Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The good outweighs the bad

It's late, I'm exhausted, and no where near feeling prepared for conferences.  Raegan wanted to pull and all-nighter last night, waking various times for, what I can only assume was to be a grump. 

On a positive side...my awesome husband folded the laundry I neglected for too long.  He took us out to dinner so I didn't have to cook.  Brynn found a 'leaf clover' (she was trying to say 4 leaf clover, but, it wasn't actually one) and was SO excited.  Raegan stayed awake a little later than usual and was exceptionally adorable in, what I can only assume, was to apologize for being such a grump last night and today.  Gavin brought home a book that he and his 'best buddy' made and got to put into the share basket at school so his classmates could read it.  He was so proud.

My loves today (pictures not from today...but that's ok)

Gavin, I love your intensity and idealistic approach to everything you set your mind to

Brynn, your attitude.  Frustrating while I'm in the midst of coping with it...but I know your tenacity will help you tremendously as you grow up.

And Raegan, two words.  Those.eyelashes.     *swoon*

Monday, January 30, 2012

Not too busy for love

I don't love Mondays.  Especially ones that follow a weekend where I didn't accomplish what I had envisioned in my 'why-yes-you-can-do-it-all, full-time-working-mommy-of-three-young-children-whose-husband-works-ridiculous-hours-and-not-to-mention-your-job-is-a-teacher-which-of-course-requires-far-more-work-than-just-the-normal-hours-of-the-school-day-(let's not get started on the pay...)' world. 

Needless to say, I'm feeling a bit on the overwhelemed side, as conferences approach this week, course work for a class I'm taking requires my attention no later than 'Wednesday, February 1st at 10:05 a.m.', my laundry has apparently multiplied like rabbits in spring, and I have this ridiculous ideal that my body requires at least 6 good hours of sleep.  Someone needs to fill Raegan in on that last one, since she is about a light a sleeper as her dad is a snorer.  (seriously, Breathe Right?  earplugs?  the couch?  something...)

Amidst my obvious tensions (and the killer headache I'm currently battle in order to type this, I find solace in three little souls who gave me smiles and hugs, tears and (additional) frustrations today.  Even if Brynn decided to use foul language at daycare, Gavin convieniently *dropped* the food on the floor that he needed to eat before being excused from the table, and Raegan shrieked with such a shrill tone that dogs from surrounding neighborhoods came running in hopes of some sort of treat.

I still love everything about them.

I love that you can work together with minimal fighting.  If it had been me with my brothers at that age, it would have been World War 3

I love that up until very recently, you had no concept of this thing called a 'bedtime snack'.
Sure, I was kind of sad about having to share the ice cream treats, but my waistline thanks you!

I love that you love me so.so. much that you simply cannot bear to be more than a few short inches away from me. all.night.
(even though I'm sarcastic about this, I do really love this...because someday, you'll want no parts of me...)

No time like the present

I saw this quote on a plaque this weekend while I was browsing the aisles of the hobby store in search of anything and everything 'cupcake' and 'pink' for a certain almost-4-year-old's birthday party.  The ironic part is I had just finished telling Brynn to be silent so that I could focus on what I was looking for.  This, of course, was a response to her seemingly non-stop chatter about the different items she saw (and, ultimately, wanted) for her party.  Key word: her party. 

Why did I go into the hobby store with the idea that I was the party planner?  Obviously, I recognize that Brynn is a miniature version of me (lord, help me), and therefore has her own vision of a celebration of Pinkalicious in her mind.  In fact, earlier in the day, while making her guest list, she informed me that I was invited because I was 'the best maker of her cake'.  Well, there you have it.  Nothing more than hired (ahem, free) help. 

Randy and I have the good fortune of having our kids' birthdays in March, April, and May.  As spring transforms Mother Nature, so our kids are transformed into a new phase of their lives.  It's an emotional realization for me, as when it's all finished, I'll have a 6, 4, and 1 year old (I'm avidly avoiding the whole concept of Raegan turning one.  Afterall, I do have a few more months of 'baby'). 

