Posts Tagged ‘things I hate’

Balancing Busy

Friday, July 6th, 2018

This is my (and your) affirmation for today:

Just because something works for other people, doesn’t mean it has to work for you.

My Facebook has been flooded with think pieces, sorry not sorry posts, and memes decrying “kids these days” and their need to be constantly entertained. Mostly they’re complaining about Pinterest Moms who schedule their summers so kids are always doing an organized craft or attending a camp or attending enrichment activities. “Kids need to be bored!” they shout, “It’s good for them to learn to entertain themselves!” “When I was a kid, my mom just locked us out of the house all day and told us not to get back until dinner!”

OK, first of all, your mama did not lock you out of the house when you were 4 and 2, which is how old half of my children are. Second of all, do you know how quickly kids get bored? 5 minutes. They’re bored all the time. They live in a constant cycle of dragging their poor, neglected bodies between horrible available options including millions of legos, dozens of ride-on toys outside, the sprinkler, unlimited Netflix, fort-building supplies, and their playing with the siblings I have generously grown with my own body as friends and companions.

Our summer calendar includes a lot of scheduled activities. I’m constantly watching Facebook for community stuff or checking the library calendar to see if there’s something at least one of my kids could go to. We do daytrips, late nights, meals on the go, ice cream for dinner.

I refuse to feel bad about any of it. No, I don’t *have* to fill their summer because I’m a stay at home mom (and judging people who do heavily schedule their kids during summer because they need childcare is some privileged nonsense – I’m VERY lucky “doing nothing” and “being bored” are even options). No, Caroline probably doesn’t NEED to go to 4 different kinds of camp. No, I don’t hate my kids and want to get away from them. We’re just trying to find a balance that works for us. So yeah, it probably does look like we’re ALWAYS doing something and ALWAYS going somewhere and my kids are NEVER bored.  But literally right now while I write this I’ve taken away their tablets, left them on the floor with a box of My Little Ponies and a bin of Magnatiles and told them to amuse themselves. It’s been 2 hours since they woke up and so far no one is fighting. I just know that won’t last forever, so pretty soon we’re headed out to the library.

NOTHING is as exhausting as refereeing bickering children all day, so yes please sign us up for some more stuff. When we need a stay-home-day, we’ll stay home. When people on Facebook feel bad about their own summer schedule, it’s about them, not me. I’m not raising or lowering a bar for anyone else (except for that trip to Disney World, because every month we’re not at Disney World is another month I disappoint my children).

So to be clear, the following options are ALL allowed:

Doing all the things
Doing none of the things
Making a long elaborate bucket list of must-do activities for the whole summer
Abandoning a long elaborate bucket list completely
Doing some of the bucket list but then taking time off
Going to no camps
Going to all the camps
Fulling intending to sign your kids up for camp but forgetting
Taking tons of pictures of everything
Taking no pictures at all
Letting the kids watch Netflix all day
Throwing out the remote and the tablets and declaring all technology off limits
Feeling like whatever you’re doing is wrong
Feeling like maybe your life would be better if you were just doing it the way that one Facebook friend is doing it
Giving up and not caring what other people are doing

And because I am the mom who chooses take all the pictures and do lots of things, here is some of our summer so far:

General Life Update First Quarter 2018

Thursday, March 15th, 2018

Oh hi internet. Once we made it to Homecoming I sort of forgot I had a blog. But I caught my husband checking the page to see if I had posted anything, so I think even he might appreciate a life update all in one place.

First thing everyone wants to know: Yes, it is super great to have E home. We all missed him a lot, for a bunch of reasons, and now that he’s back things are much better. He had two whole weeks completely off of work and now he’s on sort of half-work for a few more days, so I’m able to schedule doctor’s visits, parent-teacher conferences and hair appointments without having to bring 4 kids.

Speaking of hair, I made some drastic changes. I haven’t had hair this short in a decade, and I haven’t been this blonde since I was a child. It’s been a week and I am still LOVING it. (This is a HUGE photo of my face, but it’s my face so deal with it.)

