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Sep 13

Mothering Fail

We all have them, right?  Tell me we all have those days – when we just screw up magnificently.  Everything seems to go wrong, and the kids are wretched, and you start to have that feeling that maybe you are really, really  messing up this whole parenting thing, and your kids are growing up to be disrespectful, snarky, rude and it’s pretty much your fault for not teaching them right from the beginning.

Today was such a day.

Sam has had some pretty severe and intense anxiety in the past.  And for the most part, it’s behind him.  He’s tackled pretty much every hurdle, he’s a dream to drop off at school, and genuinely loves going.  Has a thousand friends and bops around the playground like he’s the mayor, greeting everyone.  Even religious school, which up until last Wednesday was OUT OF THE QUESTION.  No way in hell was he going to go, and any attempt to get him there inevitably resulted in tears and rage (on pretty much everyone’s part).  But it’s a new year, and on the first day earlier this week, he ran up to the classroom with no hesitation.  It was glorious – and I naively assumed that all that anxiety crap was over and done with, and henceforth, my parenting life would be blissful.

So when he refused to go this morning – I didn’t react well.  Too much baggage, I can only surmise that I did a weird PTSD thing, because the anxiety-ridden temper tantrums had been so challenging, the idea that we were reverting back to them was horrifying.  So instead of being a relaxed, calm mom –  I reacted exactly they way you should not react – which was to get furious at him, banish him to his room, and then start yelling at Jessie.  I didn’t actually start yelling at Jessie, I just warned her not to start complaining because I was already furious.  Oddly enough, this did nothing to ensure her compliance – it just made her tense, hypersensitive and stressed.  Which yada yada yada… ended up with both of us crying.  Did I mention that Sam was still sobbing in his room?

We trudged through religious school, leaving early so that I could get Marc to work.  This had the added bonus of allowing Jessie to miss the dreaded combo service that she hates during the last hour of school.  I came home, dropped off some kids, picked up Marc and brought him to work.  I tried to compensate for the unbelievably crappy morning with ice cream (which, I know, doesn’t really scream out “GREAT MOTHERING”, but that’s where I was…)

I came home, to find the house in shambles, and three kids bopping around, content in the filth.  This did nothing to improve my mood.  I asked nicely, several times, for each kid to pick a room and start picking up – and when that elicited no response, I reverted back to hollering at them.

I don’t mind yelling.  I come from a long line of loud, dramatic women, and we all yell.  I do mind yelling when it’s ALL I do.  When asking in a nice voice results in nothing, and demanding in a slightly less nice voice gets a vague attempt but no real effort in completing the assigned task.  I hate that yelling works.  I hate that it took my yelling to get the living room picked up and for the younger two to stop trying to kill each other.

Eventually, we all retreated to our own rooms, and things calmed down.  I took a quiet minute with each of the kids, and talked about what happened earlier, and why I yelled, and why on earth didn’t they just do what I asked the first damn time I asked.  I didn’t get any satisfactory responses – because there really aren’t any good ways to say “I just didn’t feel like picking up my shoes and not screaming at my sister.”  But I made lunch, and I baked a cake.  I even relented enough let Sammy have a friend over, and we’ll all go to a playdate at the playground in a few minutes and try and end the day on a good note.

Some days, Shabbat Shalom is more of a goal than actuality.

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Sep 12

Being the Youngest is Hard – actually, everything’s hard when you’ve got a cold….

My poor Julie has had a tough week. She’s at the mercy of everyone else’s schedule these days, and stuck in the car for hours on end.  Picking up kids all over Worcester, eating lunch in the car because we don’t have time to go home.  I try to make it fun – but it still sucks to be Julie sometimes.  It just does.  She’s not old enough to participate in any of these activities, but between religious school, bat mitzvah studying, playdates, dance class, and driving Daddy back and forth to work, she’s been logging a LOT of time just hanging in the backseat.