As I read the quote in the hobby store, it was as if God was ringing my doorbell to remind me to get out of my 'grown up brain' and move back towards my 'kid brain'.  Obviously, with my sparse postings during this past month (which was, ultimately supposed to be my springboard back into more consistent blogging...), I have been somewhat overwhelemed by life.  No excuses, no specific reasons, just a lack of prioritizing on my part...and several stark reminders that time slips away faster that we'd like (Gavin's first report card, Brynn organizing/planning the 'tea party' we had tonight while the boys were at the Nuggets game, selling several 'baby' things since Raegan is now too big and too old for them). 

Being a mom has broadened my perspective of the full range of life, however it is that full range of life that can, at times, cloud my vision and decrease my awareness of the daily celebrations of my children. 

February is a month devoted to love.  As February begins this week, I am making a 'mom goal' to recognize something new that I love about my kids each day.  Not the 'obvious' love, but the little things, the things that, on a typical day, would make me smile or smirk, but not give me cause to record or state out loud.  The kids know I love them, but I want them to know what I love about them. 

Starting tonight...
Gavin, I love how you're not afraid to try different sports

Brynn, I love how sweet you are to your little sister (to be honest, I was worried)

Raegan, your facial expressions and personality make me smile even when I'm at my wit's end

And, Randy...never, never could I ask for a better daddy for our kids.  I love you for that.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A break from the madness

I wish I had let the beauty of this morning's sunrise fill my soul

It's been a stressful time recently.  Work, kids' schedules, Randy's schedule, work, the house, work...

My mood has danced along the entire spectrum from blissful to downright cantankerous and everywhere in between (often times, in multiple places at the same time, which is *fun*--just ask Randy).  I feel as though I've been covered by a wet blanket from which I cannot seem to escape.  The struggles I'm feeling in my quest to be a 'more perfect me' are enough to leave me with what I can only assume is a (temporary?) case of ADD.  I have so many plates that I'm trying to keep spinning, that my capacity to give 100% to everything I do is dwindling...and fast. 

I'm taking a class that will ultimately leave me qualified to have a student teacher in my classroom.  The first week assignments circled around my own reflecting on my student teaching experience.  One of the first things that came to mind as I tried to rewind all the way back, nearly 10 years ago, was that my cooperating teacher had taught me that while I have a deep passion for teaching, I need to make sure that I recognize the importance of creating balance. She taught me to give it my all while I was at work and during the week, but to make sure that there came a time when the work needed to be set aside and life needed to be enjoyed in a different capacity, that didn't focus around objectives and standards.  I've always carried that with me, and have, for the most part, been successful in doing so.  **Of course, there are times (i.e. conference prep, report cards), where I am beckoned to stuff my teaching bag to the brim with work and complete it in any free moment I can find over the weekends.

As I organized my desk on Friday afternoon, getting set for the upcoming week so that Monday morning wouldn't be such a flurry; I found myself faced with a decision.  Did I a.) bring my lesson plan book home, as it is only filled with a framework for the upcoming week, rather than a more in-depth description of anything I'm teaching past Monday (I always make sure I'm at least prepared a day in advance in case of a sick kid)...or did I b.) leave it on my desk, ready for at least Monday, knowing I will have my planning period on that day to sort through the specifics for the rest of the week.  My instincts as a teacher result in a mind that is almost always processing ways in which to teach the curriculum with which I am presented, however I'm a paper/pencil kinda gal, who needs to 'see' my teaching points written neatly in the little boxes of my plan book.  I have such a feeling of accomplishment I experience when I see my plans written out (neatly, and in pencil should I have to erase--scratched out ink is a no-no in my plan book! *yes, I know, I need help). 

So, I should have chosen the first option, right?  My plan book should be tucked away in my teaching bag, awaiting my mechanical pencil marks that will fill its pages with innovative ideas that will inspire learning throught my classroom full of knowledge sponges, right?

