Monday, November 23, 2015

Thoughts On 33

Another year has gone by for me in this human existence. Another year of hard work, love, friendships, success, and loss. Another year of learning who I am, what the world is, and how I somehow fit into it. Another year where my likes are revalidated (hello chocolate) and my dislikes deepen (misogyny). I find myself becoming more passionate and vocal about what bothers me and actually acting on it. Maybe because I am raising a tiny human who will inherit this earth from me and also because this year more so than any other, I feel like I am finally owning up to being an adult and the full weight of responsibilities that come along with it. Now of course that does not mean that my house is well put together or I can cook or I dress appropriately but looking back on this year, I have made progress in the right direction.

This year has been sort of back and forth with my blogging and writing. I still need to muster up the courage to actually submit something somewhere. I’m still hopeful to do that in the very near future. I am not posting as frequently as I would like but that usually means I'm resting or working on some other scatter brained project so, there's the secret of what I'm up to when I ignore this space. I actually have two (nonwriting) ventures I'm working on with friends so hopefully there will be some development there in the near future. I wanted to take a writing class this year too but it didn't work out. Not to say that next year it won't. I'm actually going to try to do a better job of making it happen. I am also working on developing my skills at work. Again, I wanted to take a major class associated with work but lack of funding meant that I would have to pay for it myself and I wasn't ready to commit there just yet since I wasn't sure what the return on investment might be. I find myself at this weird place in my career where I would love to take more classes/ training/ even go back for my Masters but I'm not sure any of that would propel me far forward enough to make the kind of money that would cover the cost of everything. So for now, this sits on the back burner as a "one day" dream.

The beginning of this year was sort of slow and uneventful which is the best kind of life to live in my opinion for the simple fact that the alternative can be difficult. I entered into difficult territory in the later half of the year. I have not disclosed it here but I did go through a surgery and then had a scare recently about a possible second (unrelated) surgery scenario. I have not shared my thoughts and feelings about the two events here. I know if I would it would be some of my most open and honest writing. The thing is, I’m not sure I’m ready to open up on here just yet. It is all very raw and very personal and frankly, writing about it would just stir up emotions I am trying to distance myself from right now. There is still the possibility I will need to undergo a second surgery but I am really trying to stay positive about it, especially with the holidays coming up. 

I forget on these birthday posts if I give myself goals for the following year. I don't think I'd like to hold myself accountable really (I know how adult of me) but I will say this, I am hoping to continue to take more time here and there to focus on myself and what I love. With Emma getting more and more independent, I have finally figured out a good balance for cleaning the house, planning family time, and finding time for myself. I hope to keep this up in the coming years along with continuing to work on my health and never take it for granted. Kind of a heavy birthday post but there it is. 

Hoping everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 6, 2015

October Festivities

I know I'm at the tail end of the first week of November but at least I'm posting this before Thanksgiving so I'd say I'm ahead of the game! I really wanted to just share a simple post detailing what we did as a family in October (aka a photo dump post <-- you have been warned!). The mini adventures of the Pattersons if you will. Really a few of these adventures should be their own post but I doubt anyone wants to hear about the month of October through the first of December so I'll leave you with this. I also love having these "what we did " posts to look back on to remember all of the little things.

We started off the month going to the farm. I gotta tell you I love Fall and I looooove farms so getting there asap was a must. It was actually pretty chilly out that weekend and had just stopped raining that morning. After several wet days, conditions were pretty muddy but we slogged through it. Just as an aside, I love the thrift store for rain boots (really all boots) because they are something that don't get worn too often but when I went to get Emma some they were completely out (I wasn't type A enough to get to them first I guess.) Thus Emma's winter boots made an appearance on the farm trip.

Emma's dad really has a way with animals and I definitely see Emma has inherited that trait as well. They seem to just come to her. It's amazing to see.

 I think this face says "I love farms too mom!"

Next, we ventured over to the pumpkin patch. I think this place just sort of rounds up a bunch of kid sized pumpkins and dumps them in a field but I'm no pumpkin farmer so I could be wrong. I'm just suspicious about the uniformity of them all but like all the other suburbanite zombies, I merrily went along my way just happy to be submersed in rural culture.

