16, I Mean, 37 Candles

A birthday on a Tuesday? How did I not put this together until 14 hours later?! Now it all makes sense.

You see, this morning I was so excited for the kids to get up because it’s My Day. And Mama was ready for some birthday love.

Except then they all got up and started talking about video games and where are my socks and I’m HUNGREEEEEEEEE and not one birthday wish was uttered in my direction. Not even by my husband, which explained why the children had no freaking clue what day it was.

But then my aunt sent me a text and HD was creeping over my shoulder, reading it, and said, “Wait. What? Is today your birthday?” to which I nodded yes and then he told me happy birthday, but still, that was it. No one else heard. So eventually, because I’m mature like that, I had to tell Harrison that I was sad that no one remembered and that he could fix it please and thank you by telling everyone, which he did, and then finally, wishing and singing commenced, and you know – a birthday on a Tuesday was had.

Did I get a fancy birthday dinner? No, it was restuarant night for school, so I got a fast food salad, but I didn’t have to cook and I got to see some dear friends while we were there, so I’ll take it.

Did I get a fancy birthday treat? No, because I have no oven, but a friend dropped off cookies and another one surprised me with more cookies at a meeting we both had to attend (because, Tuesdays), so I am sugared up and happy all the same. And I don’t care what anyone says, Eileen’s ARE fancy to me because they are the best (besides homemade, but again – no oven!).

Did I get a (fancy) hot minute to myself today? No, but that means people were here working on the house and that is always good news at this point, even if my nerves are reno-fried. And actually, I did get 60 minutes for myself because even though I was spent from all the things all day long, I went to a yoga class tonight that felt just right.

img_3308Did I get a fancy birthday card? Well, yes, I did actually from my parents, along with the amazing cuff bracelet you see here (the naughty word is on the inside where no one else can see it and I LOVE it), AND I finally started having the children write in my Mama’s Journal which is an idea I stole from a friend last year where instead of having the kids buy cards (for birthdays and/or Mother’s Day and/or maybe even Christmas), they date a page and write a note, year after year, and I’ll get to keep them all collected forever in the same notebook.

And oh. my. gosh. It’s so good.

LT dictated his note to me and it’s perfectly a 5yo’s bit of randomness.

RL clearly speaks my love language, Words of Affirmation, so so so so so so so soooo well!

And HD is hilariously 85 and British. I mean, really. Hilarious. And British.

(TJ and WA will participate in the future, I promise).

And so, the day may have started off more Tuesday than Birthday, but I’d say it more than made up for itself as it progressed.

Cheers to 37 Years. It may not seem all that glamorous, but it is truly a glorious place to be.

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Don’t Poke the Bear

Over time, the phrase “don’t poke the bear” has had several meanings in my life. Lately, though, it seems to be the phrase that keeps escaping my mouth as we come, this week, to the end of Month Four of house renovations with at least a month, but most likely more, still waiting before we cross the official finish line.

We poked the bear (the house) and it’s a little pissed (the list is growing longer, not shorter on To Dos, folks. Yikes.).

Before I continue any further, let me stress that our stress is self-induced, and after the last week and a half of flooding here in Nebraska and other Midwestern states, our “problems” seem pretty damn small in comparison to people who have lost their homes, their livelihoods, and in some tragic cases, their loved ones. Squishing my kitchen, dining room, play room, and living room all into one room is stressful, yes, but at least we have a house that isn’t under water and a roof over our heads.

But water is in fact one of our concerns, as the recent dampness here in Hastings has img_3303shown that we may have some larger issues to tackle before this project is said and done in our current, unfinished laundry room. In theory that room should have been framed and finished out by now, had our original timeline held tight. As it did not, I guess we are fortunate (this is my husband’s clinging to a bright side, and I’m trying to get on board with it) to now see that some water may be coming in on the north basement wall’s foundation which means our cracked-to-bits driveway’s days (it’s been like this since we bought the house) may be numbered. Driveways are cheap, right? (you saw the sarcasm font there, right?)

