Rough around the edges, still

Vacation can be hard. Change in any routine is hard. Changing sleep and work and plans for four females can seem an insurmountable task.
Today I am contemplating the Friday of vacation, and exactly what to do with my day. How to best use my time, but also how to best allow these three little beings, that rely on me, to fully recharge for the coming months. We have a hard schedule, basketball practices and tournaments, ballet, jazz class, pointe class chores, chickens and bunnies, my work, their work, and just being together as a family…it all takes a LOT.
I had attempted to somehow squeeze my paying job into this vacation week, around the basketball tournaments and dance classes and now snowboarding trips. The oldest is a fine baby sitter now and all these ‘extras’ certainly cost more money! But that all changed Wednesday morning, (after unsuccessfully trying to schedule work Monday and Tuesday). It was that third morning that I made the conscious choice to wait, to pause. They are growing so fast, changing so much, they are no longer the little peanuts cuddling close to me. They have already grown to tall and beautiful young people who try and learn new things on their own, every day. They push limits and leap fences, climb new mountains daily, and too soon will be driving themselves to practices and jobs and beyond. I instead have chosen to be there, with them, for now.
Today they are not actively WITH me, but I am still, obviously, responsible for them. One wants to snowboard, another to bake yummy treats, and the third just isn’t sure if which way to go anymore. They are not here, but at grandmas for last night and today. It is a place they have always loved to be. A sanctuary from the usual crazies of their life. A place to read and bake and draw and climb and skate and explore. A place they are ALL still little people. As I try to help them figure out how to interweave that all into their bigger plans for today with friends and such, I got this message from dear Gomma (my mother-in-law), “Why don’t we play it by ear. I am so happy to spend the simplest time with them.” And THAT is what we will do today. Simplest plan for Friday of vacation.
Reminding me, as I reminded myself two years ago: “we are all rough around the edges…breathe….and be all set to rise, ready to start a new day….

Finding MY Bees Knees

It has been a little rough around here the past couple weeks. Vacation didn’t really help to calm things or to even out the daily stresses of life. Our world is hectic and busy, not just the Mom-Taxi, but the chores, the lists and the piles of stuff to deal with every day.

Tonight we had two ballet classes, back to back, a basketball practice, with a total time change, and of course homework and chores. The chickens needed the new bag of food taken down to the coop, the woodstove needed to be stoked, and wood brought into the house, dinner wasn’t even going to happen which means fast food of some type, and to top it all off we had run out of bread when I made lunches  which either meant make some or squeeze in a trip to the store (with three little dragons in toe).

Upon…

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Data Limit

We are busy, very busy.

With three kids, all doing at multiple, different dance classes, as well as basketball, (or soccer, or softball), not to mention seasonal fun like snow boarding, swimming, or hiking adventures; our days are just packed. (It is no wonder I put 5000 miles on my new van in less than three months.) But somehow, we still seem to fit in three to four paying jobs, watching the Olympics together late into the night, family dinner, house chores and even school family dances. This weekend, we decided to squeeze into this crazy life: a quick family get away that we have been talking about for two years.

Just as we were preparing to leave our lovely midcoast area (for basketball tournaments that, obviously must proceed the family trip), I got a message from our cell phone company: we had used 75% of our shared date plan across our three phones…uh oh. And then before we even hit Portland, we had used 90% of said data plan…super big uh-oh.

What about their entertainment while driving, what about getting directions, and messaging our friends to meet up, OMG! what about Snapchat! And Facebook! And, and, and…

Actually, I it was ok. We are taking a little trip away from home, and away therefore from phones…just for a day and a half, (the new billing period would start in two days). Apparently I was at my data limit for our ‘busies’ too. For 36 hours: no basketball tournaments, practices, or uniforms to wash, no dance tights to find, or classes to remember which children to drop off. No cats, rabbits, or chicken to feed, and lug water to in the freezing cold. No Facebook book parties, or planning meetings, no messages, or memes or chronicles of other people’s adventures. I put that down. And stepped on the gas.

It is true that I still talked about our latest (that morning) basketball wins, still debated trying to make it back home for the Sunday night dance class. I kept my eyes on the incoming text messages of vacation basketball schedules. I took a few peeks at the pop up notifications of Facebook friends and messages, but often didn’t even think to click on the app. I just watched the miles tick by, listened to my xm radio, laughed with friends and enjoyed a snowy bonfire with laughter and music.

The children probably still kept up with the Snapchat streaks, and their games of various life adventures. But they also played real games, built race car tracks and bead bracelets and probably watched too much tv. Now, they also have good, silly stories and memories that will make them giggle in days to come. They had freedom and time off from their own little worlds of running and going and doing. They uploaded new data plans, with new outcomes and different solutions. Their arms are sore from playing wii instead of their hips and feet sore from ballet. They have a new idea of households and food that was different from our ordinary life. They learned quiet, and loud, and silly, and polite.

We all stayed up way too late, but got to eat amazing food. And brought home out of this world homemade prosciutto, dry sausages and other yummy meats. We laughed, we drank, we enjoyed good friends, so many friends. And we got to see the LL Bean boot driving down the road as we returned. We stopped on the way home for more friends and more food, and an adorable baby to snuggle!

