August update….

August was slippery. Where did it go? All of the people in my life were like ships passing in the night.

Things I want to do weekly:

  • Exercise 4x a week: 15 WIP classes plus a big hike. So that gets close. I did take a much needed week to sleep in and do nothing. That was super nice.
  • Give kids weekly allowance: Nope. As we totally abandoned the idea of allowance over the summer, the girls realized it had been a while since we did the allowance thing reliably. I also thought about how money was making them more demanding. I’ve been a little happy we haven’t picked it back up. Now we have to think about how to reinstate this as a project for the family.
  • Do one act of kindness each week: Huzzah! One good act of kindness for the month. Sent a care package to a friend from high school recovering from major surgery.
  • Read one full length article in a magazine every week: Nope.

Things to do every month:

  • Regular library trips: We are back in the swing of library visits. I am so happy to reconnect with books after July when the kids were too tired to read at night (or anytime really).
  • 2 Yoga classes: Zero yoga classes. I feel regretful that I didn’t go to beach yoga once while we were away but I also loved sleeping in.
  • Read 2 books: Yes!
    • The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (this one was life changing)
    • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling (yes, I am one of the two people in the world who hasn’t read it)
  • Write 2 blog posts: locked down one blog post and made false starts on several others. September is going to be soooo productive!!
  • Choose outside: We spent so much of the month outside including a week at the beach. And once we were back from the beach, we went to this awesome community event called Hike to the Mic, a concert on top of a mountain ridge. We followed it up with an outdoor bike festival in our town center.
  • 1 date night: I keep wracking my brain and have concluded this didn’t happen. I’m sad we didn’t have any alone time at all. To work on in September.

Some other great stuff that happened this month:

  • Girls’ weekend with my daughters
  • Yearly trip to Chatham on Cape Cod
  • Eating corn (it’s the season)
  • Hike to the Mic
  • Center Streets (bike festival)
  • The kids return to school to start first and third grade!

Now it’s September. Another great month in 2017….

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Back to school and a new normal….

School starts today. Maybe in your neck of the woods, you have a few precious days to squeeze out of summer vacation. Ours ends now. And it comes just in time because we’re all losing our minds. Camp is long over, and we’ve returned from a lovely week at the beach. The girls have been climbing the walls for days, claiming they’re bored or tired, and to be honest, we have run out of things to do for them.

We’re all ready.

For the first time in our family, the first day of school is just another Wednesday. In the past, we’ve treated the first day like a national holiday. The earliest years were too precious to ignore. I have written about clinging to the end of summer and lamented over the end of summer. I poured my soul into letters to my oldest and my youngest on the eve of kindergarten, yet here I sit, the morning of the first day of first and third grade at a complete loss for words.

How did we get here? What happens next?

It feels like preschool was eons ago. I remember looking at parents of elementary school age kids and wondering what their lives were like. Older kids were full of life and opinions and ideas. And somehow, inexplicably, we’re those parents now. We’re closer to their Bat Mitzvahs than their births. We are halfway through elementary school with our oldest and our youngest waltzed assuredly into the school sneak peek with a huge smile on her face like she owned the place.

We have arrived.

Except the point of arrival is like floating in space. We’re far from diapers but staring down some of the hardest years of parenting. Despite our best efforts, the frustration and the sleep deprivation, they can walk, talk, eat, and sleep. Now we have to redouble our efforts because we are their guides as they learn to think, reason, argue, fight, and serve. The hard is work is done and more hard work remains.

I look at those little girls and I shake my head because I feel simultaneously grateful and stunned that I get to be their mom. And being their mom is both a joy and a responsibility I still don’t fully understand.

Summer is over. It was an incredible blur. The girls are exponentially more independent with every passing day. And they are also evolving into a strong (and periodically adversarial) team.

So it’s times to keep moving. I have such huge hopes for this year but I know better than to make any grand plans. Instead it’s one foot in front of the other.

Onward to (gulp) first and third grade!

Posted in everyday life, family, kids, lessons learned, parenthood, personal, schools, students, summer, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

July Update

In order to stay accountable to myself, I have to actually post on my blog. I was stuck in July. I got swallowed up in the summer and it has been swift so far.

July is like a little island where all we do is disconnect. As such, I’m making strides in some places and I’m stagnating in others.

So….

Things I want to do weekly:

  • Exercise 4x a week: 16–15 trips to my gym plus yoga.
  • Give kids weekly allowance: Nope.
  • Do one act of kindness each week: Nope.
  • Read one full length article in a magazine every week: Nope.

