Sunday, July 27, 2014

Pondering

Not too long ago I was talking to a friend about how I am "blogging" in my mind pretty much constantly. But, for many reasons, I find myself actually blogging less and less.

I KNOW how dreadful it is to read bloggers blogging about blogging, so I'll be brief. Here are some of the reasons I think I've been blogging less:

1) With a smartphone it is so easy to share thoughts and pictures via Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. I'll think about blogging about something and then I wonder if it's overkill because I already "covered" that event, moment, thought through other social media.

2) I have many more local friends than I did when I began this blog. In the beginning it was a lifeline, a way to process. These days, I'm just as likely to process something through a face-to-face conversation with a friend. I still process quite a bit through writing, but do lots of that privately.

3) As the children get older, there are some things that feel off-limits. I've mentioned this before. For better or worse, they are aware that they have an on-line presence. It is not uncommon for me to take photo and hear one of them ask if I'm going to put it on Facebook for their relatives (and our friends) to see. Sharing photos doesn't seem to bother them. However some of the issues we're encountering now are less funny/cute and more serious. I still want to write about my experiences as a parent, but I am not sure I've completely worked out how to do that while still honoring the things my children may not find amusing to read about someday.

4) Another thing that has happened as the children have gotten older is that we've become more involved in the community. So when I'm writing about our experiences they are largely tied to people, organizations, and places that are meaningful to us. I will admit that I'm more concerned now about offending people than I was when I began - because very few people I knew were reading!

I am not yet ready to close the doors here. There's plenty that I do still want to find a way to write about.

Monday, July 07, 2014

1/2 Way

My children have been out of school for about six weeks and go back in five. Which means summer is more than half behind us. We've been to Michigan and Wisconsin and spent many, many hours at the pool. We've been to swimming lessons and dance classes. Harper and Michael are playing baseball. They have not learned to ride their bikes. The children have spent a little more time with electronic devices than I intended, but, eh, more time for me to read books (9 since school was out!). I have succeeded in getting Michael to read to me, which was a crucial goal this summer. When kindergarten started he literally could not recognize the word, "the." By the end of the year he was reading some actual books and I have been determined to help him avoid that dreaded summer slide. Getting him to write has been another story. You win some, you lose some and good luck to his first grade teacher.

I find myself vacillating between the feeling that we need to pack the days with special outings so my children have magical memories of their summer vacations and the feeling that if I just give all of us a little time and space the magic will find its own way.


Saturday, May 24, 2014

Almost Summer

Last summer we spent several days at a local swim and tennis club as guests of a good friend who is a member. This year we bit the bullet and joined the pool ourselves. We had lots of fun going to the pool with our friends last summer, but I did have a tiny bit of doubt about how it would go if we went on our own. 

The pool is open for this Memorial Day weekend, though it won't be officially open for the season until next weekend. We have a stretch of glorious days forecast so I knew we'd try it out this weekend. We went for a couple of hours today and it was a smashing success.


It's not a great day at the pool until someone makes red pepper walrus tusks?

I should clearly state that I was completely in favor of joining the pool. I lobbied hard to convince Matt that it was a good idea. Despite this, I still had a few reservations. Here are some of the things I was worried about:

    -My children wouldn't have fun if they didn't know anyone else.
    -I wouldn't be able to get over the discomfort of wearing a bathing suit in public.
    -Every rest break would turn into an argument about buying food from the snack bar.
    -The children would want to go home after we'd been there for 25 minutes.
    -Michael would only go into the pool if he was clinging to me, baby monkey-style.
    -The process of getting ready to go to the pool would siphon the will to live right out of me.

As it turned out, none of these were really a problem (today). There wasn't anyone else we knew when we first arrived and it took Harper about thirty seconds to make a friend (she's good like that). Michael got into the pool with me, but was minimally clingy and later got in on his own. They only asked for snack bar snacks once and did not argue when I denied their requests. They did not want to go home after 25 minutes. They also did not want to go home after two hours, which I'll take as a good sign. I'm never going to love wearing a bathing suit in public, but I managed NOT to think about it the majority of the time we were there. 

As for getting ready to go... I'm hoping that gets a little easier as we go along. It took about half an hour to gather towels and pool toys and snacks, to get into suits, and to apply sunscreen. As we go along I think I'll have a better idea about what we actually need and how much the children will actually eat. 

