Friday, September 18, 2015

Week in Week out

I'm hoping to finally enter the world of the smartphone soon mainly so I have a way to get some more photos of our weekday adventure easily.  It's a rare day that I'll lug our Nikon out but at least got a few shots of some of the fun we have!

Morning playing with Felix. (I'm still in awe he's old enough to play games with me.  Just sippin' on his tea like it's no big deal)

He's very proud of his puzzle skills

Bring your friend to dance week!

Ainsley's ice skating lessons (it's WAY colder in the arena than it was last session...parkas all around next week!)

New knitting for me, a fishy wave sweater for Felix

Life is very full these days.

Fall Reel

This morning I took Felix to Musikgarten.  I was absolutely not feeling it all, still thankful to have somewhere to go, someone else to direct play with my little guy, on this dreary morning.

It's our second session of class.  Every class thus far my sweet boy has snuggled calmly on my lap, soaking it all in.  He has been gentle, clingy even.  I realized this morning that it's the one place I really still feel his babyness. He needs me in that class and I love it so much.

This morning was different.  He turned some corner today and became this rambunctious little creature.  Running around, flopping himself down, giggling wildly.  I didn't mind terribly, he wasn't being that disruptive, but it was different.  It's sent me reeling.

I was waiting for the fall time crash to come.  It always does.
I try to stay away from my computer in times like these.  I find the chipper oversharing on social media too much to handle when I'm down.  Like every post is pointing at me saying "you're failing you know that?" It's like 7th grade lunch period all over again.

I try to see dissatisfaction as a challenge, as ammunition to change.  But change what?  Part of my issue in this moment is feeling bogged down by this life I have chosen, caring for my children all day, it's left me with so little of myself.
Then I write that I think, what am I saying?  I have always been a caregiver.  It's was I do best, it's what I love.  When I think of what I'd be doing if I wasn't doing this, well, it'd be caring for someone else.  Teaching, nannying, caring for the elderly.  My panic comes from feeling like I need to be doing more, now, and simultaneously feeling like I'm not doing what I am doing right.  Then I read things like this and talk to friends and family and am reminded that we all feel this, not matter what our life choices have been.

Subconsciously, I think I had these glowing ideals when they were little, this belief that I would do it better, that I had learned from what I believed were the mistakes of my parents.  That I wouldn’t make those same mistakes.  I’d get it right.  Yeah, right.  There was a turning point somewhere in these last few years when I woke up and realized that I was going to make bigger parenting mistakes than, say,  starting solids too soon, with greater consequences.  When I realized that I would have to accept both my flaws and theirs.  The tricky part is refusing to stop trying to get it right, in the face of the knowledge that you won’t. - Ginny Sheller, Small Things

Accepting my flaws and theirs.  This is so huge for me right now.

I am sinking into the sadness of my children growing today.  Growing can feel scary and hard.  I'm trying to let that sadness and scariness flow into acceptance, then thankfulness.  I get to be here every moment with them and while I realize a bit more every day how much I've given up to do that I am thankful for it still.
Today I try to accept them for who they are, and myself for who I am (now that I know much better who all of us are).  And this is one of the greatest gifts of growing isn't it?  Being us, accepting others, living together in joy and pain and confusion and hope?
Well, I think so.  Today I rejoice in all that.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

First Weeks

This week Felix started school in earnest which meant I had two whole mornings to myself.  It felt odd I'll admit, that first morning.  Dropping off my little guy and getting into the car without anyone else to buckle or talk or sing to.  Then I had coffee with a friend and all but forgot the oddness and just sank into the wonderfulness.

Filling my new time has been a process.  I am so aware not to waste it, yet kind of wanting to waste it.  Does that make sense? I'm thinking a bit of both will happen of for now I'm just glad to have the options.

This morning I decided to try running Felix to school.  This meant I got my 3 mile (interrupted) run in by about 9:05 in the morning, leaving maximum time for, well, whatever I'd like.  I showered and dressed and decided to get out.  Grabbed my knitting and my new book and hopped in the car.  I found myself grabbing my first pumpkin latte of the season and plunking on a bench in a park I used to take Ainsley to as an infant all the time.  I read a bit, zoned a lot.  
I was approached my a 20 something man on a bike. "Do you like to read?" Ummm...this proceeded to be a hilarious conversation, the origins of which I'm still not very clear on.  Perhaps he was just wanting companionship for a moment, though he did slip in a "so you live in Oak Park with your boyfriend?" It was all I could do not to burst out laughing.  "Um, no, with my HUSBAND, and our THREE CHILDREN.  This is my preschool time."
To his credit he kept talking to me for a moment.  Asking if I had any recommendations for him, an aspiring chef.  I told him about my favorite "foodie" book, A Homemade Life by Mollie Wizenberg.  He said he couldn't get it at the library because he was banned "because of an altercation I had with a person there once".  But was thankful and sincere.
People are really really fascinating.

As if by coincidence I stumbled across a very thorough college journal of mine today while cleaning out the basement. It was mostly from my sophomore year, clearly a time of great angst and excitement in my life.  Looking at who I was 10 years ago, well, wow.  That's a nap time wormhole for you.  It made me so thankful for now.  It can be easy for me to idealize how life was or where we were, but I'll take 31 year old Becky over 21 year old Becky any day.

I'm really loving our fall groove.  The days have such a nice flow.  My mornings with Felix are so lovely and easy.  He is so happy to do whatever.  Usually we hit a park up first thing then run any errands that need doing before lunch.  Yesterday we ran to Costco and had fun stocking up.  Cheap pima cottons Ts for Ian, new footie jammies for Felix, lots of fruit and snack size bags of goodies for the girls' lunches and snacks.  I've given in to convenience a bit with all that and I must say I love it.
I bought a lot of food too.  Frozen lasagna and shrimp and cans of tuna and tomatoes.  With so many busy evenings in our weekday lives these days I'm thankful to know that there is food.

A few favorites of late...
Rotisserie Chicken and Cheese Nachos with Farmers Market Corn, Zucchini and Onions on the side
Chicken Wild Rice Soup and Rosemary Parmesan Bread (this makes so much! I hope it freezes well because no way can we eat it all in time)
Tuna Salad on Rosemary Bread with Sliced Farmer's Market Tomatoes

I have lots of that corn side to use up, chicken too.  I may make some crepes with the kids for tonight with a simple cheese sauce to use it up.

So far homework and practicing and activities haven't gotten so burdensome.  Louise loves doing any work she can and Ainsley has mellowed a lot since last year.  She was devastated that she read directions wrong on a worksheet today at school, missing a point so I recreated the worksheet at home so she could get her hand drawn star and smiley face.  It made that girl's day.

I'm hopeful for more ease ahead, for us, and all of you too.
Happy first weeks of school!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Felix's Turn!

Felix had his first day without me at school this morning.  His preschool really eases the kids into the routine which I really appreciate for this young age.  Last week I went with him to explore the class, today he had 1 hour with half the class, both teachers, and no parents.  Next week it's on to the normal M/W 8:45-11:15 mornings.  He did SO well this morning.  He was so excited and ready and when I left there was not so much as a peep.  Fingers crossed the longer mornings go just as well next week!

Ainsley insisted that it was Snowflake's first day of preschool too so I decided to bring her a take a photo of her a the donut sign too.  I'm very rarely a cool mom like this so I though it was time.

I'm honestly a bit surprised by how anticlimactic this all feels this year.  Perhaps being a total bundle of nerves every fall for as along as I can remember has finally earned me this.  Really I'm just thankful for wonderful schools and teachers and three great growing up kiddos.
Happy start to the school year!

Felix Days

This first week of school for the girls is going so well that I'm hesitant to write about it for fear of jinxing something!  Oops, too late!

I am so so so enjoying my one on one time with Felix.  THIS is one of my absolute favorite ages.  He can do so much and is so dang cute.