So today, I really tried to make it better.  I left her at home when I went out to meet my mother, even though I’ve been trying to keep the house quiet and kid-free as much as possible so that poor Marc can study.  But she looked so content, all cuddled up on the couch, watching Handy Mandy (I know that’s not the actual name, but my sister’s name is Mandy, and that’s what we call it – I gave up correcting my kids about ten years ago…) and eating her toast.  Then, when I got home, I made a game out of getting dressed, as opposed to just telling her to hurry up and PLEASE put on the shirt.  We enthusiastically packed lunch for both of us to eat in the car.

And then – BRAINSTORM – I took her out for a picnic.  We went a little bit out of our way, and found a park with picnic tables and sat and ate our turkey sandwiches together. It was just the two of us, and I was really aware, the whole time, that she’s my last little baby.  I don’t have a lot of time left, when it’s just she and I alone.  Next year, she’ll be in school full time.  We talked about what she wants to be when she grows up (she can’t decide between being like Kelly in Handy Mandy, or being just like me), and she told me about her dream last night (it involved mermaids).  We talked about why the leaves would be changing, and what our favorite holidays are.

(Julianna and I on my birthday earlier this year)

Then, it was back in the car for another afternoon of picking up kids all over the place.   I parked at Jessie’s school (after picking up Sam and Jordyn at the elementary school) and let the kids run around for an hour or so, before loading them back in the car to go get my stepdaughters.

It’s been a really long day.  I don’t feel good, my allergies have migrated into a wretched cold that I really don’t have time to indulge.   Jessie hit Sam with a stick, Sam shoved said stick into his pants (and then renamed it “crotch stick”).  Julie has taken to screaming when people interrupt her (and they interrupt her a lot, she talks very slowly sometimes).  My stepdaughters are here for dinner, and one is hiding in the bedroom with sniffles and a headache, and the other one has adopted a Swedish (??) accent for the spa experience that the other four kids are currently running in the living room.   And I’m sitting here, drinking my “afternoon” cup of coffee, even though it’s seven thirty.

If you’re looking for me over the weekend, I’ll be the one curled up in my jammies, reading.  Except for tomorrow morning, when I’ll be the smiling one at the JCC for the PJ Library event in the morning, or in the afternoon, when I’ll be at the playground for Meet the Rabbi activity.  Or Sunday night, when I’ll be at my in-laws for dinner.  But other than those three events, I’ll be curled up in my jammies.  Or doing laundry.   Probably doing laundry, let’s be honest, but I’m going to wish it was just me and jammies.

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Sep 10

Controlled Chaos

I’m still here, my poor little blog.  I don’t mean to be so incredibly neglectful, it’s just that my life has suddenly gotten ridiculously busy.

Everything changes, in life.  I mean, it changes in everyone’s life, but when you have children, the stages and milestones come so quickly.  As soon as you get used to being up every couple of hours, they start sleeping longer and longer.  As soon as you adjust to having a tiny baby, they start sitting up and then crawling and then walking – and the whole thing is this constant process of adjusting.

There was a time, not that long ago, when I was at home.  An AT HOME mom.  I scheduled my day around naptime, and literally days would go by and I’d have no compelling reason to get in the car for anything.  We’ve been a one car family for most of our marriage, and up until recently, I would have Marc take the car because it was just easier that way.

It’s not like that anymore.

My days now are a blur of running, running, running.  Yesterday (and this is a pretty typical day for me), I got up early, dropped Sam off at school, Jessie off at the bus stop and Julie off at preschool.  Before dropping Julie off, we stopped at the store and bought bagels for snack after school.  Then I went to a meeting with the finance VP at the synagogue, dashed home and picked up Marc.  We voted (primary day in MA) and then picked Julie up at preschool.  Jules and I dropped Marc at work and then went shopping to pick up snacks for the religious school at Sam’s Club.

I had an hour and a half to kill, so we came home, I swept, vacuumed, loaded the dishwasher and had lunch with Julie.  Then we trooped back to the car and picked up Samilicious Boy and then headed across town to pick up Jessica.  There’s a twenty minute window between parking the car and Jessie getting out, and Sam has discovered a tree fort under a bunch of bushes (a bush fort?) so he stayed in there with a couple of other kids.  Once we had Jessie, I drove back over to the synagogue, settled everyone into the library for homework.  Jessie had her study session with the cantor and the boys finished up their homework. We headed outside to wait, Harrison got picked up, Jessie came out.  We shot down to the grocery store (second time, or third, if you count Sam’s Club) and got frozen pizzas for dinner and I dropped them off at David and Aviva’s.  I bopped down to Know Your School Night at Sam’s school, got out late, and had just enough time to pick up Marc before heading back to pick up the kids and finally made it home around nine.

