Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Days are Long and it's Great!

I'm pretty remote control/TV illiterate. Now with everything on DVR we watch almost every show on fast forwarded commercials. Except for half of the time it continues fast forwarding through the actual show , and I'm left fighting with the pause and rewind button. This is about the way my life has felt all too often in the last few years. When you're busy, time flies, and there have been way too many days where I felt I was living on fast forward and for the life of me could not find the pause or rewind button.

The first two years Averi was born I coached volleyball in the Fall while Nate coached in the winter and spring. The year Kenz was born was probably the most slow paced, well balanced year I've had in six years of motherhood. I just taught that year with no extracurricular commitments, typically getting home around 3:30. For the five months I went back to work to finish the school year after Kenz we had a friend nanny for us, and let me say having someone at your home to take care of the kids is such a huge help on so many small levels that it really adds up to a huge convenience. But starting the following year, which was the year we moved, was the first year I had the girls in two different places with Averi starting preschool, and then with the move I started  picking up extra work again two days a week to help with money while Nate also started his graduate program.  To also help with money during this time we would carpool a few days a week which involved me and the kids waiting for Nate for an hour or so. Then last year even though I didn't have extra work the second half of the school year the girls were in two opposite directions that it took me anywhere from an hour and 15 min to an hour and half to collect them and get home. Now even though I did work extra this Fall at the college, for the rest of this year I will be as close to that slower pace balance that I had three years ago. We started that new schedule this week, and it has been awesome! It will definitely make going back to work in January easier.

Besides those few months where the girls were home with our friend, this is the first time they have both been near the house rather than near work. I pick Kenz about five minutes from our house at 330, and after we get home we walk up to the bus stop to get Ave off the bus at 4.

This getting home at 330-400 makes my days feel so much longer in a good way. I don't feel rushed. I have plenty of time to take care of chores, get in a walk, play outside with the girls for a bit when it's sunny and 50 like it was the other day, eat afternoon snacks together and cuddle up on the couch for a quick rest or whatever we feel like doing. By the end of the day we're now back to more of a routine with bedtime and adult/me time at 8 because we're no longer running around like chickens with our heads cut off trying to get dinner cleaned up, kids ready for bed, and stuff for the next day ready.

I'm convinced the busier you are the faster time goes, but I don't want the days to feel quick right now. I want them to feel long. I want to be able to slow down and enjoy the girls and this age more. I know sometimes we think of long days as a bad thing, but right now I'm looking forward to the long days ahead.

                                  So excited to have more time at home with these two in 2015!
                  The hats in this picture are the ones my friend sold for our holiday charity project. She's thinking of selling them online again this Spring. I'll be sure to advertise if she is. They're super adorable!

Did you read my last posts on confessions about friendships in adulthood and going home this holiday season.

Check out these sites for any last minute shopping deals this holiday season:   Gymboree, Crazy 8, Little Passports, and Shutterfly .  My book,  Moms, Monsters, Media, & Margaritas is on sale for $8 this holiday season. The book is also now available on the Amazon kindle for $3.99 and the Barnes and Noble Nook for $4.99. Remember all sales profits are going towards gifts for children in need this holiday season.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Adult Friendships

As I continue to navigate my way through adulthood and parenthood or "the real" world as my parents liked to warn us about as kids, I've come to see how easily the stress and demands of it all can just consume you to the point that it's quite easy to lose sight of yourself and your relationships.

Life is stressful just with the every day demands, and unfortunately some deal with so much more. I consider us lucky in that our stress is what I consider typical stress: work, balancing work and family, the house or car repairs, and money.

But even with just that our time feels stretched thin and the to do lists just consumes us at times. Because of this there were several weekend plans this Fall we made with friends that we contemplated canceling. Just a few weeks ago I told my husband for the first time I wasn't feeling my usual anticipated excitement about going home.

After those nights with friends that we considered canceling my husband and I would both say how we were so glad we didn't and how getting out and reconnecting with those friends was just what we needed to off set that stress that we almost let take over at times. I'll admit I'm the same way with the phone sometimes. I have a few really good girlfriends back home and there are times I know if I answer there goes an hour of my evening. But then an hour later, I'm not thinking about what I didn't get done. Instead I feel like a huge weight  has been lifted off my shoulders because talking to them was exactly what I needed for an hour that week.

