Monday, October 1, 2012

Odd Silver-Like Lining

I've been doing some research on kindergarten readiness lately.  I know it seems a little premature, but Fiona will be 4 in about 8 weeks. The natural progression of things is that she will then turn 5 a year later and should be in kindergarten at that time. So with that thought process I only have a year to make sure that she's ready to start school. Less than that if she's one of those kids we all knew that started kindergarten at 4 because of when their birthday was. Plus, school starts in August around here so technically kindergarten registration is just around the corner.
I called the local elementary school to find out about registration and cut off dates and everything that goes with it.  What I found out was surprising and a bit irritating, but with an odd silver-like lining.  The cut off date for our district is November 1. What that means is that kids that turn 5 before November 1 can start kindergarten. After November 1 they will need to wait until the next year to start.  Here's my problem with that; with that schedule Fiona would then turn 6 while still in kindergarten.  That's not really that big of a deal. What is a big deal is that would mean she would be 19 when she graduated high school. What I do not want is a 19 year old senior! What I don't need is a sophomore than can drive a year ahead of all of her classmates. There's just no way that can have a good outcome.  The office administrator told me that they'll be making the cut-off date even earlier next year and the year after. Holy crap people! At this rate kids won't graduate until they're 20!
You have to wonder why this change is happening. I've read different articles over the last few years about the changes in kindergarten curriculum; How we now expect our kindergarteners to preform at a level that was previously thought of as first (and sometimes) second grade.  Kindergarten is not for teaching the basics (letters, shapes) and leaving it up to first grade to teach reading, but is now for teaching the basics of reading, sentence writing, science, and math.  Preschool used to be something rare. Now it seems the talk of all my mom-friends the second their little bundle turns two. With apparently a good reason. Unless you're an educator yourself, how can you expect to get your child ready for the expectations they will be faced with the second they hit the "real" classrooms?  It seems that most daycare situations have an integrated preschool program. If you are a dual income family and have your kids in daycare the problem seems to just take care of itself.
But what of the stay-at-home or work-at-home mom like me? We're expected to put out of pocket for (what seems like) a necessary (rather large) expense if our kids are going to have the skills they need when they enter the first year of their education.  Or you spend hours doing research and buying curriculum to try to mitigate the cost at least a little bit.  That's the path we've chosen.  Thankfully Fiona seems to be a little knowledge-sponge and soaks up every bit of anything you can throw at her.  Thanks to the show Dinosaur Train on PBS she can tell you facts about dinosaurs I can't remember or even spell. She knows whether or not they're herbivores, carnivores, or omnivores, and what that means! Mickey Mouse Clubhouse has taught her letters, numbers and shapes. Lots of time on has helped her with putting it all together in a way I'd never know how to teach her. We just ordered activity packs from 123 Textured Products for some more hands-on activities.
Why are we doing this if she won't be heading to school next year? Well, here's the odd silver-like lining.  When she turns 5 she will be eligible to be evaluated for kindergarten.  When the child turns five they're brought into the classroom for a month and evaluated by the teacher.  If the teacher feels that she knows what she needs to know and is on par with the other kids in the class she will be able to complete the rest of the school year with the rest of the kids and go into first grade the following year.  For us that means getting Fiona ready in the next year is even more important than if she was just to start when her birthday dictated.  If you know Fiona, you know she'll be more than ready to start at 5. Even if we did nothing. 
As we ready one child to head out into the world, we are getting another started on her school years. Amazing.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Tonight I Am Grateful

Tonight I am grateful.
I am grateful for the makers of Tylenol and Motrin, for giving my sick little baby girl some relief.
I am grateful for my job, where I am afforded the luxury to work part time, even when that means almost not at all, because I can be here when my babies need me.
I am grateful for my husband's job. Even though I wish he was home to help with the work of two sick toddlers, it is his job that allows us to have insurance for the doctor's office visit we made today.
I am grateful for older children. I am amazed at how they step up and show responsibility when I need them to the most.
I am grateful for the daughter who let her little sister have a "sleep-over" in her room because she understood the healing power for cuddles, a movie, and someone to love.
I am grateful for recliners that let me rock my sick baby to sleep.
I am grateful for the silence that has given me the opportunity to reflect. While today has been a struggle, it is not without it's value. Today I am softer. I am more understanding than I would expect of myself. Today I have been humbled by my life. When I am feeling overwhelmed or exasperated or restless I have been forced to stop and see the things in my life that matter the most to me.
I am grateful for baby-drool on my shoulder. It tells me that my daughter has found enough relief to sleep.
Tonight, I am grateful.