In other news – everyone is still thriving.  Jessie is loving her new school, Sam adjusted to second grade like he’d never even thought of hating school, and Julianna literally cheered when I pulled into the preschool parking lot yesterday.  This is why I kept sending them to school, because I hoped that this day would come.  I wanted them to love going, to be excited about learning, to have friends and peer companionship and laughter and silliness.  And all of that is happening now.

Marc is working full time and still studying for his exams – before taking his new job, he has to get accreditation for a bunch of different types of insurance.  Things are crazy and hectic and always dancing ever-closer to super stressful, but we’re trying to stay focused and connected.  My calendar is always within arms reach, it seems, and I check it constantly to make sure I’m not missing anything.  I miss stuff anyway… because I also seemed to have stepped up dramatically the volunteer commitments this year.  It’s a lot easier to say yes than it is to say no, and I have to really be careful about being deliberate about my choices.  Not only making them deliberately, but then owning and being happy about the decisions made.

I’m busy now, crazy insane busy, but that’s just where we are.  I’ve got three growing kids, a husband who’s working essentially two jobs and this is what our lives look like right now.  And it’s kind of awesome – yes, it’s super busy and chaotic, and I’m a little bit worried about what it’ll feel like when I’ve (we’ve) been maintaining this schedule over the long-term, but for now – I’m just focusing on enjoying this stage.  Because one thing is for certain, it won’t last forever.  The day will come, not that far from now, when Jessie will be driving and Julie will be in school full time and Sam will be taller than I am – and I’ll miss the days when I loaded them in the car every morning and set out for a day of adventure.

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Sep 03

Back to School Schedule

I’m tired.  Already.  School has been in session for a week now, and I’m worn out.

I start the mornings at around six-ish every morning.  Jessie is almost always up, and she’s showering and puttering around.  I wake Sam up around quarter of seven.  I try to get the lunches packed the night before (and almost always fail at this).  I (to paraphrase Dolly) stumble out of bed, into the kitchen and flick on the coffee.  Then I start more laundry, there’s always some hanging out ready to wash, transfer and fold.  I usually do that until coffee is ready and then finish (or start…) the lunches.   The kids are pretty structured for lunches this year, which makes it easy.  Sam always wants a peanut butter and fluff sandwich with the crusts cut off, a bag of chips, two drinks, and a dessert.  Jessie always takes roast beef on a cut baguette, chips, apple, bottle of water and dessert.  Julie is more flexible – and she likes to pack it herself.

I leave the house around quarter of eight, and bring Sam to school.  Then I loop around and drop Jessie off at the bus stop.  Julie doesn’t go to school every day (she’s at preschool twice a week) but she can’t be dropped off until nine.  I almost always have to go to the grocery store anyway, so we make a thing out of it and head to Price Chopper.

The afternoons are kind of haphazard.   I do pick up at one school at eleven thirty, another one at two thirty, and one at three ten.  Next week, I’ll start picking up one of Sammy’s buddies at a fourth school at three forty.  Then the afternoons will be a blur of dance class, religious school, boy scouts, bat mitzvah studying, running the gift shop and trying to get dinner on the table before eight o’clock.

Did I mention that Marc is working full time (in retail, at the moment) and we have one car?

I know this sounds like I’m complaining, but I’m not.  There isn’t anything I’d like to give up, after all, and I’m really happy about how well all of them are doing at school.  I’ve got three busy and content kids, with volunteer commitments that I, well, volunteered to do.  I’ve got a husband who’s working a zillions hours, with studying and going to the gym (which is so necessary for him), and he’s not around anywhere near as much as I’d like.

I think what I’m trying to do is make sure that this stage of my life (which is so different from being home with little kids, when the days revolved around naptime) is still FUN.  That I don’t get lost in the running around and constantly trying to catch up with what I didn’t get to the day before.  Staying on top of the housework, the writing, the blog, and making sure that quality one-on-one time with each kid (and husband) doesn’t get reduced to one more thing on the list to get done.

I’m grateful this year for the time of the Jewish holidays.  I love Rosh Hashanah every year (it’s one of my favorite holidays) but this year, I’m really thinking that it’s time for a reset.  A time to settle in, and recognize the new stage in my life, and make conscious and deliberate choices about how I think about my life.  It’s not just about running around like a chicken with my head cut off, it’s about being able to manage all the different pieces of my life, and still smile while I’m doing it.

Because these three are watching everything I do – and the last thing I want is their memories of their childhood to be of me, frantically running late and swearing under my breath about it.

 

 

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Aug 29

First Day of Second Grade – My Sammy

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about “middle” in terms of Sam.

Sam’s my middle child, and I’m aware of all of the stereotypes.  I’m also a big believer in birth order, and I think it’s fascinating to look at your family through that lens and wonder how much of their personality has to do with where they landed in the family line up.

Sam’s transition back to school was seamless.  Remarkable only in it’s lack of remarkability.   He was totally fine with the whole thing.  Going school shopping was a breeze, he picked out a few lego shirts and called it a day.  Snagged a Star Wars lunch box and backpack, a blue pencil box that he diligently packed with all the school supplies on the list.  He was slightly nervous on the night before, but only in the last few minutes before falling asleep.  And on the first day, he was relaxed and calm.

Sam had such a long journey to get to this point.  He was the kid who had to be pried off of me, kicking and raging on the first day of kindergarten.  In fact, he started sobbing on the ride to school on that day, begging me to turn around and take him home.  He was so scared, so anxious, and I don’t ever take his ease with separation now for granted.

Everything with Sam now is easy.  He’s mostly laid back, doesn’t get all hot and bothered about much of anything.  He’s just a happy kid, content with the world and his place in it.  I’m not saying that he doesn’t get rambunctious and crazy, because he does.  He bugs his sisters and doesn’t always listen.   But it’s easier for him to get lost, in between two emotional and dramatic sisters, and because he’s so calm most of the time, I worry about him not getting enough attention.

(I have very few first day pics with Sam, mostly because they were never happy experiences I wanted to remember… this one was from last year.)

He’s in the middle of his childhood as well, in a way that I probably wasn’t aware of with his older sister.  With Jessie, I didn’t have any sense of perspective.   But I can now that childhood, at least for her, ended sometime last year.  She’s still very young, but no longer a child.  She’s a tween, and it’s separate and distinct.  Sam’s still a child.  Julie is just really moving into that stage, she’s on the upper end of pre-school/toddler stage, but edging ever closer.  Sam is right there.  He’s mostly independent, doesn’t NEED my help for getting dressed or picking out his clothes.  He can get himself a snack, walk to his classroom by himself.   But he’s still little enough to crawl into my bed after a nightmare, and to snuggle up next to me every morning when he wakes up.

He’s my middle kid.  On so many levels.  I think sometimes I enjoy his childhood a little bit more – because it’s not the first one, and it’s not the last one.  His is less pressure-filled, for me.  I don’t have that sense of not knowing what I’m doing (which I have with Jessie a lot), or that bittersweet sense of knowing that it’s my last time with this particular stage (and I do that with Julie).  With Sam, he’s just happy, and it’s beautiful.

 

 

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Aug 27

First Day of School – my Jessie

Jessie is starting middle school this year.   She’s riding a school bus for the first time, a completely new environment, new teachers, new students.  Everything is different and strange, for both of us.   Our last new school was five years ago, when she started kindergarten.  She moved schools the following year, but she had her big sisters at Flagg, and we were already familiar with everything there.

It felt… just a tiny bit like that first day on kindergarten.  I kept remembering it on the way home, how it felt when she lined up for the first time and her teacher led her off.  She was so brave that day (Sam cried a lot harder than she did, he was straight out horrified that I was letting some stranger take her away).  And I spent that day, five years ago, doing pretty much what I’m doing today.  Going thru my day, laundry, dishes, rearranging, bath for the baby, and all the while wondering what she’s doing and who she’s with and if she’s smiling or scared.

