Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Spring, Snow, and Strep

random 2nd-grade school art: bringer of happiness

Oh, ha ha ha (mirthless chuckle)...was it really only 8 days ago that I wrote that post below? You know, about spring and sun and health (implicit) and happiness? Hmmm. That sort of seems like a lifetime ago.

Since we last spoke, winter returned (a few times, I think...) and the third of the four of us fell prey to strep throat. (I am the last man standing, so to speak. I have already begged the gods of bacterial infections to spare me, as I am the mama, and moms can't get sick, so....pray for me.)

I wrote on Facebook yesterday that I'm going to stop saying, "Of course it will be warm and nice out soon; there's no way it can stay wintry until May for x years in a row!" every year, and instead start planning my fantasy move to a climate in which it's not cold out for SIX MONTHS OF THE YEAR. I mean, honestly. That is just simply ridic!! Who lives in a place where you can't really go outside comfortably for fully half of each year? Especially when being outdoors in sunshiny warmth is something you enjoy? The insanity.

I have to point out that when I was growing up here, and when we made the decision to move back here, and when we got jobs here, and then bought houses here, and made tons of amaaaaaazing friends here, and fell in love with our college town here, THE CLIMATE WAS NOT THIS BAD. That is the God's honest truth. It never used to be like this. Snow on April 29th (I'm talking about YOU, last evening!)--or on May 2nd--was most definitely not a thing. This is a very recent development, an unsettling one at best.

Now. Despite the above, life hasn't been all weepiness and strep cultures. Between the spring 4th-grade choir concert, in which "Ring of Fire" was admirably performed by 9- and 10-year-olds, sending the parental audience into fits of delight while the younger siblings asked, "Why do you know this song?" and confided, "This song is weird!"; upcoming testing for the girls' Tae Kwon Do yellow belts (so exciting! testing day on Saturday in a far north Minneapolis suburb at the head TKD school!), ongoing swimming lessons and guitar practice, playdates and school field trips and homework and work, always, life as a mom of school-agers is never dull, never empty, never really unhappy---not even when it's snowing and someone has strep. There's always so much auxiliary joy--those little experiences of satisfaction and happiness that exist around the edges of every day and pepper even the coldest, wettest, windiest afternoons when you're a mom. You can't escape it. It's the best part of having children; this guarantee of goodness in life.

Ah well. Time to move on. Kids to feed and medicate and hug and love up, shopping lists to attack, laundry to do, work shifts to show up for. Moments to appreciate. Prayers to say, for safety and happiness and most of all SPRING.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Hippity Hoppity

Did you all have a nice Easter weekend? I know I'm a day or two late in asking you that, but still--did you? We did. The weather cooperated AT LAST, and I was even able to run in my happy place for the first time in five months. (FIVE MONTHS, YOU ALL.) (Six, if you mean not in freezing cold.)

The beginning of my route: on the prairie.

On Saturday the girls and I dyed eggs, naturally:

Which was loads of messy fun. (One word: glitter.)

A friend of mine, whose 12-year-old son teaches guitar to my girls, invited us to their church on Easter to hear him play guitar in the church band. This boy is the sweetest, most talented, most mature 6th grader I've ever met. The girls love taking lessons from him, and it was really fun for all of us to watch him play and hear all the great music there.

We got dressed up for church:

And even took a girls' Easter morning selfie:

I feel compelled to mention that my hair is not short, as it appears in the above photo. In fact, despite just having a couple of inches cut off last week, right now it is possibly the longest it's ever been, halfway down my back. There are just some shorter layers up front which is all you can see here. Moving on since I'm sure no one cares but me.

I made a big Easter dinner, and Julia helped me with the Four Stack Pie:

Mmm-hmm. Want to see it again?

Yep. Yum.

And that was our Easter weekend. It was sunny and warm and blissful and sugar-filled. As it should be.

Happy spring to you all! Now go hit the after-Easter candy clearance sales.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Mother's Day preview

Every day when I come in to work at my daughters' school, I take the long way from the front office to the special ed classroom, just so I can go down the 2nd grade hallway past Genevieve's room. I don't often see her face then, but I walk right past the large kid projects that her teacher hangs in the hallway. Because they always include original writing on some sort of theme, these art projects are endlessly entertaining.

The other day after school, Genevieve excitedly told me to look for the big Mother's Day project her class had been working on. They were mounted in the hall now, awaiting May, but I could peek at hers as I walked by. So yesterday I did.

The children had made acrostic poems using their moms' first names, on large, painted pieces of paper. I was walking quickly, in a hurry to clock in (plus I didn't want to completely ruin my Mother's Day surprise), so I didn't read Genevieve's entire poem---descriptions of me to match each letter of my name. But I did catch one of the N's: "Never eats fruit dip."

Very true. And, starts with N.

I laughed out loud all the way down that hall.

Sunday, April 13, 2014


There is very little time to write when life is this full.

Life is very, very full. In a good way. I mean, most likely to many people who are not extreeeeeme introvert homebodies like me and limited-stamina munchkins like my daughters, our life isn't that full. But trust me: full enough to keep my head spinning most days and cause me to visit the supermarket three times in one week because I kept forgetting random needed items because my brain is in a million places most of the time.

