Humpday Adventures

live a little, laugh a lot

Year of Jesus

I am halfway through my Year of Jesus. What is the Year of Jesus? You might be wondering, especially for us nonreligious types. My friend and biblical scholar told me about the “Year of Jesus” on my birthday this past February. It is simply the year that you are 33 years old, and if done right (as Jesus did way back when), it’s a special year of growth and success, of finding your stride and accomplishing great things (like saving the human race from sin).

Yes, I thought. This will be my year, I thought.

So far, welllll? We’ll start positively: the kids are great, and my hubs is climbing the ranks at work and enjoying the challenges associated with his newest role. We are all healthy and loving life in the Pacific Northwest. The “eh” part: I have been working in a job I like but don’t love, where the benefits are good but the pay isn’t great. A job in which I could easily stay, but knowing I am capable of doing much more than take care of small children makes the daily grind that much worse.

About three weeks ago, I got my new contract for this school year.

It was not what I had hoped.

I actually felt (uncharacteristically) ANGRY. So angry, I just started cleaning my house. Have you ever angry-cleaned? Whoa, nelly! I was fuming, putting ALL the clutter away. Lots of stuff into the trash. Spotless toilets. Hubs asked me what was wrong, and I promptly burst into tears saying I wanted to quit my job.

But we had just talked about this! Literally, two days before we talked about my next year of employment. Let’s do one more year, get our older son through kindergarten, keep my insurance, yada yada…

But I couldn’t do it, ya’ll! I couldn’t do it for one more year.

Let me rewind for a minute: I was a teacher for about 5 1/2 years before my family moved mid-year clear across the country from Missouri to Oregon. Leaving a teaching job mid-year is a nightmare for all involved, but my realistic choices at the time were to move at Christmas to join my hubs in Oregon, or to stay (alone) in Missouri for another six months with a 3-year-old and a 7-month-old.

No Daddy for 6 months?

We moved.

The timing was hard — Portland in the winter is basically shit, and I had no job, no friends, and no sunlight. Getting a job was a game-changer. Instead of teaching, I was a teaching assistant, which is a bit ironic because weeks before the move, one of my best friends and I were laughing about how amazing life would be if we were assistants. We would crush it! Clock in, clock out, no work on weekends, no emails, no conferences, oh! It sounded like heaven.

And then I got that job! I became the teaching assistant in a sa-weeeeet kindergarten classroom, and it was all of those things…and more. And less. Because, teachers at this school make a pretty good (read: livable) wage. But, I didn’t make a livable wage, rather I made enough money to pay for my kids’ daycare. That was all. And there was quite a bit of exhausting and emotionally draining shit that went along with my very meager paycheck. Nothing like working just to send your kids to daycare!

Although I didn’t have to plan lessons or meet with parents, I helped raise their babies every day. I wiped their tears, rubbed their backs, encouraged them, helped them, guided them, “mom’d” them (since I was the only mom in the building). And then I went home and did the same for my own two babes at home. One of the reasons I wanted to leave was I couldn’t find the balance between being present at work and giving my students what they needed, and being present at home and giving my boys what they needed. I was out of gas.

So I quit! The news is still sinking in, but I’m encouraged by the positive texts, hugs, “congrats,” and “On to bigger and better things!” that I’ve received so far. Geez louise, I must have been visibly miserable to get such a positive response.

Back to my Year of Jesus. I am unemployed (FUNemployed?) and trying to figure out that mystical, elusive, tal vez Impossible thing called balance. Balance between work and family, and between being a MOM and being a woman/friend/partner/human being. Balance between sacrifice-for-the-good-of-my-family and self-care-for-the-sake-of-my-sanity. I am seeking the balance between Getting Shit Done and Relaxing (at least sometimes). Between Working Super Hard to provide a good life for myself and my family, and Enjoying Life While I’m Here on this Earth.

Anyone else out there feeling these tensions?

Anyone else’s favorite word “shit?” Man, I don’t know where my mental health would be be without it.

I just signed up for a writing course, and by the end of this year, I hope to have a client (or a few) who actually pay me to write. This is my plan. It is a loose plan at the moment, but I’m writing it here and publishing it in order to hold myself accountable. And you can come along for the ride! I will write much more often now that it will be my job to do so.

