Round here lately

I still haven’t been able to look at our photos from Spain or even process them in order to look at them or make a book, or upload them. Or any of it. I’ve had a hard time explaining this to people or even understanding it for myself because, duh, Spain! But it felt like a dream. The night before we left for Spain my aunt and uncle from Washington were in town and we hosted them for dinner. My Aunt asked me about Spain, I gave her the answer I was giving the people closest to me: I was a little scared.

Absolutely excited, elated, over the moon. And terrified.

She asked me why. I told her because I never knew I was allowed to be this happy. Not “my husband surprised me with an amazing, once in a lifetime gift Happy” more of an actual happiness. Contentment. A stillness in the wind but you can still hear the music of nature and you stop the car, get out and look around in awe happy. I had no idea I could have some of that too. That it was for me. That, essentially, it’s for everyone. I had no idea.

It took me by surprise. A little fox in the night.

But the haze of the dream is lifting and I’ll be able to share more about it soon. Once we got home, there was no grace for adjusting back to wakefulness. We went straight into Parenting and Owning a Business and Work and Life and Meal Planning.

It was rude.

Work on my dream Studio started, I haven’t stepped off cloud nine yet.

That thing when ideas happen.

It currently sits like this:

Total progress from yesterday. Got so much done. I can see the finished studio :)

We took the roof off and framed in for a window border around the entire building. Then it started raining. It hasn’t really stopped. I keep seeing myself in the finished studio writing or painting or sitting with a friend/colleague and doing the work of life, and being joyful.

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Jessica’s gluten allergy has reared it’s head again and we’re a good 5 days into the transition for her to be completely off gluten successfully. We’ve been at it for more than a week but it’s been completely gluten free for a good five days and we’re seeing so much progress at home already.

I might be doing a few posts on gluten free baking/cooking and what it’s like to cater to an allergy in a house where the rest of us don’t have it. The best part is she’s advocating for herself, she can tell a difference which means we’re on the right track.

There’s been many (MANY!) failures in the kitchen so far and almost everything is being compared to what her pallet remembers of the wheat version of her favorites, but we’re getting there. I’ve had a couple successes and I happy-dance the shit out of those. In the middle of the kitchen. While she looks at me like a crazy person.

To this #glutenfree victory I've had approximately 13 failures today alone. We will eat cupcakes for every meal.

This one! #glutenfree

She’s emotionally allergic to baked potatoes and mayonnaise but will eat both when pigs fly. Guess what’s gluten free? Both baked potatoes and mayonnaise. Not that I need a reason to serve her condiments but we take everything we can get right now. The other night we had potatoes and meatballs for dinner (both GF) and she offered to pray before dinner. (She never does that.)

She prayed that Oliver would stop crying (he had a hard day of being adorable and exhausted from all the cuteness) and that she wouldn’t throw up from the baked potato.

What I heard was “I’m concerned about my brother and I see what’s on my plate and I agree to eat some.”

She totally ate some. AND LIKED IT.

Potatoes are a new food group, we’re going to live.

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Oliver had his first birthday party invite last weekend. He had a big day, actually. Barber Shop hair cut, Kindergarten Halloween Birthday Ball, learning to read. We had conferences for both kids last week as well. Of course they’re doing great (3rd grade and Kindergarten, respectively) but we have areas to grow and work on, too.

Like keeping up on all that paper that comes home.

I mean.

I was telling a friend that I feel like every parent walks into conferences feeling like they’re doing everything wrong. That somehow the Teacher has the upper hand in the exchange because they’re reporting to us on our child’s progress outside of our home. They made it this far (our kids) so we’ve had to take some credit for that, and now? Now, let’s talk about how to keep them moving forward. Sign here, here, here, aaaand here.

I feel a little childish sitting in seats 3 sizes too small and looking at standardized test scores that look like soduku puzzles.