We reached our data limit, but didn’t buy the $15 extra 1G. Instead we took a detour from our busy life, to reset and start a new chapter of our even more busy life.

I have no pictures of these adventures on my phone. Not mine, or his, or even on the kids phones. But it did happen. And we didn’t exceed our allotted data limit.

Chilly October morning

Slowly the orange ball of fire called the sun is peeking over the black silhouette of beach, elm and black walnut trees that create my back yard. It is a crisp fall morning, and we have yet to turn on the furnace or clean the chimney. My bed feels warm and cozy, especially when I compair it to the chill I will find in the kitchen. I do not want to get up. But I must make lunches and hang out today’s laundry, and feed the chickens.

Pulling on my purple velour robe and slipping into my red fleece slippers, I emerge from my cave of warmth into the bright kitchen. I can here him in the laundry room, emptying his suitcase from his latest trip. He will have filled the white basket with the wet clothes, washed over night, and it will be waiting for me by the door. The green tea kettle, that he bought for me before we were married, is just beginning to rattle and whistle. On the counter by the stove, sits a single plate, with an egg sandwich, untouched. While in the prep cutting board is a half eaten similar egg sandwich.

It is especially in these moments, that I pause and am thankful for my teammate, my partner, my friend, my love.

The chill I expected to feel is gone. I pour the now boiling water over my waiting coffee beans and begin my Wednesday, happy. Balanced. In love.

Hoping your day also has tidbits and moments of happiness and joy. May you give as well as receive such feelings! What goes around comes around!

In preparing to write this morning, I also found this similar piece. It is from my first attempt at blogging and was written four and a half years ago, (when my eldest daughter was the age of my youngest daughter now.) At first, I thought to simply reblog my own piece. But as I stumbled from my bed, I was met with this scene, and fell head over heals in love again. Thanks to the blogging world, and my many friends for restarting my love of writing and sharing!

On display, by Busy Bee Momma…first published 2/19/2013

Succumb

Shall I succumb to the piles of papers mounting up on the counter? Or perhaps the the trail of laundry meandering round the house? Shall I throw in the towel, as I contemplate the mounds of dishes accumulating faster than can be loaded into the dishwasher? Or perhaps my down fall will be in the scheduling of three soccer teams, mixed with eleven dance classes and countless after school events. The groceries, car repairs and endless bills have eaten away at my bank account. And are looming, still hungry, at the back door, waiting to devour me whole. Another set back, another struggle to tempt me into the depths of despair.

But I will not be tempted. I will stand strong. I will not succumb.

I am strong. I am fierce. I will carry on with poise and coffee. I will try again, with renewed vigor, and better plans, and more organizing baskets.

I may stumble and trip. I may be late for some practices. I may leave the laundry in the washer for the day and a half. I may wait until morning to empty, then refill the dishwasher, having to wash a cup or two by hand. I may retreat into my phone for an hour or so, avoiding the mess, the chores, and the busy. I may fail. But I will fail well. I will fail, and try again, and again, and again.

Succumb? No. No I will not succumb today.

Ramblings of a mother on Friday.

Today is Friday the 13th. I woke up late. The littlest was in my bed all night, having had nightmares. I forgot to make the cinnamon buns for breakfast, (that I took the time to prep last night). My oldest almost missed the bus, because she asked for double French braids seven minutes before the bus comes. My husband leaves for another weekend trip today. Our bank account is lower than I anticipated for the weekend, again. And I forgot to hang the wet laundry out on the line before we all left for the day.

This morning I dreamed of snow covering my tomatoes and nobody helping me quickly harvest them. It is true that they have been on my mind. Along with the potatoes that need to be harvested. And of course the whole garden, really, needs to be put to bed and raked out of grass and leaves and plant supporting debris. But there never does seem to be enough time. (Perhaps I need to cultivate more Thyme.)

Tonight we have yet another soccer game. And somehow, somewhere, a basketball practice. Plus one is asking for a sleep over somewhere. And then, tomorrow is two more soccer games and a spaghetti dinner/book fair for the littles school. Then Sunday is more basketball, and dance and figuring out how to get the eldest back from a Saturday night’s sleep over. Not to mention finding time for the Halloween costumes they are asking for me to help them finish on the sewing machine.

Busy.

Full of life. Full of love. Full of crazies.

So, after the morning chores of getting everybody out the door. I sat down to catch my breath. I took a moment to be still. To breath. True, this moment was in the entrance hallway to the elementary school, with many children, and parents, as well as various school staff bustling by me. But I took a just a moment, a deep breath and then another. Before I continued on to my paying job and busy busy Friday.

TGIF. Friday the 13th. Just another day, a moment in time, soon to be replaced by another moment in time. Make it as good as you can and remember to breath.

No, I am not…

No, I am not at the amazing and super fun annual pumpkin drop today. No, I am not driving to Waterville and back for basketball today. No, I am not cleaning the chimney, or cleaning up around the wood stove today. No, I am not harvesting apples or making cider for the winter. No, I am not.