Friends, family, people of the Internet, this is my first HUMPDAY post in a LOOOONG time, years actually, so let’s celebrate the (re)birth of something new. I have almost exactly six months left of my Year of Jesus, and I plan to crush it. Hang with me, laugh with me, love with me. Judge me if you want to, just do it quietly. Let’s raise a glass of wine (A.K.A. Jesus Blood) to Family, to Balance, and to figuring this crazy life out before our souls are completely sucked out of our bodies. Happy Humpday!

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Christmas Eve Delights!

If you are a nerd like myself or my very dear friend, Christie, you might be wondering if I intended “delights” in the title as a noun or a verb. Wouldn’t you like to know! (I suppose, it’s both.)

20141223_114758The build-up to Christmas in our house is, for the first time in my married life, super exciting. Although I have always loved this time of year, it is at least 10 times better this year experiencing the holiday season through the excitement of our 2 1/2 year old. J is simply beside himself with Christmas lights up everywhere, blow-up Frosty the Snowman yard decorations, our tree adorned, candles burning, and presents under the tree. We’ve made salt-dough ornaments, decorated sugar cookies (he is a champ!), and drove through the holiday lights display at our local farm park. We knew it might backfire, but we let him sit in the front seat with Daddy while Mommy drove. As you can easily imagine, J now requests to always sit in the front seat whenever we get in the car. Let me tell you how delightful his screams are on the way home from daycare in his straight-jacket of a car seat…it’s my favorite.

To add to his cuteness, the boy insists on reading “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” every night, which thankfully is one of my personal favorites. Until recently, I had often thought to myself, “What a waste — a book you can only read one night of the year!” Au contraire. I had that oldie-but-goodie memorized before Thanksgiving.

Christmas has always been one of my favorite times of the year, but my husband is a bit of a fuddy duddy when it comes to decorating. Isaac would rather not spend the money, the time, or the energy in putting up decorations just to take them down a month later. I understand that, but I grew up in a house where the decorations stayed up until Valentine’s Day, so the return on investment was great. And I love it all. The food. Family time. Cookie baking (LOTS of this happening in my house this year). Gifts (I know I’m a “real” adult because  anymore I find more joy in giving than receiving). The magic. My mom instilled in me a great love for Santa and the spirit of St. Nicolas, and how can you watch the movie Elf with Will Ferrell and not believe in Santa Claus?! One of the best parts of celebrating at my parents’ house is the gifts from “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph” or “The Three Wise Men.” That is as religious as my family gets…judge as you will.

20141206_072212As the lucky mom of a delightful toddler, I am humbled by the simple requests of our sweet boy. “What do you want Santa to bring you?” we have asked him several times. “Chrisem (his name for Santa) bring me new blocks.” That’s it, folks. New blocks…this because his mean mom threw away his moldy, nasty, chewed-up bath blocks a few weeks ago. With some additional questioning from his dad and myself, J has also requested a red balloon, some new watercolor paints, and a big drawing pad. So, for less than $20, my child’s Christmas will be AMAZING! May it always be this simple.

Although the weather outside has been frightful (40s and raining for much of the month), we did see some flurries this morning and it was beautiful! May the spirit of the season including all the holidays that occur between late November and mid-February make you feel loved, hopeful, and delighted at the simplest things that make this life worth living. Love to all, and enjoy a very Merry Christmas (or Happy Hanukkah, or Happy Kwanzaa, or Happy New Year, etc. etc.)!

Proud Mama

This past week has been a particular wild one. Various doctors’ appointments, but all is fine; dreaming and scheming of what lies around the corner; and a 2-and-a-half-year-old little boy who cracks.us.up. His favorite words are “Oh, gosh,” and “Mommy! It’s green!” in regards to his fancy new toddler clock that lights up green at 6:30 a.m. No more getting out of bed at 4:30 or 5 or 6…he knows he has to wait until the light changes from its night-time yellow to awake-time green. This has changed our lives!

Side note, our house is infested with bugs. Ants, flies, flour moths, spiders, bees (yes, bees – had a hive in our basement, wtf?), pretty much whatever you can think of, we have. Well, knock on wood we don’t have termites yet. And I have been knocking on the wood just to make sure. A woodpecker has also been knocking on wood, which is perhaps part of the problem — poking holes in the gosh darn siding to let more bugs in. Gah!

The reason I am a proud mama is more because of the fact that over the past few months, I’ve gotten to watch 3 of my closest friends become mamas themselves. It is amazing to be a mom — the best thing the hubs and I ever decided to do. And, although I didn’t get it at the time, my sister actually seemed MORE excited than I that I was pregnant. It was like she was vicariously reliving her experience through me, which was sort of unique, I thought. She already had 2 kids and a third on the way while I was pregnant, so why was she so excited for me?

Turns out, it’s not unique. I feel the same way about my friends having babies. Each woman is unique, and each birth and baby and new daddy create their own stories special to them. On the other hand, some of the experiences we walk, crawl, trudge, claw or cry through are similar. Each and every pregnancy has its ups and downs. Labor and delivery pretty much suck, and are all at once painful, exciting, disappointing, dangerous and/or scary, and yet always breathtaking. The moment that baby comes out kicking and crying, and the doctor places him (or her) on your chest, it’s like the past 26 hours of hell simply melts away, and all that’s left is this little human that your body created, miracle of all miracles. Well, that and stitches, Motrin, ice packs…

My BFF visited us this past week, and she is a new mom herself, making her way through several airports and multiple planes with her sweet daughter (4 months old) on their way to Missouri. “Put her on the boob on the way up and the way down,” I recommended, and it worked pretty well! My little one was obsessed with Baby E. LOVED her. Wanted to play with her, read her books, make her laugh, and give her hugs and kisses. He burst into tears when we dropped them off at the airport, was ecstatic when we picked them up again (flight cancelled), and then sobbed again the next morning when they actually took off. It was a sad yet sweet moment that will live on in my memory. Seeing my little bug so excited about his new friend (future wife?) was one of the cutest things ever, and again, he’s already a pretty cute kid.

I forget what it’s like to have a new baby in the house! Little E wanted to know what was happening, looking around and following the action (i.e. James) as best as she could. She always wanted attention just as we sat down to a meal. And her coos, wahs, and bodily noises from her tiny heinie were downright adorable. (No one else can get away with passing gas like a baby!) After more than a year of trying to get back on the pregnancy bandwagon, it finally worked and we are once again going to be back in the throws of having a new one in the house! Come April 26(ish), Baby #Dos is scheduled to turn our little family of three into a foursome. “Oh gosh!” are we ever excited.

I hope Little Man can keep his enthusiasm up when the new one is attached to his mommy and not just to our friend Katie. Here’s to hoping! And here’s to crazy circumstances that are beyond our control but end up just right in the end. Cheers to enjoying precious moments with friends and family members at all stages of life, but especially babies. I hope you get some baby snuggle time in soon. Happy Humpday!

Ah Lu Lu

I’m not quite sure where to go with this. You know by now that I like to share feelings and experiences that millions of moms, dads, women, men, teachers, friends, and generally sentient humans experience. So this week, after a long (graduate class-induced) hiatus, I’d like to share a moment with you that I would like etched in my brain for all eternity. This is a selfish post, but I hope you enjoy the ride along with me.

“Ah lu lu, Mommy.” Followed shortly by, “Hug,” and outstretched arms.

Gah! I just want to eat him up.

My two-year-old’s first “I love you, Mommy,” came out loud and clear this week, and it is among the coolest moments in my life. I don’t know how many other billions of moms and dads have felt the same thing — love and pride and unadulterated happiness — but there is no other feeling like it! I’d like to talk with my parents and grandparents about this, too, to see if it was as big a deal back in 1986 when I probably told my parents that I loved them, or 1957 when my mom and dad probably told their parents for the first time. Does it ever get old?

A while ago, I asked my mom if some of the milestones ever got old, or if not old, just less exciting. Like, by kid number 5 (sorry, Dan!), are those first steps, first words, or first school detentions less significant than they were with my older sister (kid number 1)? My mom emphatically said, “No! It’s always exciting!” I teared up the other thinking about graduation and trying to picture my boy as an 18-year-old. Forget kindergarten, what is he going to be like at 18? And 25? What kind of person will he become? I say now that I don’t care what profession he pursues as long as he is happy and can pay his own bills. Let me throw in, he *will* (if I have any influence at all) pick a safe profession (male gigolo, race-car driver, and stunt-double are out) . But even more than that, I do hope he continues his streak of being awesome and that he will always come back to his mama with “ah lu lu’s” and hugs. (*Sniffle*)

Several of my closest, best friends are expecting babies in the next few months, and I am beside myself with excitement for these lovely ladies, their hubbies, and families. Daph, Ewin, LB, Ferry, Señora, Mrs. K, JG, Meg — all beautiful women, inside and out. But forget the ladies, I’M excited for these 4 new boys, 1 girl, and 2 gender-yet-to-be-determined babes to spoil. Little, sweet-smelling 8-lb blobs of potential. Since I’m a couple years removed from being in the newborn trenches, I am looking forward to visiting these babies after they make their entrance in the outside world. As the (honorary) auntie, I won’t mind their cries, I won’t mind their dirty diapers, and I won’t mind their tired parents. I just get to love on them, bring food to mom and dad, and do some house cleaning while I’m there.