Once E got his bags unpacked, he immediately tackled the to-do list I’ve been keeping. He fixed a ton of stuff, did a bunch of tech support, finished our taxes, and let the kids climb all over him as much as they want. We’ve been having a great time doing some 5- or 10-year life planning as well as some RIGHT NOW updates, like finally replacing our horrible stove and ancient mattress. Buying a new stove and mattress feels very grown up.

Finnegan has quit sleeping at night, which is fun for no one. He’s also nursing as much as a newborn, which I am not enjoying in the least. I had no intention of weaning him until he was ready on his own, but right now getting 8 hours sleep seems worth a little effort. He’s such a happy, pleasant baby during the day and so easy to put down for a nap, I do not understand why he is trying to kill me every night. This isn’t our first rodeo so I know all the things we can do to sleep train/gentle sleep train/not sleep train/cry it out/not cry it out/etc etc etc. I just need to decide if I’m at the point where I have to do something or if I can just keep hoping he grows out of it any minute.

Caroline had her first cheer competition last Saturday. Her team came in second, so she’s really proud of herself. We aren’t pointing out that there were only two teams in her division. Honestly though, she did REALLY great for her first even public cheer performance – the stage was huge, there were a lot of people and lights and the music is super loud, plus it was a long day for a bunch of small humans. Tons of waiting around for a 3-minute routine. She has two more this year – one this weekend and one in April – and I suspect she’s going to start begging to join a full year cheer team as soon as she can. I’m not sure how I feel about being a full-time competitive cheer mom, but I also don’t want to take away something she’s so in love with. She has already volunteered to quit most of her other activities if she can keep cheer.

Lincoln has an acute case of the Terrible Threes. He’s mad he’s not old enough for all the stuff the big kids do, so he takes it out on everyone in the family by being a jerk, hitting people or screaming. It’s not my favorite age. I did manage to potty train him (yay!) and he’s doing great at school (also yay!) and his speech is really improving (thank god) but he’s living in a glass case of emotion and spends SO MUCH of his time crying. It must be exhausting, but I don’t know how to help him.

Evan is such a mystery to me. He’s a really chill kid until something sets him off, and then he loses his mind. He was doing great at school until suddenly he can’t remember basic math facts. He is very helpful and responsible until he gets a screen in front of him and then it’s like he’s gone deaf and blind. He will be super kind to Finnegan and then do something to intentionally make him cry. He has started lying about small stuff to test us, so I’m trying to both assure him that I will always appreciate the truth and also sort of scare him so he knows he gets in big trouble if he’s caught lying. You guys, I don’t know what I’m doing. He’s going to be NINE next month and that’s so old. I remember being nine. There’s so much going on inside you. This isn’t like having a fourth baby that won’t sleep, this is brand new.

I’ve started planning out our summer already (it keeps me sane while I stare at the two feet of snow in my yard), and the kids are excited for various camps and activities that are on our calendar. We don’t actually need to keep quite AS busy as we did during deployment, but if the snow days have taught us anything it’s that being all together in our house is THE WORST, so between lakes, beaches, camps and trips, I’m hoping to avoid the level of togetherness that makes everyone want to strangle each other.

It’s supposed to snow again next week. I am not ok with this.

Evan and Caroline have started asking about maybe not sharing a room anymore, so we’re going to have to figure that out.

I have mini sessions coming up in a few weeks. If you’re local to Connecticut (or local-ish enough), I would love to take your picture! You can see the link here on my Facebook.

A few months ago, I started to follow the keto diet (aka bacon all day) and I really like it but at the moment my sugar cravings are winning. I need to commit again because I’m in search of a ball gown for a ball in a few weeks and nothing makes me more depressed than trying on clothes.

I think that’s everything even remotely interesting about my current life. I’ll try to get up our Homecoming photos taken by our amazing photographer (not me) soon, because who doesn’t love military homecoming photos?! There are just so many it’s going to take me a minute to cull them down.

 

 

 

TODAY IS THE DAY

Thursday, February 22nd, 2018

Guess what is happening RIGHT NOW?

My husband is coming home. I’m at the official homecoming down on the pier with the kids. This deployment is OVER and we all survived (as long as I can keep Lincoln and Finnegan from throwing themselves off the pier into the river, which I am honestly a little stressed about).

 

This morning the kids skipped school, we baked E a birthday cake and we’re all wearing special outfits I picked out months ago. I’m even wearing high heels, which I will probably regret but this seemed like an occasion that called for being a little fancy. It’s hard to be practical when you’re this excited.

I’ve had a variation of the following conversation at least 20 times in the last week:

Friend: It’s almost over! Are you so excited?!
Me: Yes, super excited!
Friend: Did those 6 months go by so fast?
Me: …
Me: You don’t have time to hear all my feelings on this topic.

On the one hand, it did go by fast because my plan to keep my family super busy worked extremely well. Our current schedule is a kid activity 6 days a week with 2 on Wednesdays and Sundays. Three kids started school. We did Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year. I fed them approximately one million times, changed half a million diapers, and broken up a quarter-million fights. I dealt with the dog’s dental problems, cancer diagnosis and toe amputation. I potty trained Lincoln. I handled four months of plumbers trying to fix the sewer line. And I had completely forgotten that I ALSO finished the bathroom remodel, which seems like a million years ago now. So maybe six months didn’t exactly fly by.

The time did not fly by every evening when I watched TV alone. It didn’t fly by when I filled everyone’s stockings by myself. It didn’t fly by every time Lincoln threw a screaming tantrum. It did not fly by when I was trying to keep my business going with no real childcare. It didn’t fly by at 2 am when I was up with the baby. It didn’t fly by every time I had to make a decision on my own that I would rather have made with my husband. It did not fly by every time I had to drive somewhere, which is always, because in the last six months I have NEVER been a passenger in a car. Six months is a really long time, but also now six months is over.

The Navy understands that deployment sucks so they’re going to give E some time off and I am VERY excited. I won’t have to take all four kids to every appointment this month! I can go to the doctor alone! HE can take the babies to swim class because I hate swim class! He can also do our taxes, fix the bookshelves, and deal with the next round of contractors. I’m really excited that we’re going to finally watch Stranger Things season 2 so I understand pop culture again. It’s also going to be weird adjusting to having him around. It only takes two weeks to make a habit, I’ve had plenty of time to become set in my ways – feeding the kids and then just eating whatever for dinner myself, staying up too late watching whatever I want, placing random Amazon orders, never having to consult someone else about the weekend plans, pretending I can’t see the dishes in the sink for three consecutive days. It wasn’t quite like being single again, but it was very much about me me me me all the time. And I bet it’s going to be weird for E too. In the past six months I’ve moved around a lot of stuff. I bought new furniture. I rearranged several rooms. There are new lights and child locks on everything. All the stuff that I adjusted to after like 24 hours is going to hit him at once. Plus the weather. Going from 24/7 in a metal tube under the water to the human world full of trees and plants and sky and sun and rain and snow and wind and…other weather stuff has got to be tough on a person. Hopefully his skin doesn’t burn instantly when it first encounters sunlight again.

I have a legit fancy photographer who is taking pictures of our reunion, but if you want some less fancy updates I’ll be on Instagram with the kids. I’m probably posting an Instagram story right at this second. I also gave our names to the Navy media guys last night because all three big kids said they would REALLY love to be on the news, so there’s a chance Caroline will become a local tv star by doing something incredibly precocious in front of a camera. Let’s hope that’s why we’re on the news, and not because Lincoln throws himself in the river.

p.s. Thank you SO MUCH to my internet friends who have kept me company in a dozen different ways during this deployment. I would be 1000% lonelier and more stressed out if I only had real-life, in-person interactions. The internet keeps me sane.

