This Is Summer Too

 

Sunny days.

Outside play.

Filling the gaps with togetherness.

Together they played and argued and excluded and forgave and apologized and worked things out. Together.

Together they laughed and made up games and had a water fight and chased each other as I watched and encouraged and redirected and smiled. Thankful for this moment.

I love my job. I love summer and this crazy life, even with the chaos.

What does summer look like to you?

Hope you’re enjoying your days.

nAMaste BeLoveRs

My Boring Life

I was told that my life is boring.

I think that was meant to be a compliment.

By boring, I think she meant that my struggles are less than most others right now, and because of that, my life is boring?!?

Hmm. Maybe.

Probably true.

She wished for my boring life of comfort and stability, where she thinks I only have to worry about what to make for dinner.

She’s partially right, and if this life is boring, I am content.

I like boring. Sometimes.

It makes me a good listener because I am curious about others and prefer to listen to their exciting stories than share my boring ones.

I like the comfort that my boring life presents. I love that I am able to stay home with my kids and I like taking them to the doctor in the middle of the day, without having to cancel work.

I like that I can choose to volunteer on strategic projects and to give back to my community without having standard work hours or expectations.

IMG_7083
I like that I get to drive my kids to and from appointments and that they talk to me in the car about real life when they’re not too tired and are captive participants.

I love that I get to choose when to exercise and shop and to do it at off peak hours.

I love that I can socialize in the middle of the day, when my kids are at school and no one needs me.

Boredom and simplicity have a certain excitement about them. I love my boring life. Just the way it IS.

nAMaste.

Vacation?

I was at the grocery store tonight and the clerk asked me if I was working a half week this week.  I laughed and actually told him I was working full time this week, because my kids were home from school and this was NOT my vacation!!  He laughed and the lady behind me smiled too, pointing to all the food she was buying for her kids and told me that they just won’t stop eating.

This was my third trip to the grocery store today. I took Juliana with me the first two times, and by the third trip, I just had to go alone. Charlie asked if he could come with me, and I thought how sweet it was that he wanted to be with me and then thought more wisely. I needed a moment to myself, even if it was just pushing the cart mindlessly through the store without interruption.

Jen Hatmaker made my day when she posted this on her Facebook Status today:  “This afternoon, I snuck out of my house and drove around in my quiet car by myself and ate crackers. It has come to this.”  I could TOTALLY relate.

I struggled today between wanting to be in the moment and present, enjoying my kids and wanting to pull my hair out. Juliana noticed my angst and asked me what was wrong. I told her nothing, but I was fibbing and she knew it. I thought about what was bugging me and it was EVERYTHING!! I haven’t been alone in 2 weeks and this feels weird.

I didn’t want anyone else asking my opinion, or asking me to look at something or ask me to buy something. I wanted to be selfish and alone AND be with her at the same time and I was totally conflicted!! Every time I went to move the cart, she was there. She wasn’t doing anything wrong but trying to be with me and shopping with me and I just wanted to be alone with no one asking questions and no one blocking my path.

And then I was frustrated by myself for not enjoying my sweet daughter who wanted to be with me and shop with me and bake with me.

After all, isn’t this my dream come true??  Sometimes our dreams need space. Because this was my dream come true and I felt stuck and trapped and I needed to snap out of it. Quickly.

So I did.

I told her what I was feeling and apologized for being short and explained my challenge in raising teen kids who have their own wonderful ideas and know everything. She wasn’t doing anything wrong. I was just agitated by her presence and questioning that interrupted my thoughts and planning and then I felt badly for being irritated.

I apologized and asked for a little break and she granted my wish and understood. I started decluttering my house and getting rid of the chaos that surrounded us, and I felt order returning to our “vacation house.”  Then I suddenly felt better. She gave me some space. I got to work without interruption and she was still with me, baking with her friend. And I felt peace again and told her thank you.

She gets me. She loves me. She understands and validates me and forgives me when I am short-tempered.

This is the best vacation. I am thankful.  Just keepin’ it real. Namaste.

Sick Day

My little one was sick today. He’s been sick since Friday but has been powering through school and the weekend and this morning I didn’t have the heart to wake him up and let him sleep in. When he woke on his own, he still had a sore throat and a groggy voice. I decided to let him stay home and just rest today. This is of course changed my plans, but for the better I think, even though it was challenging to enjoy the moment.

He had big dreams and it isn’t often the two of us have time alone together anymore.  So I granted his wishes and let the to do list wait.

We took the time to make French crepes, his favorite breakfast specialty.

IMG_2614.JPG

IMG_2627.JPG
Afterwards, I tried to get him to read, but he wasn’t in the mood. I was trying to get the house decluttered after the weekend and catching up with laundry. I was hoping he would entertain himself. But he had other dreams.

