Friday, October 17, 2014

Making time for detours...again...

***Editor's note - this is a repost from October 16, 2014.  Driving into work this morning reminded me of this post from a year ago. As I head into a busy day,
and an even busier weekend, I'm making sure I remember the little things..***

We had a busy weekend: Legoland on Friday and the firehouse open house on Saturday. Keith was gone a lot, and I didn't feel good. My plans for Sunday included the mountain of laundry and a week's worth of house duties that I didn't have time to complete during the busy week. I also thought I'd stop by the library, let the kids get a couple of DVDs and books to keep them busy, pick up lunch, then hurry back to the chaos I currently call "home".

Get books, get lunch, get home was my mantra for the day.

Once at the library, the kids were finding books and playing (the boys like to have a contest to see who can build the most blocks with these connector-things they have.)  I got my three books (Nora Robert's Blood Brothers trilogy for some spooky October reading). We got our DVDs, books, and a couple of CDs.  We were good to go.

Until the librarian asked if we were staying for the craft/story activity at 1 p.m.  I sighed as I looked at the clock. It was 12:30. The kids hadn't had lunch yet. I wanted to get home.  The librarian mentioned it was for kids aged 3-7, and there was a firetruck activity.  A chorus of little voices greeted my ears, asking if we could stay.  I sighed again, Okay.  But really I was dreading this detour to the plan that I had created in my head.

Keira picked out a book for me to read, and the boys went back to their building contest as we wait for 1 p.m.   Colin asked if we were going to be in the room off to the right. I said I thought so, since it looked like the librarian was setting out glue sticks and paper. He got really excited.  "Yay! I didn't get to do my dinosaur bag last time when they were in that room. And now I get to do my own craft all by myself!"

Back story: In June, we planned to attend the make-a-dinosaur-tote-bag event the library had.  However, Colin was hospitalized the night before so Keith took the other two kids and made a bag for Colin.  They love their bags and we take them to the library every time we go.  But every time he reminds me how Daddy made his bag because he was sick and couldn't go.

Apparently Sunday was the day for revelations.  As I listened to the kids chatter on about how fun it was going to be to make firetrucks, I remembered back to the night we had to take Colin to the ER and the doctor told me (mistakenly) that he would have to be admitted for at least a week.  My heart stopped at the comment from the ill-informed ER doctor.  She was not familiar with his condition and thought it would take at least a week for the meds to work on him.  A week in the hospital with the child addicted to his mommy? I could never leave! What about work? The other kids? His birthday was in 3 days!  Then I thought about how relieved I was when the pediatrician came the next morning and said she'd get him home that day.  I was so grateful to her and the urologist who were willing to work with us so we'd get to sleep in our beds that night.

Would an extra hour at the library on Sunday really be that bad in the grand scheme of things? The laundry and chores would still be there when we got home. Lunch could be a little late.  The important thing was that the kids were happy, and Colin was getting that chance he had lost months before.

I firmly believe that God puts detours in our path for certain reasons.  The morning had been dicey with the kids not behaving. Perhaps a little extra time out of the house was what we needed. I do have to say the laundry is still in a large pile.  The kids got McDonalds' happy meals (did you see their new Halloween buckets?!?!) and watched Scooby Doo while they ate their apples and nuggets. And I was once again reminded how blessed I am.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Enjoy the little things...

The music filled my head as I drove my car along the winding river road on that dark and snowy night.  I had just left my grandpa's wake and was headed home... alone.....  My husband had the stomach flu, we had moved into our new house the day before my grandpa passed, and I was 5 1/2 months pregnant.  The baby boy inside me kicked along with the song, as I cried and listened to the words.

Mama told me when I was young
Come sit beside me, my only son
And listen closely to what I say.
And if you do this
It will help you some sunny day.
Take your time... Don't live too fast,
Troubles will come and they will pass.
Go find a woman and you'll find love,
And don't forget son,
There is someone up above.

I've always found comfort in songs... the words of the artists resonating with me through even my darkest times. Lynyrd Skynyrd's Simple Man is one of those songs that just happens to play on the radio at the precise moment that I need a reminder that I need to slow down, to recharge, to relax.

Forget your lust for the rich man's gold
All that you need is in your soul,
And you can do this if you try.
All that I want for you my son,
Is to be satisfied.

Yesterday, I was asked if I was going to apply for a management position at work. I knew the answer was no, but my boss pressed on. While I did consider the job, I felt that personally this was not the best time for that kind of career move for me.  I did not elaborate. She immediately started in on how I must "Lean In" (a Sheryl Sandberg TED talk) and not let my family life get in the way of my leadership ability. What she didn't (or couldn't) grasp is that while the pay raise would be nice, the responsibility that comes with this particular new role wasn't something that I was interested in at this point in life. People have remarked for years (one even did so yesterday) that they don't know how I do it - full time job, three kids (a set of twins no less!), etc etc.  It's hard not to feel like super mom when I get those comments.  However, what they seem to not understand is that now my life is busier than ever! The kids are in school, which means nights are filled with dinner, homework, reading, soccer practice, book club.... and that's just 1st and 3rd grades!  I've got meetings for twin club and PTO (I sit on the board for both), my pants are too tight because there is no time to run, there are crumbs under the kitchen table because I haven't swept in three days, and no one has any clean socks. At work, I already hop from meeting to meeting, deal with students and staff, as well as coordinate graduation and the commencement ceremony (not to mention all the "other duties as assigned").  Do I really want more?

