Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday

We're in the home stretch of our stay at Homewood Suites...closing on our new home is approaching, and honestly, we could not be more excited.  Yesterday we spent the entire day cooped up in our suite because Gavin stayed home from school with a fever.  It was around 4 pm when I finally realized I had yet to shower, and the suite was in a state of semi-disrepair, as Raegan the cyclone had hit with a force that only a toddler can possess.  Where was I during this onslaught of clothes-throwing, toy-tossing, bed-jumping destruction?  I was stuck in the magical world of Pinterest, trying to escape the enchanting lands of Home Decor and DIY/Crafts as I visualized and pinned about 147 different ideas for the house.  Inattentive mommy?  Sure.  But, no one was hurt, and clean-up evolved into a game where the kids earned puff balls to help fill up their reward jar.  In the end, the room was cleaned, I found an escape route from Pinterest, and once again order had been restored to the land.

You can tell that our time here has been met with a mix of feelings.  The kids are just as antsy as Randy and I to move in, however we are all recognizing some of the things that we really don't mind so much about this place.  And so, I've created two top tens...a pros and cons list, if you will, of things we'll miss and things we're okay with leaving behind as we prepare to move on, move out, and move in.

So, do you want the good, the bad, or the ugly first?  (Actually...there really isn't an 'ugly'...we don't have many complaints at all about living here--it was kind of a stretch for me to come up with a full 10 items.)  At any rate...let's start with the cons...

Top 10 Things We Won't Miss About Living in an Extended Stay:
10. Close living quarters.  I mean, like really close.  There's pretty much no escaping anyone here (human or dog), which makes it a challenge to find enough 'time out' spots when I need them.  The dogs definitely miss their larger, roomier crate (and we miss them sleeping elsewhere--pugs snore.  Terribly.)

9. Speaking of the dogs, I will not miss having to walk them everysingletime they have to do their business.  Call me spoiled, but I long for the days when I can simply open the back door and let them run free in our fenced-in back yard.  This is mostly because Mojo has the bladder the size of a fava bean, and refuses to go unless she has an audience in her furry sister, Biscuits.  She will stand and stare with her bugged-out eyes, cross her legs, and wait....and wait....and wait for Biscuits to accompany her outside for 'moral support'.  Meanwhile, Biscuits is a bit on the 'high maintenance' side, and also has a bladder that doubles as a camel hump.  She can hold it--for as long as necessary--until the dew-covered grass is dry (heaven forbid our paws get damp!), or until the temperature is what she considers 'just right' for her to squat and piddle.  Diva with a deviated septum.  
now, I love MaKayla Maroney and am definitely not saying she resembles a pug here...
...but Biscuits sure is trying to capture the 'look' she became known for during the Summer Olympics!

8. Limited television channels...and no guide to speak of.  Okay, this is totally a 'first-world problem', but seriously.  News stations and sports stations dominate the roughly 30 choices of television channels made available to us.  Yes, yes, I know.  We have HBO, which is a help...if it's a movie that is appropriate and/or interesting enough to help pass the time.  I know these kind of hotels are frequented by business people, and therefore stocks, news, and panel discussions are popular choices so they can be 'in the know'...but would it kill to add a little Bravo to the mix?  (Or even FX...I'm dying to know what's going on in Sons of Anarchy!!)

7. A lack of oven/super small kitchen.  Again...'first-world' problem (you'll start to see that many--if not all--of these are, so let me just pause for a moment to apologize for sounding terribly spoiled and ungrateful.  If you can't handle it, I'm sorry for you that you can't find humor in the fact that you're reading this post on the internet and that you can get access to pretty much any information you desire at a lightning fast speed.  If you prefer, I can send you this post via Pony Express since you'd be so willing to give up the luxury of your wireless).  

Anyhow...the kitchen.  I'm definitely not a gourmet chef, however I do know my way around a kitchen.  It's  great that they provide the items that they do, however when faced with needing to cook for a family of five...there's only so many one-pot meals I can handle.  And, the baker in me is craving some scones, cupcakes, or brownies from scratch.  Oh, how I miss having a fully functioning kitchen.

6. Since I mentioned the kitchen, let me mention the lack of convenience the amenities offer a family of 5.  Four of each fork, plate, bowl, etc. means we've got to do a little bit of improvisation when it comes to meals. 
Pasta in a coffee mug.  It's either this, or we eat in shifts.

5. Needing quarters (and an elevator) to do laundry (on the 4th floor--which we are not).  I can't tell you how many times I've banged my head on the stupid coin slots attached to the machines as I awkwardly maneuver damp clothes from the washer into the inefficiently placed dryer.  

the stash is running low...and even though they'll make change for me at the front desk,
who carries cash anymore?
4. Scratchy, single-ply toilet paper.  Enough said.

oh...Cottonelle, how I miss your fluffy softness
3. Pillows that are just 'too soft'.  I'm all for comfort, and love the look of a perfectly plump, fluffed, marshmallow-esque pillow.  But, when you lay on it, and it transforms into a deflated, lifeless board-like non-pillow...that's where I draw the line.  Sometimes, comfort has to trump aesthetics. (Mostly when sleep is involved.  Put a pair of 4-inch, pointed-toe stilettos within an arm's reach, and I turn into a weak-kneed pile of goo.  I love a sassy pair of shoes.)
fashion doesn't match function if you need a chiropractic adjustment after sleeping on these!

2. Having 'lazy days'.  We're going a bit stir crazy in this space since there's not much to do.
Reduced to playing with bubblewrap (courtesy of our breakfast hostess!).
The toothbrush isn't an oddity...Raegan loves playing with her toothbrush.
1. Not having a place to call 'home' (despite what our key card says).  It's funny, one the kids will ask me, "When is daddy coming 'home'?", and every time the other will interrupt with, "This isn't home."  We aren't quite sure what to call our current living situation.  In my eyes (and the eyes of many of my family and friends), 'home' is where your family is, so we are at 'home'.  

But man, we really can't wait to be settled in our house.  

I'd say we've made ourselves at 'home'...the disaster-area of a suite says so.

There...my list of things I won't miss.  I told you it was a bit of a stretch (see #5 and 8...and any others you'd like to add to the list).  I have been struggling with trying to be as positive as possible throughout this whole scenario, knowing that it could be much worse...and while I can honestly admit I wasn't 100% successful in my mission, I'd like to end this post with the positives.  The things I will miss...some of them a lot...in living at Homewood Suites.  

Top 10 Things We Will Miss About Living in an Extended Stay

10. Three words.  Texas. Shaped. Waffles.  I seriously have eaten one everysingleday I've been here.  What is it about the warm, fluffy waffles I can't resist?  Each day, I start with a different part of Texas as my first bite.  Gulf Coast, the chimney, the rugged terrain of the western part of the state...every bite is delicious.  The ding of the timer on the waffle iron, while exceptionally loud (especially in a pre-caffeinated state), brings a little bit of anticipation as I pile on blueberries and sliced strawberries.

Sure, I can buy a Texas-shaped waffle iron.  I've seen them in a few places...but will it be the same?  Will I even have time to sit down and enjoy my creation as I do here each morning?  Most importantly, can my waistline (and collection of Miss Me jeans) handle the daily dose of unnecessary carbs??  Ahh...I'll miss this little luxury.