My kids aren’t going to the same school I went to. (Actually, they literally are.) But … I mean, education wise. It’s just different. I’m learning 3rd grade all over again too, only this time around I know what carries through. (Hint: not everything.) And yet I can’t remember if I want them to get “3’s” or “A’s” or “100%’s” or be somewhere on the upper curve? Or is there a curve?

It’s just all very weird, basically. Finally feeling like a legitimate adult and being completely dumbfounded that my son only knows his alphabet by zoo phonic noises. An A is not an A to Oliver unless you start with Allie Alligator.

I have to google new names to the letters of the alphabet in order to teach him how to read.

I was hoping the ABC song would live a little longer.

Pretty proud of this one for progress made on learning to read. But now time has to stop. Forever.

But we’re healthy! And their teachers are both amazing. I love love love that I feel like they’re invested in my children with me.

Apparently I have a lot to say. I’ll stop here and be back soon for more catch up.

Safe tricks with your treats, friends!

xoxo

Days of the week

It takes a while for things to iron themselves out in my heart. Always has. New routines, big changes. Small changes, big trips. I need time to process and think and sort and fall in love and all of the above. I just need time. Because these moments don’t just happen to later forget them, they happen to me as part of the fabric of my life. Of my memory. Of me.

Having both of my kids in all day school has been one of these moments. I feel differently about it almost every day, until this morning. And I can finally write about it.

I don’t know how to answer you when you ask me what it’s like, if I “love the freedom”, how I’m doing or any of those things. Some days the respite from a constant need-based relationship is welcome, other days I’m so lonely I can’t quite function. At all. Lovely strangers in coffee shops who know us only by our daily presence have offered their advice that maybe it’s time for another baby?

Oh, you.

How do I pull all of this into one answer for you? How do I tell you, without actually telling you, that it’s surprisingly painful to pack your kids a lunch and kiss their heads as they walk into the doors of their education. How do I tell you that it’s exciting and a little addicting to be able to run errands and pop in stores I normally wouldn’t all because I can? Because I’m alone, because it won’t be an exercise in patience, for me or them? How do I explain that sending them to school is both a blessing and a curse? That the second they get out of my car I worry if their making friends or falling behind or how they liked their lunch? Are they eating enough? Was this the right decision? Are we doing anything right?

I worry about them fitting in, I worry about fitting in with the mom’s so we can forge friendships for the kids and make those lasting memories throughout school. I worry about wearing the right things and then get angry that I’m caring so I put my paint clothes on, stick my hair in a pencil and scoop my kid up in my arms at his door.

And another baby? I can’t answer this one simply, there is no answer for this. Only longing. On so many levels. But the period at the end of this sentence is No.

And it reminded me, this morning, that as I’m looking for inspiration and mentorship of mothers who’ve gone before me – that they had to go through this same thing. That the rhythm of a home becomes one of ebb and flow. The morning tidal wave of excitement and flurry to get dressed and ready. Bags and homework flying in the air as we pack and eat and brush our hair. Scurry to find the shoes, watch the clock, drink your orange juice. Kiss, pray, hug – good bye.

The calm of the day, the silent in it’s serenity. Laundry, dinner, grocery shopping. Coffee with a friend, bible studies, volunteer committees. Phone calls, bills, appointments. Shopping, preparing, social life projecting. Work work working. Writing, photography, building.

The weather map for the afternoon usually looks different every day, but it’s generally a readjustment. The kids are exhausted and they need space to sink into what they learned, to remember their conversations and jokes and all about the book their reading. Or the field trip or the concert they’re preparing for.

I’m very ready to get my kids by the end of the day, to see them and hear them. To smell their heads and hug them. I want them. And we pile into the car where the bickering might start or the conversation might finally begin and magic can happen in the 7 minutes we spend commuting from school to home, where the glass pond structure of the clean house becomes a wake of solemn skiing, knee boarding and tubing.

