Tuesday, January 29, 2013

back to lesson planning

I've been working with Brynn on her letter sounds, math, and other school skills during the day, and it has served two purposes.  The most obvious being that Brynn is becoming better prepared for kindergarten.  The by-product of this, however, allows me to practice the art of teaching again, however small the forum may be.

One of my supreme passions I want to instill in my children is the love of literacy.  Not just reading, but talking about reading, and writing as well.  As a child, I had no knowledge of how to get to my grandmother's house (and we were frequent visitors with her being a mere 15 minutes from home), because I always had my nose in a book.  While the thought of reading in a car now gives me pangs of nausea, when I was a kid, I could devour chapter after chapter while riding shotgun in my mom's minivan.

Time, responsibilities, and life prevent me from reading as much as I'd like to nowadays, but the beauty of having three young kids is that I can spend time reading children's books to them.  Since I have an entire classroom library filled with awesome children's literature, I've decided they're going to be a great forum for me to help do what it is that I do: teach.

Last night, I was selecting our before-bed-book and Elmer literally fell off the shelf, as though it were the first domino in the series to help me finally get this post out of my 'drafts' box.

Elmer, by David McKee, is a cute story about an elephant who doesn't quite 'meet the criteria' in the elephant appearance department.  I love this story, and in fact, read it to my fourth graders I had the joy of teaching at the beginning of this school year as a part of a series of stories I chose that all encompass one general theme(s): be true to yourself; be happy with who you are.

I have always been a teacher who cares more about the people my students will grow up to be, rather than the scores they have on a few tests.  I can't imagine there being any other way to teach...and would like to believe there aren't any teachers out there with opposing views.

I'd also like to believe that I parent the same way.  I want my kids to know the value in standing up for what they believe in, even if it goes against the grain of the norm.  I want them to grow up being confident adults who have a good sense of their strengths and talents, and who are proud and excited to utilize them in a way that will benefit others.

Elmer realized that during the story, and...be still my heart, my 6 year old picked up on that!  We reviewed the story today and talked about the lesson(s) that Elmer learned, when Gavin piped up and said, "Elmer noticed he was a funny elephant who made the other elephants happy, so that's why he decided to make them smile when he was being camouflaged".  Maybe it's the time away from the classroom, maybe it's the fact that it was my own sweet boy drawing conclusions about a story with me, or maybe a combination of the two...but I had a tear (or two).  While Raegan (and even Brynn) might be too young to pick up on the little lessons I try to pipe into their daily lives, being reaffirmed that Gavin is taking note gives me a sense of pride as a mom, and a feeling of peace that they'd be able to keep my beliefs afloat in the event I wasn't here to do so myself.

We did an activity to go along with the story (of course!), albeit a quick and easy one.  In fact, it's the same activity that my class did at the beginning of the year.  In the story, Elmer's friends decided to each decorate themselves to look unique and celebrate his individuality.  So, we each decorated our own Elmers--without rules, input from others (even though Brynn asked me a few times what color she should use), or criticism of the other elephants.  The kids decided Elmer's lesson was "I'm happy to be me", so that's what we went with.

I love when lesson plans 'go as planned' ;)

Our family of 'Elmers'

Friday, January 18, 2013

A mom's legacy

Last week, I found out that one of the moms of two of my former students had passed away after a tough battle with cancer.  She was 41.  A mom of three.  An amazing mom whom I had the pleasure of getting to know during the two years I had her oldest daughter and only son.  The youngest daughter is just 5 years old.  My heart broke when I heard the news that she was facing malignant melanoma back in the fall of 2012, and she and her family have been in my prayers during our transition to Texas.  When another mom passed along the webpage her family used to inform family and friends, I spent a few hours reading over the posts  from the months since we'd moved, and sobbing.  At the point when I received the webpage link, the doctors were focusing on her quality of life, and suspending treatment.  I went into prayer overdrive for her, and of course her sweet children and husband.  When news came that she had passed away, although it was the anticipated outcome, it broke my heart into pieces.  I stood in my kitchen, staring out the window, every so often glancing down at the words written on the screen to see if maybe I had imagined it.  But every time I looked, the words 'passed away this evening' hit me like a ton of bricks.

