Friday, September 17, 2021

Five on Friday: A BTSN Proclamation

1.  I already accidentally missed the High School's Back to School Night this year, and . . .

2.  The announcements about COVID cases at the Middle School have already started coming in and that hasn't slowed anybody's insane "unmask our children" roll, and . . . 

3. I'd have to drive the 15-passenger van which is a bitch to park and the school parking lot is always so crowded and a request was sent out for the 6th grade parents to park in one area at the earlier arrival time and for the 8th grade parents to park in another area at the later arrival time which would mean if I wanted to be a good citizen* who happens to have both a 6th and an 8th grade student this year, I'd have to find not one but two parking spots for that beast**, and . . . 

4. I have had children at this very same school for the past ten consecutive years and they are literally my fourth and fifth children enrolled, and . . . 

5. I just sort of wanted to stay home and take a shower and chill; I thereby justify skipping the Middle School's Back to School Night this year, just in case you were wondering where I was.

Maybe next year

* And I am nothing if not a good citizen!
** Though searching for a second parking spot maybe would solve the "what to do during the 7th grade parent time slot" dilemma

Friday, September 10, 2021

Five on Friday: 2.5 Days in and Killing It

Well, friends, I set some goals for myself for once the children got back to school. They were almost like resolutions for the new (school) year. We've been at it for an entire two and a half days now and I gotta say, I'm sort of killing it!

Let's see, I had resolved to:

1. Get back into my near-daily exercise habit:

2. Do things like pick the throw pillows off the floor,  put them back on the couch, and then not have to do it again ten minutes later:

Eleven minutes and counting . . . 
3. Make dinner at 10:00 am:

4. Not listen to a single Olivia Rodrigo song for at least eight hours:
Achieved but the weird thing is two nights when I had insomnia this song decided to haunt my brain. That's what I get for going cold turkey I guess.

5. Getting back to supposedly writing my memoir. 

Okay, I haven't done this yet. I needed a few days to catch up on some other stuff (I've gotten the van inspected and made calls and filled out forms and made appointments and and and . . . !!!) 

I'd try to protest, "Well at least I got some writing done!" meaning this list but that's a cop out because I have been writing my Five on Friday lists all along and this one is basically just recycling last week's list. 

But I have really good intentions for next week now that I got so many of those dumb calls and things done, so I'll only give myself a sideways thumb on this one. Don't want to discourage me or anything,  especially since I just realized they have another day off next week and we still won't be back to five full days yet . . .

Friday, September 3, 2021

Five on Friday: My Plans for When the Kids Are at School

In what is feeling very on-brand for the current era, the first day of school was canceled. THE FIRST DAY! Not just any first day, but the first day of a new year in which the plan is for the children to go to school for five full days a week after 18 months of first virtual schooling then summer vacation then virtual again followed hybrid but only for half days and then another summer break.

thank you, sweet yellow bus of mercy

So today they have a half day--because holiday weekend, natch--then Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday off. But Wednesday? Oh my god, Wednesday they will be gone by 8:30 and, because they are athletes and we are having normal sports schedules again this year (hooray! boo!), they won't be home until 5. 

I love my children so much that I can still cry talking about what a privilege it is to be their mother. But I'm also on the verge of being completely overwhelmed and just need a break. So I do not feel at all guilty about literally REJOICING over the start of the new, five full days a week school year.

I've got a lot planned for my upcoming solo time! Like:

1. Getting back into my near-daily exercise habit. I was doing really well with this for the majority of the summer so I don't know what happened--but I feel better physically and mentally when I'm getting more activity so this on the top of the list.

2. Getting back to supposedly writing my memoir. Remember my memoir? I barely do so I don't expect you to. But maybe, just maybe . . . you'll see it in the next 5-10 years. Oh and I'll record at least one more episode of my fake podcast that I started for my sister but then dropped when things got too hectic (not to mention the issues with consistent riding I had mid-to-late summer.)

3. Utilize my time in ways that might seem odd--like making dinner at 10am--but in the long run will make my life so much easier because I'll be running around so much for sports games and practices in the afternoon.

4. Do things like pick the throw pillows off the floor, put them back on the couch, and then not have to do it again ten minutes later.

5. Not listen to a single Olivia Rodrigo song for at least eight hours . . . nor any bickering at all. (I'd take Olivia on loop over the bickering though, to be honest)

Friday, August 27, 2021

Five on Friday: Breaking It Down Instead of (Before?) Breaking Down

I find myself in one of my "constantly on the verge of overwhelmed" stages that I frequently cycle through. It's been feeling increasingly difficult to keep up with everything lately and I have my theories why (college students not here to help me, sports schedules filling up the calendar . . . but that's not what today's list is about).

While driving our youngest to her dental cleaning recently, I admitted that I was feeling a little overwhelmed by trying to do all the things. 

"Just don't do them," advised the child who needed her teeth cleaned, two other appointments made, has a school supply list that needs to be attended to and really would like me to take her shopping and to the county fair and to arrange for a sleepover.