Today I drove to work on a bright and sunny fall day, watching the sun shine brightly on the leaves in all their color-changing glory,  and my go-to life song played on:

Boy, don't you worry.
You'll find yourself.
Follow your heart,
And nothing else.
You can do this,
If you try.
All that I want for you my son,
Is to be satisfied. 

And that is it. I am satisfied.  My life is overfilling with, well everything at the moment. I don't need to add more. I can be who I am, and I am happy with it. And while I fully support the working mother who strives for more, who wants to be president, I know that's not the life for me. Sometimes I don't have to do it all. I am so completely content with my life, floor crumbs and all.

And be a simple kind of man.
Be something you love and understand.
Baby, be a simple kind of man. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

It's the most wonderful time of the year....

The countdown to Hallowe'en begins!

Please note this is not the actual number of days
until Hallowe'en. The picture was taken two days ago.

The house is totally decorated, although I still could use a few more things ;)

One of the cool new decorations I bought this year are these Halloween Pumpkin Wall Decals from Kohls. 

I love them!  My structured, OCD self feels the mantle is too cluttered,
but the spooky side of me just doesn't care. ;)

How do you decorate for Hallowe'en?

Monday, September 29, 2014

Measuring My Worth

Last week, a co-worker leaned across the table and whispered loudly, "You look tired!" The other people at the table turned to me and stared, their gazes scrutinizing me,  causing me to stammer something about how I am running a fundraiser for the kids' school. She responded with a comment on how I work full time and have three kids, so why am I volunteering?

Ummmmmmmm........"because that's what moms do" didn't really seem like the right response. Neither did "well no one else stepped up", although those both are the reasons.

The real response I should have given to "you look tired" is not completely professional or work appropriate. Yelling loudly, "Well of course I do! I'm trying to balance 20 million things at once, and I'm overloaded! I don't sleep well since I can't shut my brain off at 10 p.m. when the to-do list didn't get done, and I feel like crap because of some health issues I have! Not to mention, my job has gotten 100 times busier since the spring, yet I still only have 40 hours of week to try to finish everything!"

What I've noticed lately is that a lot of people write about how moms should take time for themselves, they shouldn't let the clutter in their house bother them, they should make more time for their kids, make more time to hangout with their friends, make more time to exercise, etc. The internet is chock full of parenting articles where someone has put into words what most moms are feeling.  Then their posts are shared across the globe, with people commenting on how brilliant the writer is or how great their insight is. When all along, inside I want to shout "DUH".

I find myself measuring my worth by what these mom bloggers are writing, even though I've been feeling those ways for years! One article points out that I need to be okay with clutter because I should be spending more time playing with my kids.  Well, I'm sorry but the clutter drives me nuts! I can't find the the school newsletter, or there is a pile of clothes on the living room couch because the kids dumped out the laundry basket so they could (creatively) make a leprechaun trap out of the basket, two cereal boxes, and the tie to my bathrobe.

I find myself wondering how good of a writer I am, since after only one comment on this post on my Missing the Moments, another blogger wrote an article pretty much copying what I said a few days later, and her post was shared across the internet. 

I find myself thinking why am I taking on yet another role when I can barely complete the other tasks I'm already juggling? Yet I'm sure I just read an article recently about how working moms should be applauded for their effort with balancing work/life/parenting.  However, I'm still waiting for a pat on the back that says "good job".  Sometimes a simple "thank you" does not suffice.

With a career in higher education, I do not have the luxury of shutting down the computer every day at 4:30 and getting on with my home life.  There are things I need to think about, plans I need to make, strategies I need to work out, and those can't all be fit into the 8 hour work day.  At work, my brain is always on.  During my lunch break, I struggle to complete personal tasks within 30 minutes because I know once I get home, there is no time to do those things. It's rush rush rush with no break until bed time.

I just read a blog where the writer talks of spending more quality time with the kids at bed time.  Well, I'd love to do that but 8 p.m. is the first quiet moment I've had since 5:30 a.m. that morning, and I can't fathom laying down with three kids, and singing "Amazing Grace" three times..... yet now, I walk away with a deeper sense of guilt since some other blogger told me about her "aha" bedtime moment.

The problem is that I find I am letting myself be defined of what others feel that parenting/motherhood/working should be like, not by what my particular life actually looks like. The guilt eats at me for spending time cleaning while I should be playing, folding laundry instead of making time for exercise, sitting on the couch for 5 minutes instead of responding to the kids' 8,000 bedtime requests.  I'm wondering what happened to my self-worth, and why I am measuring it by others' standards. Why I am letting some articles on the internet dictate my life and my feelings?

Monday, September 22, 2014

My 2014 Autumn Bucket List

It was a crazy summer with my new duties at work as well as other things (like just sitting back and enjoying life), so I do admit that I have not blogged as much.  This week I am participating in the SITS girls "Back to Blogging" challenge.

