Thursday, September 22, 2016

I'm still here.e

I've been silent from my blog for over a year now. It's not that I don't want to write, but writing is one of the many things I've given up in the pursuit of time.

Last winter I tried to economize my schedule. Things weren't getting done around the house and I was forgetting to do important things with/for the kids, so I stopped hanging out on the computer. I quit watching TV. I stopped writing. I stopped calling and talking to people. I stopped visiting my friends and family. I was falling behind in things that needed to be done, and so I saved time where I could. I cut out what wasn't completely essential. In some ways, it helped. I got dinner on the table. I caught up more on laundry. I've been able to get the house cleaned up more and be more on top of all of the kids' needs.

But I'm just now realizing the cost of giving up those things. I'm isolated. I'm tired. I'm sad. I have no time with my husband.  And now I'm wondering which things are worth wasting spending time or money on and which things aren't. Finding the balance is really hard for me.

I suddenly grasped how much I miss having time to waste earlier this week when I toured a local montessori school.  I became so hopeful at the prospect of a few hours to myself. And I mean really, truly hopeful. It seemed like such a great solution. Here was this place where I could leave my kids for a short time each day, a place where I could feel like they were truly benefitting from the experience and in good hands. At the same time, I could also benefit from some time away. I'd give myself some time to refresh. Some time to relax. Sometime to regroup my soldiers and assess the battlefield before going back in for more.

 I called my friend and talked excitedly about how great I thought it would be for the kids and how awesome it would be to have those two hours a day all alone. She asked me what I would do, and I surprised myself with the answer.

I would write in my blog. I'd go back to cooking new, fun dinners that I actually enjoy. I'd garden. I'd go to Target alone. I'd resume my emails to friends that were written just to say, "Hey, how are you doing?" I'd play VFW bingo or some other stupid thing with my mom.

When I did the budgetary math and realized that we couldn't afford to send William to school, I was crushed more than I'd like to admit. We just don't have an extra $800 a month to send the younger boys to Montessori.

Even just typing that, let alone clicking publish, makes me feel like a snob. I really do know we are fortunate. We have money in the bank for our retirement and our kids' future schooling. We can afford to pay our medical bills. We can afford food, clothing, a house, our cars, and so many other things. I KNOW we are so very very fortunate. But that doesn't mean I don't find myself wanting more, and I don't know how to stop that.

Everything seems to come at such great cost. I can save on things monetarily, but then I end up spending my time. To save my time means spending my money. I guess that's how the cliched "time is money" saying came about.

There is just SO MUCH out there that I'd like to spend money and time on. I'd love a bigger car to fit our whole family and a weeks' worth of groceries. Since we moved in five years ago, I've dreamt of having the holey walls patched and painted. Since William broke my computer months ago, I've wanted a new one.  I want to take photos again, to play around editing them and sharing them. I would love to go on a weekend vacation to literally anywhere and just spend time with my husband.

When I saw the back-to-school  ads I actually reminisced about how my dad used to take me clothes shopping and let me pick out the new clothes I wanted before school started. The only catch to our shopping trips was that he would always always always try to embarrass me in the store. At the time it was kind of horrible, but I now find myself wishing that I could go to the store and spend half the day trying things on with my dad and walking out with half a new wardrobe. And now it's something I have neither the time nor the money for.

Since realizing all of these things I've tried to think about what I can change, but I am stuck. We save money so that we can retire and be together. We save money so that our kids can go to school with less-than-crippling debt. I spend time doing the laundry, cooking dinner, reading to the kids, taking them to the doctor because, hello, what else can I do? Yet somehow, I still need to change something. I can see that I need a change but I don't yet know what that change should look like.

I start each day before 7am and when the kids go to bed at 7pm I am DONE. I might start the dishwasher or put away a last load of laundry but I don't have the energy to do much of anything, even something I enjoy. So I brush my teeth, climb into bed, and read a few chapters of my book until I can't keep my eyes open anymore. I'm often sound asleep by 8:30.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Home movies.

While eating lunch this afternoon, I watched old home videos that my mother-in-law uploaded to YouTube. Something gave me pause about seeing her back in time. She was my age, holding a newborn baby in the hospital the same way I have done now three times.  She nursed her baby and held her baby and passed her baby off to be admired by grandma. I was shocked by my mother-in-law's youth.

She was just like me.
Probably all grandmas were just like me at some point. 