Little Georgie Grace

My poor littlest child has had a rough time of it the last week. The weekend before last she had a fever for 4 days. The highest was 104. There was nothing else wrong with her and it responded well to medicine so I left her be. Other than being hot and miserable there was nothing else going on. She eventually came out the other side of it on Wednesday and was getting back to her happy self.
Thursday brought us another round of misery. Krysty was getting the little girls in the car while I grabbed my purse and came out behind them. As I get to the door Krysty is running up in a panic with an unconscious Georgiana "Mommy, she fell! She fell and hit her head!". We have a bit of a grade in our driveway and she fell. Instead of falling forward like she normally does, she fell back and hit her head on the concrete. Krysty picked her up and said she went limp in her arms. As soon as I grabbed Georgie she came to, looked a little stunned, but seemed OK. She was responding to me, even if she did look a little dazed. I called and had my mom come over right away. I opted to not go to the ER, but got into an office appointment fairly quickly (after some arguments - she LOST CONSCIOUSNESS! D'uh!). She came away fine from the exam and the doctor said to just watch her. You can sure count on that one.
I can not convey the rush of emotions I felt when I first saw her in Krysty's arms. Between Krysty's panic and Georgie's lack of expression I was surprised at how well I was able to string together the thoughts I was. I did a quick inventory of where in my purse my phone was, whether or not Krysty would be able to call 911 as upset as she was, and how I was going to get Fiona out of the car and back in the house while we waited for the ambulance. All of this was in the span it took me to understand what Krysty was telling me and to take Georgiana from her. Thankfully I didn't have to use any of that "planning". Thankfully she was fine. I know that I'll still have to watch her for a long time. I'll still have to watch for signs that there was no other injury that didn't present itself straight-away is there. But, the panic was minimal and so far she's doing great.
Well, sort of great. Last night the fever came back. And now there's snot. And coughing. And breathing that's a little more labored than it should be. So we'll head to the doctor's office again. Just to be sure that it's not something to be concerned about.
My poor little Georgiana Grace. It's been a rough week for her. Hopefully this all clears up soon and she's back to being herself. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Homesick From Home

"Back Home" is a phrase used by geographically transplanted individuals when speaking about their home-town. But what do you say when you've finally moved back home and it, well... isn't?
It's been more than a year and I find that I'm still struggling to feel settle in.  I think my biggest problem is that I still haven't branched out very much socially. I want to. I really do. I have plans to. But I just haven't gotten there yet. I have the time. Well, I could make the time. I could use the time I currently use as my Me time to do something that might actually be beneficial to me. Of course that would make normal, logical, rational sense. I don't want to go doing too much of that now.
It's funny that I never saw my life in Bonney Lake evolving into what it became. It just sort of happened. I did what grown ups are supposed to do. I moved into a crappy apartment, I got a job, I met a man, we moved to the suburbs, got married, had a baby and even bought a goddamn minivan! My family was good, my friends were fantastic, and I was happy. My husband's job was having issues so we transferred.
And now here we are and everyone else is happy. My husband is rockin' it at work, Krysty's a cheerleader, Allie's in band, Jane's in Cadet Corps and band, and the little girls are too little for it to really matter just yet. But me? I'm still feeling lost. I'm still feeling like I've been stuck in this alien world that is, unfortunately, all too familiar.  I've made a couple local friends. I'm on the board for the boosters. We're at all the football games and all the concerts and activities but I just don't feel a part of it like I did in Bonney Lake. And I know that I'm not. And I know that it's my own damn fault. What I don't know, is how to get past this. How to actually get out there and do what I know intellectually I need to go do. If I was counseling a friend I would tell them to quit being such a baby and just get out there and do it.
But that's scary. And so I sequester myself in my house and obsess. Over everything. Every. Thing. I'm sure I'm making my husband question my sanity (in a different way than he normally does).  I'm pretty tightly wound under normal circumstances. At this stage I'm pretty much wired for sound at any given moment. I'd like to think that I'm doing better than I ever have in this type of situation. I think the fact that I recognize it and can almost string a intelligent thought together about it is a huge step forward. It's not always been this easy. 
Social networking definitely doesn't make the whole thing easier. While it's great for keeping in touch with everyone you never had time to keep up with before (and some you really wish you could step away from but can't look away from the train-wreck), it's hard to pull yourself away and find the company of real people. For people like me, highly social yet socially anxious, it's an excuse that keeps us from getting out and making new connections.
So I'm working on it. And missing everyone so very, very, very much. I wish I could go back. I want my family to have the happiness they have here and for me to have the hapiness I had there. The only real solution is to get out there and make it for myself. It's going to be a long hard road. But I'll get there. Thankfully I have some really great friends and Facebook to help me get through it.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The New Normal

