Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Almost Wordless Wednesday--Running Buddy

My son and I after his first 10K
Within the last year, my oldest has taken up running races with me.  Usually it entails him rolling out of bed minutes before I leave, scarfing down a quick breakfast, and totally smoking me in the race.  At the end of his first race he said, "Mama, where were you? I was waiting for you and I was getting a little worried because you were taking so long!"  Yeah, kid, I run a LOT slower than you do!

Ever since that first 5K race, we realized that he is a natural runner and has run several 5Ks, a 5-miler, and most recently a 10K with me. And by "with me" I mean, we travel together, the starter goes off, and he's gone.  Several times he has said that he'll start with me and then take off. Hasn't happened yet. I think the adrenaline gets to him and he's gone.

I registered him for rec Cross Country. He only has to run a mile and I told him that it was good for him to work on his speed work.  We have a 5K to sign up for and I realize that it is less than 10 days away and I really should sign up for it ASAP!  I am happy to have a running buddy and that my sweet boy has found something that he enjoys.  He enjoys the race and his aunt made him an awesome bib hanger/chalkboard where he can write down his race times. I love that this is something that he and I can do this together. I strive to look for something to do with each of my children and to partake in their interests. Whether it's racing with #1, coloring in our favorite coloring books with #2, playing legos with #3, or watching Cinderella over and over again with #4. As they age, I'm sure their interests will change and I hope I can keep up.

Friday, September 8, 2017

First Week of School 2017

We are finishing up the first week of school.  I think in some ways I was more nervous than the kids.  We have a new schedule with the oldest starting middle school. He is on his way to the bus stop by the time I wake up the other kids.  He is probably finishing up first period before we even walk out the door to make it school.  Hubby has committed to taking Boogs to the bus stop in the morning which is a huge help.  I have even been able to work out a few mornings before I had to wake up the house.  I even had breakfast every single morning before I took the middle kids to school. This is a huge win because there are many  mornings where I have walked out the door without breakfast only to realize I'm starving at the end of my workout.

Boogie has had a pretty good week. He did forget his binder yesterday and Hubby came back to the house to grab it and made it back just in time before Boogie grabbed the bus.  I don't think I have mentioned it before but Boogie has been diagnosed with a learning disability and has an IEP. The last two years have been difficult with a case manager who just didn't do her job and this is by her own admission during a transition meeting. I mean, Seriously????  Already this year, Boogie's case manager has contacted me every day about things here and there and has checked in with him  She has made the transition to middle much smoother.  Boogie struggles with organization and executive functioning. As a result he has already forgotten to turn in his summer homework and has started cramming papers in his backpack. She has already started working with him on his organization. Amazing. It's like night and day between last year's case manager and this year's case manager.

Buggy is starting 3rd grade and we're blessed that she has fantastic teacher.  Boogie had her in 3rd grade and we are thrilled to be with the same teacher this year.  Buggy has just a few friends in her class this year. That will be a challenge, but she does get to see the rest of her friends during recess. She is already looking forward to signing up for her favorite after school art class and this year she wants to join the chess club.  Yes, to all of this!

Mr. Bananas had a much harder transition.  We were thrilled to find out that he has another fantastic teacher.  She taught Buggy in first grade and we are thrilled to have another kid in her class this year. Even though he had the teacher he wanted, I knew something was up when Mr. Bananas ended up in our bed every night since coming back from the beach.  The morning on the first day of school was atrocious as he woke up in a terrible mood, screaming at us, slamming doors, and basically losing his mind.  I knew it was just anxiety, but my patience was up when he slammed his bedroom door and I found him sitting in bed reading a book instead of getting ready for school.  He pulled it together and ended up have a great day. He hasn't been in our bed since, so it's safe to assume that he's more comfortable with starting first grade.

I think Beanie has had the hardest time.  All of her favorite playmates are in school and she is the last one at home. She so desperately wants to go to school.  After we dropped off all the kids at school. I went upstairs to get something and found her sitting on the floor facing the tv, which was turned off, rubbing her blanket and crying quietly.  When we snuggled she told me she missed her "sib-bings."

As the week has gone on, the mornings are smoother, and I'm finding that the earlier wake up time with the first born is allowing me to get a little bit more done during the day, whether it's an early morning work out, washing all the dishes, or putting in a load of laundry.  I miss my big kids, but I know that they are in good hands.  I'm relishing my mornings with the "baby" and looking forward to getting more done during the day.