I told him about the Kids Code initiative and the Hour of Code week that was going on this week and told him he should look into this. This piqued his interest and no sooner than I had mentioned it, he had the computer screen open and began creating his own PONG video game.  He was a natural, thanks to his 4th grade teacher, Jenny Maehara, who introduced this to him last year. She also introduced him to Tinkercad, the software used to design 3D printing objects.  I was amazed at how comfortable he was navigating between objects and motions and senses and events.  This kid can code!  When he got the background, the sprite, the ball and the paddle picked out and chose code to make the objects move, he shouted out, “Wow! I did it!”  I loved being there to see him learn and at this moment I tried to not worry anymore about the dishes and laundry and just enjoyed being in the moment with him.  

IMG_2624.JPG

IMG_2623.JPG

He says he wants to be an inventor one day. I can’t wait to see what he becomes when he grows up. Well, actually, I can wait. He told me in 10 years he would be 20, and I told him to be quiet, that I didn’t want to know that. He laughed.

After he was done with his hour of code and I was folding laundry, he found some ornaments to color which only took five minutes. He was ready for the next craft project. Luckily Juliana had bought a little foam kit to do with a neighborhood friend this weekend while she was babysitting, but her plans had fallen through. I went and found the kit in her room and bought myself another 30 minutes. But of course he wanted to do it together and told me to leave the laundry and that it could wait. He was right. This kids is smart!  We enjoyed sticking sticky tiles on the roof and putting the pieces together without any glue.

IMG_2631.JPG

IMG_2632.JPG

By the time he was done, I told him I had an hour before having to go pick up his sister from school. I was planning on getting some more chores done, but he thought we should go watch the movie he rented this morning because he thought I’d like it too. He asked me to come watch it with him and who was I to say no? Living in the moment… isn’t what this life is about? And I’m so glad I did. His legs on top of mine.

IMG_2638.JPG
His little hands rubbing my face and reaching his arm around me to snuggle. I think this is what they call being accomplished, even though it doesn’t feel like that in the moment. Silver linings.

I did still manage to get most of the laundry done, and a workout in after his siblings came home, which made me happy. I’m used to having quiet time alone now and was missing my workout sanctuary.  This constant mothering thing is hard and good work!  I felt like I had a needy toddler again and did take the time to enjoy him, although I have to admit my head did drift a few times to the dark side.  Can you relate?  I hope he’s well tomorrow and I sure appreciate his school and will miss my little buddy again. Yin and yang. Thank you for our sick day today, little one. I adore you and hope you feel better tomorrow.

Namaste.

Busy and Stressful Days

Some days are really busy and stressful, not just for me, but for everybody. I know that.

Today was one of those days. Most days include lots of juggling and coordinating and delegating and hoping and praying!!

Charlie woke up at 4am this morning and this just started our day out being tired. He came home from school and practice today and was an unhappy camper.

He was agitated, hot, tired, and hungry. Poor kid!!

He had to keep on going, being the youngest and all, but was such a trooper along with a few tears.

I had barely any time to make dinner tonight and was able to start a meal and then turn off the stove to drop off a kid to an appointment and then come back to resume cooking.

IMG_0727.JPG

IMG_0729.JPG

IMG_0730.JPG

IMG_0726.JPG

Before we came back home again, I needed to break the whining and demanding cycle. He desperately wanted me to go up in the attic to get down the Halloween decoration boxes and I couldn’t do it by myself.

I decided to stop by the Corn Palace to buy some little pumpkins for him to decorate with Sharpies. This bought me some time to finish dinner and to occupy him while I rushed around the kitchen. He was content and so was I as I got to prepare a healthy dinner.

IMG_0732.JPG

I am thankful for my healthy family and my ability to help my little ones to deal with their own struggles.

Life is good!

Mom

There is a lot of discussion right now about the mom title and it makes me quite curious.

For some reason, people struggle with the title and are looking for a new term to describe stay at home moms.

My favorite title is just mom or mama.

We are all mamas – whether paid or unpaid, working inside the home or working outside the home. We are all working moms and we are all full time moms. We are all the same. We are loving moms.

We are all homemakers or domestic goddesses and we do our best and are so lucky when we get to choose how best to support our families. Some of us are maybe more efficient than others. Some of us have more free time. Some of us have more meaningful experiences. Some of us do our shopping and cleaning during the day and some in the evenings or on weekends. We are all working and we all love our kids.

Whether you stay home and work or go to an offsite workplace, we are both the same and I like you, mama! xoxo

Namaste

20140712-015006.jpg
Working mama! 🙂

Moms Helping Moms

For now, I am content still staying at home and being the primary care giver for our children and supporting our community.

Yesterday I took Juliana out of school mid morning for a doctor’s and orthodontist appointment. Today I took Christian out of school to get braces. Tomorrow I’ll be there to pick up Charlie right after lunch, after his early dismissal. Even though they don’t need me as much as they did when they were little, there are so many times that they still need assistance and support or food, and I enjoy being there for them when they need it.

