A PBS Childhood

Growing up when and where I did (rural SoDak in the 80s and 90s) meant we didn’t have many options for television stations. Eventually, in high school, we got a satellite dish which changed things for us, but up until then we literally had 3-5 stations, including the local NBC/CBS/ABC and, my most beloved, PBS.
Although we watched network stations on Saturday mornings for cartoons (because that was really the only time those stations ran such things back in the day), our go-to after school was the children’s programming on PBS, also known to me as South Dakota Public Broadcasting. And it was the best. 

Over the years I remember watching Letter PeopleGhost WriterBill Nye the Science Guy3-2-1 ContactLambchop’s Playhouse, Once Upon a Time, and Sesame Street (obviously not in that order because who knows exactly at what age I viewed each of those).  My absolute, long-standing favorites, though, were Square One TV and Reading Rainbow. I adored both of those shows and couldn’t wait to fly off the school bus each afternoon so I could run into the house in time to catch both 30-minute programs before doing homework and having supper. 

Square One TV was made up of little sketches (think SNL), songs, and a regular mini-series at the end of each episode called “Math Net” that I suppose was a spoof of Drag Net but I have no idea what that even means, beyond it being a crime solving duo which in this case, used the power of math to restore order (pun intended) to the world. Thirty+ years later and I can still remember songs about Archimedes and “The Mathematics of Love” that taught kids to read Roman numerals, and a “Math Net” case that involved the Fibonacci Sequence, so yeah, I’d say it was highly effective programming. 

Reading Rainbow took the cake, though, for making a lasting impression on this reading-obsessed kid. LeVar Burton is the epitome of childhood + TV associations for me because it’s possible I saw every single episode of the show in which he would meet people, share lessons, inspire imaginations, and, of course, introduce us to fantastic children’s books.  I can still sing the entire theme song and I get a swell of nostalgia whenever I see a title I remember from the show like A Chair for My Mother or Angel Child, Dragon Child, and Abiyoyo. A few years ago they did a KickStarter campaign to reboot the show on Netflix and of course I contributed, earning me a shirt that I’ve worn so many times since, my own children will probably associate with their childhoods someday. 

As a mom, I’ve tried to steer my kids on a similar PBS path but their world is quite different than mine and they have what often feels like overwhelming, limitless choices for what they might watch. Of course, most of it isn’t nearly the quality that PBS (still) provides, so I’m always thankful when one of them latches on to any show from NET (Nebraska Educational Telecommunications, now called NPM, Nebraska Public Media). Over the years, those loves have included HD and Dinosaur Train (which is how my blog, The Modern Maiasaura, got it’s name) and WA with Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood (ironic because I also love DTN but was never a huge Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood fan when I was kid), and allll of them with Curious George which got me through many a cat-nap on the couch during my various pregnancies when I also had toddlers who needed to be entertained while I snoozed. I even called them PBS Naps! 

So even though my own kids will remember quite different and more varied shows when they look back on this same question of favorite Saturday cartoons someday, I’m confident that there will be an intergenerational love for PBS that holds for them just as it does for me. 

*Post 21/52.

Only 18?

To the folks who tell me that I only get 18 summers with my kids, I say, “I know.” I get that such statements are meant to inspire me to be a better mom, to enjoy the most of every single possible fleeting moment because 18 is nothing, a blip that races by in a split second. And while that is true, those 18 years also contain some of the hardest stages and ages of parenting and I’m not just doing this once or even twice, I’m doing this five times over AND consecutively which perhaps explains why I feel so bowled over by this summer in particular.

In case you’ve forgotten, parents of little Littles have been in extreme survival mode for some time now. Our particular family was already In It after adding Baby No.5 and then embarking on a house remodel that would not die (but kind of tried to kill us in the process), and then COVID hit leaving us completely adrift in ways that we still haven’t quite recovered from even though life at this point has totally returned to the hub and the bub of pre-COVD times.

Maybe that’s what makes this summer so rough, too – we haven’t been this busy in years, haven’t gone this many places or seen this many people, haven’t been this social in years. So of course we feel more run down than we have in, well, years.

If you’re keeping up with my English major version of math, that means this summer we’re living in 2022 while making up for the last two years times five kids which is really three summers times five (that’s leaving out the parents who are both having-ish lives of their own, so really, this could/should be seven, not five) which puts us at 15. I’m living 15 summers this summer, so no, I really don’t get to slow down and enjoy every second of every summer with my kids because in a good year, I’m living five summers in one, and in this year, I’m living 15 (or maybe 21) in just three months (that feel forever long and way too freaking short).

But it’s not just me who is feeling this crush, it’s my kids, too. I think we all feel out of sorts without really knowing why and so there have been what feels like more meltdowns and problems than ever before, too. If we’re going with the logic that math makes sense (my poor husband – he’s going to be so insulted by the shade I am throwing at his subject matter throughout this post), it tracks that the along with the heightened activity comes heightened emotion and thereby all of those extra moments of struggle, be it between us and the kids or the kids and each other.

Honestly, I don’t know what to do about it. I’m simply recording it here because it’s what is right now and this has always been my space to make note of such things. Will we survive this rough patch? I think so, but in another moment of honesty, I don’t quite know what will get us there. We’ve still got two-and-a-half weeks until school starts which, again, according to my math, is like is damn near like having three months left of wandering in the land of no set schedule, too many screens and snack requests, weird bedtimes, and sibling bickering (this needs to be a post of lament all its own because holy wow, have they landed in a cranky place as a group). We’ll Little Engine this and keep trying, but please keep in mind that telling someone like me that she only has 18 summers sounds more like a dangerous mountain crossing than a walk in the park to be enjoyed.

Instead I’ve got to keep my focus on the here and now, the glimmers of peace that occasionally pop up in the middle of these endless summer days, like this – all five kids willing to be in a picture together after an hour at the park where we walked to burn off some much needed steam and fussiness that started their (and my) day.

That’s it. That’s all I’ve got. Glimmer moments and a very astute awareness that I can’t force 18 straight years of magical summers (times 5).

Jennifer Rae

Apparently I was never destined to be a Jennifer. My mom had completely different names selected for me but then I was born and my dad was suddenly given the opportunity to bestow me with my forever name and that name was not Rebecca (my mom’s choice and my now sister-in-law’s first name) or Alena (my mom’s other choice that was a mash up of her grandparents’ names, Albert and Lena, that her own dad vetoed), it was Jennifer. Why? 40 years later, my dad has no idea (nor does my mom) as to how it came to be that he did the picking or why he picked it (beyond its popularity at the time). 

Growing up as a Jennifer of the 80s, I had to have my last initial tacked on to my name to distinguish myself from the 27 other Jennifers (another song you must hear – “27 Jennifers” by Mike Doughty) in my class, but I found the way to distinguish myself, eventually, by changing the spelling of my nickname, Jenny, to Jenni. Of course you can’t actually *hear* that difference when you speak my name, so to this day 30+ years later, people still don’t always spell it correctly, but Jenni-with-an-I is me through and through, so much so that Jenny-with-an-Y doesn’t even seem like it could possibly be me when I see it in writing.

While I didn’t love having such a common name growing up, I did like the story behind my middle name, Rae. It is a feminized version of Ray, short for Raymond, which was my maternal grandfather’s middle name (Clifford Raymond). Grandpa Cliff and I shared that middle name with pride and I knew that if/when I had a daughter of my own someday, I too would want to take my dad’s middle name (Thomas Lee) and give it to her with a feminine spelling.

Lucky me, I got to do just that! But even better, I also got to take my “Rae” and incorporate it into our presidentially-named-babies theme and create Raegan (instead of Reagan) Leigh when my first sweet girl was born. I love her name so much because it has pieces of me which includes pieces of my grandpa, but then it also includes pieces of her maternal grandpa, just like I wanted, and the layers and symmetry to that are just my favorite. 

But the poor girl has run into a similar conundrum as her mama because everyone everywhere spells her name wrong and it drives her nuts. While I understand her annoyance, I hope she’ll come to see how special her name is, even if other people can’t remember how she spells it and they assume hers is spelled just like the former president’s which clearly it is not. I trust that, in time, she’ll know the uniqueness that is her own naming story makes the confusion worthwhile. Will she continue the trend of oldest daughter naming the oldest daughter after the maternal grandfather into the next generation? Well, that depends on a whole lot of circumstances, so I guess we’ll see!

*Post 13ish/52. Math is hard.

(Not-So-)Tiny Teachers

As of this writing, my kids are 12, 10, 8, 6, and 4. Before this project is done and published, each will have another birthday, making them 13, 11, 9, 7, and 5. For some reason those numbers sound much larger and older than their current ages and I find myself taken aback by the thought of them all being that big. But big they are, as evidenced by our Mother’s Day photo from this year. Harrison is within six-to-twelve months of passing me in height and Wilson still seems on track to beat us all, Ben included! But what I see most when I look at their unique but so obviously related handful of faces are not just the physical changes they are experiencing, but the mental and emotional lessons these (not-so-)tiny teachers of mine continue to give me. 

Harrison: my first teacher of what it means to be a mother. He will always be my guinea pig — the one I am learning with and perhaps making the most mistakes with simply because he hits each milestone first. I am literally forever not really knowing what I’m doing with him as he grows and goes, so to attempt to list all he has taught me would fill 100 books all on its own. But perhaps the greatest lesson he continues to demonstrate to me is how to stay true and loyal to what one enjoys while letting the words, opinions, and shenanigans of others slide right off the back. HD tunes out the noise and inspires me to do the same.

Raegan: my mini-me to the 10th degree, this girl. She reminds me what it means to radiate care and responsibility and how one can do both with ease and grace in so many forms and settings. She keeps me connected to my own childhood passion of reading obsessively and taking great pleasure and pride in doing so. But above all, RL teaches me what it means to be courageous. To take on new challenges and activities, yes, but also to face old fears and worries with a chin held high, a deep breath taken, and a good song to keep the spirit buoyed when it feels low. RL inspires me to be bold and brave through it all. 

Lincoln: my one who is perhaps most unlike me in terms of taking after his dad more than his mom. He is my always moving, always playing, always active guy – the one who can turn any moment into a game or a competition and will pick up any sport and play his heart out while doing it. He has taught me about passion and enthusiasm both in his loyalty to his favorite teams and players as well as with his heart that has bleed baseball for years. LT also has a great passion for his people and he teaches me constantly about how to be a fierce friend and how important moments of connection are. Even though he’s almost always in constant motion, he gives the best squeezes and is a darn good couch cuddler, too. LT inspires me to get out there and DO, to practice, and to play. 

Truman: my one who charms them all. This kid has been working it from the day he was born and I am no exception to the power of his big blond head and giant blue eyes. He teaches me to reconsider, to try again, to be silly and laugh about the word “poop” or “fart” even when I’m not in the mood. He is the one who helps my head and heart understand what it is like to be so little while observing such bigness all around you and both wanting to catch up to that but embodying such youth and tenderness at the same time. He demonstrates juxtaposition with his cries for help and independence, his big hugs and his running out of the room when he doesn’t want to stop or hear “no” one more time, his go-go-go and his need for rest and recovery. TJ inspires me to feel all the feels and to enjoy the heck out of the giggles when they come. 

Wilson: my one I never knew I needed. If I’d had my way, I would have had two boys and two girls and been Done with babies. But that’s not how it went and I decided that maybe I wasn’t done and that maybe we’d get another girl if we tried another time, and oh my goodness, I can’t imagine life any other way even though Wilson was a ball of teachings from the moment she emerged. From First Sight she taught me to rely on prayer more than I ever had in my life, but also modern medicine and doctors, too. Since then she’s taught me to be grateful for the small things that are sometimes the

big things and that there is always time and room for one more “huggy” and “kissy.” WA inspires me to wear what feels good, dance to my own tune, and love, Love, LOVE along the way. 

To my five greatest examples of what it means to grow and be in this world – thank you for teaching and inspiring me. 

*Post 8/52.

Both Things Can Be True

At its heart, this has always been a parenting blog and a personal blog. Both things can be true.

However, as the years have gone by, it has been harder to know what I should share here about my kids. They have their own struggles that equate to stories that I could tell here both for my own remembering and for the connection this provides with other parents and people. But, also, those are their stories, so are they really mine to share at all? I mean, I share a lot of my own shit here but that’s because it is my shit and I’m a grown up making that decision for myself, so that’s pretty different than me telling their sh!t to the world for them.

That said, things still happen in our life that are also both things – their stories as individuals and mine as their parent. Both things can be true. But what does that mean for my writing and how I relate these milestones, lessons, and takeaways? I guess I’m still navigating that, and in true Jenni form, I’m doing so via writing.

We had an incident lately that I want to share here about more than one thing being true but I’ll warn you right now – it’s going to be a little vague because I am trying to do honor my kids’ privacy in sharing this.

I’ll start with documenting, because it is helpful for my own reminding as much as anything, that sometimes my kids get along really well and are each other’s best cheerleaders. With all the bickering I referee on a daily basis, witnessing them cheering each on, being excited/nervous (Glennon calls this “scited” for scared and excited) for one another, and celebrating each others’ accomplishments would warrant a blog post all on its own – it’s that monumental. But within this same vague scenario, we had some individual wins that I want to celebration (word choice intentional – still one of my favorite toddlerisms from HD on his 3rd birthday).

During this particular group activity, two of my kids were offered a chance to split and go with an older group during a breakout session. OK, that’s great. Except that pretty soon it was obvious that it wasn’t and overwhelm on one of their faces was obvious, even from a distance. But you know what said child did? Spoke to the group leader, said they needed to join the other group, and then proceeded to walk themselves to that group instead, even though there was obvious self-imposed shame and embarrassment happening. It’s possible that said child’s mother called out, “It’s OK that you don’t know!” as they walked by – just saying.

The other child stayed with the older group and I was impressed by that too because I knew a lot of information that was going over their head was being discussed. Just like recognizing limits and honoring them can be brave, so too can be the act of sticking with something and trying it, even when you don’t know what’s going on. Both things can be true.

On the way home, I told them both how proud I was of these very different, very brave choices. And when the one who stayed and tried later told me that they thought my comment to their sibling meant I thought they should have left, too, I got right down at eye level and said, “I understand how you could have heard it that way. I hope you also heard what I said to you about your choice.” And then I thanked that child for telling me because that too was brave.

So this is me, recording (for myself and others and for my parenting self and other parents) that sometimes shit goes really right even when it is going wrong in the situation. Both things can be true. And sometimes we get a glimmer that our kids are hearing us and learning from us and, my God, do we need to honor such times because this is both the best and the hardest job.

Both things can be true.

A little trend happening here with photos that aren’t connected to the post except that you do get to see my five beautifully brave babies in it.

Both/And, Not Either/Or

To share this means to put myself out there for all to see and judge. Not to share this means to hide behind passing privilege and if I’ve learned one thing in the last year, it is that my capacity for inauthenticity is extremely low, especially if that inauthentic way comes from myself.

The gist is this: after semi-, quietly, internally questioning myself over the last 20 years, I’ve opened up my heart, my mind, and my life to the queerness that is part of me. Queer how? I don’t find just one gender attractive. Call that bi or pan or whatever you like because I don’t mean to use labels to discriminate against others; I think that love is love and the person matters far more than the gender attached to them, assuming, that is, that they ascribe to a gender in the first place.

So what does this change, you wonder? Nothing. And everything. But let me start with the nothing. I know the first question for most will be – what about your marriage? My marriage is good. My marriage is sound. Will it last forever? Well, I can’t promise that any more than any other one person in a couple can in this life, but the short of it is that Ben was the first person beyond myself that I shared this with and it didn’t change a single thing for him or how he sees me, so I don’t see why it should change a single thing for us or how I see him. He’s been my person since we met at that party at a pond 17 years ago and as long as we continue to love and support each other, he’ll be my person through all the rest of it, too.