Of course I wanted a happy family pumpkin patch selfie but I was out voted two to one so I did the next best thing....took an awkward lonely mom selfie. "Nobody knows the trouble I've seen...nobody knows my sorrow..."

Meanwhile in other October events... soccer continues. Emma is still doing well with listening although she is having trouble understanding why others are not "sharing the ball." I think she is slowly starting to understand team work and what the concept of the sport is, but for now, I'm just happy she is trying and enjoying herself. (They play in the gym when it's raining or too cold outside which I love.)

Another special October moment was my first night away from Emma. It was our four year wedding anniversary this year, and we went out of town for a night. We had a relaxing trip hiking around the little island and fishing off the pier at night. I did miss Emma but it wasn't so bad being away. I actually really needed a rest. We will definitely go back again for another short get away in the future.

The weekend after that, we went to a truck touch which was so awesome! We've been before but really they never get old. I don't remember them having these when I was a kid and, I really wish they had. I ended up driving a commercial vehicle for a few years and the hubs was a heavy machine mechanic in the army so double axle vehicles are in Emma's blood and it shows.

And now finally if you've made it this far, you are in for a treat. May I present the 2015 Patterson Halloween costumes: superheroes! It's no secret that we are pretty serious about Halloween around these parts. Last year we did not go as a family costume and I missed it so this year we went all out. Hubby and I made Emma a superhero costume for her birthday and when I asked her what she wanted to be for Halloween she, to my great excitement, said SUPERHERO! When we made the costume, we asked her what colors she wanted it to be and she originally said pink and gray. I could not find a shinny gray fabric without it looking too silver and, I thought the blue gave it the punch it needed so we went with those colors and I'm so glad we did!

I added the wig and the shirt to Emma's costume for Halloween and then got to work on my own costume. I decided I didn't want to be "super mommy" and "super K" didn't seem quite right either so I just left my cape a simple lightning bolt, as did daddy. For the rest, I actually came up with my costume based on the cheapest options available. I lucked out and found the sparkly dress at the thrift store on half off day and got it for $1.50! I kid you not! I had the tights from an 80s party a while back and, I just taped a cut up feather boa to boots I already owned (again I paid like a dollar for the boa at the thrift store) and there you have it! Pattersons assemble!

We ended up trick or treating with friends who also have a 3 year old girl and their friends as well. There were three 3 year old girls running around like hyper, excited chipmunks! It was seriously the best Halloween of all time! I mean other than a few really funny incidents at some college Halloween parties, this was hands down, the best Halloween of my life. Seeing the excitement on their faces and watching them run from house to house yelling trick or treat and giggling their little hearts out was amazing. I only got a few blurry pictures but you get the idea...

We called it a night after about 10 houses or so because they were so wound up and it was getting late. I seriously cannot wait for next year!

I do so cherish the month of October and all of its possibilities. I think there's a quote somewhere about if only life was a sequence of never ending Octobers, I think I'd be ok with that.

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Green Pumpkin

I am planning to do a recap of our October adventures but this story stuck out to me among all the other little adventures so I figured I'd give it its own post. 

I'm guessing if you read the title of this post you know this picture is not of a tomato. It's the tiniest, greenest pumpkin I've ever seen. I should have put it next to something for scale but if you look in the upper right hand corner of the picture, that's Emma's jacket pocket to put it into perspective.

This story starts out like so many others have lately, with a trip to Emma's cubby at school. It was pumpkin patch field trip day and like any overly excited mother, I wanted to hear every single detail and description of the day. I was also really excited to see Emma's pumpkin because one simply cannot have enough Fall decor around. As I was trying to decode the events of the day from a three year old's perspective, we passed by rows and rows of cubbies. Some were overflowing with papers, others had stray pant legs dangling, and others still were crammed full of bags of diapers but one thing they all had in common, within each cubby sat a perfectly round orange pumpkin. Each one had a name lovingly scribed into the side in Sharpie ink. And I'm sure each one was carefully selected by its new owner to make the journey home.

