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 time....at 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:

 I LOVE YOU DAD

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.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Erin Condren Planner Review

As much as technology has made my life easier, I am still a paper and pen sort of girl.  I love notebooks, journals, colored pens, etc.  And I really love my Erin Condren planner!  

I will admit, they are pricey.  But I've tried to go cheap. I bought a really nice Target planner. And was left unimpressed.

So I broke down and made the 18-month commitment to Erin Condren. ;)  My package arrived last Thursday, and it was super hard not to skip supper with the family to start filling it in:

They wrapped it for me! It's like Christmas in August!

The planner came with a coupon, as well as some stickers.

The front
This is in the back. They have now included a perpetual calendar to list
birthdays/anniversaries so that you don't need to write them down
year after year.

I love love love a 2 page monthly spread to see all our big events.

I use the 2 page weekly view to write down work meetings,
kids' stuff, my to do list, etc.
The pens were bought from Target... it was a 5-pack. I like to color-code. :)





Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Back to School

Well today was the day.... the kids headed back to school.  
We've got the morning routine down 
(although Keith was training and missed all the fun). ;)

This year, with Boy being in third grade, there will be a considerable amount of homework coming home (my niece is a year ahead of him, so I got to see firsthand what she was bringing home!).  The twins will also have a little more homework than they were used to in kindergarten.  To make afternoons/evenings a little smoother, I'm trying out an after-school routine chart (thanks Pinterest!)  The idea is that they can check off the items on the to-do list, and if they succeed each day, there will be a reward or treat on the weekend. I haven't quite worked out all the details, but will keep you posted!  

Here is the sheet - each child has their own sheet. 
It's in a plexiglass holder so they can use a dry-erase marker to check off each item, 
and then cross off the day of the week as they complete the tasks.


Above this one is a weekly calendar where I will list 
out the activities and events for the week. 
This week is pretty slow as school just started today, 
and soccer won't begin until next week!


I have also cleaned out the 31 organizer I have on the fridge,
 and that will now be command-central 
to keep track of papers coming home from school.





How are you getting ready back to school?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Creating a back to school routine...

T-minus 8 days until the start of school! And to get back in the routine of school, homework, and just the general busyness of life, I thought I'd post about some things we are doing at home to help make the transition from summer to school a little easier this year:

Prepare the night before: Lunches and backpacks are ready to go.  Clothes are set out for children and mom! 
Set the timer on the coffee maker.  Double check your calendar to make sure you aren't forgetting a treat or permission slip. 
 
Here is a picture of the wall/counter right by our back door.  
Under the counter, Keith built cubbies for coats/back packs.  
We use the old shutter for bills/permission slips/important papers.

Hover over this picture to see the "Pin it" button!

Hug It Out: I've read this in numerous parenting mags, so it must be true... right? Sometimes kids are especially needy in the morning because they've been away from physical contact all night long.  Spend a couple minutes just sitting with each child and giving a few extra cuddles, especially to those less-independent kiddos of yours.  

Visualize Your Morning Routine:  I used this one last year and it worked great! It has pictures and words, so there is no confusion.  It's placed on the refrigerator, and lists the steps of what needs to be done. (We eat and brush teeth before getting our uniforms on just in case there are spills.)



 

Get up earlier: Wait, what did she say? That's right, even if it's 5-10 minutes earlier, it gives you a little extra time in the morning. And a few minutes to do some stretches or yoga, write in your gratitude journal, or just drink your coffee in peace before the chaos of the morning.  (I'm still working on this one!)  

Lose the remote control: In our house, there is no t.v. in the mornings, unless all kids are dressed and ready to walk out that door (coats and hats optional).

Stay calm: Know that even the best laid plans can go awry.  Some day you will probably be running late, and that's just how it is.  Take a moment to take a deep breath before running around and possibly yelling at the kids. Good luck with the new school year!