If anyone has tips for maximizing pool enjoyment with children I'm open to them, but, based on today, I think we're all set for a very nice summer by the pool.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Jumping Right Back In

Well hello friends! There has been a lot happening here. People turning six (I owe you a birthday letter, Michael). The start of soccer season. Me going back to work...

So the teacher who replaced me at the school where I worked last year had to be out for a few weeks and I stepped back into the job. I taught full time from February 27 until spring break started March 14, then went back for the first week of April full-time, and half days the second week of April. I've had a week and a half to breathe and I'm starting another five-day subbing job tomorrow. It's amazing how quickly we switched modes and the only things that got done around here were those absolutely necessary to our survival.

We're getting ready to participate in our 5th March for Babies walk, this weekend. Our fundraising has been disappointing this year, relative to the last four. If you're reading this and you happen to be a person I haven't already begged for money via Facebook or email, please consider donating to our March for Babies team. You can do so by clicking here. Incidentally, whenever I claim that we aren't doing as well as previous years, or aren't meeting our goal, I worry that people who've already supported us will feel like I'm not grateful for their donations. Nothing could be further from the truth. We might not raise another penny and I'm incredibly grateful to those folks who've already given. Thank you!

I know I'm jumping all over the place here, please bear with me.

Today has been an especially interesting day. I had a filling replaced this morning. This particular tooth is now on its third filling - the original dating back to my college days. The hygienist gently told me that the next time the filling broke down I would likely need a root canal and crown, so I'll be looking forward to/fretting about that for the next five to eight years. It seems unjust that fillings should have to be replaced.

We are finally having our master bath remodeled (I'll show why in a moment.) This bathroom is so bad that I can count on one hand the number of people not living in this house who've ever seen the inside of it. Having the bathroom updated is a huge positive, obviously, but the process... Excuse me while I bang my head against a wall, will you? Today most of the demolition was done. Which means things were loud and messy! There was so much banging that a decorative fish fell off the wall in the other bathroom and shattered. I guess that's what I get for having a decorative fish.

Also the dishwasher broke.

I believe that's the some sort of Murphy's Law of home improvement - you embark on an expensive journey only to have a bunch of less expensive, but still painful, repairs demand attention. As Matt is fond of saying, "It's only money!"

Here are some before photos of the bathroom. I resisted the urge to take close up photos that truly show how nasty it is - you'll have to take my word for it.

Taken from the doorway.

Notice all the stuff on the counter due to lack of storage.

Lovely curtains.

Taken from the shower. All of the red walls used to be wallpapered. 

The shower is one of the things that had been "updated" before we moved in.



Everything is as tiny as it looks. The toilet and counter were low, the sink little, the doorway narrow (although that won't change).
Now here are some photos of what it looks like currently, after the first day of work:

I'm so lucky to sleep next to this tonight - it looks like some horror-movie creature could just hop right up through the floor boards.

The shower opening will be wider and taller, now that the "updated" shower stall has been removed.

Oh look! You can see right into the basement!

Don't let our fascinating bathroom remodel distract you from donating to our March for Babies team!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Just Another Weekend


Saturday morning looked like this:
 

 
 
Saturday evening looked like this: 
 
  
As it turns out we are people who attend dance competitions.
 
Harper started taking ballet class in first grade. This was at the suggestion of Matt's mom but we were more than happy to let her do it. Harper loves music and dance, and, though she is not particularly flexible, seemed to have an aptitude for learning her dance moves. She enjoyed class and really enjoyed getting up on stage and performing in her first recitals.
 
After two years of regular class she was invited to audition for the competition team at her studio. At first she wasn't interested. Then she found out several of her friends were going to audition and she decided to give it a try. You could have knocked me over with a feather when she was actually invited to join.
 
I had all kinds of reservations about taking that step. It is a lot of time/energy/expense. The director of our studio reassured me that in reality it was nothing like that TV show... and, for the most part, it isn't.
 
I never imagined I would be a person applying lipstick or false eyelashes to my nine-year-old's face. The truth is that I still have mixed feelings about that part of things.
 