(first day of second grade)

It strikes me that this is a milestone that I’ll remember.  I don’t remember all of them.  I remember the first time she walked, and can’t remember the first time she crawled.  I remember the first time she said Dada and knew it meant Marc (but mainly because she was happily moaning Mama every time something bothered her with no idea that it meant me).  I don’t remember the first time she made the connection between my name and me.  I don’t remember the first time she had homework, or her first dance recital (I remember the first time she was supposed to go on-stage – I was eight months pregnant and when she wouldn’t go without me, we both cried).  But seeing her climb on that bus, lugging fifteen pounds of binders and posterboard and a book to read just in case she didn’t have a buddy to sit with on the bus… that I’ll remember.

(First time doing her homework)

She held my hand yesterday, crossing the street to the shoe store.  She doesn’t do that anymore.  Part of it might because my hands are usually claimed by the other two, but most of it is that she doesn’t need me to keep her safe anymore.  Not like that.  It felt almost like she was being kind, taking my hand because she knew I wanted to hold hers.  Her hand still fits in mine perfectly – Sam and Julie both have bigger hands, Jessie’s are these delicate little things, and they feel exactly the way they have for the past eleven years.

I’m not ready for my baby girl to grow up.  I know she is, I know me being ready is not even slightly important to the process.  And I love the girl she’s turning into – all long legs and gorgeous smile, smart and kind and thoughtful. But there’s a part of me that’s always going to be shocked and surprised by how fast she’s grown, and how much I wish I could turn back time and do it all again.

 

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Aug 22

Back To School

This year, I’ll have a sixth grader, a second grader, and a last year before kindergarten preschooler.   I’ll have three kids, at three different schools, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t just a little bit scared about what that’ll mean.  The drop off doesn’t throw me, that’s easy.  I drop Sam off just after eight at the school, Jessie can either take the bus from there (there’s a stop across the street from her elementary school) or I can bring her to school when I get back.  Julie gets dropped off last (and she’s only there twice a week).  It’s the pick up that panics me – I’m also picking up Sam’s two best friends (one of them at a different school), and between that and the drop off at various afterschool activities – I fear my afternoons are going to be a mad dash across Worcester and back.  And then again in reverse.

But – such is life with busy, happy kids, right?

(last year on the first day of school)

I stress over stuff like this – worrying about how we’ll pull it all off.  I’m probably a little extra aware of it now, because I watch Jessica do the same thing.   Last night, the poor kid was so stressed out because we haven’t bought her locker stuff or a band uniform and she still has to find two examples of fractions, decimals, and percentages.  I hate watching her work herself up – and then I remember that she’s been watching me do it all her life.

So – I’ll stop.  Breathe.  Remember that my kids are watching my every move, and my actions matter so much more than my words.  I can tell her a thousand times to stop worrying over things, and not stress out about things that she can’t change or control – but the more I freak out over how the schedule is going to work and how am I going to manage to keep it all together… the more my daughter learns to doubt herself and her capabilities.  Or worse, just learns that living in a constant state of elevated anxiety and tension is normal.

So here’s to calm.  And peace.  And confidence that I can pull all of this off.  There will be times when I’ll be late to one activity or another, and there will be days when the whole schedule will be shot to hell because of weather or puking kids or unforeseen circumstances that I can’t predict.  And that’ll be okay.  More than okay – this is the start of a really cool time in our life – Jessie is starting middle school!  Sam is seriously ensconced in elementary school – no longer a newbie, afraid of what’s coming next.  Julianna is actually asking when preschool starts, because she WANTS TO GO.

 

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Aug 21

Ready for Fall

Confession time – it’s been a rough summer.

I don’t like saying that, because I tend towards the belief that perspective matters, and while I can’t necessarily change the reality, I can change the way I look at it.  BUT – it’s kind of a relief to just admit that it hasn’t been all sunshine and roses around here, and I’m looking forward to the total shake-up that comes when all the kids go back to school, the focus shifts from summer to the New Year and the fall.

