Sunday, October 26, 2014

It's a Different World

How my life has changed since I started my full-time job:

1. First and foremost, I have been able to pay off my credit card. Holla! Take THAT, trips to Target and tae kwon do classes and children's birthday parties and new contact lenses and running shoes and school clothes for growing children and J. Crew pants found on clearance!

2. My weekends are no longer "free" (ha! ha ha ha ha ha ha. excuse me as I laugh good-naturedly at the idea of a free weekend since the first child was born a decade ago). They are now spent grocery shopping, cleaning, attempting to cook an actual meal, and trying to conquer the endless. mountain. of. laundry.

3. I still clean during the week, but I never actually complete any one task. I figure I get credit just for starting.

4. I have developed a love-hate relationship with my slow-cooker. On the one hand, yay! A way to make a hot, homemade dinner even while gone from the house all day! On the other, oops! My slow-cooker is too powerful and all my recipes are too short to leave dinner cooking for 8-10 hours, even on Low. Hello, burned dinner!

5. I am as scatter-brained as a sleep-deprived, night-nursing new mama. I guess it's because I've got a million things on my plate at any one moment (work. housecleaning. farm-share pick-up. errands. kids' health and well-being. kids' activities. kids' homework. groceries. cooking. field trip permission forms. dentist appointments. shopping. laundry. baking. child's choir concert. child's school safety-patrol schedule. yardwork. flu shots. holiday planning. and on and on and on and blathering on...). This means I'm constantly (constantly!) starting something, getting distracted by something else that needs doing, leaving the first thing to do the second, completely forgetting about the first, branching out to tasks three and four in similar fashion, and forgetting the names of my children, the day of the week, debit card PIN numbers, and my own birthdate. Oh and meanwhile that very first thing I was doing but got distracted from? It never gets

4. I have no time to bake, I am not home to snack, going to bed early nixes any evening sweet-tooth habits, and my job happens to be more physically active than even the full-time mothering of toddlers. Therefore, full-time work has meant that I've lost weight and can't even wear those awesome J. Crew pants I found on clearance just before work began. You know, those pants I bought for work? Insert Marge-Simpson-esque irritated growl here. But hey! A lot of other, smaller clothes I haven't worn in a year or more now fit again. So I guess it evens out? Plus, the holidays are coming. (= more eating, less exercising, the cookie exchange!, and much winter hibernation.)

5. Life is fuller than ever, and all those crazy changes above are totally worth it. It's all just an interesting ride. Thanks for coming along for it. :)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Six Weeks In.

Ahhhh, here it is, the last day of school (work) before much-discussed MEA (i.e., Minnesota school break, always a 4-day weekend in mid-October).

So, has my adjustment to full-time work taken all the way until MEA? Am I still really, really tired? Well, yes and no. The adjustment part has gone much quicker and more smoothly than I anticipated. The tired part? Every damn day, you all.

I love my job. LOOOOVE it. This part makes the adjustment much, much easier. But I'm beginning, now at six weeks into it, to miss certain things about being a stay-at-home mom. I miss having time to bake. You all know how much I love to bake! These days I try to crank out a recipe or two on weekends (you can't go an entire autumn without apple crisp or pumpkin muffins, after all!), but it used to be a near-daily occurrence. My family misses that part too, ha.

I also really, really miss being able to exercise during the day. I suspect I'll start to miss that part even more in the upcoming few weeks, as the temperature begins to plummet and the blustery fall wind becomes cold and--gulp--we turn the clocks back so that it's dark at dinnertime. Gah. The thought of COLD runs in the dark, DARK evenings gives me chills--of both kinds. Yes, I've done it hundreds (thousands) of times before. (Remember when the babies were actual babies? And not yet in school? That's when I ran, all winter long.) But it's been a long time now, and I'm not thrilled about doing it again.

But other than that, working-mom life is going fairly well. I mean, I've lost control over the house. Not the dirt part; I'm still cleaning on the daily. But the clutter part. I have no time, anymore, to pick up and put back and regularly cull and purge. The kids' clutter is beginning to take over our (small) house, which is making me a little claustrophobic. And also, I've accepted that the jokes in this post are actually pretty accurate (read: not jokes): I have no time to chat with friends or socialize in any way. Even weekends are solidly filled with family time, all the household shopping, catching up on cleaning and laundry, cooking and baking, and squeezing in a daylight run here and there. That, or (and/or) I'm too exhausted to do anything more. (Friday nights, for example, I am a complete ball of exhaustion and good for nothing more than pj's, TV, and bed. And sometimes not even the TV part.)

But. We've made it to MEA. On the balance, everything's good. The first six weeks have been an adventure, for sure--a positive one. Now, four days to "relax" with the kidlets and then off on the next leg of the journey--during which I'll be really, really tired, I'm sure, until Christmas break. :)


Sunday, October 05, 2014

Last Weekend the Sprinkler, This Weekend the Fireplace.