Well, the older girls are officially back in school and the chaos has begun! With three kids in school balancing everything gets pretty tricky as it is. Add two toddlers into the mix and it's a little more challenging. Plus the fact that we're dealing with two different schools. Oh, and four different activities for the three kids. Like I said, chaos.
Krystyne made varsity cheer this year. We're really excited for her. She's wanted to be a cheerleader since she was little. I'm glad that she's able to make this a part of her senior year. For her this means practice every day after school until 5:30. Once football games start she'll be at all of the home games, a couple of away games and who knows what else. She's got fundraisers and practices and all kinds of other things.
Allie is back in marching band this year. She practices three times a week until 5, and again, once football season starts that's where you'll find her, too.  At least that puts her and Krystyne in the same spot! But marching band for Allie means Boosters for me and Doug. I'm the Booster Treasurer this year and that's a pretty time consuming deal on its own.  Soon we'll start with tournaments most Saturdays and figuring out how to make all that work out. With the little girls getting bigger it will be harder to have them in tow for these things.
Jane is in middle school this year. She's started in band as well. Thankfully no marching! But, there are parent meetings and performances to go to. She also joined the California Cadet Corps. It's a JROTC type program.  Since she has a plan to join the military after high school this will be good for her. Plus it gives her more of the structure that she needs. It's another thing that will mean finding space and juggling already crazy schedules. But if she's enjoying it, it is definitely worth it.  She also attends the after school program every day until 5:45. It's just an activities program put on by the YMCA, but it gives them homework time and organized activities that keep them busy after school. She can walk home most days (when the weather is something closer to reasonable) and it saves me a trip. I'm really excited for this year for her. She's got a lot on her plate but I think she'll do really well. 
This whole thing leaves me and the little girls to our own devices until at least 5, three days a week. Tuesdays and Fridays Allie gets home around 3 so I need to figure out how to adjust my own schedule accordingly. Once football season really starts we'll be at the games on Friday nights.  If I can figure out a schedule during the day for me and the little girls I think things will go more smoothly.  I'm thinking park trips in the morning and working after lunch while they nap (once the weather breaks to under 100!). I've been getting little spurts of stuff done. Nothing that is a major accomplishment, but lots of little things. That's most of my days anyway, so at least I feel like I'm making progress.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

I Actually Made Something From Pinterest!

I know!  I was shocked, too! I've managed to dwindle down my Pinterest time to something a little less embarrassing lately. It's usually where I spend time when I've refreshed Facebook 8 times already and it seems no one is up to anything more and I'm stuck on hold with an insurance company. In my wandering the other day I found a recipe for DIY coffee creamer. We're big coffee junkies here. I like my coffee sweet and creamy; usually just *this* side of a latte. Coffee creamer is expensive since I've stopped couponing and I'm always looking for recipes to make my own anything. Not that I actually make most of it, but I still want to know that I can should a magic fairy ever come down and suddenly make my chaos something less time consuming.
I found a recipe that seemed simple enough - equal parts sweetened condensed milk and milk or milk substitute (almond milk at my house), and some flavoring (I used coffee syrup). D'uh. Even I could do that! And I actually did! I need to be careful I don't pull something with all the back patting I'm doing.
Now the original blog has all these fancy pictures and stuff. Had I thought of it as I was making it or was that fancy-pants enough I might have done something similar. But, if you've been here more than once you know something like that doesn't really happen all that often.
End result? Awesome! Love it! Total cost for 20oz was $1.85. That's all I spent on the condensed milk. I had the almond milk and  the flavor syrup already. I used the sugar-free caramel syrup and added some cinnamon. Of course I had to make myself a cup to try it out right away. Yummy!
I will say that I could taste the "milk" in the first few sips. I'm not a fan of milk and  neither is my tummy in any kind of high concentration, but this seems to be OK. After the initial taste it was gone and I don't notice it. Certainly not for the lactose intolerant or anyone with milk allergies. I just find the stuff nasty and since I don't drink it and use a rather small amount of dairy other than for cooking I noticed the taste.
This is one of those recipes for something I could just as easily buy in the store that I think I'll keep using. Making your own convenience foods isn't always worth the effort, but this definitely is!
I better head to bed so I can get up and have more coffee (and) creamer...

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Over-Sensitive Much?

