Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Of Cherries and Hikes

I love June.
The smell of honeysuckle.
The promise of a summer stretching endlessly.
Eating outdoors.
So much to look forward to: the beach, summer trips, berry picking, no school.

***********************************

We had a super-day last Friday. The weather was beautiful. The big kids were off from school and I took a half day off from work.

We started out with an early morning hike at a near-by park. The hike was awesome - we saw and smelled lots of honeysuckle, we discovered some neat ruins of a building near the trail (that we've missed on all the previous hikes), the kids got to run ahead and explore (spiderwebs, fish in the stream, holes in the ground, flowers next to the path, old uprooted trees). I really need to do this more often - nothing is as calming and relaxing as a walk in a forest (a solitary walk in a forest is great, too, but not always possible).

While I worked, kids were occupied with chores, reading, and practicing their instruments. After lunch, we headed to a local orchard and picked cherries. They were crazy expensive, but the experience was fun. Kids got a kick out of a ride in an open-sided wagon. The trees were just the right size for easy picking. Plus, we got to pass by peach and nectarine trees - with fruit ripening on the branches (fun to compare these to our baby orchard at home).

We then visited the farm animals - I thought the kids had outgrown the goats and the ducks, but no, they had a blast. We also dropped by my parents and visited with them for a bit (kids got fed and we shared cherries and a sunflower from the orchard).

The kids packed the pool bag before we left that afternoon (the joys of having big kids - they can do all this useful stuff!), so we were all ready to head to the pool. We picked up the youngest from daycare and then spent the rest of the afternoon and evening at the pool eating cherries, hanging out at the tennis court, and going into the water for short periods of time. The water was cold - forcing myself to jump in was not a pleasant experience! Once you are in, its fine and C (she is 4) and I had a blast! She is so eager to swim and completely unafraid.

My husband joined us with some take-out sushi and tennis rackets. The kids had a couple of melt-downs, but that not surprising after such a busy day. I am really terrible at tennis (actually, I am really terrible at sports in general) but playing with kids is fun and they don't mind my lack of skills.

What are your favorite things about early summer?

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Weekend Report

We had a crazy weekend with 2 separate trips to urgent care. Still, we managed to do OK.

Brief overview of what got done:
Saturday
Shopping for groceries
Baseball game
Trip to urgent care with the youngest (split lip)
Planting honeysuckle and butterfly bush
Cooking breakfast/lunch/supper

Sunday
Farmer's market
Fun dance program for all 3 kids/exercise + socialization for me
Planting 4 trees
Husband's trip to urgent care
Older daughter's piano party
Cooking breakfast/lunch/supper
Reading to kids

What didn't get done:
Folding laundry
Cleaning out attic
Attending Craft Fair
Board games


My husband hasn't been feeling great - he's had this borderline fever (temperature just barely above norm), headaches, severe back pain, fatigue. He could barely walk because of the back pain and nearly passed out in the shower (that was scary!). We figured he probably pulled his back and just needed some rest, so he stayed home and rested, while I did the shopping and took our kids to E's last baseball game.

At the baseball game, our youngest fell and split her lip. The cut was deep enough to make me wonder if she would need stitches and worry about possible infection. Also, it was in an awkward spot - right in the corner of her mouth, and every time she would eat something it would open up. After the never-ending baseball game (it lasted almost 3 hours... and our team lost... but my son was thrilled he wouldn't have to play any more baseball, possibly ever) we had lunch and I called my parents to ask them to stay and watch the older 2 kids (they ended up taking them to the pool). My poor husband was hobbling around, afraid to make the wrong move that would cause excruciating pain.

So, I took the youngest to urgent care (first time ever!). C was awesome - we colored while waiting for our turn and she very patiently allowed the nurse to take her vitals and the doctor to examine her, and then said to me "We had to go to all these different rooms* - this is very confusing!" Turned out, stitches weren't necessary (after it stopped bleeding, the cut didn't look so deep any more). The doctor prescribed  her some topical antibiotics and we spent about half an hour at a local CVS waiting for her prescription to be filled and looking for a heating pad for my husband's back. C also got a new toy car - she looked through at least a dozen cars before deciding which one she liked the best, and I figured we may as well get some enjoyment out of mostly ruined afternoon.

After we got back, my husband decided he felt well enough to very carefully cut the grass (tractor is broken - again! - so he had to use a push-mower). He seemed to be feeling a bit better. C. threw a tantrum because she didn't get to go to the pool with grandparents. Then we did some gardening (usually, my husband does all the digging, but this time my son and I had to use the shovels) - we had some plants that absolutely had to be put into the ground - they've been sitting in pots since last weekend and weren't looking so good.