I know that I didn't know her like so many of her friends and neighbors, and of course her family, but it doesn't mean her impact hasn't trickled all the way down to two of her children's former teacher.  When I met Kris, she had a giant smile and kind words about how excited her daughter was to be in my class.  Right away she told me she was happy to volunteer, and I quickly found out just how fortunate I was to have her volunteer in my classroom.

Kris had a calming presence, an encouraging heart, and a dedicated spirit.  I enjoyed the hour or two that I'd get to have her in class each week, whether it was grading papers at my desk, reading with the students, or helping with math activities.  Sometimes, the kids would be in the midst of a test and so she and I would sit at my desk and we'd grade and file together while the students worked.  We'd always end up chatting away, and in those whispered conversations (ok, every now and then we'd be a little louder and the kids would start glancing back at us, as if to say, "um...keep it down, wouldya?"), Kris would give me such inspiration as a mom.  It was a few years back, and Brynn had just come onto the scene, so advice on how to integrate another person into the family was appreciated, especially when it came from someone like Kris--a genuine and kind-hearted soul who dedicated her entire soul into being a mom.  Her energy was spirited, and her positive vibes were prevalent whenever you'd spend time with her.  She will be terribly, terribly missed in the community in which she lived, and I can't even imagine how great a loss is felt in the hearts of her loved ones--most especially her children.

In the past days I've spent praying for Kris and her family, my heart continually settles back to her kids.  Probably because they're the ones who gave me the great fortune of meeting her and having her occupy a piece of my heart.  I have taught and worked with so many children over the decade I spent as a teacher, and the lifetime I've spent preparing to be in a classroom.  I tell my students every year that it doesn't matter how old they get, they'll always be 'my kids'.  It's been 3 years since I had Kris's oldest daughter in class, and although I know she's matured and grown, in my eyes, she's the wide-eyed 3rd grader who was so enthusiastic and willing to try, even if she wasn't entirely sure of her herself.  Kris's son was the same in the following year.  Both had such a strong sense of self, and put forth great effort in class, regardless of their comfort level with their understanding.  Their confidence wasn't overdone, however, and it took some fostering along the way (doesn't it take you a little bit of time to warm up to new teachers and classmates before you start raising your hand?).  But, man...when they put effort into anything, they dedicated themselves fully.  They're both two students who I will always remember...and not ever because of what happened to their mom.

All of this got me thinking about the word legacy.  I wrote in a card that I sent the kids that they are their mother's legacy and because of the amazing woman she was, it is an honor for them to be able to say that.  It is apparent that Kris (and her husband) have instilled a strong set of morals for their children, knowing it will carry them far in life.  If only every child was that blessed.

Kris has given me reason to be more inspired as a parent, more present in every moment of parenting (yes, even at 3:00 a.m. when I'm being kicked by tiny feet who are just struggling to find some peaceful sleep), and to consider the morals that I am both purposely and inadvertently enforcing in my kids' lives.  It sounds like common sense stuff--the voice we use to talk to our children becomes their inner voice.  And, technically, it is common sense stuff.  I'm aware of the responsibilities of parenting, and that my children will grow up to become the individuals that I've had a strong hand in sculpting along the way.  It's heavy stuff.  And I'm up for the job, up for always improving on my impact, on my legacy.  Kris's life serves as a reminder of the importance of the influence you make on the world, even after you've left it.

Rest peacefully, Kris.  I'm honored to have shared even a few precious hours of life with you.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Friendship and Turtle Beans

Tomorrow I'm going to be meeting with some mommies in the PTA at Gavin's school, so I can begin working on a committee or two and give back to the school.  This is a new world for me, as I've been on the educator's side of all the great things a supportive PTA can provide a school.

Now, I'll be utilizing the PTA as a way to fulfill an inner need to help make my son's (and eventually, my daughter's) school an even better place.  If the way in which I can do that is to bake cupcakes, well then I'll tie my apron strings and whip up some buttercream.  (Actually, I'm going to be helping work on the yearbook...which works well, considering my sweet friend Annette and I created the yearbook in my former school with the help of some wonderful parent/photogs (and, in the last few days before it was due...lots and lots of Starbucks!)

