We Took an Eclipse Day

Since most of my blogging purpose is posterity, I feel I would be remiss not to document this day – this day that has been talked about and talked about for months (and for the last week, has been freaking me out via the Interwebs and eyeball burning warnings) of the Total Solar Eclipse 2017.

But since Hastings really was in the “Path of Totality,” we had a prime spot for taking in this monumental day/night and we ended up taking full advantage of it.

For a while now, I have wanted to pull the kids from school for the eclipse, simply because I wanted to be with them for this once-in-a-lifetime experience, which was a sentiment echoed by several of my mama of school-agers over the course of the last few weeks. And since the hubs was down for that, we proposed the plan to the children at the end of last week: get to come home in the middle of the day for the eclipse.

We were met with one “Cool” and one TEARS.

Poor Miss Raegan; she was so excited to start school last week (and also so warn out by starting school last week) that after school on Friday, she was in hot mess meltdown mode because she wanted so badly to have it both ways – her whole family with her at school for the eclipse AND her whole class here with her family for the eclipse. Sorry, Love – no dice on either since TJ needed a nap and I wasn’t really down for inviting 20+ Kindergartners to our yard (for potential eyeball burning).

So we kind of let the issue sit and on Sunday, my aunt and uncle from MN arrived (he is a high school science teacher and was excited to get in on our view) , and Ben and I decided on the wild plan of not just pulling the kids from school for the event, but for the whole day. It just seemed like the best way to keep RL from losing it again and it made for less runaround during our day before and after our observation of the sun/moon dance. And because Ben happens to have plan during the middle of the day and did not have study hall today, he could even join us as the house for gearing up and viewing all the way up to totality (and then he had to split).

While there were definitely moments this morning of wishing I had just sent them (long side note: RL might have stayed home today anyway because she woke up from a bad dream – that’s new and hopefully done – at 2:00 a.m. and with a horrendous barky cough – and I ended up “sleeping” with her the rest of the night to keep her calm and on her side which meant NOT much rest for me, so my patience level plus excitement level of the children just were not on par, but cookies and coffee and extra helpers around the house make a world of difference), I am ultimately so glad that we kept them home and got to be all together (minus the napping baby which was a blessing as far as safety goes) for what turned out to be very much worth the hype.

We did not see everything (no Shadow Bands that we could see, and I’m pretty sure I missed both the Diamond Ring and the beads), but dang, Totality came and it was UNREAL.

Honestly, I was a little freaked out that our timer app was wrong and we’d taken them off too soon, but just like that, you could hear people all over town cheering and hooting and hollering because it was just that wild to have it so suddenly be like night time out (with the 360 sunset around us) including street lights and cooler temps and this perfect ring of light around the moon up in the sky. And lucky us, we got to experience it for over two whole minutes!

The kids – and all of our grownups – were drop-jawed. And it was crazy how, just like that, it was then reversing and the day was returning to normal(ish).

At that point, we headed back inside to return to our regular afternoon routine (as if we have a “hooky” routine! As we told the kids – the staying home from school offer was pretty much once in a lifetime, too!) and I will admit, I felt a little off. Some of that was fear of “OMG. Did we just burn retinas?!” and some was exhaustion from the previous night and the rest was hangover from the awesome craziness of the eclipse. And it legit took most of the rest of the afternoon for that to clear. I mean, does anyone else who experienced it feel like they lived more than one day today?

Although the kids couldn’t quite give us a highlight/favorite moment of the eclipse, at dinner RL said to the table, “Raise your hand if you had the best day ever!” and everybody did, so I would say all the hubbub and such was totally worth it. And thanks to our homemade masks, I think we are all more than fine, even though the 4yo was stressful to watch because he fought the mask for so long, but geez – let’s hope there are no lifetime ramifications of the lifetime event, for us or for anyone else (eventually I’ll get over this fear, I swear).

 

 

No Tears!