So, as we ALL know, things don’t always go according to plan. TheI’m trying very hard to embrace what I can’t control. The past few months I’ve become more empathetic, gained a little bit of humility, and eaten my words of judgement on more than one occasion. What will be will be. I owe a big AH LU LU to my hubs and babe, and all my friends and family who continue to kick ass around the world.

Category: Other.

30. 40? How about 50! This, my friends, is my 50th Humpday Adventures post. It’s an historic event in the life of Amanda Cowart, so thank you for inspiring me and for reading, skimming, or in general, humoring me with your interest in my little world. In the Blogosphere world, posts can live in one of a few categories. There are happy, sappy, I-love-my-family-friends-and-everything-around-me posts (guilty!). Angry, frustrated, wtf-were-you-thinking-you-a$$hole posts (yep.). The I-am-a-good-mommy-because-I-love-my-kids-even-if-I’m-not-perfect posts (lots of those out there!). Scary, sometimes terrifying eat-this-and-you-will-die-a-slow-and-painful-death-from-cancer posts (no thanks!). And the funniest, laughing-out-loud-that-was-ridiculous posts (been there, done that). As you scroll down, I’m not sure into which category this one falls, perhaps a “miscellaneous” or “other” category…? I’ll get back to this.

In general, things are going remarkably well, and yes, now that these words have left my brain and entered the Interweb, I’ve certainly jinxed myself. With few exceptions here and there, I really like my husband, job, friends, students, school work, and my kid is simply the best. James is so great that after much baby talk over the past 6 months or so (I’m up to 9, NINE of my closest, best, favorite people who are pregnant!), Isaac said the other day, “You know, we really don’t need to have another baby. I hate to push our luck.”

So things are good. Except for one thing.

Facebook.

One of my biggest pet peeves about Facebook is actually a pet peeve with myself, which is the sheer amount of time I spend reading the newsfeed, clicking on links, looking at friends’ pictures, “liking,” commenting, watching videos, taking BuzzFeed quizzes and reading spectacular headlines (to disappointing stories). I’m like an addict, consciously thinking to myself that there are dozens of better things I could be doing than wandering down the never-ending Facebook rabbit holes. And yet, I do it. And weirdly, I enjoy it!

I admit it, I like FB. I am one of those people who loves seeing baby pictures and congratulating friends on their engagements, weddings, pregnancies, babies, new houses, jobs…good things. I love that good news is amplified dozens of times over — birthdays are the best on FB! Yes, as a parent I’m torn between protecting my sweet babe’s privacy and wanting to share his life and development with family and friends, and, I’m perpetually annoyed by the despicable grammar and utter disregard for capitalization (smart phones do have buttons for punctuation!). But mostly, it’s entertaining.

Facebook for me is a useful way to wind down at the end of the day. For your information, I recently took the “how many children should you have” quiz and got 3, “4 if you count the glass of wine in your hand.” (Spot on!) I also took the “what state should you actually live in” quiz and got Minnesota (not a bad idea). I live in a state with one of the longest average sex sessions (sweet). I cry like a baby clicking through the “Love in One Photo” slideshow. I subscribe to “Chocolate Covered Katie” thinking maybe, just maybe, I will make one of those delicious desserts one of these days. And, I laughed my ass off watching these two videos: Father of the year watching kids fall on ice and 2 dads experiencing labor pain.

So what’s the point? What am I even trying to say? Here’s the deal — I don’t know! I guess, my point this week is a soft one. Keep on doing what makes you happy, even if it seems frivolous to others. As always, stay positive, stay thankful. Waste a little time doing something that is purely enjoyable and nothing else. I’m glad that at the moment, my largest “annoyance” is something as trivial as poor grammar on Facebook because there are a lot of really messed up things and people in the world. I simply can’t imagine some of the soul-crushing situations that people are living with tonight, and my heart goes out to people in Kiev and to the parents who are missing their children. I am eternally grateful that I’m not living those realities right now.

So, here’s to Facebook! To family! Friends! BuzzFeed! Mindless drivel that I can turn off at any time! To sappy-dappy posts, and I’m-a-good-mommy posts, and I-don’t-know-what-the-heck-is-going-on posts. To “other” posts. (Confirmed, this isn’t sappy nor particularly funny, sad, angry, terrifying nor “I’m-a-good-mommy”-esque.) Screw it, drink up. Maybe drink up, then screw! Do it! It’s humpday. Aaaaaand good night.

Hear, hear!

“Listen up!” How many times a day do I say this? Many. All day long I ask a bunch of children to listen to me. Sometimes, I even ask adults to listen to me, or at the very least read what I have written. Why listen? One of the best parts of turning 30 is I can say things like, “Well, in my 30 years of experience, listening has been pretty helpful!” It helps us know what to do, avoid making mistakes, and prevent mishaps due to missed or mixed messages. Here is what I know:

20140209_1220201. It’s worth it to listen to our parents. They have been there, done that, and they simply know more because they have been around longer than we have. With few (horrible) exceptions, parents have their children’s health, safety, and best interests at heart. They tell us things that we don’t want to hear but need to hear, and they are pretty crafty! Parents are so good that they can read our minds and bust parties before they even happen. ET friends, who out there remembers our O’Douls party back in 2002?! Sneaky, sneaky. (My friend, Tyler’s parents switched his keg from a regular keg to an N.A. keg without anybody knowing, and it was amazing.)

2. It’s worth it to listen to your significant other — your spouse, partner, boyfriend, girlfriend, roommate, heterosexual life mate, with whomever it is that you share your house and life and time. Significant others often know us better than we know ourselves, and they are there to tell us when we are being stupid, to celebrate with us when we are conquering the world, and to carry us home when we’ve had too much to drink. Like our parents, our significant others have our best interests at heart and want us to be happy. Truly. Listen to them.

3. It’s worth it to listen to our friends. Friends can see things that we don’t. They can say — gently or not — that the guy you are dating is kind of a dick, or that the girl you are dating is a total biotch! They will dutifully roll their eyes when you whine, “But you don’t see the good stuff! You don’t see how sweet he (or she) is behind closed doors!” Right, because he (or she) treats you like crap in front of us, your friends, which is lame. Friends aren’t blinded by love or fooled by smooth lines or empty promises. Seriously. Listen to your friends.

4. “But Amanda, what about me? What about my needs?!” Lest we forget to listen to ourselves! Ideally, we listen to the good parts, the angel on the shoulder, the part of us that is reasonable and thoughtful and kind. We are in charge of ONLY ourselves after all, and ultimately our well-being lies in our own hands. So don’t be stupid. Listen to your body, respect your gut, and make good choices about your own health and safety. On that note, wash your hands after you go to the bathroom, people!

5. Surely there can be an argument made for listening to a higher power, be it Mother Nature, God, the Greek gods, Allah, Buddha, basically whichever higher power inspires you. Listen quietly and answers may be revealed to you.

20140207_074109With all of that said, I ran into a problem this past week. What happens when two or more of these important voices in our lives are in conflict? What happens when you say, “I’ve wanted a nose ring since I was 16 but my mom (#1 on the above list) and my spouse (#2) say no, meanwhile my friends (#3) and I (#4) say yes?” (I don’t think my (#5) higher power really cares about my nose — Mother Nature has bigger fish to fry.) So the score is tied 2-2 with 1 vote abstaining. As juvenile as it sounds, I learned this week that I can do what I want! Listening to myself won out over parent and spouse, and I have no regrets. It does help to know that Mom and Isaac will love me no matter what, even if I didn’t heed their advice on this topic and now have a small, sparkly Swarovsky crystal glimmering on my nose. I love it.

On this ever happy Humpday, listen up! Please have an extra laugh tonight. You need to. Your parents, significant other, friends and higher power want you to be happy tonight, too. Need some inspiration? Watch the Daily Show, read an old joke book, or make a drinking game to the Olympics (take a drink every time someone cries?). Friends, family, Mom, Isaac — hear, hear! Cheers to another day, another sparkle, and another opportunity to make someone’s day by being your best self.

30.

Too cool for words...because he still likes to suck on his fingers.

Too cool for words…because he still likes to suck on his fingers.

On the eve of my 30th birthday, I am inexplicably happy and generally ready to celebrate! 30! Several of my friends have hit that milestone marker in the past week, and I am certain that I am much more excited than they are. I already feel smarter, like now is the time people can start to take me seriously. No longer a “20-something”…I am THIRTY!