What started out as a moment of me attempting to humanize myself for my child--you know, chip away a little at this Dynamom fa├žade and get her to remember I'm a real person under there--morphed into a discussion on coping mechanisms. I hope she remembers some of them but even if she doesn't, it was a good reminder for myself that I have them and need to employ them.

They include:

1. First, foremost and overall: Breaking. It. Down. I'm a big list maker--I have to be, I can't possibly be expected to remember all of it in this one little brain. (To be honest, sometimes things are written down and still get forgotten, so . . . )

Anyway, when that list gets to be too much, I just have to break it down. There are some things that do just get removed (my daughter would be glad to know unless of course it's something she wanted from me). Then I prioritize the remainder, bumping the more important things higher up on the list.

2. Looking at my entire schedule and finding my pockets of time to do things: making a call on my walk, answering some emails while the kid was getting her teeth cleaned. Now I can cross "dentist appointment" and "answer emails" off the list. Two birds, one stone.

3. That being said, I keep some time in that I'm not doing something. Could I be getting more done in the morning with my coffee when I'm the only one awake? Technically yes, but . . . no. I need a little time to not be doing something for someone else. 

Combine #2 & 3: Take nap in van while kids at Kumon. DONE.
Combining tips #2 & 3: napping in van while kids inside at tutoring. Boom.

4. Oh, village! I need a little help right now, post-college students going back to school and pre-younger kids starting school and activities. I've been calling on you big time lately, thanks for having my back. I'll be back on the giving end soon, promise.

5. Lastly, I also need to cyclically remind myself that every dinner does not have to be an event. Charcuterie board, leftovers, frozen pizza, sandwiches are all completely acceptable meals. 

Friday, August 20, 2021

Five on Friday: Giacomo the Vespa? I'm Glad You Asked!


Me: Oh! You’re wondering about my Vespa because I haven’t said a single word about him or posted any pictures on instagram in so, so long? I am so sorry. Let me oblige you!

After a strong start to the season, riding (unfortunately) became a little sporadic. With a big family to cart around, there are only so many opportunities in any given week for me to choose Giacomo the Vespa as my mode of transportation as opposed to say, John Stamos the Toyota or Overkill Jones the Ford.

Then we had a stretch where on the days that I could ride but then there were so many thunderstorms. Then we went on vacation, then they oil and chipped the road (which would be terrible to ride on) and then came the woeful day my husband said “holy shit I didn’t realize just how bald the tires had gotten, don’t drive that.”

But now!!!

Reunited . . . and it feels so good!

Back on, baby! Here are some Giacomo experiences I wanted to share:

1. Earlier this summer, someone told me she had been considering getting a moped for her daughter but had some concerns. "Are drivers around here assholes?" she asked, wondering if car drivers do mean/dumb/scary things to those of us on two dainty wheels.

"They're really not,"  I said, " . . . but sometimes motorcyclists don't give me the wave, the special little motorcycle wave that they give to each other!" 

I was indignant. Everyone laughed that that was my biggest worry about other drivers . . . then I had to laugh, too.

2. Speaking of "the wave" . . . I find myself wanting to wave at anyone driving any sort of vehicle, two wheels or four, that seems like it's something really special and fun to them (think antique convertibles, that sort of thing) like Giacomo is to me. Frequently I do. They are probably confused.

3. I forgot how much I love when little kids tell me things like, "I wike your pink motow-cycle."

4. Ditto: how much I love watching how many people slow down, in vehicle or on foot, to admire Giacomo and his stickers. Sometimes they take pictures.

5. While I might not have posted much of him on Instagram lately, he did make a cameo on my favorite local coffeeshop's story recently! Reaching local legend status, for sure.

Friday, August 13, 2021

Five on Friday: Recent Reasons for the Bickering 'Round Here

Earlier this summer, my parents kindly offered to take any number of my five children to the lake with them for a few days. It turned out to be just the 11-year-old and 13-year-old, who have a long history of constant bickering. 

(It seems really amped up this summer, too . . . so much so that on a recent car ride, they were arguing so much in the backseat that my 15-year-old copilot suddenly changed the radio station, turned around and said, "I swear to god if you two don't cut it out, I'm not switching it back.")

While they were at the lake and someone asked where they were, I remarked on how much I appreciate when I can split the kids up over the summer here and there to give them breaks from one another. My 19-year-old son laughed, "So you sent those two away together?"

I realize that does seem a little . . . counter-productive. But first of all, it's just how it happened to work out that week. Second of all, maybe in this case it was just that I needed a break from them and their constant bickering. Or maybe my years of parenting experience taught me that they'd be fine in another environment and with different adults in charge . . . and wouldn't you know it? Mom said while they were with her, THEY WERE FINE AND DIDN'T BICKER AT ALL.

At. All.
Only known moment these two have ever gotten along while not away with Grandparents.

