Giving yourself an A+

I thought this weekend was going to be hard. Josh was going to be away from Thursday morning until Sunday evening. I have done it plenty of times now, of course, being home, just me with the 3 boys (and the dog). And so has Josh when I have worked late, worked weekends, taken class, gone to the gym, traveled for work, etc. But 4 whole days including the entire weekend… And not just any weekend but a cold, winter weekend where I am supposed to be preparing for my final exam… I was preparing for survival mode.

Well, the weekend went fine, I would give myself a “B” if I am reflecting on it right now. Mouths were fed, teeth were brushed, we cuddled on the couch, bottles upon bottles (Wyatt, not me!) and we even made Valentines. We met a few challenges with the rain, flooding and crazy weather. Everyone was home early Thursday afternoon after emergency school and daycare closures. Again, everyone was stuck inside but I followed our dinner plan and gave baths, prepared for the next morning, laid out clothes, made lunches and pressed on. Friday, we were all on time, they had their show-n-tells, we got Hunter on the bus, Deacon to Pre-K and Wyatt went with my Mom. I even left work a bit early and squeezed in a trip to the salon before daycare pickup. (It had been over 4 months since my hair was cut!) We all picked up our Kroger Clicklist (online order of groceries) Friday night (because how could I possibly grocery shop with 3, 5 and under?) and made smoothies the next morning with fresh fruit.

We ventured out, not until 4:30 PM Saturday, but we did. We spent a good 90 minutes at Michael’s spending $40 on Valentine’s Day crafts and supplies. Honestly, I have never said “No” so many times in a such a short period of my life. Can we get this keychain? Can we get that remote control Lamborghini? Can we get these pipe-cleaners? For what?! But we had fun and we love to craft together so that was a win-win. One of the few photos from the weekend

Yes, I lost it a few times but tried really hard to keep my cool. Sunday morning was quite terrible actually as toys were “accidentally” broke and the dog knocked me over in the snow and Wyatt wanted nothing else but to be held, cry or to climb up the stairs. Have you ever felt exhausted or burnt-out before noon? What a terrible thing that is. And also, Hunter was disciplined, put in timeout and feelings were hurt. And I was trying to study. That was my fault, I shouldn’t have even attempted to read my Harvard cases and class notes that morning. I have time to study between Sunday evening and Thursday before I take my Final exam. It was NOT my fault however, that they 1) profusely used the word “butt-hole”, 2) broke a toy by smacking it against my end table, 3) took my razor from the shower and tried to use it, (are you freakin’ kidding me?!) 4) refused to share breakfast smoothies, and 5) dented the window sill by running into the couch. All before noon! (Can you see my teeth clenching? Holy moly!) But also, we were all feeling a little cabin fever. It was a rough, really rough, start to the day.

My in-laws so kindly offered to have us over for lunch on Sunday. Honestly, in my worst moment, I had visions of dropping the boys off, turning around and running away crying. But instead I took a deep breath, forgave the boys AND myself, enjoyed adult interaction, and we ate a delicious meal. I left the kids (as planned) for 1 hour to go to the gym just down the road. I ran so fast and got pretty sweaty and then felt a million times better. And when I came back? My sweet mother-in-law and boys made Josh and I Valentines Day sugar cookies! It made my day: the lunch, the gym, the time away and especially the cookies. And I even topped it off with a Starbucks (drive-through) trip with a gift card from my parents (from Christmas) and got a Venti Macchiato to help me through the evening- what a huge treat.

Josh did eventually come home and I went right into school mode where my group (4 males from my class) and I met virtually and recorded our Operations & Supply Chain final group presentation and submitted our final homework assignment, a simulation in Excel. Josh bathed all 3, got them in their PJ’s, fed Wyatt his bed time bottle, brushed teeth and got everyone in bed, on time, all while I did my school work. And just like that, the weekend ended.

