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!

This New House

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There is only one place I have lived for a significant amount of time. That was my parent’s house growing up from ages 2-17. Between the ages of 17 and 25, I lived in 9 different places, and crashed on a few couches in between. Then I moved in with my husband and we didn’t mean to, but ended up staying at the same house for 8 years. Finding roots in the oddest of places, a neighborhood I had known to stay out of as a child/ young adult. I not only found myself living there, I found myself raising my child there. And either I gained a lot of street smarts or, that neighborhood did not turn out to be quiet the nightmare everyone made it out to be because we made it through. Let me not sugar coat it though, it was/ is not a good place yet somehow, we were able to hold together our own little family bubble in that old house separate from the immediate surroundings.

Now, we find ourselves fortunate enough to move into a new community and a lovely new house. I have to immediately share my excitement over the fact that after 8 years of fighting for a parking spot in front of our old house, we now have a very large drive way! We also have an amazing dishwasher that I know for sure, hands down is my absolute most favorite new feature in the house! Followed closely by the kitchen! The counter space is amazing and I love every inch of it! My next favorite place…the playroom! At the back of the house there is an addition where we set up all of Emma’s toys, which leaves us room to have an actual dinning space! My big splurge for the move was getting a new table and chair set! Huzzah!

I cannot forget or understate the amazingness of having three…yes three glorious bathrooms! It is a truly amazing and foreign experience to be brushing my teeth at a sink where Emma isn’t going potty right by my side. The floors are finished and bright! The downstairs is a big rec room space that we recently had a decorating dance party in the other night. We even have a third bedroom that is mainly housing boxes that I’m not ready to unpack yet.

I don’t want to downplay the benefits of the old house because although they were few, they have already had a big impact on me. First and foremost, I dearly miss my 20 minute commute. I kept Emma at her old school after the move because I did not want to change schools midway through the school year. So now, I drive 35-40 (sometimes more) minutes depending on traffic to take her to school every day. Then drop her off and drive the 20 minutes to my office from there (essentially our old neighborhood). Being in the car sometimes over two hours a day takes a toll on you, especially with the time change again. I miss that quality of life a short commute gave me. Although I know this is only for a few more months until the summer, I still dread every agonizing moment. On the bright side, Emma and I get to enjoy long conversations twice a day which I love. We’ve already covered the topics of liquids turning to solids and the rotation of the Earth in great detail.

The other stressors of having a new house are now, of course, being financially responsible for a mortgage, which I had been happy to avoid for all of my adult life. It was the last little bit of adulting I didn’t have to deal with or worry about and now that will always be staring me down. The other thing, which I mentioned before, is the amount of space that has to be cleaned. I will always remember touring all those homes when we were looking for a house and having it pointed out that certain houses were “well maintained.” I sort of want our house to fall into that category and I want to take care of my investment and my lovely new dwelling but let me tell you, Going from one bathroom to three, two bedrooms to three, an extra playroom, a larger kitchen, and a downstairs is just a lot (I know I signed on for it and it is truly a blessing don’t get me wrong). I just feel like it is difficult to fit in quality family time and keep the joint looking decent.

Every night has been an exhausting project and almost every weekend has involved many trips to the home improvement store but I am super happy with our progress so far and I know that the house is a work in progress and will take many years to get it to what we envision it as but for now, we are so grateful to be settling into this new house.

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.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Summer Vacation Recap

It's still technically summer so I'm good to post about our vacation from over a month ago right? Great! I also want to post on our random summer adventures too so I have them to look back on. Before I get into it, a side note, that things are still difficult around here but looking up. I guess I just needed to be reminded about how to see the positive through the not so great events of late. Our lives are filled with wonder and happiness still. We have an amazing little family and we are moving forward, more resilient than ever. That being said, here is a recap of our summer vacation 2016!