9. On a 'food note'...it's been kind of nice having a full breakfast buffet provided daily, in addition to dinner prepared Monday through Thursday.  Even though I love cooking (just not in a small kitchen, read: #4 above), it is nice to have a little hiatus from this task before jumping in feet first into stay-at-home mom who will be preparing breakfast, lunch, and dinner as a part of my 'daily job description'.  This little 'extra' has made it that thatmuchnicer being here for the past several weeks.

Give us this day, your daily bread...

8. As if breakfast and dinner weren't enough...the liquid perk of both of these meals comes in the form of the 'vat o coffee' and bottomless wine & beer (sadly, the latter is only a dinner option! ;)

There's something to be said for a cup of coffee that someone else has brewed.  Or a bottle of wine that I don't have to pay for (although, Randy has pointed out that inadvertently, we do pay for the wine & beer...and at a premium.  To which I counter that his company has provided us with relocation costs, so in fact, we haven't. Boom.  Even tastier.)

7. Perfect (and practically endless) ice cubes.  Call me weird, but I have a strange affinity for ice.  I craved it with all three pregnancies.  When I go through Sonic drive-thru, I always order a strawberry limeade and an additional cup of ice.  I believe that Which Wich has some of the best ice around...and am so happy to discover the chain sub shop exists in the Houston area.

So, when I find great ice...I'm in my own small sliver of first-world heaven.  I am eager to find out what the ice is like from our new dispenser on the fridge.  I'd hate to have to come back here just to stock up on the cold cubes.

6. Another love...hot showers.  Turn-my-skin-a-bright-shade-of-pink kind of hot.  Melt-the-makeup-off-my-face hot.  And not just showers...handwashing just feels cleaner with really hot water.  Dishes and silverware washed in really hot water make me feel better about my housekeeping duties in the kitchen.  

It's not like we didn't have hot water in Colorado...we did.  And, I know we'll have hot water in our new house.  But the water here is some kind of special.  I feel like I'm entering a relaxing sauna when I shower, and the makeup cowers at the temperature as I splash my face each night after exfoliating.  It's my own way to make this place feel more like a 'vacation' than actual real-life living.

5. Housekeeping.  Amen.

Who doesn't love little bottles of shampoos and lotions, fancy folded towels,
and a perfectly made bed with a fresh duvet and perfectly plump pillows
(that is, until you lay on them...read # 8 above)

4.  When we moved down here, we had 5 of us, 2 dogs, and about a month or so worth of clothing for each of us.  Add in toiletries, our important documents in our fire safe, a large plastic tote filled with aerosol spray cans (a no-no  for the professional movers), and other odds and ends...it was a lot.  And it didn't leave a lot of space for toys.  The lack of toys has been somewhat of a mixed blessing.  The kids have learned to be satisfied with less (and the angels rejoice), and they're needing to be more creative and willing to share (again, the angels rejoice).  They miss their toys, but I don't necessarily miss the clutter.  The good news is, it's been so long since they've seen them...they'll all be like brand new.

These are the only toys (accompanied by library books)
that traveled to Texas in the Armada.  They're getting a little bored of the 'giraffe bag o fun',
but sometimes, in life, you just have to deal.
3.  Having lazy days.  Yeah, that was on the list above...but once we get into the house, we're going to be catapulted into a more 'normal' type of reality.  I'm sure we'll all miss the days where we don't have to clean a huge house, de-clutter the overflow of toys, and prepare meals.  Yeah, we'll have them again, but for the first few weeks until we get things organized, we'll be busy.  

And then I'll want to start the little projects I've pinned on Pinterest.

2.  Watching the kids cuddle in the same bed.  They'll hate me later in life for taking so many pictures (and posting)...but how can you resist.  I know when my brothers and I were growing up, we'd have 'sleep overs' on a huge 'mom-made' bed of comforters and blankets and sleeping bags.  Those nights, where we'd stay up giggling and tossing around Jason's beloved 'Jammie Pies' until my mom would come in, bleary-eyed, begging us to sleep so she could get up early for work...those are some of my favorite memories from my childhood.

sibling love.  a bond that won't break.
sweet Jammie Pies...my baby brother's version of Gavin's Eeyore

1.  And...the thing I'll miss most about living here...the close quarters.  Again, it's another repeat from my list above, but there's a hidden blessing in being forced to restructure a lifestyle to which we had become accustomed and co-exist in a couple hundred square feet for a few weeks.  Soon, we'll be in 4,000 square feet of space...spread out among five bedrooms (well, four and a guest room), along with a great room, media room, loft space, office, and kitchen.  Will we have nights where we are all squished on a couch or bed watching a movie?  Sure!  Will we have times when we all need 'our own' space?  Absolutely!  But we'll  always have these few weeks where there was no option but to be squished onto a king-sized bed watching Mr. Popper's Penguins, or when we couldn't have our 'own space'--even in the bathroom.  We'll treasure this time...somewhere down the line...and realize that it did not in fact kill us (like some of us joked it may), but it did in fact make us stronger.  

And to survive in this world...there's nothing more comforting than a strong family.

Nothing says 'close quarters' like dinner for five around a coffee table.
Cherished family time.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

families are like Jell-o

Today is Thanksgiving.  It doesn't quite feel 'Thanksgivingy' to me, however.  The aromas of turkey roasting in the oven, sauteing vegetables for my beloved stuffing, and pumpkin pies are non-existent.  I'm not busying myself in the kitchen with preparing holiday deliciousness.  Instead, my stinky dogs sit at my feet and I'm watching my husband and kids build Legos while watching Friends.  I'm not complaining, however.  Just making a general observation about how this holiday is different compared to what I'm familiar with.

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday.  No gifts, no candy (minus the pecan pie which I easily consider an equivalent to Kit-Kats, 3 Musketeers, or Caramello).  Just family and friends surrounded by what I consider the most delicious meal of the year, spending time with each other, sharing stories and laughter, making memories (that you can share at next year's Thanksgiving!), and kicking off the Christmas holiday season.

Technically, our 'typical' Thanksgiving doesn't even really involve the aromas and kitchen preparatory I kicked off this post with.  For the past 7 years we lived in Colorado, and spent the majority of our holidays with our dear friends.  I had the good fortune of working with Sue during my first year in Colorado, and we quickly became close friends.  Over the years, our families integrated and we became blended in our own 'very Brady way'.

Sue and her family are from the Mid West.  'Sconsin to be more specific.  Becoming friends with them has given us the opportunity to learn some of the idiosyncrasies of the region.  One of the 'things' about meals in the midwest (according to my friend) is that Jell-o is pretty commonplace.  Every time we'd share a meal with Sue and her family, there would be at least one variety of a Jell-o mold or salad.

For our family, Jell-o never became a staple on our dinner table.  Jell-o was something we had 'every now and then', as a dessert or a snack.  Sometimes, we'd have Jell-o jigglers, which were always a fun treat, and a great food for the kids' birthday parties because I could make it into any shape to match the theme.  But having Jell-o salad or a fancy shaped mold?  Not unless we were at a picnic or pot-luck banquet.  Yet now, I can't imagine a holiday without it.