This afternoon I was home, vacuuming out my car when I saw April and Kristin down the street with their hazard lights on. I walked over to see what the matter was, and April had rescued a dog that was wandering alone in the middle of the road. She asked me to take the dog, as she was helping another mom by caring for her kids this afternoon and had to rush off. I took the dog and Kristin drove home to find a leash. I then gave Kristin the dog and wrote to our neighborhood group about our find in hopes of finding the owner. Later in the day, someone knocked on my door looking for their dog. I called Kristin and she told me that another mom/neighbor was at her house watching her son and could let me in to get the lost dog to return to the owner. All of this happened within 90 minutes. Women helping women. I LOVE THIS!

Today I drove Charlie to his baseball game that began at 4:30 pm, and then rushed back across town to pick up Juliana from her tennis practice and made dinner before heading back to the ball field to enjoy watching Charlie play. I’m the team mom so also had to bring cold beverages for the boys. Jeff joined us after getting stuck in traffic on his late evening commute. I was thankful that he made it in time to at least see part of the game.

Most days I have a few hours to workout, manage the household and volunteer before picking up the kids from school. Today I was happy to help a friend by watching her baby while she worked from home for a few hours. This was one of the highlights of my day.
20140408-214734.jpg

I love babies and I love helping other women. If I were to pick my ideal job, it would be to work part time to support working moms and moms with new babies. I’d love to be able to take the edge off by being the fill in nanny when the nanny is sick, or to help do the grocery shopping or run errands to support the double parent working families and the moms who don’t feel like they get a break. I was there before and always wished that someone could come save me at least for just a couple hours each day so I could think or take a shower, uninterrupted. For now, I’ll just enjoy the volunteer opportunities and being home when my kids are home.

Life is good!

Friend Therapy

Do you have friends that you just absolutely love hanging out with? I have one or two or three or four and I know I am lucky. I am so thankful for all the amazing women in my life.

Every friend brings and shares different gifts and I love all of them. Quirks and all, not that they have any, but if they did… I’d love them just the same and I’m so thankful they put up with mine!

20140407-202018.jpg
My girlfriends bring me such joy by just being them and having time to share together doing whatever and talking and laughing and supporting one another.

Today Michele and Suzanne and I hiked 7 miles in the almost 90 degree sunshine through the hills. We told so many stories and shared what projects we’re working on, stories about our kids and families and stories about our dreams and plans for vacations. It’s like friend therapy. Listening and sharing and laughing and lifting each other up. It’s awesome to have such supportive girlfriends that just get you.

Here are some of the interesting things we discovered on our hike today.

20140407-205010.jpg
We stopped to admire the playful baby goats who are less than 2 weeks old. I love babies!

20140407-205140.jpg
One fell down trying to jump up on this log and had trouble getting up again with her new legs.

20140407-205307.jpg
The blue bellied lizards were warming themselves here and were darting in front of us many times across the trail.

20140407-205754.jpg
The view was a bit hazy from the top. Can you see the vulture sweeping through the air?

20140407-205936.jpg
More beautiful wild poppies were wide open and brightly coloring the landscape.

20140407-210037.jpg
At the end of our hike in the speckled shade, Suzanne started to grab my arm and move me. I thought she was just excited about the video conversion project she was telling me about, as she squeezed my arm and moved me into Michelle. She couldn’t quite get the words out, but then there it was and I was so thankful she just moved us aside! No words were necessary. I would have screamed so loudly if I would have been the first one to come across this big snake!

I was so scared and then started laughing and was thankful no one got hurt or peed in their pants!!

Life is good and so much sweeter with friends. xo

The Sad News

I read the news and sometimes wonder why I bother. Just today… A shooter with mental health problems. A HUGE earthquake in Chlie and tsunami warnings around the world. Major car recalls. Missing airplane (still). Politics. Money. War.

Maybe that’s why I like writing about happiness everyday.  The news is depressing and sensationalized. I’d rather sensationalize everyday life and the pursuit of happiness despite our vulnerabilities and imperfections.  I prefer sharing the good stories, even if they’re “boring.” Boring is good. It doesn’t have to be ALL dramatic. That’s exhausting.

Today was exhausting, but in a good sort of way.

I got to chaperone Juliana’s class field trip to the San Jose Tech Museum.  I enjoyed being with her, but being responsible for 8 other girls was quite a task. Little kids are such better listeners than older kids, because I think they have more fear. I had one group of 3 wander off, after being told to stay in one area. They thought they’d head upstairs to an entire different part of the museum and for some reason this seemed like a good idea to them. Another girl was ready to cross a street with other friends after wandering away from our group, before I found her and tapped her on the shoulder and lead her back to the flock. And just so I wouldn’t be bored, one other girl decided she would make the rest of the group wait while she was the only one who wanted refreshments before the movie. It was an interesting psychological experiment for me, and a small insight into the minds of selfish pre-teens.  I’m thankful for the one I get to raise and really appreciate her soul.