One year ago I made a list of 30 things I want to do before I turn 30, and I feel like now is an appropriate time to revisit this list. Mind you, I haven’t looked at it since I wrote it last year, so I’m extra curious about how I did. Note to self: Goals are far easier to accomplish when you actually see them, think about them, and make plans to work towards them. Accomplished goals are crossed out.

Helping Daddy make pizza dough.

Helping Daddy make pizza dough.

  1. Publish (at least) 30 Humpday Blog posts. (Welp, grad school, work, and James really took its toll on this one!)
  2. Eat at 3 new restaurants.
  3. Kiss my baby 30,000 times (that’s 82+ kisses per day). (I never counted, but I’m guessing I was close!)
  4. Perform at least 30 exercises per day. (Occasionally…)
  5. Hug 30 students.
  6. Try 30 different beers. (Thanks to Mother’s Brewery, the Mayes family, Patton Alley Pub, and my husband)
  7. Who me? I'm not feeding the dog out of my bowl...

    Who me? I’m not feeding the dog out of my bowl…

    Donate at least $300 to worthy charities.

  8. Get pregnant with baby #2 (does that bother you that it’s not a multiple of 3? It does me.)
  9. Meet 3 new neighbors.
  10. Host 3 out-of-town guests in our new house.
  11. Grow 3 different kinds of herbs. (Isaac did it this year but I’m on it for next year.)
  12. Eat 30 different varieties of fruit and vegetables.
  13. Sleep 30 extra minutes per week. (Some weeks yes, some weeks no way.)
  14. Learn 3 new games. (I can’t remember the last time I played a game…?)
  15. Travel to 3 out-of-state places. (Wisconsin, Colorado, New Hampshire, Canada)
  16. Contact 3 “long-lost” friends. (Thank you, Liz and Julie, for getting married!)
  17. Read 3 novels.
  18. Celebrate 3 victories.
  19. Dust Buster!

    Dust Buster!

    Get my nose pierced.

  20. Take 3 deep breaths every day.
  21. Love on my 7 nieces and nephews (another non-3, but this is out of my control)
  22. Create 3 new things. (I teach PreK, I create new things all the time!)
  23. Bake 30 dozen cookies or brownies.
  24. Teach my students 3 life lessons.
  25. Join friends at happy hour at least 3 times.
  26. Make loooooove 3 times a week. (Again, I blame grad school…wah waaaah)
  27. Update my blog to a more user-friendly format. (This year!)
  28. Learn 3 new skills.
  29. Color a picture with 30 crayons.
  30. Celebrate my 30th birthday with my favorite people.
Cleaning up the dishes after pancakes.

Cleaning up the dishes after pancakes.

Overall, I feel pretty good about this past year! It has been a wild ride. Our new house is amazing, especially with a new roof and recently-installed roll-out trash can/recycle bin cabinet. Baby James is 22 months old and doing amazing things like forming actual, understandable words, connecting pictures in books to real objects, jumping (jumping!), eating like a big boy, and being ornery and sweet and silly all the time. Isaac is simply the best hubby around. Work, wowzers — challenging but rewarding! At school, I’ve learned a tremendous amount from my colleagues and professors. No, my nose isn’t pierced yet, and no luck in the baby department yet, but there is always next year…I suppose I have to leave a few things to accomplish in my 30s!

I hope this long-overdue Humpday update finds you in good health and spirits, with at least 30 things to look forward to and enough memories to make you smile. Cheers to the past 30 years, and here’s to the next 30!

Too much, not enough

I feel like I’m at a point where I’m so tired and my body aches so much that I don’t quite know where to start. Well, let’s start there. 

1) School has been in session for 2 weeks now. I don’t sit down but for a few minutes during the students’ rest time, and even that is often interrupted by having to walk around and remind a few kids to lie down and rest instead of talking to their neighbor. I have to steal time to go to the bathroom during the day. I never eat at the right times and am always hungry. I barely drink water (although I haven’t yet resorted to coffee!). Work.is.crazy. 

2) Inspired by the show Extreme Weight Loss and my own post-baby weakness, I started taking a 5:30am high-intensity interval class 3 weeks ago. It’s Mondays and Wednesdays, 30 minutes long, with a whole bunch of people I don’t know, and we gather in a parking lot like we are a bunch of hoodlums dancing by the light of the moon. It’s hard. I am sore for days afterward. This morning, Cassie (the trainer) said, “If you don’t feel a little nauseous today, you did something wrong.” I must have done it really right because I was still woozy until about 10 am. And no, I’m not pregnant.

