Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Just for Pretend

Yesterday marked the first day of first grade for my eldest daughter. About two days before, she started complaining that her stomach hurt. The first time she said it, I didn't think much of it since it didn't stop her from doing anything, but with each subsequent complaint I realized that she was a little bit scared of her first day of all-day school. She's a pretty easy going and very social kid, so to see her nervous was a little bit sweet in that it showed a consciousness I didn't realize she had yet.

I'm so glad I took the whole day off. As much as this day was about her, it was about me too. It was my "Pretend Day." I got to pretend I didn't ever have to go back to work and leave my babies, that I was the same person I was two years ago when flip-flops were my daily wear and sunshine was something my skin embraced. I got to love everything about being a stay-at-home mom. Taking a snotty nose wipe on my shirt would have been a badge of honor. I don't know if it was my imagination or not, but I swear my kids minded me better, held my hand tighter and laughed more. Don't get me wrong, they also stopped doing all those things periodically through the day just to ground me. And, for the record, I also remember--but chose to shelve, that being a stay-at-home mom has it's really tough days too when going to work looks pretty good. Yesterday I got to live out the best of the best.

Yesterday morning we all loaded up the stroller and walked to school with all the neighborhood kids, me yelling the whole time "Too far!" and "Wait for me!" just like before. Once we got there I saw familiar mom faces and we had a chance to chat about the coming year. I watched the clock all day excited to hear about her very first day. I live close enough to the school that I can hear the recess and lunch bells. I wondered if she was making any new friends, if her lunch looked as good to her as the other kids' and if her uneasiness had finally subsided. I cleaned my house, played with my kids, started a roast and I pretended that I had all the time in the world. I got to pretend that this day was my everyday and that it would never end.

Once we headed to school to pick her up, the fantasy didn't end. She ran to me looking tired and I got to lean down and give her a reassuring hug and ask her how her day went. Of couse it went great and I got to hear about all fun things she saw and did fresh from her mind. We met up with our neighboring family and we all walked home together chatting until it was time to part ways towards our own homes. When the baby went to sleep the big kids got to line up chairs and help me mix and bake cookies. By the end of the day, the smell of fresh chocolate chip cookies permeated the house and everyone was happy.

I know that these things are all so simple, but it's these things that I most ache for. Not in a million years would I have thought that the life I just described would be what I pray for, plead for, hope for and play the lottery for. I couldn't sleep last night. I didn't want my Pretend Day to end. Finally at 1:00am I knew I had to let the day go and be thankful I had it. Just so there's no mistake (ha!), I am so thankful I had this first day of school.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Ahhhh...To Finally Breath...

These last few weeks at work have literally just about put me over the edge. The good news is I finished the first budget draft on Friday night and was able to just breath this past weekend. I don't know how some moms do it--you know, those ones who always look like they are rested with a clean house and all is right in the world? Even if I work a 13 hour day, it's never really just a 13 hour day. It means I get up at 4:00am before my kids or the sun come up and I get home at 8:00pm when the kids are heading to bed. It's the worst.

I feel like I've just lost two weeks in their lives. The greatest blow came on Saturday when I asked my daughter to do something and she said she already did. When I said I didn't see it get done, she yelled (literally) "You didn't know because you left and went to work." Ugh...she was right. I didn't know anything about anything by the end of last week. Even my son had been snappy with me....what's with all the freaking yelling at me?!? Do I not get it served up at work enough that I now need my 4 and 6 year old to get in on the action? I mean, do they really think that now that they've yelled at me I WANT to help them out?--WRONG. Yeah, I had to go to work and let me tell you, no one is more pissed off about this than me. I hate it, but this is what we have.

Last year a few of us neighborhood moms got together and we bid on a silent PTA auction to do a mommy and daughter tea party. It was supposed to be a nice way of taking time out to spend with our kids before the school year started. It was supposed to be something fun and special, something nice we were doing for our kids.

After Saturday's yelling rant, I didn't feel much like doing anything special with anyone, except for the sweet baby who just smiled at all the noise. Don't think I didn't threaten taking the tea party away with all the lip I got. Everyone had something on the line if attitudes didn't change. If we didn't go to the tea my son missed out on his "Big Brother" day with the baby, which we had been building up for weeks. Just him and his baby sister (and the husband of course). He's always her big brother, but just making it a special day seemed to change everything for him.