It's Friday so tonight will be a yummy dinner followed by family movie night.  Boogie and I will get up early tomorrow for his first cross country practice and we are all enjoying a rare quiet weekend before all of the weekend activities begin in the next couple of weeks.   We're still transitioning which means tired kids, earlier bedtimes, and a quiet-ish weekend. And as I write this, Hubby has nixed family movie night because the kiddos are so tired.  We'll try for tomorrow night.

As the school week draws to an end, I am grateful for all the teachers who work so hard to provide an positive learning environment for their students.  I am grateful for the teachers who have my most precious babies in their classes.  I am grateful for the the administrations that support their teachers. Here is to a happy and healthy new school year.  Peace be with you.

Third grade and first grade, here they come!

Buggy, ready for 3rd grade

She was all smiles until she realized that they were leaving her 

"I miss my sib-bings"

After school picture. They came home with smiles.

Enjoying an after school ice cream treat.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Babies Don't Keep

Family pic with my parents
 We've only been home 4 days since coming home from our beach trip. And already, I am busy with appointments, prepping for the first week of school, fielding email, and honestly, just sucked into social media (bleh!)  Social media really is my weak spot. I like catching up with what's going on with my friends, but I'm finding myself losing time.

Last week was wonderful week spent with my parents and my father-in-law.  I loved this multi-generational beach vacation. It meant that my children were able to spend some quality time with their grandparents. And as close as we live to my parents, I wish my kiddos were able to spend time with them a little more. My father just retired, so maybe we'll get to him more often. And no, I don't mean for babysitting. I mean just to see him and spend time with him.  My mom still works full-time, so that's a little harder.

Grandpa and the kiddos
One of the best parts of our vacation is that we do not turn on the tv and I spend way less time on my phone.  I ran almost every single day of vacation and it was glorious.  During the week we put together a puzzle, went out for ice cream, browsed the local bookstore, and listened to audiobooks while playing games. My kids had so much fun playing Uno. The giggles were great. We also did one night of Settlers of Catan.  I swear my big kid really draws out the game because he likes to negotiate every time it's his turn. It drives me a little batty. But overall, it's a good time had by all.

And it's during vacation that my big kids get up without complaint to catch a sunrise. My dad started this tradition last year. And yes, it's becoming a tradition. The big kids like that they get this special time with Lolo and Lola.  It's so special to them that they don't want me to miss it so my Buggy asks me to catch a sunrise with her on another day.  I thought she had forgotten this year, but sure enough two days before we left she asked me if we could catch the sunrise. She even invited her older brother along.  It was so worth it.  We headed to the beach. I saw that it was cloudy, but we got to see the sunrise and it was glorious.  I appreciate that my sweet daughter thinks of me and tries to make me slow down and appreciate the here and now. She encourages me to be present even though my mind is racing with all the things on my "to-do" list.

On the last morning, I had woken up early. I planned to finish packing up the house and getting it ready. I was relishing a little quiet time before I had to wake up the house.  But sure enough, my sweet daughter was already awake. We opted to eat breakfast together on the back stoop and we spend our time chatting. I asked her how she felt about the impending school year. While she is excited to have the teacher she wanted, she was nervous about some of her academic struggles.  We were able to go through them, talk about them, and come up with some ways to address them this school year.  If I had gotten to eat breakfast solo as I had anticipated, I would have missed this precious time with my girl. It was time she needed with me to reassure her, to comfort her, and for her to have one-on-one time with Mama.  It was so good to spend that time with her.

As my kids start another school year: 6th grade (read: MIDDLE SCHOOL...EEEK!), 3rd grade, and 1st grade, I'm really starting to feel my time with my kids slowly slipping away.  I'm way too busy and I'm way to preoccupied with what needs to be done.  Being at the beach gives me that opportunity to slow down.  But that is only one week.  In the next two weeks, my kids will begin their fall activities. Their Saturdays will be filled with meets and games and their evenings filled with homework.  Somehow, through all that, I need to find carve out time to be present and to be with them.  Thankfully, we sit down for dinner together every night. Hubby is trying to make it home earlier, but most nights it's just me and the kids.  And I am grateful for this sliver of time to be with them and to hear about their day.  When they say "Babies Don't Keep" they weren't kidding.  May you find time for the people you love and to be present for tomorrow doesn't keep.