The next day (Sunday) we had to plant 4 new trees (my husband ordered them on line a couple of week sago and they arrived 2 days prior... had to be planted or they wouldn't survive). My son and I did most of the digging. It started raining while we were on tree #2 - fun times! But we got them all in: a cherry, an apple, a peach, and an apricot.

And then my husband found a tell-tale bulls-eye rash on his thigh. Freaking ticks. So - the second trip to urgent care was my husband getting treatment for Lyme disease. One intramuscular antibiotic shot and a 21-day course of oral antibiotics. His back already feels much better and he has a lot more energy, but he is really anxious about getting persistent Lyme disease with symptoms that will never go away...


*Waiting in the waiting room, then feeling out paperwork in one little room, then back to waiting room, then a cubicle for vitals, then back to the waiting room, then finally a cubicle with a stretcher where we waiting for the doctor.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Weekend Report and Musings on Stress

We had a whirlwind of a weekend. There is a big part of me that is really craving a calm, relaxing weekend, where I can go for long walks and smell the honeysuckle, daydream, and read. There is also a smaller part of me that is constantly poking and nagging to get stuff done, and to do xyz with the kids, to plan family outings, to see people. This weekend was sort of fail/fail on both fronts. There was one thing after another of activities and chores. Everything felt so rushed and I couldn't just be in the moment - because there was the next thing coming and I needed to think about how we were going to get to that next thing. In spite of feeling so very busy (and there were 3 times the normal amount of events and activities this weekend), and, objectively, getting a lot done (planting the garden!), it feels like we didn't accomplish much. Funny how the reality and our feelings of what happened have so little in common.

I need to sit back and just stop... stop the rushing, stop worrying, and just allow things to happen and allow myself to enjoy the process... And yet, I feel so bad and so anxious about wasting time right now. There is this short time period when I can enjoy the outdoors before it gets too hot, and then it'll be hot and humid and unpleasant, and I am going to regret wasting the whole of June on... who knows what (escapist books? daydreaming? dawdling?)

What got done:

  • Older daughter's Piano Guild
  • Older daughter's Dance Recital
  • Piles of laundry (washed, folded and put away)
  • Cooking for the week
  • Eating outside every single day, no mater the weather
  • 1 game of Clue
  • Friend's kid's birthday party
  • Board meeting at the synagouge
  • Planting vegetables in the garden
  • Planting 2 berry bushes
  • Shopping for food and plants
  • Reading 
  • 2 episodes of Sneaky Pete
  • Went for a morning walk with my son
What didn't get done:
  • Cleaning out the attic
  • Switching clothing around for me and the kids
  • Work
  • Reading The Chosen with the kids
  • Getting up before 7 am to exercise
  • Planting honeysuckle and butterfly bush

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Memorial Day Weekend 2018

What a weekend...

It was good, really good. There were things that didn't get done, but I have no regrets.

On Friday, I got off work early and had some alone time to do food shopping (what does this say about my life when grocery shopping by myself feels like a luxury?). We had a bit of time with kids in the back yard (picking strawberries) and then headed to my parents' house to celebrate what would have been my grandfather's 100th birthday. It was great not having to worry about dinner - my mom always prepares delicious food - but the best part was talking about family and looking at old photos. Kids were curious and it was nice to have them hear about relatives that they never had the chance to get to know. As usual, they were getting a bit on the wild side after dessert and it was a bit of an ordeal to get everyone into the car. I know my parents will never admit it, but I suspect they appreciate the peace and quiet in their house after we leave.

On Saturday, we were busy preparing the house for guests, cooking, and getting the kids to practice their instruments. My best friend from college and her family came to stay with us overnight. Her best friend from middle and high school lives just a few miles away, so their family joined us for BBQ in the afternoon. It was great to catch up about life, work, kids, and travel. The kids had a blast together - they played beautifully and it filled my heart with joy to see my older daughter making bonds with my friends' daughters. We had 7 kids running in and out of the house, with minimal parental supervision, and as far as I can tell - nothing was broken. My son's door has gathered a few pen-and-pencil drawings.

Sunday - we had a very relaxing, luxurious breakfast outside, and more conversations with friends, and more playtime for kids. Our son had a violin recital in the afternoon and it went really well. There were a few mistakes, I could tell he was nervous, and it could have been better. But... he has made so much progress over the last few months, he has worked hard on his piece, and to see him playing with my mom was amazing. He was so happy and so proud of himself. I was super-nervous - it was much more difficult to sit and watch him play than to be playing myself.