I'm generally pretty easy going. And by that I mean I don't offend easily. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and even if I don't agree that's OK. I'm a big girl and I can deal with it. You're obviously an idiot because you don't see it my way but we don't all have to agree all the time. Let's just agree to disagree (and I'll be Judgy McJudgerson in my head. Mostly.)
There is one point when I am not entirely rational. I call it the Mock-Single-Mom. When a happily married, healthy relationship having (usually a SAHM) woman has husband or other significant other that is for whatever reason not home for more than a few nights. Sometimes it's a week or two. And then the comments start. "So done being a single-mom" or "God I hate doing the single-mom thing".  It sends me into a rage. It's not rational. I get it. I totally understand 100% what is being said and the message that is trying to be conveyed.  I do. Doing shit on your own when you normally have a loving, helpful, understanding partner in your life that is suddenly not there to do the shit that you need them to do for days on end blows. What do you mean I have to take out the garbage? ALL THE WAY TO THE CURB?!?! But that's his job. Insert feet stomping and pouting. Explaining to a toddler why Daddy can't give kisses because he's in Cleavland on business is hard (and almost overwhelmingly heartbreaking). When there's no way to tap-out of the monumental fit that's being thrown or the referee to come in when you're trying to decide if you can lock them in the dog kennel without the neighbors noticing for like 20 minutes, life does kind of suck. It's hard. Parenting is a two person gig. It really is. That's why it takes two people to make babies. You need two people for the whole process. And having that person you've come to depend on suddenly not be there when you really need them to be sucks. Especially on those days when he walks through the door and you yell 1-2-3 NOT IT! And run to grab a glass bottle of wine. They're supposed to be there. D'uh.
But they're not. Shit.
I guess my problem is that I take this comment personally. And I don't usually take shit personally; but this gets me every time. I've been a single mom. Being a single mom sucks rancid monkey balls. Especially in the first year (I wasn't really single much longer than that so that's what I know. I'm pretty sure it goes on no matter how long you're single). There is no one else. Even if you do have awesome family (I didn't) and even more awesome friends (I did) it's still all on you. ALL OF IT. All of the time. And no matter the custody situation, when it's your turn you're on your own. All of that worrying you do late at night, whispering your fears and insecurities to your husband in the dark? That's all on you. There's no one to whisper back that you're really doing OK and you're not fucking up your kids so bad they'll never forgive you. You fall asleep most nights exhausted trying to figure out how to make it all work out. There are good an happy times, because you have to make sure that there are. But for you, these times are peppered with guilt and frustration and regret that you couldn't make it better because it's just you. Every parenting insecurity you ever had is hovering just outside your peripheral. All. The. Time. The times when you think you're going to do it are there; when you're confident and think everything might just be OK after all. And then someone has a meltdown, or throws up at school, or, or, or, or, or... and there's no back up.  You realize just what the "single" part of single-parent means on a visceral level.
I think I take this so personally is because, for me, my divorce and decision to become a single-mom was the biggest failure of my life. I don't for one moment regret my decision. I don't think that there was anything that I could have done that would have saved my first marriage. However, I know in my heart that I did not do everything in my power to try to make it better. I could have fought harder. I could have tried 100 different things, but I didn't. I see it as a personal failure. It was my marriage and it failed. Therefore, I failed.  My ex-husband was an asshole of galactic proportions. He'll admit to that. When we failed, I failed. There is no one on this earth that will ever convince me differently.
This is my personal demon and it's hard to hear someone be flip about something that caused me so much pain. I know there is no malice in the hearts of my friends when they use this. It's a simple turn-of-phrase. These women are my friends! These are the women I turn to when I need to bitch about Doug not taking out the garbage - again. Or the size of my ass, or the gray hair I pulled out of my head, or any of another million little (and big) things I love my friends for.
I said I know this isn't rational. This is my issue. This is my crazy. So ladies, if I bite your head off, or leave a snippy comment, or don't guffaw at something obviously hilarious it's OK. We all have our shit, and this is just some of mine.
When your husband comes home, love him. Hug him. Put a little extra effort into whatever may need it so that you never have to stop bitching about being a single-mom because you're too busy actually being one.
With all my love,

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Getting Ambitious!

 So I'm getting a little ambitious around here. While I'm not concentrating on much that I'm should be doing and I didn't spend any more than ten whole minutes on this I'm rather proud of it anyway. I planted tomatoes. The hope is that they'll love this warm California sunshine and thrive; giving us fresh and yummy tomatoes.
I was inspired during my visit to Wisconsin to see my best friend, Michelle. She and her husband have this great garden where they're growing most of their own produce for the summer. I had some of the best tasting veggies while I was there. I'm so jealous. While I would love to have the amazing garden they have I know that's not realistic. I don't have the space or the attention span. I've tried very unsuccessfully to grow tomatoes when we lived in Washington.  I felt a little better about it because the people with the amazing gardens didn't have a whole lot of luck either. Washington just doesn't get enough heat or sun, even in the prime of summer, to produce good tomatoes. After doing a little research I found that it is possible to grow tomatoes here year-round. I feel better that I don't have to try and sneak in planting during some plant-season-window that I couldn't find with a GPS!
I think that Fiona will love to watch the plants grow and seeing that food we buy in the store actually comes from something other than the large bins we pick them from. Maybe she can help me with them. There's no way she could do any worse than I will! We'll see how excited she is when she comes home from day care today.
So here are my budding tomato plants I picked up at Walmart for $4 each. I spent $25 on the whole set-up; plants, pots, soil, and cages. Hopefully I won't be posting about my poor dead tomato plants in a month or so. Fingers crossed. There's so much garden stuff I would like to do, but this is me and while I can dream big, I don't always have great follow through. Not for lack of trying or willingness, mostly for lack of time. I'll be moving these over to the other side of the yard later so that they get hit with the sprinklers and I don't really have to even think about them. I'm going with the theory that the less I do to them, the happier they will be. Keep a look out in a month or so. We should either have great, ripe, yummy tomatoes, or dead plants in the garbage.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

What's All This Time?