Friends, Raegan has been waiting for this day for, well, possibly two years when HD img_7413started Kindergarten, so to say that she was Ready is a bit of an understatement. She was so ready that we had tears yesterday because HD got to start and she had to wait for today! My sweet girl. Can you see that longing look in her eye in the photo bomb from his first day pics? Yep. She was more than pumped to get up today and Get It!

And you know what? It was a great morning. Much better than yesterday, actually. img_7423Maybe it was the sunshine or the fact that now, today, our real big kid school routine begins (preK will be added in a couple weeks and then we’ll have a couple/few months of normalcy before Baby arrives), but wow – total difference in everyone’s attitude and temperament (including Mama’s). Also, she told me I picked “perfectly” with her golden unicorn t-shirt for her to wear today. 😉

img_7435We got to walk with friends to school as we like to do and from there, it was a bit of back and forth across the playground for myself and the littlest boys (naturally the grades in which my kids land line up on opposite sides of the building) but we got to catch up with Big Brother (who ran ahead with his buddies) for a quick photo and hug (and face wipe which I also had to do for Raegan — apparently we need to install some more lighting in our house because I had no idea they still had breakfast faces until we got out in the sunshine of the playground. Whoops.) And then it was a quick dash back to Raegge for all the same before watching her walk in for her first day.

She was a Rock Star. No tears. No freakout when I left her to go check on HD. She just flat out nailed it. And you know what? So did I! I had the sunnies ready to go to hide my blotchy face and tissues in my bag, but no tears, my friends! From any of us! I can’t even possibly explain this except that she was so solid and that helped me keep it together, too. Could the tears still come? You bet. But for now, this – a quick little note to my girl on her first day of school:

Dearest Raegan,

Welcome to Kindergarten, Baby Girl! We are so proud of the amazing person you are and on this, your first day of school, we wish you all the continued fun, learning, and excitement with which you have so anxiously awaited this day. Your strength of spirit, your creativity, and your spark for life are inspirations to your dad and I, not to mention great sources of joy for all who know you. May you always carry the tenacity, sweetness, and love you hold inside you today with you wherever you go, for we know you are off and on your way to do and be amazing. We love you, Raegee. Go get ’em, girlie! 

Love,

Mama*

*OK, there are the sniffles. I knew they weren’t far below the surface! img_7429

 

Behind the Highlights

Lord in heaven. If you have Littles, or have ever had Littles, or have ever been around Littles, what I am about to say is no revelation, but it is Truth: taking a trip with Littles is not a vacation. In fact, I am not even sure it can qualify as travel. It is simply the same – nope, more – work than caring for your children in your own home. 

See? I told you. Nothing newsworthy here, and yes I acknowledge that being able to go anywhere with my family is a privilege, but just to keep life balanced from the IG and FB feeds with cute (if not all looking at the same time pics), I also have to say the obvious, which is that being away from home right now is freaking hard work.

Of course our reasons for travel are great. Getting to SoDak for first time in 14 months was important to us. Seeing my two remaining grandparents and attending a family reunion were big priorities for us this summer. 

But of course life and sharing rooms never goes quite as planned and so here we are smack in the middle of our trip, tired, frustrated from a hurry up and wait afternoon that was out of everyone’s hands, and hoping against hope that everyone will get some damn sleep tonight (& that whichever kid wakes up in the middle of the morning doesn’t wake up the rest of the crew by flipping on the bathroom light because Truman got a whopping 30 minutes of day sleep today and holy crap, do we need him to SLEEP) . 

I’m sorry. Did my tired creep through there? I don’t think they make a concealer strong enough to combat it, so I might as well be honest about it. 

Again, our reasons for traveling are solid. And I am 99% sure that our kids are enjoying themselves 95% of the time. B and I are even getting some evening time to visit with family. But damn. That saying about needing a vacation after getting home from vacation? Yes, please.