We started our journey on Saturday waaaaaaay back in July. Emma, the hubs, and my brother rode in one car with my mom, Bella, and myself in the other. We actually hit less traffic this year than last on the way in. We stayed at the same amazing house as last year. We met up with my sister, her husband, and their 2 year old daughter there. It is so amazing to see Emma and her cousin grow up together. They are both at the age where they can run and play (read: get into mischief) together.

There is this little park around the block which made for a perfect walk for the girls to get out of the house when we weren't really into going to the beach.

It was the week of a super heat wave but we braved the beach every day except for Friday when I think everyone had had enough. But of course on the first day we had to do our traditional walk into the main part of town to get ice cream!

Followed by a bath in the most obnoxiously luxurious bath tub ever which took like 20 minutes to fill.

I feel like every time we go to the beach house we all run around the place like little kids exploring our new environment, like how Macaulay Culkin freaks out when he first gets to the Plaza hotel with its space and grandeur. I know I get giddy over the fact that there is more than one bathroom and the kitchen is like a palace from my dreams. It's the kind of house we will never be able to afford but we are fortunate to play pretend in for a week, and that's fine by me!

The first couple of days at the beach, Emma was not interested in the water at all. She was scared and unsure. She gets like this in a lot of new situations. It takes her a while to warm up and then by the time she does, usually the activity is over. It's the same for situations she has been in many times before as well. Every time she got in a pool this summer it was like she forgot she ever swam before and had to take a good 30 minutes (right until it was adult swim) to figure out that she loved it. I finally figured out how to describe it to my friend. Emma is like Drew Barrymore from 50 first dates. It's like she has short term memory loss where she can't remember how awesome something is until she experiences it again, like it was the first time.

Needless to say, she finally remembered loving the ocean and swimming it in, and once she did, there was no stopping her.

 See those two tiny dots in the distance, yeah that's my crew. And zoomed in...

It was great to see Emma get so much joy from something simple, like swimming in the ocean.

The rest of the time, when we weren't at the beach, we did the usual boardwalk games and rides...

We also get the added bonus of bringing Bella, our beloved yellow lab with us. We always make sure we take time out to go to the dog beach with her. Emma loves running and playing with Bella and Bella loves her time in the water. Our Bella girl is getting older and with the passing of our old boy Stanley in Feburary, we are making sure to make the most of our time with our pup!

And that sums up our trip for the most part. It was relaxing and too short as always. I'm glad I was able to look back on these memories and that I'm able to look forward to many more.

"Hold tight you're slowly coming back to life..."

Sunday, September 4, 2016

So Here I Am

Hello All

Sorry I have been MIA all summer. This summer has not really felt like summer in the sense that summer is supposed to be a magical time of fireflies, long warm nights, and endless activities. I always look forward to the lazy hum of the crickets and the occasional thunder storm. Everything seems to slow down and time doesn't matter as much except this summer, when it did.

Don't get me wrong, we had some wonderful times as a family; a vacation to the beach I hope to finally post about soon, a bunch of trips to the pool, swim class (Emma is so close to swimming by herself!), lots of books read (Emma is adding more and more sight words as the weeks go by!), and lots of ice cream, treats, birthday parties and the usual events. Sadly, we spent the majority of our summer in the car driving around looking at houses which was no fun for any of us after a while.

We finally made it to the end of summer and I thought we could make the last few weeks really special but that was taken away from us when a drunk driver hit Thomas' parked car on our street in the middle of the night. Here we are weeks away from moving and now we only have one car. It has been difficult to say the least. Not to mention the whole house buying process has been extra stressful with several curve balls thrown in because we needed more stress : /  At this point we have spent the whole summer stressing about finding a house and moving and now that might not happen. That story possibly for another time. Right now our house is half boxed up and half cluttered with things that were in the process of getting boxed up and I just want to hide in a box at this point.

I feel terrible I could not give Emma more of my time and attention without being paralyzed from stress. She is still at that magical age where she wants to do things with me and I only embarrass her when I dance at inopportune times (aka any time). I don't want to lose out on this stage with her. The guilt has been so thick. I feel like I'm in this never ending cycle of fighting for what my family needs and getting to the point of almost giving up and then remembering who and what I am fighting for and finding just enough new strength to keep going. I hate not having enough in me to fight and also maintain a sense of normalcy around the house. I am finally at the point where I am going to let the cards fall where they may and fight when I can but I am refocusing on my family's needs in the present.

I have also started a new position at work that is challenging in a wonderful way and in a terrible, sense of dread every day way. I was given an amazing opportunity and I want to succeed and I have been fortunate enough to have pulled off many successes in my career through hard work but this time I might not succeed and that is taking a toll on me as well. I know my personal stress is spilling over into my work and I am trying my darnedest to kept one exclusive of the other.

I'm not sure where to go from here but moving forward happens whether I like it or not whether I like the circumstances or not. So here I am, battling to take the smallest of steps to get the biggest of end results. That's all I can do for now. That, and admire the reflection of my car windshield as it sits...parked in the middle of our lawn, never to grace the asphalt in front of our current house ever again.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Sith Lords and Turning Four

Well it happened again, another wonderful (short) year has gone by and my little is a little less little. She has done so much growing this year and I know that in the years to come, there will be a flood of intelligence and curiosity and I just hope I can keep up with it all. We are getting ready to go through some big changes as a family including a move in the very near future and a new school for Emma the year after next. I’m trying oh so hard to hang on to these amazing, simple times together before life gets even more crazy. I started my new work schedule so I’m no longer able to enjoy afternoons with Emma. It was a loss I still morn (although hopefully temporary). I’m not a fan of getting home and heading straight into the kitchen to make dinner every night but there it is. The change was inevitable since Thomas’ job location moved he could no longer take Emma to school in the mornings. Her school does not open until 7:30 which meant I had to push back my work start time to 8 in order to take her. Once we move and Emma goes into Kindergarten I can see about changing it back but for now this is how it stands. 

In other news…someone finally got her big girl bed and never were more excited bounces ever had! She pretty much plays on her bed with her toys as much as she can and it is wonderful to see her feel a sense of pride as she grows and her world brings new adventures. I started doing a mini-room makeover (I took down all of the Winnie the Pooh d├ęcor *sniff*) and put up picture frames Emma crafted. I’m not doing a full blown room redo since we are moving sometime between now and August (posts to come on this later I’m sure.)

Now that we’ve caught up on all of that, it’s time to deconstruct a four year old birthday party. We thankfully only received a manageable number of RSVPs from her class (4 to be exact instead of the 13 it could have been). The day of the party went pretty well thanks in part to scheduling it later in the day! I had the whole morning to run around getting last minute items and didn’t end up forgetting anything! It was so refreshing to just bring some fruit, veggies, and light snacks with the cake. Not having to lug a meat tray and 100 pizza boxes was great! So liberating! 

We were lucky enough to have Emma’s Grandma Carole (Thomas’ step mom) there to help with set-up. I was prepared to bring the stuff in and sit with it in the lobby until 2:45 as scheduled and then hustle my sciatica having self to throw everything together but low and behold, there were no other parties before or after us! The party coordinator was sweet enough to let us set up early! So by the time folks arrived, the place looked great! “Dark” Vader and Star Wars everywhere! 

 Went for the good old figurines stuck into the cake again for the win! 

 This is a craft DADDY came up with/ executed! Glow sticks that came with thread to become necklaces he turned into lightsabers!

The kids had fun in the pool (sadly I was setting up so I did not get any pictures) and then came up for cake and snacks. It was actually not too stressful. It was a bit awkward when I started packing everything up as folks were still eating but I knew it would take a while so I’m glad I started when I did. I guess people are used to having parties at their own house so they don’t have a set time frame to “close up shop” but I wanted to be as accommodating as possible since the party coordinator was very nice about letting me setup early.  Besides the early clean up raised eyebrows, nothing too crazy happened to report and I was only briefly overwhelmed. I even managed to talk to folks at the party so it all turned out fine. I know, a relatively ho hum event for our chaotic family! I'll take the peace.
And now, I have a super terrific four year old…