2014 - More crazy on the way!

So Happy New Year!  To anyone who is actually ever still checking this much neglected blog.  ;-)

Well, I have the best of intentions to blog more often.  I frequently have ideas or start blog posts in my head.  And then never quite get them down before the idea vanishes or my attention is diverted in all the other directions that my life is going these days.

But I do have a few minutes right now, I'm already at the laptop, so I thought I'd share a few of the numerous things going on in our lives these days.

The kids are keeping busy - basketball, soccer, baseball for John, gymnastics for Kara, traveling lots - Disney cruise was back in December (but we are all still enjoying all our memories from that trip!), Richmond in January, Wintergreen (for snowtubing and snowboarding) in February, maybe a weekend away for Matt and I in March (maybe??), OBX for spring break, Maine in July, and who knows where else in between.  Matt will also head to Las Vegas in January for a quick work trip.

We are all getting into new interests - Kara has been surprising us all with her growing enjoyment of reading (SO cool to watch her be excited to sit down and start reading a chapter book!), John is loving his new Kindle (and thus, is reading even MORE than he was, which I didn't think was possible),  Matt's new job is continuing to go well, and I am having a good year with the preschool and getting more and more involved again there, which makes me happy and is keeping me challenged.  We are working on various house projects, planning lots of things to do, and trying to remember that down time is critically important as well.  (Not always successful, but we have had a few snow days recently that have been blissfully relaxing, thankfully.)

Things are constantly in a state of flux around here lately.  I've said to numerous mom-friends lately that I'm trying to get back to "normal" after the holidays, but I'm starting to understand that there really is no such thing as "normal" anymore.  And they all laugh, but then agree that their life feels that way too.  I wonder, does that mean I've turned us into "those parents," who keep so busy, busy, busy and it's too much?  I don't know.  Maybe.  But I know my kids seem happy.  We are getting better about giving Kara her own time when John has his activities and not dragging us all to every single thing that one of us does.  This does seem to be helping us all.

So what can I do to carve out a "normal" piece in our lives?  Maybe it's just as simple as keeping our home as our foundation.  The starting, ending, resting, loving part of our day.  The place that we all can be safe, peaceful, and ourselves every day.  I think this is probably every parent's goal, realized or not.  But I think it's worth reminding ourselves of how important that grounding spot can be, for the kids and for us parents, too.  My home is where I'm happiest, where so many family memories are made, and where I want to wrap my arms around my family when I feel unsure, scared, or sad.  This is definitely my grounding spot and I hope it is for my kids too.

My goal for today - to enjoy the time I have at home with the kids today.  Laugh with them, hug and kiss them, and be present in the moment with them.

Happy Monday everyone!



Today is Kara's 7th birthday!  It seems so amazing that 7 years ago she came into our lives and lightened our world.  She amazes me daily and I learn more about myself as she grows.

I am sitting here working on a few tasks, waiting for the time to go pick up some cookies to take into her class for her birthday treat.  Yesterday, while walking home, she practically threw a a fit about me staying while the class sings Happy Birthday to her.  She wanted me to bring the cookies and leave, quickly, quietly, and without embarrassment.  Mind you, up until now, I have purposefully done very little that could be construed as embarrassing.  Her friends and teachers seem to like me pretty much.  I have no idea where this demand came from.  But I stuck to my guns and insisted that if I bring the cookies, I get to stay for the song.  I had to promise not to walk through the school in a clown outfit screaming about her birthday, but after a few tears and some hugs, she agreed that maybe it wouldn't be terrible if I stayed.

After this surprise interaction, I realized that all too quickly, I won't be able to negotiate my way into her daily life.  It won't be long before I am deemed "too uncool" to be part of her world.  I remember spending much of my tween/teen years feeling exactly the same way about my parents.  And I have no doubt that like everything else these days, this will start earlier for Kara than it did for me.  And that makes me sad.

I am hoping that it also will make me value and appreciate every moment that I have with her before I start getting the stiff arm and cold shoulder that is sure to come.  She is a funny, sweet, creative, smart, wonderful girl that I often feel like I am just getting to know.  She's generally not "my easy one" of the two, but she has taught me so much in the last 7 years.  I am eternally grateful that she is in my life and I would
go to the ends of the earth for her.  And to see that beautiful smile.

Happy Birthday to my darling Kara!  I look forward to all the joy, laughter, adventures and smiles that 7 brings to you!


Is Summer Over Yet?