Today's topic: "Share with us some of your autumn traditions, or create a Fall Bucket List"

You know me, I'm all about the lists!

So here are just a few things I'd like to do this fall:

  1. Pumpkin farm - Every year, we head to the same one. The kids LOVE it. There is a corn maze, apple cider donuts, and a spooky walking trail. 
  2. Speaking of apples.... I just found a new recipe for Apple-Bacon Mac and Cheese thanks to the Better Home and Gardens 100 Days of Holidays email I received.
  3. Boo at the Zoo! We love to check out the spooky happenings at our zoo.
  4. Paddleboat - This year, we are going to take a paddleboat down the Fox River and check out the scenery.  With the leaves beginning their annual color change, it should be a very beautiful ride!
  5. Read, read, read!  Prince Lestat, the newest Vampire Chronicle book by Anne Rice is coming out October 28. 
  6. It's our 10th wedding anniversary this October. ♥  
In addition to things to do, don't forget my favorite things about fall:

New boots (I may have an obsession)

Pumpkin-flavored everything! 

Decorating the house
Pumpkin-scented candles!
What's on your autumn bucket list?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Missing the moments

I hear my kids misbehave after school.

I wouldn't know, as I work full-time. And it's not because I want to (although I do enjoy helping students). I work to pay the bills and carry the insurance.  

I miss the moments of picking the kids up from school and finding out about their day. Instead, I walk in the door at 5:10 p.m. to chaos with the kids running around and the husband telling me that supper is ready. We hurry to sit down; there is still so much left to do before bed. It's hard to keep the lives of five people straight.

I feel my brain is on overload: the never-ending to do list, the volunteer "jobs" I'm involved with, the constant demand on my work, the door is constantly being opened by people who need my assistance; at home, it's always "mommy, mommy, MOMMY!"; the emails - did you do this? finish that? can you update this? 

I'm spent I tell you.  

This working mother thing is hard.

Will I someday miss these moments? The hurried ones? The crazy ones?

Will the future me sit and be bored some day with no demands on her time? 

Will I have wasted away from kidney disease 
before I even get the chance to miss the time I'm living now?

I find myself wondering many things these days....
what's the point of it all? 

To quote my favorite movie:

There's no point to any of this. It's all just a... a random lottery of meaningless tragedy and a series of near escapes. So I take pleasure in the details. You know... a Quarter-Pounder with cheese, those are good, the sky about ten minutes before it starts to rain, the moment where your laughter become a cackle... and I, I sit back and I smoke my Camel Straights and I ride my own melt.

Friday, August 29, 2014

In Memory of Gary

Do you ever notice the white crosses on the side of the road? The ones that stand in memory of someone who lost his or her life due to a car accident? 

I see one every day on my way to work.  As I stop at the red light, it's right there.... 
outside my window.  I vaguely remember hearing of an accident at this intersection... 
it was years ago.... motorcycle vs. car.....

The cross blends into the field now; my eyes so accustomed to it that I pay no mind and barely give it a passing glance.  Over the years, it's become faded and worn from the elements, with small cracks forming in the wood.  It sits as a reminder, but does anyone really notice? 

Recently I glanced that way, waiting for my turn to continue through the intersection, 
a million items running through my head on my never-ending to do list
when something caught my eye:


The words penned across the top of the cross.

His son signed his name.

My heart skips a beat as my eyes fill with tears.

Out of time.  Gary simply ran out of time.  

How many things did he leave unfinished? Did his son even know him before he passed? Did he miss plans for a little league game or a trip to the zoo? What all did Gary lose by running out of time?

I wanted to take the kids miniature golfing this summer.  There is a place near work that can best be described as vintage. All the holes are the same, with outrageous decorations.  So cheesy, but I figured the kids would have a blast.  However, summer was shorter than I had planned.  Now we are back in the school routine.  I hurry to send them to school, hurry to work.... 

8 1/2 hours later, I head home to for supper and homework and soccer practice.... 20 minutes of reading.... laundry to be done....put the kids to bed so I can have 5 minutes of quiet before I have to go thru the school folders, check my to do list, prepare clothes for the morning and for after school at grandma's...I'm so tired.... as I run out of time to finish everything before collapsing into bed, only to start all over again at 5:15 a.m. the next morning.

Out of time.

I don't want to be out of time. 

I want to take the kids mini golfing, to celebrate 10 years of marriage in New Orleans, to play Santa and surprise the kids with wonderful toys that they've wanted all of 2 weeks after seeing an ad on television.  I want to finish the twins' baby books (because seriously it's only been six years!). I want, I want, I want.  My to do list grows longer.  As I'm sure Gary's was.  I want to go back to that time when we didn't have any plans on Saturday mornings, and I snuggled with two teeny tiny babies and a two-year old on the couch, watching Mickey Mouse Club House.  I want to host more kitchen dance parties.  I don't want to find myself out of time. 

While I'm sad that a man lost his life, and a child lost his father, I'm also thankful for the person who built the cross and placed it there in memory.  In memory of a life lost, but also a reminder to those still here:  Don't let yourself run out of time. Life is short; live every day like your last.