There are so many times where I reflect on the day and question myself and all that I did. Did I read them enough books? Did they watch too much TV? Are we teaching them all of the important life lessons? (Heavy, I know.) Did I ignore them when I was trying to care for the baby? Did I let the baby climb the stairs while I tried to cook chili? Did I forget something I promised them? Am I spread too thin?? Did I finish that conversation? (Very likely, no) Did I stay up too late writing this blog? (Yes) I question myself so much at times. And I give myself a “B” instead of an “A+”. And also, many times I feel on top of the world and give myself an A+ because I do it all and feel so accomplished. Does anyone else do this? Are we our own best critics?  I think, thankfully God gives us tomorrow and we all have an opportunity at an “A+” day, a chance to say sorry or teach a lesson or try over or be better or have another chance. And then I say my nightly prayer, as their Mom, asking for strength to raise these 3 boys.

Sometimes the day feels like such a whirlwind and I don’t even know what happened. Sometimes, I even take pictures and look at them later after the boys go to bed and forget most of the details of what was happening in that moment or that it even happened at all. Some days, not too often, I think, thankfully I had these kids at a fairly young age…but can still feel old. Afterall, we don’t nearly have the energy of 1, 4 and 5 year old boys. And some days I just feel tired but know that I can not even afford to feel tired. I love them dearly but they are so much to keep up with right now! I think that when there are so many things going on at once, and with the craziness of multiple young kids (or even just 1 baby!), it really is a whirlwind. (But I very quickly remind myself that as soon as they are older and playing on their own, or giving themself a bath/shower and don’t need us to help them do almost everything, As soon as that happens, and I have some time to myself, I am going to miss this phase of life IMMENSELY. )

There are other times when I make the time, take them to the park, bring their bikes, take beautiful pictures and remember to document it on my blog on the topic of Balance. There are days when I am home with everyone on a snow day and we make hot chocolate, play in the snow, make snow angels, do a craft, practice Hunter’s site words, read books, do all the laundry and have hot homemade meals. Or like the time I was able to take everyone by myself to get all 3 a haircut the morning of Deacon’s birthday party because Josh was sick with the flu. (I deserved a gold star that day!!!) These are the days I give myself an A+. That is what I live for!! It isn’t every day but I do hope the boys remember these times as well as I.

Apparently I like to challenge myself and (try to) take on as much as I can possibly sustain. I am thrilled to take on something else, try something new, always try to do the right thing, balance it all and make everyone happy. Remember this?

But, sometimes, reality knocks me right down and I realize I just can’t do it all. (Flying solo with 2? Never again.) That is why there are 2 partners raising 3 knuckleheads (I love them dearly) in our home and this is also why, it was just a quick weekend without Daddy home. Here we are, back to normal. Thank you, Jesus.

With parenthood, and most things in life, there are ups and there are downs. I felt like I was on top of the world when I squeezed in a trip to the salon, picked up our groceries and got everyone in bed while I studied a bit Friday night. We had so much fun making Valentines and having my homemade meals together. But, I also lost my temper and felt defeated by Sunday morning. The good does come with the bad sometimes but it is important, as a parent, to forgive them AS WELL AS YOURSELF quickly and to move on. Look fondly on those A+ days and strive for your best, always.

A decade married & Making the impossible, possible

I remember 10 years ago, when we were newlyweds and Josh was hired on to do a large renovation project at IU, at the football stadium actually. Hours were long, pay was pretty good and while working on campus, there were many rules in which to abide. One of them was that Josh had 30 minutes for lunch each day and he wasn’t permitted to leave the premises. So, he had to bring his lunch, every day. Simple enough, right?

This is so silly, but at 25 years old, we thought, ok, we need to plan for this. We have to buy enough lunchmeat and cheese for the week, have enough bread, miracle whip, drinks, chips, pack a water bottle and an ice pack every single day… and have to make lunch the night beforhand since he had to leave the house so incredibly early in the morning. He had to be prepared and he cared a lot about this new job. (And besides who actually likes packing lunches every single night?) Where I, on the other hand, could take lunch whatever time I wanted, could come home and make something like canned soup or have leftovers. What great perspective it is, to look back and remember how we felt about packing his lunchbox every single night. We had so much growing to do.

Recently, I have had to remind myself that there is such a difference between our 20’s and our 30’s or just simply the ‘newlywed phase’ to the ‘parents with young children phase’ of life. We were really still learning how to adult as newlyweds at 25. We were mature, had jobs that were in our favor and owned our home that we were constantly fixing up together (as well as almost an acre to care for) BUT everything was new to us. It was exciting to pick out paint, take down that huge pine tree, plant that Japanese maple, and garden almost daily in the spring and summer time. We changed out light fixtures, faucets, drawer handles, door knobs, repainted interior doors and all of the ugly trim and ripped up carpet. To rearrange decor and furniture and to buy stepstones, plants, flowers, pavers and place them where we wanted… And to make spare bedrooms ready for all of our many roommates and guests over the 4 years we lived in our first home- this was all nothing shy of thrilling.

