Monday, May 28, 2018

Making Up For Lost Time

I think I've forgotten how to blog.

I haven't posted about Christmas,

or Easter (when I couldn't get a decent pic),

or any of the major holidays.

I didn't post about the kids' school musical this year (Aladdin),

or Joey's first season on the trap team at his high school (and being named Rookie of the Year),

or about Ben getting his braces on.

There are so many things that I never posted about. Our sweet little guinea pig died, which may sound silly but Stanley was more like a tiny dog than a pig.

So much of my life has been consumed with school that I have not had any spare time to do much of anything else. When I do have spare time I use it trying to do something fun with the kids. I have so much guilt about not being the kind of mom that they have become accustomed to. This year in school has been so taxing on me, emotionally and physically. I haven't been volunteering at their school, baking treats, or been quite as focused as I normally am. It has been a real struggle. 

We didn't even get a spring break together this year. The kids had spring break for one week and I had my spring break from school the week before. It was such a bummer. Todd was able to take the kids up north to the cabin for spring break while I was in school, but I missed it all. As many of you know, I hate to miss out on ANYTHING with the kids. That was hard. I know I only have all of my kids together for a few more years. And those years are whizzing by. I don't want to miss any of it.

But here we are now. I finished my first year of school. I got a 4.0 for the entire year. Something I didn't think was possible. I'm proud of myself. And my family is proud of me too. Still, I question my timing. I have a couple of weeks off and then I start my summer class. Just as the kids are getting out of school I will be starting again. It stinks. And then when school starts in fall it will really be tough. In fall I will be starting all my core nursing classes plus clinicals. It is going to be rough. And I just pray that this will all be worth it. 

This extended weekend has helped a bit. We took the kids up north and had a great time. It was quite the all American redneck weekend. I wouldn't necessarily consider us rednecks but we certainly look like it from the pictures. We were shooting, riding four wheelers, playing cornhole, fishing, kayaking, swimming, boating, and having bonfires and s'mores. It was a grand old time. The weather was supposed to be rainy all weekend but instead it was hot and humid and sunny. It was perfect!

We were definitely trying to make up for lost time. 

As summer approaches that will be my goal. I will concentrate on school when I can and spend as much time soaking up my family as possible.  These kids just keep growing and getting older and I don't want to miss a single minute.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Time Gone By

It's almost the beginning of December. Months have gone by and I haven't written at all. It's not that I didn't want to, or that I didn't have anything to write, but spare time has been in short supply these days.

Football season ended and the boys moved on to basketball. Joe tried something new this year and ran with the cross country team. He loved it. I think he found a new passion, and a great way to make good friends at a new school. Grace has been enjoying her contemporary dance classes and has been kicking butt in school. They all are, actually. The parent teacher conferences were so much fun. The teachers couldn't think of anything negative to say about my kids. All positive. Meeting all of Joe's high school teachers was fun too. They all had to tell me how hard working, polite, happy, and funny Joe is. "He's one of my favorites." a few of the teachers whispered to me.  

Good stuff all around.

School is going well for me as well. I am getting grades I only dreamed of when I was a kid. And I really look forward to going to class every day. I am enjoying it all far more than I thought I would. Of course the work load is extensive and I really don't have any spare time but that's okay. It is working out fairly well.

And time marches on. My kids are just growing up so quickly. This year was the first year that all three of my boys went up to deer camp. It was an amazing experience for all of them, including Todd. All of them just treasured their time together. And it was a successful hunt as well. All three boys got a deer. It was a first for both Tommy and Ben. Very exciting stuff. And our freezer is finally stocked again. 

While the boys were gone Grace and I had some quality one on one time too. We went to the library, the movies, shopping, out to dinner. We snuggled in for a day and watched movies and hung out. It was fantastic.  I'm all for equal opportunity but if Todd ever talks Grace into hunting I think I'll be pretty sad.

Which brings us to Thanksgiving. I normally host two Thanksgivings for each side of the family, one on Thursday and one on Saturday. This year Todd's sister volunteered to host on Saturday so I was only hosting my side of the family on Thanksgiving. I did a bit of cooking the day before but left most of the work for Thursday. However, it was the most relaxing and fun Thanksgiving I have had in ages. Tommy cleaned the whole house for me. Ben made the stuffing. Grace peeled all the potatoes, prepped the green bean salad, and set the tables. Todd, of course, is always a big help too. He likes cooking so we both have our hands in on the turkey but he makes the mashed potatoes and gravy.

Anyway, the kids were such a huge help that the whole day just felt easy. And then after dinner Joey, without asking, began clearing up all the dishes and helping me put everything away. It was all done so quickly. My kids are awesome.