We knew when we decided to stay in this house that there were going to be issues. In fact, knowing its issues instead of switching to a new house and it’s unknowns was a contributing factor to our decision to stay versus move. But I am an idiot for ever saying, “Well, at least we won’t have to deal with the stress of moving” because house renos also come with a ton of stress, and they never have official closing dates like when you sell and buy houses.

So yes, we poked the bear and the bear is now showing jaws, claws, and budget busters.

What the bear is also aggravating, that I never saw coming, is my trauma recovery and health. Thanks to the prolonged winter, the sick kids, and our stress levels, I have been fighting illness for the last two months straight. I don’t know that I’ve had more than a few days at a time where I feel pretty alright, much less totally healthy, and that’s just in my physical body. My mental body is also struggling in the midst of all this chaos.

In the last four months, a great sense of control has been taken away. For all this work to get done, we must rely on others to come do it. We must rely on them to communicate and listen and show up and do, which clearly hasn’t been a smooth process, although it’s improved in recent weeks. As much as we’d like to plan everything, we’re at the mercy of other people, and that lack of control for me as a trauma survivor in particular is HARD. Did I know a house project was going to trigger that? Um, no. Not at all. But whenever something doesn’t go as planned now, I can feel my anxiety rising at record rates.

We also have to have extra people in our house as much as possible for anything to get done around here which is, at this point, completely frying my introvert heart. I can’t tell people not to be here. In fact, on days when people are not here, I am not OK, either, because I just need all of this to be done and as soon as possible, please and thank you. But the utter lack of privacy and invasion into my home, my family space, my work space, my quiet that all of it has caused? Again. I am not handling it well anymore.

Of course, none of this is to say that anyone has done something terribly offensive to me or us. Minus the switch in providers, I’d say this is probably a pretty typical house reno project and process. But when we chose to embark on this journey, I did not realize the ramifications on my own well being that would come from poking around in the walls and floors of my literal house. And, quite frankly, it’s a metaphor that I wish wasn’t actually coming to life.

End of an Era

All the signs have been there for some time now, but oh my goodness, it appears that the actual END has arrived.

After 9.5 years of nursing babies around the clock (there are less than a handful of months in that time span when I wasn’t pregnant, nursing, or both), I’m done. Wilson is apparently, officially over it and my Boppy (OK, Boppies) are ready for retirement.

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In some ways, this breaks my heart.

I weened some of my others because I knew I wanted to get pregnant again, but I would have gladly let Wilson go the distance for as long as she wanted; so even though this is pretty average for a nursing stint for one of my babies, it still feels too soon. How we are already to this point?

In other ways, I know this is perfectly fine.

She’s walking, she’s eating, she’s following her growth charts, and she’s totally typical in all the best ways possible when you consider where we started those 15.5 months ago. These are all amazing, normal things, and this no-more-boob bit is just a natural step in the process of her getting bigger and more independent, which, you know – is the ultimate goal of this parenting gig.

But you guys. A decade is a long time to go between being a solo person in charge of and responsible for only their own body. And while I’m sure I’ll figure it out quickly enough, I legit don’t even know how to be a mom who is not growing or feeding another human being at the same time as the mom-ing and the adulting and the existing.

I guess a lot of it will feel like freedom but enjoying that is going to take some time, as I’m already missing the sweet, sequestered moments with just me and the baby in a rocking chair, doing our thing.

 

A Quiet Mind

img_3153For the first time in three months I am sitting in my house with a hot minute (actually 50) to just be here with my coffee and my computer while everyone else is at school or napping. While this is supposed to be normal every Tues/Thurs, it hasn’t been in ages because of construction. But today? No one coming and going. No banging or clanging.

Why the total quiet? Because we are in the middle of a Big Change in the middle of our Big Changes in our house.

Passing the three month mark as we did last week was meant to be quite exciting in terms of completion (at least some things should have been completed, you know?) but instead we are faced with the “exciting” prospect of starting over and finding a new team to complete our projects.

You all get the heavy dose of sarcasm living in those quotation marks, yes?

I won’t go in to details here, and of course no house project happens without some drama, but this total shift midstream is not something we anticipated when we began this journey the first week of December.

