Friday, February 28, 2014

Home Sick

I won't lie, the adjustment to our new (to us) house has been hard. We're close enough to our old house that Tommy stayed in the same preschool and we are in the old neighborhood fairly often. Plus every time he sees "our" G on the mountain he asks if we're almost home. (Because it used to mean exactly that.)

But this week, the home sickness had us both in tears.

Because we moved under less-than-desirable circumstances (read: I was crazy mad at our landlord and NOBODY wanted to move) I tried to explain it to a concerned Tommy.

Me: Well, our Landlord gave us a letter that says he wants to live here, so we have to move to a new house.
T: What's a Landlord?
M: He's the guy who is the boss of this house.
T: Our house-boss?
M: Sure. Close enough.

Fast forward to this week on our way home from work
T: "mom, I just want to go to our real home. From our house-boss. Did he said he's all done there now?"
M: "No babe, we can't live there anymore, we have our new house instead."
T: "I really really miss our real house, I don't want to go to our new house anymore."
M: "I miss our old house too, what do you miss about it?"
T: "Riding bikes, playing in the yard, walkin' to school, and 'member those nice guys that lived by us?" (sniffling and crying while he talks)
M: (Sniffling my own self) "So SO many nice guys that lived by us. I miss them too."
T: "Maybe we could visit our old house if we want to."
M: We can't go inside, but we can go drive by and wave to it from the car if you'd like.

So we did. We drove by slowly, waved and wept. We waved to the Carlson's and Ruby's house. We waved to our sledding hill and Maggie Dog. We remembered walking to church and then.....we saw a for sale sign in the front yard.

Tommy asked what the sign said. I told him it was for sale, so someone new can buy our old house. He wants us to buy it. And he nearly had me convinced with his emotional attachment to that neighborhood.

But the flooding in the massage room, the cracks in the foundation, the weird weird weird layout and bedrooms with no closets, the shoddy workmanship on any of the "remodel" work, the yard (oh that yard....) We don't REALLY want to put that kind of money - and labor - into it. But my goodness, that little boy preyed on my emotions and nearly had me convinced we wanted to buy that house today. (future Realtor? He can be very persuasive.) Enough that I got to a computer and looked up the listing. I will say, if I had the money, I would buy the empty lot for the current list price on that house. Because really it's an incredible location.

Primary Photo [click for next photo]

Here's hoping we buy a place soonish and we can enjoy saying "this is our real home" for the last time. At least until he's too old to care. (Does that ever happen?)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Workiversary

1 year ago I went to the wrong place for my first day of work. It wasn't my fault, but I felt foolish anyway. When I showed up at the right place, my new boss and I talked through some strategies and business ideas. We immediately got along very well.

During the last year we've done a lot of adjusting. 
  • Josh took on more household responsibility and I gave some up. 
  • My boys have adjusted (or are trying to adjust) to seeing less of me. 
  • I spend more time talking to adults than little ones.
  • I cook and clean less.
  • Josh knows more about kids than he ever dreamed he didn't know.
  • We spend much less time with our entire family. 
  • We pay all our bills with significantly fewer financial-emotional breakdowns.
  • We discovered that cereal is a viable dinner option. 
  • I learned how to answer my cell phone without knowing who it is.
  • I got a grown up wardrobe.
  • Josh has new respect for all the stay at home parents in the world.
  • The boys cry to Josh before me when they're injured.
  • I became the pushover.
  • I listen to talk radio.
  • The boys have awesome relationships with their cousins (minus Little John and Ian who are still deciding if they like each other or not...) and the love-fest is continuously melting my heart.
  • I regained confidence in my ability to do things. Like answer my phone and talk to adults. 
  • I'm leaning all kinds of new skills and abilities. Securities laws and limitations, business design and (begrudgingly) Quickbooks. Again. 
To be totally honest, I'm still deciding if it's worth those adjustments. We make a lot of sacrifices, we enjoy a lot of benefits. (Like not losing our house, and being able to pay our bills.) It's hard. Really hard. My kids miss me. I miss them. We want the park instead of the carseat. I want to cook dinner before bedtime. I want to have a pajama day just because I feel like it. I want Tommy to KNOW that I will always be the one to pick him up from school. I want to play with word families with him while Josh plays wrestle-mania with the Little "The Maniac" John. I want Josh's days off to mean family fun days.