There's happens to be a secondary benefit to becoming an active PTA mommy; the opportunity to interact with other mommies with (hopefully) some common threads among us.  I've been trying to remind myself that this 'lonesome' phase (for lack of a better word) is only temporary, and in time, I will have a nice little circle of friends with whom I can feel 'connected' to this place.  In Colorado, it was fortuitous that I found employment in an area where I not only befriended my colleagues and many mothers of students, but also found some of my deepest friendships within that community.  Now that I'm here in Texas, the opportunities for 'finding friends' will most likely be found via kid-connection.  Strange to think I'm relying on my 6, 4, and almost-2 year old to help me make friends.  Awesome.

I've been missing my friends in Colorado recently.  A lot.  The ones I saw nearly every day, and the ones with whom my interactions were limited to monthly dinners with Facebook posts in between.  Each of my girlfriends fills a part of my soul and gives me a beautiful reminder to be grateful for all the blessings I have in my life.

One of these friends I have in Colorado is the sweet Jen.  Jen's daughter was in my class this school year, and when I saw her name on my list, I was so excited.  I knew this would allow me the opportunity to have an amazingly sweet and caring little girl in my classroom, as well as get the opportunity to know Jen better.  I had met Jen a few years prior, when she donated her amazing photography skills to take cast photos of my drama club actors.  We would exchange friendly hellos when we'd see each other in front of the school after the bell rang, and I had mentioned to her that I was interested in having her take our family photos (which, of course, she did in Fall of 2012, before we moved).  There was something about Jen that intrigued me and made me want to be her friend.  Have you ever met someone like that?  She just has this friendliness and genuine heart that I could sense even from the simple 'hellos' we'd exchange in the crosswalk.  Through another mom of one of my students (well, actually 2...make that 3...I either taught or directed all of the kids in the family!), I came to find Jen's blog.  Well, it's really Jen and Amy's blog, and I've mentioned them in a couple of my older posts.  These amazingly beautiful and busy moms of three kids also co-author GraceFULL Home, where they share inspirations of faith, family, and friends.  They have given me many opportunities over the years I've been following to stop and give a 'nod to God' when life seems to become all-consuming.

Like when you find out that you have to move to Texas.  In the first few weeks of a school year you are *in love* with.

When I notified the parents of our family's plan to move south, thus taking me away from the kids I had grown to love so very quickly, Jen was one of those friends who reached out to me in support.  She had a daughter who was sad to lose me as a teacher (the ultimate compliment as a teacher), but also saw that the whole process was hard on me as well because it left me torn with part of my heart in Colorado and part of my heart wrapped up in the potential and exciting unknown of our new adventures in Texas.

Jen reached out to me, had our family over for dinner, and even watched and fed the kids for me so I could handle things involved with getting the house on the market.  She stopped into my classroom in the mornings as the bell rang.  She brought me coffee and would send in a few of her yummy pumpkin chocolate chip muffins 'just because'.  And, as I mentioned before, she captured some of the most amazing family moments for us in Denver (twice!) and did a phenomenal job in doing so.
Thank you so much for these memories, Jen!
We have both said to each other that we wish we had gotten to know each other sooner...had more time together before I moved.  When I think about the friendship that developed in that short amount of time, I know it is because of Jen's dynamic personality.  While we may not have had the gift of a lot of time to 'really get to know' each other, there's something her genuine heart that makes me feel as though I am a better person for having her in my life.

Like I said, I've been thinking about my friends in Colorado a whole lot recently, and as Jen and I were texting this weekend, I told her I think of her every day.  Today I was really channeling her, when I made one of the recipes from her recipe blog (this isn't the same as her GraceFULL home blog...or her photography blog...seriously, how does this girl fit it all in?!?!).  Her recipe for Turtle Bean Burritos is seriously so easy...and so yum.  Gavin even asked for some leftovers in his school lunch.  I highly recommend them.  She made these for our family when we went over for dinner, so it was a nice little way to feel connected to her and her amazingly sweet family.