But now it’s March, even though the foot of snow still existing in my yard would say otherwise, and with the changing season that IS coming, so too comes a need for us to push onward and upward, to not be deterred by confusion and delay (yes, I realize I’m quoting Sir Topham Hat here. I have five children, so this is not unwarranted. Plus, Daniel Tiger and Thomas the Train have some legit, mad skills when it comes to parenting mantras).

This week also brings me the gap between terms of online teaching, so as I wrap up grading and prepare for the new sections incoming next week, I’m taking in the bubble of space we have given ourselves in our house and flat out appreciating the lull, the quiet that my system hasn’t had in months.

I’m trusting that this same quiet will help us find the right way forward and that all the chaos that brought us to this moment of pause will be worth it in the end.

Because, for the love of all things holy, there will be an end and we very much have a say in how we get there.

 

 

2019 Reading Lists

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My reading year has started off intensely with ALL the library requests coming in at the same time (naturally) and some really long books (because, why not?) and just life, but here’s the start of the list, what I’ve read to the children, and what I hope yet to read in 2019. As always, titles to add are welcome!

Read:

  1. Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty — I go back and forth with Moriarty’s books. Some I love a lot and others not as much. This swung to the loved side for me. It was a fun, easy read that didn’t seem as cloying as some of the others. Plus it had me laughing out loud at times throughout the whole book which was fun. Nowhere near as solid as What Alice Forgot, but a quick, light read. (finished 1.2.19)
  2. The Echo Maker by Richard Powers. Holy Hannah. My first Powers novel and does he ever give you a lot to chew on in one book. Good. Ness. Overall, I enjoyed this first foray, but one observation about the landscape of NE as a character of sorts within the book: not everyone who visits or lives here finds it to be the desolate drag the novel implies (thanks).
  3. The Winter of the World by Ken Follett (book club) — We upped our reading timeline and decided to finish all of book two instead of just half of it by the end of January, so I had to hustle and read a LOT (all 940 pages to be exact) in less than two weeks’ time. I liked Part Two of the triology quite a bit and enjoyed getting to know the second generation of characters. And, to follow up on my critique of KF’s writing after reading the first installment, this one is thankfully slightly less teenage hormonal when it comes to sex. Slightly.
  4. Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman (book club pick) — None of us knew what we were getting into with this one and I’m here to say, don’t do it. Ever. This book is terribly and porny and nothing like the romance the back cover and blurbs claim it to be. I finished it only because I read too many pages to abandon it and the time I spent on it (it’s short but dense) , so damn it, I was going to finish and add it here, if only as a warning not to bother with it (finished 1/26/19)
  5. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens — Oh, this book! One of my dear reader friends suggested it and she was totally right: I loved it! Oddly, birds and nature featured as another dominate character, much like they did in The Echo Maker, but a totally different setting and tone to this one, which was essentially a murder mystery.
  6. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman — When OverDrive from the library rains, it pours, so another one of my Must Reads came dropping down in the midst of due dates, but I got it done and I adored it. Such a different story with some twists and turns I saw coming and others not. Would make an excellent book club selection. (finished 2/4/19)
  7. Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan — I feel like I’ve met my quota of WWII books, however, this one was a good addition to that large pile of books read under the same category. The twist here? Based on a true life story and set it Italy. I don’t know if I just got tired or impatient, but the end of the book dragged on for me quite a bit, even though the first 400 pages were captivating.
  8. Boy Erased: A Memoir by Garrard Conley — This was tough on many levels. I’ve obviously heard of conversion programs, but never read about someone’s account of having gone through ex-gay community. When you add assault and the mental distress of Conley, it is all just painful and heartbreaking to read. On a picky, literary note, I also struggle with memoirs containing overly descriptive passages/dialogue and this contains a lot of all that, too.
  9. An Unrestored Woman by Shobha Rao (book club read) — I’ve read about the partition that created the separate states of India and Pakistan before, but this collection of short stories knocked the wind out of me. First, it’s one of the best SS collections I’ve ever read in that the stories are so different and yet so interconnected in smart but less than obvious ways. Second, the subject matter and abuse and struggle is just grueling. Not very much uplifting to share out of such a tumultuous boarder/political/religious split. (finished 2/17/19)
  10. Dumplin‘ by Julie Murphy (book club pick) — this was a fun listen (in my case) and is such an interesting look at body image, high school, family relationships, friendships, love, etc. I realize it’s not the most serious book ever, but I think there is a lot that a lot of people can relate to in it. Looking forward to discussing with friends at book club. Also, the Netflix version is fun, but of course different and not quite as good as the book.