Today I am resting.

The world will not end if my children miss a chance to see 1000 pound pumpkins dropped on stripped down old cars, this one year. It will not end if I rely on friends and coaches to ferry my middle child to and from the Sunday basketball games, an hour away. Nor will it be horrible to wait a few more days before lighting the wood stove this fall. And the world will certainly not end if I don’t drive the 15 minutes over to the job site, to harvest apples on this windy day.

This week has been a doozie of a busy week. There have been six soccer practices, one basketball practice, five soccer games, eight dance classes, a PTO meeting, two deep car cleanings, one camper cleaning and set up for fall, two cavity fillings, way too many bills paid, one morning of volunteer work, one day off from school, a four day headache, two sleep overs, three grocery shopping adventures, one big hassle with internet service, two evening-out dinners, a birthday celebration, an early morning play date, a friend’s baby born, a failed car repair, as well as week of working two paying, part-time jobs. I am tired.

So, today I have been helping children find Lego pieces, reading my book, mindlessly playing on my iPhone and doing only one load of laundry. I suppose I also had to tend the chickens, cat and bunnies; as well as make breakfast, lunch and dinner for the family. And I did have to deliver one child to the coach and another to the dance class. But that is all.

Harvesting the potatoes can wait, too wet anyway. Sorting the art supplies and making a new art cabinet can wait, need to get more boxes and shelves still. The sorting out summer clothes from the multitudes of drawers and closets can wait, Young’Uns is probably closed tomorrow anyway. Even the planning of the week’s meals can wait, we can just have pasta and peanut butter sandwiches for a couple meals.

Would it be fun to see the pumpkin smash into millions of pieces and feel the impact shake the ground? Yes. But then the blanket would be all wet from the rain, and the children covered in tiny pieces of leaves and their pockets filled with acorns I will find in the washing machine. There is always next year, as well as the previous five (at least) years to remember fondly. Do I wonder and worry how the first basketball game of this new team and new season went? Yes! But there will be another next weekend and it gives her a chance to giggle with her friend for the hour ride there and back. Has the weather turned a bit chilly and damp and a fire would be nice? Yes, for sure! But we have so many sweaters, we love baking bread in the oven (which warms the house quite a bit), and it is far too windy today to be up in the roof anyway! There is always next Saturday to clean the chimney.

Today we rest. We let others help. We reset ourselves and brace for the next coming week: 6 soccer games, 7 soccer practices, 8 dance classes, one day off from school, one pumpkin boat regatta, one picnic play date, one fundraiser for a friend, one or two basketball practices, one hopeful car repair trip to Portland and back, one morning of volunteering, one sleepover, one spaghetti dinner fundraiser, and three days of solo parenting. But that is all just par for the course.

Three cheers

Today is a beautiful new day. It may be cloudy and the kids (as well as a friend) are all home this weekday. The car does need a rather important part fixed, and the house is certainly a mess. But today I am going to choose to see the good and the beauty. So here goes!

The bountiful harvest from my little ‘micro farm’! Being a very ‘Busy Bee’ I don’t find much time to work in my own vegetable garden. But I am certainly able to grow some easy to care for zucchini, cucumbers and delicata squash. These simply require watching out for the occasional bugs and perhaps a bit of watering and feeding. The heirloom tomatoes I grow in raised beds of tires, to warm up their roots and hopefully get tomatoes before the early Maine frost. These are my babies that I do indeed tend most days. The quiet moments of feeding or watering while looking closely for the tiny white or grey eggs of tomato horn worms is both calming and satisfying. These days my daily trip to the garden I come in with the lovely earthy smell of tomato plants on my hands and shirt and my hands over flowing with Green Zebra, Prudence Purple, and Roma tomatoes. The smell of the earth and the pleasure of growing my own food grounds me.

Last weekend’s four hour hike with the whole family, in a local state park. Not only did we get to see the last of the green leaves and the beginning of the beautiful colors of fall, but we also ALL went together. With lots of snacks, water bottles and sweaters too, we hiked up and down and along a beautiful ridge. It was a comfortably warm fall day that will be remembered as the days and nights get colder. Perhaps we may be inspired to try another local family hike, if the stars align to give us another day off together before snow flies. Time spent with family fills me with love.

Summer hair styles by the ocean. Seeing myself through the eyes of my children I am most often amazed at the beauty and strength. When they are bored, or needing to connect with me, all three of my children will braid, brush or style my hair. While I usually see all the split ends and gray hairs, they create four piece braids, French twists, Victorian updos and princess crowns. This particular creation was by my nine year old, while her sisters played in the chilly afternoon mid-tide at our local boat launch. Just the four of us, pausing in the midst of a busy day of errands and work for then to dip into the ocean. Each child is so happy, so independent, and so different; I stopped to breathe and acknowledge their summer love of any body of water. This frozen moment in time, reminds me to slow down, be gentle and enjoy the waves of life.

Three cheers for grounded, love, and life itself. Three cheers for cloudy days of reflection and writing. Three cheers for you as well my friends!