I know Jen and I didn't get a chance to spend a lot more time together before I left, but that's ok.  Friendships have so many different characteristics  so many definitions, and so many depths.  Discovering friendships down here might take me a little longer and on a different path than I'm expecting, but I know that with the foundation of friendships I have in both Pennsylvania and Colorado, I feel surrounded by love and support...even if it's over 1,000 miles away.

photo credit: Jen Severn


Saturday, January 5, 2013

Chipotle is like motherhood

The other night while I was reading, I came across a term to describe this time in my life (when the kids are all young, and incredibly dependent upon Randy and I for assistance with nearly every task they perform).  The term was 'intense parenting', and I've been rolling that around in my head for the past few days, and boy is that author right.  Parenting is intense.

I know I don't have first hand experience of parenting children older than 6, so I can't speak to the unforeseen challenges, trials, and (hopefully) triumphs we will experience as our kids grow up.  But, I can speak to the way in which life has been altered (for the better) since becoming a mom in 2006.

There are so many things to say about the positive and amazing impact becoming a mom has had on my life.  I honestly know even I can't find enough words to describe the contentment and love I feel when the kids give me a hug, a kiss, and a 'cuggle', or when I witness them showing they've actually started applying the little 'life lessons' I've been working so hard to instill in their ever-expanding characters.  Parenting truly and honestly is the single most rewarding thing I'll ever do with my life, and I recognize my blessings each day and thank God for the awesome experience of being a mom.

But let's be honest.

Sometimes, you wanna rip your hair out.

Earlier today, I had one of those moments.  
We needed to run a few errands, and thanks to a toddler who partied until nearly midnight last night, we got kind of a later start than I'd hoped because she slept in.  That put our errand-running right smack in the midst of lunch time.  So, before getting haircuts for the boys, we made a pit stop at Chipotle.  I'll admit, I was kind of craving some Chick-Fil-A (which is weird...because if I crave that, it's always on a Sunday, when they're closed), but when I recalled the cesspool that is their children's play area, I gave up the dream of waffle fries dipped in Polynesian sauce and opted for a little burrito bowl action instead.

When we approached the counter to order, I was glad to be reminded of their very limited children's menu (and was simultaneously happy that cheese quesadillas are always a good 'go to' that the kids will all eat).  I figured the limitations in selections would equal a quick and relatively painless ordering process, thus keeping the line moving, my sanity levels down, and get the kid's tummies filled quickly.  

Then, it began.  The questions.  Tacos or quesadillas?  Cheese or meat?  White rice or brown?  Black beans or pinto?  What kind of meat?  Mild, medium, corn, green, or hot salsa?  Cheese?  Sour cream? Guacamole?  Would you like chips and salsa?  (Mild, medium, corn, green, or hot salsa?)   What would you like to drink? (um...at this point?  Tequila!)  This barrage of questions came from not one, not two, but three different Chipotle employees, all of whom were asking at different points in each of the three kid's meal preparation process.  And it wasn't just the rapid-fire line of questioning that I had to respond to...oh, no.  Remember...I'm 'intensely parenting' right now, so I had to take the question from Ms. Chipotle and then rephrase it in a way that made the options sound more appealing to my children, therefore inspiring them to eat every bite of their $6.00 meal.  

Sure enough "Black beans or pinto?" metamorphosed into, "Sweetie, would you like the beans that are black--no, they're not bugs--, or the beans that are beige?  Beige means light brown.  What?  No, it's like mixing brown with white.  Huh?  No...red and yellow make orange.  What beans would you like?  Very good, yellow and blue make purple.  What kind of beans do you want?  Pink is just light red.  NOW TELL ME WHAT KIND OF BEANS YOU WANT!  Black?  I don't think you like those.  Pinto.  She'll have the pinto."

I'm good at multi-tasking, and waited tables for nearly eight years, but good heavens.  My head was spinning.  And I wasn't alone in this venture...Randy was at the front end of the line, fielding questions for the finishing touches on the meals at pretty much the same rate.  It was madness.  By the time all was said and done and we were seated in the (nearest) bench, I had no idea what I'd ordered and was therefore pretty disappointed that the burrito bowl I had in front of me was nothing like the I had planned in my head as we trudged across the parking lot and into the damn restaurant in the first place.