  11. This Blessed Earth by Ted Genoways — (One Book One Nebraska pick) Being a farm girl from SD, this subject matter is not foreign to me, however it was never the plan for succession to happen in my family, so reading about the passing from one generation to the next and all that farmers, the markets, and the planet must endure because of our current Ag situation/climate in this country was fascinating. My only contention with the book is that Mr. Genoways claimed that Milford, NE (my hubs’ hometown) is “just outside” Omaha. Y’all, it’s an hour and a half away from Omaha. Just sayin’. (finished 2.28.19)
  12. Edge of Eternity by Ken Follett (Book Three, Century Trilogy) (KFC book club read) — holy moly cow. At 700 pages, I thought I was getting close to the end. In reality, I still had 400 to go. In some ways, the storytelling in this, like the other two, is fantastic. In other ways, the history of it all is a damn slog (and I’m still super annoyed by his portrayal of women and sex. I mean, UGH/gross/stop). Also, I’m not going to miss trying to read these great big heavy books in bed at night without injuring myself or Ben with them. I loved the group of women who comprised the book club that took on this challenge, but I’m pretty sure I’m done with Follett books for a good, long, maybe forever while. (finished 3.17.19)
  13. You Are a Badass Every Day by Jen Sincero — totally cheated and read this “read in bits and pieces book” in one sitting. Was loaned it by someone who gets it, and I’ve already ordered myself a copy of it so I can indeed have it on the shelf to pick up for now and then reminders and prompts of badass-ery.
  14. A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline (book club read) — I am so sad to be missing the discussion on this one later this month. It was such a pleasure to read and holds so much potential for discussion. The book is at our library as a book kit for clubs and I can totally see why, as it is captivating and full of considerations. (finished 3/20/19)
  15. A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult — Whoa. Added this to my library request queue simply because it was the newest Picoult title, and although I struggled a bit with the narrative structure, she once again managed to blow me away with a novel centered on an issue that divides us in so many ways. I admire the humanity she shows in the last few books of hers that I’ve read and she manages to keep me guessing (for the most part) to the final pages as she does so.
  16. Overcoming Trauma through Yoga by David Emerson and Elizabeth Hopper. I have been putting off reading this in full because trauma work is WORK and hard work at that, but I’m glad to have finally gone through this title. Some stuff I’m already doing in my own teaching is there but there was also much to learn, as is always the case in this life.
  17. Becoming by Michelle Obama — everyone needs to read this book. That is all. (finished 4.6.19)
  18. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving (book club read) — my friend A picked this for book club because it is her favorite book but she hasn’t read it for age and wanted to see if it stood up to time. It was a first time read for me and a slog at that. It wasn’t that I disliked the book, but it was slow, slow going for me. Over 500 pages, long, there were lots of little parts that seemed like maybe you could skim over them, but then they’d be referenced later and sure enough, the last five pages brought together so much of the seemingly small bits from earlier in the book. Curious to discuss this one (finished 4.22.19).
  19. The Benefits of Being an Octopus by Ann Braden — this YA book was good in that it was quick and thought provoking, and I could see where it would be a helpful read for its intended age range (8-12 yr-olds). It’s about a girl living in poverty also dealing with domestic violence and issues at school and it beautifully latches on to (pun intended) the imagery and superpowers of the octopus throughout the text.
  20. The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant — although it was not the stand out of Diamant’s The Red Tent, this was an easy, enjoyable read that took on some slightly different points of an already much discussed time period and spoke to many taboos that have started to lessen with time.
  21. “The Deal of a Lifetime” by Fredrik Backman — I don’t normally include short stories on my Read list, but I also don’t normally read shorties, sooooo….this one landed here because of my quest to read everything and anything by FB. I tend to Love or REALLY Love all of his work and this one again landed in the oh my gosh, I want to read it multiple times because it makes me think and feel so much category, so the streak clearly continues.
  22. Miss You by Kate Eberlen — grabbed this one off OverDrive because it was available. Turned out to be a slightly different take on chick lit that I enjoyed reading.
  23. Surprise Me by Sophia Kinsella — I am in the mood for fluff, so I’m running with that, and this one sort of redeemed itself in the second half, but the main characters and their “dilemma” at being faced with a long healthy life of being married to each other annoyed the crap out of me.
  24. The Overdue Life of Amy Byler by Kelly Harms — Happened to be at the lib with RL and saw this on the New Release shelf; nabbed it because it looked fitting based with my recent reading trend. Turned out to have more meat to it than the Kinsella (thank goodness) and I enjoyed the characters and storyline quite a bit. (finished 5.27.19)
  25. The 7 1/2 Deaths of Eveyln Hardcastle by Stuart Turton — I think I was in the wrong frame of mind to follow/enjoy this book when I started it. The first part was too slow for me, then it got creepy, and then I just got plan old confused. LOL. I’ve heard good things about this one, but it was apparently not my cup of (novel)ty.
  26. One Second After by William R. Forstchen (book club read) — while I appreciate the concept behind this “thriller/dystopian” novel, the writing drove me nuts. There were so many sentence errors I about lost my mind in the early chapters and the flat way characters were written made it hard to keep going. (finished 6.13.19)