But staying home was hard - really hard - too and I wanted a lot of changes then. (like wearing real clothes, being asked a question harder than "what's for lunch", the boys to see Josh more often, a break from them long enough to miss them, and the ability to buy stuff they need.)

I recently read a blog post by someone I truly love and respect, and she took a very firm stand that choosing to be a working mom is not a good choice. I read that post and cried. It hurt, because I'm still deciding what is best for me, and this stance left no room for personal choice. Blanket statements and generalizations implying that it's selfish or irresponsible or harmful to my children, made my heart ache. I retreated to my very favorite (and safest) corner of the internet with the women I trust more than any other women - to both have my back, and tell me when I'm being unreasonable - and I cried to them. They backed me up. Because they love me. The pain of reading those words in that post made me do some soul searching and decide if I really thought I was doing the right thing by working out of the home again. And today, right now, I am sure this is what I needed for 2013. 

I'm honestly thankful for my experiences at work during this last year. I've had some life changing conversations with my boss that had nothing to do with my job. I've gained a new respect and appreciation for not doing it all and slowing down. I've learned to let go of stuff that simply doesn't matter. I'm working on better managing my time. And oddly, my kids have become a higher priority to me. I spend many more quality hours with them and I think about them when I'm gone. Something about absence making the heart grow fonder..... Mostly I appreciate my time with them more. I'm far more willing to snuggle a little longer, sing one more song, read one more story, and watch the ants for one more minute. I'm learning valuable life skills, gaining confidence in what I already knew and rediscovering my priorities in life. I get an enormous amount of satisfaction from doing something that makes me think.

My kids? They know I love them. They are building social relationships with kids their age and learning to interact with adults that aren't me. They get opportunities that they wouldn't get if I was their sole caregiver and the opportunities I normally give them. They are with a person who does love them. Whether she's paid to or not, she is an extraordinary soul who has the ability to love people she didn't give birth to. She also happens to be family, and for that I am extremely grateful.

For me, right now, this is the right choice. An excellent balance of office work and mother work.



So, happy anniversary to me and my job. Who knows if we'll celebrate a 2nd anniversary or not, my time here might be done and I'll be a full time mom again, or I may stay at this office until I retire; but either way, I'll know that I'm making the right choice for me. Because I truly believe that choices which so intimately impact an individual family are choices that can be made only by that family.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

On Feeling Beauty

I've never been one of those universally beautiful people. I don't mean that in a "tell me I'm pretty" way, but in a matter-of-fact some people look like supermodels and I'm not one of them way.

But every now and then I feel beautiful.

This started when someone I love started doing Dressing Your Truth.

But most recently, I got a haircut. And apparently the world ended. I posted this photo on facebook


and had (I'm not exaggerating) 145 likes and 45 extremely generous comments about it. I think that's more than when Thomas was born.

It's kindof a weird feeling because while I seriously love the new do, and these generous comments reinforced that feeling of beauty, it sortof freaked me out. It's a lot of pressure to be attractive! What if I look totally average the next time I see one of those 145 people? (I did.) What if I never learn to do my hair like that any everybody I meet is like "you should consider going back to that one really awesome hair day you had that one time..."? What if I let my hair grow all long and nasty again?

*sigh*

Knowing your potential is stressful. So please, join me in the lowering of expectations so I dare come out in public again?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

I Think I'm So Cool....

I sometimes feel like I get stuff. Tech stuff I mean. I'm totally clueless about life stuff, and people stuff, and other stuff. But tech stuff - I've got that.

Until I bust out Josh's old fitbit, wear it for 3 weeks and CANNOT get the dang thing to sync to my computer. Then I beg my little brother for help, and remember how old I am. Older than current tech, which lands me squarely out of the loop.

I won't lie, I feel this feeling (out of the loop) a lot. I start thinking I understand something, then someone say something that rocks my world and reminds me that I am clueless. Always and forever.

*sigh*

Maybe next year I'll get it better.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Ants

Wanna know what's cool about an ant farm?

