Monday, December 31, 2012

Eight

Dear Harper,

Shortly after beginning this blog we celebrated your first birthday and I wrote you a letter to mark the occasion. I have done the same every year since that first birthday.

Life has been very different for our family in the last few months as Dad and I are now both working full time. Some things have had to change and, unfortunately, one of those things has been the amount of time I've spent writing here. Your birthday passed six weeks ago but I still want to write to you. One thing I'm really learning this year is that just because I can't do something perfectly doesn't mean that I shouldn't do it at all. Since it is New Year's Eve and you will turn NINE in 2013, I figured I'd better get to it.

You are eight.

I know hearing your age isn't nearly as jarring for you as it is for me. Still, eight is a pretty remarkable number, don't you think? At Christmas Eve dinner this year it occurred to me that it was the ninth year we'd celebrated Christmas with you and got all choked up because the time has gone so unbelievably fast.

You've had a bunch of new adventures this year - dancing in your first big recital, attending bowling and basketball camps, playing with the big kids (fifth graders!) in after school daycare, and trying tennis. Your world is getting bigger and bigger, as is your attitude. In many ways you've always seemed older than your age, but this year, especially in the last few months, it has become clear to me that you are on the verge of a whole bunch of big kid stuff. The questions you ask, the way you speak, the eye-rolling (already?), all of it gives glimpses into this new phase we seem to be entering.

When I was a summer camp counselor eight-year-olds were some of my favorite campers. Yes you have one toe in that big-kid world, but you still buy into a whole slew of wonderful, magical, little kid stuff too. You like to play pretend, be read to, and you were all in on the Santa Claus thing for another blissful Christmas. You aren't too embarrassed to be with your parents, and better yet, you still love spending time with your dad and me.

You have pushed your boundaries this year, at home and at school, and I don't think you have the fear of "getting in trouble" that I carried with me during my childhood. This is mostly a good thing, as you really aren't afraid to take your place in the world, though I occasionally wish you were just a little more concerned about following the rules. You are more likely to evaluate the rules and follow the ones you feel should apply to you...

Of course I'm really proud of so many of the things you've done. Back in the spring you worked really hard to write a story and make book as an end of the year gift to your first grade teacher. When she sent you a thank you she promised to come to a signing when you are a published author. You are developing your own tastes and interests, independent of things your father and I have tried to introduce you to and you love to read (especially graphic novels and mysteries), write, and cried your first happy tears when you received a desk for your birthday. You've also become a big music fan this year - Taylor Swift is your favorite - and you got a guitar for Christmas and can't wait to learn how to play and write your own songs.

There are moments when I look at you or listen to you and my breath is completely taken away. I cannot believe the little baby I spent all those winter mornings snuggling with and reading to has become this big, beautiful child. I continue to learn and grow as you learn and grow. Being your mother is the biggest challenge and honor of my life. I love you, Harper, and I can't wait to see what the next year will bring.

Love,
Mom

Thursday, November 01, 2012

NaNoWha?

So yes, for the first time in a long time, my guess is that National Blog Posting Month is not going to happen here this year...

I'm sure you're shocked.

We're doing fine, but I'm having a hard time justifying taking time to blog as I'm falling asleep every night thinking of the things for school or around the house that I've yet again failed to do. Being back to work sure has been a humbling experience!

We totally phoned it in for Halloween this year. As the cold and soggy remnants of Sandy landed firmly in Ohio this week I had the wicked brilliant idea to skip trick-or-treat all together and take the kids bowling in their costumes:

These are not the kids.


Of course we still stopped by my in-laws where there were bags of nut-free candy waiting for them. So they got plenty of candy, bowled a game, and avoided making our already present coughs and sniffles worse by hiking around in the rain for an hour. Win-win?

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Hello?

I moment ago I took the dog out in the front yard. It is a beautiful, clear, autumn night. I looked up to see a blanket of stars. The air was full of the sound of fireworks (?) and the local high school band playing at the football game. The scent of a fire wafted up from a neighbor's yard. It was a few minutes of deep and satisfying peace.

This transition from full time momming to full time teaching has been a lot. It is almost as jarring and intense as the transition to being a parent. It's only been six weeks so we're still in that newborn haze. I am only now, just a little bit, coming up for air. I miss this online community fiercely, though I don't have too much time to dwell on it...

Things are happening here. School and field trips and croup and new experiences and dog cancer (he's okay now, but whoa) . Most Some days feel barely together, like the universe is bound by nothing more than a prayer and an old rubber band.