And also, this: I took it with a flash in the dark hotel room and it was the first thing to make me really laugh since earlier in the day, so I’m keeping it. Because, documentation, friends. It is possibly as vital as honesty. 

Cry Me a River

Well, I guess it wouldn’t be a yoga training without an update and some tears, but wow, friends. We’re not just dealing with some here. Somehow, something dislodged in my dam and this weekend I am a blubbering, weepy mess all of the sudden.

So, first…a little backstory. Maybe two. To clarify – I am in Lincoln, NE this weekend for an intensive training immersion for Yoga Nidra. I am beyond thrilled to have this opportunity and have been waiting months for this weekend to arrive. Nidra has become more and more an interest of mine, as a teacher and as a practitioner, and the wisdom and knowledge being shared with us from our teacher, Sreedevi K. Bringi from Naropa University in Boulder, CO is so very much spot on with the way in which I want to learn and expand my knowledge of this subject matter, that I am nothing but grateful to be here.

I am also, apparently, a big-time crier this weekend, which leads me to backstory No.2. Remember the comparison post between Baby No.5 and Linky? Well, what I don’t think I mentioned (or perhaps I did and missed it in the skimming/remembering) is that my last couple therapy sessions have been boring. I’ve only been going once a month and while they have still been helpful and beneficial, I almost felt like both times I was running out of stuff to say. This is actually a great thing, because even with all the chaos of this spring semester, I felt like this meant I was handling things (i.e. life) pretty darn well.

And not to say that crying (a lot) means I’m not handling life well, but I certainly don’t know where all of these tears are coming from, other than they must have been storing up for a while now, because I can’t remember the last time I had a good, big ugly cry, but that’s sure what keeps looming during our training sessions.

Both last night during our introductions/what led us to this weekend, and then today when sharing and getting feedback on our sankalpas (think a personal resolve/intention that guides your YN practice each time you practice), I pretty much instantly turned into a blubbering mess. Even just in passing conversations during breaks, I keep welling up with emotion.

The heck?!

Again, I ask, where is this all coming from?

Of course, some of it can be blamed simply on hormones. Those are clearly in abundance in my system right now and many a pregnant woman has been known to be extra weepy. But I also think that my lack of time at home this week, coupled with the (amazing) intensity of this training has just put my nerves on edge to the extent that my emotions have decided to wring themselves out a bit while we’re at it.

And you know what? That’s not a bad thing.

img_6926I still haven’t gotten in (or would it be out) the full blown sob fest that seems to be sitting just under the surface, so I’m kind of hoping I can get that in BEFORE we begin our final session together tomorrow, otherwise, perhaps I’ll just go ahead a skip the mascara altogether, because so far I’m two-for-two on training time taking a majority of it off for me. But so it goes. You’ve got to have a little rain for growth.

Road Diary No.2

Annnnd, just like that, today is the day of Heading Home. For all the effort that went in on the front side (and oh, my – did that involve work and coordination), and then all the careful planning for our evening activities and getting around the burbs and some of KC-proper(ish) while we’ve been here, it’s now just about time to hit the road.

Currently Ben is still at meetings, and I’m spending the afternoon enjoying the A.C. (not to mention the amenities) of Target and Starbucks since I had to be out of the hotel before lunch. I mean, really – things could be much worse, eh? But since I am done with my slow perusing of Target and my lunch, I’m hunkered down at Starbucks until I get word from B that it’s time to come pick him up so we can start the five-hour journey back to Hastings.

There’s no way we’ll get there before the kids are in bed, which is a bummer, but I’m excited to see them (bright and early, as per usual) in the morning and see how big they are (don’t laugh; don’t you think the same even after just a day or two away from your kiddos?).  But mostly I want to hug and hold the bejeebies out of them because I miss that contact like crazy even though getting touched out happens to me all the time with them. Maternal Irony, I guess.