You have a container full of space gel, and you dump some icky bugs in it, and then before you know it....you see a city. And you're sucked into their lives. You see them do abominable things (playing with dead bodies? Ew!) and watching their little feelers move around their big beady eyes gives you the chills; but you still watch. Fascinated by the whole thing.

So here's the abbreviated version of #amysantfarm

My boss gave me an ant farm for Christmas. I thought it was totally weird, but he was couldn't have been more excited if he was 7 years old and lighting them on fire with a magnifying glass. So...I went with it.

The solid block of space glue

Just add ants
But wait - that ant 2nd from the left is missing his abdomen! World, meet NoBody.

Oooh hard-working ants. Good job little insects. And good morning NoBody (on the Right)

NoBody, you're a party animal, all hanging from the ceiling and stuff.

ants busy doing ant things.
4. NoBody has to have set a record for ant survival with half his being missing.

Enter Buster. (the bully.)

The day NoBody went missing. 

No more pictures from here on out because the star of our show died a horrible death and was torn apart by Buster. His body parts all strewn about the ant farm. It's disgusting and sad. 

The Extras (all the other ants who are unrecognizable) are still just hanging out, doing their ant thing. But ever since NoBody died, they're significantly less interesting. 

But they're still the only thing in this house that improves when left alone. So......

Sunday, February 2, 2014

1, 2, 3, many many many

Little John is at that phase of speech development where every day he says something I didn't know he could say the day before.

Today we looked at a book and started to count the elephants on the page. "wan......toooooo.......freeeee.......manymanymanymanymany" he counted.

He's growing unreasonably quickly. Last week I came home and Josh informed me that Tommy spent a good 30 minutes teaching John how to climb out of his crib. Josh put John back in bed at least 30 times that night.

So the next day, I took the front of the crib off to make it just a regular old bed. John saw what I'd done and cried immediately climbing in and out over the side over and over again. He was pretty mad that I ruined his new trick.



That's the reason one of the grownups stands outside their bedroom door for at least an hour every night. So when they escape we can scare put them back in bed. Bedtime is significantly less fun than it was 2 weeks ago. But even when we try really hard, it's impossible not to laugh when Little John peeks out the door, sees us standing there, and runs fast back to bed giggling like a maniac the whole way. He thinks it's a game, and a dang fun game too. He's sure lucky he's adorable.

Nap time is....well....virtually non-existent. Which I should probably be mourning over, but since I started working a year ago, I haven't experienced one of his nap times in at least that long. So I'm not nearly as sad as Josh and Katy are. Until about 6:59 when he is totally exhausted and completely unreasonable.

Meh, we'll have at least "many many many many many" more nights to work on it.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Where I've been

Years from now I'll look back at my blog books (yet to be printed...) and find a giant hole during the end of 2013. And then I'll wonder what on earth happened that made me so incapable of writing during the holidays.

The truth is that while it's been an emotional, tiring, stressful and often frustrating few months for us, it certainly hasn't been the hardest months of our lives or the busiest or the least blog-worthy.

So there's really no good reason not to have written. Except that I'm trying hard to live my life. Instead of spending so much time re-living and pre-living.

November was largely spent packing, moving, rental-house hunting and worrying.
At the same time we lost our incredible tenants at the house we still own. So we also spent many hours driving back and forth between here and NSL for showings, repairs, frozen pipes, and other concerns.
Then of course there was the usual holiday shuffle.
Beyond that my ever-present anxiety decided that this was all far too much for a person of my caliber to handle. So things here have left much to be desired in terms of happiness and stability.

The good news is that with the regularity of the new year, the routine, the lack of obligations and the joy of an empty calendar, all of this is becoming easier every day.

So to my future self who can't remember what was going on? Plenty. All of it worth writing about. None of it compelling enough to drag me out of my own brain and onto my computer.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Christmas 2013

The thing about having an awesome job in nursing is that you get a lot of regular old weekdays off. Which is thoroughly enjoyable for a person like me who would rather go to the zoo in the bitter cold of January on a Wednesday and have the whole place to myself with no special programs, shows, or animals than go in July with all the cool stuff and all the people too.

Anyway, this year Josh had to work a full day on Christmas Day, so back in November he asked the person who was working Christmas Eve if she wanted to do half days of both with him so they could be be around for stuff with their families on both days and she was all for it.