On an upnote, several people have noticed and commented on my buff bod. It’s only taken a year and a half to get back in the game! But it feels good. I hurt, don’t get me wrong, but it’s a good hurt.  

ImageSo in addition to putting my body through physical hell a few days a week, just being back at work full time has been an adjustment. I did get my room ready the night before conferences and all is well there. My students are incredible! A really bright group, sweet, and we’re off to a great start. But aside from normal work I’ve taken on some extra communication duties, am studying in a graduate course that is completely foreign to me, am training for the MS 150, Summit Run, and JDRF Poker Ride, and all the while I attempt to keep the house somewhat clean, stocked with food, and laundry under control. Don’t get me wrong, I love it all and am learning SO much every day, but I do feel very guilty about one thing. As you might have guessed, I miss my babe.

It’s nothing new! Obviously I’m not the only working parent to every say this or feel this, but it’s difficult nonetheless. James is only awake about 10 hours per day and I get about 2 1/2 of those. At night we get home and it’s dinner, bath, books, and bed. On one hand, I feel a little depressed about how little I get to hang out with him, and yet, I know myself well enough to say that if I didn’t work outside the home, I would get stir-crazy. I have to work. I love to work. Buuuut I am also looking forward to a day when I might be able to work a little less. Newsflash: kids are tiring. Toddlers are, too! The good news is no matter how tired or sore I am, James is the sweetest boy I’ve ever known. He runs right up to me, hugs my legs, and is elated to see me at the end of the day. Worth it! 

ImageSpeaking of James, he is all good. He absolutely loves his new daycare and is talking up a storm. I can’t wait until I can understand all that he has to say! The boy eats like a teenager and is growing like a weed. He has finally surpassed the 20-pound mark. At 16 1/2 months, he is in the 5th percentile for weight. He might be small like his mama but his is assertive and opinionated! What a stinker. 

I wish that I had more energy to enjoy this Humpday with a glass of wine but alas, it is time for bed! My hubs is already asleep on the couch. To wrap up, I want to make sure I’m sending the right message. First, I am tremendously thankful for the ability to work, work out, think, type and share my thoughts with the world. I don’t ever want to come across as an ungrateful or whiny person. I hope that YOU have the opportunity to reflect on what’s working and what’s not in your own world. It’s Humpday. It’s almost the weekend. We are close to Labor Day weekend and I am thrilled to feel like I’ve really earned it this year! 

So here’s to early mornings, late nights, sore muscles, achy bodies, deadlines, parents, children, questions, more questions, and a whole lot of love. Happy Humpday!

Back to School

One thing I’ve never liked about going back to school “in the fall” is that we are still in summer. In fact, summer technically lasts another 6 1/2 weeks! It is literally only half over, and yet kids start back next week. It’s crazy. I miss that about the North, how most schools “up der” start school the day after Labor Day. August is still summer, people!

Like a magnet, the toddler honed in on the only puddle in the neighborhood.

Summer Fun: Like a magnet, the toddler hones in on the only puddle in the neighborhood.

This past Monday, August 5, was my official last day of summer. What did you do on your last day of summer? Or for many of my northern friends, what WILL you do on your last day? Get ready to be jealous: I spent it at school painting my classroom. Perhaps I should have been down at the lake drinking margaritas but I actually felt obligated to go into work given the level of disaster happening in my room right now. It falls approximately between Joplin and Sandy. No joke.

OK, a little joke. It might only be as bad as the EF-0 that hit Glenstone Avenue a few weeks ago, but you get what I mean.

Do you know who is ready for school to start? My two classroom neighbors. If you take a walk through the Early Learners wing comprised of Beginners, PreK, and Kindergarten, you will notice two beautifully painted, decorated, organized, neat, clean and otherwise fantastic-looking rooms, and one room that still looks like the Glenstone tornado went through it. Crap is everywhere. While Mrs. Beginners and Mrs. Kindergarten are Type A ladies, I am definitely Type B. At times I wish I had a little more A in me, a little more vision, a little less “Eh, it’ll all be fine!” But I’m all for looking on the bright side: my job is to be the yin to Nancy’s and Melissa’s yang, balance their A-ness with a little B-ness (and awesomeness, of course), and reduce their risk of coronary artery disease. I love my co-teachers – we are very good friends! But, my room will never look as pretty as theirs, and I will never feel bad about that.