As I ate, I thought about how funny it is that we wound up choosing a place to eat where we were peppered with repetitive questions and annoyed glances when we didn't respond quickly enough.  That's pretty much what life outside Chipotle is like on a daily basis, and I know anyone with little ones (or who teaches little ones), can raise their white flag in surrender and concur with me. 

That concept of 'intense parenting'?  Yeah, I'm living it right now.  Each day is filled from sun-up to sun-down (and beyond...who else has a baby/toddler who thinks the party rages on until late night?) with questions, demands (polite requests if I've done my job re-teaching manners for the 943rd time this week), and tattles.  Love them as I may, there are moments when I have to yell out, "WHAT KIND OF BEANS DO YOU WANT?" to get a moment of peace (read: fear) so I can clear my head, count to 10 (or 20), and start over in a more 'mommy' way.

Many of the girls I know--many through the magical land of Facebook--are in the midst of this 'intense parenting' phase as well.  It's great to have the connections with them so we can commiserate, ask advice, share tips and tricks, or flat out just vent our frustrations (I'm guilty of doing all four--probably more than the average bear!).  Some of these girls I went to school with (as far back as elementary!), while others I've met along the path of life, and there are even a few whom I have not officially 'met' (at least, it's been so long, it would be like meeting for the first time anyhow).  The beauty of being able to reach out and share the connection with these moms provides the kind of support that we need as women.  I'm grateful for each of the girls I'm *friends* with, because every one of them has helped support me in some way as I navigate the path of mommy hood.  Bumps, turns, forks in the road, and dead ends...us moms have to stick together.  

because some days, life is just too demanding for pants.

or...I'm too tired to argue with a toddler.

Friday, January 4, 2013

From out of the boxes...

A month ago today, we moved into our home.  We spent that day within a 8 foot radius of the sixteen page itemized list of every box, piece of furniture, or other item that had been carefully wrapped, packaged, and removed from our home in Colorado.  We had the task of 'checking them off' as each item came through the door, to ensure we were receiving our full shipment.  Seeing our items coming off that truck and brought into the house didn't feel as I had envisioned all those nights I spent mentally decorating while we were in the extended stay.  I remember thinking I would feel warm and fuzzy and 'at home'.  After all, it was our furniture, not the hotel's...the kids were reunited with their beds, not the pull-out couch...and the clothes, toys, and kitchen paraphernalia were all now housed within the walls of our house, not the 53' trailer where they had spent 6 weeks.

Ahh, yes...'home'.  Back in the Homewood Suites, it felt so close--yet so far.  But, as the boxes began coming in, I didn't have the feelings of comfort I had long-envisioned and yearned for.  I felt anxiety rising in my core and permeating out of my OCD pores.  These boxes didn't mean 'home'...what was in them did.  And what stood between me and that feeling was a *ton* of unpacking and organizing.  I knew it...and I had a few consecutive mini-panic attacks.

The day grew long and the remaining slices of pizza we had ordered for dinner were sitting, ignored and alone in a shallow pool of grease.  We needed to get the kids to bed, as Gavin had school the next day.  As we climbed the stairs to put on pajamas, I realized the bags from the hotel were all in the dining room.  I trudged back down the steps to grab pajamas and pull ups, toothbrushes and paste.  I'm not entirely certain, but I probably forgot to grab something and had to make the trip at least one, if not three more times.

Soon Gavin and Brynn were tucked into their beds, among the piled boxes of toys, books, and clothes.  It reminded me of the last night the kids and I spent in our Colorado house.  Only, instead of a sense of sadness and nostalgia, those feelings of anxiety crept back in.  I could only imagine how scary it must have been for them to fall asleep in these new huge bedrooms, with boxes all around and strange sounds and shadows.  I had yet to unearth their nightlights, so the hallway lights, alongside several of their 'lovies' served as their comfort as they drifted off to sleep.