Now, for the first time in 7 years, are spending a holiday with just the five of us.  My heart is full of happiness and gratitude for the blessings we have, yet there is a part of me that is sad, knowing that our holiday meal won't include the jilggly, fruit-flavored gelatin we've grown to know and love as part of our holiday fare.  To us, Jell-o represents more than just food.  It represents family.

Sue and her family have been for us, the family that we were blessed with at a time when we didn't have any other family around.  They've been there with us on holidays, helped us out when we were in a daycare bind (or in labor!), birthdays and 'just because' days, and opened their home to us for our last days in Colorado.  I can't help but think of how God put her family in our lives to remind us that family doesn't always have to be blood relation (among many other reasons!).

Family comes in all shapes, sizes, and flavors (just like Jell-o).

This year, we won't be enjoying Jell-o on our Thanksgiving table, and its absence will be greatly felt.  We are so, so thankful for Sue and her family...for the kind words she wrote to every one of us in the cards we received earlier this week in the mail...for the heartfelt and genuine advice and wealth of knowledge she shared with me when I was feeling a little sorry for myself...for the years of hugs and sweet, thoughtful, and personal gifts she has given our family (she knows us all so very well)...for the countless memories (including the exploding glass and mashed potatoes!)...for friendship and love...and for the Jell-o.

There's always room for Jell-o.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Life as a Quasi- Stay at Home(wood Suites) Mom

I'm in a funk.  Limbo.  A holding pen, anxiously awaiting that 'next step' that I've been trying to wrap my brain around.

With a week to go before Thanksgiving, I've decided I need to get over this 'blah' I've let myself fall into and step it up with my blogging (which, by the way, I've been *promising* myself I'd do every day since we arrived in Texas).  I owe it to myself, and most importantly, my kids, to document some of the things going on as we transition from life as Coloradans to life as Texans.

Things in Texas are going well...Randy is adjusting well to his new job, learning the ins and outs of oil and gas sales and discovering the differences of working in the 'corporate' world.  We are all enjoying his 'normal' schedule, and seeing him dressed up each morning for work brings a little smile to my face, cause he's just so darn cute. :)

Gavin is really liking his new elementary school.  He has two different teachers; a language arts teacher, and a math/science/social studies teacher.  Both have emailed me to let me know how happy they are to have him in class.  He's making new friends and likes the fact that he has a uniform dress code (I thought he'd be upset that he didn't get to wear some of his favorite t-shirts).  I'm driving him to school each morning for now, until we move into our house.  This dynamic allows for a mommy-son breakfast each morning that puts a smile on his face for the day (mine, too).

Brynn and Raegan hang out with me during the day, which gives us some time to visit the library and craft store.  We've been doing some daily exploring; checking out the city of Sugar Land, and getting used to where things are located.  B also has a few pre-school books that we've been working on each day, so that we can keep her brain busy until we get settled and figure out preschool costs.  Raegan's been keeping us busy with her typical toddler antics (I think we've cleaned up the overturned toy bins and scattered crayons at least a dozen times each day).

The dogs are doing well.  I'm grateful they have each other, and I think they are, too, even if it makes for tight sleeping quarters in their travel crate.  Biscuits isn't quite a fan of the fact that she needs to walk on a leash for her restroom needs, as she is used to having free range in the back yard.  I keep telling her that her time will come, as she sulks and follows along to the *perfect* spot Mojo sniffs out to spin 17 times before going potty.  As the days blend together, I think she's starting to doubt me.

That takes me to me.  I've always struggled personally with the working mom/stay at home mom dynamic.  The grass was always greener, whether it was the school year when I craved free time with my kids, or the summer when I craved the structure of a well-scheduled day.  Teaching gave me the perfect opportunity to experience both atmospheres, and just when I was 'settling in', the time of the year would allow me to flip the coin and experience life on the 'other side'.

When Randy and I made the decision to move our family to Texas, I was about 85% on board.  That 15% of me that wavered did so because I knew that it meant a shift in the role I played in my family and in my life.  For a decade, I taught classrooms full of students, sponsored student leadership teams, organized yearbooks, and directed plays.  Not to mention, I ran a household.  For six of those years, I balanced doing all of that with the added responsibilities of kids.  I thrived when my plate was full, wouldn't blink at saying 'yes' to a request from my principal for a project, or a dinner invitation from girlfriends during what almost always was an exhausting week where I'd hardly accomplished a full load of laundry.  Was our home spic and span and 'company ready' at all times?  Not a chance.  But my kids were fed and clothed and they were happy and smiling (unless they were fighting).  Was my classroom uber organized, lesson plans completed for the upcoming week, and papers graded in a timely fashion?  Uh...no, (but honestly, what teacher ever feels 'caught up'?)

Now, however, the pendulum has stopped swinging and is resting in the realm of stay at home mommy.  I'm relishing in the thoughts of getting to spend more quality time with my kids, making fun crafts, baking with them, having the house in a more defined order, and seeking out other avenues on which to find personal fulfillment.  My mental list of 'things to do once we're moved in and the house is in order' is speckled with wide variety of Pinterest finds, personal goals, and lots of laughter and smiles from the munchkins.  The possibilities are endless.

I did start this blog off by saying I was in a funk, right?  My friends and family have been emailing, texting, facebooking, or calling to see how things are going here in Texas, and I honestly feel like I'm lying to them when I say things are going great.  That probably sounds really hypocritical based on all that I wrote about the great things we have going on so far.  I don't necessarily feel like 'life in Texas' has started yet, which is why feel like we're in limbo.  

While the staff here at our Homewood Suites has been so very *sweet*, and I feel grateful that we have nice accommodations for our temporary housing situation, I still have this feeling of being on a family vacation from hell.  You know the kind...take a little dabble from the various National Lampoon movies and add in a little 'slightly spoiled' hotel guest and you get the idea.  The whole 'transition to full time stay at home mom' thing has taken somewhat of a backseat as we sit here, enjoying meals and housekeeping services.  ~Breakfast is provided every morning, with choices to please everyone's cravings (I cannot.stop.eating. the Texas-shaped waffles...I seriously contemplate buying an iron for our house).  Dinner is provided Monday-Thursday, and while I might prepare some of the options differently, for a *free* meal, it's not bad.  Plus, there's a salad bar...and beer and wine.  Randy's a fan of that part the most.
~Housekeeping comes in each day to change the sheets, fluff the pillows, and replace our 1-time-use towels with fresh, clean towels.  I've in inadvertently discovered that if I leave dishes in the sink, they'll be washed for me and left to dry on the towel beside the sink (ok, I seriously felt awful about that when it happened, and have since washed the dishes before housekeeping comes in).  We even came home the other day to discover that the kids 'lovies' and blankets had been neatly folded and organized adorably so on the arm chair.  
I mean, come on.  This is not how a household works.  Well, at least this isn't how my household works.  Parts of it, sure...the beds will be 'made' each day (the kids have a different meaning of the word 'made' than I do), and of course meals will be prepared.  I fear what the response will be, however, when the kids don't have a smorgasbord of options for their breakfast (although Gavin's requested I stock up on a variety of single-serving size cereal boxes and a silver insulated carafe for his milk).  I fear what Randy will do when he tries to make beer magically appear from the non-existent tap he 'thinks' is installed in our counter top because that's what he's familiar with at dinner time. I fear what they'll all do when they realize that sheets are not stripped and laundered daily, and towels can be hung up to dry so they can be used more than once as well.  I also fear what I'll do when I realize that these little 'luxuries' that I'm quickly becoming accustomed to as 'standard procedure' are the very tasks that will once again become commonplace on my own schedule.  Will I even remember how to cook/bake/make a bed?!