It's hot here now, like most of the midwest I hear.  Yesterday I got tired of staying inside and Felix and I walked our morning errands.  It's something I couldn't do last year because he'd fall asleep and ruin his afternoon nap.  Now I can push him in the stroller and we talk and errand and enjoy being out.  Yesterday we stopped at a splash pad on the way home, ate a little picnic lunch and were home (3 walking miles later) in time for an early nap for my boy.
Today we walked again, to pick up bread, to drop off his music class check, to pick up an iced chai for me and to play at a tot park.  We chose the park that was right by Louise's play school.
It brought me back to three years ago, dropping newly 2 year old Louise off, newly pregnant with Felix.  I try not to get too sentimental about those baby years for fear of sliding down a slippery slope, but man it was fun to remember.
AND for as much as love those baby toddler memories I am so so loving my growing children.  I am floored by how well school is going this year how different and big kid the struggles are.
Today on our walk home from the park Felix walked the whole way. He found a rock and banged it on every tree, fence, garage door and post he found.  He walked over a half mile.  Then he helped me peel eggs for egg salad.  Then he served himself seconds of egg salad.  Now if only he'd figure out potty training! Ha!

I am remembering my days with my girls at this age, so long and full and hard and mostly good.  I'm really excited for this year.  Life has been hard for quite a while now.  I'm soaking up this high while it's here.

I hope you all are having a great start to your school years.  And Minnesota friends, please eat all the fair food you can for me.  It's silly, but I miss Minnesota most during the state fair.  Ah, someday.
Happy week!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Being Kind, Going Smooth

Note to self; when flying high on the greatness of the start of school and how rockstar all 5 of us are doing with all the changes DO NO read a pioneer woman blog post about sending your first born off to college.  Oh a good nap time weep never hurt anyone right?!

Today I'm trying to find the motivation to make a plan.  You know, a grand sweeping general life plan that will suddenly take nap time and Felix's 5 hours of preschool time a week and turn it into "Becky is so awesome and productive" time.
I've been thinking a lot of something a friend told me over dinner a few months back. "I'm just trying to be kind to myself."  How elementary and brilliant.  Be kind to yourself.  I've said this over and over in my head and I think it's working, lots.
Like today being kind means not stressing over ALL the groceries I've bought over the past three days because there's a plan for it all and it's all needed and WOW we eat a lot as a family of 5 now.  Today being kind to myself means not worrying about how I'm going to fit my 20-30 minute cardio in.  It's hot and I was up with a stomach thing last night and you know what?  Nap is greater than or equal to workout on these days.  Today being kind to myself means being still and calm and enjoying my tiny guy and this long beautiful nap time and not thinking about how lying on the couch or putzing on the computer is wasting that time. It's not.  It feels great.

Today the girls have ballet and it's our first full day of school + and activity.  I'm hoping it goes smoothly and that they're not too wiped tonight.  I think we planned well this fall and there's not too much, but enough. We'll see!

This week I had fun with food.  I went back to a grocery store I hadn't gone to in a while and enjoyed getting great cheap organic produce and delicious deli meats.  My girls LOVE ham and bologna sandwiches so I loaded up for school.  Then Costco to restock snacks and other things we rip through like cheese, eggs, hot dogs and fruit.  Then TJs today for the few specific pantry items we can't live without.  IT's going to be good this week.

Wild Rice Burgers and sweet potato mash
Spinach and baby kale and feta frittata with whole wheat biscuits
Stuffed baked potatoes with ham and cheese and long cooked broccoli
Turkey meatloaf with boiled new potatoes and green beans
Balsamic chicken breasts with sautéed spinach and whole wheat cous cous
Salmon patties and corn

Ian wants to get out his grinder this weekend to make some kind of burger I think and I got a juicy lucy maker while we were in Minnesota so I think we'll be good for the holiday weekend!
I am most excited for those wild rice burgers.  Yum!

Now that I've been feeling more motivated for planned cooking I'm hoping to tighten up the food budget.  I used to be so good about that.  My biggest problem has been summer grocery shopping with the kids.  There are only so many times I can say no to things before I start letting them throw things in the cart we don't really need.  AND since it's so hard to get out with them I'd grab EVERYTHING I could think of when we were out.  Usually 1-2 costco runs a month and a local store once a week is good.  I'm excited for big batch fall cooking soon.  Casseroles and stews and soups and things we can eat all week long or freeze.  Summer cooking is not so amenable to all that.

Happy cooking and back to school to you all!  I hope it's going smoothly for you too!