 

Heavy Adulting

Monday, January 29th, 2018

So here is a thing people don’t tell you about being a grown-up: no one knows what they’re doing. I mean, maybe some people know what they’re doing in some scenarios. I hope my doctor knows what she’s doing when treating me for medical stuff. I hope my hairdresser knows what she’s doing when she cuts my hair. I hope my kids’ teachers know what they’re doing when they try to teach division. But every single day as a grown-up I am faced with things I have NO IDEA how to do or how to manage or how to pay for or how to handle and most of the people I encounter aren’t doing much better. I have a very distinct memory of sitting in a college French class, having literally NO IDEA what was happening because I had been faking my way through French for years, and thinking “Oh my God, I can’t wait until I’m done with school and things are easier.”

Let’s just take a moment to laugh at poor, naive, non-French speaking College Suzanne. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

Here’s a current scenario. Lincoln’s annual blood test came back with elevated lead levels in August. Since I forgot to take him for the test last year, they couldn’t tell if it was going up or down. Finnegan’s levels also came back a little high. Because lead is considered a public health issue, their levels were reported to the health district and now it is a THING. A thing I have been worried about constantly since August.

The first woman I talked to told me the level wasn’t actually that high. But she wanted to come out at do an assessment. Two people came and I gave them a tour and showed them the house and told them about the bathroom renovation and how it took forever and the walls were all knocked out and it was so dusty and filthy for weeks. They both agreed the construction probably caused the high level and they didn’t seem concerned. Those people knew about lead but thought it shouldn’t be a big deal.

Then I got a call from someone else at the health department that wanted to do the testing the first set of people said I didn’t need. So sure, testing is fine, I’d love to know what I can do to stop the lead exposure. That woman was a nightmare – more than an hour late, unorganized, unfriendly and basically told me I was a bad person for letting the kids live here. So that was super fun. I spent days panicked over how we could afford to have all the trim in the entire house stripped and repainted while staying in a hotel so the kids weren’t exposed to more lead. Not to mention the fact that ALL the windows probably have lead and we just spent every penny of our renovation savings on fixing the bathroom and kitchen ceiling. That woman knew how to do testing but not how to keep her rude opinions to herself. Also she knew nothing about how to fix the problem.

Then I got another call from the first lady at health department. She suggested that I talk to the people at our town’s community development program because the town has grants available to help fix lead paint issues. I told her I had checked out their website and we didn’t qualify. She suggested the qualifications were more like guidelines than rules, so it might be worth talking to them. I talked to them. I filled out a ton of paperwork. I hauled the babies up and down the very steep stairs to their office to turn in reams of tax returns, bank statements and notarized forms. I’m still trying to get the last form filled out by my mortgage company. But after I dropped everything off, it was radio silence. That guy knew he could help but not how to make a phone call to tell me the status of my application. Also, he quit, so he isn’t the guy to talk to anymore.

Last Saturday I got a phone call from a very nice guy who said he needed 3-4 hours of my time to do a full lead inspection for the town. I was confused, because didn’t we just have a lead inspection? He assured me the one done by the health department is subpar and not what the town needs to write an abatement plan. Which they need, because apparently we’ve been approved for a grant to fix our lead issues. He didn’t know, exactly, because that part isn’t his job. His job was to come shoot his little lead paint tester gun at every painted surface in (and out) of my house. He was VERY good at that job. It turns out NONE of that trim has lead paint. None of my walls or radiator covers or doors or even my cool painted antique bedframe have lead. What does have lead is the outside of all our old, peeling, drafty windows, as well as the original paint on the porch and some on the basement stairs.

I am SO relieved. It’s too cold to play on the porch right now, the kids never go in the basement and the inside of the windows are ok. No one is being actively poisoned by lead. The nice inspector is going to write a report and come up with solutions for how to replace all 26 of our original windows and abate the lead on the porch and the basement stairs. He doesn’t know how, exactly, because he’s not a contractor. But he knows the people who can help.