So we have had a very good summer....  But we are all ready for it to be over.  Only school doesn't start for another TWO WEEKS!  Ugh.  I love my kids.  I love being able to spend the days with them.  I love taking them on adventures during the summer and spending days at the pool.  But there are limits.  We are all getting sick of each other.  They have had A LOT of "together" time this summer.  More than in the past.  There have been ups and downs to that.  Truthfully, they've done remarkably well.  They've played together so much, created games, concocted potions, and built so many Lego creations I just can't count.  But we have reached the tipping point...the bickering is increasing, everyone's patience is running out, and our energy for "adventures" is waning.  And we have TWO MORE WEEKS.  Yikes.

I know I am not alone with this phenomenon.  I know many, many other moms/parents who are feeling this same way.  And that helps...a bit.  As we get into the next two weeks, we actually will get busier, and that will help tremendously.  We have trips to the Baltimore Aquarium and the National Zoo planned, a concert at Wolf Trap, a soccer tournament and practices, one more minor league baseball game, a birthday party, and a possible amusement park day planned.  In addition to a doctor's appointment, a couple of other appointments, any shopping/errands that need to happen before school starts, and some around the house cleaning up efforts that I might try to squeeze in to get us "organized" (yeah, right!) before the school year gets going.  Add it all up, and it should make the next two weeks breeze right by.  And then I'll be wondering what happened to the summer, why didn't we get more done, missing my kiddos as they head back to school...and cherishing the calm, peaceful quiet of my empty house.

Maybe that's what I'm craving the most right now.  A few calm moments in my own house, without needing to get anyone else some food/fix something/referee the current altercation/etc., etc., etc.  A few moments to think quietly without interruption.  Maybe read an article, much less a book, in peace.  Sounds heavenly to me.

I do love my children.  VERY much.  But right now, I need them to go back to school.  NOW, not in TWO WEEKS!


The moon and the stars

Many people know that while I absolutely adore my daughter, she has not always been the easiest child to parent.  I love her all the way to the moon and stars and back one hundred million times (one of our bedtime expressions of love).  But she can test every limit of my patience and push me to the brink of parenting disaster in ways that I cannot even describe.  And she's only six years old.

In preschool she had a number of rough patches with behavior issues.  We had tantrums that rivaled anything I'd ever seen.  John had tantrums too at that age, but with the exception of when he had been on a steroid medication, they were all very age appropriate and typical.  No concerns.  But Kara on the other hand....  We coped as best we could.  We managed to get through them.  It wasn't pretty.  But we survived.  Until we weren't managing them as best we could.  And I could feel us all losing ourselves in her tantrums.  It became a problem.  A big problem.  As I've heard therapists say, it was causing a major disruption in our normal lives.  That's the turning point.  That was the point at which we decided to seek help.

First stop, the pediatrician.  By then of course, we already had some ideas of what the issues could be.  Not autism, but other developmental issues, learning issues, ADHD, executive function issues, all kinds of problems were circling in my worried brain.  After a lengthy meeting with the pediatrician, she ordered a full gamut of blood tests, which I was convinced were overkill and not going to give us any answers.  She clearly wasn't sure about it either, but wanted to start there.  She seemed focused on the possibility of the behavior problems being related to Restless Leg Syndrome.  Really?  No. Way.  I was a bit frustrated at her suggestion.  How could my rock star sleeper child be a victim of RLS?  Didn't make sense to me.  At all.

So we moved forward and did the bloodwork.  Which was AWFUL.  Kara screamed.  And thrashed.  And sobbed.  It took three nurses and me to hold her still and the lab tech to draw the blood.  It was horrible.  For her and for me.  But we survived.

And sure enough, the one test that showed an issue was her iron levels, and thus a diagnosis of RLS.  Well, yes, once the results came back it started to make more sense to me.  She is one of the most picky eaters I have ever known.  She eats virtually no vegetables.  We are vegetarian, so she doesn't get a lot of meat.  I avoid iron in their multivitamin as she has always been very prone to constipation.  Yes, I imagine her iron levels would be extremely low!  And they were.  So we started a chewable iron vitamin, four tablets per day.

That was almost a year ago.  My daughter is now almost a completely different child.  She still has the occasional tantrum.  What six year old doesn't?  But she is happy.  She is funny.  She can go along with things that she's not always so happy about without having a major day-stopping meltdown.  She still does require more sleep than her brother, but now we know she's getting good QUALITY sleep.  We went on vacation over spring break with another family for the third year in a row.  After the trip, as I reflected on the week, I realized that she had been the best behaved child on the trip!  I have never been able to say that about her.  Ever.  I was so proud of her.  And so thankful that life has gotten so much better for her.

She is a little ray of sunshine when she is happy.  Her smile can melt my heart and her laugh is positively contagious.  Who knew that iron vitamins could make such a difference for our family and for her?  Not me.  But I thank my lucky stars every day now that we do know.  Because I love her and her smile and her laugh all the way to the moon and the stars a hundred million times.



Sometimes at the end of a long day, you just need to laugh.  Or sometimes you just need to hear your children laughing.

