quite-five-year-old daughter decided that she just wanted to be herself for Halloween. And she even thought up a costume. Her own pants and her shirt that has H-O-P-E scrawled across the front.

This is what she wore to school
when the kids could wear their costumes.

I tried half-heartedly to convince her to be Hope the soccer player or Hope the gymnast. But she stuck to her guns, basically until I worried about her not wearing a costume but asking for candy. I probably didn't actually need to worry about anyone saying anything to a little kid, but I did. So she was finally convinced to be Hope the gymnast. But even to the end, she was adamant that she was not A Gymnast. She was Herself, dressed in her gymnastic clothes.

Hope, as Herself, in her gymnastic clothes.

Paige, on the other hand, seemed to know what she wanted to be from the get-go. When she was asked I was surprised to hear her excited exclamation that she was going to be, "A PRINCESS!" I forgot that Hope also had her mind made up on what she wanted to be for Halloween at that age. Unfortunately, I already had a Minnie costume free for the borrowing, so I didn't really want to have to find something for a princess. (Plus I thought Paige as Minnie Mouse would be pretty darn cute.)

Luckily, Paige was fairly easily persuaded that Minnie's dress is very princess-like. Thus she was Minnie Princess for Halloween. And we were all happy.

Paige as "Minnie Princess"

Her little buns made the perfect ears to complete the costume.

They went trick-or-treating with a sweet little vampire. Hope's timid "trick-or-treat" contrasted Paige's thrilled shout, "We're not done yet!" after every house. Don't mess with a two-year-old and her free candy.

Happy Halloween!