Some friends and relationships in our lives are going to come and go for different reasons. But one of the things I think we've learned in just the ten years we've been together with our friendships individually and as a couple is when you find the ones that mean something hold onto them. Don't let time, the stress of life, the excuses eliminate that connection over time. Some relationships mean more than others, and there's nothing necessarily about the ones that don't. We've purposefully let some go, and unfortunately others have drifted apart over time and distance.  The ones we make sure to make time for are because there's something about them that fills something we need and hopefully in return they feel that we give them something they need. Friendships are just like any other relationship. It's a give and take. There's something about each of those friendships or relationships that we've kept that we admire about those people; something about them and the way they live their life that really connects and matters with us.

Even when life gets stressful and so busy we feel that we have time for nothing, we've learned to stop and make that time to spend with our friends or in the case of going home with family. Because once we're there in the moment we're always reminded there is no better medicine for stress. To the wonderful group of friends we have thanks for always just accepting us and loving us the way we are and for making time for the phone calls and visits.

There are still great deals at  Gymboree, Crazy 8, Little Passports, and Shutterfly for holiday shopping.  My book,  Moms, Monsters, Media, & Margaritas is on sale for $8. The book is also now available on the Amazon kindle for $3.99 and the Barnes and Noble Nook for $4.99.Remember all sales profits are going towards gifts for children in need this holiday season.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Coming Home

The countdown until I'm home again is just a little over two weeks away. I wish there was some way I could explain that anticpated feeling of going home after being away for months or close to a year or that feeling of crossing over the Mississippi back into my home state. There's  this comfort in coming home that is just so hard to explain. I'm sure anyone that's moved away from home probably knows what I'm talking about.

I've always called Missouri my roots and Maryland my wings, but as I close in on ten years since I left one to gain the other, it's interesting to me as a person who constantly continues on her own self search journey (literature teacher there coming out) how in some ways they each are so much a part of who I am but in so many ways I don't feel that I completely belong to either one. However, the thing I love because I've experienced them both is the perspective they've given me.

They are two different places. The people are different; the way of thinking is different. There is much more than distance that separates the two places. Just as there is more than distance that separates many things in America.  There are wonderful things about both; as well as imperfections and flaws about each.

I like to think they each in their own way has contributed to some of the good things about who I am; just as they've each had a part in contributing to some of my own personal flaws and imperfections.

Besides perspective and growth as an individual the other valuable thing I think being away from home has given me is an appreciation for moments and time. But I also think this comes with parenthood and aging as most people I know, whether they move away or not, I see has also gained this appreciation.  Most people I know are the same way; however, as we all also know there are some who don't quite get how fleeting time really is.

We only get a few weeks a year with our families, and for the time that we're home it's like we're inserperable, and everyone makes the effort to come together while we're there. We try to squeeze months of time together into days and in the process we create the lasting family moments not just for ourselves but I can see it start to leave a lasting impression on our daugthers. For me, as I'm sure it is for most adults, the excited anticipation about the holidays isn't about the gifts, music, pretty decorations, playing Santa, or even the food, but just the anticipation of the moments and memories to come with family.

The countdown is on. In just twelve days it will be that wonderful time of the year where we're with family. This is the first Christmas since kids that we'll be celebrating Christmas with both families the week of Christmas with the first three nights and two days, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, with my husband's family in Erie, PA and then the next week in Missouri with mine. It will be busy and crazy, and we'll be exhausted and ready for a vacation from our vacation when we get back, but I wouldn't do it any other way.

Merry Christmas!                              With their cousins on both sides.

There are still great deals at  Gymboree, Crazy 8, Little Passports, and Shutterfly for holiday shopping.  My book,  Moms, Monsters, Media, & Margaritas is on sale for $8. The book is also now available on the Amazon kindle for $3.99 and the Barnes and Noble Nook for $4.99.Remember all sales profits are going towards gifts for children in need this holiday season.


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Holidays are Coming: Oh My!

It's hard to believe it's December already. Like always the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas just flies by. Before we know it 2014 will be behind us.