Monday, August 28, 2017

True Love

Always my Superman
My husband and I recently celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary.  We were babies when we were married.  Just graduated from college and working real salaried jobs.  I remember Hubby's father interviewing us before our wedding asking if we knew what we were getting into, to which I replied with, "Of course." He said the real answer is, "No. No we don't."  He was so right. We thought we knew what we were in for, but really we had no clue. I don't know if anyone really knows.  Were we ready, yes. But did we really comprehend what we were doing. Heck no.  It has been a roller coaster of emotions and events over the last 16 years.  And yet, 16 years later, we would still do it all over again.  It was the right decision then, and it's still the right decision now.

When sharing my experiences about true love with some of the teens/young adults that I mentor, I tell them that true love is not flowers and fancy dinners.  True love is your spouse washing vomit filled sheets at two in the morning.  It's tag teaming each other when every single person in your family of six has the stomach flu and no one feels well and everyone is vomiting. You take turns sleeping and cleaning out vomit buckets. It's finding out your 8yo came home with a head full of lice, stripping all the sheets, treating everyone's head, and then picking nits out of each other's head at midnight.  It's looking across the dinner table and laughing at an untold joke. It's being able to read each other so well that few words are needed.

True love is not the fancy stuff, it's the nitty gritty life stuff and doing it together. It's knowing that you can rely on your spouse and that your spouse can depend on you.  I wouldn't give up the last 16 years and I look forward to many more of life's adventures with the love of my life.  It doesn't have to be fancy. It just has to be with him.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Where do I Fit? I Don't Know.

I know. I  have written sporadically. I actually do keep up on The Discombobulated Mommy Facebook page.  It's not every day, but I still keep up and share pictures.  These days, I rarely find the time to sit and write out full blog posts. I miss it.  I miss writing regularly. I have so much I need to record and yet, life keeps me busy and I have so little to time reflect, ponder, and absorb. Maybe that's what I need to do more.

So what has prompted me to write this current post?  I just found out via Facebook, that I am a bit of a unicorn.  Yes. A unicorn. I find that I don't ever quite fit neatly into a label.  I'm too liberal for my conservative friends and I am far too conservative for my liberal friends.  Often I scroll through Facebook and I cringe and scroll on when I read such posts as: "All Christians believe..." "All Pro-lifers don't..." "All Republicans are..." Fill in the blank.  Usually when posts lump you in with "all" it's not a good thing.  Although I consider myself a writer, I don't feel that I am always articulate. Passionate, yes. Articulate, no. And therefore I rarely jump into the social media arguments.

So about 3 years ago, on Facebook, I posted a link to an inflammatory article about Planned Parenthood and those who support it.  I posted the article because of the very last sentence, "We have to care." That was the one line that truly resonated with me.  I was raked over the virtual coals by friends who were insulted and incensed by what I had chosen to post and I was asked to think very carefully about my audience and maybe I just shouldn't post those types of things. Most people didn't read the article because they were so ticked by headline.  After 3 days of going back and forth on Facebook on this one particular post, a lot of good discussion came out of it though in the end we still agreed to disagree.  Three years later, I am still hurt by what people said to me and how harshly they said it.  My heart still pounds when I think of that article and my face still flushes with embarrassment.  I never meant to insult anyone and fortunately one of my friends (who still disagreed with the article) pointed that out.  I am frustrated with myself for not being as articulate as I wanted to be and having such a thin skin and not standing up for myself a little better.

So I bring you to today.  In two days we will have a new President.  There has been a lot of frustration and anger as what our country has done by electing Donal Trump as our new president. And speaking with friends, many didn't vote for him or for Hillary Clinton.  I was frustrated that the candidates I wanted to vote for weren't around by the time it came for my state to put in their vote. So I was left with two people who I felt did not represent me. But I still voted.  As per usual, I voted with an significant issue in mind.  I voted for life. I voted for a possible third party candidate who had a pro-life platform.  Alas, he did not win. But at least I tried. I voted.