I would love for someone to tell me this will get even a little bit easier. If you know that it really won't then you just shush.

Are you still out there? How are you?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Heigh-Ho

This morning I woke up, got dressed, and went to work! How crazy is that?

We don't have students at my school until next week so I've been doing a lot of organizing of my room. It started out looking sparse but very clean.

This was taken one day last week when Michael came
to "help" me at school.


Then I realized I was never going to know what was in all of those tall cabinets unless I took it out and put it back in a way that made sense to me. Things got worse...



By the end of the day today it was about 1/2 put away. I also attended my orientation, met one of my students (her mom brought her in to get some paperwork from the office), and did a lot of deep breathing.

Harper and Michael start school tomorrow. Last night we all went mini-golfing after dinner. One last family activity before our summer comes to an end.


After school today I ran home to get the kids and we all met Matt up at Harper's meet-the-teacher night. Then it was quick dinner, baths, and kids in bed. I've been up doing paperwork for Harper's school, readying lunches (I forgot how I detest that), and making mental lists of everything that needs to happen tomorrow. With any luck I'll remember at least half of it!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

File Under Mommy Guilt

After several months of begging me to please get a job (last spring) so she could go to the school daycare with her friends, I sat in Harper's bed tonight as she sobbed to me, "Mommy I don't want you to go back to work."

Oh boy.


If I were the hashtag sort, mine would be #alittlelateforthat

Sunday, August 05, 2012

The Longest Week

The last full week of July we spent time with Matt's family on vacation in Michigan. We stayed at a house in Fennville, only a few minutes' drive from the little beach where these photos (and the photo below) were taken.

Maybe the sun was in his eyes?

I was a little bit of a vacation grouch as I'm STILL working on my summer coursework and spent a fair amount of time hunched over the laptop while everyone was swimming. Sigh. I also came home with some fairly gnarly neck and back pain. Vacation fail.

This year Matt's parents rented a house that had its own pool. The past two times we've headed up to this area for vacation we were in situations where we had a long walk or short drive to community use pools. I cannot say enough about how much this enhanced our experience of vacationing with the kids. Especially since there were five or six (one adult was only there for a portion of the week) adults for the two children, someone was almost always game for sitting out by the pool with them. I woke up one morning a little after eight and Harper had already been swimming!

Michael's big accomplishment was learning to willingly let his head go underwater. I know it looks like he's drowning in the following picture, but I just happened to catch him in the instant between when he jumped in (from the steps) and when his flotation device helped him pop back up to the surface.


So Michael and Harper were in and out of the pool several times a day for six days. And most of the time Michael was in the pool he was practicing putting his head underwater.


Thursday night of our trip Michael woke several times saying his teeth hurt. We came home Friday and then were up with him through most of the night Saturday as he screamed about his ear hurting. Sunday I took him to Children's Urgent Care and discovered he had swimmer's ear.

I don't know if you've ever dealt with swimmer's ear, but it was definitely the worst illness/affliction we've dealt with in a long time, maybe ever. It was horrendous - we needed ibuprofen and eventually Tylenol with Codeine to manage Michael's pain. He couldn't eat anything but yogurt and applesauce for two days because it hurt to chew. And we got only slightly more sleep than if we had a newborn in the house.

It was rough.

In the midst of this we were going to vacation bible school every day (I was a co-leader of one of the main areas, so no staying home with Michael) and Harper had swimming lessons Monday through Thursday nights.

Even though Michael has (mostly) healed and there were some fun things throughout the week, this picture taken shortly after lunch yesterday really sums it up:

Too tired to climb into bed for a nap...
My PSA for tonight - if you're going to let your children swim for hours a day, you may want to make sure they get the water out of their ears.



Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Butterflies

I realize that I told you I got a job for the fall, but I don't believe I said WHAT job I got...

It wasn't a library job, which is what I've been interviewing for the past THREE summers. Bummer. School library jobs are about as scarce as money trees where I live, with districts that have traditionally had librarians in all their buildings cutting all but ONE of their library positions. Good times. Most elementary schools around here have a "librarian" but they are not paid on the professional teacher scale and many of them do not have library or even education degrees.  That, I suppose, is a conversation for another day.

ANYWAY - If I was going to go back to work, but not in a school library, the job I have is exactly the one I would have chosen. I am going back to the school where I did my student teaching, and then where I worked for years 3 and 4 of my career, leaving at the end of the school year when I was pregnant with Harper.

