Thursday, September 28, 2017

Summer Camp Shenanigans

I meant to post this awhile ago but of course like everything else, it gets posted in its own time. Summer camp you From losing an entire days worth of clothing to coming home happily worn out at the end of every day, it was quite the adventure.

Emma’s last day at her preschool that we all adored was the last day in June. I will be honest, I cried, a lot. I could barely get out a goodbye to her teachers. Emma of course was fine. She is way more courageous and is far more emotionally stable in certain situations than I am. She did have a hard time going into camp the first day. I expected as much and stayed with her for a while. Unlike her preschool, where I had attended many events and had a general knowledge of how things were run, camp was a complete mystery to me. Other than reading the newsletter, I had no knowledge of what happened during the day. The first day I picked her up, I was smacked in the face with the reality that we weren’t in our safe preschool bubble any more. Her towel was on the ground along with her lunch box that looked like it had been scavenged by wild raccoons. She got a hard lesson in being responsible for her belongings (which she never completely caught onto). The worst was when I picked her up one day only to find  her wearing the backup outfit I left in her backpack. Yes, that’s right, she lost an entire days worth of clothing including her shoes! The kids went to the pool every day so Emma had to change out of her bathing suit and apparently somewhere in between lost all of her clothing and her shoes. I searched high and low, all over camp. We both came to the conclusion that some other kid must have taken her things home with them, although I can’t imagine someone wanting her ratty old tennis shoes (and yes I reluctantly bought another pair accompanied with many lectures on not losing them).

The other thing I had not considered about camp was the fact that there would be much older kids there, all the way up to middle school. So we had a lot of talks about good and bad behaviors and not to do something just because everyone else was doing it. In a way I’m glad we got those discussions out of the way before she starts school. All in all, she picked up more confidence and grit from the experience which is a good thing.

The wonderful thing was that every day I went to pick her up, she always had the biggest smile on her face. Every day she would exclaim that she had “the best time”! This made me feel really good. It showed me she was ready for something new and thrived in the camp environment. They had a variety of physical activities throughout the day along with cooking and arts and crafts. I know she hasn’t figured it out yet but she has athletic talent. I am not pushing anything on her now or ever but I was glad she enjoyed all of the activities. I really would like for her to participate in some academic camps next year but we’ll see how the school year goes. All in all, I’m glad she was able to have that childhood experience and enjoy it. I wish I had taken a picture of her there to share but I am fairly certain we will get another chance next year.

The End and the Beginning

Sorry this is being posted late. Life man, but here it is...

It’s late on a Saturday night, way past Emma’s bedtime. She just finished a lightsaber battle with her dad. Late nights have been frequent this week. With camp done for the summer, this week is Emma’s last before school starts. I know I am supposed to get her on a better sleep schedule for school but I find myself unable to. I think back to when we were looking for a house in an neighborhood with a good school to send Emma to. The idea of her actually attending that school seemed so distant at the time, a school she would eventually go to but you know, not for a long time.

The time and space between those thoughts and the present day has all but disappeared. I find myself sitting here with 48 hours until she heads out the door for elementary school. I feel myself being pulled in the direction of reflection. I went from having a helpless little baby, new to the world, to a very physically and mentally independent child. So much change, so many adventures and lessons learned and laughs and cries and silly worries. How did I ever spend so much time and energy worrying about what sippy cup to get her or what baby food to feed her? How, when she can sling back a cup of water without a second thought, cram a taco in her mouth without blinking, and zoom down the driveway on her scooter like she is about to take off. It’s like the universe of my precious person has exploded over the past few months. She’s beginning to read, she’s asking me specific questions about the world, the never ending stream of whys coming at me a hundred miles an hour, it is hard to keep up.

I am trying my best to keep the delicate balance of knowledge and childhood innocence, I never realized how it would be infinitely harder to do this than figure out how to potty train a toddler (one of the hardest challenges I’ve faced with her to date.) There is still so much I haven’t had an opportunity to teach her and yet, I find myself torn between that and wanting to just stare at her while she plays. Like there is never enough time for both.

Well friends, my time is up. The first chapter of childhood is two days away from fading into the prologue. And that is why I have tried to give her a magical summer. We kept a loose schedule, we have taken our time. I have let her run out in the yard until the fireflies came out. I have done everything I possibly can to slow down time, to hold on. Now I know it is time to let go. The adventures aren’t ending, just a new one is beginning.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

What I Am Going to Miss About Pre-School

Minivan Mom

Of course things happen when you least expect them or when you have not planned ahead for them, that is just the way life is. We did not set out to flip our lives upside down to join the ranks of a group so notorious, so distinct from any other group that they are known for their total lack of rebellion and lack of fun….that’s right I am talking about minivan owners. I will write that out in plain language to let the idea really sink in…we, as in us, as in my family owns a minivan.