Wrong.  Randy is off this weekend, and until his new 'normal' schedule takes effect, he's on the verge of yet another schedule change for the engineers.  A schedule change that will have him working more days in a row, and (essentially) less time off.  *Joy*

So, despite the plates spinning in the air, the work that I should be doing, the house I should be cleaning, the clothes I should be folding, the toys/clothes/baby gear I should be organizing and preparing to donate...I spent the day behind the lens--the camera lens, that is.  Gavin had the first game of his new basketball season this morning, followed by a swimming party for one of his friends at the Rec Center.  I took pictures, I watched my kids have fun, I watched them laugh and splash and shoot and rebound and drool and cheer on their brother.  Was I the nicest, least-stressed, calmest-toned person?  Sadly, no.  I let my negativity show more than I wish I had.  Do I wish I had followed my heart more than my cluttered mind today?  Absolutely.  But there's not much I can do to change it.  I've simply apologized and will move forward in a more positive light.  Tomorrow is a new day.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Rules for my son

I've been a mom for more than 5 1/2 years now.  Each and every day, something new: (funny/amazing/exciting/scary/joyous/disgusting/heartbreaking/exhilarating/etc/etc/etc).  Today, for instance, we experienced Raegan's new-found love of mashed cauliflower (obsession is more like it), Gavin's exuberance as he finished building his new Lego set all by himself, and, the *pleasure* of having to clean up after Brynn as a stomach bug overtook her on the way home from the grocery store.  The first two memories: funny and heartwarming.  The last memory: one we wish we could forget but will most likely be sharing when the kids are grown and we're all gathered together for the holidays.

When we got home, there was a lot to do in order to recover from the attack of the stomach bug on the backseat of my car.  Thank goodness for Randy, and his specific and thorough attention to detail: the back of my car looks brand new.  After Brynn was cleaned up, changed into some warm jammies, and resting on the couch with a bucket beside her, I needed to unload and put away all of the groceries.  I was right around the corner in the kitchen, and could overhear Gavin's concerned little voice.

"Are you ok, Brynn?  Do you need anything?"
(unbelievably weak and barely above a whisper), "No, Gavin"
"Ok, well, I'm going to build my new Legos right here on the table in case you need anything"
"Ok, Gavin." (pause, pause, pause) "Hey Gavin, I don't like being sick."
"Yeah, it's no fun to throw up, but I'm going to take care of you."

At what point did my innocent little chunk-a-loo who loved bouncing in his johnny jump-up become this little person, showing care, concern, sympathy, empathy,....?"  He's been growing up at a far faster rate since both Raegan was born and he started school--and I'm having mixed reviews on the whole process.

I think in terms of school years; and realizing now that we're on the downward slide of this school year, the reality of my little kindergartner moving on to the next grade is starting to appear on the horizon.  Just earlier this week, he brought tears to my teacher/mommy eyes when we were going through the papers in his folder.  I unfolded a wide strip of paper that had a row of animals, colored in and labeled in adorable kindergarten fashion.  Quickly, I noticed the first tile had The Mitten by Jan Brett written on it, and then recognized the animals as those characters in the story.  Before I could get a word in edgewise, Gavin said, "Oh, that's a book by Jan Brett called The Mitten."  I know it might not sound like much, but for a little kid to enjoy a story enought to recall the name of the author, that makes a little bright spot on a teacher's heart.  And for a mommy who happens to be a teacher, the spot is just *that* much brighter. 

There are so many other aspects of Gavin's persona that remind me that time is only ticking away and moving forward (quickly).  His sense of humor and use of sarcasam (both vital skills living under our roof), the intelligent and insightful contributions to conversations, the sense of patience and compassion that he's developed, and his general adorableness-all-the-while-maintaining-a-sense-of-cool...all of these things serve as staunch reminder that we are raising him to be an amazing little guy.

Of course, there's always those little 'but-what-if's' that give me pause.  Just as I said,  each and every day brings something new; each and every day brings moments of concern and a 'check-in' with my parenting decisions.  I try to keep the fact that he's still a kid and he's learning all the ins and outs of being a fully functioning member of society in the forefront of my brain, so it can help filter out my parenting woes and concerns.  Usually, it works, but there's always those times when I can't shake it.

Through a friend on Facebook, I came across a link to a blog that I am so grateful for, specifically for the times when I wonder if I'm doing a good job in raising Gavin.  I think that all moms of sons need to read it, become inspired by it.  I'm going to print out a copy and put it into the memory box I keep for him. Check out 25 rules for mothers of sons; they have a compiled an inspiring list for providing ample opporutnity for your son to become a well-rounded and balanced individual.

In reading the list, there are a good majority of these 'rules' that I already follow, as well as a few that I'm working on (especially number 12!).  Of course, I trust my mommy instincts first and foremost, but a little extra inspiration can only enhance the experience of raising a son.  Thank you for this great list--from both myself, and from Gavin (who is grateful for rules number 12, 14, 18, and 22!)

taking care of his little sister while she's sick

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

No, Raegan!

The celebration of the New Year is always a bittersweet time.  The opportunity for change is always welcomed with open arms.  Optimism abounds as resolutions are made.  The dawn of a new year and all of the promises and hope hidden within its calendar pages hold an alluring appeal as we look toward the future.  On the flip side, however, the new year also means that another year has come to a close, capturing memories and milestones within its grip.

This past year has brought us a full range of emotions, from high to low and everywhere in between.  Of course, our highest 'high' of the year was welcoming our little 'giraffe' in mid-April, giving our family an even greater sense of 'completeness'. 

In the eight and a half months since Raegan's birth (can you believe she's already that old?!?), our family has been adjusting to our newest addition and all of the new phases that come along with a baby.  Interestingly enough, I had almost forgotten just how much work a baby actually can be.  I had heard countless people tell me how easily a third baby fits into the family, how the third one had 'no choice' but to just 'go with the flow'.  Hmm. 

Meet Raegan.

Adorable as she may be, she is definitely not just 'going with the flow'.  There have been times during these past 8 months where she has been our salmon swimming upstream, and the rest of the family is the 'upstream'.  Most recently, her 'salmon moment' has been this incessant need to be mobile.  And not just mobile in the sense of a roly poly, a scooter, or even a crab crawler.  No, no.  An upright, mobile little giraffe is her full intention, and an upright, mobile little giraffe she will be.

Like a baby giraffe taking her first steps, Raegan wobbles and stumbles as her pudgy little fists kung-fu grip the pointer fingers of whatever willing mommy or daddy will help her in her attempts to get from point A to point B.  Sitting is not an option.  Nor is crawling.  If there isn't a mommy or a daddy available, her options are pretty slim.  Typically, she'll opt for door number one--a shrill and very agitated shriek that slowly turns into a wail.  If that gets her no where, due to a busy mommy or daddy, she'll move to door number two--positioning herself into downward dog and attempting to walk like a giraffe with four long, straight legs.  Then, when she reaches a position where she's able to grasp something waist-height or higher, she'll straighten out that downward dog and continually do squats in an excited fashion to demonstrate her surpreme happiness with her accomplishment.  (She'll make a fantastic yoga partner when she's older)

Aside from the faux walking, Raegan's second favorite passtime would be a tie between eating and to wreak havoc in the house.  The shoe basket, the photo frames on the book shelf, the magnets on the fridge, and most especially the dog's water dish...all are fodder for Raegan's exploration.

Of course, none of this should be new to me.  Afterall, we've had two babies in the house before.  For some reason, however, I must have blocked out the amount of sheer energy required to chase a mobile baby around all day long.  I also must have blocked out the number of times I'd say 'no' in one day.

I've been working on putting a more positive spin on my attitude and how I express my thoughts.  When I spend the better part of my days saying 'No, Raegan!', it seems to put my spin into a counter-clockwise direction.  Even the older kids have found what seems to be pleasure in finding something for which they can scold their little sister.  Perhaps we should work on finding a different way to get our message across to an increasingly curious little giraffe.  Otherwise, the poor kid doesn't stand a chance when Brynn gets on her soapbox of being a 'good grill'.