Thankfully, Sunday was redemption day for everyone. I got to be a better mom by having some time to appropriately discipline my kids with a solid talking-to and they had a chance to see yelling is not going to work at our house if they ever want to see fun again. After everyone apologized for the previous day's events, we kissed the baby and boys of the house and my daughter and I set off in our "Fancy Nancy" clothes around the corner to the home of the gracious mom who volunteered to host the tea party.

The girls had a great time and we mom's had a chance to talk about the new school year. My independent and spicy little girl sometimes has these great moments where she is just the sweetest, best kid I've ever known and it makes me love her all over again. She had a chance to enjoy practicing her manners and eating pretty foods with little white gloves on. In my heart of hearts I know these sweet times are slowly being catalogued as a survival mechanism for those sassy adolescent years that I know are coming.

Tomorrow is the first day of first grade and of course I took a vacation day. Gone are the separate kindergarten playgrounds and schedules... My brain has not been able to focus all day. All I can think about is getting out of here in preparation for tomorrow. I'm so excited for her to start this new year as a big kid who has an all day schedule. I'm scared too. Kindergarten was fun, but she definitely brought home some new things like teasing, back-talk and mean words which we had to put our foot down on and are still battling. She has developed some autonomy which is both fun and scary to watch.

The oldest child is something of a mystery sometimes for me. I remember being 6, but I don't remember thinking like I'm 6. My little pioneer will blaze the way for the other two who will follow her to school way to soon. Right now, just for today, I'm going to pretend they will never grow up and that they will always love their mother :-)

Have a great week!!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


It's been really warm during the day in our neck of the woods, so once the evening starts to roll along there is a nice cool calm that captures my neighborhood. After going to the beach and having fun, I was motivated to take better care of myself to ensure there are more visits to the beach to come.

Monday night I threw on the jogging skirt - that's right, a jogging skirt and laced up my shoes and hit the road with my new (to me) jogging stroller I just bought off Craig's List. It's not easy running with the stroller, but it did get me out with the baby who did love it. I didn't go more than a few miles, but I felt like I was going to die. I think that's the worst thing about not working out or running in awhile. You forget just how hard it is to get back to feeling fit. If you would've told me two years ago that I was going to feel this bad going just two miles, I would have laughed at the absurdity of it. Well, the joke is now on me.

When I got home from work last night my six year old daughter had her running shorts on and was waiting on the stairs for me. "I'm ready, Mom," was all she said. My husband said she had been looking forward to going on a run with me all day, how could I say "No"? So, last night marked the second night in a row that I loaded up my baby in the jogging stroller and went for a run. This time I had a little bit more company.

She was brilliant. We ran four times around the block (about a mile) and it began to get dark. "This is the last lap" I told her, huffing and puffing for breath. I have never met a little girl who could talk so much and so fast while running. "Come on Mom, just one more. We can do it." "I don't know" I said. "You look tired and I'm getting kinda tired." "Please Mom, just believe in me." "Just believe in you, huh?" (where do they get these things?). "Alright" I said. Just one more after this...

On our second to last lap we decided to race to the house. "Wanna race?" I said. She squeeled with delight and yelled, "YES." I picked it up and she kept up. I ran faster and she kept my pace. I ran has hard and as fast as I could and I was barely ahead of her skinny little legs. When we got to the house I was in disbelief. I just had my ass kicked by a six year old. Then, I smiled. I just had my ass kicked by my six year old. "Wow, Mommy" she said, "I never knew you were so fast!" We dropped the baby off at the house since she was asleep now and we walked that last block hand in hand talking and laughing. "Mommy, can we go again tomorrow?" "We'll see" I said. I can't wait to get home tonight. I just love that little girl. I hope she remembers this night like I know I will...

Monday, August 10, 2009

Ahhh....the Beach

Now that everyone is relatively healthy, we decided to take advantage of the last weekend we have before school starts and head to Santa Cruz for the day. If we didn't get up there now, it would be another year before we did.