For some reason I've managed to have extra bonus unproductive time the last few days. The girls have been keeping chores (mostly) done and the house isn't falling down around me. Yesterday there were NO DIRTY DISHES IN THE SINK! And the dishwasher wasn't full. Whuck? How the hell did that happen? No idea. You know what? Don't care. It happened. There's laundry that needs to be done but it's somehow magically confined to the hamper. Like there's dirty clothes inside the hamper! Usually there's clean clothes inside the hamper and dirty clothes, well, everywhere. Not right now. Nope. Don't care how that happened either. I could even vacuum my bedroom floor if I was so inclined (which I'm not - in case you were wondering).
The first person to mention it's only Tuesday gets punched in the face.
I've even managed to get something close to what resembles "caught up" at work. That means I have accounts I should follow up on, but I'm not getting bitched at about them and all the daily crap is done.
I have a ton of stuff that I could be doing. The garage needs to be cleaned out. The laundry could use a couple loads done. I could work more. But I'm not gonna. I'm enjoying the down time. I'm having fun playing with the babies, planning to shuttle the older girls, and hanging around on Facebook. Hell, I've even managed to get on here more than I have in the last 3 months! So I'm enjoying the time.
Next week I'll be back in full-force-chaos and getting things accomplished. But this week is mine.  This time is mine. And if I want to squander it I will. I'll be wondering where all the time went later.

Monday, July 16, 2012


So I've decided to come on back over to blogger. It's easier. For some reason having the website seems like work. And I don't like work. Especially work I don't get paid for. And while it's not really all that hard to post there, there just seems to be something different... something missing there that has kept it from being what I had here. I'll keep the website up and running and probably link the blog posts from here until I just don't anymore. When I think of it - if I think of it. This seems like extended Facebook posts, with the website I feel like if I'm not putting out something well thought out and coherent then I'm doing it wrong. Me, well thought out and coherent? Yeah, not so much.
The last year has been a whirlwind I'd rather not experience again. And while I am working slowly on getting my balance back I find that the soothing act of just writing has lost some of its flow.  Things here are in full swing of chaos-induced-normalcy. I feel like a storm chaser most days; Like I'm trying desperately to make sense of some raging act of God that is more random and harder to predict than the current power-ball numbers.
So here I am again. I can't wait to see what happens next.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Blended but Not Quite Smooth

Having a blended family is not what one would call easy.  Most of the time things run without a hitch.  Then there are the other times.
When Doug and I got together and decided that we wanted to make this thing permanent we did so with eyes wide... squinted, really.  A new relationship always comes with its own baggage. We both did. Having been married before we came together with a lot of our own issues. We both spent time making the other pay for sins that weren't theirs and through trial, error, and a whole lot of miscommunication managed to get past it.  I am not She and he is not Him and we've managed to go down that road fairly smoothly.  A decade or so worth of conditioned responses did not always have the outcome that was expected. We learned and we grew and our relationship is stronger for it. 
The biggest difference we had was children.  I came into this with three children and 12 years of parenting experience behind me. Being young, and for a good portion of the stretch, on my own, I had done things a certain way without interference.  Mine was a tightly run ship with no margin for error.  It was my way or the Gypsies - you pick.  I learned quickly as a single mother that there was no room for complacency.  In two parent households you can run the good cop/bad cop in a somewhat alternating fashion without running into a loss of control.  When there is only one cop the game changes and you must be one all of the time or risk a reign of chaos you can not get a handle on.  A common saying became "What I say, when I say it, the way I say it". Without such strict order all could  be lost. Let's face it, I was (and still am) outnumbered.  This was met with a mix of shock and awe. I got comments that ranged from "I'm amazed at your strength - good job. Glad you're not my mom!" to "Your parenting makes us uncomfortable, do you think you're too hard?".  Most days I am secure in my parenting choices. I only need to watch my children in any public or social situation to know I did the right thing. Bad behavior was punished swiftly and fiercely, and the results are evident.  Other days I am wracked with Mommy-Guilt. 
In walks this man willing to step in and step up without qualms of taking on three children not of his making.  He quietly and unceremoniously steps in to help lighten the load. I warned him. I tried to disillusion him to the joys of this family that he was about to make and I was met with a patience that I hadn't known existed. Mine was a world of chaos and he sought to bring order and balance to the control I had such a tenuous death-grip on.  And ever so slightly, I let go. Sort of.
We made Mine into Ours and then added two more little humans into the mix. I'd like to say it all runs smoothly. I'd give my new boobs to be able to say that we have become this cohesive unit that runs as if it was always this way, but it's not.  When I started dating again I refused to date men with children. All of the reasons, all of the fears, and all of the struggles I was unwilling to deal with are  becoming a reality in my own home. It took five years for these to be vocalized to me. I am at a loss. 
The biggest problem we are running into is a disparity in the way the older girls respond to us. They often will ask who they think will give the best answer. Can I go, can I have, is not asked of who is more convenient or available. This is something that all parents deal with. I did it as a teenager. I know Doug did, too. But there is a wound there that will not allow this explanation to be a salve.
Then there is the attitude. First, let me say, these are teenage GIRLS! Attitude is everything. And without it I'm pretty sure there would be a irreparable rift in the universe that would cause the earth to implode. The vacuum created by the lack of exaggerated sighs alone could cause satellites to suddenly fall from their orbits. Unfortunately the issues lies in the girls giving Doug an attitude that they would never dream of giving me.  But without the 12 years of previous dictatorship under his belt it's difficult to be on a level playing field.  I'm sure it's the same attitude that teachers, coaches, and other authority figures get.  But detention, benching, or privilege-revoking are not the deterrents that a lifetime of ingrained obedience is. I believe their response to me vs other authority figures is muscle memory.  In the same way I may learn to be fluent in another language, at this point in my life I  will never learn to think in Icelandic. I will always think in English first and respond in Icelandic in a probably less than ideal way. This is how the girls respond with Doug. This isn't fair. But I don't know how to change it. I struggle - we struggle. 
I am not without my own fault in this. I tend to step in when I shouldn't.  I make decisions without consulting and just generally take over when I really should step back. I know this is not a struggle I make alone. I'm sure this is a commonality everyone with a blended family wishes we didn't share.  All I can do is try to be conscious of this and do the best I can to make it easier on all of us.
I hope my husband can continue to be patient with me. I hope my children listen when I try to explain this to them.  One way or another, it will all work out. I only hope it's for the best. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