They burst out of their backpacks and leave shoes all over the house, head bands and important papers. Colored pictures and notes from friends, left over’s from their lunches and new requests for a snack. We explode in this calm little house after a day away. Dinner prep and mess, music and dancing, bike riding and friendship building … bed time stories and baths and brushing our teeth.

We got to bed full and happy, although getting there can sometimes be more of a tornado than an afternoon on an all-sports lake. But we get there, every night.

And in the morning – the tidal wave builds again and before it collapses we climb up and ride it.

Hugs goodnight are extra long tonight. #love

Oliver

And it’s finally starting to sink in.

Big and little: go to school.

This morning on the way to school Jessica started talking about yawning.

Did you know that some people think it’s impossible to keep your eyes open if you yawn at the same time as someone else?? (Pause) But I’ve done it before! When me and dad yawn at the same time, he closed his eyes but I kept mine open. (Shows us) Like this.

Yeah, I used to have a rule for myself. Just for me, when I was six, that after I yawned for the first time at night I’d close my eyes and go to sleep. I always pictured balloons floating.

Then I dropped her off at school. And I already miss her.

Monday was their first day of all-day everyday school. Jessica’s not so new to this and was incredibly excited to get back to school and see her friends. She was nervous, but the kind of nervous that makes you want to look a little longer, to stay a little while more, to watch and see what unfolds.

This was Oliver’s first “big school” experience. Packed lunches, new shoes, high socks. A locker.

Oliver goes to Kindergarten

He was nervous in the way that you know you’re supposed to keep watching but you don’t know what you’re looking at.

I was nervous in the way that I know what happens next and the net’s always been there to catch me, but what if it’s gone this time?

Oliver goes to Kindergarten

These are my little people, as it looks from where we sit – the only little people we get. They’re everything that’s hard in my life, but everything that’s better than I ever imagined it could ever be, too.

It was a flurry of action Monday morning. New desks to remember, lots of rules and halls and words and people. Reminders of who and how they’re getting home, when I’ll be there: Don’t forget – Mom will pick you up. Bring your water bottle home, those books stay here. Those are inside shoes, not outside shoes. You’ll need this for your snack. Give these to your teacher, don’t forget.

Don’t forget.

Don’t forget.

We gave them all these words to hold onto, just incase they needed to search for words of their own and didn’t have any – they could borrow ours. Extra hugs at goodbye, one more kiss. No one was embarrassed to be seen with us, and we weren’t embarrassed to shout a little louder “Have fun!” “Be safe!” “Be a leader!” “You’ll do great!!”.

Then it was time to stand back and watch them fly.

Oliver goes to Kindergarten

Oliver goes to Kindergarten

They didn’t just fly … they took off.

As anchors of the sling shot in parenting, Aaron and I let go of their hands and they catapulted into their new surroundings. So many things to see and experience. We watched for a few minutes while I started to cry and Aaron, knowing full well this was coming, just held me with both arms – the arms that minutes before we’re flanking a safety net around our children were now wrapped around me.

It was good, so good. I don’t know what I was afraid of, myself maybe? But it’s right and it fits and it’s full of opportunity. We’re so excited for where they are, where we are. We get to do this with them and it couldn’t have felt more savory on Monday.

We both picked them up, I was anxious. They couldn’t get in the car fast enough. I also couldn’t get out fast enough to greet them. HI! MY LITTLE TRIBE OF PEOPLE! YOU CAME BACK TO ME!!!

Give me all the words, tell me everything! What happened? How was it? Did you eat enough? Are you tired? Did you make friends? WORDS WORDS WORDSWORDSWORDSWORDSWORDS. Exhausted they said it went good. (Of course it did!) And when we got home we did the First Day DASH!

So that while we could continue catapulting them out of our safety net, they could always come back home.

First Day DASH!

First Day DASH!

And it would be a celebration each and every time.

I was at the edge and I jumped a little.

