Friday, September 30, 2016

Terrific Kid!

We always think Issa is one terrific kid, but the school officially recognized her as one yesterday:
Her classmates nominated her for this month's character trait: respect. She was even more excited because it came from her peers. I think we'll keep her.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

My Sweet Boy

Yesterday, my sweet boy asked if I would sit down and play a board game with him. Since it wasn't Chutes and Ladders or Candyland, I agreed. (My days of playing those two games are over--I just can't even.)

I had never played this game, so I set to reading the rules and was pleasantly surprised that his version matched what I read. I loved watching his little mind work as he worked out his strategy, and I was only slightly flabbergasted when he legitimately trampled me.

My sweet boy is growing up. I continue to be amazed by his ability to strategize, and I love that he keeps me laughing while he is doing it. I'm secretly hoping he wants to play again tonight, but I am also trying to play it cool lest he decide he's way too big for this nonsense. Because, you know, playing it cool is my strong suit.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Another Birthday in the Books

We officially wrapped up Issa's tenth birthday celebrating this weekend with her friends. She really wanted an art party with just two of her very closest friends, and this girl embraced the event planner role:
 There was much angst about how the paints should be lined up. She wanted the colors balanced on each side of the table:
 She was quite thrilled with the result, though.
 When the girls arrived, they set to making the cupcakes:
 Issa thought it would be way more fun if they baked them together. I just sat back and coached. Their sweet hearts offered to clean up, but it was such a mess when they finished I decided it would be best if I just handled it. Cocoa and flour had been flying, and I didn't have it in me to see the mess spread.

They went outside to play for a while, and then came in to paint canvases:
 They were all very abstract, which was fun. When the finished they went upstairs to play American Girl and color before dinner.

After dinner, it was time to frost said cupcakes:
 Daddy was in charge of any frosting debacles. They put the two frostings in the bags together, which made some cool patterns:
 And of course they added sprinkles:
 And then it went downhill:
 Ending with Daddy decorating Evan:
It was all so fun. These sweet girls can move into my house anytime. They are so polite, so kind, and so fun. I think it was the perfect way to end Issa's celebration, and I can't wait for many more with these girls.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

His Dog

These two crack me up:
Buddy is absolutely Brad's dog. If Brad stops walking too fast anywhere, anytime, Buddy will run into him. If Brad sits, Buddy snuggles in close. And when Brad takes him out to play ball, well it's just more than Buddy can handle.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

It's That Time of Year Again!

It's Read-a-Thon time again! This is the time of year that I find myself covered in highlighter and feeling like a lunatic--and then a little one stops me in the hall to tell me what they're reading and I commit to taking on the beast again next year. Those kids get me every time!

This year we have a Lego theme, and the boards were actually really fun to create:
 A close-up:
Last year, the teachers were so excited that I made the leader boards real graphs they asked if I could work fractions in, too. Sure! Please not the numbers on the side are 1, 2, 3, and 4 dot Legos.

At this point, I must give a shout out to the husband. His sweet soul stuffed 640 folders with me. He then loaded all 640 folders into my van. And if that wasn't enough, when I had counters cancel on me yesterday he dropped everything to come and help me count. I think I will keep him.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Busy Weekend

We had a grand time this weekend! There were lots of little adventures tucked in along the way, and it all started with Hog Day! We have lived in Hillsborough for 12 years, but we have never been to the annual event. Friday, we decided to end the streak. 

The kids were way too excited to discover the opportunity to do a little panning:
 Issa chose a shore bag of sand, and she loved finding really cool shells, sea glass, and shark teeth:
 Evan opted for the rock bag, which added to his already sizable collection:
 We had hoped for BBQ at the event, but we didn't think it all the way through. It's a BBQ competition, and it starts Friday. Therefore, when we were there the pork was raw. After way too much bouncing in bounce houses, checking out all the vendors, and sampling snow cones, we made our way to a BBQ restaurant to satisfy the craving. Next year, we go on Saturday!