And then, the day AFTER that inspection, I got a letter in the mail from the community development program saying we had been accepted into not just the lead hazard removal program but also a property improvement program. TWO grants to help fix the house. We’re going to be able to solve our lead problem without taking out a huge loan or selling everything we own.

I didn’t know the town even had a community development office. I didn’t know anyone was giving out money to replace old windows. I didn’t know this is something we could have done ages ago. I didn’t know because that’s not my job. But I also didn’t know who to ask for help, which is the frustrating part. There isn’t a class in college or high school or elementary school that teaches you how to just ADULT. Putting all the pieces of this (and, like, a dozen other problems I’ve had in the last month that are far above my normal paygrade) together is hard. Sitting on my couch watching Master Chef reruns and browsing Facebook is easy. I feel like that’s what being an adult boils down to most of the time – using all my energy to deal with life stuff and then waking up and doing it again the next day and the next day and the next day and as soon as I feel like I’ve actually crossed something off my list 5 new things get added. OMG it’s going to be like this forever now, isn’t it?

I’m not ready for that, so let’s just focus on how in the next few months I’m going to get new windows. Hopefully. Because until that happens I’m going to worry about it every day and never really get to enjoy anything. I know that much.

 

I’m Totally Fine Except When I’m A Mess

Friday, September 15th, 2017

Ways in which I am totally, completely, 100% keeping it together:

  1. I’ve taken the trash and recycling out in time every week so far.
  2. I’m almost caught up on laundry and dishes (as much as it’s really possible to be with a house full of children to clothe and feed).
  3. I cleaned the bathroom floor on my hands and knees with a sponge.
  4. I scrubbed out the sink with lots of chemicals, so it’s nice and white.
  5. I dropped off the bin of clothes and the baby swing at the consignment shop.
  6. All the Halloween decorations are up!
  7. I made an important but unpleasant phone call, like a grown up does.
  8. I have a photo session scheduled for Saturday, complete with a contract, childcare, and a fun new location.
  9. I stopped eating a pint of ice cream every night and I’ve lost five pounds.
  10. All four children were washed with soap and water last night.

 

Ways in which I am completely, unquestionably, 100% falling apart:

  1. The dog has a broken nail and even though I keep cleaning it and wrapping it I’m pretty sure he’s going to need very expensive vet treatment.
  2. I have a huge stack of school papers I haven’t even read yet, half of which needed to be signed and sent back last week.
  3. I have a huge bruise from walking into a parking sign, a ripped toenail from tripping on the carpet, and a painful cut on my elbow that is of mysterious origin.
  4. Evan and Caroline are both now signed up for super expensive activities and I don’t actually know how I’m going to pay for it.
  5. I forgot to order groceries so the kids will be eating PB&J for dinner again.
  6. The light in the upstairs hallway burned out and I cannot figure out how to take the cover off to replace the bulb.
  7. The tires for the snow blower are at a tire shop somewhere. I haven’t figured out where or gone to get them.
  8. The lawn is a disaster.
  9. I haven’t drunk a single thing that didn’t contain caffeine in weeks.
  10. I spend far too much time fighting with jerks on the internet because I need somewhere to direct my frustration.
  11. Every bedroom in the house is a mess.
  12. I saw a mouse the other day but haven’t caught any mice in the mouse traps so there is still a mouse somewhere.
  13. I’ve planned to go for walks/get coffee/have playdates/get together with at least a dozen friends and not followed through or shown up for any of them.
  14. I forgot to meet the bus at the corner yesterday.
  15. The baby chewed through my computer cord, like he’s a rabid animal.

So right now the mess side is definitely winning. If I can hold it together until Sunday I can move some of my to-dos to the finished column and slowly, s l o w l y, slowly maybe shift the balance over so I don’t feel like I’m slipping into chaos. It’s going to mean saying no to some stuff I don’t want to say no to, being a little more patient with my children who cannot seem to remember simple things like “wash the shampoo out BEFORE turning off the shower”, and maybe drinking a bottle of water every once in a while.

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