I’ve been reading the amazing links circulating on how to survive summer vacation. That used to be a terrible thing to admit to myself, “surviving” anything with my kids. Because, duh, I’m a mom! Like rainbows and Care Bears and Cabbage Patch Dolls all day long! Breasties! Stroller walks and photos! DID YOU SEE WHAT MY KID DID?

He pooped, ok? By himself. I didn’t need to wipe an ass, finally.

Maybe it’s because this is my 8th summer. I was hoping I’d never get to this point in parenting, where I was all “YEA GIRLFRIEND! I’M WITH YOU ON THE HATING OF THE THINGS!” But alas, I’m in pre-teen land with one of my off-spring and Dear-God-Why-Aren’t-You-In-School-Full-Time with my other.

I love them a lot. Like, the rainbows part? That’s true. They’re ridiculous fun and lift me up and out of things they didn’t even know existed. All I have to do is wake up and show up – it’ll be a great day. However…

Their laughter used to be medicine for a weary soul. I made it today because my kid fucking laughed! (That happens.) And now their noise, any of it, is like finger nails on a chalk board. You would think I had 10 children and an amplifier with which I speak to them. Because the noise? It’s louder and faster and definitely more aggravating than the 150 decible bass vibrating your entire car in rush hour traffic in the middle of Chicago.

Who keeps Tylenol in business? Moms. That’s who.

You’d think I would just send them outside: I do. They always come back to me crying and bleeding. A+ parenting, friends. A-PLUS.

Take them on a bike ride! Go to the beach! Do anything outside of your house!

Yea, I got that. I do, I will, we’re on it. But then, and hi, you adorable naive (don’t worry, it used to be me) new mom. Or Aunt. Or estrogen pumping species: they bicker. Like, they hold the Olympics of bickering and whining and not getting the thing they wanted screaming contests.

It’s adorable. You should see it.

Except, no.

And yes, I did just spend 12 entire days with them on vacation. A lot of those days were in the car all together. All the time. I drank a little, to be honest.

Maybe thats why I need a break so bad? Because the last month of school is really just a marathon of parties and things to do and committee meetings and signing up for more meals somewhere and at one point I spent all our grocery money on other families and totally forgot we needed to eat, too. That’s a thing right? Eating?

Those last few weeks of school aren’t really the basking in the fact that you have a few more weeks to “get things done” it’s more like I have zero time left to mentally prepare for what is about to explode in my house in just days. Good thinking on the teacher’s planning: Make all the work at the end of the year. Keep them delirious as to what’s coming. Sugar them up! Give them all our leftover paper! Everything they touched must go with them so their mother will have to deal with it!

And like a rookie I signed up for it all.

Then I booked a week and half long vacation (by car. take a moment here, say it again. BY. CAR.) 48 hours after the end of school and today is my first official Monday of Summer.

We went to pick strawberries! Someone probably got a concussion! There was laughter! Their chore charts are filled out and functioning! They have VBS to look forward to! Friends and neighbors to play with! ISN’T THIS THE BEST????

Why do I want to cry?

the one about schools

We’ve been in a different building every single year since entering the age of education. Preschool is one thing, no big deal. But we tried 2 different preschools and we’re onto to our third school district entirely.

I am not fan of the choices, always second guessing our placement. I was raised in Christian education and Aaron was before he was home-schooled. We both decided a long time ago that public schools were what we wanted for our kids. For a lot of reasons.

The day before 2nd grade started we began wondering if maybe we were wrong. Maybe we should just send our kids to the Christian schools near us, we knew them and were comfortable with them. We both had history with them and could get involved easily. All kinds of reasons to send our kids through their doors, but the indecision wasn’t settling the internal dispute for us.

We started this year at the public school, on the fence. It just doesn’t feel like home to me but I think it does to Jessica. She’s loving it so far. I hope we find a tribe as parents and a family within the walls of our school but more-so I hope she does.

first day of school

As a parent or even someone who might be in education – do you have advice?