I had the craziest week, you all.

It started out with Genevieve catching a virus (that she hasn't yet kicked 100%, 8 days later) that necessitated a day home from school (and thus a day home from work for me), and ended with my girls' school's annual Walk-A-Thon on Friday, which also happened to be a gray, drizzly, verrrrry windy, and verrrrry cold day (er, 40+ degrees colder than it had been last weekend when Julia played in the sprinkler with friends, hello Minnesota in autumn).

The Walk-A-Thon would have been no big deal at ALL in any other year, but this year it meant going out to walk at different classrooms' times with different autistic children (some of whom also have ADHD and are highly impulsive), know...challenging. ;)

Friday may have been the longest day ever, since after the super challenging work/school-day, the girls and I still had a Target run and farm-share pick-up to accomplish before collapsing in front of the fireplace with blankets, dinner, The Muppet Show on DVD, and frozen custard for dessert.

Or maybe the week actually ended yesterday, when I caught Vivi's virus on a solo-parenting weekend (another bike race, natch) but still managed to shepherd all three of us through homework, chores, guitar practice, grocery shopping, a visit to the apple orchard, and a post-dinner stint at the college rec center for jogging (Julia), walking (me), and shooting basketballs (Genevieve).

To tell you the truth, despite feeling under the weather and being on solo-parenting duty, I found yesterday with its busy slate of activities to be completely calm, smooth, and relaxed. My girls are almost always super-cooperative and calm on these solo-parenting weekends, and we generally manage to have a lot of fun despite chores and obligations. Of course the best part is having two cuddly girls in my bed at night. We pile it high with pillows, extra blankets, and stuffed friends so it's extra cozy, and this time no one kicked me in the night and everyone slept well. :)

All right, friends, onward into a new week. I'm praying for a warm-up and some SUN after last week's rain and chill; a reprieve from virus attack; and maybe even some time to bake these, which my friend Kathy says are beyond delicious. Have a great week, everyone!

p.s. Obviously I have no time to take pictures anymore. Sorry for the boring no-photo text.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Rat Race Days

Don't you always pose for photos in front of autumn trees in your tae kwon do uniform? 
(this was actually for a school project; the uniform was unintentional 
and just because we were coming home from TKD class)

If we weren't battling germs, viruses, and the odd bee sting reaction in this house, I'd say things are going great. My daughters' school has been hit hard by every manner of germ, it seems, unusually early this year, and we've been felled by a number of them just like everyone else. I think someone in my household has been sick every single weekend since school began, and Genevieve's on her second sick day today in only one month of school.

The second day home from school means my turn to stay home to be with her, so I'm missing work today for the first time. Although it's only been a month since I started my full-time job, it already feels incredibly strange to be at home on a weekday. There is plenty to do, but it doesn't seem like I should be here right now doing it.

My new daily life is a true challenge: So far I've been doing virtually everything around the house that I always did before, when I wasn't working outside the home 38 hours per week. (Exceptions: Last week I asked Christopher to clean the master bathroom and vacuum for me when I just could not fit it in; and one other time he did the weekly vacuuming for me too.) But I've recalled that I have always been drawn to challenges.

In order to juggle everything I did before, add in exercise and take the girls to their activities, while also working outside the home full-time, my life has become somewhat of a constant race (and a test in efficiency/time management/multi-tasking like never before). But I've discovered that I'm good with races.

I've always liked to be busy; I prefer to be active and my natural inclination is to stay moving all day (now that I'm no longer sitting at a computer writing a book--remember those days?). This is no doubt part of why I enjoy my job so much; it's truly a job that requires a LOT of running around. It's also why I loved--despite the challenges--those years of stay-at-home motherhood with babies/toddlers/preschoolers. (You don't know the meaning of the word "busy" until you've experienced that job.)

But life as a stay-at-home mom with two school-agers isn't as busy, between 7:45 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., as it was with wee ones at home. It's no wonder I've found myself with a job during those hours that keeps me as busy as I was during the baby years. It just means I'm busier than ever during the time before and after those hours.

And so fall marches on. We've had glorious, summery weather where I live--that stereotypical golden, glowy, blazing-leaves type of autumn that you see in calendar photos. We've been trying to enjoy the heavenly weekends but it's been hard with so much illness in the house. On Saturday we had to come home early from a college football game, and yesterday I stayed home with Vivi from the annual Alpaca Farm Open House, something we haven't missed since the girls were toddlers.

Ah well....none of it is anything serious and there is still time for the pumpkin farm, the apple orchard, more football games.

Carry on, friends! And take your vitamins.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Windy City

I think the proper descriptor for what my life is like right now would be whirlwind. I'm not exaggerating when I say that I wake up at 5:30 and do not sit still--other than a short time for dinner and not even that on all nights; depending on the evening's schedule, I may be eating dinner standing at the counter or wolfing something down post-run after my family has eaten--until I'm in my bed between 8:30 and 9:00.