It's funny. I thought my baby/toddler/preschooler parenting days were busy--and they were. CRAZY busy. No sleep, never-sit-down, need-need-need busy. But that kind of busy is busy in a different way, one that generally involves staying home and not interacting with very many people on a daily basis. Ha.

Nowadays life as a mom of school-agers is busy with swimming lessons once/week, tae kwon do classes twice/week, guitar lessons whenever we can sneak them in plus practice every day, and an actual paying job at a real workplace with other people every afternoon. It's the opposite of parenting babies/toddlers/preschoolers. It's all out-there-in-the-world vs. inside-in-the-nursery-with-just-you-and-the-wee-ones. It's all run-run-run and fit-it-all-in. It's a lot more stimulation and external engagement than I'm used to. It gives every day the excitement of a race--not the must-win, pressure-filled variety but more like the birthday-party-relay-games sort. Just enough adrenaline to keep us all going nonstop from alarm clock to bedtime reading.

At their annual school arts fair the other week.

In the middle of school-day, work-day parenting, I'm slooooowly getting back in shape from the frigid winter and the household bouts of sinus infections and ear infections and strep throat that derailed me completely. Last evening I ran hills for the first time since last autumn, and my quads reminded me all night long (sorry, legs; Advil forthcoming).

Work is great and I'm halfway through the four months of this temporary job. I won't know until late May whether I might be offered something for next school year or not. Fingers crossed; nothing guaranteed. 

I've decided to start a cooking project where I start at the beginning of the ENORMOUS homemade binder of torn-out and printed-off recipes I've collected over the last few years (OMG, enormous, so enormous--and that's just one book! don't even get me started on my cookbooks and the drawer of extra, loose recipes that don't fit anywhere else) and systematically make every recipe I've never tried before, one by one and in order (but for now I'm concentrating mainly on entrees). OMG! Can you imagine? OK, so I just started this the other day. Like, maybe one recipe ago. But yesterday I bought the ingredients for West African Peanut Soup and Linguine with Greens, Feta, and Almonds, so watch out, family!

 Not an entree and not a recipe I've never made before. But good. Gooooood.

Spring is here. Um, sort of? It's not snowing and the grass is tinged with green, so let's call that spring. Hallelujah!

See? Biking at the park and wearing Danskos without socks: spring.

Genevieve is plowing through all the Harry Potters, and Julia and I just finished our April Mother-Daughter-Book-Club pick, Odette's Secrets --a good one by the way, moms of 9 to 12-year-olds, fyi.

Easter is on the horizon and although normally we don't travel or host for it and do nothing more than enjoy whatever the Easter Bunny brought and maybe eat a special dinner, this year I've been invited to bring the girls to the church where their guitar teacher (who is a very talented middle schooler) and his family attend, to see him play in the church band during the Easter service. OK, that grammar was horrible but it's early and I've only had one cup of coffee so go easy on me.

And that's the random round-up of our full, full, cozy, busy, wonderful life. Hope things are going likewise happily for you. After all, it's spring. What can go wrong??


Thursday, April 03, 2014

They Will Probably Go Out and Shoot Hoops in the Snow.

Hi, friends! Just a quick pop-in to say hello and mention that, despite strep throat, we finished up Spring Break with minimal damage. We even got back to the reptile zoo we visited last year--and yes, Big Al the 14-foot alligator is still there. Yikes!

The girls went back to school--and I to work--on Tuesday, the same day tae kwon do class started up again. So we've been busy. Tonight is the annual arts and literacy fair at the girls' school, and I am reminded of other years when we've left our jackets in the car and walked to the building in warmth and sunshine. Not so much this year, since a storm with 9-12 inches of snow is forecast to begin tonight and last into tomorrow. Ahhhhh.....yes. Still planning my out-of-state move. At least in my fantasies.

After the 10 days of three-girl fun and nonstop companionship that was school vacation, this week has felt a bit jarring, I admit. I must be ready for summer. Yesterday I met up with the kiddos after school/work and, as soon as snack and a little homework were finished, they suited up and ran outside to shoot baskets with our new (used) portable basketball hoop that threatens to fall on and kill me every time I have to roll it out onto the driveway after school because the pole is twice my height and non-adjustable and oh my goodness have you ever tried to roll out (horizontally, because it has to lie down in our garage due to said height and we can't leave it out because we have a homeowners' association) a ten-foot basketball hoop and then TIP IT UPRIGHT without killing yourself when you're about 5'3" and 110 lbs. and it's windy and the driveway slopes? omg.....

Um....lost track of that sentence, sorry. Anyway, they ran out to play and then pretty soon asked if they could go to the nearby park with their neighbor friend, which they do now, and I said yes, and by 5:20 they still weren't back (uh....time to assign watches and return times) and I thought to myself, So, parenting big kids is going to be lonely, isn't it? I'm starting to get that sense.

Ugh, you all! Banish the thought. Also banish the thought of 9-12 inches of snow, gah!

Peace, love, spring. Think those kinds of thoughts instead.

Talk soon. xo