For now, I guess I'll enjoy this 'limbo funk', treasure the super squished living quarters, continue living as a quasi stay-at-home mom, and keep counting down the days until closing!  (as of right now, that count is at 17!)

Monday, October 22, 2012


For what seems like the past 2-3 weeks, Raegan has been on somewhat of a self-imposed hunger strike.  I can admit, there have been a few meals sprinkled in where I might not have been on the top of my culinary game (spagetti-o's the night of parent-teacher conferences being one such example).  However, our current situation being what it is with getting ready for the move and all, family 'meal' time has morphed into an ambiguous time where we're not always eating the same thing, or even eating at the same time.  While that fact alone goes against everything I value about family meals, the irony is that this *should* be to the advantage of our oh-so-sudden picky 18-month old eater.  She's got a meal ticket (pun intended) to eat pretty much whatever she'd like for her meals.  Yet, as far as I can see (or remember), she hasn't taken advantage of it.

If I were a more 'with it' mommy, I'd actually pay closer attention to what she has been consuming.  I'd have an assortment of colorful and healthy snacks and options at meals, all of which serve a vital purpose in her growth and development.

But let's face it.  'With it' isn't quite the adjective I'd use to describe my current status.  I've been flying solo for the past week, and the week prior to that I was in my own selfish space of preparing to say goodbye to my class and putting an indefinite pause on the career I've wanted to have since I was 5 years old.  A rainbow of veggies and fruit, cut into cute shapes accompanied by flavorful (yet healthy!) dips to encourage tasting was (and is) not at the top of my list.  [In fact, if you looked at my 'list', you'd need to hire a cryptoanalyst to decipher the conglomeration of random letters, cross-outs, and chicken-scratch scribbles that are scattered about on the page(s), Jackson Pollock-style]

What I'm seeking right now, is sustenance.  I'm fairly certain Raegan is, as well, based on the random bites of food she partook in throughout our weekend in Texas, and today, as well.  Her sustenance has taken the shape of cheese sticks, applesauce, buttered noodles, scrambled eggs, grapes, pears, Goldfish crackers, and a variety of fried foods.  Although this list is kind of long for a person whom I noted as being on a 'hunger strike', the trouble comes when she has to take more than one bite of any food (on the list, or off).  Her emphatic nod when you offer her something to eat gives anyone great hope that this time might be 'the time' she decides to actually eat.  But, alas, she reverts back to her ornery look of smug delight, and equally emphatic shake of the head, knowing she has once again tricked you.

Raegan relies on cup after cup after cup of milk, to counterbalance her lack of anything else with nutritional value.  She's sustaining life (how, I can't quite figure), as the definition of sustenance describes.

Sustenance: Something, especially food, that sustains life or health.

Milk is apparently her magical sustenance, in her own toddler world.

But what is my 'milk'?  For about as much time as Raegan's been avoiding food, I've found my appetite voluntarily weaning.  My jeans are looser (bonus...however in an un-healthy way), my cupboards and refrigerator still house the food I had originally planned to prepare for the last few meals in our home, and I have had days when it is lunch time before I realize that I have yet to eat anything (such a bad habit, I know!).

So, how am I sustaining my life and/or health?  Well, if I reflect on what the past few weeks have been like, I see a large fog interlaced with negativity.  I don't mean to be so negative, but feelings of overwhelmed helplessness, coupled with three little munchkins who crave attention and add in an out-of-town hubs...it can be a little much, even for a seasoned vet.

Currently, I think the 'something' that is keeping me going is knowing that soon enough, things will be settled down and we'll be in our new 'home state', all together and getting acclimated to Big Texas livin'.  The 'something' is knowing that soon enough life will be back into my zone of normalcy, a place where I function at a much higher level (and with a lot less complaints).  The 'something' is also knowing that my health--mental and physical--will soon be improved as I incorporate some yummy southern cooking into my repertoire (in moderation, of course!).  The 'something' will be the health of my relationship improving as we're reunited in the same state, functioning on the same playing field, and sharing the same daily experiences.  The stresses of this huge change have inadvertently caused a disconnect that I'm eager to begin working on.

I find myself seeking out sustenance in things other than food (thank goodness--can't afford a new wardrobe if I don't have a job!), but in things like hanging out with my kids when we have nothing much to do except enjoy each other; spending time with friends; writing (blogging); baking (doesn't work when I'm not hungry, though); or reading.

Currently, I'm reading a book called The Journal of Best Practices by David Finch.  I recently saw him featured on Rock Center with Brian Williams.  It's a peek into the world of a man who, unbeknownst to him, married his wife only to begin to 'let his guard down' and give way for his life as a man with Asperger's come to full fruition.  It's an interesting glimpse into how he worked to improve the lines of communication in his marriage so he and his wife could function as one cohesive unit and ultimately, (according to him), he can become a better husband.  While some of the idiosyncrasies of Asperger's result in some pretty unique situations for Mr. Finch, I'm finding that overall the book is providing some great little strategies and reminders for any couple to implement as they're navigating the tangled web of couple-dom (and of course, couple-dom with kids...soooo much different!). If anything else, Mr. Finch is hysterical.  I find myself giggling aloud at his descriptions of his own quirks.  It's giving me a dose of abnormalcy to remind me that our own compulsions, our own needs for sustenance to keep our health going strong don't have to 'look' a certain way.  While in Texas, I finished reading chapter 7--"When necessary, redefine perfection".  Eye opening.

So what if my daughter won't eat, and when she does it is primarily in only one of the food groups.  So what if the boxes of our stuff aren't packed exactly how I would have done it, but they all arrive in safely in Texas?  So what if my form of sustenance for now doesn't exactly qualify as 'food', but a few random 'somethings' that are keeping me trucking in this last week I'll be living in the house where we began our family, and where I learned to be a wife and mom?  My idea of 'perfect' is shifting, and for now, sustaining the life of my family (via the almighty cheese stick) is an okay move in my books!

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Hi, my name is Erin, and I'm a quasi-hoarder.

(Hi, Erin)

Well, the 'process' of moving is officially underway.  I've met with the moving company and a realtor in the past 24 hours.  In another 24 hours, the kids and I are heading for Houston so we can spend our weekend house hunting.  Next week, the movers will come and pack us up, load it [all] onto a truck, and head toward TX.  The realtor I met with today had great things to say about our current home, and anticipates that it won't spend much time on the market (prayers for that to be a true statement are greatly appreciated!).  He did, however, give me a few pointers for things that will inevitably help it show better.  I already had anticipated what his list included...patching nail holes, touching up paint here and there, and [of course] de-cluttering.  With the movers coming in to 'do their thing' starting Wednesday, he's hopeful we can get photos taken on Tuesday to put it on the market (the sooner the better).