In so many ways – this was a great summer.  We had a bunch of little mini-breaks and day trips, managed to go bike riding and blueberry picking and star gazing.  We hit Edaville Railroad and Great Wolf Lodge.  We went camping once.  There were many, many lemonade stands.  We made it to the drive in, at least Marc and the kids did.  We rearranged bedrooms, and went for long walks, went swimming.  A lot.  The kids all grew up in little ways and in big ones.  There were milestones reached, cookies baked, books read and movies watched.

But… I’m still ready for summer to be over.  It’s also been a season with a lot of bickering, Jessie and Sam and Julie spent virtually all of their time together – which is wonderful in a lot of ways, but also led to a lot of conflict.  They are three different kids, at different ages and stages.  At times, they all chafed at the restrictions posed by one of the other.  We fought, at times, with both parties insisting on the same thing – the other one wants total control over all the toys, and can’t believe that they have to share or compromise.  Or, my personal favorite, when we’d get into a battle insisting that the other person was always mad at us.  There’s no way for anyone to win that brawl.

Marc is in a transition between jobs, when he isn’t working, he’s studying.   Which means that he’s super busy and totally stressed.  If he has any spare time, it’s going to be spent reading to Julie or playing with Sam or helping Jessie with the dreaded math homework.  It’s not going to be doing the dishes or taking out the trash.  And it seems stupid and petty to complain about the housework, so I won’t (okay, maybe just a little) – but wow, I really hate the constant, unending amount of housecleaning that having five people rocking around the house all day creates.

Ugh.  I’m just ready for the season shift.  We’ve got backpacks assembled, school clothes bought and summer reading/math assignments done (mostly, anyway).  School starts for the older two next Wednesday, and for Julie the following Tuesday. I’m looking forward to apple picking and chicken soup bubbling.  For round challah for the New Year, and leaves changing.  Breaking out the blue jeans and new socks (I have to buy new socks for everyone every fall because someone steals all of them over the summer, I have long given up trying to figure that one out…)

Bring on the fall, people.  We’re ready.

One of my favorite pics of a cooler weather Julianna

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Aug 20

Blog Focus

I’m in a bit of a writing mid-life crisis – and just as I was pondering and over-analyzing and debating on my goals and plans for the blog, I read my bloggy friend Georgia’s latest blog post.  I love Georgia’s blog, and if you aren’t reading it yet, you really should.   It looks like she got the original post from ohsimplethoughts.com – which also looks like a pretty cool blog.   It’s a series of questions to refocus your blog, remember why you’re blogging and what you want out of it…

Blog Questions for focus

QUESTION # 1: WHAT IS YOUR BLOG ABOUT? 
 
My blog is about me.  At the heart of it, it’s my story.  The story of my marriage, my daughters, and my son.  It’s the story about me, as a wife, a mother, and a woman.  It’s about my culture and my faith, my traditions, my spirituality and my struggle and triumphs.   I’m a married mom, and at times, I’m baffled by how I managed to pull that off.  I’m married to my best friend, raising three children that are so much more than I ever dreamed of.  I have my happily-ever-after, and I’m enormously grateful.  I’m also exhausted, frustrated that none of them ever think to bring a dish back to the kitchen, and worried that I’m somehow messing the whole parenting thing up.
QUESTION # 2: WHAT IS YOUR BLOG NOT ABOUT?
 
This is almost easier to answer – my blog is not about providing a service to anyone.  It’s not a DIY or a crafty sort of blog.  I don’t do giveaways or provide helpful tips on how to parent or how to cook.  You won’t find any interesting recipes on my blog, because I get all of mine off of google.  And mostly because I really don’t like cooking, and do it only because it’s too expensive to eat out all the time.   I write about religion a little, but mostly within the confines of my own experiences.  I decorate mainly with hand-me-down furniture and paintings that my kids bring home from school.  I’m a crappy photographer, so you won’t find many pinterest-able images here.
QUESTION # 3: WHY DO YOU BLOG? 
 