In my head, it's easy to know that every grandma was once a new mother just starting out like I am today. It's easy for me to know that every old person was once young. But for some reason seeing that video footage showcasing soundless minutes of day-to-day life was jarring. It made me think ahead to my own future.

Probably my boys will look at old photos of me and laugh at my glasses, my hair, the stupid things I made them wear. Digital storage means that my photos will never turn brittle and yellow but surely they will still be just as dated as if they had. Some day I will take my old hard drives to be converted into whatever future format is best, and I might share them with whatever the future's version of Facebook will be.

My boys will probably have kids of their own and then I will find myself exactly where my mother-in-law is now. My grown kids and grand kids will laugh when I can't figure out the next greatest technology.  They'll gripe about the way I will worry and they'll poke fun at the thirty year old shoes they'll find buried in my closet because I just can't stand to give them away.

All of this sounds like a very obvious course of events, and it is, really. Everybody ages. But this may be the first time I've ever sat down and thought about it. And while I'm sure I'll have many years to change my mind, getting old doesn't really seem so bad to me right now. I will have so many great things to look back on. And maybe, one day, my daughter-in-law will see all of these photos I've posted here and be at once appalled and comforted by seeing that we aren't that different after all.

Outfit that was once Jared's.

Too many blueberries.

Building the campfire.

Making s'mores.

Marshmallow roaster in training.

Marshmallow roasting master.

First time fisherman.

First fish ever caught for Jared.

Expert fishing duo.

First-timer, natural pro.
Bath time. No fishing here.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Nature explorers.

We went for another great "nature walk" last weekend. That seems to be what the boys are really into these days. The highlight of their trip was a really really big tree trunk. No lies.

I can't complain because nature walks are:

When there are no benches on the trails, you eat on a bridge.

Colin attempting to eat his entire sandwich all at once so that he can have strawberries.

Oliver showing Colin to properly eat.

Another one of many bridges.


...Followed by Oliver's first selfie...

....And Colin's first selfie, too.

(Bill didn't care about taking selfies.)

Thursday, June 11, 2015


Summer is officially here. With Jared done with classes and the boys out of school, we've been partying it up.

After nine months of terrible sleep, I decided to do sleep training with William. I didn't want to do it, but it was to the point where he was waking up at least four times a night. I was exhausted.

After a couple of nights of "training" which involved going in to "soothe" him on a schedule of five, ten, or fifteen minutes... 

He sleeps. 

For twelve hours straight. And I have finally caught up on my sleep and I am feeling so much better. My house is (slightly) cleaner. I've been nicer. I'm almost back to the point where I have dinner on the table every night and the laundry caught up.

I had NO idea I was so tired until suddenly I wasn't tired anymore.

But anyway. We've been busy with our summertime stuff.

Helping to unload the dishwasher.

Enjoying lasagna night.

Up for adventure on a nature walk.

Nature experts.

Perfect picnic place.

PB&J just like the big boys.

Taking a rest on our strenuous hike.

The correct way to drink from a water fountain.

Twins game.

Traditional Twins Game Selfie.

Playing after swimming lessons.

First time in a pool.

Stealth photo of Oliver.

Colin being a good sport about being dunked.

Pride in eating corn like the rest of us.
Hive is coming along nicely.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Happy (Belated) Birthday

Dear Colin,

Your birthday was over a month ago. I'm sorry.

I actually had your annual birthday slideshow ready to go on your birthday. I even thought I'd get this letter written on time, too, but I have been so busy that I never wrote anything publish-worthy. With your dad finishing up his first semester of grad school, we've barely had time to breathe.

I've been waiting and waiting for the perfect quiet moment to write this letter. In waiting for perfection, nothing got done. That's something I have a problem with. I hesitate too much with decisions and I get bogged down by the details. But not you. If you were in charge of writing this letter, you wouldn't hem and haw over what to say or when to say it. You'd just say it. And not only would you just say it, you'd say it and then you'd have zero regrets with how it came out, whether good or bad.

That's one of the things I love about you, Colin. If you're in for a penny, you're in for a pound. You're not afraid to put every single thing on the line. Your whole existence is an exercise in reckless love of life.

When given a roll of stickers, you use every single sticker for one great magnum opus and never lament that you didn't save any for later when you have none. At preschool you make your artwork however you'd like with no regard to how anyone else is doing theirs, and you are always the first person to declare, "I like it!" You put your shoes on the wrong feet and tell me, "They work like this, too." When you have a treat, you're always willing to share "just a little bite." Over and over and over again you fall down in your zealous play, but the words, "I'm okay!" seem to tumble out of your mouth even before you're able to right yourself again for your next attempt.