We dreamed of fixing up this first house together, project after project, with our own hands, sweat equity and a minimal budget, just to then sell it in a risky market and have it (hopefully) help pay for the next house. And then just to do it all over again on a much larger scale. We were so happy and were living the life.

Fast forward 10 years and we are in our 3rd home, with 3 boys, still living the life. I now pack lunchboxes x3, 5 nights a week and hopefully remember to throw something (canned soup) in my bag so that Mama has lunch too. (So glamorous, I know.) I get every one ready, fed, out the door and to the bus stop or to PreK every single morning. Don’t get me wrong, I WANT to, as their Mom but I seriously break a sweat (and stress) putting on shoes, coats, backpacks and carrying everyone and everything, every single morning. Our morning routine of just getting ready includes plenty of cardio for me. When I finally get to my office, I sit down at my desk and take a deep breath. Whooo, we made it again.

And to look back and remember that my 25 year old self would occasionally be 2 minutes late to work because I used to run 3 miles, or swim 10 laps at the high school, then shower, curl my hair, drive a six speed (in sneakers) and then put on high heels in the parking lot before work. If only she could see what I do now. What would I think of my future self? That I am now crazy? Nuts? Or different? More mature?

WISER. I think that we are now simply wiser than before.

It was once so new to pack a lunch every night of the week and now, I pack 15, not including me, in a week with my eyes closed… and then change 4 of us, tie shoes, brush teeth and load up backpacks, diaper bag and carseat.

As we grow, learn, open up our beautiful, little minds and day after day stretch the impossible to possible, we take in so much about life and all that it has to offer. I had the time of my life as a newlywed in my 20’s but now I wouldn’t trade this stage of life for the world. I smile and look back at my 25 year old self and realize how much I just didn’t know that I was capable of doing until I pushed myself. And pushed myself some more. And then further and further as friends, family and colleagues encouraged me too. I wrote a business plan and enjoyed everything I got to do at work with my team, I trained for a half marathon and ran it (only once), started another event planning business with a couple of friends, ran events (and closed the business too). I began this blog and traveled to about 10 new cities each year, allowing me to visit friends and family and make new friends along the way as well. Thank God, I have learned SO many lessons along the way. I had a lot of growing to do.

Ocean City, Maryland

College reunion – Montclair, NJ

Visiting Grandmom in Cape Cod while working in Providence, RI

And Josh could write a book here about how he began his small business, 10 years ago, and all that has changed since then. His business has grown in many different ways, none of which we could have possibly known when he first called me to tell me, (I was traveling for work, in Lincolshire, IL) that he was going to go out on his own and start his own business. “Shouldn’t we have a conversation about this first?” “Nope, I’m ready.” Josh is the biggest risk taker I know. And thank goodness I didn’t hold him back. And since then, I have learned to not question him and try too hard to play it safe and hold him back. He knows what he is doing and has the network of friends, family, business partners and resources to do just about anything.

There is so much to be done in a decade, right? Reflecting back to the person in the beginning of this decade, we may have thought that we are now doing the impossible– Impossible compared to what we thought we could do. God has a great plan for all of us and it is for us to grow and learn into that plan.

I am so grateful that I, and we as a married couple, have grown and changed in these ways over these 10 years. I mean we had no real adult experience with children whatsoever before we held our own. I can only hope that every stage of life feels this way; the feeling that I wouldn’t trade it for anything and can fondly look back and see where we have grown. Also, it is just as important to be open to change. And I, of course, recognize there are plenty of areas where I still need to learn, grow and improve too.

If I had advise for a newlywed, or someone in their 20’s? Don’t get discouraged by what you may not have in your life just yet but do all of the things, little by little, step by step, every single day, to get headed in the right direction. Set your goals high.

Whatever it may be, appreciate the stage you are in and be open to growing by pushing yourself to the limit.

And as my Grandmother always told me, remember to Grow where you are planted.

January 2, 2009