What I also hope is nothing is how the majority of other people will see/hear/respond to this and by “this” I mean me. I’m not a different person than the one you knew previously to reading this. I’m just sharing with you the more real and honest, the more open version of me. I’m giving more language to my understanding and acceptance of myself – that’s really it.

The reason I say “everything” changes is because of my motivation for sharing this in the first place – my kids. We have always been a Love is Love house and have talked about how females can love and marry other females and the same with males who love males. But we’ve never talked about the fact that some people can see themselves with both/and, not just either/or. And because I want my kids to be their most authentic selves and love whoever the flipdiddle they want to as they grow, I need to be transparent about myself as an example of that very principle. And I can’t tell them unless I’m also willing to tell the world at large, so no more passing privilege for me in which I stay quiet simply because I am a woman married to a man and therefore not questioned or judged by our heteronormative society for that marriage/attraction.

So the second gist is this: I am a woman who does not identify as straight but who is married to a man and together we are raising humans to love humans, in whatever form that takes (which means giving voice and pride to my own self along the way, too).

Does it scare me to post this publicly? Absolutely. But my hope is that in doing this, in sharing this most vulnerable side of myself, I’ll be able to show others that it really is OK to be who are you, however that presents. And I’ll be able to share eventually with my own children as they grow and get to know themselves that we really do mean it when we say: Love who you love. Find attractive who and what you find attractive in this world. Drop the shame for doing so. Show the world your real self; this is how we heal and live whole, healthy lives.

If you’re here for that (and by “that” I mean me) with love and support, great; please stay! If you’re bringing shame, lectures, or disgust to the table, kindly move along. While these words are worth sharing, who I am simply isn’t up for discussion or opinion.

So here’s to more moments of honesty and vulnerability, to moving through the world with more grace for others but also ourselves. And here’s to creating a better, more loving and accepting society as we do so.

The October Getchas

I realize we’ve had historical months of struggle in our house in the past…April comes to mind from several years ago when it seemed that month was always out to get us a wee (or a lot) bit. What I’m learning this year via Facebook memories and current happenings is that October has often been the same. And while the struggle is often with schedules and To Dos, it also frequently comes in germ form, too, which we know complicates everything.

Having a Rough Go with germs in October is definitely not new to our family. Even without the assist from FB, I can still remember three years ago when I had just gotten back from my DC trip and walked into a weeks-long struggle with fevers and crud that just wore us the eff down. And then, of course last year’s October was a whirlwind of COVID-life plus pre-election insanity. Thankfully we didn’t have any big bouts with illness in Oct. 2020 but the general sense I have from that time is “nuts” so yes, I guess October can officially be added to the list of Sneaky Getcha Months.

For October 2021, the hardest hit by the Getchas is me. All three Welschie girls (plus Ben) have been struggling with a cold since early in the month, but I am the one who just can’t seem to kick it/is feeling that struggle the most. Maybe that’s a sign of age being closer to 40 instead of under 10 like the other two girls, but wow, I can’t tell you the last time I had a cold that lasted 17 days.

To make sure it wasn’t something else I went to the doctor yesterday and found out that I’m somewhere between a sinus infection and bronchitis which doesn’t surprise me based on symptoms (which are not and have never been COVID-like, thank goodness). But what I also learned yesterday is that those are typically 95% viral which means antibiotics do nothing for them AND because of my gut-reset protocol, antibiotics are super not my friend right now, anyway.

So. Here I am, still miserable and trying to figure out how to turn around this ass- (nope; sinus-) kicker month. That looks like going through fluids and tissues and sinus rinses like it is my job, while also trying to rest and trying to recover because let’s face it, even though we survived five weeks of five kids doing fall sports, life isn’t slowing down any time soon and this mama has to keep the plates spinning, even when her head and chest are filled with 10 lbs. of snot for weeks on end. (And seriously, we’ve gone through so many tissues this month, I single handedly killed four different boxes yesterday. Gross.)

The point here is that one, I need to get over this crud and sooner than later would be great, please and thank you. But also, two, I want to remember that October is out there in the future. I realize making plans is a good way to make the Universe/God/the devil laugh, but it is my sincere hope that next year I can remember, in say August or September, that the October Getchas may be lurking just around the corner and maybe I can come up with some way to fortify myself, be it in prayer, Vitamin C, or sage – whatever it takes to keep this month from taking me/us down with its whirly/swirly madness. That or invest in Puffs stock; that could work, too.

Firsts and the (Calendar) Flip Side

As my Facebook memories have been showing me the last few days, this is not my first end-of-July siren song post. In fact, that one I wrote five years ago had portions that I could easily cut and paste into today’s writing as our family prepares for all that is August and the not-so-slow shift out of summer mode. And now that I think about it, with our risk dial creeping up these last couple weeks thanks to the Delta variant of COVID-19, last year’s post could also unfortunately make a reappearance here today, but I am not ready to wrap my head around all things school + pandemic again, so I’m just not. I’m. Just. Not.

Instead, I’m standing in my general awe that we’ve landed on the last day of July. How did that happen? Where exactly did the last nine weeks go? Does anyone know?

I know that we were busy. I suppose anything would have felt busy after an entire summer (and spring and then some) at home last year, but even setting aside that, this summer had new obstacles, activities, and adventures for us.

For one, Ben taught summer school for the first time ever. I thought that sounded like a good idea until I realized how much it complicated the summer music program two kids were playing (three instruments) in, not to mention running various kids hither and thither for summer camps (yay for summer camps! they are great and this was also the first summer of all FIVE kids being old enough to participate in something somewhere!). We also had two boys back in city league baseball in June and my own online teaching and yeah, that month flew by.

I also continued to have approximately 237 appointments each week in June and most of July as I have continued to navigate my headaches which did not help lighten the calendar load. Fortunately the last few weeks have been a shift to more better days than bad days (hallelujah!!!) which is hopefully a trend that will continue and about which I’ll write an honest update for here soon.

Other firsts this summer included Colorado trips, both as a family of seven (first time there for the kids and first time in RMNP for all of us) AND as just a couple. Here’s the crazy part about that…we haven’t been away from the kids for more than one sleep in FOUR YEARS (NICU stay does not count. That was the farthest thing ever from a vacation)! Can you believe that? Um, I’m sure you can because it’s not hard to understand that it’s a big freaking ask to have other people watch this many kids so yeah, leaving them has been tough. But obviously that was way overdue and we took advantage of outdoor venues to see two beloved bands on our long weekend getaway, incidentally marking another first – our first live music post-pandemic (please; can we please be post-pandemic?).

During all that Ben had a ton of meetings for education association stuff and there were more hither/thither camps and we spent a week nursing sick kids through a nasty summer cold (and then damn near a week for me to recover from the same even though they were only down for two days each; I have learned that kids germs are a bit harder to kick when you’re breathing down the neck of 40).

So, yep. Just like that tomorrow is August. We celebrated by getting everyone’s school supplies this morning, which again – a first – includes all FIVE kids as Wilson finally gets to join the school schedule with her first year of preschool. About this she tells me that she will miss me when she’s gone and she’d like it to start tomorrow, please and thank you. You’ve gotta love the duality that is a 3yo!

But, actually, I get it because I’m feeling that flip side of all this, too. I’m excited for the new adventures and new schools (OK; maybe? One of those is middle school and I have not yet wrapped my brain around having a middle schooler either, but I am hoping for the best all the same). I’m looking forward to a return to routine and having, for the FIRST time ever since becoming a mom, a couple hours to myself each morning to work and be a person while they are all out of the house. But also there’s just a lot looming this fall and I like our summer bubble so I don’t really want to see it burst just yet.

I guess the good thing is, it doesn’t have to for a couple more weeks. Not officially, anyway, even though I know that first week of August is coming for us with a lot of To Dos. Hopefully it will just be good practice for what’s to come and can also give us a wee bit more time to just be before the real flip of the school year begins.

Can I Have a Hug?

For years (forever?) I have been the mom who doesn’t force her kids to dole out physical affection. This goes for hugs and kisses to me, Dad, grandparents, anyone. As a survivor of sexual assault, consent is a pretty big deal and plays into this, but overall this approach of asking first has been our way to teach the kids autonomy over their own bodies.