Santa Cruz and its surrounding areas are amazing. It's such a nice change to our regular every day pace. It's so different from both the busy city and the cookie cutter suburban life; it lets you just breathe...

Who doesn't love the beach on a nice warm day?! When I was little my parents used to take us up to Half Moon Bay and we would play "chicken" with the big waves that would crash to the shore. I remember it like it was yesterday...I watched my kids do the same thing with the same laughter and joy that I did as a kid. The kids didn't fight a lick while playing on the beach. They were buddies again working together to conquer the great ocean. It sounds so simple, but watching them frolic and play in the sand was probably one of the best things I've seen in a long time. I don't remember what my mom or dad did during the week, but I remember the beach. It reminds me that even if I'm not home with my kids everyday participating in their every move, I still get to be a big part of their lives. I can still mold them into good human beings.

I know it's ambitious, but some day I want to have a beach house (or shack). There something so pure and inviting about the beach. I'd venture to reach that it's actually therapeutic (think my insurance will go for it??)--I know I already feel better and I've got a week from hell ahead of me work wise.

For now, I'll take the one day at the beach to get me through this week.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Never Say...

At any point in a day, never, ever say "Today cannot get any worse" because trust me, based on last week's experience it can and it will. I said it and boy was I sorry...

It's been upside down busy at work and frankly, I'm not really sure if I'm going to make all my deadlines. Thursday was the day that couldn't end fast enough, but the day you needed the most hours in. Our company sends out these surveys to get input on how happy our consumers are about the job we perform. If a bad survey comes in I immediately get this "red-flag" email to review it asap. Well, I got one of these and it was seriously the WORST survey responses I had ever come across my desk. It was so bad it was actually taken up the ladder to the CEO of the company! I made a few calls and contacted the sender and asked how we could be better. Long story short, the mean survey was not filled out by the person it was sent to, but some schmuck who thought he'd be funny and crucify us just for the sake of doing so. Thankfully, the survey was revised and resubmitted with glowing remarks. Schmuck I'm told will be fired if found.

I have a rat's nest of accounting issues to review and fix and while I don't think that this is part of my job, I've been appointed to do it (yea!). This survey catastrophe down, I ran out of the door headed to our corporate office for an accounting meeting with our CFO (which I still don't think I need to be part of, but whatever). In route, I'm talking on the phone with my office - still working mind you when I hear a loud POP sound and my car began to make a funny noise. My tire blew. I had never blown a tire and let me tell you it was not the day to do it. It was super hot out and I wasn't exactly in a desirable location, even on the freeway. I called into corporate and let them know I wouldn't make it. I called my husband who was 45 minutes away to come help me. I called the Nanny to say we'd be late. I found my baby was not feeling well and pulling her ears and I had two CHP officers drive by me without a blink of an eye.

I finally got home. The baby was not looking good, so I called the doctor and they said if I could get there in 20 minutes they'd see me. So, off I went. Thankfully there was no ear infections just severe teething pain...that day. The ugly flu came on the next night. My poor little baby never cries and that's all she's been doing now for three days. In light of the swine flu going around, I'm being extra careful. I'm hoping tomorrow things improve.

Friday was my little boy's 4th birthday. I just love him. I used to think I did not want any boys, but then I had him. I love my girls like crazy, but the sweetness of having a son is special. Like the other two monkeys I have, he too has grown too fast and too quick. We were supposed to head to Santa Cruz for a fun weekend of playing at the beach in lieu of a birthday party - his choice, but since the baby got sick, my husband got sick and my son starting getting sick we had to cancel. We promised to make it another weekend, but I'm not sure if we can actually squeeze it all in before school starts. Thank GOD I took last Friday off to celebrate by going to the Lawrence Hall of Science, so he wasn't terribly dissappointed. The kids loved it! The current exhibit is "Animal Grossology" and what kid doesn't like gross stuff about animals - like poo?

My fingers are crossed that this week goes better. I'm starting off already behind, so I've gone back to the tried and true list to just hit one thing at a time. There were too many balls up in the air last week and I think I just lost my focus. I'm hoping this week goes a little better.

Stay healthy!