Saturday, May 12, 2018

Parenting & Swingsets

:: Parenting & Swingsets ::

Why does it feel like some days I am like a salmon swimming upstream in the river of parenting? That was my facebook status the other week after a long discussion with my eldest daughter as to why we a lot of the time do things a bit differently in our home as compared to others. She got off the bus and was hot and tired from a long day. She wanted to know why we couldn't have friends over to play in the sprinklers. I gently explained that it was a school night and that she had sports practice. A frown formed across her face. Summer would be here soon and then we would have plenty of time for friends. She agreed= parent win. 

Then we somehow got on the topic of cell phones. She proclaimed that every one has a phone but her. I know for a fact that every one in her class does not have a phone. I explained that phones were great tools to communicate with other people but phones also link us to the internet. The internet is a great place where you can find very useful information but it is also a dangerous place. The last wild west of America. This place where kids can easily get themselves into situations that could be tricky or just see things that they shouldn't at their age. She seemed to understand my answer and bounced off into the house in search of a snack. I was left standing on the front porch feeling a bit deflated. I know we are different than a lot of families in many respects. I know that there are a lot of families out there who are lot like mine. But parenting can be a lonely island at times. As a I get older and hopefully wiser each year, I begin to care less and less if what I am doing is "trendy" in parenting. I know my kids. I know the struggles, joys, and fears. I know what is good for them. My husband and I have a set of standards and morals we live by. They rarely match what is happening in the wider world. I am okay with that. I know it is hard for my children to see the bigger picture because they are still young. Upon entering the kitchen that was strewn with book bags, snacks, lunch boxes, and shoes I asked my daughter if she understood that we just do things differently in our home. She looked at me and said yes. She chewed thoughtfully on a cracker for a moment then said, "Like you always say Mama, be a Fruit Loop in a bowl full of Cheerios." I laughed and I quietly added, "thanks for inflating my spirit." Sometimes it is okay to swim upstream and it is okay to be a Fruit Loop.

Parenting can also be a test of patience. We have a new swing-set. In fact, it is the first swing-set we have ever had. Blame it on the military moves. It was a labor of love. It was a three week labor of love by my husband. He is a good man because that box and all those pieces would have sent me over the edge. The kids love it. I love it. But it is teaching us an important lesson these days. The lesson of patience. I will freely admit that it is a lesson that we are very slowly learning. There are two swings and I have three children. Let's do the math. 2 swings + 3 children = one child is not swinging. That is not good math in my mind. I decided on a rotation that they do so that everyone gets equal time. It is a swing-set mediation of sorts. Everyone gets a turn and everyone is happy. A good lesson for life. We cannot have everything at once. We have to be patient and wait for good things. It is a work in progress but I can happily report that I only had to wave wildly in the air out the kitchen window while shouting "please take turns and be patient!" once this week. I look down at the Blessed Mother statue on my sill. "Yeah, I know I could use work in the patience department as well" I tell her. She gets it, she is a mom.

Parenting is hard. No doubt about it. Be kind to yourself because we are all doing the best we can. 

Also,  Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there. Especially my mother. She taught so much and I am the woman I am today because of her patience, understanding, and unending love. 

Monday, May 07, 2018

A Backyard Study

:: A Backyard Study ::

Everything is in its full glory of spring around these parts. We literally went from winter to summer in the span of three days. The trees of burst forth with green leaves, my flowering plants are blooming, and the dandelions are plentiful. We may just start a dandelion farm because our property looks like a truffula forest ( The Lorax book reference). The air is thick with pollen and the days are getting longer. The perfect time of year to plant a garden. 

We planted our first garden in our new home last week. After weeks of back breaking digging and raking the plot was ready. I have been dreaming of this day for so many years and now it is here. 

We planted lettuce, spinach, cherry tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, big boy tomatoes, green bell peppers, jalapeƱo peppers, yellow squash, zucchini, cucumber, and watermelon. We hope to have zinnias, chamomile, calendula, and echinacea. 

It is a trial and error garden this year. We are hoping to see what grows well and what doesn't grow well so that next year we can go with what works. 

They are little right now but things are growing slowly. 

I also have herbs planted in pots and I am going to be planting some blueberry bushes soon. 

I am not a woman to be trusted around a plant sale or farmers' market. 

The nice thing about starting with a property with very little on it is that it is ours for the making. We are free to find the perfect trees, plants, and bushes to make the place our own. 

The chickens had to wait another year with so much on our plate these days as we slide into the last month of school. I couldn't bring myself to start another project especially since I am the queen of projects. 

Here's to hoping everything grows and grows! 

Friday, January 12, 2018

2018 Book List

:: 2018 Book List & Community Activism ::

   I sat down over Christmas break and began to organize and write down a list of books I want to read in 2018. It is a kind of challenge to myself, read more and scroll less. I want to really work on reading more works of fiction and non-fiction so in turn I stay off the social media sites. The habitual mindless scrolling is not the best use of my time. There will never be enough time to read everything out there and it is exciting to have the writing at my fingertips online, in bookstores, or at the library. Making a book list keeps me honest and reminds me not to miss out on a great read. I also want to write little reviews of the books I am reading. I want to give people a little insight into each of the books because I know it can be hard finding a good book. I am completely onboard with stopping a book if it isn't what I want to read. Life is too short to read something you don't like. The list is ambitious to say the least but we will see what happens. 

My other goal is to get more involved with the community now that we are living in a new town. I joined the local chapter of my affiliated political party and I am hoping to attend lectures and talks of their speakers. I am volunteering at my girls schools and at the local arboretum. I have the privilege of being home right now and so I want to use this time to my advantage. I also think it will be a good jumping for point future career options. You never know what opportunities lie ahead. 