In our day-to-day this looks like me asking before I give them snuggles and such with the primary question being, “Do you give hugs (or kisses or snuggles) today?” and then gracefully accepting whatever they say in that moment. No pouting, no guilt trips if they say no, just check-ins to see if anyone is need of some physical love and doling it out when they do.

To be honest, as much as I personally need consent to involved, I don’t make the children ask me first before they hug me because let’s be real – I’m never saying ‘no’ to those little hugs and kisses, even when they are accompanied by dirty faces and sticky fingers (I just cringe a little on the extra messy ones because I know laundry may be involved). But apparently years of modeling this Ask First policy have paid off because I’ve noticed a trend lately where the Bigs do in fact ask before they come in for a squeeze and I love it.

Harrison especially has been asking lately and again – I’m never saying no because as my oldest who is off to middle school in the fall, I know these exchanges with him could be numbered/limited in the years to come. I mean, maybe not, but as he gets closer and closer to catching me in height (my bets are on him passing me by Christmas), I can’t help but recognize that things they are a changing and he is growing up quickly. There’s a lot to be proud of when it comes to him, but this back and forth of asking and respecting, this voicing of what he needs or perceives of me maybe needing is pretty cool to see.

So can you have a hug? Yes, you bet. Anytime.

Spring Board

In a lovely turn of events, Saturdays are now our quiet days, our days to do nothing (or everything depending on how you look at it) and will be for the next five weeks as tomorrow marks the start of Spring Sports in high gear for our fam. Miss Raegan’s already been at it for a few weeks with her running program, Girls on the Run, and the two biggest boys started with flag football practices this past week, but starting tomorrow our weeks will be full of all of that plus Sunday football games and then weekly practices for the new kid track program that Ben is helping coach here in town, and while we’re at it, why not throw in orchestra rehearsals for HD and Kinder Orientation for TJ, this week too, eh? Because, yep; all that is happening, too.

And this is why this sweatshirt has the best-ever job descriptor of what my life is like as a mama of five busy Littles because chaos coordination is exactly what I attempt to do all the live-long day, and especially now that we’re getting into high levels of activity again with this new season.

To be fair, I often find spring a little overwhelming for these very reasons – all the things happening at all the times takes a lot of organization and planning, not to mention remembering and executing. But this spring has that not-so-little extra bit of anxiety built into it because we’re coming into this level of activity after a year of basically going nowhere and doing nothing and the overwhelm is not just to our calendar but also our senses and energy levels, too.

The good part of this is that Ben and I have both been fortunate enough to receive our vaccinations for COVID-19 in the last month, at least the first dose. He actually had his second just yesterday and I will have mine this coming week, so once we get through two weeks after that, life going back to semi-normal will feel a bit more possible. But there’s still so much to process from everything that is happened in the last year that makes it hard to just dive back in to active, calendar-full life, on multiple levels, which brings me back to these quiet Saturdays.

I need them.

My kids need them.

My husband and my house need them.

We need some time to decompress and be away from all the going and doing because we haven’t quite figured out how to re-enter that again, which I think is OK. Actually, I’m not sure I ever want to go back fully to what life was like before, but with this many kids in our family, even keeping them limited on activities still means we have a ton going on and eventually I am going to have to find a way to navigate that that keeps us all happy and sane. In the case of this year, maintaining that meant saying “no” to soccer for the littlest two because we just needed to keep one day of the week to ourselves while we still could.

I’d like to think that we can still keep quiet days moving forward and we’re doing well to lay that foundation now. I have to believe that the spring board back to the world at large can still leave such space and grace for ourselves and our families. Time to take walks and think. Time to play games both inside and outside. Time to listen to music. Time to unwind and reset for all that is to come (because, again, even with just a little, it all quickly becomes a lot in this house).

Is it wishful thinking to hope we can keep this forever? Yes. I know that. But for this year in particular, this feels like the best strategy possible to keep ourselves in one piece while also putting some feelers back out there for what that semi-return actually looks like for us. I think coordinated chaos plus once-a-week quiet days are a pretty good way to start.