From Baby Booties to Yellow Footprints

Monday was a big day. Krystyne decided that she would enlist in the United States Marine Corps. To say we couldn't be more proud of her doesn't seem like enough.
She took her ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) last month and got her scores back a couple of weeks ago. She did pretty well. I've always talked to the girls about joining the military. I am not a big believer in parents paying for college. It's great if you can, but I think a higher education is a privilege.  If you want to go to college you're going to have to work for it. I've always stressed to my girls that if they want to go to college their best option was to join the military. If they join they go to school for "free". Yes, they have to work. Yes, they could potentially be put in some less than safe/ideal situations. But, the military will pay for your education as long as you are enlisted. I've explained that I would not be able or willing to pay for their college education. So, better to put on a uniform they can be proud of, go to work, and get your school paid for. It's either that or put on a McDonald's uniform, go to work, and hope you can pay for school. Even if they don't want to go to college join anyway. No one else is going to provide you with a job and  food and a place to live. It's a good option kid, and unless you can come up with something better ...
So after taking her ASVAB and getting the scores back we took a trip to the recruiters' office. We had talked about it for a long time and there really wasn't any preference from one branch to the other. Monday the Army guys had PT (physical training); we talked to the Navy who said that they couldn't do anything until she was officially a senior. That left the Marine Corps. We went in and talked to the nice Staff Sargent there. She laid it all out for Krystyne. She basically explained all that she would be getting out of her service. Not only money for school, but pride in herself and personal accomplishment. She showed her the money - which isn't much - but when you're looking at that or minimum wage at McDonald's and living at home it seems like the damn lotto!  I was impressed with the questions Krystyne asked and the answers she gave to questions asked of her. She had real reasons that at some point she had been thinking about. Her "future" was not just some magical-mystical thing that we we always bothering her about, it had become something she was actively thinking about and really figuring out what that was going to look like.
When the recruiter asked her if she was willing to make the commitment to the Marine Corps I held my breath. I wasn't expecting a solid answer. She's 17. But when she said "Yes, I do" I had to contain myself and not cry (and I didn't - yay me!). That was one of those defining life moments. The ones you can point at and say "My Life Changed In" kind of moments. That was the most adult decision she has ever made. And I am PROUD! The best part is she is proud of herself.
In two weeks she leaves for her medical processing. Two days spent seeing every kind of doctor there is to make sure she is fit for military service. I'm scared to death. I think this will be my normal state from here on out - the new hum in the background. Your children growing up and moving out is always going to happen. You know it. You live with it and sometimes look forward to it. But now there is a looming date; or there will be soon.
In just over a year I will be putting my little girl on a plane and I will get back a Marine. She will stand on the yellow footprints of Parris Island, SC and finish the transition from child to adult - she will begin the transition from civilian to Marine.
I have started my research. It's what I do when faced with any unknown. I read. I look up. I read some more. I look at books, and blogs, and chats, and message boards. I talk to everyone I can think of or find. This is the most unknown for me. When I send her off I will not be able to go with her. I will not be there to help her and offer her strength that she will need more than any time in her life. So from now until then I have to give her all that I can. I have to arm her with the most information I can cram in her pretty little head. I have to help strengthen her body. I have to tell her, show her and remind her every day that no matter what I will be there in her heart. I have to stop friggin' crying every time I think about this. I downloaded the Family Guide to Parris Island. It's an 11 page PDF that is a very basic walk through of what they should expect and what we, as parents, should and should not do. I cried through the whole thing. I looked up the books they suggest and will be ordering them. And I cried sitting on Amazon thinking of the books about Marine life that I will be ordering for my daughter. I sit here writing this and I have had to stop to wipe tears at least a dozen times.
I will keep this updated with what's going on in this amazing journey as I see it and work through it.
One day soon I will be able to stand proud and say "I raised a United States Marine". Today I stand proud and say I am raising Krystyne.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Time to Refocus