Well, I guess it's true that what happens at the lake stays at the lake, because they sure didn't bring any of that "getting along" home with them. As soon as they got back, they were right back at it. Here are some of the things they've bickered about since they've gotten home:

1. The correct way to pronounce Hercules.
2. Whether or not this song sucks or is awesome.
3. Who has more room on the shared backseat armrest. 
4. If older brother's arm is *so* much larger that it justifies him getting more of said shared backseat armrest.
5. If little sister is, indeed, mimicking his every move or if it's purely a coincidence that she ends up doing the same exact thing that he just did a few seconds earlier.

Did I say five on Friday? But wait, there's more!!

6. Which of the two of them (couldn't possibly be one of the other three, oh no) keeps forgetting to flush the toilet, put the cap back on the toothpaste, pick up the garbage that missed the can or otherwise fail to clean up after themselves in the bathroom.
7. If little sister accidentally or on purpose sprayed him with the "nozzle" spray.
8. If "nasal" is actually pronounced "nozzle."
9. Who was the last one to use the television remote . . . and . . .
10. Whose fault it is that Dad couldn't find said remote when he wanted it and then, upon finally finding it, hid it from them.

I regret to inform you that most of these arguments were from only one afternoon . . . so before I drive you as crazy as they've been driving me--and apparently their older brother--I'll stop there. 

Three more weeks until school. Cheers.

Friday, August 6, 2021

Five on Friday: More Parenting Realizations, Nearly 21 Years In (!)

Have you ever noticed how much writing about parenting centers around babies and young children? I guess that's when the biggest learning curve is. But the learning never stops . . . it can't. These kids and the times keep changing and forcing us to adapt.

Nearly twenty-one years into parenting (which was preceded by twelve years of providing childcare), I find I am still figuring things out. Here are some recent realizations I've had:

1. My personal expectations for what a college experience should be are (possibly outdated and) not my kids' expectations. Also, these are really weird times, anyway. Nothing's normal.

2. Just as when they were younger and I had to learn how to accept help from my village,  I now find myself learning to accept the fact that sometimes we need to pay money to have people help us do the things we could/should/used to do. (I'm looking at you, Kumon. I'm grateful we can get your services for the kids, but could you . . . maybe make the face on your logo look a *tiny* bit happier??)

This really doesn't encourage my kids.

3. Also, in regards to #2:  I know what I said. But things change: our younger kids are different types of learners than our older kids and the past year and a half of hybrid education has not been easy. And we still squeeze in plenty of hammock lazing, bone finding, music making, swims and bike rides.

Totally still a magical summer.

4. After the world's easiest girl-child followed by three boys, I have learned that I am, and I cannot stress this enough, I am woefully ill-equipped to deal with a pre-menstrual pre-teen. My god, is this what other people have been dealing with all along??

5. Lastly, and this is where I get sappy: in spite of having to swallow the semi-bitter pill of accepting these new realities, the best realization I've had recently was remembering the enormity of this privilege. I actually started to cry about it when I was talking about this the other day:

I've been thinking about some of our friends who have kids our older kids' ages and then, like normal people, stopped having babies. They're nearly empty-nesters now, with their kids all off at college. Yet I'm still scrambling every day to figure out dinner for seven and who's picking up the thirteen-year-old later and did everyone do their summer tutoring work and should I sign the fifteen-year-old up for that basketball camp . . . .? 

And that makes me feel so incredibly lucky.  

Friday, July 30, 2021

Five on Friday: The Evolving Summer Bucket List

It's nearly August which means we've reached the "oh my god there are so many things we still want to do!!" stage of the summer.

I realized, though, as I started to assemble a bucket list in my mind, that that list is changing as our family does. Just like our college students' individual plans earlier this summer meant that our family vacation this year was parents and primarily three kids (one young adult did join us at the end), our other summer plans are also evolving. So, for example, when I found myself thinking "we haven't even been to the reservoir yet," I had a follow-up thought of "the kids don't even really like that anymore. Take it off the list."

The reservoir used to be a big part of our lives. When the oldest two were toddlers, we'd get there as the lifeguards started their shifts, played for a few hours, ate our picnic lunch and then go home for a nap. Sometimes we'd even go back again in the afternoon! Here's a sketch I made in those days:

"If only my kids were still young"
"If only I had a minute to sit and read"

Seventeen years later, I find myself somewhere between the two women. While the appeal of splashing in shallow water and playing in the sand for hours on end has waned with my family, we now have other activities we like to do together . . . and had better get to those that we haven't done yet, because summer is nearly over.

The evolved summer bucket list includes:

1. A day at the reservoir Jersey shore . . . this is sort of a requirement when you live in New Jersey, isn't it? No matter how old your kids are.

2. Visiting family members we didn't get to see at all last year because of the pandemic. It's easier to do without school schedules to work around and when the weather is nice enough for outdoor visiting and group activities.

3. Ignore looking at school schedules and shopping lists for as long as humanely possible.

4. Family bonfire down by the pond.

5. Ice cream for dinner!