But then just before Thanksgiving another lady he works with asked him if he could cover for her Christmas Eve afternoon so she could leave earlier in the day to drive to CA to see her kids. She's a single mom, and her working in the afternoon would mean she'd leave Utah at 7pm and drive all night to be there for Christmas morning - or miss it. Of course he said yes.

So he wound up working most of Christmas Eve and Christmas Morning. Which is why our Christmas Day pictures (which number a grand total of 30) were taken at 2pm and they have pictures of a progressively drooping (and eventually sleeping) dad in the background.


He was totally exhausted, but the boys were happy to slowly open their presents and lick a bit of every dang piece of candy the dumbest (and most panicked) Santa in the world gave them.

They both got new colored pencils and notebooks for the car. Tommy has finally taken up coloring (thank you Preschool!) and John is following because if there's one thing these boys love, it's doing the same thing.


Tommy got Magnetix. Santa is stupid. It boasts on the box "108 pieces!" and Santa thought "he'll think it's so cool to build stuff with these tiny magnetic pieces!" But that was false. What is fun is taking all of these pieces out of the box and making the "longest pewer (gun. cuz guns say "pew!") ever." And then stringing that pewer out in the middle of the floor. On the other hand, Tommy is happy. So Santa is a little smart.


They were just so happy to *finally* open their presents, and Josh was so excited, and every new present was exciting and fun and very very interesting.

After slowly opening presents and John taking a nap while Tommy touched EVERYthing, we left the mess in the living room and went to visit the grandmas. Which was (as always) a lovely time. 

We stopped at Grandma Egbert's and exchanged gifts and did puzzles and looked at her amazing Christmas village. The boys had a blast. 

Then we went to Grandma Reilley's and exchanged gifts and ate food and sat around talking and playing withe gifts until well past bedtime. We all had a beautiful time. 

The boys were especially excited about the marble run that Grandma Reilley gave them. 


We set it up and ran it over and over again. Now it's part of our morning routine, wake up, dump out the marble run pieces and start whacking each other with "the longest pewer ever" then run as many marbles as we can find (2 or 3 usually...we need more marbles) down it until "pewering" sounds more fun again.

Oddly, Josh working made our holiday even better than normal. It was mellow, and slow and calm and relaxed. We were excited longer than normal, and we had a beautiful time.

I got family pictures from the fabulous Tracy Layne and Josh got a Kindle Fire. Both things we've wanted for a long time and have been saving for, and it just so happened that we found great deals in time for Christmas that lined up with our saved cash.

Josh's only surprise was a cooshy (but wildly unattractive) bath mat because we'd been using an old towel on the floor since we moved in. Though it sounds like a super lame gift, this was my embracing his cooshiness. Letting him be him.

By far the best part of Christmas for me was opening a gift from Josh. He wrote a letter that I'll save for the rest of my life and read often.

And of course, because I know you're dying to know, the boys both got flashlights. And spare batteries. But not too many spare batteries because batteries are stupid-expensive. I think next year they'll get crank flashlights and can fuel them with their own power.


Sunday, January 12, 2014

Being A Mom

I've been struggling with balancing work and home life. I'm torn between wanting to quit to stay home with my babes, and really loving my job and never wanting to give it up.

There are plenty of days that I hate my job, and I hate going to work, and I just want to stay home and read stories with my kids, and sit with them to build marble runs, and eat cereal out of the box for lunch. But that's what weekends are for, right?

There are also plenty of days that I wipe my brow dramatically as I drive off to talk to grown ups, thanking my lucky stars that I don't have to sit and build marble runs, or read the Cat In The Hat one more time, and I can eat a whole meal (a real one even!) all by myself without sharing.

So you see, I'm torn. Just like every other mom I know. 

Of course none of that has anything to do with our finances which mostly require my employment. But I sometimes wonder, if I wasn't working, would we be able to adjust to life without my income? Are we within the adjustable range? Or is it really really necessary for me to work? As stupid as it sounds, this is the least of my worries. I'm far more concerned about whether or not my kids are happy (they are) and I am happy (often) and Josh is happy (usually).

For now I am happy to keep working. Though I have bad days during which I text Josh saying "tell me I love me job? Because I can't remember right now." And he does.

Being happy with working also means making extra effort to thoroughly enjoy the time I am not working.

On Wednesday afternoons I leave work a couple of hours early, and I come home determined to be a fun mom. The kind on pinterest. The kind my boys get to boss around. The kind I wish I could be all the time, but simply lack the patience to be.

So this Wednesday, when I walked in the door and the babies came running for me (there's nothing quite like someone being SO happy to see you, is there?) they immediately told me they wanted to go outside. So I dropped my bag on the kitchen table and we got on our snow clothes. All of us. But especially Little John. Who couldn't put his arms down if he tried.



I thought we'd just play in the backyard for while, which we did. Even built a snowman (while singing about building a snowman - thank you Frozen) and "threw a snowball fight" (thank you Tommy) but before long John started walking down the street.



For every ounce of Tommy never wanting to leave my side, John has a pound of explorer in him. He can't stand to be in the backyard when there's a perfectly good sidewalk leading somewhere RIGHT THERE! So I followed him, and Tommy followed me, and we decided to go to the park. Once Tommy realized we had a destination, he took the lead and insisted that we "follow my froot-pints!" and we did.


In case you're a idiot  first time mom, let me help you with one concept. Wet slides are water slides. And water slides are slippery. And if you're trying to take an adorable picture of your child going down the slide, you're likely to catch one of these.



And at the end of that, is a baby on his bum who has just launched 2 feet from the end of the slide. Of course this means he doesn't want to go down again without you, so of course you go up to slide down and show him how it's done. Which is a nice idea, but when you wind up on your butt 2 feet from the end of the slide you sortof feel foolish.

So, the equation is: snow + plastic slide + snowpants = shooting down the slide like a bobsled. You're welcome.



Of course eventually we learned that it was more fun for me to stay on the ground and catch the babes as they shot out off the end of the slide. 

Those are the kinds of days that leave me loving motherhood. Playing in the snow, hot chocolate, bubbles baths, and home in time to make dinner? Lovely. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Great Joys of My Life

One of the greatest joys of my mom life is looking at my babies while they sleep. In a "sweet mom" way, not a "creepy stalker" way.

I've never really done much of that because Tommy was a very light sleeper, and I was too tired to do anything but sleep when Little John slept. But when we moved into our new house last month, the kids had a flashlight for the first few nights we lived there. And replacing C batteries every other night because they left it on was too expensive, so I made Josh give Tommy the reading lamp we've been meaning to give him for a long time. And now the boys really love that lamp. I mean really love it. They turn it on and read books after bedtime for heaven only knows how many hours, and that's why when I go to bed, I detour through their room to turn off their lights and make sure they're tucked in and warm.

A few nights ago, I was walking past their room and heard Little John still awake long past bedtime. I peeked in and he had emptied his crib of all pillows, blankets, lovies and books and somehow removed his footie jammies and diaper and was laying stark naked in the middle of the mattress probably trying to get warm. I snuck in and snuggled him warm, got him dressed and tucked him in again. He gratefully accepted the blanket offering and rolled right over to go to sleep. Meanwhile Tommy slept soundly as I looked at his adorable face.

Remember when I was all pregnant and wrote about the day that Tommy would outgrow my lap and have to sleep under the bench at church? 1pm church just might be making that a reality. Yesterday, Josh and I sat on opposite ends of the bench and the boys each took a lap to lay their heads in and kicked each other's feet while they faked sleep. I immediately remembered the words "Someday my baby might outgrow my lap and have to lie down under the bench instead" and teared up.

I thought that watching my babies grow would break my heart in a sad "I wish I still had a tiny one" way, but it hasn't. Though I often wish I still had a tiny one. It has broken my heart wide open because every time I think I can't love them more, I do it anyway. (And then they try to kill each other and the moment is gone...but this is not a post about those moments.) They keep getting cooler and smarter and funnier and lovely and sweet and kind and thoughtful and adorable. It is such a pleasure to watch them grow, but my greatest pleasure is watching them rest.

So each night, as I walk past their bedroom, move some books, arrange some lovies, re-blanket the cold ones, and unkink their awkward necks, I turn out their lights, kiss their noses and remember that those moments - those peaceful watching-over-them moments are all I ever wanted.
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