But I also never imagined I could offer my daughter a situation where she'd take nearly 11 hours of dance class in one weekend from well-known choreographers. I never imagined how proud I'd feel when she didn't give up, even when it was unbelievably difficult for a dancer of her (low) level of experience. I never imagined how my heart would swell watching her get up on a competition stage, in front of bright lights, judges, an audience, and perform like she'd been waiting her whole life to do it. It looked terrifying to me. I asked one of the other mothers if children (because they ARE children) ever get up on those stages and just freeze.
 
"If she can do this," I thought to myself, "what on earth would she ever be afraid to do?"
 
We've been doing this for less than a year, but I can already see how Harper is growing from the experience. She's learning about time management, commitment, sacrifice. She's experiencing what it is like to work with a group, over a long period of time, for a common purpose.
 
 
 
Sure the costumes can be crazy and the false eyelashes are downright ridiculous, but if I had to choose one word to sum up what this experience has been like for Harper so far it would be: empowering.
 

 

 
And I don't regret it one bit.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Sleeping Over

We had a major milestone in our house last weekend - Harper's first away from home sleepover. 

Nine years old isn't really all that young to go to a sleepover, and we've had other children sleep at our house a handful of times. I'm sure any parent feels some anxiety when a child spends the night away from home. For us, the anxiety is ratcheted up a bit because it means handing responsibility for Harper's food allergies over to someone else. 

We've had lots of practice trusting other adults with Harper's safety, but mostly in the public school setting where we actually have a legal document that details steps to be taken and procedures to follow. We have also had babysitters responsible for Harper, but in our nut free home.

It's rare that Harper even goes to play for a couple of hours at another family's house without her father or I with her. So how did we end up sending her away overnight?

This fall Harper started dancing with the competitive group at her studio. We leave tomorrow, heading to Pittsburgh, for the first competition of their season. The parents of another competitor wanted to have all the girls over to spend the night together and bond a bit before our trip. 

If it hadn't been for this specific situation, I think we would have continued to pass on sleepovers for another couple of years. I really didn't want to say no to her attending and have her be the only girl to miss out on the fun. I replied to the invitation and inquired whether the mom was willing to take on the responsibility of managing Harper's allergy for the night.

As it turns out, another child in that family is very close friends with someone who has severe food allergies. The mother already knew how to use an EpiPen and was totally willing to work with me in terms of handling the food that would be available at the party. She was even willing to let me spend the night as well! (I passed.) It helped that they only live a few minutes from us and the hospital was in between our houses.

Of course Harper had no hesitation about being with her friends!

Here are a few photos of the evening that I borrowed from Facebook - I wasn't sure how the other parents would feel about pictures on the blog, so I covered most of the faces:

They made posters to put on their hotel room doors.


No drama here...


All's well that ends well - Harper had a great time at the party and I even managed to get a little bit of sleep. I know that she is getting to an age where she won't always want her parents with her at every event. She's learning how to be more responsible for her allergy and we are learning to hand over a little more trust and responsibility. 

One step at a time!

I am so grateful for this parent - and for all the caring, supportive adults and children we've encountered - who was willing to go the extra mile to make this routine childhood experience possible for Harper. It means more than she probably realizes.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Throw Back Thursday

Do you recognize these itty-bitty children? 


That picture is from April 2008, just a few days after Michael came home from his month in the NICU. Harper was playing, "This Little Piggy," with his teeny toes. You can see that he had an apnea monitor. I think we had that for a month or two after we came home - funny that I don't quite remember the details any more. What I do remember is how awful and piercing that alarm was, and that Michael frequently moved enough during the night to disconnect himself from the leads and set it off despite not having an actual problem.

When I look at Michael now, it is hard to reconcile my nearly-six-year-old boy with the preemie he once was. Look how wee he was in the picture and he was probably five or six weeks old already! He is a beautiful reminder of all we have to be grateful for and why we work each year to raise money for March of Dimes.

Yes, I will again be asking people to please consider donating to our March for Babies team - the link to do so is in the right sidebar. Or you can click here. I am incredibly thankful for all the support we've had in years past, enabling us to raise some pretty impressive family team totals. I would love to see our total this year surpass last year's number. Please remember that every little bit helps. Feel free to share the link and thank you for considering making a donation!