At this point I was overflowing with excitement to coddle Emma's pumpkin perfection in my arms! However, as we approached her cubby, something strange happened. A wave of panic crashed over me. As I peeked into the cubby, all I saw was the same old predictable, massive pile of papers laying in wait. Confused, I reached for the stack when something caught my eye. Sitting innocently under the pile was a tiny green pumpkin...with a massive dead vine attached to it. I cocked my head to the side and looked at Emma unsure of what this was. There must have been some mistake. "Emma is this your pumpkin?" "Yes," she said sure as ever. I tipped it up and my worst fears were confirmed when I saw her name scrawled across the bottom.

At this point I started to laugh because really, what can you do? Certainly not be upset that your 3 year old brought home the great pumpkin's severely underdeveloped cousin. Of course something like this would happen, it's a metaphor for my life! Even expecting a normal outcome from something so small was too much to ask. I could not even count on having my kid get an orange pumpkin in a world seemingly full of them. Was I being over dramatic...perhaps. As long as Emma was happy, I was ok with the outcome.

That's when my sister shed some light on the situation for me, how special this pumpkin was. Out of twenty some kids, mine was the only one who picked a green pumpkin. She saw the uniqueness and potential in it and wanted to bring it home. She didn't need an orange pumpkin. In fact to her, a big, round, orange pumpkin did not mean perfection. This little green pumpkin, that would have probably been over looked and ended up pumpkin mush, is now adorning Emma's craft table in all it's mighty green glory. Once again, I find myself learning a lesson  from my child, something I knew already but am grateful for the reminder of. There is beauty in everything and maybe even more so in the differences in life. Also, my kid isn't a crowd follower. She really does move to the beat of her own unique drum. I'm so glad I had the opportunity to be reminded of that on a random Monday night.

I wanted to add this picture her school sent home later in the week of her lovingly picking her pumpkin!

The Awkward Mom

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Imaginary Birds

I often wonder at the imaginations of children. How do they so effortlessly create magical worlds out of nothing? How is it so easy for them to string together innocent word dew drops to form honey so sweet you have no choice but to buy into it? I don't know how they learn to stretch the truth or flat out lie so convincingly. I think I read somewhere it has to do with survival of the fittest. They teach themselves to lie in order to make it through the rough existence of crayons and endless recess I guess. Now for adults, lying is second nature. It is a form of survival of the fittest, more so siding with societal self preservation. We know what it takes to make it in this world, fighting hard to conform and fit in. Making sure we appear sane and lucid when really we are just livin on a prayer. Heck, it's hard enough trying to figure out what to wear to pick your kid up on days you work from home (most of the time sweatpants still win) so you don't offend the other parents and administrators without having to constantly lie to keep the weirdness of your family from being known by the good folks at your child's school. Unfortunately, these specific set of circumstances collided and I found myself a co-conspirator in a fantastic imaginary world as designed by my three year old.

And so the story goes that one warm, sunny September afternoon I picked up Emma just like every other day (only this day was an office day so I was wearing appropriate, mature adult attire). Emma was playing near her new teacher. I smiled and did what I always do, prepare an elaborate scheme to get Emma to leave without throwing a fit. Today gave way to a surprisingly easy departure and we waved good-bye to her friends as we made our way into the school to grab her lunch box and the large quantity of art projects, beginning of the year school forms, and other random bits of paper that only ever make it to the front seat of my car. On this particular day, unknown to me, we were followed inside by her teacher taking another kid to the bathroom. This detail will become important later so keep it in the back of your mind while I host a brief intermission to provide a short back story.

Emma changed classrooms this year which meant all of her belongings in her cubby moved to a new cubby outside her new classroom. Now I'm not one to question cubby space usage, although I did notice a week or so ago that there was a box in her cubby that I hadn't put there. I questioned it at first but then it just blended into the wooden siding and it never crossed my mind again...until....

I reached in and grabbed that day's mountain of paper. Emma reached her hand in after and pulled out the box. It was a colorful box. It was heavy and made a noise when you shook it. "Look mommy it's our bird food!" "Oh you mean for the birds in your classroom." "No mommy, for OUR birds." Before I could even process what was going on...