Stress level: high alert

Seven years in a house, three young kids, a conglomeration of memories from our own childhoods, and several beloved hobbies (read: a lot of 'stuff' to carry them out)...it all equates to a lot of stuff.  Emphasis on 'lot'.

Living here each day, using all of the 'stuff' on a daily basis, it's easy to allow the 'stuff' to blend in, to seem insignificant and second nature to the existence we've become accustomed.

Enter the movers.  Or the realtor.  As we walked room by room both yesterday and today, I became *glaringly* aware of the sheer volume of 'stuff' that we've accumulated and will need to transport to our new home in Texas.  I don't even know if 'glaringly aware' describes the feelings I had...it was on the verge of embarrassed.

Crafting supplies, toys, scrapbooking accessories, baking pans and tools, garage contents--tools, tools, kids toys, and tools, a kitchen *full* of utensils and pots and plates...and then there's my closet.  Oy.  So.Much.Stuff.  All of which I've deemed as 'necessary'.  I know that life would go on if we didn't have it any longer, and I know that you 'can't take it with you'...but these things are what we've come to know as 'ours'...and we are having a hard time paring down any more than we already have.  Would I react the way that some of the troubled people featured on the hoarding shows do if their things are moved out of their home?  No.  But would I be happy about it?  Not at all.

Up until a week ago, I was a full time working mommy with three little kids, two dogs, and a husband with an odd schedule.  Housework was one of the tasks that fell by the wayside moreso than I'd like to admit.  We by no means live in squalor, but the standards I've set for myself have been coming up shy the more children I have!  I like to call our house 'lived in', a term that I've borrowed from a friend, and adopted for the look of our house.  Toys are inevitably strewn about in one [more often more than one] room, the dust bunnies gather beneath the bookshelf and my baking cabinet, children's books never quite find their way back to their spot nestled between Horton Hears a Who and There's a Wocket in my Pocket.  The endless cycle of dishes and laundry coupled with the long hours and demands of mommyhood have kept our home from being 'company ready'.

Both of the guys I met with reassured my frazzled and apologetic self that they've seen worse--a *lot* worse--and that the status of our home is completely 'normal'.

It still makes me feel anxious.  I have *so* much organizing, sorting, paint touch-ups, packing, and cleaning to do over the next few days...and my quasi-hoarding tendencies are facing me head on as I learn to embrace my new role as a stay at home mommy (who also happens to be preparing for a huge move!)

I know that things will sort themselves out and I'll look back on this time with a smidgen extra pride in the fact that I was able to stay [remotely] sane through the process, surrounded by not just our 'stuff', but our three sweet munchkins as well!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

our last fall in Colorado

Fall in Colorado is pretty spectacular.  The aspen trees turn golden and buttery shades of yellows, oranges, and hints of red.  Pockets of these colors are peppered all over the mountainsides in the Rockies, bringing flocks of photographers of all kinds to halting stops alongside the narrow and windy roads.  Each year, tons of photos pop up on the internet and news, boasting the beauty of the Rockies.  Each year we've lived here, I've wanted to drive on the well-known scenic bypass known as Peak to Peak.  Each year, we've either not been able to, or have missed the window of time when the colors are at their best.

That is, until today.  I *made* the family take a drive today to check out what I've only seen on tv or computer, or have heard from friends who tell me that I 'simply must go'.  For the most part, it was an enjoyable day...a few tears and whines, a few short tempers and not-so-nice tones of voice, and possibly a little pee on Brynn's jean leg from an awkward outdoor squat gone awry...but all in all, a nice day.  My body aches, my head aches, and my eyes are tired...so rather than talk (type), I'll let the photos do the work...

tossing rocks into Boulder Creek

most everyone liked the rock...

Estes elk...intruding on a lawn, or showing their political affiliation?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Everything's Bigger in Texas

When Randy and I moved from Pennsylvania to Colorado in 2005, we didn't know much about the state (read: nothing, except that there were mountains, the Broncos, and it was 1800 miles away from the only state I'd ever called home).  We were newly married, after spending the great majority of our relationship in a 'long distance' status.  Soon after moving here, we found out we were expecting our first little one.  The family we wanted to start (eventually) was starting right away.

Learning how to be married, how to live in a new state, how to own our own home, and how to adjust to parenthood presented us with a lot of ups and downs, tears and smiles, sacrifices and opportunities.  Randy and I had to band together to face adversities, lean on one another during times of stress and sadness, and celebrate our happiness as a smaller familial unit than I was used to.  This isn't to say that we haven't made *the.best.* friends while living here.  We have enjoyed many holidays (as well as 'regular days') with probably the sweetest and most genuine family to ever grace this planet.  They have truly become our Colorado family, and have been so generous and caring.  I have been blessed to teach in an awesome school in a fantastic community, where I have met some of my absolute dearest and best friends and greatest families. 

And then there's our child care.  We have been so, so fortunate to have had our children cared for by the sweetest people; in-home daily care, occasional care on as-needed basis, pre-school, and now elementary school.  Everyone who has taken care of our children when we were not able to has loved and cared for them dearly, and for that care we are beyond grateful.

Colorado has been an absolutely amazing place to begin our marriage, begin our family, raise our family, and strengthen our marriage through all of the joys (and tears) that come along with three young kids, two dogs, two demanding jobs, and a household.  I honestly can't put into words how happy we have been living in this state.  I'd never pictured calling any place besides Pennsylvania 'home', but my heart has a tender spot for the purple mountains majesty to the west, the amber waves of grain to our east, and the loving circle of friends we've adopted as family over the years.  Colorado definitely has taken over as 'home' in my heart.

But, as one of my favorite icons, Marilyn Monroe has said, "sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together".  

While Colorado has been so, so good to us, the challenge of Randy's obscure schedule has always put an asterisk on our otherwise ideal life.  It's a tough thing to have someone working an on-call schedule in your household.  It is exhausting for the person working the schedule, as well as for the parent who is left behind to maintain a semblance of normalcy in the household.  The fact that the phone can ring at any given moment is a grey cloud hanging overhead the spontaneity of life with young kids.  Scheduling--nearly anything--proves to be a huge challenge.  In general, it's not ideal for family life.  

Which is why we've been looking for a change.  Randy's known for some time that he needs (wants) to get out of the field, chart a different career path, and find other opportunities that will broaden his horizons within the oil and gas field.

Enter GE.  A few weeks back, Randy flew down to Houston for an interview, and came home with a good feeling that things went well.  Soon after, he received news that indeed, things went well, and they were going to make him a formal offer.  We had been discussing the possibility/probability of our family making this giant leap in the southeast direction, so when the offer came in, it didn't take a lot of conversation for his signature to appear on the line.  Thus, the decision to move our family to Texas was made.