Things to do every month:

  • Regular library trips: Nope but all are reading
  • 2 Yoga classes: 1 yoga class with girls–outdoors! Took the girls to Om Street, a yoga-palooza that happens every year in our town. Big sister loved it. Little sister lost interest early on. Still a great morning with my little ladies.
  • Read 2 books: 1 book. It was a doozy.
    • Into Thin Air by John Krakauer
  • Write 2 blog posts: locked down one blog post and made false starts on several others.
  • Choose outside: This has been the easiest of goals. I get outside nearly every day at work once a day and every minute otherwise we’re outdoors. So many outside highlights including the High Line in New York, cruising Westport with my oldest friend, and the little sister’s birthday party.
  • 1 date night: Super night with husband seeing Love’s Labor Lost outdoors.

Some other great stuff that happened this month:

  • Trip to New York City
  • Big kiddo tried out overnight camp for the weekend
  • Little kiddo went to a baseball game with her dad
  • Goodbye party for dear friend
  • Date night with friend plus 24 hours alone
  • Dinner with friends from overseas
  • Day date with oldest friend
  • Outdoor yoga
  • Birthday and party for littlest one
  • Weekend with nephews
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Solitude

24 hours of solitude. It’s more time alone than I normally have in an entire year. It sounds dramatic but most of my time by myself is sandwiched in between work and sleep or in between other commitments for myself and my kids. And to have 24 total hours to think, to listen, to be present, well, it’s actually kind of daunting. I know most people know what they would do with 24 hours to themselves and I had a few household obligations to fulfill (dishes, groceries, light tidying up).

But I was just finishing lunch outside and I stood up and I looked at my flowers. I really looked at them. The daisies are in full bloom and though I worried the other flowers weren’t coming back, there are some Black-eyed Susans beginning to open up. I have these strange day lilies I’ve never noticed before and the rose bush I’m trying to kill is so resilient. The butterfly bushes are filling out after two years and I have tons of chives (the only herb I manage not to kill). 

I made some plans because my days need structure. And yet, as I turned away from the flowers, I paced a little in the yard. I felt a little lost. 

It is so easy to lament being busy, to feel a little crushed under the weight of stress and obligations, to feel battered by work or relationships. This isn’t that. I just don’t find or take time to feel lost. Lost to me is scary. And yet, feeling lost means focusing on what is in front of you, paying attention, noticing things. I try to notice something every day–I take pictures of the sky and the clouds and thanks to my husband, the night sky is my favorite thing. But really noticing means seeing what’s ahead. Because that’s all we have.

I would normally wordsmith and edit and polish something up that I wrote and make it truly lovely but I don’t feel like it today. And too often, I start writing something in my head and the words flow right into the air. I try and dictate it to myself or grab some scratch paper or type a quick note to myself. But that’s not happening today either. I just needed to capture this feeling of lightness–that I have responsibilities but that for the moment, I’m supposed to just be. My mother always said I was terrible at doing nothing but for another few hours I’m going to try.

I’m not even re-reading. This is a postcard to myself. 

<Publish>

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June Update

June is such a jam-packed month and July is its own safe haven that it would be easy to forget that the end of June marks the end of half the time in 2017. The year is half over. I am tempted to do a combined Q1/Q2 report but I know I have lots of things left on my plate for the year. Rather than lament what’s left to do, I’ll just jump right in….

Things I want to do weekly:

  • Exercise 4x a week: 22! It’s a new record! And in the closing days of the month, I met a goal I didn’t know I had. I climbed the rope all the way to the top! I was flying high all week!
  • Give kids weekly allowance: Slipped a lot this month. Our Friday night routine has not recovered since softball season ended. Have to get back on the horse.
  • Do one act of kindness each week: Last month I said I wanted to reframe this goal. Still working on how to do this every week.
  • Read one full length article in a magazine every week: So this didn’t happen. I DID listen to all of S-Town, however. And that was like reading at least one article.

Things to do every month:

  • Regular library trips: This was a month of library stasis. We are still reading from last month–the girls have come to expect a few big trips a month.
  • 2 Yoga classes: Nope.
  • Read 2 books: Big movement in the reading department this month!
    • The Visual Display of Quantitative Information by Edward Tufte
    • Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance
  • Write 2 blog posts: Yup.
  • Choose outside: The weather is turning so we have been outdoors more often just because. I’ve been at nearly all of the girls’ softball games. I also got in a great walk with a friend.
  • 1 date night: Oy, nope.

Some other great stuff that happened this month:

  • Protest postcard writing campaign: on the first day of the month, a dear friend posted something on social media about a protest postcard project. I joined up immediately. The goal was to write 3 postcards a day for ten days to Republicans and Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee as well as Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos about her dangerous education budget. Happy to report I hung in for the entire campaign–my 3 postcards were part of a barrage of 300 sent to elected officials protesting the education budget.
  • Attended all of the girls’ softball games: I felt like June was wall to wall softball. It was awesome watching the girls progress–they love a good catch!
  • External writing projects: Finished book chapter due July 1st. I know edits are in my future but I am really excited about how this turned out.
  • Pinterest success: As the room parent, I was able to execute an amazing Pinterest-inspired gift for our daughter’s kindergarten teacher.