Saturday, Issa had a sleep over at the studio, and the boys settled in for a day/evening of video games and guy stuff. They did take a break to go with me to the farm, but other than that I just stayed out of the way! I did tackle some mending, some dance mom stuff, and finally hung some things on the walls:
 Issa made these--one for each member of our family:
 Sunday, Issa came home and crashed for a few hours before she and I went to the ballet:
We saw La Mer, and it absolutely did not disappoint. The boys went to see a superhero movie, and everyone is pretty sure they got the better end of that deal!

It's looking like a crazy busy week, but it should be a good one!

Friday, September 16, 2016


This week, I am even more grateful for Brad. I managed to get really sick this week. I thought I might be coming down with something Monday, by Tuesday night I knew I was in trouble, and by Wednesday morning Brad was driving me to urgent care.

It was my first ever trip to urgent care, and the people there were amazing. But Brad was even more amazing. He held my hand and did a lot of medical translation. When they asked about my pain, I said 4. Brad said I was more like a 6-7, which confused the nurse a bit. When I explained my scale that 10 was missing an appendage and 7 was child birth, they explained the actual scale on which I was definitely a 7 since I couldn't think straight. That's when they gave me the torodal and I got stupid.

Brad translated and answered on my behalf. I will be forever grateful that when the staff was talking to me I could just look at him and he handled it. It made me feel so incredibly safe and cared for.

I ended up having pre-kidney stones which lead to a raging UTI all caused by likely eating too many leafy greens. I've been eating arugula like it's my job, and apparently my body wasn't processing the oxenates well. Totally avoidable with the addition of some olive oil and moderation in my greens consumption, but I'm just saying a cheeseburger wouldn't have done this to me.

Brad called everyone I needed to touch based with at work since I was out yesterday, too, saving me much embarrassment. Have I mentioned I don't do well on pain killers? I have no recollection of coming home, but he tucked me in and got my meds and chicken noodle soup. He spent the past two days following behind my space cadet self and keeping me from making a mess of anything. He's been amazing. And I am so, so grateful.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Happy Birthday, Issa!

Well...this girl turned 10 on Monday:

 She was so excited to finally be two whole hands.

The one thing she asked for this year was a pocket knife, and Brad was more than happy to oblige:
 She opened it before school, and she has been looking for things to cut all week. If a box arrives, she's your girl!

She took apple slices and lemonade to school. This is the first year I didn't go; in fifth grade you just drop snack off. That was a tough one for Mama.

Issa was very excited that it was a dance day, too! Her team sang to her:
 And then she came home to make her own birthday dinner--egg drop soup and egg rolls:
 This was also the first year I got kicked off birthday dessert duty. She wanted Daddy's chocolate chip cookies, but he raised the stakes and made chocolate chip cookie donuts:
 And she was one ecstatic girl:
She had a great birthday, although she said ten really didn't feel that different. Here's to a great year, baby girl...

Monday, September 12, 2016

Just What the Doctor Ordered

This weekend was exactly what my heart and soul needed.

Friday, we had a family night. We went for fro-yo for dinner and then had appetizers for dessert. It was super fun. Once the kiddos were tucked, Brad and I snuggled in for a fabulous, fluffy, funny movie. No laptops. No work talk. Just laughter. It was so, so good.

Saturday morning, Brad made donuts. He and Evan headed to the dojo, and Issa and I finished school projects and sorted through some really fun hand me down clothes. We spent the afternoon at the farm with my students for a group event. I just love when my worlds collide, and I'm quite certain my students will never forget my herding an escaped cow back into the pen.

Sunday, we met Ryan and Felicia for dim sum and then did a little mall shopping. A kind stranger bought my pumpkin spice latte as a recognition for being a mom. It was such a small gesture, but it was just so unbelievably kind.

The weekend was also filled with lots of Read-a-Thon prep and canning of tomato soup, but we did it all as a family. Brad only had to take one work call, and it just felt so much more sane. It was exactly what I needed.

And today, we celebrate a certain sweet girl turning 10, but more on that tomorrow...

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Hard Calls

I'm tired.

I'm tired of making the hard calls about when to wade in for my kids and when to let them fight their own battles.

I'm tired of being behind the eight ball because of circumstances beyond my control.

I'm tired of working at least 10 hour days and still being behind.

I'm tired of the house work that you finish just in time to start again.