I'm not going to lie.  When Randy called me at work to tell me he'd been offered the position, I cried.  Here I was, sitting in my classroom (empty, as my class was in P.E.), looking around at the little desks soon to be filled with the sweet little children who would soon find out that their teacher was moving away.  I was in the place I've been blessed to work for nearly 8 years, where I was able to pursue my passion for a career I'd chosen at the age of 5.  The connection I have with the school community is so rooted, and it is going to be so hard to leave.

But, the opportunities that lay ahead for my husband and are family are so wonderful.  I am so proud of Randy's dedication to making life exponentially better for our children.  His confidence, excitement, and commitment give me such pride and optimism as we face new changes and adjustments in our lives.  We're looking forward to life outside of Houston.  Brynn can't wait to live closer to the beach (Galveston Island), while Raegan is aloof to the situation entirely.  Gavin, well, he's excited for sure, but I think his personality leaves him with a little trepidation at the uncertainty of school/friends/sports.  But, we reassure him, often.  

As for me?  I'm going to spend a little time acclimating our family to the new surroundings and lifestyle before jumping back into the classroom.  The idea of having a short time being away from teaching scares me a little, because I know when I go back, it won't be to a place I've considered a comfort zone for so many years.  But, I'm always up for the challenge, love the idea of meeting new people, and having adventures in my own sort of way (definitely *not* in the way of climbing 14'ers, skiing, and camping, like so many of our fellow Coloradans!).  I'm going to try to get a position in a bakery for the time being, so I can bring some money into the household while pursuing a beloved hobby, and give myself time to learn the area so I can decide what schools/districts I'd like to pursue once I am certified in Texas.  This hiccup in my teaching career will be a small one, but it feels strange because this has been (and still is) my calling.  Somewhere, someone will hire me ;)

So, that's our big family news for now.  We're in for big changes, big adventures, and a bigger house.  Everything's bigger in Texas.

Until next time...bye, y'all!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

I am a zookeeper

Kids being kids, the game of 'pretend' seems to be an ongoing event that brings us into the world of princesses and army guys, professional sports figures, jungles, restaurants, and pirate ships.  All from the comforts of home.  Or the car.  Or the aisles of Target as I attempt to run errands on the way home from a long day of work.

Recently, the game that's dominated the world of 'pretend' transforms my sweet little children into a variety of animals.  They range from the domesticated dog or cat to the ferocious shark and extinct t-rex.  Today, on the way home, the decision to play 'zoo' was made, and soon the animal assignments began.  The easiest choice for Raegan was the obvious giraffe.  Hemming and hawing permeated from the back seat when Brynn was asked what animal she'd be.  She began with a butterfly, but then Gavin reminded her that's what she wants to be when she grows up (!), so she should choose something new.  The list of options included a tiger, a lion, a polar bear, and a monkey.  Somehow, she settled on an elephant.  Gavin, who typically loves gorillas, sharks, dinosaurs, snakes (and other animals very opposed to mom's views of 'awesome animals'), chose to be a squirrel.  I pointed out the irony that all the other animals he loves would make a squirrel into a one-bite meal...but he didn't care, a squirrel he loves, and a squirrel he shall be.  At least for today ;)
The older two chattered along about the 'rules' of pretend.  Randy and I always find humor in the set up stages of pretend.  They spend so much time debating the technicalities and 'what if's', that it seems more like a job than a game.  As I drove home, I tuned out the rules and thought about connection between the kids' alternate egos and the actual animal behaviors and mannerisms

Gavin, the squirrel.  Skittish, cautious, always busy seeking out something to do (or eat).  Quick moving, warms up to people when he feels it benefits him (food, attention, etc).  Makes nests to keep warm, does not hibernate (Gav's definitely an early riser!).  Quirky mannerisms that make them intriguing, but hard to pinpoint his mood.  Secretly, pretty fiesty...pretty bad a**.

Brynn, the elephant.  Social, loyal, seeks relationships/attention from those who surround her.  Intuitive and intelligent, the elephant (and Brynn) are known to deal with concrete situations in a non-schematic manner.  Problem solver, goes with the flow of life, loves to play and have fun.  Both elephants and Brynn exhibit a wide range of feelings, including griefmimicry, altruismcompassion, art, play, cooperation, self-awareness, and memory.  A brut force, will stampede and run you to the ground (she wears me down mentally nearly every day).  Anyone who knows Brynn well can see many parallels.

And then there's Raegan.  The poor girl has been associated with a giraffe since before she was born, however the influx of giraffes that surround her on a daily basis has been a positive learning experience, and, as we're discovering, an ironic correlation the more we learn about the spotted giant.

The other day, Gavin was sick, so I stayed home from work.  Randy sat with him while I took the girls to preschool, and when I came home (coffee in hand, thanks to the 4 solid hours of screaming courtesy of Raegan the night before), I found the boys engrossed in a science show.  We  flipped a few channels and found a show on National Geographic entitled "Inside Nature's Giants: The Giraffe".  The scientists on the show were discussing how the tallest animal on earth has adapted over many years to overcome the physical challenges of an abnormally long neck.  We only caught the last 20 minutes, (although it's on again Sunday so we've set the DVR), but it's so amazing to hear some of the key aspects of a giraffe's persona and relate them to our sweet baby girl.  Allow me to highlight just a few...

--Showing signs of dominance by swinging their long necks and using their heads as 'weapons' of sorts.  (Many  fat lips, bumped heads, and random injuries as Raegan catapults herself across the couch to land on her brother/sister/parents.  Additionally, long arms (as opposed to necks) used to smash, smack, smear, or smoosh anything and everything in her path as she sees fit).

--Legs that are disproportional to the body but serve as a way to help them as they keep up stride for stride with their parents (siblings).  Ok, we know she's going to have long legs with her super tall mom and dad, but I wouldn't necessary say she's disproportional.  I will however say that she's got the idea of how to keep up with mom, dad, brother, and sister down pat.  Gone are the days of my cuddly baby who watches Gav and B play, observing their every move.  Sure, she still observes, but usually it's from the bird's eye view of the dining table (her favorite place to try and *perch*), or right in the midst of the rough and tumble of brother/sister interactions.  While she might still have some growing to do to catch up to her daddy's long strides, she sure as heck tries her best to shuffle her way right along with him.

--These animals are spaced far apart from each other within their herds and are largely independent, transient animals that do not develop a particularly strong sense of loyalty to an individual herd.  Umm...hello?!  This girl is the master of schmoozing whomever she needs in order to get what she wants, and then she's on her way.  Lil miss independent is absolutely a love bug, but she isn't partial to one particular member of the family.  She gets along with all of us (when it's convenient for her!)

--And, perhaps the most interesting fact we learned while watching was that giraffes rarely sleep.  They don't want to spend time lowered down onto the ground, as it makes them vulnerable to their predators, therefore, they'll typically only lower to the ground for small pockets of time, and the majority of their 'resting' occurs while standing.  If you've lived in our house for the past nearly 18 months (or, spoken to me on any random day during said time period), you'd know fact alone seals the deal.  Randy and I are the proud parents to a boy, a girl, and a giraffe, disguised as a sweet and adorable baby girl.

I officially am a zookeeper.

Gavin, my super squirrel...meek and quiet on the outside... feisty and loyal on the inside

Brynn, my multi-intelligent and creative elephant.  A gentle giant.