Getting Raegan to sleep takes a bit longer, since she still likes to have a bottle to help soothe her.  I know she needs to quit, but with all the changes we'd been through in the latter part of 2012, I opted to hang on to one of the things that I know for sure that calms her.  It's currently on her New Year's resolution to drop the bottle habit (along with learn to use the big-girl potty, and the ever popular 'try to reduce the amount of time spent in time-out')  We didn't have a fridge that first night, so we relied on an oversized cooler and gobs of ice to keep our necessities within the 'safe zone'.  Getting milk from the cooler, I soothed our rambunctious baby girl to sleep and laid her in her crib upstairs, before making the trek back down the stairs to our bedroom.

The main floor master.  Apparently, a popular find the Houston housing market, and actually it increases the re-sale value of homes who have them (this, we learned from our real estate agent).  As a mommy of three little ones, the concept of a main floor master was not high on my 'must haves' list while house hunting.  In fact, it didn't even make the top ten.  Or twenty.  I had not even remembered that floor plan could exist when we were on our search.  And yet, here I was, an entire floor away from the kids.  I knew with the absurd amount of lights I had left on for the kids so they could 'feel safe' that they would be able to navigate their way to our rooms should they need us.  That fact, coupled with the nearly 17 hours I had been awake, was enough to help me drift off to sleep.  Scratch that.  I was knocked the hell out.  So much so, that a pickup truck could have driven through the bay windows of our bedroom and parked at the foot of my bed...and I would have slept through it.

At some point, around 4:30 or so, I woke with a start to the sounds of wailing.  Full-fledged screaming coming from the littlest lungs in the house (anatomically speaking).  I jumped up, and navigated this strange new house like an expert, dodging boxes, random toys, and the bag of clothes from the hotel that I stupidly left a little too close to the bottom of the stairs.  When I reached the nursery, I felt awful.  Based on the face full of snot, the tear-stained pajamas, and the 45 minutes of 'post cry breathing' (think the reverse of Lamaze breathing), I knew she'd been crying for a while.  I was so mad at myself for letting her cry so much, and for not taking the extra few minutes to open the boxes from her room to recover the baby monitor.  We never really used it in Colorado, because her room was about 2.3 steps away from ours, and I could hear every sound she made.  Not quite the case here in Texas, and you can bet the first item on my scavenger hunt list for that day was the monitor.


Over the course of the days and weeks that followed, my anxiety began to wane as things were unpacked, and a sense of order began to take form as I recognized the 'flow'.of how this house will work for us.  Toys found a home (only to be removed and scattered about the floor in a haphazardly fashion), my kitchen became a functioning space for me to feed my family, the clothes found spaces in either drawers or closets and furniture has been delivered and assembled and put into place.  Sure, we have pictures and decor to hang, personal touches we'd like to add, and visions of paint colors we'd like to apply.  But, within one short month, I can proudly say that there are just 6 boxes that have yet to be unpacked, all of which contain books that I'll organize on bookshelf in the guest room this weekend.  All of the furniture we've ordered has arrived,  making this place look a little more 'finished' and a little less 'college apartment' (minus the bareness that still exists on some walls).  We've fallen into routines and establishing new ones as situations arise to best adapt to our new lifestyle.  The kids are happy, content, and running around in circles throughout the house on a daily basis.

While my 'Pinterest to do' list is long, and the palette of paint swatches I have might make Monet jealous, life here in Texas has been born.  We've risen from the 'ashes' of extended stays and cardboard boxes, and have once again made a place that feels like home.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A Writing Life

First, let me start off by saying, Happy 2013!

Just so you know, I've been writing blog posts daily for the entire month of December...

in my head.

As I unpacked.
As I organized.
As I cleaned.
As I chased after kids.
As I unpacked.
As I re-organized the mess two of the kids made while I was chasing after the third.
As I cooked and baked.
As I decorated for Christmas, shopped for and wrapped gifts, and read T'was the Night Before Christmas.
As I unpacked. (we have a *lot* of stuff)

Just so you know...I wrote them.  I am always writing them, always deciding on topics, choosing a snazzy title, and carefully selecting my word choice.

But then life happens.  

I've been wanting to share the stories from our move, more of the experiences we had in our extended stay (which seems like such a long time ago, now!), and document the funny daily goings on in our household so that when our kids grow up, they will have these memories accessible (rather than having to rely on my memory; which, at the rate they're going, should be completely worthless by age 50).  

But then life happens.

Someday, maybe I'll share a few of the stories from this time in our lives, but for now, I offer you the 'Reader's Digest version' (a fun term borrowed from my sweet friend):

We moved into our home on December 4th.  We began unpacking.  And unpacking.
             (did I mention we have a lot of stuff?)
The kids found the gobs of empty boxes thrilling for far less time than my 'ideal mom mind' had envisioned, and were driving me crazy all too soon.  Operation: Unpack the Toys was quickly followed by Operation: Organize the Loft.  

Yet, in doing this, I neglected to realize they were happily content running ('sprinting' is the more appropriate term) throughout the first floor pretending they were in the Army/Olympics/jungle being chased by a dinosaur (depending on the day--or hour).  They were just so.excited. to have the space of a house, especially considering this home offers us more square footage than we had in Colorado.

Meanwhile, Randy worked and I continued to unpack and organize, all the while trying to keep a sense of 'normalcy' in their lives ("you mean you actually need me to stop getting your clothes organized so I can feed you lunch?  Didn't you eat a few hours ago?"  "What do you mean, you need attention?!  Mommy wants to get the kitchen organized so I can actually cook a meal!").  

Pepper in some holiday decorating and pile on the task of Christmas shopping and wrapping and baking, and, well...you get the idea.  

Life happened.  

And so, that leaves me at this post.

I'm grateful for and blessed by all of the wonderful opportunities that lay ahead for my family in the coming year.  As life is starting to level back out to the normal, every day activities of a three-kid, two-dog household, I've been mentally setting my intentions for this upcoming year.  One of which includes spending more time with this blog.  My role has shifted significantly over the last couple of months of 2012, and I am working through how I embrace and move forward with these changes.  Don't get me wrong, I am in absolutely no way ungrateful for the opportunity to be a SAHM (stay at home mommy), but I am at a juncture in my life where I am transitioning from a career mommy to career as a mommy.  I used to have to balance my work(school) life with my home life; finding a way to delicately blend the two, especially during the busy times (start of the year, conferences, report cards, end of the year--oh, who the hell am I kidding?  teachers are eternally experiencing 'busy times'!).  Now, I'm working on creating an existence where the kids (primarily the girls since Gavin's in school) are enriched by my presence at home, rather than just mindlessly watching a Disney movie each day, or staying 'busy' so they're not in mommy's way as she keeps house, cooks, etc.  It's definitely a whole new world, which I'm loving and learning each day.  

Going back to the blog.  I'm usually the butt of some joke when the conversation shifts to naming someone you know who likes to talk.  I get it.  I talk.  A lot.  I know most of what I have to say isn't too important to a lot of people, but to my kids, I'd like to think that what I say on here will someday be important to them, because it will be the only words they have left from their mom.  

I also know that what I say on here is important to me.  My intentions for writing for my kids have rekindled a love of writing in me that I've had since childhood.  Typing is faster (and looks neater) than pen-to-paper, although, I have to say I *love* the authenticity of someone's feeling being conveyed through their pencraft. The feel of paper, and the 'look' of a well-loved journal, filled to the brim with the scrawl of a person's heart and soul...it's a beautiful thing.  But, I digress...(shocking, I know).

Resolutions, intentions, goals...whatever you want to brand it as, I crave to write more this coming year.  It's not because I foolishly think that as a SAHM I'll have *more time* (ha!).  I need the cathartic experiences that come from a few stolen moments of 'me' time.  I need to 'put it all out there' so I can find what it is that I'm seeking from this transition.  And, let's face it, I need practice.  I know I'm wordy.  My sentences are run-ons, I adore commas (and asides), and English professors might cringe as some of my not-so-grammatical choices.  I don't want to lose 'me' in the process of writing...but maybe gain a little insight on how to become more *marketable* as a writer.

Because, who knows...someday, *that life* might just get a chance to happen.