You guys, I LOVE THIS SCHOOL. I wish I could link to the website here, but that would be pinpointing a little too precisely where we live. (If you already know where we live, you could, uh, just do a search for independent schools in this area, and you'd find it.)

I am going back to teach first grade - which happens to be the grade I taught previously at this school and at the school where I worked the first two years of my career. Certainly some things have changed in the past eight years, but enough of it is the same that I'm not stepping into completely unfamiliar territory.

Have I mentioned that the school I will work at is about four minutes from our house? There are songs on my iPod that will last longer than my commute.

The school where I'm working is an independent school - which means a lot of good things, but one of the best is that our maximum class size in the lower grades is 18 students. Yup. 18 students is a BIG class at this school. Things can still change before the start of the year, or even during the year, but right now there are 12 names on my class list. Love it.

The icing on the cake is the fact that the people I'm going to be working most closely with - the other first grade teacher, the reading specialist, and my principal are all people I've know since I did my student teaching. They are amazing educators that I have tremendous respect for and I know that working with them raises the level of my own teaching. Not only that, these women are my friends. And have been for years. I get to go to work every day with people I adore.

So here I am, thirteen days from the beginning of the school year. I'm thrilled about the job and nervous as heck about the how this transition will go for our family. I have that feeling I used to get standing in line for the big roller coasters at the amusement park, especially when the wait was long... pretty sure I'm going to have a blast, but not 100% certain that it won't kill me.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Status Updates

So I'm off of Facebook until my summer coursework is finished. Which may very well mean you won't see me back on Facebook until mid-August (er, when I'll be back to work, so I might not be on much then either).

Not that many people are out there wondering lots about us due to my lack of status updating, but I have found that I am kind of missing posting that way. If I WERE using Facebook, recent updates may have gone something like this:


  • Three of the five creatures who live under this roof peed either in their beds or on the floor on the same day. That's too much laundry.

  • The AAU  girls' basketball team Matt coaches is playing in a National semi-final game tonight (yes, for real, tonight - July 17th).

  • I love that AAU nationals are in Cincinnati so we can to go the games and support Matt's team. I love less that our schedules have been 100% upended because of it - last night the kids at sandwiches for dinner at 7:45, which is SUPER late for them.

  • Harper is attending bowling camp this week. Bowling for 5-12 year-olds. I was a little worried when the gentleman running it began with a packet of handouts. The little kids were looking at it like they had no idea what it was for! Fortunately he's actually really good with the children and has the patience of a saint...

  • I was hoping to have all my school work finished before we went on vacation. Um, that is really, REALLY not happening. The good news is I can do some homework poolside?
And finally:

  • Homemade water slide:


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Some Firsts

Recently Michael has developed an all out obsession with baseball. Earlier this summer he actually sat through all nine innings of a minor league game. He has favorite players, favorite teams, and likes to watch the umpire to see whether a pitch is a ball or a strike. So this year, after a good long afternoon nap, we let him stay up to watch the first inning of the MLB All Star Game. 


Unfortunately he doesn't quite have the concept of all-star down and kept asking exactly which teams were playing.

Michael never used to sit still to watch television at all - now he'd watch all day as long as some kind of sporting event was being broadcast.

Harper's first was a jump off the high dive at the rec center where she's been taking swimming lessons. I was really excited for her - she just marched up there and did it with barely any hesitation at all. I don't recall the first time I jumped off the high dive, but I'm pretty sure I wasn't seven. She accomplished the feat yesterday, twice, and wasn't sure she'd do it again... "It feels like I'm falling," she explained, "and I don't really like to fall."

But I convinced her to give it another go today so her brother could see it in person - he was totally impressed - and so I could capture the moment.

Climbing the ladder:

Walking the plank:

Jumping off:

And then she did it again so I could get it on video...
video

As for me, I did something for the first time in a LONG time... bought an academic calendar. In a little over a month I'll be back in the classroom - yikes!

Saturday, July 07, 2012

The Stripey One

This summer, almost without fail, when I've sent Michael to his closet to pick out clothes, this is what he chooses:

Even though I very specifically ask him to pick something with short sleeves and shorts, he comes out with the hanger bearing this outfit. Every. Stinkin'. Time. And every summer day I've had to send him back and explain he can't wear those clothes because it is too hot outside and I accompany him to his room to find a more suitable outfit.

That picture was taken this morning when he decided to try something new and just put the clothes on instead of bringing them out for my approval... too bad the forecast called for temps above one-hundred degrees today.