My sweet baby giraffe...eternal adoration,  unique personality traits

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Are my cracks showing?

Can you tell I'm one temper tantrum away from going bat sh*t crazy?  (I'm referring to my own temper tantrums, by the way...)

Ahh...back to the world of blogging.  My own little oasis of clicking keys on my laptop, tears and tissues close by (at least tonight they are), and a deluge of ideas for my post's topic.  

I could start all the way back in the summer, filling in the gaps with memories of fun and carefree days filled with sunshine and smiles, or hash out the detailed report from our 4,000+ mile road trip during two weeks in July for my brother and sister-in-law's wedding in Maryland (three kids, two parents, one car.  28 hours.  each.way.)  I could even spend my time apologizing to myself for not keeping up with something that seems simple enough--talking, via a website.  I could do all those things, but I'm feeling so ADD that I can't process how to begin any of those posts without typing all.night.long.  I can't afford that, as sleep has become quite a hot commodity that is in high demand as of late, since Raegan is currently boycotting the concept of a solid stretch of sleep beyond a measly 3-4 hours.  This is not a good thing for a teacher at the beginning of the school year (or at parent-teacher conference time, right before winter break/spring break/summer break, or any Mondays.  You get the idea.)

Things in the Conley household have been...well...strained.  This time of year always runs my sanity through the wringer, as I attempt to coordinate schedules, accomplish endless to-do lists both at home and at work, and make the transition from summer to school year as seamless as possible for all of us.  

And so far? 

I feel like a miserable failure.  

Making the move back to teaching 4th grade has been such an exciting transition for me, it has re-ignited so many of the little sparks I've been carrying for my career back into full-blown torches.  Woo-hoo, right?  Well, yes...and no.  The time it takes to be the teacher I know I want to be simply is not fitting into my already jam-packed schedule.  I'm working very hard...giving 110% at work, and still feeling behind.  I know that is the sob story of every teacher at nearly every point in the school year, so I don't ask for pity from anyone...but some empathy from strategically placed people in my life can do wonders.  Thankfully, many of my nearest and dearest friends 'get me', mainly because we're all in the same boat, rowing with a few oars less than we'd ideally like (*ahem* we're all teachers). 

The trick is getting Randy and the kids to 'see the light'.  

Well, actually, the trick isn't getting them to see the light, so much as it is for me to 'show them the light', all the while keeping my emotions, stresses, and insane moments to myself, so that I can be a functioning (and happy) mommy/wife.  Tonight, I was an unsuccessful mess.

I let myself get away from 'myself', and wound up losing it.  Tears, frustrations, and feelings of supreme guilt overtook my being and the kids and I had a 'come to Jesus'.  It was cathartic, it was raw emotion.  We were not happy with each other, tears were shed, feelings were hurt (on both ends--the result of which has left me with guilt, sadness, and some self realization/loathing).

Overcoming the feelings of failure as a mom takes such a toll on you.  I know that tomorrow is a new day, the kids will wake up and smile and laugh as they usually do (after a few grumbles about the wee hour of day I rouse them from their slumber), and I know that we will not have hard feelings toward one another.  

Tomorrow is another day of schedules, driving, the eternal feelings of 'running late' coupled with 'not being caught up'.  But, more importantly, tomorrow is another day when I can start fresh, acknowledge my shortcomings, and work to make it better, so that my levels of insanity begin simmering, as opposed to boiling over.


Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.
~Ecclesiastes 7:9

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The magic of 4

Brynn helped me cook dinner the other night.  She 'made' the rice...

She 'cut' the canteloupe...

And she enjoyed eating dinner more than she ever has before (or so she says)...

We sat down to dinner, around an hour later than my original plan...operating in 'summer' mode + having Brynn 'help' in any capacity = an inevitable delay in achieving your goal.  Brynn proceeded to inform everyone at the table of what she made (she also microwaved the peas, helped put the cut strawberries and blackberries into the bowl, and set the table...all things she later was annoyed at me for not documenting on camera), and then proceeded to say, "Mommy, you're welcome for making dinner" (followed by everyone else at the table).  She chattered the entire meal about how hard it was to make each thing, how much work she did, the steps involved in those steps, etc, etc, etc.  She chattered, and rambled, and chattered some more...checking in to see that everyone enjoyed each component of the meal as if she were the chef in a four-star fine dining establishment.  Randy and I exchanged amused glances throughout the entire meal (as we often find ourselves doing when Brynn pretty much does, well, anything.

I wish I could experience life through Brynn's eyes--just for one day.  I don't know that I could take more, or begin to comprehend more than that.  The other morning, she was in the nursery, keeping Raegan occupied while I took my time waking up and getting started for the day (have I mentioned I love the laziness of a summer morning?!).  She was talking to Gavin and said, "Gavin, I licked Raegan, and she tasted like glass".  Really?  Glass?  Of all things, glass?  She's a toddler...she most likely tastes like dirt, or milk, or some sort of a questionable sugary and most likely sticky item--syrup, lollipop, cookie, etc.  But no, in Brynn's world, she tastes like glass. 

There are times when I wish I could afford to keep a camera rolling on Brynn 24/7.  I always thought I'd be better at documenting all the funny things my kids say and do...and I am trying to do so with the blog...but with Brynn, I would need to hire an assistant to follow her around all day long (or, the assistant would do my housework, cooking, etc. so I could experience Brynn's world full force).

A parent of one of my former students once told me that there's nothing like the 4-year-old phase.  I figure he's a good resource, seeing as how he has six children.  As we're raising Brynn, I'm beginning to wonder if she's going to spend more time than the average child in the '4-year-old' phase.  I know she's only 4 for one year, but I feel like she's one of those kids who will eternally see the world through 'kid eyes'--even into adulthood.  In some ways, I sure hope so...because I know that she'll create magic in whatever she does, but in other ways, the 'mom' side of me fosters a bit of apprehension at the thought, knowing that the world she's going to grow up will be placing many demands on her.  Either way, I know she's going to thrive, succeed, kick some tush, and look adorable while doing so.  I mean, really, who can resist those curls?! :)

Saturday, June 16, 2012

our newest 'neighbors'

A few weeks back, I noticed that the column on our front porch started 'collecting' bird droppings.  When I looked up, I saw the early stages of the construction of a bird's nest.  We opted to let nature be nature and not disrupt the plans of this budding little birdie family.

I've been checking in on this momma bird daily, and had noticed her spending a lot of her time, well, 'nesting'.  I didn't want to bug her and be nosy, so I just observed from inside the house, pointing out the 'tweet tweet' to the kids.

Earlier this week, I noticed momma bird had 'flown the coop', so I climbed up on a stepstool to discover her sweet little chickies had hatched! 

The nest is too high for the kids to really see, so each day, I've been climbing up on the step stool to snap some photos so we can watch their little transformations.  Momma bird is usually close by, on the eaves of our neighbor's house, and I don't stay long.  Randy thinks I'm crazy, because he grew up in 'actual nature', so he doesn't quite see my excitement over these cute little babies--espeically my little friend who seems to like the camera best...