I started blogging because I was a writer with a toddler who kept stealing my notebooks for coloring.  Putting it on-line was a no-brainer, it was a way to make sure I didn’t lose my journal.  At the heart of it, that’s what it is.  I journal – I’ve done it since I was a kid. Writing is how I process my life.  It’s how I figure out what I’m thinking and what I want.    I blog for my kids, so they can look back on their childhood and have a record of how I felt about it.  I blog for myself – I really like reading my old blog posts.  Remembering those events, the day I dropped three year old Jessie off at camp, and then went back and took her home with me because she looked so sad, the look on Sammy’s face when he saw the new vacuum cleaner when he was two, the way that Julianna would snuggle into me before she fell asleep.  I’m going to want a record of that.
QUESTION # 4: WHAT DREAMS OR GOALS DO YOU HAVE FOR YOUR BLOG?
 
Ah – this is where I’m stuck.  Because dreams and goals, I’ve got lots of – I’m just not sure where the blog fits.  I almost feel like in order to “succeed” as a blogger, I’d have to change it.   But I don’t want to change so much of it that I don’t want to write it – or worse, don’t want to reread it twenty years from now.   I’ve got my book, which is always there, in the back of my mind, begging me to find time to finish it.  I’ve got a fledgling free-lance career, with editors that are lovely and encouraging.  The blog could be a great platform for both of those things, but focusing on “growing” the blog almost feels like I need to not focus on the writing but spend more time appealing to a wider audience, and not necessarily writing the way that I have been for so long.  I’d love to have a zillion readers and a huge following of readers desperate for my next article or book, but I’m not always certain on the path that I should follow to get there.
QUESTION # 5: HOW WILL YOU ORGANIZE YOUR BLOG?
 
I don’t have an answer for this yet.  I have thoughts – but no answers.  I think ideally, I’d like to blog four or five times a week, but rarely get there.  I think I’m going to incorporate some book reviews (mainly because I found this cool site that will send me free books for me to review).  I think I’m going to try and carve out an hour a day for writing.  It doesn’t sound like a lot, but that’s a lot of focused time for me.  This isn’t my full-time job, it isn’t even my part time job.  When I’m not parenting, I’m cleaning.  And when I’m not doing that, I’m volunteering in six different places and always a little bit behind in that as well.  Writing for my blog has always been a priority, but one that flexes to fit in around my life.  I’m not sure how much of that I’m willing to change.  I don’t want my kids to remember their childhood as me at the computer all the time (so much better they remember me as constantly yelling at them to bring the dishes to the kitchen and please shut off the bathroom light….).

 

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Aug 19

Three Musketeers

I’m in the middle of a blog post – sort of a manifesto, call to arms, mission statement sort of post on my other computer.  I’m also in the middle of rearranging Jessie’s bedroom and doing laundry and contemplating baking cookies – but that’s another story.  But I’m going to hold off on all of that for a minute and talk a bit about what’s going on on my front porch.

Right now, I’m going to post about these three kids.  I started babysitting in the most half-hearted of ways.  Sam was such a fussy baby that I didn’t think I could find anyone to watch him, and of course, my heart was absolutely lost at the thought of leaving my baby boy.  In an attempt to make up some of the money we’d lose by having me home full time instead of working part time after he was born – I posted an ad on craigslist.

Joy and Sara called me that week.  And a relationship started that I never anticipated.  Not only because these two women became two of my closest friends, but also because Sam got to grow up with built in best friends.  Sam, Harrison and Jordyn have done everything together.  I babysat them until they went off to school, and even now, when they’re all eight and running around doing a million different activities, sometimes I still manage to have days when they come over here, and immediately slip back into being best friends.

They have a million different games and traditions, and Julie is everyone’s baby sister.  They’ve spent the entire afternoon playing together, with figurines and army guys and legos and are, at this very moment, outside on my porch, with most of my blankets and little kid chairs lugged out there.

They’re best friends, and I’m so grateful.  Not just for my own sake, because Sara and Arlen and Skip and Joy are wonderful friends for us – but also because these two kids, Harrison and Jordyn, are some of the best parts of Sam’s childhood.

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