One might ask, is it even fair to compare my classroom to the others’? Well, yes it is, as we have the same expectations from administration, parents and students to be ready to go. And also no, we shouldn’t compare. I should be way better set up as I am the only one of us who is 1) in the same space I was last year and 2) teaching the same grade. No matter what, I will be ready by Monday for Parent-Teacher conferences and Meet the Teacher night. I don’t know how yet, but it’ll happen. Like many of my plans, it’s all up here (*points to temple*). Typing my HD blog post is one more thing off my list and thus I am one step closer to preparing for the school year. Tomorrow, tackle the storage room. Friday, get conference materials ready. Sunday, oh Sunday, hang things on walls and get books on the shelves. Details, details. See? It’s all good.

Our present reality is that life is crazy no matter what. Another school year is about to start and it, too, will fly by. However stressed I get this year, I am sure I won’t be as stressed as my co-teachers. I think (& hope) they will laugh at that sentence. Regardless if you are going back to school, sending kids to school, putting up with teacher spouses complaining about how big of a disaster his or her room is, or dealing with increased traffic due to 50,000 students moving in back to town, I hope you can take a minute to laugh at yourself (or someone else). It’s Humpday, after all! Hooray.

Nancy, Melissa, and all my fellow teachers, watch this video for a 30-second stress reliever:

Apple, Tree

Apple, Tree.

Apple, Tree.

Isaac and I have spent a good amount of time with our parents during the past couple months. My mom came to town in June, and we saw Dad & Caren in April and again in July. Isaac’s parents are local, so we see them regularly. Every time I hang out with Mom, I have to laugh – and so does Isaac – because I am just like her, right down to the usually-running-lateness and the misplacing-my-keys/phone/purse/etc. on a regular basis.

Then there is Isaac and his dad, Walter. Wowzers. Isaac told me when we first started dating that he was very much like his father, but “very much” doesn’t paint a proper picture of the depth of their similarities: A shared love of history, desire to solve problems, and a strong business sense. Both have cut-and-dry responses and reactions to massive issues and area silently sensitive, although Isaac won’t really admit to that. Walter grunts when he gets up, Isaac grunts when he gets up. Walter mumbles when he’s had too much wine, Isaac mumbles when he’s had too much gin and tonic. They are almost the same person, just about 41 years apart. Who needs a time machine?! I have my father-in-law to give me a very clear picture of what the year 2054 will look like for me. Thanks Papa C!

Takes after his mama -- water-skiing is acceptable  at any temperature as long as the lake is calm.

Takes after his mama — water-skiing is acceptable at any temperature as long as the water is calm.

I’m glad that this proverb works to my advantage as Isaac and I have absolutely incredible parents. If we are at all like them, James will have it real good. Now if only we could hand-pick the characteristics that Isaac and I passed on to him…I’d give James my physical health genetics, Isaac’s good looks, my positive attitude, Isaac’s sense of direction, and both of our ‘smarts’ (in my completely unbiased opinion, we’re both pretty smart). James already has his daddy’s curiosity for tinkering and his mama’s ability to laugh at himself over nothing. He continues to be a super duper awesome little boy, charming the pants off of everyone he meets.

Father & son (and mom) share a love of reading.

Father & son share a love of reading.

As a teacher, there is usually no question why children behave the way they do. One meeting with parents and 97% of the time, I’m like, “Ohhhh…got it!” I currently have several friends and family members who are either pregnant or have very recently given birth, and I can’t wait to see what crazy things they are going to do in raising their children. When I try to put myself back in their shoes, living through these early weeks of just trying to make it through each night, it’s hard! I want them to know what I know now, 15 months in. Does anyone else do that? When I call my mom and sister about very important things, are they secretly thinking, “Come on, Man, just stop worrying about that.”? In any case, I’m excited to get to be an observer-participant in all these little babies’ lives! One thing I need to work on myself is keeping my mouth shut. (Dad, thanks for that, haha.) Someday I’ll figure out how to NOT ask really personal questions (such as, “When baby #2 is going to come?”) or give unsolicited advice. Sigh, some day.

No matter what kind of apple you are, be it sweet like a Gala, sour like a Granny Smith, or simply rotten (are you the “one bad apple” in the bag?!), it’s likely that your parents had a little something to do with how you got here. So thank you, parents, and you’re welcome, James. Go ahead and eat one of those tasty little treats and then give the other version a big squeeze! Now, how do you like them apples? Happy Humpday!

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