The kids have named her 'Chirpy' :)

There appear to be five little birds, however out of the five, I think the Brynn best represents Chirpy.  Always in the front of the nest, head peering out to observe what's going on in the world around the quaint little nest.  There are two other babies who seem to be pretty chill, one on each side of Chirpy, who are pretty similar to Gavin's personality.  Just sit back, relax, and every so often gain a little curiousity enough to peer his head out of the nest to check out the world.  Then, there's one toward the back of the nest, who strains her little neck so proud and tall, wanting to be just like Chirpy, only not in quite the right position to do so.  This would be the Raegan of the nest.  It's amazing how in the last few months, we have watched her transform from 'baby' to 'toddler', from 'learning' to 'I know this and can do it myself' (although, she still is learning...she likes to believe the latter!).

I find myself being like the momma bird at times...she hovered so much while they were little helpless eggs, leaving only rarely for her own nourishment needs.  Now, even in just this short week since the babies have hatched, she is venturing out for longer periods of time, trusting them to be able to rely on one another for support, and to be more independent.

I know that my kids and birds obviously have a very different rate of progression through the early stages of their lives into independent adulthood, but if you could correlate the timelines, I think they're pretty similar.

We're enjoying watching this progression of life each day, and the kids can't wait to open the door each day to wish the little family good morning and see the newest photos I take.  Randy has already made plans to craft some sort of a 'block' so this location will not become a possibility again next year for another bird family--his concern mainly being the effects of the bird droppings.  I see his point, but I also love watching this experience through the eyes of my kids.  I love that they get to see this little bit of God's miraculous work right on their front porch each day.

Hi Chirpy!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Pedulum Erin

If you've ever been to The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia and observed the Foucault Pendulum, you can begin to realize how a teacher feels as the school year draws to a close.  The pendulum not only sways back and forth, but also in various directions, making its way in a circular/spiral fashion back and forth, covering 360 degrees of the space in which it encompasses.  It's one of my favorite parts of the museum, and one metaphor I relate to as not only a teacher, but a mom, and, well...a woman.

Technically, if we're talking metaphors for how I have been operating as of late (eternally?), it would be more closely reminiscent of your classic pinball machine--bouncing back, forth, and all over in random fashion, making noise, *possibly* collecting points (thus meeting your objective) as you move along, and in the end...when you've lost all of your momentum and energy...when the coffee/chococlate/wine (a.k.a. the 'flippers') can no longer support your overworked and overtired body...you collapse into the dark abyss, sleep (briefly), and (most often) sooner than you desire, you are catapulted back into the mix to do it all over again.  Yes...that seems much more accurate to how I have spent the last few weeks (months...) of my life.  I don't like it.

Therefore, I chose the Pendulum because of the nostalgia, the beauty, the 'fun' of it.  Sure, mommy/wife/teacher/sister/daughter/friend/etc. offers many destinations I need to reach in order to effectively fulfull my multitude of roles. However, the fluidity with which the Pendulum sways from one destination to the next is something I find myself aspiring to.  In my 'wiser' years, I've learned to become more reflective, and so I've pondered some ways in which I can reach my goal of being more like 'The Pendulum'.  Curently, my list isn't long.

Enter summer vacation.

ahhh....summer vacation.

Two sweet words that hold such promise in the heart of anyone so fortunate to be able to enjoy even a small pocket of time during the steamy, sun-drenched months that mark the end of yet another school year.  As a teacher, I of course have the privlege of multiple weeks of sweet, sweet, relaxing bliss.  A time for re-focusing, re-energizing, re-evaluating, and re-newing my perspective as an educator.  As a teacher/mom, summer time means the opportunity for some non-stop fun with my kiddies, days of 'nothingness', or my personal preference--a delicate balance of each of those.

Although school has been 'out for summer' since May 25th (for my students), I've been finding myself busy with moving my classroom, playing solo momma while Randy was in Vegas for my brother's bachelor party (during which time the kids and I wound up in Children's Hospital with Raegan, a wickedly high fever, rapid breathing, and a gnarly double ear infection), some time for personal transformation (turning 31 isn't easy), and most recently, an outstanding training for increasing student engagement in my classroom.  While the training was awesome, it was four full days of being a 'student' during what is supposed to be my summer break.

So, now that my training is over, I feel like I can officially commence with the summer activities, and ease into the fluid motion of the Pendulum, swaying gently around the roles of "cleaning/organizing" mommy to "running through the sprinkler and throwing water balloons" mommy to "enjoying a late night glass of wine, candlelight, and great conversation with my husband" wife to "tapas and sangria with my girlfriends" friend, to "swimming and sunscreen" mommy to "al fresco dinner planning" wife/mommy to "hot yoga" friend to "arts and crafts" mommy to "read for pleasure with a tall glass of iced tea" Erin.  All of those roles (and many more), are on my 'intentions' list for this summer.  Tomorrow, the kids and I will spend some time brainstorming, prioritizing, and organizing some lists and calendars for the upcoming weeks of summertime fun.

In my attempt to be less 'pinball-y' and more 'Pendulum-y', I've resourced my new guilty pleasure, Pinterest, to kick start, inspire, and help tame my (too-often) times of ADD.  One of my ultimate goals for the blog has always been to make it a living document for my kids, so they can have memories and stories captured 'in the moment', so they'll have things to laugh about and share around the dinner table years from now, just as my brothers and I so enjoy and look foward to doing when we get together, or call one another.

Being the 'people pleaser' that I am, I know that putting it in writing and making a commitment to myself, my kids, and any other person who happens to find my (too often times) endless ramblings remotely interesting, I am making another goal similar to the one I made earlier in the year...and that was to blog every (or nearly) every day.  At the time, it was focused on the things I love about my kids...something new evey day. 

The love I have for them hasn't changed (obvi)...well, if anything, it's grown (as if I even thought that was possible!).  But this time around, I don't quite have a specific goal.  I want to sway like the Pendulum, move in the direction my mind happens to be wandering that day (or, most often times, night).  I do want to document our fun, our laughs, our learnings, our adventures, our nothingness, our life.  I want the kids to be able to come back to this summer's worth of postings years from now and read/see all we did.  I feel like last summer, we were on a big learning curve style roller coaster.  Adding Raegan into the mix of our family threw us all off kilter at times and in varying (exhausting) directions.  Kids will do that to you at whatever age, I realize, but I feel with that first year under our belts, we can spend time this summer crafting, designing, and redesigning our new dynamic, learning more about Raegan's (*super fun*) personality and meshing it with ours, and creating some amazing memories for those 'early years' part of Randy and my 'Story of Us' (sidebar: LOOOOVE that movie).  

I look forward to getting back to something I've missed doing--writing, sharing, reminscing, documenting our family for our family.  I've been down the road before, blogging well for a while, and then not, making a promise to become better at it and sticking with it--for a little while, then falling 'off the wagon' again.  The 'pinball' in me would be disappointed by this fact, but the new and improved 'Pendulum Erin' is realizing life is what happens as you sit back and make plans for everything.  So, while we're going to plan some things, the purpose and intent have a 'smooth and groovy flow' to them, thus giving summer 2012 an asterisk next to it in my memory.  Growth...change...love...


Love (adore, even!)