I'm tired of making the hard calls and all the million micro-decisions I have to make every day.

I'm tired of juggling and feeling like I'm never quite enough.

I'm tired.

I try to keep this space positive, but I also promised to keep it real. I want to own it. And tomorrow will be a better day. But today, I'm giving myself permission to just be tired.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Creating Space

Life is messy right now. The early fall is a perfect storm. The kids are heading back to school, my students are coming back to campus, my classes are beginning, and Brad's work is a zoo, including more travel. We have the best laid plans and I prep the heck out of every week, but it's a little nuts. All the balls are amazingly in the air, but the days sometimes leave me a little drained--a lot drained.

So...I'm trying to be more intentional about creating space for myself. Slowing down. Being present. I blew it for a while yesterday, trying to multitask and becoming more frazzled by the moment. But--progress! I recognized it.

There were a million things I should have done last night. But I didn't. I just sat and snuggled two big dogs and watched some fluff. Feet up. Being still.

I talk to my students a lot about self-care and creating space for themselves. I'm so glad I'm finally starting to listen.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Let the Celebrating Begin!

We had an absolutely fabulous weekend! Mom and Shannon came into town to kick off the birthday celebrating for a certain girl who insists on turning 10! This two whole hand thing is freaking me out.

Issa wanted a paint splatter cake, and she and Nana made it happen. Even the inside looked like paint splatters! I do love watching these two bake together:
 There was also the requisite fashion. We girls went on our annual shopping trip, and Aunt Shannon brought many cool outfits with her for the birthday girl. This of course prompted a fashion show--complete with security this year:
 Evan gave Issa his gift early--a selfie stick. Help:
 Can she just stay little a while longer?
 Batman pajamas:
 I just can't:
 She was one very happy girl:
 Even with a little brother photo bomb:
 I will be forever grateful that my sister, in the midst of her crazy busy life, makes time for my kiddos:
 And makes them laugh like no one else can:
 And mom made the drive down this trip:
 And our little family felt so loved all weekend:
 And Issa blew out the first of many candles:
We spent the rest of the weekend just enjoying the time with family. Shannon had to fly back Sunday night, so she missed the great closet clean and purge in Issa's world. Nana is the best at that whole gig. We enjoyed a Labor Day picnic, and Nana made her famous pancakes before she hit the road again this morning. It was a great weekend to begin what I know will be a great month of celebrating.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Forever Tries

Last night was rough. The best laid plans went slightly askew, and when I got home from a really long work day I realized we had a mess. Homework wasn't started. Kids were fourth day of school tired--so was I. At the low point Issa declared maybe she just wasn't responsible enough for fifth grade. Both Issa and I cried; thankfully I waited until they were in bed. Everyone was fine when they went to bed, but it was ugly.

But this morning we were reminded life is forever tries. We all woke up with fresh perspective and the promise of a three day weekend. I got up a little earlier just to be sure everything was set before they woke up. Issa woke and announced maybe her forgotten folder situation wasn't that tragic. Evan actually got out of bed when the alarm went off. We were on the upswing.

Over breakfast, I apologized for losing my shorts. They apologized for losing their minds. We made plans to avoid it in the future. Forever tries.

Issa found her folder in her desk when we got to school, and I signed it. Her teacher saw the whole thing and said it could really wait until next week, but Issa came clean to her about her melt down last night. I held my breath waiting for the response, which was a hug and a reassurance that she was, in fact, perfectly capable of fifth grade and had a great week. I bit my lip and thanked God for good teachers. Forever tries.

New beginnings are hard, and routines take time. But I am so grateful for mornings that bring perspective and the chance to try again--and they always come.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

I Blinked

I vividly remember Issa's first dance class. Her tiny little pink skirt and ballet shoes. The tentative tap tap tap of tiny black tap shoes. Her complete wonder at the big girl dancer that helped her. I remember being so grateful for a big girl that would tie her shoes and give her hugs and be a role model.

And then I blinked:
Issa is assisting in class for the first time this year. 12 tiny three and four year-olds look to her and her friend as the big girls. I saw Issa tie shoes and give hugs and point out left from right. She fixed skirts and held hands and smiled big. And my heart nearly exploded.