"But Mom," he protested, "I'm not even hot at all!"

You see the striped shirt and pants with stripes down the sides compose his most very favorite outfit ever. Incidentally he also asked for it every day this winter, and always wore it the first day it was clean from the wash. Aside from being inappropriately warm for any summer day, let alone with the crazy heat wave we've been a part of, the outfit is also getting too small. He is going to be devastated when I pack it away with the other things he's outgrown. You can believe I will be scouring the stores for similar items as soon as the fall things hit the sales floor. Probably any day now.

This striped outfit, and Michael's fondness for it, is just one of the many little things I want to remember about these days. It takes so little to make him happy.

I made a concession about the clothes - agreeing to let him wear them as pajamas tonight. They only lasted about half an hour before he decided he was too hot and deigned to be changed into something else but it made him willing to compromise this morning.

One other Michael-related tidbit from today - he was getting full at lunch and asked to be finished eating. I asked how much of his banana was left, to which he replied, "Oh about fee-corders." For those of you not fluent in Michael, that would be "three-quarters." And he was actually right! By pure coincidence I'm sure.

I saved the fee-corders of a banana for him to eat with his dinner.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Growing Up

A couple of people commented (Hi, Swistle!) after the last post that Harper is suddenly looking quite a bit older. I think this is true. Actually I started having that feeling early in 2012, partly because she is turning eight this calendar year, and eight is an age I firmly remember being. (Incidentally, age 8 is the year I recieved the book The Ballet Shoes from my godmother. I've read it so many times it is held together with a rubber band.)  Part of it is the adult teeth, for sure. And the rest is made up of all these things I'm watching her experience, the ways her friendships are developing, the choices she is starting to make for herself.

Then, a couple of days ago, she was feeling a little under the weather and walked into the kitchen looking like this:

(She reluctantly posed for the picture, she's so clearly over it...)

(Also? She seems unaware of the wedgie situation going on there. Kids!)

I don't know if this will make sense to many of you, but when she walked in with those pajama pants, tank top, flip flops, and messy ponytail I suddenly felt like I was getting a glimpse of my daughter during her exam week as a freshman in college.

(Did you pick out Exam Week Outfits*? You know a comfy combo perfect for alternating between sleep and study? No? Just my friends and I then? Moving on...)

Dear Time,

Move slower.

Love,
Kelsey

*And by "outfit" I mean either a t-shirt (long or short sleeved), a sweatshirt, and probably a choice between boxer shorts or flannel pajama bottoms, color coordination optional.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

More of What We've Been Up To

One of the things I love most in this world is the type of friendship where you can see a person after being separated by great degrees of time and distance and pick up just like you never left off... Last week I was lucky enough to have TWO such friends visit. Nan and Jen are friends from college - who I mostly got to know through campus ministry retreats and theatrical campus ministry productions.

"There were theatrical campus ministry productions?" you ask. Yes. Yes there were, and they were glorious!


Things were a little different from our college days, of course, mostly because of the presence of four children ages 7 under.


Michael loves babies so much you guys, it's kind of heartbreaking. But he also doesn't really know how to interact with them appropriately - we're working on it.


They look so sweet together - you'd never know they were tying each other up with jump ropes and attempting to eat the sunscreen stick... Kids!

The visit was last Tuesday. Then, on Wednesday, I got to go to a new independent used book store near here and catch my friend Jen doing a reading from her book!


The bookstore was full of Jen's local friends and there was a ton of good spirit in that room - it was like a reading and a reunion combined. There was also an adorable one-year-old who loved grapes and continued to demand them throughout the reading. AND a mama cat and her kitten (with six toes!) that was just as adorable as you'd imagine.

Some of us were hanging out after the reading and I noticed the mama cat was relaxing beneath a table, looking exceptionally chill. Just as I was thinking I'd never seen a non-sleeping animal look that relaxed I realized the kitten was nursing! I realize this sort of thing happens, in nature, all the time, but it was so unusual to see a nursing pet (well probably not for people who's pets have babies), I was awed. I wanted to take a photo but that seemed sort of disrespectful to the cat. What really struck me was how much the cat and kitten looked like I felt when I nursed, especially when Harper was a baby and she would nurse quietly in our bed in the morning, both of us drifting in and out of sleep.

When Jen finished signing books we went down the street to a little bar where a group of us sat outside on a gorgeous night, shared some drinks, and had a genuinely lovely night out. Ten years ago this kind of night out may have continued until 2 a.m. and last week we were all ready to head home by eleven. We've grown old!