My FitBit (wrist pedometer; I traded up when Genevieve begged for a pedometer for her birthday and I gave her my waistband-clip model) tells me that between wake-up and home-from-school/work, I typically take between 10,000 and 12,000-some steps each day. That doesn't count my normal workouts (yesterday I topped 23,000 steps for the day, after my evening run).

Before school/work is a blur of getting myself and the girls ready to head out the door at 7:45 and doing whatever daily chores I can squeeze in. After school/work is a blur of going through school bags/papers/forms, helping with homework, cooking dinner, doing laundry, and supervising kids' activities. When Christopher gets home from work it's a blur of squeezing in my workouts, packing next days' lunches, kids' lessons, baths and next-day prep, and runs to the supermarket. At nine I turn out my light and get ready to do it all again the next day.

The amazing part is how much I am LOVING it. My job is fantastic. I love it all and each day goes by in a speedy---well---whirlwind. I see my daughters in the halls on and off all day and take a short walk over lunch so I don't miss out on too much of the autumn sun and nice weather, because I'm not used to being inside one building all day long. I meet my girls after school and it's always a joy to see their waiting faces.

What's also funny is how it all seems surprisingly doable and smooth, how aside from the lack of usual autumn homemade desserts around the house--there is no time for making apple crisp and pumpkin muffins these days--it feels like I'm managing everything just fine, even with being occupied with a new activity for roughly 38 hours per week that I wasn't before.

But then I remember that I haven't been able to even fully read and comprehend the flurry of emails peppering my inbox re: the start of this year's mother-daughter book club--it didn't help that Julia and I missed the first meeting due to sickness--and then my friend Kathy writes to ask something about our 5th-grade daughters' schedules and I answer her that I have no idea, that "I'm barely eating three meals a day and getting the correct children home with me each afternoon." And I realize that starting a new full-time job is a much larger adjustment than it feels on the surface sometimes, when I'm focused merely on running this way and that and getting everything done each day before lights-out.

So: frenzy, whirlwind, fever. In a good way. If that makes sense?

Life's so crazy/funny sometimes. So far, so good.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Meet You in the Cold Medicine Aisle?

The second week of school and all three of us who spend our days at an elementary school have been, or currently are, sick. Oy!

Overnight Monday I caught a cold virus. Woke up Tuesday and knew I was in for it. So far I've been powering through anyway--too early to use sick days, you all! so many potential kid sick days to cover in the next nine months!--but Genevieve's class has already had one case of pinkeye and one case of strep. STREP. THE SECOND WEEK OF SCHOOL.


During the course of each day, I work with four different autistic children. All of them routinely wipe their noses with their fingers and then hold my hand. There isn't enough hand sanitizer in the world, you guys.

Last night I dropped my girls at Tae Kwon Do and then went to Target and bought: zinc tablets, Emergen-C, Mucinex, Excedrin, Children's Nighttime Could & Cough, and multivitamins. These are products I generally don't even think about until October or November.

But! The good news. Here I am done with two weeks of working full-time after the ten-year-nap that is a decade of at-home motherhood (and here we use the word "nap" to actually mean: not much sleep at all), and things are GREAT. Yes, I'm getting up before dawn to do laundry and clean bathrooms before work. Yes, it's true I have zero time for socializing or reading for pleasure. Yes, I'm surrounded by little-kid germs every second of the day. But somehow, it's all working out so far.

Not the getting sick part. But everything else.

And get this: Today my supervisor put out a basket of local orchard apples, packets of mixed nuts, and dark chocolate truffles on the space where we educational assistants all keep our schedules and supplies for the day, with a note that said, "We're off to a great start this school year, and it's thanks to all of YOU!" with a smiley face.

I'm still rolling around like a tumbleweed half the time, trying to find my direction and control my speed. But it's all good. Things will shake out little by little. And hopefully my immune system will stage a coup. In the meantime, I'm just keeping on keeping on. You do the same, friends.

Saturday, September 06, 2014


Everywhere I went this week, people asked how my new job was going. Yesterday afternoon, people wanted to know how the first week had gone. It's been great, really. Exhausting (new-job-induced insomnia, extra-early alarm clock to get household stuff done before work), but great. The kids and I are tired from the first four days of a new school year--by farm-share pick-up at four yesterday afternoon, I could barely keep my eyes open--but the first week was a success. Don't ask me how we're going to do next week when we add twice-a-week kids' Tae Kwon Do classes into the equation, however. I got by this past week on caffeine and adrenaline.

And then poor Genevieve came down with a stomach virus today, during a solo-parenting stint while Christopher is gone on a bike-race trip. At least that happened AFTER the girls and I went downtown for a children's parade in our town this morning.

In sum: job = great. We = tired. Vivi = sick. But job = great.

More in a few.