  27. Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan¬†(book club read) — this was my pick for book club and after it got going, I wished I had chosen differently. I felt ashamed at the end when reading the author’s note because that made the story behind the novel sound much more interesting and worth reading than the actual book itself. I found the main character to be so annoying that it distracted from just about anything else. I will say, however, that it has inspired me to read The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe to the Big 3 once baseball ends this month.
  28. Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Caroline Fraser — dubbed “THE definitive biography” this book taught me a ton about LIW and her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane. It was a slow 500 pages of non-fiction, but still interesting and insightful. I totally grew up idolizing the Little House books and this showed so much more truth and history, not to mention relationship dynamics, behind the stories. (Finished 7.8.19)
  29. The Spirit Catches You and Then You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman (book club pick) — Non-fiction read about being an immigrant family/navigating the US medical system and how language and cultural and religious differences turn into barriers. This was dense but so good to read. I learned a ton and appreciated how the main story was presented in such a way that as an outsider, you the reader could really see how and why these messages got mixed and problems ensued.
  30. Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner — So good! This was a current popular read I managed to snag from the library with minimal wait time on the hold and I’m so glad I read it. It’s such a great look at what (white) women have had to endure and have come through (and are still working through) in the last 70 years in America. I don’t know why I think of JW as a fluff writer because she’s really not. There were some predictable bits along the way, but this book was a well done look at womanhood, sisterhood, motherhood, and so much more. (finished 7.15.19)
  31. The Adults by Caroline Hulse — a fun, quick read. This one looks at relationships both marital and parental as well as dating and social, but in a quirky, intriguing way. I’d liken it to a Liane Moriarty book in terms of clever suspense/narration but not one of my faves of hers.
  32. Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane — one of those “must read” summer books that turns out to be right! A great look at family, personal, and relational drama and trauma, this is a compelling read.
  33. Sold on a Monday by Kristina McMorris (book club pick) — this one felt predictable and cloying at times, but it was a quick read and tackles a tough topic (desperate families in the Great Depression) though an interesting lens (newspaper reporting). finished 8.5.19
  34. The Farm by Joanne Ramos — nabbed this one off the shelf at the library and would recommend you do the same. It raises a lot of questions about surrogacy and women’s bodies and the business of birth and just all that. So good. Would be an interesting one to discuss.
  35. Less by Andrew Sean Greer (book club pick) — this turned out to be a hilarious one to discuss because although none of us hated us, none of us quite understood or liked it a whole lot, either. This of course led to the age old question – what good books are there that are a) good and b) light in nature/subject matter?
  36. On Being Human: a memoir of waking up, living real, and listening hard by Jennifer Pastiloff – after seeing this in Yoga Journal, I happened to get the new copy from the library and consumed it over the course of a few days. It is all about the life and work of a woman (Pastiloff) who teaches yoga and writing workshops. How did I not know of her already? How have I not signed up for one of her workshops yet? (finished 8.21.19)
  37. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett — I feel late to the party on this one, but grabbed it off the library shelves last week and really enjoyed the read. I can see where this would be a fun one to discuss in a group to dissect all the group dynamics, relationships, language, and ultimately, the ending.
  38. Hamilton the Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremey McCarter – oh, this book! I checked it out as “homework” before seeing Hamilton on stage for the first time later in September and I just loved it. I learned a ton, laughed like Lin was an old friend, and got even more super excited for the show. Plus this is a gorgeous book!
  39. Is There Still Sex in the City? by Candace Bushnell — yeah, so S&TC is one of my favorite shows ever but now I am not so sure I ever read the book. This book was interesting and at times really entertaining, but I am not the age or demographic of the intended audience. At all. But it made for more enjoyable dishes and laundry duty (my new go to for audiobooks + chores), so I will take it.
  40. Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal — (book club read) in progress — I really liked how this one was written – as a series of short stories/vignettes but all connected and ultimately telling the story(ish) of one woman’s life and career as a cook. Plus SoDak made a surprise appearance and warmed my heart. I think there will be some good elements here for book club discussion both about how the book was written and what unfolded in the stories.
  41. Elizabeth Warren: Her Fight, Her Work, Her Life by Antonia Felix — this was an enjoyable listen I learned a lot about the woman who is my favorite contender for 2020, both in terms of her life and her career. Now I need to read one of her own books! (finished 9.10.19)
  42. The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick — this reminded me a bit of A Man Called Ove, but is also totally different so it’s not really fair to compare them. Some bits of the narrative were jumpy to me, but I also liked the characters and thought it was enjoyable to follow along on Arthur’s journey.
  43. The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth (book club – my pick) — in progress