The other big news is that Matt's sister - also known as Aunt Meaghan - moved back to Ohio! Woot! We are so excited to have her living nearby. Harper demonstrated her enthusiasm by having Meaghan  complete timed "obstacle courses" on the swing set and sharing home- manicures.


Welcome home Meg!

And what have YOU been up to?

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Making an Effort

Okay, I really am going to make more of an effort to blog regularly this summer. Maybe to document the transition from family with a work-at-home-mom to family with a work-outside-the-home mom. Or maybe just so you don't miss stuff like this:

Harper decided that she and Michael were going to dress up and do a "gymnastics show" this morning. Apparently gymnasts wear stickers on their faces, ballet skirts, and a seven-year-old's version of "high heels." She even did her hair in a side pony tail.

Michael, along for the ride, happily donned one of Harper's bathing suits in lieu of a leotard.

"Don't worry Mom," Harper told me, "He's still got his underpants on."


As soon as I took this photo Harper said, "Can you put that on the blog? And Facebook?"


Last week, in the craziness that was finishing the school year, some burly men showed up and now THIS is in our backyard:




You are all invited over to play. Just wash your hands before you come if you had peanut butter for lunch.



The kids love it as much as you might imagine (a lot) and we've already played outside (at home, as opposed to at the park) more this summer than we did ALL of last summer. Investment win.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Let the Vacation Begin

Well what did I expect when I let the kids go outside to play with Matt after dinner...

It wasn't even WARM out you guys (note Michael's long sleeves).

I didn't try to stop it, but I couldn't exactly bring myself condone it.



I'm making a note to keep Harper away from any kind of wet t-shirt contest down the road. It was all in pure child fun, believe me, but she was jumping and dancing around in that sprinkler like she was being video taped for some kind of MTV spring break special. (Remember those?) I had the worst kind of flash of her future.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Wrapping Up

I cannot believe this is the last week of school for my kids! It feels like the end of an era because next year I will go back to school with them... Rather, I'll go back to the classroom.

Yup.

I got a teaching job for the fall.

Our summer is going to be short. School starts for me on August 13th (no students until the 20th though) and for my kids on August 14th.

We'll spend time in Wisconsin, Minnesota (just Matt and I), and Michigan this summer. There will be swimming, gymnastics, bowling (!), basketball, and misc. day camp. We're maaaaybe (I hope!) going to swing a weekend in St. Louis. On Wednesday a swing set is being professionally installed in our backyard. I'm taking two online classes to keep my teaching license current. I'll transition my Vice President/Volunteer Coordinator roles with the PTO to the new person and try to get a handle on co-President duties.

We're doing summer fast and furious this year.
Come on Summer! We're ready!
And you?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Where We've Been

Well hello. How are you? This has been a whirlwind month and obviously a bad month for posting...


I'm thinking I need to put myself on some sort of schedule if I have any hope of all of continuing this blog. And I want to continue, even if no one is reading it. I guess I'm finding that, as the kids get older, living our lives is getting in the way of computer time. Which is mostly good.


I also had a job situation brewing which I wasn't really at liberty to discuss. I actually had a very brief post up about it briefly, which you only caught if you are using a feed reader or saw it on Facebook. It was too soon to discuss anything, which is why I went back and yanked it. More about all of that soon.


This past weekend was largely occupied with our first big-deal ballet recital. Involving costumes! And (reluctantly and minimally) make-up! And me watching lots of surprisingly helpful You Tube videos about how to make the required ballet bun. (I have to admit I was totally tickled when someone complimented Harper on her bun as we walked into the dressing area. I did an internal high-five.)


I know it is completely uncool to brag about our kids or admit how great we think they are, but, well, er, just LOOK at this child? There are moments when she totally amazes me and the poise and maturity she showed this weekend were just beyond.


Can you believe this kid? Can you believe she is mine? How is the gorgeous creature (of course I think she's gorgeous, being her mother) the same baby I held seven years ago? Not possible.


Way to go Harper! We're so proud of you.


P.S. Holy cow was the whole dance recital thing a pain in the rear! I'm thrilled we only have to do this ONCE a year. I mean, it was fun to see her all dolled up and part of me died a happy melty death watching her onstage - BUT do you know how long we were at the auditorium? Oh, about six and a half hours total for the weekend. For about ten to fifteen minutes on stage. At least she only danced in two of the three shows - it could have been worse!