I've been restless lately. I've been trying to figure out what's been causing it and trying to figure out how to fix it. What I've figured out is I've not been taking enough time for myself. Not just quiet coffee time or time to relax, but no time to do anything for Me.
When you're up to your eyeballs in kids and work and home and and and and... you tend to let your self get lost in the shuffle. I've decided that the time I don't take for myself is just causing more chaos. There's no time to get my head on straight. There's no focus. There's no chance to see that everything is not falling apart when I feel like I am.
I am very lucky. I have a husband who understands how important this is. When he comes home at the end of the day and all the kids are alive and well the fact that the house is a mess, dinner is still only an idea I had once goes fairly unnoticed. I've managed to pass the laundry on to him and the bulk of the chores in the house to the kids, yet I still feel like I'm not accomplishing anything in a day. Fiona is in daycare full time. Where is my focus? I should have it all together and I don't. It's been bothering me. I've struggled getting everything done. I've struggled keeping my emotions in check. I've just been locked in chaos and  trying to figure out how to get out of this spiral.
So I decided it's time to refocus my attention back on myself. We've been here for about nine months now and I really haven't made many friends. I sent email requests to some Meetup groups. Time to dive back into the Mommy-Group-Circut. While I had a really bad first experience in the setting I was able to turn it around and met some of the most amazing women. I miss my circle of friends and the comfort they provided. I enrolled everyone in the local YMCA and have only once used the facilities. It's time to kick it up a notch. I've lost a good amount of weight since we've been in California but it's time to actually get myself in shape. We have a pool and I want to be able to use it without embarrassment.  I want to be able to look at pictures of gatherings where I thought I looked awesome when I left the house and not wonder how I gained 10lbs between the house and the car!
My belief is that if I can focus more on myself then I can be a better mommy and a better wife. If I concentrate on the woman then I can more adeptly handle the tasks my family need me to. I don't believe in putting everyone's needs above my own because then they are not getting the best of me. I think every woman/mother/wife should make sure her needs are met so she is better equipped to deal with the needs of her family. And yet I'm failing to do that myself. So here I go. Head first into caring for ME. Into being better to myself. I need to figure out specific goals.
What would you do if you could? Where would your personal work-shop start? What is something important to you that you let get lost in the shuffle?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Long Time No See

I can't believe how long it's been since I've been here. It seems that life has gotten in the way of writing about life.
We've settled into the new house - sort of. I still need to get pictures on the walls and the kitchen (more) organized but for the most part we're settled.
The girls are doing fantastic. They keep me running most days. But I love it .
Recently the older girls and I took a trip to Las Vegas to visit with my friend Daniel. It was a much needed vacation and break from routine. During dinner we had a great conversation about life and what we're doing and where we're going. What our goals are and what we're dreaming about. I mentioned something about getting a "real job" once Fiona and Georgiana are school age. We talked about what ideas I have and what I want to do. Honestly it's not really all that amazing. There's no real life-dream thing that I want to do. I felt foolish at 35 still having the "I-don't-know-what-I-want-to-do-with-my-life" conversation.  I love this blog (not that you can tell from the amount I post or anything) and I'd love to take up photography with some kind of seriousness. Baking has always been something I enjoyed and we once toyed with the idea of owning a bakery. But, for the most part, I don't have much of a Bucket List. (My Lord I'm boring!)
This conversation was something that really bothered me. I percolated in my brain for the rest of the night and well into the next day.  The thought that came back time and time again was "I have all I want". But there has to be more... Doesn't there? The more I thought about it the more I realized that no, what I have and where I am is enough. I have FIVE beautiful, healthy, and fun kids. Five. I have a husband that adores me. Even when  he shouldn't - let's be honest, I'm kind of a pain in the ass. I have a house I love (with a pool!), enough money to manage, a running vehicle, food on the table, clothes in the closet. I am able to give my kids what they need - love, attention, discipline, full bellies. I am content.
When I was growing up things were not ideal. My parents all had issues that didn't leave much room for me. At times I'm angry. At times I'm resigned. For the most part I've come to understand that my parents are human and even though I had to suffer through their mistakes it was no fault of mine. I knew early on that I did not want to make the same mistakes with my children that were made with me and I feel like I've done a pretty good job on that. Not that I haven't made mistakes. I'm far from perfect, but I feel like I've done my absolute best with my children. And the older I get and the more experience as a mother I have the better I feel about what I'm doing.
My point in this is that I had the realization that I AM doing what I love.  I am living the dream, so to speak. What I will do when the littlest girls are finally in school and I have the time and attention span for a "real job" when the time comes is still up in the air. I have ideas. I have things that I think I could do for the next 25 years. But the time for decisions is not now. Now I get to enjoy this dream "job" that I have. It's not easy, there's no days off, there's no sick-days and the pay sucks; but they benefits are nothing short of extraordinary!
I am making a point to get back here regularly to update and write and use the part of my brain that this satisfies more often. I miss it.I hope that I haven't lost both of the people that stop by to see what's going on and peek in my virtual medicine cabinet.
Remember to count your blessings and realize that you may be closer to living the dream than you think you are.