Gotta get some movement on:

  • Kitchen savings
  • Guitar lessons
  • Run (like a race or something)
  • Podcasting oral histories

July, July, July……

 

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(Long overdue) Dance recital postmortem

On the way home from the Jewish Community Center a few weeks ago, we traced our recital history back to my oldest daughter’s first time on stage by recalling the songs for each dance. “There was Wildside then last year Yellow Submarine then the year before that and the Lava Lava song….”

This year marks the fifth dance recital for the big sister and the third for the little one. I was admittedly nervous about the first dance recital and I was too busy riding a high horse about femininity, the patriarchy and sexualized bodies to see that my own daughters were having the time of their lives. After that, I made no apologies for how hard I fell in love with a tutus, sequins and stage makeup for my own tiny dancers.

It was not as bad as I thought it would be.

That was five years ago. Those two little women are taller and bolder. They love to dance, and they loved their moment in the spotlight.

Watching them do something they love is a supreme honor. I can see their earnest faces trying hard not to count out loud, focused on getting the steps right. We have practiced endlessly in the kitchen (during and) after dinner and every time their dance recital songs cycle up on the car stereo, we all squeal and do the steps, belted into our seats.

On the big night, I gaped at them, their long legs and bouncy ponytails and sparkly costumes. How could they be mine? How did they get to be so tall and proud and full of sunshine?

For most of the recital, I was breathless because watching them this year, I felt like I was stuck in place while the world pulsed around me. Were my little people ever as small as the peanuts who took the stage before them? Were they ever so wild or timid? The range of emotions on stage from sheer terror to total joy further disoriented me.

Sitting in that dark auditorium, I felt small, walled off from the chaos of the world. And in that cozy space, I could fully focus. Nothing in the world matters when you’re watching 20 four-year-olds live out their dream of performing on stage, clad in sequins while their favorite music blasts in the background. There is an incredible sense of reassurance that if the world ended tomorrow, we did something right raising these little bouncing people.

The best part of the recital, though, was when a friend pulled me aside to tell me that she snapped a photo she had to share. And later via text, I saw it. It’s gray and fuzzy and you can hardly make out the shape of my husband and me while we wear the widest smiles. My hands are clasped in total delight as I watch them. Our friend caught us fully present in this moment, adoring our children and radiating love.

I remember the moment she snapped the picture–though it wasn’t a singular moment. It was a series of moments strung together watching my girls. I got lost in watching my children mixed in with everyone else’s children because I love and adore those children, too. It is my favorite part of the dance recital–feeling like I am a part of some bigger community of people, seated in the dark, cheering for the future. I feel your pride, your worries, your anxieties. And I share in them. And in the middle of every song, I remember feeling fully present and happy and if I could bottle that feeling, I’d take it like medicine every day.

We lose focus. We get lost. But these little slivers of life should center us, bring us back, and remind us what’s important.

Sequins. Tutus. Smiles. Music.

And dancing like no one is watching (except we’re all watching, and we love every minute of it).

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Seamless transitions for happy campers

The benefit of blogging for almost five years is the perspective you have on the way you have lived your life. When I started Rogue Cheerios, I was one year away from finishing my PhD and struggling how to be a mother and scholar. I felt like am imposter in both spheres. And summer was like proof positive of all my anxieties and insecurities.

Summer has always presented a unique challenge for our family. When the girls were very little, in the summer I was a part-time parent. I always felt a little unsteady in that role at first but by the end of the summer, I found a balance between scholarship and sunshine and I managed the guilt I felt when I felt my focus was misplaced. When I shifted into a new role two years ago that required me to work full-time, year-round, I struggled again with the added burden of managing childcare and summer arrangements for the girls. And yet, I feel lucky that we have options because I know summer care for children is a struggle for so many families.

And here we are. School ended and the next day summer began. Whereas in past years, we were scrambling to find care for after camp, this year, we have all of our plans firmed up. Our children will attend a summer camp staffed largely by the same kids who work at their after-school program. The transition is so smooth, I can hardly tell it has happened.

On their first morning of camp, I kissed two little girls, hair tied back in pigtails, ready for the day. And eight hours later, two bright-cheeked little kiddos bounced down the steps of the bus. They went swimming and built sand castles and captured the flag.

They are growing quickly. They have changed even in the span of a few days. It feels like I just thanked my village for their help with preschool and now we’re squarely finished with kindergarten.

We lament rough transitions and we rarely laud the smooth ones. Either way, I am always astonished at the trajectory of these transitions. They are swift and unrelenting, like a train running down a hill.

It’s happening. These little girls are growing faster than I ever imagined.

And now it’s time for summer.

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