As previously stated, we did not seek out this distinguished title, we ended up losing Thomas’ car in an accident (I say lose because that car was like a member of the family – and Thomas is ok I suppose I should mention that as well) a few months back which was unexpected and devastating but we found ourselves in the middle of the age old question when we finally decided to get another car…do we pull the trigger and get a minivan? We went back and forth a bit since we needed a vehicle that could provide us with lots of trunk space for hauling furniture and tools, fishing supplies, and luggage for road trips. It ended in a dead lock, as these things tend to do, between the sporty good looks of an SUV and the “comfort only a mother can give” feeling of a minivan and even threw the idea of a pickup truck into the mix a few times. Ultimately, we needed a vehicle with lots of cargo space. When it finally came down to it, it was a simple numbers game. The minivans were cheaper than the full sized SUVs (I must say I was not at all surprised seeing the massive number of them at the car dealership). So there we were, on a warm, sunny Sunday afternoon, making our way across the car lot, toward the fleet of minivans.

I must say that after owning it for a while, I really, really love it. The ride is really smooth and the overall feel of it is amazing. We have hauled a ton of furniture and other things in the back already and I am looking forward to seeing how many suitcases and random things I can get back there for our summer vacation. I might even be secretly hoping to have more than one kid to drive around with someday. I know that this vehicle will serve us well for years to come. And I have learned that a minivan does not steal all of your coolness, the coolness of a person comes from within and no vehicle, no matter what the stigma behind it is, can take away the awesomeness of a person. I am a cool minivan mom.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Black Vultures, Ground Bees, and Birthday Parties

This morning in the middle of our hour plus long commute to school/ work, Emma let out a Monday morning yawn which in turn caused me to yawn. Emma decided it was a funny game and I guess nothing is funnier than starting a yawning war in the car because that's what happened for ten minutes straight. I am not exaggerating. My eyes were watering so much from yawning and laughing by the end of it. It was a glorious little moment.


Several weeks back, on a glorious sunny weekend day, as we were about to head out on an errand, Thomas pointed out two large "crows" perched on our shed in the back yard (the shed is visible from our drive way). I looked over and gasped, "Um those are not crows! They are huge!" Thomas just looked at me and back at the birds and that was that. They were gone by the time we got home. We resumed our normal weekly routine and then the next weekend came. My family was visiting and we ventured into the back yard to get bikes for Emma and her cousin to ride in the driveway. There the birds were again. Large, almost statuesque, black birds, perched on our shed like they owned the place. My sister was the first to utter the word…vulture. "What?!?!?! No, they can't be." I thought. They seemed unfazed by the kids and the dogs at the time and I was trying to decide if that was a good or a bad thing.

We ended up walking to the park and didn't see the birds the rest of the day. Thomas announces later that according to his research, they are turkey vultures and non-aggressive. I shrug my shoulders and move on until…later that day…I see one of them jumping into the hole in the top of the shed. Let me pause here to say we have been in this house only a few months and have spent a fair bit of our free time fixing things and unpacking boxes so the crumbling shed in the yard, while on our "to do" list of things to fix was high, but we had higher priorities…until now. I ran to Thomas horrified, we had vultures living in our shed! All I could think of were my dogs and Emma and vultures possibly nesting and baby vultures and well you get the idea, full on panic set in.

I did what any freaked out person would do and consulted Google only to find out to my horror that what we had were black vultures, the more aggressive kind (turkey vultures have red heads in case you need a quick lesson on that.) I also found out that they are hard to get rid of once they roost and they are of course protected wildlife. I felt so helpless, like I was being forced to relinquish my backyard to protected wildlife that would never leave. Finally, the saga came to a head when on Sunday morning, I peeked out back to make sure the coast was clear for me to let the dogs out. After deciding all was well and letting the dogs out, one of the vultures jumped out of the shed and perched on the roof. Picture me on a cold Sunday morning, in my pjs, clutching a rake, waving it in the air, and screaming at my dogs to get in the house. I just know our neighbors think so highly of us :). I was a complete wreak at this point and Thomas agreed to cover the holes in the shed to see if they would move on. Long story short, he did and they did but not after coming back to survey the scene. They looked genuinely confused and maybe I felt slightly sorry for them but we could not cohabit the same yard. Thus ended our domestic despite with the vultures.

I feel like this post is so long already and I haven't even gotten to the ground bees. So almost within the same week, the backyard saga took a turn from birds to bees, literally. We had noticed some small holes in the dirt under the addition to our house when we toured it the first time but of course I was so taken with the place I bruised it off as something we could deal with later. Well, it's later, and we have a swarm, I mean probably 50 or more ground bees living in the dirt mound in our backyard. So far, they have been non-agressive but they are intimidating for sure. And once again my moral obligation for the environment is guilting me into stressing out over a solution to get rid of them. They are pollinators and of course we need to save the bees but so far, every bee keeper I've called has said the only thing to do is keep the ground wet and maybe that will discourage them from living there. I haven't tried this yet but somehow I doubt this place will be vacated. It's like the Palm Springs of bee colony homes, like premium real estate in bee terms. It's always shielded from the elements under the addition and it's a big pile of dirt. What more could a bee ask for, I guess. Sigh.

This brings me back to Emma's birthday party. Here I was so excited to finally be able to have people over to the house for a bbq and party in the yard and the bees have other plans. So now I'm left with having to plan a party at another location again. I know a first world problem but dang it all I want is to be able to hang out in my back yard! So for now, the Pattersons versus nature saga continues. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Moving Faster

Just as the world is ever moving on its axis, so too I find, is the journey of parenthood. Just when a routine is established, or a behavior formed, there seems to be something else that pops up around the corner. Part of this has to do with the new house. The new space allows for Emma to have freedoms she did not before. For one, she has an entire playroom to herself. The intention was to find her a space where she could be independently creative but that new independence is what is pulling at my mommy heart strings. The other day, she needed to open her squeeze yogurt and she nonchalantly shuffled past me to the kitchen drawer, pulled out the safety scissors, and gingerly cut the top off of it over the trash can like a well-mannered lady of the house. I kind of just stood there while this unfolded, my head cocked to the side, wondering what the next development will be…(I’m routing for independently taking out the trash but baby steps).

The other new development is we have a next door neighbor who is Emma’s age. They pretty much have made their own neighborhood coalition and good luck to you if you want to hang out because you are an old, washed up adult. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy for both of them. To have a built in friend next door is a rare and amazing thing, and at first, I was happy Emma, an only child finally had someone her own age around all the time. But I found myself wanting to spend what little time I have on the weekends with her and well…there she was…occupied with her new friend. I suddenly saw my future flash before my eyes and my little girl is a teenager and doesn’t want to hang out with her mom anymore…not that that would happen because everyone knows I’m not a regular mom…I’m a cool mom…right?

I guess what I am trying to say is that this is one of those parts of parenting they don’t really prepare you for even though yes, the whole point of parenthood is to raise independent, self-confident children…but really is that what we are going for here? I guess…I suppose so.

The other day on one of our long commutes, Emma asked me if we could go faster then I explained we couldn't because there was traffic and she asked why we always have to ride in the car so long and I explained that we did not live near school any more. Then she said she hoped school would hurry up and finish so she could go to her new school near our house and I told her that she should try to enjoy life as it comes because she would never be in pre-school again (too ominous?) and just be happy with her teacher and friends now. Basically, for her not to wish for everything to move so fast. I know it's hard to explain it to a child but I want to be able to let her in on that little fact. I don't want her to be like me and figure out that wishing things would move faster suddenly got me into my early thirties wondering how the heck time slipped away so quickly. I guess it's one of those life lessons you figure out as you go along.

Overall, I do want Emma to be able to establish and maintain solid friendships throughout life. I keep trying to teach Emma empathy and understanding that others have feelings. I do this not just for the benefit of the other kids but also for the benefit of Emma. I keep trying to explain to her that friends are important, especially for her since she might end up being an only child. She needs to have the kid of friendships that are built on give and take, not take and take. So as much as I would love to always have her to myself, I am slowly working on letting go.

Some other thoughts:

I do apologize for not posting my usual end of year recap for 2016. I feel terrible I never got a Halloween post up either. I’m not going to beat myself up too much about it, we were in the thick of a huge life transition so there’s that. What I can tell you is this year, I am choosing to focus a lot more on myself and my relationships with others. I am actively reaching out to hang out with friends, make plans with the hubs, and be mindful of the things that make me feel like a whole person while I have the opportunity to now. I already started by writing a children's book which I am in the early stages of self publishing, and a semi-successful fanfic which is why I ignored this space for so long. I have begun writing another fiction story, already planning on going to at least two concerts, possibly a third out of state, and a big, little family vacation (big adventure, short timeframe/ small budget). I also figure with the current state of things in the world, if things go south, I will have spent these last few months really living. I’m so grateful I have the opportunity to do it and share in the experiences with my family, that is if I can get my four year old to pay attention to me!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

This Old House

It has been far too long friends since I checked in here. The reason being is the source of much happiness and also much exhaustion…we bought a house! After months of searching and then months of dealing with a bank owned property, we finally made it to close on Halloween. Since then, I have come to realize that this house has become our temporary second child. It needed some things done; it still does let’s be honest. The to-do list is a mile long and every time we cross one thing off I seem to add two more things to it. I also now feel responsible for keeping every inch clean at all times which, let’s face it, with a new 45 (really closed to 60 with traffic) minute commute, three dogs and a kid, that’s just never going to happen. I’m hoping to share more details about our new life soon but for this post, I wanted to look back with gratitude on our old home, the house that gave us shelter and many memories for 8 years.
I will never forget the old house, the first time I set foot inside it was to enjoy a “home cooked” meal by a guy I was dating at the time *wink wink* (which turned out to be carry out Chinese food – a place we would order from many times for years to come.) I moved into the house back in 2008 during the end of a transitional period in my life. I lived there with my husband (then boyfriend), Stanley and Bella, our dogs, for several years.
I was going through my “interior designer” phase at that point and made it my mission to paint/ transition every room in the house since I knew we were going to be there a while. The best transformation was in the little kitchen. We put in new floors and counters and painted. The space was so small that it didn’t take much to spiff it up a bit. I ended up redoing every room in the house (the living room twice) with the exception of our bedroom which maintained its light brown, dusty wall color to the very end.
As much as I am grateful for the years of shelter and memories the house provided, let me take a moment to comment on the shortcomings of the house (because you really didn’t think you would make it through this post without a rant). I will tell you the tiny kitchen annoyed me to no end. The lack of counter space, no dish washer, and the ant infestation of 2014 were not things I ever want to have to deal with again. The basement was literally like something out of a nightmare (I really won’t comment much more beyond that). The bathroom did not have a vent so keeping it dry was nearly impossible not to mention there was only one bathroom. Between the three of us needing to share one bathroom, there were never any major disasters but there were some very close calls! Sometime back in 2010 or maybe even earlier than that, the ceiling fan/ light broke in our bedroom. It remained broken for the next 6 years. The other real problem was the lack of parking in the neighborhood and really, the neighborhood in general. We lucked out and had amazing neighbors directly next to us and across from us but that type of neighborliness ended as soon as you moved beyond our little bubble. And that was the major deciding factor in the move. The area, while centrally located was in a not so friendly community. We did talk about staying at the old house, fixing it up, and living there forever from time to time but it could never be the place for us long term.
Having gone back to the old house several times since we moved, it seems so small, so odd, like this quiet, cold space, devoid of all life. It’s almost hard for me to believe that the unfinished floors and the dusty walls once held our most precious belongings and most cherished memories. We were (almost) always so happy there. Since it was so small and there was only one bathroom, we rarely had anyone over, so the experience of the house itself is something that Thomas, Emma, and I will always have to ourselves. The first time Thomas told me he loved me was in that house. I found out I was pregnant with Emma there. I brought her home from the hospital to that house. She took her first steps, smashed food into all the floor boards, and spent countless hours creating imaginary worlds in every corner of the place. It was the last place I saw Stanley. It was the only home Charlie and Reese knew. We took the dogs on countless walks around the neighborhood and spent hours at the local park that was always empty, like it was there just for us. Thomas and his dad built the deck and the shed in the back yard. We spent days snowed in there playing games and doing whatever we could to prevent cabin fever. Thomas and I both cooked hundreds of meals there. I recovered from three different surgeries in that house. We had some of the best neighbors I’ve ever had in my life at that house; Ed, George, and Sherise. I still get that wave of peace and relief whenever I pull up to the old house, my body and mind telling me, I have arrived at my sanctuary. (I hope that feeling eventually transfers to our new home.)  And then, as if it could not have given us anything else, that house eventually gave us the financial freedom to move out of it.
The location and size of the old house had not worked for us for years so we finally moved on, but we will never forget it, and we move on with the hope that we can find the same happiness in our new home, Emma can recreate her imaginary worlds, we can be a family for more dogs, and we can live happily together.