Back to Normal Life

Ahhhhhhhhhhh.  All the kids are back to school today, and the house is empty for the first time in more than two weeks.  What a relief!  I love our children with all my heart, but when they are off from school for an extended break and I don’t get a regular dose of solitude, I find myself feeling scattered and forgetful.  It is during the kids’ time away from home that I regroup, do yoga, hit the trail, work on pet projects, take care of myself.  When they are here, I tend to neglect my own needs, and I can do that for only so long before I start to resent them for it.

The holidays were really good generally.  Not as over-the-top as usual (since I had pneumonia in the first half of December), but we did enough that they felt special.  By most standards, we did more than we should have (Was the Christmas Tea for the kids really necessary?  Did we have to have a New Year’s Tea as well?), but I am one of those parents making up for my own imperfect childhood.  So few people have a perfect childhood to look back on.  I don’t know if it is that childhood must be uncomfortable (how else would we learn?), or that from my parents’ generation onward there has been so much divorce and drama that most kids are impacted.

I have promised myself that I will sit down this week and actually write down goals for the year.  I always have a variety of projects going, but I often don’t have the discipline to sit down and plot out how to tackle everything that I want to accomplish in a given amount of time.  I will do it this time.  Maybe tomorrow . . .

Within an hour I need to be out on the trail (speedwalking).  The sunshine beckons.  After that, will I attack that stupid pile of mending that continues to grow?  It would be nice to whittle it down.  But “Clash of Kings” is also crying out to me.  Which will it be– book or mending?  I have to chuckle that this is what my life has become.  Oh, how the old Party Girl Heather would be shaking her head.  But that makes me smile, too. You can’t be a Party Girl forever . . .

Pneumonia?! Again?

I’ve only had a cold since last Thursday, but by Saturday afternoon I was already feeling the tightness in the chest.  Seriously?!  So close to Christmas?!  I went to the doctor’s office today and confirmed it: yes, I have pneumonia. Again.  For the sixth time since early 2008.

When we returned from India a little less than five years ago, I was almost eight months pregnant with our youngest.  Thankfully, none of us caught anything terrible during our year in India (there are some nasty bugs there, so I was very relieved), but ironically I caught a cold/flu thing soon after our return and I got really sick, sicker than I had in many years.  After three weeks of suffering, I finally went to the doctor with a horrible cough and was diagnosed with pneumonia.  They admitted me to the hospital for a couple of days to administer antibiotics, and I recovered fully by the time she was born, but they warned me that for at least five years I would be susceptible to pneumonia.

March will be the five-year mark for the first bout, and I wonder if these annual (or worse) cases of pneumonia will subside.  Manly Guy gets frustrated with me when I get a cold and I don’t rest, but it is *so* hard when there is so much to do!  Now I have no choice but to take my antibiotics and crawl into bed.  Here’s hoping I get better in time to see the kids’ piano recital this weekend . . .

Whiteboard Session: What Do You Want?

Whiteboard Session: What Do You Want?

My husband is a genius! He turned a simple question from our son (“Can I play Minecraft on the computer?”) into an hourlong whiteboard session on what he wants in life. “What do you want?” became “What do you want now? In a year? Five years? Ten years?” Manly Guy translated T’s responses into a chart on the whiteboard and they continued to discuss it. Turns out that Being Bilingual is now a goal for our son. Yay!

Powering Through When You Get Sick

It was only a matter of time before I came down with the cold.  Three of our four kids have been home sick for at least one day in the last two weeks, and Manly Guy has been sick for the past few days.  This morning I woke up congested and coughing, felt achey all over and generally grumpy.  Sigh.

As I pointed out to our children while making them breakfast, “Mommies don’t get to rest when they get sick.”  It is true of many professional people as well, but especially for moms, there is no one to take over your 24/7 duties when you are under the weather.  I ended up with pneumonia four times in five years because I couldn’t rest when I came down with a cold or flu.  *Someone* has to prepare food, get kids to school, and do at least the bare necessities for keeping the homestead running.  One can’t just stop and go to bed.

This time, though, I’m trying to be at least a tiny bit sensible.  I knew not to go running this morning (I’ve done that in the past, and it doesn’t help!).  I took a nap.  I might actually get to bed at a reasonable hour.  Hopefully I’ll recover enough to enjoy the family symphony concert that we are scheduled to attend on Saturday . . . (Why does it always have to hit during the holidays?!)

Earning Money, Not Asking for It

Saturday, Dec 8, 2012

Yesterday while dropping off our youngest at preschool I saw her chat with a boy in her class, followed by her receiving two quarters from him.  I approached her and asked why he gave her some money.  She replied, “He has more money than I do, so he should give me some.”  She had clearly been working this angle with him before, as he seemed very agreeable in the arrangement, but I didn’t approve of it at all.  I don’t want our daughter to be asking for money from anyone.

I insisted that she return the quarters to him, and then lectured her on money.  “Honey, you can’t just ask people for money.  You have to EARN money.”  After she agreed to not ask him again, I left and got on with my day.

Reflecting back on it, it made me wonder how we can do a better job instilling in our kids a respect for earned money.  They each do small chores each day and if they ask for a bigger job they can make small amounts of money (we track these on a clipboard weekly).  We have lectured them all on keeping your money in a safe place (wallet or piggy bank) so you don’t lose it, but they have all lost coins and bills after carrying them around loose.  But I still feel that we could do a better job communicating a healthy relationship with money– respecting it (not losing it), enjoying the process of earning it (not just asking us for it), and at the same time not becoming greedy and obsessed with it.

Freaking Out Over Christmas Lights

Thursday, Dec 6, 2012

Tonight my husband came to pick me up after an evening meeting.  The kids were in the car, too. Just before they picked me up, they drove past a dead-end street that we’ve driven past many times, but not at night (and not in December).  On this one-block dead-end street were a lot of houses decorated with Christmas lights; nearly every house was lit up, and some of them were crazy decorated.  The kids freaked!  Lots of screaming (with pleasure, not crying).  After I got in the car, we drove *very* slowly down this little street and took it all in.  The kids took turns standing on the arm rests and looking through the minivan’s skylight.  They were enraptured.  It was as if they had never seen such Christmas lights before (they have).

And earlier today the kids ate breakfast on new (inexpensive) china instead of melamine.  I bought the set yesterday, as I want them to practice using breakable dishes before we have our first family dinner on our good china at Christmas.  They made such a fuss over it, it was very cute.  ”Mommy, the table looks so nice!”  ”Look how everything matches!” “Are we going to eat on these new dishes all the time?”

For parents, these are incredible moments.  Through kids’ eyes, the world is so new and magical.  For our non-parent friends (we still have a few!), I can imagine that it might be difficult to see the appeal of what must seem like little things.  But it is the little things that make all the work worth it.