Monday - another luxurious, slow breakfast outside. Then we went on a hike in a nearby state park with my parents. It was great! Being outside, seeing the kids run up and down the trails, talking to my mom about random things - I hope we do this sort of thing more often. My older daughter complained and refused to walk at one point when we were walking from the park back to our house (it's only quarter of a mile, but the road has no sidewalk and the cars drive way too fast, and there is a stretch with almost no shoulder, so having a kid who is not behaving can be stressful). That's one complaint about our neighborhood I have - I so wish it was more pedestrian-friendly and encouraged walking rather than driving everywhere!

Monday was also the day when my husband climbed up a giant extension ladder (I have vertigo just looking at it) into our oak tree, perched himself 30 feet off the ground, and cut off a couple of large dread branches. There was a bit of a challenge with him coming down, because one of the branches knocked the ladder out of alignment and I had to move it a certain way, while he was yelling directions and getting mad because I wasn't doing the right thing, and I had to lock the ladder in after it came loose (it's not like I ever use that thing - so the locking mechanism was all new to me), and the ladder was still a bit crooked. It all ended well - I figured out the locking mechanism (under high-stress, high-stakes conditions - ha!), and managed to stabilize the legs and he got down safely.

What got done:
Some yard work: oak tree branches chopped up and put away to dry, some weeding around fruit trees.
We set up a table and chairs on the covered front porch, so we can eat outside even if it's raining.
Cooking: BBQ + breakfasts, lunches, and dinners for the weekend and meatloaf for the week.
Tidying up: before guests and after guests (we have the luxury of a cleaning service who come to mop, sweep and clean bathrooms and kitchen so I only had to do the minimal clean up).
Reading: finished "The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet"; started to read "The Chosen" with the kids.
Misc: ordered a present for an upcoming birthday party.

What didn't get done:
Cleaning out the attic
Getting out summer clothing for myself and the kids from the attic
Folding laundry
Planting things in the garden
Playing board games with kids

Friday, May 25, 2018

Springtime Madness

We've been engaged in a rock-bottom survival mode for the last few weeks.

Both my husband and I had crazy intense work stuff going on that took over our lives (and sanity) for the last 2 months. We've been working weekends and nights. Which means that we were barely spending any quality time with kids (it basically was limited to feeding &bathing and occasionally checking homework) and nothing but the most urgent housework got done. When I actually think about it, we didn't really neglect the kids - I remember taking the youngest to the playground, playing an occasional game, and talking over dinner - but I couldn't quite focus on the time with kids and I was too concerned with how much work I still had to do to have fun.

We feel exhausted, stressed, frustrated, and we over-react angrily to all the little things. We are behind on everything (gardening, housework), I can't remember the last time I sat down and read to my kids (we are always running around, trying to either get somewhere important, get the kids to do something important, get the kids to go to bed at a reasonable time, prepare lunches, prepare dinners, prepare for work). I hate living like that. Kids internalize our stress and anxiety and act out.

So. My crazy work stuff is done (for now).
We still have:

  • Son's baseball (twice a week, plus practices... he is not so good at it and I don't know if he is enjoying it - may not do this again next year!)
  • Son's violin lessons (once a week + daily practice) - and he has a recital this Sunday!!! My mom is accompanying him on the piano - they are doing great (but that has meant extra practice time and arranging things so mom can practice with him at our house or her house)
  • Big daughter's dance lessons (once a week, plus a dress rehearsal coming up next week, plus the show a few days after that!)
  • Big daughter's piano lessons (once a week + daily practice) - and piano guild audition thing next week.
  • Daily homework for big kids
  • Little daughter - I feel guilty I didn't sign her up for anything this spring (I was considering swimming lessons) - but in retrospect, good thing we didn't. Too much going on.
  • Guests coming tomorrow and staying overnight
  • End of school year - parties, presents for teachers, etc, etc.
  • Race that I want the kids to participate in (for fun!) same day as big daughter's piano guild
  • Birthday party to go to same day as big daughter's dance show
  • Board meeting at the synagogue same day as birthday party and dance show

Breathe in.... breathe out

I am making an attempt to play with kids more, especially now that the weather is so nice and we have a beautiful yard. I want to play board games with them, too, but most evenings we just don't get to it.

Yesterday, we had a wonderful evening (son didn't have homework - that may have helped carve the time for outside fun). We threw the baseball around and I even tried to hit it with a bat for the first time ever (it was unexpectedly fun - but I only got one hit!), played Frisbee, played with a volleyball. Our youngest is pretty good at catching ball - she was so excited! We walked around the yard, kids picked strawberries (I believe the harvest was about 30 wild ones and 1 big red one), we inspected the trees, kids played on the play set. We ate dinner outside. Ah, just thinking about all of it makes me happy!