Read Aloud Books:

  1. Crenshaw by Kathryn Applegate — my first Applegate book, about an imaginary friend helping a 5th grader go through some hard times with his family as they find themselves without enough money for food and housing. This one caused some good conversations with my kids about recognizing that others don’t always have the same living situations that we do. This one I read to the 9, 7, and 5.
  2. The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DeCamillo — again, read this to all three of the bigs and they seemed to enjoy it, even though we got behind and strung it out over too much time. The chapters are short and the vocabulary done in an entertaining yet educational way, and the message of light vs. dark is of course age old and always good. (finished 2.24.19)
  3. The Wishing Tree by Kathryn Applegate — so good. SO good. My big three loved it and I loved it, too. Gave me hope, made me cry, made me laugh. Highly recommend!
  4. The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by CS Lewis — loving revisiting this childhood read with three of my own children! I am impressed at how they hang in there and follow along/make predictions even though this book (and the British slang within it) is pretty dated by now. Even though the language gets a bit high level at times/British, my kids enjoyed it and got way more out of it (in terms of understanding the story) than I originally thought they might. I don’t know yet if we will continue with the whole series, but this was a good one to do with them.
  5. * Upside-Down Magic series by Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle, and Emily Jenkins — I put the * on this because technically I am not the one reading these books to my children – Hoopla audio is from my library/phone – but dang, I love them and so do they. Super fun, appropriate enough, and some good underlying lessons/messages, all in an entertaining package with five books in the series. So good.

To Read:

The Overstory by Richard Powers

The Antidote by Shelley Sackier

Sticks & Stones, The Dorito Effect, Delivering Happiness, Shoe

The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh

There There by Tommy Orange

The Witch Elm by Tana French (crime)

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Pass the Manual, Please

img_3096Of course there are exceptions, but it seems that I don’t land here as often as I once did to write. I suppose part of that is time or lack thereof, but I think another of it is that as my kids have grown, I’ve slowed down on the amount I’m willing to write about them in this public space. I just can’t put all of our stuff here (not that I ever have, as much as it may seem like I have (over)shared in the past).