It was a wonderful Thanksgiving. And the next day was absolutely gorgeous. It was a lovely 60 degrees and Joe wanted me to take a run with him. I warned him that it would be more like a slow jog for him if I came along but he was all for it. We ran from our house to a nearby quarry where he showed me his favorite running route. He took me through the woods and around the quarry. The whole time he was pointing out roots and stones and branches he wanted me to be careful for. I was overwhelmed by his encouragement, his chivalry, and his sweetness. It did not escape my attention how lucky I am that my teenager not only wants to do these things with me but it such a gentleman and a cheerleader for me as well. Dang. It gets me all choked up.
It was a lovely Thanksgiving break. Two wonderful get-togethers with both sides of the family. Lots of fresh air and exercise. Plenty of relaxing. And for some crazy reason I even got some Christmas decorations up. That is so NOT like me. I am a stickler for waiting on the decorations until at least the first week of December. However, the weather was so warm, the kids were so helpful, and I finally had time to spare, that I decided to go for it. Having the kids help me take all the fall decorations down and haul up all the Christmas decorations made it so easy. The outside decorations are completely up. I didn't do the inside decorations as yet. I had Todd bring up the Christmas trees but we haven't decorated them. Right now we are just enjoying the glow of the lights. But, I am certainly in the Christmas spirit early this year. It seems to me that the warmer the weather the more jolly, and festive, I feel. I know it doesn't make any sense but, oh well. I'm silly that way.

I hope you all have had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I hope you have more blessings than you can count and I hope this holiday season fills you with unending joy!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Be Brave. Be Kind

Bit of a mess last night.
I always loathe the start of another school year.
It just drives it home.
These kids keep getting older and older, faster and faster.
Tomorrow, high school.
And there is only so much I can say and so little I can do.
I just hope they know.
All of it.

I had all the feels this morning. All of them. Too many. So many that the lump in my throat barely allowed me to croak "Be brave and be kind" as he exited the car. It didn't help that the whole way to school the kids talked about how weird it will be at Seton without their big brother there.
Oh help.
Be brave. Be kind.

Dear God in heaven,
please be with my children as they start a new year.
Help them to work hard and do their best.
Keep them safe, happy, and healthy.
Give them a love for learning.
Help them to grow in confidence and independence.
Show them how to be compassionate.
Let them be a friend to all, kind, and loving.
Let their failures motivate them to try harder.
Let their successes humble them.
Help me, Lord, to be patient, understanding, loving, and wise
in guiding them through this school year.
Be with my children, Lord.
Let your light shine in them and through them
and keep them close to You.


Monday, September 4, 2017

Summer Reflections

We have quickly come to the end of summer. It seems like I barely got to feel summer's warmth and it was already gone. Because so much of my focus was on school this summer I was feeling guilty thinking that the kids didn't really get a funfilled summer as I'd hoped. As I looked back on my pictures I realized they did do quite a few fun things.

We spent a bit of time exploring our city at the farmer's market, parks, and arts festivals. We had smoothies and tried bubble tea!

We hung out at our favorite spots on the lake, skipped rocks, climbed trees, and walked out to the lighthouse.

We went on bike ride and walks around the neighborhood.

We even got to hit up our favorite swim spot a few times, though not as often as we would have liked seeing as how the weather didn't really want to get hot enough for us.

It was a cool, rainy summer but that didn't stop us from taking a couple of road trips. I took the kids to Madison for the day and showed them my old stomping grounds. It was certainly bizarre being there with my FOUR children. We toured the capital building and the kids saw the Supreme Court where their dad has appeared a number of times, we ate at a popular restaurant, saw Camp Randall Stadium, and of course, did a little shopping on State Street. 

We had a very special treat at our very own county airport. Many of the war planes that were going to the EAA stopped at our airport and put on a show. The boys, being the huge plane fans that they are, walked right out onto the runway and started chatting with the pilots. 

The pilots were so impressed with the boys' plane knowledge and enthusiasm that before long the boys were getting private tours of a B-25 (one of only 20 in the world). Grace and I hustled out there to join them and soon we were all getting our turns sitting in the pilot's seat. It was pretty amazing.

Of course we made it up to the cabin a few times. One of those times it was good and hot and windy. A perfect day for playing on the lake. 

And in the lake.

And a perfect day for relaxing.

Not only did we see planes at our county airport we went to the EAA Airventure and saw the Blue Angels. It was quite the experience. One the boys will not soon forget.

On a personal note, Grace got her ears pierced on a whim. Her cousin, Hannah, happened to be working one day when we stopped in at Walmart and Grace decided right then and there that she wanted her cousin to be the one to pierce her ears. Hannah did a wonderful job and Grace was a happy girl.

Both Joey and Tommy got their braces off this summer. Tommy had his off at the beginning of summer and Joey got his off last week (just in time to start high school).