Tonight, we are going over to my parents' house. Today would have been my grandfather's 100th birthday - so we are having dinner and then will be looking at some old photos.

I know spring time is hectic for many families. How do you keep things from falling apart?

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Weekend Report

Last weekend of February!

Here is the summary of  happenings.

Friday:

  • Bingo night at kids school. I took all 3 kids by myself because husband was away in another city for work (after being away in yet another city earlier that week). 
    • Youngest had a meltdown because she didn't win anything.
    • Middle child was grumpy because we left early. 
    • Oldest child was thrilled to stay behind with a friend of his and to be dropped off at home later that night by the friend's parents. 
    • I was reasonably grouchy because I had to "do it all" alone.
    • Still, it was a fun night, we all enjoyed playing bingo and seeing some friends/acquaintances.

Saturday:

  • I made oatmeal and did some yoga.
  • J took older daughter to dance class and then out on a father-daughter date 
    • In the meantime, the rest of us played frisbee outside, found flowers (snowdrops?) in the garden, and read some books. I also managed to call my parents, schedule a dinner date with them, and make lunch (tuna salad and lentil soup).
  • E had a soccer game. It was entertaining enough that I didn't get as far in my book as I thought I would. 
  • E and I had a date at the Veterans Museum. 
  • I took my parents out to dinner at an Israeli restaurant they like, followed by tea and ice cream at their house. It was really nice to catch up. It felt really nice to be the center of attention.
  • At home, we all watched Olympics for a bit and kids had their Movie Night.
Sunday:
  • J took kids to Hebrew School and then went to my parents house to work on their faucet.
  • I went to a Rosh Hodesh event. 
  • H had a piano party.
  • J fixed our shower (with much cursing, a trip to buy yet another tool, and a minor temper tantrum).
  • I read for fun.
  • I spent about 20 min going through the attic stuff (the goal is to clear up the attic room where I have my "study" and which currently doubles as the "junk room). Found a few things I've been missing, like the salad-serving spoons and egg holders (still packed from our move 4 years ago!
  • We all watched the closing ceremony for a bit.
  • J and I had a fight (because I've been feeling under-appreciated and he has more trips coming up and I'll have to scramble to juggle kid activities, dinner, work, etc., all alone - again! And he doesn't think about any of it or plan for contingencies at all).
    • I felt better afterwords.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Morningitis: a Severe Debilitating Morning Condition

I suffer from a severe case of morning irritation. I feel grumpy, underappreciated, put-upon, irritable, and short-tempered. I snap at the kids. I grumble at the husband. I hiss at the cat.

I've tried:

  • Exercise in the morning
  • Read for fun in the morning
  • Go to bed earlier the night before

None of those work on a consistent basis. Plus, I have 1001 excuses not to do the above (like, not waking up early enough).
And I haven't figured out if there is anything - anything at all - that can make me a happier and kinder person in the mornings. Maybe its a lost cause and I just have do endure being in a bad mood most mornings?

A number of years ago, my husband was responsible for getting our kids (there were only 2 at the time) up, fed, dressed and off to daycare. I got up extra-early to get my grumpy self to the lab. I was the only one at work at 7:30 in the morning, so no one suffered from my lack of good mood. By the time people rolled in (10-ish), I was back to my normal self.

Now, my husband and I do mornings together, eat breakfast more or less around the same time as our kids, and split the drop-off routine on most days. In some ways, it's working great - we both get to work at a reasonable time, and in theory, we spend some quality time together as a family first thing in the morning. Reality: I am not a good sport on most mornings... All I want to do is whine and pick fights with my family.

Potential solution:
I do feel that if I got up an hour earlier (6 am instead of closer to 7 am), I might feel better by the time kids get up around 7-7:15.

Hurdle to overcome:
I am really, really, really not a morning person. I love night-time: I function great at night and am in a fabulous mood. My most productive hours, when in college and grad school, were between 1 and 3 am. Now, even if I force myself into bed by 10:30, I have a hard time falling asleep (unless I've been sleep deprived for a few days, and then I collapse by 9:30). So, I am fighting my innate circadian preference, in addition to a multitude of other hurdles (stress, fatigue, emotional exhaustion). I am fighting years and years of ingrained grumpy-morning paradigm (since early childhood, I just don't feel happy the moment I wake up).

So how do I find my "happy" on most morning???  Any advice???

What do you do to feel happy first thing in the morning? Do you just wake up happy or is there a routine that you do to put yourself into a good mood?