What’s wild, though, is that I get less than 12 hours with them and then I am hitting the road again for a special training in Lincoln. So while I can’t wait to snuggle up and hear all about their five sleeps without us, I still won’t really get to be with them until Monday. I am grateful for the timing of all these opportunities, that I can in fact go from one to the next, but at the same time – this is a lot for me to squeeze into one week!

As for the Road Diary that I posted as the micro blog on the MM page, well, I don’t know if I have any other revelations to add to that, except that this trip has been good for us. Ben has worked really hard during the days with his training for the new class he’ll be teaching this fall, and we did our best to fill our nights with activities and opportunities that we just don’t get at home (which I’m still doing here this afternoon with my two indulgences) from the Royals game and seeing an actual current movie in an actual movie theater (with reclining leather seats, tyvm) to shopping at IKEA and hitting up a prenatal yoga studio.

img_6918All of this means the days and nights have been pretty well FULL, but as whirlwind-y as it has been (and as fast as it has gone), there have been big benefits in terms of recharging and being able to have actual grownup conversations without interruptions, which just doesn’t happen at home. From here we jump back in headfirst with parenting and road tripping and finishing out summer camps and activities (pretty sure we don’t have a quiet weekend between now and the start of school), so for now, I’m just going to sip the rest of my iced coffee and say a little (loud) bit of thanks to have had this opportunity.

Little Lincoln?

To be perfectly honest, I did not have any thoughts, whatsoever, about who Baby No.5 resembled at our 20 week ultrasound. How can you really tell in those space-agey images if a kiddo looks like another kiddo or one of you two? I figured that arms up by the face (which pretty much all of our ultrasounds have looked like) was enough proof of being a Little Welschie and left it at that.

img_6677-1

And then I got a text from one of my dearest friends after she saw the image on FB that said, “That picture is SO Lincoln!” and when I went to look at it again, holy moly cow, I saw that she was SO right. Now I can’t see anything but Baby Lincoln’s little face and it is entertaining to think that our babe who did not resemble the others when born might end up with a little twin in November. In fact, I love it.

I mention all of this because I have actually been struggling a lot in the last couple weeks and the last time I remember being this constantly angry and discontent was the time April tried to do us in, the spring I was pregnant with – you got it – Lincoln. Do some of you remember the birth that month of Captain Cranky Pants? It’s a name I’ve come back to a time or four over the years, but I honestly don’t think it’s been quite so accurate of a connection until now. Because, whoa. Everything and everything is irritating the crap out of me these days.

The real culprit? Probably not a shocker, but my guess is sleep. The 4th of July put us behind and it’s not like I’ve ever really been ahead since, oh, mid-March, so I know I’m a very tired, fairly pregnant mama and I’m just not handling (any)things very well.

What occurred to me, beyond the CCP connection, relates back to something my OB said at my last appointment – the same one where that very image was captured by the ultrasound machine. We were talking about my going back to CO this month (sadly, I opted out because it was one thing I could take off my schedule, even if I didn’t want to, and the risk of another setback was just too much for me to take on, even if medically speaking, going wouldn’t have been an inherent risk for either myself or the baby) and I mentioned that I’m just so much more tired and worn down this time around, which led to her response of, “Yeah, you haven’t had an easy go of it with this one.”

Of course my immediate response was, “Oh, it hasn’t been that bad.” because tough as it’s been, I wouldn’t call this a bad pregnancy. But that’s not what she was calling it either. It’s not bad. But it certainly hasn’t been smooth sailing, and that’s where the still-behind-on-energy-and-appetite feeling, even at 21 weeks, comes into play.

The last time I heard her say something like that? Well, I tried to find it on the blog archives to verify and couldn’t, but I am pretty darn sure that she said something very similar during Linky’s pregnancy which was, yes, not easy. And then, as it did now, it took me a while for the reality to sink that if my obstetrician is pointing out the difficulty of my experience, perhaps it would be OK for me to acknowledge and accept that for what it is. And then, perhaps I could cut myself a wee bit of slack with the guilt over being a raging crank momster (error intended) and instead focus on doing what I can to get back to feeling good again.