Earlier this spring you saw me struggling to hold it all together during a particularly bad day. Smiling, you came to me with hands full of wilted dandelions and said to me, "It's okay, Mom. I got these for you. They're pretty."

That's an image that sticks in my head.  You, standing in front of me with dirty knees. Smiling. Hair plastered to your forehead with sweat. Holding out little handfuls of dandelions mangled by your less-than-delicate picking. The dandelions were dirty and broken, but you still saw them as beautiful and so you smiled and you shared them with me.

To make me happy.

Every single day you find small ways to choose happiness.
Every single day you find ways to offer a metaphorical dandelion to the people around you.
I hope you never change.

Happy 3rd Birthday, Colin. We love you.

Sunday, April 12, 2015


Today was is a beautiful day, so we threw open every window in the house and ate raspberries. Even Bill. We ate them all the cool way, as I'm sure kids have been doing for the last hundreds of years that raspberries have existed. 

But that doesn't mean it's not still totally the most awesome thing ever.

We're all so glad spring is here. Raspberry fingers forever.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

March on.

So. I skipped the entire month of February. Not because I had nothing to write but because I had no time to write it. In fact, I could think of a dozen things I could write but here I am. More than halfway through March with not a single sentence written. I have no time.

Jared went back for his master's degree and since then our life has been barely livable. Jared gets up at the crack of dawn, goes to work,  goes to school, goes back to work, comes home, eats dinner, helps put kids to bed, does homework, and then goes to bed late at night long after I've already gone to sleep. Over and over again. There is no time for anything else.

With Jared out of the picture, I am the sole laundry, housekeeping, childcare, and food provider. I do this all while waking up multiple times a night with one or more kids. It's hard. It's really hard. I had gotten into a good pattern of getting things done, but that went out the window when I had to figure out how to do that stuff on my own to give Jared time to do homework and get in his fulltime work week and his full time class schedule.

William has started crawling, so all choking hazards have been banished to the basement. The baby gate at the top of the steps is back up. He has 4 teeth fully in and he's working on more. We started feeding him solid foods, which he thus far hates.

Oliver has lost his first two baby teeth and he's starting to learn to read.  Colin started preschool one day a week and loves it, but I'll be damned if it isn't the hardest part of my week just getting him out the door to go to school each Friday.

There is so much going on, and I am spread way too thinly. I'm not under any delusions. I know that, like every single other person in the entire world, I'm not capable of everything.  I can't do everything. I am okay with that, and I really do understand that more than anything...

...But at the same time, what else can I do? What choice do I have but to continue trying to do everything right now? I just have to suck it up and make it through until summer when Jared can help out more. I hate being so busy. So busy that I feel like I'm not even here for any of this. One day I realized that William is steadily sitting up on his own, but then when I looked back at pictures, I realized he's doing it for weeks and I'm just now noticing. Somehow Colin has begun speaking in more or less complete grammatical sentences and it didn't even occur to me until I showed up for his speech assessment and really, truly listened to him talking for the first time in a long time.

The biggest thing that I miss is having people here to interact with. I've joined a local mom's group and I attend weekly mommy & me classes, but without any free time, what chance do I have at making friends? The friends that I do have aren't local. My parents are two time zones away. Most of my & Jared's families are far away. I feel like I haven't even spent any time with Jared since Christmas, despite living in the same house and sleeping in the same bed each night. Being alone is hard.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining. Or if I am, I'm at least not forgetting all of the things I'm grateful for. I'm happy that Jared has this opportunity to go back to school for free. I'm happy that Bill is growing and learning and changing. I'm happy that we are healthy and that we have food and clothes and the means to take our kids out to the zoo and the mall and all the other places we go. I have a million things that I am grateful for.

But still. I am exhausted and lonely. Summer can't come soon enough.

Colin caught hiding under the table after cutting up a loaf of bread and eating at least a dozen cookies I left on the counter.

William trying out the new high chair.

Jared, Oliver, & Will riding the turtle at the zoo.

Colin with a plastic toy stuck on his leg.

Baby just hanging out.

First food. Carrots.

Missing tooth.

Sitting up.

Carrots take 2.

New Spiderman PJs.

"It was William's turn to choose what we're playing."

Enthusiasm to try new food. (It was short lived.)

Fat baby.

Baby begging for scraps at the table.

Colin, with a jar of dirt he brought inside and named "Bonnie."

Eating toast.

Oliver holding his baby brother.