"Be the change you wish to see in the world."

2018 Book List 
(subject to change and open to all recommendations) 

The Seagull- Ann Cleeves 

Little Fires Everywhere- Celeste Ng

Origin- Dan Brown 

The Snow Child (re-read)- Eowyn Ivey

The English Wife- Lauren Willig 

Anne of Green Gables- LM Montegomery 

The Jesuit Guide (to Almost Everything)- Fr. James Martin 

The Radicalism of the American Revolution-  Gordon S. Wood 

Unformed Landscape- Peter Stamm 

Alexander Hamilton- Ron Chernow

The Turn of the Screw (re-read from high school!)- Henry James 

The Omnivore's Dilemma- Michael Pollan

Hold onto your kids-  Gordon Neufield 

No Life for a Lady- Agnes Morely Cleaveland 

Liturgy of the Ordinary- Tish Harrison Warren and Andy Crouch

Upstream- Mary Oliver 

Collected works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Between the World and Me- Ta-Nehisi Coates 

The Sea- John Banville 

The Mystery of Udolpho- Ann Radcliffe 

A Man Called Ove- Fredrik Backman 

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry- Neil deGrasse Tyson 

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Snow Days

:: Snow Days ::

At the end of last week we had a snow storm visit us. The cold took hold of us the weeks before and  I knew it was only a matter of time before we had snow. The kids have been off of school since then. The frigid temperatures, snow, and heavy winds had made most of the roads around these parts near impassable at times. We tried to take a walk out in the snow near our home but that was a short lived venture. The wind and snow made it so uncomfortable that after a lot of complaining we decided to just give up and go home for an evening in front of the fire with hot chocolate. I am certain it took me longer to dress everyone then we spent outside. 

Friday afternoon we braved the temperatures and wind to head out to run a few errands. We grabbed some paint for our first project of the year in our house and Miss E got her ears pierced! I had been promising her for weeks that we would head to the mall and get it done. She was building up the courage because she was afraid that it would hurt too much. I have been so impressed by her diligence in taking care of her ears as they begin to heal. I think we are entering a new phase of parenting around these parts. She is becoming an older girl by the day. It seems like yesterday she was just a little toddler. 

Saturday we prepped the office/studio for painting. It was a light green when we moved in and I was not a fan. We decided on a very light gray that seems a bit more professional then a baby room green. It turned out beautifully after we had finished. My husband was under the impression that I was good at painting trim. Oops. Not so much. After a lot of touching up and several hours of drying we put the room back together. I just love it. Every modification we make to the home just makes it feel like ours even more. After living in rentals for years it is so fun to imagine, change, and do little projects in our home. 

On Sunday it seemed like we turned a corner in the weather and I really thought we would get back into a routine come Monday morning. However, the roads were still bad in some areas and with an impending ice storm they called school out again. This morning when the phone rang at 5:30am I couldn't believe it. Snow Day #4 for the kids. I feel for the school system because no call will ever make people happy. Someone will always complain. 

So we have been making the best of these last couple days and we are super caught up on the weekly homework assignments, reading, and even brushed up on some math skills. I won the "mean mom" award for making them do the work but I know that it will make the transition back to school easier tomorrow. A little routine during these crazy winter days. 

Until spring arrives, I will just pour over the seed catalogs and dream of warmer days. 

new office/studio

my brother stopped by after a hunting trip and made the kids day by playing dog bingo with them 

Thursday, January 04, 2018

A New Year-- A Year Revisited

A New Year -- A Year Revisited 


The past year of our life has been spent transforming, struggling, growing, and changing as a family. We bounced around in our townhouse rental waiting for the right home to appear.  We struggled with trying to find the right home and finally in August found the homestead on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. The struggle to make everyone comfortable in this new town was real every day. New commutes, new neighbors and friends, new schools, new church, and a new rhythm to our life.  The children began to find their way in school, making friends and excelling in their schoolwork. My husband is working from home on a regular basis while commuting less. It is so good for his physical and mental health. No long commutes every day, no traffic, and no burn out. All the years of moving, deployments, renting home after home seem like a distant memory now. Our home is really and truly ours. Contentment reigns in our hearts and minds. 

The last year has brought about many changes in our family. Aside from the biggest of moving and buying a home, we have had other changes. Two of our children are in school with only one at home. I am beginning to focus on what I want out of life. Who am I? What do I want? Motherhood is entering a different stage and with more free time to focus on my own growth. I am beginning to wonder what I want to be. Will I go back to teaching or will I take a different path? What educational opportunities can I take advantage of now? Will we have more children? I am not in a hurry to answer all these questions today or tomorrow and I think over time the answers will be clear. 

The past year has been one of joyful changes and painful sadness. In October, my beloved grandmother died. She was surrounded by her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren in her final days. It was painful for me. My grandmother lost her husband when she was young and she raised five children on her own. She lived with my family at our home when I was a girl, teen, and young adult. We were very close and I was blessed to share many milestones in my life with her. In December, my uncle died. He was the brother of my father. He was a dad, granddad and great-granddad. He was a Vietnam Veteran. A man who willing sacrificed for his country. He was also a great uncle who would make us laugh as kids and always brought ice cream to my grandparent's farm on hot summer days. Death is hard. It doesn't care that you aren't ready to say good-bye. It doesn't care that it will leave a void in your life. It was hard but it also helped me grow in my faith. I feel closer to God. 

Throughout this year we have grown, struggled and transformed.  Change is hard and sometimes painful. It has helped us become a stronger family unit.  The new year has come on like a breath of fresh air and the possibilities are endless.