Ben played baseball again this summer and though his team struggled to win games Ben had a pretty great season. One of the first games of the season Ben's team was losing by a couple of runs. In the last inning Ben went up to the plate, with bases loaded and two outs, and proceeded to get two strikes. With two strikes and two outs Ben took his pitch, swung the bat, and hit a massive ball into the outfield for a GRAND SLAM winning the game. The team and crowd went wild. What a moment! I was so proud of him for being brave enough to swing even though he already had two strikes. Such a great lesson.   

As summer wound down so did we. One of the last trips was up to Green Bay to visit the Wildlife Sanctuary and then hop on over to Bay Beach. It was a relaxing and beautiful day to hang out.

Looking back, I guess we did have a good summer. But it still went far too quickly.

I guess all we can do know is try to enjoy the fall. Just thinking about the upswing of school, football, cross country, dance, and everything else makes me tired.

Welcome back, fall, you beautiful beast. Please be kind. I'm already exhausted.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Here Goes Nothing

This is what's known as payback. Tommy insisted I pose for a "First Day of School" photo. He is normally the one that gives me the most grief on having to pose for pictures so he really gave it to me this morning. He kept saying, "Wait, I think that was a little blurry. Let's try another on. Okay, I think you should fix your hair. Let's take another one. Let's try one with a big smile."  Little sass. I was seriously getting nervous that I would be late for my first day because of all of his shenanigans.

The first day was interesting. I may have overdone it a bit. A combination of nerves and stress, trying to fit in a run after class with not much food, and then getting Joe to his ortho appointment managed to bring on a migraine for me. Not the best way to kick off the school year but a good reminder not to pack in too much.  Luckily, it wasn't a horrible migraine. 

My first class of the week was psychology. The teacher seems lovely even though the work load seems a bit much. I think I will really enjoy this class despite being the oldest (by far) in the class. Tomorrow I have Anatomy and Physiology and then later in the week I have Oral Interpretation and Sociology. It is going to be a busy semester. I hope I can keep up. 

Here goes nothing!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Still There

It's still there after all these years. During my 4 years at North High School I don't think a week passed that I didn't walk by that picture and announce to all of my friends, "That's my dad!" Eventually, when my friends and I would walk by they would quickly say, "We know. It's your dad."

I can remember my mom and dad coming to high school to watch me in some play or show or game and I took them down the hallway where dad's picture was hanging. He got such a kick out of seeing his football pictures and his track picture. He doesn't remember ever seeing the hurdle picture before and seeing it up on the "wall of fame" was quite a treat. I'm so glad he had a chance to see his picture. And I was always so glad to walk down that hallway feeling a little of my dad there with me. Now, especially, that he is no longer physically with us.

Joe will be starting at North in 2 weeks and the rest of my kids will follow all too soon. I have a feeling their friends will eventually be saying, "We know. It's your grandpa." And I can't help but feel dad will be smiling down at his grandkids, watching over them, and enjoying every minute of it.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Feeling Anxious

I spent much of the week running to the store, one kid at a time, buying school supplies. After each kid had the supplies they needed we went through, labeled everything, and packed it into a bag to take to the Open House at school. 

But this year is definitely a first.

This year I had to prepare my own school supplies. I didn't have a huge list like they did but I did have to get my books (good grief, was that expensive!), a backpack, and a few folders and notebooks.

Today we finished up the school supply prep and lined up everyone's supplies neatly in the library. My supplies were right in the middle of it all. It kind of gave me a momentary freak out. This is happening. It's getting real.

It is a year of change with Joe starting high school and me going back to school. There is so much going on that I question how well I will be able to keep up with it all. Joe is on cross country, Ben and Tommy are on football, and Grace is starting dance. Not to mention all the school activities. I don't want to miss any of it. It makes me emotional thinking about it. I don't want my stuff to get in the way of soaking up as much of my kids, while they are still kids, as I can.

So much going through my head. I just hope I'm up to the challenge of it all.

As much as I dreaded taking Chemistry this summer it really did turn out to be for the best. It was a big self esteem boost to do well in something that I always thought I was bad at. I did so well that I got an email from the college asking if I would be a tutor (a paid position) for other Chemistry students. That was somewhat of a shock. A happy shock.

So this is happening. It's coming. I have one full week left of summer and I hope to use that week well. Hanging with the kiddos, relaxing, swimming, maybe even a few little day trips. I want to make the most of this week.

It's getting real.

Words To Live By

Be grateful for each new day.
A new day that you have never lived before.
Twenty-four new, fresh, unexplored hours to use usefully and profitably.
We can squander, neglect, or use them.
Life will be richer or poorer by the way we use today.
Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could;
some blunders and absurdities crept in;
forget them as soon as you can.
Tomorrow is a new day.
You shall begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be
encumbered with your old nonsense.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson