2019: A Welcome Refresh

Happiest of New Years, dear readers! My poor little corner of the internet has been quiet too long. It turns out that having an 8-year-old AND a 1-year-old keeps a girl pretty busy. Especially when the 1-year-old is…well, we’ll just call him a mischievous little thrill seeker for now. I’ll dedicate a whole blog to little Bird soon, but suffice it to say he’s the kind of kiddo that can empty a whole bookshelf and decimate a dozen book covers in the 30 seconds it takes me to refill that 3rd cup of coffee.

I don’t know that I’ve ever been so excited to see a new year. 2018 had so many ups, but it also brought a lot of changes and challenges.

We adjusted to becoming a family of 4 this year. It has not always been easy, but even the growing pains have brought me joy.

My husband’s company was sold and his position at work changed. It was a positive change, but still an adjustment.

My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer late last spring. She had a partial mastectomy in the summer followed by several months of chemotherapy and will start radiation in just a few days, which we hope will be the final treatment she needs and put her in remission.

While my family dealt with my mom’s diagnosis and treatment, my stepfather lost his own battle to cancer early in December. After he decided to stop treatment in the fall, we enjoyed the last few months he was with us as much as possible. He will be sorely missed in many aspects of my life, but most of all in my writing. He was always the first to comment on and share my blog or any article I’d written. I’m a writer by birth and an editor by education, and he was MY editor: a trusted opinion who could spot a grammar error or comma splice a mile away.

And so it is with a deep breath and exhale that I welcome 2019. I’m very much looking forward to this year: we’ll be moving in the spring, hopefully into a home that fits our active boys a little better. I’ll be working on putting some final touches on some writing projects and growing my little freelance business. My new years resolutions are simple and enjoyable: to read and write every day. And of course, there’s homeschool and traveling and the glorious little discoveries of each day with 2 boys.

I’m excited to rediscover old friends, bloggers and writers online and find some new ones, too. What’s your favorite blog to read right now? Let me know in the comments. Until then-

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Changing and Rearranging

Happy September everyone! This time of year always reminds me of my one of my favorite blogs that I wrote a few years back:

“Autumn, the responsible daughter, gives us an extra hour of sleep. She paints the mountains in beautiful colors. She brings cool breezes that are a relief after summer’s temper tantrums and we revel in slipping on coats and curling up with blankets and hot drinks.

Then summer stomps it’s feet and refuses to stay in bed like a good child and it gets hot again and we all sweat for a week or two, determinedly drinking our pumpkin spice lattes because it’s supposed to be fall, darn it.”

We’re currently in one of those hot spells here in Atlanta, even though all natural urges say to consume hot drinks and wear cosy warm clothing. It’s also back to school time, and that ignites a fire in me to be organized, create a schedule for myself, and learn something new.

(Sidenote: when I said this to my husband, he chuckled and said that back to school time made him want to teach something. I think this difference is an excellent portrayal of our relationship and perhaps why we get along so well).

So in addition to our third grade homeschool year (!!!!) I decided it was time for me to get back to the books as well–or perhaps more accurately, the notebook and keyboard. So I dusted off the blog, gave it a new name to reflect life right now, and here we are. I’m excited to start writing about our life again, and excited to work on the novels and stories that got put on the back burner while we were preparing for and welcoming baby into our world.

(The baby who is, somehow, almost 10 months old. Man did that happen fast!)

When back to school season rolls around, do you get the urge to teach or to learn? Or just cut class altogether and go to the mall?

I Really Should be Writing This Down

Today I went to the annual spring event at JC’s co-op. He is 7 now, on the very cusp of 8, and attends the drop-off program. This means several things. One is that he makes friends that I do not know well. I hear their names and stories about them each week. It also means we left behind friends that haven’t aged out of the parent-led sessions, where JC and I spent several years getting to know older and younger kids and I spent hours each week with their parents. They became my friends, and a few became my close friends.

Then I got pregnant, JC graduated into the drop-off program, and the time I got to spend with even the closest of those friends became minimal. In fact, the last time I saw most of these parents was last year’s spring festival, right after I’d announced my pregnancy and was sporting just the smallest of protruding belly bumps.

That bump, that little possibility of a person, is now a wriggling, jovial, roly-poly baby boy, desperate to keep up with his big brother even at 5 months old.

It was delightful to show him off to people who followed my pregnancy through Facebook and Instagram and stories from my eldest, who has apparently kept his co-op appraised of all things happening in our world.

Today I had people approach me and say, “are you JC’s mom?” And when I accepted that moniker, bracing myself for whatever was about to come next (because, let’s be honest: it could be anything from “your son just sang every word of ‘The Devil went down to Georgia’ for us!” to “JC told us all about how you went into pre-term labor at your baby shower and threw up just as the guests were sitting down to eat!”, both of which I heard today), I inevitably heard this:

How is it with 2 boys with such an age difference?

Well, I’ll tell you: it’s…fast.

Somehow I managed to go from barely pregnant to having a semi-mobile baby and an exuberant 2nd grader in a year that felt like it happened in a week. The breakneck speed at which my life seems to be going by is both gratifying and terrible. My days pass in a blur and I look up at dinner time and think, where did the time go?!

This is a stark difference to how those early days of first-time motherhood passed. When JC was small, I had not yet met my tribe. I had no other children, and some days, no reason to leave my house. I could spent hours contemplating his baby toes, his belly button, and I remember the late afternoons would stretch on for days while I waited for my husband to come home from work. With no older sibling to attend to and email and social media still a thing of the future (when JC was born I had a flip phone with a grainy camera and had no idea what life with unlimited talk, text and data would be like), life was slower. Now our days start early and I look up after both boys are in bed and realize all I’ve eaten all day is leftover Easter candy and an entire bag of mini carrots. JC has activities, there are math lessons and writing practices to be done, friends who make sure I don’t slip into introverted isolation, and family to share the moments with.

And yet, there is still time.

There is still time to marvel at the wonders of a growing baby: his unique and joyful personality, his chubby thighs, his infectious grin that showed itself at a mere 10 days old. There is still time for a snuggle and a story with JC, who despite his status as a big kid will still jump at the chance for coveted Mom or Dad lap time. There’s time to enjoy the connection my two sons have despite the age difference, then to wonder at the fact that I have sons. That I’ve been entrusted with the care of two fantastic and frustrating creatures. There is still time to think, man, I should be writing this down.

But just because there’s time to think it doesn’t mean there’s actually time to do it. There’s also no time to do laundry, meal plan, train for the marathon I want to run, or do much of anything outside the immediate requirements of motherhood. Some things, of course, must be done. Laundry, for example, or else the baby may be put to bed in an oversized “Someone in Colorado loves me and bought me this T-shirt” shirt and a pair of baby sweat pants (that may or may not have happened today). And, after visiting with so many old friends this morning and being reminded of the swift passage of days, there must be time made for writing, both for my love of it and for the record-keeping of the boyhood details I’ll forget one day as my kids get older. Which is why after I put the baby down after his 1:00 AM snack I picked up my pen to write.

I’ve got plans for this blog: a new name, a new layout, and a list of topics I want to write about motherhood and all it encompasses. But life happens while you’re busy making plans, so tonight as my family sleeps I jumped in with both feet. Because life is fast…and I really should be writing this down.

A special thanks to my readers who are still out there! I’m looking forward to reconnecting with you all. 💙

Letting go of Grandma’s Attic: Part One

A strange thing has happened to me during this pregnancy. Instead of the nesting inclination I had when I was pregnant with JC, I have the opposite: I want to get rid of everything. I want to purge. I want to streamline. I want to organize and control.

My husband is positively thrilled.

When we moved this spring, I was too wrapped up in morning sickness to do any organizing at all. Everything was packed, whether we needed it or not. Once we got settled in, I realized I hadn’t leased a storage unit…which made me realize that if I did so now, I’d have to haul all the stuff to the unit myself. So everything extra went into JC’s closet and bedroom: all his toys. Thousands of legos. Off-season clothes. Our holiday decorations, childhood mementos, random boxes of spare computer parts and college paperwork got stacked into his oversized closet. It was madness, and it also made me realize a third thing: in a few short months, I was going to have to fit a whole other human (albeit a small one) and all his accruements in there, too.

Where is baby going to go?!?


So I started to sort. It has been decades coming, folks. Once I started to throw things away, I couldn’t stop. Letters from boyfriends I hadn’t even liked at the time, notes passed between elementary school gal pals, sheet music from middle school concert band, ticket stubs from when I was 8 or 9, and incriminating photos from my sorority days went into big black garbage bags. An entire box of gift bags from my wedding. 10 years ago. I may have a tiny bit of a hoarding problem.

Despite the hormonal surge to clear out everything, it still came with a bit of nostalgia for the proverbial grandma’s attic. You know, going back to Grandma’s old farmhouse as an adult where you spent your summers and getting lost in the attic, finding things from generations ago. Finding old diaries and letters wrapped in twine and–

–Wait, you don’t know? Actually…me either. I think perhaps my desire to keep everything for future generations comes from the scene in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation when Chevy Chase gets stuck up in the attic and watches reels of old movies. There is no attic such as that in my world–in fact, my grandma just moved into a nursing home and all of her earthly possessions have been stacked at my mother’s house in what is proving to be a long, tedious and painful process as my mother has to go through old bills, letters, paperwork and stuff. Definitely not the memories I want to leave behind for my future generations.

No, I’d rather leave a few well-chosen memories for my children’s children to go through one day: a glowing reference letter my high school newspaper editor wrote for me that made me sound like a literary genius. The movie stub from the very first date I went on with my husband. A feather from the feather boa I wore to my senior prom (yep, I was that girl). And maybe–maaaaaybe–a salacious photo or two from those sorority days, just to make my grandkids raise an eyebrow at what grandma was like back in the day.

Do you hang on to everything? Or do you throw away as you go? Is there anything you’ve gotten rid of that you wish you could get back?

 

Mama’s Getting a Promotion

Well, hello there.

The last time we talked it was January. I had every intention of starting 2017 off with a blogging boom. I had lists and schedules and all that stuff–and then I was offered a freelance writing job that took up every free moment of my life until mid-March. Almost immediately after it wrapped up, I got an even bigger promotion. The biggest promotion a stay-at-home mom/writer mama can get.


Nugget will be arriving just in time for Thanksgiving and the holiday season, and we’re all excited about the addition of a Little Brother for JC. In fact, when we told him the big news, his first reaction was, “Finally!” JC has been asking for a sibling since he was 3, and  in his opinion, his father and I have been taking our sweet time fulfilling that particular request.

The first trimester was…rough. I got really sick right after I found out I was expecting, then got sciatica so badly that some days I didn’t leave the couch. The first half of the second trimester wasn’t much better. Then summer came, and I was very focused on having a slow and engaged summer with JC. It has been really nice just to taking our time for the past couple of months: wake up when we feel like it (even though JC “feels like it” at 6 AM), exploring our favorite city haunts, and spending long afternoons reading Harry Potter together.

But fall is right around the corner. Homeschooling starts back up in just a couple weeks, along with my 3rd trimester. Change is in the air for JC, my family and for my little corner of the internet. I’ve enjoyed our slow summer but I’m happy to pick up the pace again.

Are you back to school or still enjoying summer? Are you ready for fall or still clinging to that summer feeling?

 

Creating New Rituals

Happy New Year, readers! I hope you all had a wonderful and fulfilling holiday break. My family and I had many relaxing moments, but I am very happy to be back to the real world today. The week between Christmas and New Years was a bit of a haze for me.

Our homeschool co-op doesn’t pick back up until next week, but we started our second half of first grade today. I’m excited about all the things JC is excited for this year, and I’ll be writing a full blog on it soon.

But for today, I want to talk about creating new rituals for a fresh year. This year I’m not setting any resolutions, because I feel like making a list of things to do and ways to be better is just setting yourself up for disappointment and frustration. I know I’m not the only one who had a rough go of 2016, and this year, I really want to be good to myself. Here are some of the rituals I hope to create this year for myself and my family:

  • Ending our day with music: At the end of the day when dinner is done, parents are exhausted and the kids get that wild, pre-bedtime wind, we often turn on the TV to kill time before bed. I would like to start trading the TV for music and audiobooks. I’d love to see what playlists my family come up with.
  • The Best Year Ever jar: I’ve made room on our kitchen bookshelf for a big empty jar, and I’m encouraging my family to drop a note inside when something good happens or when they’re thankful for something. At the end of the year, we’ll have a whole jar of happy memories.
  • Using essential oils in my showers: Most days, a shower is the only time I get to myself–and some days even then I have a small visitor pushing trains around the bathroom. I would like to utilize some essential oils and scents to help set a tone for my day.
  • Starting my writing time each day with a writing prompt: I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to writing prompts and at least 3 books full of them, all for when “I have time”–and this year, I will make the time.
  • I want to set aside a time each week to be creative outside of writing: I used to love to sew and scrapbook and do crafty things. As a homeschooling mom, it was very easy to let those side projects slide. I’d love to pick some of them back up, though. I started a Harry Potter pillow almost 3 years ago I haven’t finished. Is there really any excuse for that?
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It should not take 4 years to make a pillow.

 


I’d love to know: what rituals do you have? 

I’m Going Back to Kindergarten

I think it is time to go back to kindergarten.

No, I’m not talking about JC. I’m talking about us. People. Everywhere.

I don’t have to recap for you what has been going on in the world. I know you, like me, are probably overwhelmed by 24-hour news coverage of shootings, bombs, rape cases, racial tension and a presidential election that makes me wish I could actually vote for the Hermione Granger ticket.

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I’m not going to rehash the details, and I’m not going to give you my opinion. In fact, I thought for days about even pressing “publish” on this blog. The beauty and the nightmare of social media is that when anything happens–good, bad, controversial–people can post their opinions about it. But it seems recently that people have forgotten the most basic etiquette and manners. And so I think it is time to go back to kindergarten and remember a few things.

Like to BE NICE. When bad things happen, and when people get hurt, we want to put the blame somewhere. You know that saying, if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all? I feel like social media needs a gigantic dose of that.

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And to TAKE TURNS. Social media allows us to talk. And talk. And not pay attention to what other people might be saying.

Or to PLAY. Being connected all the time is exhausting. Go outside, read a book that is made of paper and has no buttons. Walk around a zoo and see real animals, not just videos of them acting cute on YouTube.

Make sure to have a SNACK. When you’re hungry, you’re crabby. When you’re crabby, you take it out on other people.

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Do something with FOCUS. Little kids have an amazing ability to focus intently on things–whether it be building with legos, poking things with a stick, or walking very, very, carefully on an imaginary path when you’re in a hurry. Can you remember the last time you focused on one thing because you loved it, and not because you had to?

That we need to USE OUR WORDS, NOT OUR HANDS. Is it just me, or is the violence out of control? Situations escalate far too quickly. It is so, so frightening.

Finally, DON’T LIE. Just don’t. It will eventually come back to get you–and if it doesn’t, you know what they say about karma.

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What lesson do you think the world needs to remember right now?