This past weekend we got our family Christmas tree. Unfortunately, because it was raining rather than doing it Griswold style where we cut it down and haul it ourselves we decided to support the local Boys Scout troop where they're already cut them and are a short walk from your car.

                                                     It's really hard to get a picture of two kids and two dogs.

My friend Jess and I also got to go shopping for the little boy and girl we adopted with the money we made from our hobbies, my writing and her knitting. This is definitely a tradition we would love to keep up. We were able to buy each of them three toys and one outfit. We actually have someone else that we contacted about another child so any last minute knitting, book orders, or orders from ads here on the blog can help us buy gifts for one more child.

With a few more orders I'll reach the small goal I set for myself for 2014. I wanted to make $500 from my writing and donate at least 25% of that. Right now I'm a few sales short of my $500 goal and with the money I have made I've donated almost 30% of that to a childhood cancer charity from back home that means a lot to several of my readers from there and now to the holiday adopt a child drive. Unfortunately I wasn't able to make the donation to SMA that I had hoped to make this Fall. I got really busy with work and didn't push or market it very well and hit a really low sales period around Sept and Oct. Before I knew it was time for the holidays. I'm hoping to make a donation to SMA in the Spring so if you'd be interested in helping me promote it just let me know.

Being able to give back or pay it forward or whatever you want to call it was important to me this year. There's always more we'd like to do, but as we all know life gets busy and money gets tight. But last year I almost dreaded the holidays because money was so tight the stress of it almost took all the fun away, so I'm thankful this year for the more positive experience. For those of you that have supported me I cannot thank you enough!

Jess, who is my closest friend here in Baltimore, who I also find as a great inspirational person with the way she throws herself into so many causes as a full time working mom of two, is also sponsoring another charity event this holiday season for support for Maryland Midwives. Check out these adorable calendars to support the Maryland Midwives organization .

If you're still shopping I just ordered a bunch of clothes for my niece, nephew, and daughters at at Crazy 8 for buy one, get one for $.08! I'm also the one everyone counts on for cool personalized photo gifts and Shutterfly right now as 40% off everything with code OURFAVS .

Happy holidays from our family to yours this holiday season!

For additional shopping: Be sure to check out Gymboree, Crazy 8, Little Passports, and Shutterfly for holiday shopping deals. My book,  Moms, Monsters, Media, & Margaritas is on sale for $8. The book is also now available on the Amazon kindle for $3.99 and the Barnes and Noble Nook for $4.99.

Monday, December 1, 2014

The End of Days...How do you Know?

So as some know our ten year old dog, Bettis, is nearing the end of his days. He's been nearing them for probably the last couple of months now. The other night he sounded like he was struggling to breathe, and he just looks so old and tired.

I think Nate and I both worried that this was it; the end was here. We let him sleep in our room, which we probably hadn't done in years. At different points we each laid beside him on the floor, petting him and telling him what a good dog he's been to us these last ten years.

But then the next day he was breathing easier again; he still wasn't moving well, but he didn't seem to be so close to death's door anymore. This weekend we took him with us for the holiday like we've done every year. Again when I saw he couldn't hop in the back of the car without help I was reminded again. how frail he is getting.

Others between friends and family that know him well have also commented recently on how he really doesn't look well and so much worse than he did just a few months ago when I started to worry his time was nearing. Some will tell us to just let him be, live out his last few days home here with us, the only family he's ever known. Others tell us maybe it's time to think about putting him down.

Between Nate and I, I'm  the one that says maybe it's time to put him to sleep. You can tell he hurts constantly; he's quit wanting to walk out in the cold to even go to the bathroom. Nate says he's not that bad yet; give him more time and I quickly agree because well, the idea of telling him good bye sucks.

I guess right now is one of those times I really wish animals could talk because I'd just want to know what he'd want. If I talk Nate into putting him down I feel like I quit on him and feel like I took something away from him when he gave us so much. But I can tell he doesn't feel well and is in pain, and don't they say it's the humane thing to do so they don't have to continue to suffer.

I know "he's just a dog", but he's a pretty special dog to us. He will always, always hold a special place in mine and Nate's hearts. Good bye is coming, we know, but I don't know if we decide that final day or let him decide that final day. How do you know?