20140402-214837.jpg

It was early dismissal today from school and Charlie and I gathered up his roller blades, tennis rackets and a chair, and headed out to watch Juliana’s first tennis match.

20140402-214939.jpg

We got there way earlier than we needed to because the other school didn’t have early out today. We made the most of it by running over to Starbucks for a drink and then playing outside and enjoying the sunshine. It’s a shame that the city closed the baseball fields because the fields were supposedly too wet.  Charlie’s game was cancelled which I actually appreciated a tiny bit so that I could just be in one place instead of two. Isn’t it strange to think a field would be closed when the sky looked like this?  

20140402-215018.jpg
What a shame.

Nevertheless, I got to enjoy being in one moment watching and supporting Juliana and playing with Charlie while we waited for her turn to be up.

20140402-215100.jpg
She won her first match and I was so proud of her. It must have been nerve- wracking to be out on the court for her first official game and she owned it.

20140402-215148.jpg

 

Life is good. How was your day? What made you happy?  I am content having spent the entire day with my kids, even though I am exhausted and heading to bed early.  😉  I’m listening to all the sage advice reminding me to enjoy them as they’re only little for a little while and they’re almost big!!

Goodnight

 

Day 267: Simple Days…

Yesterday I talked about the weather because I was tired and couldn’t come up with anything exciting to share. I’m sorry for that! I got my haircut, which was exciting for me, but not really blog worthy. I decided to wander around town and got myself lost and confused and back again. How is that possible? I am horrible with a map and knowing which direction I’m facing, even when I look at the map, however I did find my way (eventually), but walking with uncomfortable shoes that were giving me blisters made the journey a little more challenging. 😉 That was a very long sentence!!

Maybe my chaos was more exciting than the weather report… or maybe not. Oh well, it’s a new day, and the weather kept me mostly inside.

And this morning started off so chaotically! Our littlest one was giving us quite the challenge. He doesn’t do mornings very well and was quite argumentative. Trying to get him into the car on time, is such a chore! We were all so frustrated and I know there needs to be an easier way! While he was at school today, I made him a little checklist with approximate times it should take him to do each task. Tomorrow I’m going to give him his list and a timer and see if he can manage his time better without as many yells and screams from mom, and he can manage his own expectations! The good news is, that he started to prepare for tomorrow today, which never happens! Wish us luck!

I worked out with Jeff and then did some kettle bells. Hopefully I’ll be sore tomorrow.

Today I bought lots of orange paraphernalia to get ready for the last Queen’s Day next week. If you’re looking for good deals on scarves, shirts, jewelry, hair accessories, etc. check out your local Kruidvat store. For those not familiar with Kruidvat, it’s like a small drugstore like Walgreens, that carries drugs, body lotions and potions, and seasonal items.

I bought a present for my tennis coach’s new baby girl. It was fun to pick out a Dutch card and Dutch/English books for his little girl. Playing indoors tennis is still strange to me, but with the heavy winds today, I was happy to be inside.

After I picked up the kids, I had a meeting at school to plan the Grade 8 graduation celebration. My baby is moving on to high school this year and will be getting his driving permit by Christmas next year. That is so strange to me!

Christian was home sick today – he has a bad cough. I thought it was just allergies, but he sounds horrible! I think he might stay home again tomorrow.

He asked me to make him Chicken Pho soup for dinner tonight. When Jeff came home, we all sat around the table together and enjoyed food and conversation. Of course the kids kept getting up and interrupting each other and were excited to share all the highlights from their day. I’m thankful for this chaotic time and appreciate that they are so passionate and excited about their worlds. We say a prayer at dinner time and then take turns sharing and discussing what happened today. Some days conversations go better than others, but I love them no matter what.

I picked up dry cleaning and some school supplies for Juliana. I cleaned out a desk drawer and did a ton of laundry too. Oh, and also helped do some homework and manage discipline with my little trouble maker! One fun thing I did was I tried making lentils in the crockpot. It worked! Juliana and I both loved them.

I chose to share all these details for a reason. The reason is to show that my life is probably not that much different from yours. I deal with kids and shopping and buying presents for friends and celebrating together. I deal with discipline issues, party plans, sick kids and family dinners and homework and all that good stuff! A day in the life… I wouldn’t trade.

We’re all busy in our own ways. And hopefully how you choose to spend your hours is exciting for you and something you enjoy. My days as a housewife and expat, are pretty simple. I just choose to keep searching for fun things to see and do despite the regular work and chores. I hope you do the same. Would love to hear about what a day in your life feels like.

Namaste