*Enter Emma's teacher* "Oh yeah Emma told me you guys have birds. We don't have birds in the classroom any more so I gave her the food to take home to your birds." Had her teacher not been in the hallway at that exact moment my fried after work brain would have shaken off Emma's story and the bird food would have ended up back in her cubby, but at this point there was a lucid adult involved in this scenario. I also might not have mentioned this in detail but my brain logic and reasoning is diminished from working all day so at this point I'm not at my peak for adult conversation. Ok, maybe this is a lame excuse for what happened next because I have no idea how this happened except to assume it was a verbal reflex. Like at this point in my day I am reduced to responding "yeah yeah" to all of the cries of "look at me" and "watch this." So somehow having complete knowledge of the fact that we do not own birds as pets and never will with 4 dogs, I responded, "Oh yes, the birds. Thank you." It's like my mind went into autopilot and I entered the world of mindless agreement only this time I entered into the dangerous world of a toddler lie without fully understanding what was going on. I had somehow grabbed my toddler's outstretched hand and followed her through the looking glass. I had just let my child lead me into a very real lie. We had created imaginary birds.

Of course later that day I had to come clean with my husband when he came home and saw a box of bird seed sitting on the counter (pictures above.) After laughing hysterically for a while I got a bit of a (well deserved?) lecture. How could I lie about having birds and deprive some very deserving, well meaning birds from this food?!?! Little Billy or Jane at school might have birds that could have really used this food. At this point, I knew what had to be done but how does one undo a vicious lie about made up birds? I could not see a way out of this without dragging the Patterson name through the mud.

I ended up speaking to Emma about why she said we had birds. She said she wanted to get some birds to feed. I thought back to the birds at our local pool who we feed a couple of times and decided that was it, she had remembered our fine feathered friends at the pool and was just thinking of them. So in a way, we DID (?) have feed that is. Not a lie necessarily, just a small technicality. We did have birds to feed, just not any that reside at our house.

Well the next day when I went to pick Emma up, apparently she had shared our bird conversation with her teacher who is no fool (in fact being a preschool teacher she is sharp as a whip). Her stern, yet forgiving eyes looked up at me as I approached, "you guys don't have birds, do you?" There was no hiding and only a small window with which to save face. "No, we don't have birds but we do feed the birds outside."  "Ah, ok." And just like that, it was over. Emma has not been shunned and I managed to take a "misunderstanding" and revert it back to a happy ending Mary Poppins song. And next time, I will stop and think before blurting out whatever rolls off my tongue in a mindless afternoon haze.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Nighttime Difficulties

Well folks we haven’t discussed behavioral issues around these parts for a while so I guess we are overdue. To cut to the chase, basically, Emma is getting up in the middle of the night every night. I think she is in a phase where she is scared of the dark/ monsters but it has gotten so bad I am at a loss for what to do about it.

We changed her crib to a big girl bed a few months back and everything was going ok until probably the end of July. Ever since then, every night she has been getting out of her bed and either sleeping on the couch in the living room, bringing one of the dogs into her room to sleep, or coming into our room to get in our bed. We have had many, MANY discussions about the whole thing. She knows not to get out of bed. We have discussed at length the fact that monsters are not real. We originally also went back and forth about having a pull up on her at night but finally decided after changing wet sheets for several nights in a row that the pull up needed to stay on. She is comfortable with it on but that problem persists.

We got her one of those pillows that lights up and that seemed to work for a while but all of a sudden it was not enough to “keep the monsters away.” So we got her a little lamp. All that seemed to do was ensure she was wide awake in the wee hours. And I am now at my wits end. I am exhausted and sleep deprived and there seems to be no end in sight. We are going to see about getting a smaller night light to see if that works but after that I have no clue what to do. Everything I have read says just to walk the kid back to their bed until they get the hint. Well I’m hoping my kid will get the hint before college because I can’t live like this for the rest of my life and I know not getting an uninterrupted night of rest is not healthy for Emma.

Has anyone gone through this? Any recommendations?

We Made it This Far