This has been kind of a long day for me.  A lot going on.  A lot going on in my brain.  Nothing too heavy, just stuff.  And it's hot.  And I'm tired.  And it's that after-dinner time when things can either go okay around here or they can go terribly bad.  The kids finished dinner, cleared their dishes and ran off to the basement to play.  Absolutely fine with me.  Lovely, in fact.

And as I'm listening to them play, and they are playing happily, I realize how wonderful it is that Kara finds her brother so absolutely hilarious.  No one can make her laugh the way John can.  No one can make her smile the way John can.  She loves me and she loves her daddy, but John is in a different category altogether.  And I love that.

I'm so happy for them that they have each other and that they really do enjoy just hanging out together. Most of the time anyway.  They have reached a great age where they play, hang out, do projects, create things and entertain each other remarkably well.  It's such a gift.  I know they can't see it right now, but every once in awhile, like tonight, I get a glimpse of their relationship and I marvel at the simplicity and the complexity of it.

I hope it never changes.  Even though I know it will.

I hope they at least remember these moments the way I hope to as well.


Choices, so many choices

So I am in the midst of feeling like my life is ready for some change.  We have a whole lot of activities and events coming up, so I'm not sure right now is when I can make much happen for myself in terms of change.  For now I'm really just hoping to get back on track with my diet and exercise habits.  That will be a good start.

But I feel like I'm ready for a bigger change.  Maybe I'm looking for a career opportunity.  Maybe I just need to feel like I'm gearing up for a career opportunity.  I do think I really need to find something that rewards and challenges me, that is mine alone, and doesn't involve the kids.  I'm just not sure what that might be right now.

Maybe I could become a math teacher?  Maybe I could become an editor?  Maybe I could go back to working at a rec center?  Maybe I could work at a preschool?  Maybe I could look for a staff position at a local school?  Maybe I could become a school counselor?  Maybe I could find some outlet involving writing?  Maybe I could work in my love of cooking, yoga, or pets?  Options are endless, and often overwhelming.

In the past when I've been faced with these sorts of overwhelming choices, I'm not sure I've made the best choices for myself.  Thus adding extra pressure to my situation now.  I feel like I'm at a bit of a crossroads to the next phase of my life and I've got no idea which direction to go or how on earth to get there.  Add in the requirements that I have for a career - supreme flexibility due to the kids, accommodating our crazy schedule, and understanding that I have been out of the workforce for almost 10 years.  Umm, yeah.  Good luck with that.

I am feeling more and more like the time is coming for me to pick a path and make some changes.  I just don't quite see the path ahead very clearly yet.  I'm hoping it will become clearer soon, as it is weighing heavily on me lately.  Increasing the blog posts has helped, so hopefully I will continue to use this as a release.  I hope you don't mind.  :-)



Well, it's Monday morning.  The first day of Spring, my very favorite season.  Sort of surprising, given how the pollen reeks major havoc on my body, but I just can't help but love the season anyway.  Sun, green, watching all the flowers start to poke their unsuspecting little leaves out, new sports seasons, and looking forward to the relaxing pace of summer.  But lo and behold, today, the first day of Spring, we have a bit of snow!  Huh?  Yup.  Not much.  Enough to be pretty, coat the cars and require the ice scraper come out one last time (yes, of course, I pushed it to the very back depths of the closet just last week...grrr).  It seems like a bit of a last teaser of snow.  Thanks Winter, as if you didn't spend the entire season teasing us with snow.  Again.

Granted, three years ago we got totally clobbered with snow.  Over.  And over.  And over.  It was a monstrous snow season.  We kept telling the kids that they may never see that much snow again in this area.  It was crazy.  And then each winter since then, we've gotten a mere pittance of the white stuff.  And this year has been no different.  When we finally got a forecast a few weeks ago for a major incoming storm, you could feel the anticipation in the air.  Finally!  We were going to have a good 12" of snow!  Yippee!  And no dice.  The temperatures stayed just a bit too warm, so what we got was a big sloshy, wet, mess.  Not much fun.  For anyone.

I'm hopeful that today's snow will be the end for this snow season.  I'm ready to move forward.  Start Spring already!  John's soccer team played in a pre-season tournament this weekend and his baseball team has their first team meeting tonight.  We leave for our annual spring break trip to the Outer Banks in just a few days.  It would be nice if Mother Nature could follow along with all of these other signs of spring.  And I know it will eventually.  Just not on my timeline.  That would just be too convenient.

So for today, I'm going to enjoy the beauty of the bushes and grass covered in this (hopefully) last dusting of snow.  I'm going to be thankful that the roads are fine and schools weren't even delayed.  We can go about our day as normal and appreciate the sights along our way.

As long as it starts to act like Spring sometime soon!