That’s perhaps a little ironic considering that the point of this post is that I am once again lamenting the lack of a Definitive Guide to Parenting. As in, why don’t babies come with a fool-proof manual that totally works every time for every kid please and thank you very much? Is that really so much to ask? Just because I can’t or won’t write about all of our Stuff, couldn’t somebody please do it so I could turn to that reference guide when it feels like everything is just a bit too much?

Now, I’ve written about parenting books before and how I own plenty of them (and no, I have not read all of them, so again – the irony), so it’s not like there isn’t a plenty big library out there of this stuff. But the impossible dream I’m asking for is a way to know I’m doing the right thing for each individual kid in each individual moment and there is just no book out there that’s ever going to fill that need.

It doesn’t help that we’re nearing the three month mark with house projects which is a less than open book story, so when you add in adulting and parenting and project-ing (you get my point), it’s no wonder that my brain feels a bit spun out and my overall system wishes that the magic of books and words really could come to the rescue right about now.

Grand scheme of things? I don’t have all the answers. I know that none of us do. Rather, the most we can do is keep trying. Keep learning. Keep inching our way forward, whether the manual was included or not.

In Bits and Pieces

Like many people, especially in Nebraska, our January was neither terribly healthy nor very happy at times due to rolling sickness in our household. Spending eight days of various children coming down with various degrees of fever was exhausting and even though we’ve been fever free for a week now (knock on ALL the wood), we’re still recovering.

Today also marks the end of our first full week of school since the Christmas break. That’s in part due to breaks and weather, but mostly illness, and holy moly cow, we are feeling it. Or, at least I am, as it feels like the only word that truly describes this week + my children would be: RELENTLESS.

img_2967Actually, that’s not fair. It mostly pertains to one particular child who absolutely will not leave my side (NO: I am not pregnant. It is not that kind of clinging) and will not let me get anything done because he wants me to build with him all the live-long day. And it’s not just asking, it’s whining and demanding and oh. my. gosh. Do you know how many Lego towers and gas stations I have built this week? Me neither, but I wish I had a nap for every one because I bet in that case, I’d feel a whole lot better than I do right now.

How am I writing this then, if TJ has been so stuck to me? Finally, a blessed bit of Netflix to the rescue. Now, if only I could decide which of the 50 things I need to do most in this moment of quiet (grade papers, fold laundry, read a book, pee, do the dishes, eat, yoga, absolutely freaking nothing). But instead, I need to write because January sucked for that and long as they are, these days are worth documenting, too.

Now, it doesn’t help that our house is in bits and pieces still, too. And will be….forever, it seems, but really at least for the very distant, foreseeable future as not one of the five (so help me Baby Jesus) spaces is actually complete yet and we’re already two months in to the process. I am not going to complain about the fact that we are working and able to make our house work better for our family, but I am going to lament the hell out of the fact that progress is slow, my day-to-day privacy is nill, and there is still SO much left to be done before we can get back to normal.

For the sake of fairness, not all of January was crap. It got me through 2/3 of my first time teaching two classes in one term for BU. It gave me (OK, I took by staying up too late) time to read. I did 30 Days of yoga through an online challenge AND attended some kick ass public classes taught by friends, including one with sweet RL on the mat next to me. I even added some yoga teaching back to my schedule for the coming month.

But bless it, I really need a respite from the building…of Legos, of house stuff, of all the things that are distracting the bejeebies out of me right now because it is crazy making.

And of course none of that is possible because that’s not reality. Reality means I have a 3-yr-old who needs me right now, so I have to be there for him, even when it mean building my umpteenth Lego tower of the week. Reality means we’ve committed to home improvements that are going to take t-i-m-e while we live in the chaos of it, so I have to be patient even when I want it all done yesterday, please and thank you.

And reality means continuing to find ways, in whatever blessed little bits and pieces I can, to carve out time for that which calms me down and brings me back to center. Like this, and like whatever I can eek out next to keep the system going.