Monday, January 16, 2012

On The Move

Well, we're at it again. Moving. Ugh. I could really do without it but it's one of those necessary evils. When we first moved down to California for Doug's job we moved into my aunt's rental house. It's a great little house.  But it's a little house. Of course most things are for a family of our size... 
We wanted to have our dog, Maggie, back and my aunt didn't want pets here. I get it. I don't think I'd be interested in having someone's pets in a house I owned.  You just never know. So we looked for something a little bigger that would support our family - both two and four legged ones. We found a great house not far from the girls' school that would allow us to have our dog and had a pool! I think I'm most excited about the pool.  It's either that or the dishwasher. Again, with a family this size, a dishwasher is a must have item.  So we're ready to move this weekend.
I can say that I am not dreading this move nearly as much as I have other moves.  Truthfully Doug and I haven't really moved much. We moved in together and then to California. Not moving has been nice. I moved so much during my first marriage that we never seemed to get settled. Now we're only moving a few miles, staying within the girls' school district and signing a two year lease.  So this will be it for a while. I think I might be thinking this is going to be easier than it really will be. I haven't done any packing so far and I'm not really sure we're going to be doing all that much anyway.  The Thursday before we actually bring in the truck and get all the big crap I'll be moving a bunch of stuff in my Excursion.  It'll be mainly clothes and bathroom and kitchen stuff.  The things we need to actually live with while we unpack and settle in. I am really looking forward to the move. Not the work, mind you, but the move itself.  We've been here six months and it's never really felt like ours.  It was a transitional stop from the beginning and that's a hard place to live. 
In the five-plus years that Doug and I have been together we've always been planning for something. First a wedding, then a baby, then another baby, and then a long distance move. While we've done well and kept our head's on it seems like we haven't had much of a chance to just be.  Now we are getting that chance. To be intentionally stationary and with no other plans other than to live our life will be something different for me.  I'm looking forward to finding out what life like that is like.  We are a busy family. With active kids and jobs that require attention being able to relax and find stability in our surroundings is nice. We will finally be able to fully reap the benefits that the move here initially promised.  I'll try and post pictures of the house as we get settled.  I'm excited to share the new future we're not  planing for.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

I'm Back

Well, maybe "back" isn't exactly right. Back would mean that I was gone. I wasn't gone, I just wasn't here. And in all truthfulness that was really probably best. I wasn't in a good place. I wasn't in a good writing place.The blog posts in my head were depressing even to me and I just couldn't bring myself to put it all out there. Not in a vulnerability kind of way, but more of  a no-one-wants-to-read-this-shit kind of way. In a I-don't-even-want-to-type-this-shit kind of way!
Honestly it was  all ridiculous. The blow up that I was expecting between me and my mom happened. There's no way to leave at 21 and come home at 34 and not have it happen. And it was more than just that. It was the expectations I was failing to live up to, the family functions I was expected to attend at the cost of my own family traditions (Christmas).  Add my own craziness that comes from living in chaos in a house that just won't ever feel like mine and I just had to shut the lid on the laptop for a while.  But here I am feeling a little bit better and the holidays behind me and ready to do it all over again. 
I miss it here. I miss my little piece of cyber-space and both the people that read this thing.  I am feeling the urge to write again. I am feeling the words pour though my head and look for a page to call home. So even though we have a TON going on, as always, I feel like I'm "back". Or maybe - more accurately - still here. Still standing. And still rambling on. Thanks for hanging around.