The day after the Presidential Inauguration, there will be Women's March.  Many of my friends started posting about it and how they wanted to be a part of it. I warily looked into. So many good reasons to go. So many voices to be heard. So many important topics to support and I would be proud to support them.  But again, I watched the posts on Facebook from several friends and groups. I was invited, along with others, to walk with local women, many of them personal friends. And yet, I hesitated.  I continued to watch, read, and listen.  And more and more I felt like I didn't quite belong.  You see, and what you have probably have already deduced is that I am a pro-life woman.  And at the time that the beginning preparations for the march were happening, that probably didn't matter.  So what?  But you see, as a pro-life woman, it is often asked why wouldn't one support women's rights? How could I, as a woman, not support other women?  But did you know that you can still be a feminist and be pro-life?  And actually, I wasn't sure if you could.  I knew that I was, but I knew others wouldn't consider me a feminist, so I doubted my existence.  I allowed other people to label me and set me aside solidly into one camp. It didn't bother in the sense that I was still going to support women's rights, but I would also support the rights of the pre-born.

Over the last few months I have read personal heart-wrenching stories from women about why they are grateful abortion is legal and why late-term abortion should be legal.  I wept.  I wavered in my position. I wondered and still do if there can't be a better way to support these women so that they don't have to go through still-births, horrific miscarriages, and instances where they felt that abortion was the only possible choice for them.  And I don't have an answer.  It doesn't mean I've stopped looking for one. But it does mean that I am working harder at supporting women at all stages.  Being pro-life means that we look at the whole and not just the birth of the baby. It means supporting the mamas who have made the decision to keep their babies even though their circumstances were less than ideal.  Being pro-life means providing better and affordable health care for women and the men and families who support them.  Being pro-life means, advocating for better mental health care. This one hits personally as I am who struggles, sometimes daily, with depression.  A depression that can be so profound that it has tipped to the side of suicidal thoughts as recently as two years ago.  How can I be pro-life while at the same time contemplating my own suicide.  Paradoxical isn't it?  It happens. Again, I don't fit into any one box.

We so often link pro-life advocacy and pro-choice advocacy as if they go hand in hand. But pro-life is more than just the birth of a baby.  It is  the support of life throughout various physical and mental challenges, and I am talking about the every day person, not just infants.  And I believe that being pro-choice is more than just abortion. You may disagree with me. And that's okay. Which brings me to my point.

Women are angry and frustrated with the politics surround them.  They want to march in Washington, Chicago, New York, and wherever a group of women can get together and support their ideals and values.  We want you to HEAR us. But I unfortunately found out through social media that I don't exist because I can't be pro-life and a feminist, and because I don't exist, I don't have a voice. And that is frustrating to me. So I won't be marching.  Organizers have decided to make a pro-choice platform a very big one and as a result have dissolved a partnership from one of the pro-life feminist groups who applied and was granted partnership for the march.. Oh, wait, you didn't know that there were pro-life feminists groups?  Neither did I until recently and that is when I found out that I was unicorn.  That there are others like me who feel strongly about women's issues AND the life of the pre-born.  But I digress. I am sad and frustrated to know that we as women, have alienated one another at a time we should be walking in solidarity. That we are not allowing every voice to be heard in partnership with the march.  Yes, the pro-life feminist groups will still march in solidarity. But they will not be considered a partner. And that is is to me a sad commentary of what this election has done to our country. It has divided us when we should be united.  Let us be heard.  Let all the voices carry weight.  And let us do it with compassion, empathy, and grace.

As I struggled about what I could do and what I wanted to do and how I wanted to approach the post election days and years to come, I know that I wanted to still be a voice.  So, I personally have decided to put my head down and work.  Work to help others. I will choose to be kind, to support other people, and to work for social justice. I realize that I don't need to be loud. That's not necessarily my personality either. But I can still donate diapers and wipes to the pregnancy center. I can make baby blankets for new babies. Afghans for new mamas. I can provide meals for a homeless shelter. I can provide food for a food pantry. I can bring my children and teach them do the same.  And we do it in solidarity. We do it to provide support in whatever way we can.  Sometimes quiet servitude is all that it is needed. There will always be someone more articulate, louder, more knowledgeable than I am. So instead of being flustered or insulted or labeled, I will simply be Heather. A mother. A wife. A writer. A slow runner. A person who is often discombobulated and lacks organization or the ability to keep to a schedule.  A person who will always struggle to know the value of her self-worth, but will work at it each and every day. A person with great passion. And I will try to remember to do small things with great love. And I humbly ask each of you: no matter what you believe in, please approach each day with great love and compassion. We are called to serve one another. I think we will find that when we serve one another, we will begin to unify and heal our hurting country.

As Always, very humbly yours,
Heather, The Discombobulated Mommy