Honestly, it might take some time. It might take 1,000 baby steps. It might take acknowledging and accepting that this too may just be a season in the tunnel that I have to ride out, because eventually this sweet Little Lincoln-clone is going to join us earth side and while I probably won’t sleep much in the immediate after (is it wrong if I start having daily convos with the bump promising favoritism if s/he comes out as our best sleeper ever? yeah? it is? darn.), someday I will again be rested and able to carve out a space for myself in our family of seven. And while I know that no human can be expected to never have some CCP flareups, I also know that eventually – whether it is tomorrow or next July – mine can be fewer and farther between, and far less cranky in general.

And in the meantime, I can be far less hard on myself for having (and seeing it as such) a hard time.

P.S. Just in case more evidence was needed…it was after Lincoln was born that I reached the point of starting therapy which lead to yoga and breakthroughs and all the work that I have spent the last four years doing to better take care of myself mentally, so again, no shocker here that his little buddy is putting those same tasks directly in my face again. And just as with Lincoln, I’ll be forever grateful for the nudge to do so.

 

Early Mornings, Late Nights

As any teacher (or former teacher, or spouse of a teacher, or spouse of a teacher who is also a former teacher herself) knows, the Fourth of July is a signal that summer has shifted. I don’t know if the official term is called a downhill slide, or what, but summer tends to speed up after the 4th and before we know it, all of those back-to-school meetings and events and actual First Days arrive front and center.

As it stands, I am perhaps more anxious about the upcoming school year than others, but not for regular reasons. Normally I’d be trying to figure out my own teaching (which I am not doing because I am taking off the semester from adjunct life) and getting kids to various (pre)schools of their own (oh, that’s still a fun little rabbit hole to let the mind wander down from time to time, don’t worry). But this post-July-4th, I find myself wondering just how in the world I am going to keep up with this dude once Daddy is back to work: img_6771-1

Trust me. He is the cutest little solo elephant herd you’ve seen, and he does about as much damage as an elephant bull can manage in less than 60 seconds, no problem. This includes structural (he’s got his mama’s long arms and there can reach ALL kinds of places he shouldn’t, not to mention the climbing he does) and physical (Lord in Heaven. Can someone please send bubble wrap? And a helmet? And elbow pads? Crashing, bashing, and wiping out seem to be what this kid was made for these days and he’s got the bumps and bruises to prove it!). But mostly he’s got SUCH a mind of his own and I’m not really sure how my eventual third trimester self is going to handle his activity level, much less his attitude and his sprinting in opposite directions of me. I haven’t been a runner since before babies, Baby. Knock it off.

Thanks to the previously mentioned 4th, I am still very much worn the heck out. That whole week of people blowing up money all over town meant for so many late nights that I didn’t want to have and left me feeling, once again, totally behind on sleep. Then you add in the fact that I still occasionally wake up and can’t go back to bed in the 4’s (hello, Early Bird), and I am. Just. Tired.

And headachey. SOOOOO many headaches with this pregnancy…it’s getting to be a bit ridiculous.

Of course, there are still plenty of mornings when I skip over that super early rising, but when one of them happens to coincide with an unnamed child who will soon be 8yo (whoops) getting up and coming in my room a half an hour before he’s supposed to leave his own bed (which is still freaky early for most folks), well – chaos. Shenanigans. Not enough naps and coffee and headache remedies to counter all that. And that’s just it – because Ben is still on break, I still get to take those naps! So what am I going to do after the first week of August when he’s no longer around?! Oof.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: no mother(-to-be) needs practice at being tired. Until someone can show me the science behind why the body/brain do this to pregnant (and postpartum) women, I will continue to give Mother Nature the WTH face because obviously we all know that tired is coming with the new baby; it’s really not needed now!