Thursday, June 14, 2018

I have failed as a mother

Someday I will probably look back on this day and laugh. Right now I am just shaking my head and wondering what in the world? How have I failed them so completely??

This is my kids’ first summer at home alone. At least the older two. Silas is still at daycare. It is only day 2 and them negotiating the world is just frightening.

Thursday is housecleaner day. I don’t really want my two underfoot while they try to clean the house, so I suggested that they take some money (that I gave them) and walk down to Yokes and get some breakfast - a couple donuts and something to drink.

Skadi texted me and asked if they could please ride their bikes. I caved and reminded them to wear helmets. Then I didn’t hear anything else. I went into work, spent the majority of the morning locked in a video teleconference. But when I got out AB started telling me a story. And all day, little things have embellished the story here and there.

So the kids rode their bikes down to Yokes. They went in and decided on which donuts they wanted. But no one came to serve them! Apparently, it isn’t like the Spudnut shop where they get you the donuts. They waited for about 30 minutes before finding someone to ask for help with the donuts and whoever they found told them that you help yourself.

My oldest, being the frugal child that he is (ha), noted that you could buy ONE DOZEN donuts for less than they could buy four donuts. So they got the box out and each carefully selected 6 donuts. The donuts were so big that they needed a second box. So two donut boxes full, they got their drinks and headed to their bikes.

Yeah problem. How are they supposed to ride their bikes back, uphill, and carry all those donuts?

At this point Leif calls AB and asks him to come and pick them up and take them and the donuts home. AB and I both work about 15 miles from home - by highways. Hans tells them to go pound sand. Nicely. As in, “Leif go in and get some bags, hook them on your handlebars and ride home. Figure it out for yourself.”

Apparently at this time some unknown person comes up, knows the kids’ names, tells them she works with me (brown hair, with a young blonde daughter) and asks if they need help. She yelled in the phone “hey Hans!” (I still have no idea who this person was.) She tagged another woman that apparently we know and asked her, “hey can you run them home?” This unknown person says she is going the opposite way.

To be honest, this whole exchange kind of freaks me out. Skadi admitted that it made her very nervous that some woman she didn’t know was going to put them in her car and drive them home. I am glad it made her nervous.

Ok, so this couple of people I supposedly know (yes, I live in a small town) leaves and the kids are still standing there with the statement from their dad to “figure it out”.

At this point my recommendation would have been to, sit on one of the picnic tables, eat your donuts, throw the rest away, ride home. Lesson learned.


Figure it out to my oldest meant to call his best friend’s mom and tell her they needed help. SIGH. Of course she leaves and heads out with her minivan and shows up at the grocery store for the kids. Plops their box of smushed up donuts into the car, loads up their bikes and hauls them home.

So after hearing this, I am mortified. I immediately messaged her with apologies galore and she reassured me that she was just glad that the kids knew to contact her when they needed something. We listed off the life lessons (you can’t buy in bulk if you have no means to carry or store the bulk items), and we have moved on.

Leif’s version of all this is that it is Skadi’s fault because she decided they should ride bikes.

Skadi’s version of all this has her arguing against every point of failure, “we don’t need 12 donuts”, “we can’t call your friend’s mom, that’s rude”.

I will never really know. I kind of want to forget it all right now! But I am guessing like so many stories out there, I will never hear the end of this one!!

Saturday, June 02, 2018

Wanderlust, or something else

I have had various versions of this post rolling around on paper, in my journal, and in my head. None of them seem just right. And I have moaned about it previously here. And if I checked, I would probably realize that those moanings are getting closer and closer in time, becoming more frequent.

This place. I like very little about this place. I have come far enough down this thought process that we know that it is the physical location and amenities associated with this place. It is separate from all that we do love about our lives. We love our friends here, we love our family so very much. I (for the most part) love the schools - ok, maybe one of them I am really fed up with now and very much looking forward to summer break and strong hopes that they figure their shit out for next year when I have two kids there. I love my job and the flexibility it offers. I really like where I am, what I am doing, and I have a great group of people I am working with now and lots of opportunities available to me. I have even had a few recent opportunities to leave for 2 year appointments with other organizations.

Those are hard because AB also needs a job. And it is hard to embed oneself in a job that would be short term. We have talked more seriously about Vienna - that maybe we would go as a one job family. But the logistics start becoming heavy - dogs, kids, and the logistics of switching my work focus for that role. But it is tempting.

I have friends recently who are moving and I am finding myself a wee bit jealous. A woman I have only just started to know at work has announced she and her family are moving to Seattle for her husband’s new position - and that started me dreaming.

The other day AB mentioned that he is just about done with this area. Yeah. I get it.

I keep telling myself that if I was able to renovate the house to create my personal paradise whereby I would not be coming home everyday and feeling the weight of my dissatisfaction with our residence that maybe our issues would be solved. Maybe if I didn’t worry daily about what new things the neighbors are going to complain about? Maybe if I didn’t find this neighborhood and my house so stifling, it would be ok? I need to uninstall Zillow...

My list of places I would leave here to move permanently is quite small. You couldn’t pay me to go back to Colorado. Large cities make me claustrophobic. Traffic makes me nuts. I need beauty. I need the outdoors. I loved Reno, but the job situation there would be abysmal. I crave Alaska and so does my Alaska Boy. But that isn’t as simple either. We have never ever lived near family and only moderately tolerate having our family (that we love very much) visit us. How would we really do living in the same city as family?

For now, here we are. And we are committing to ourselves (in the absence of any extenuating circumstances, or fantastic opportunities) that we are here until Skadi graduates. At that point all bets are off. We are lucky in that our kids don’t seem to have a particular attachment here and if we mention moving they ask excitedly, when and where? I don’t have any notions of having this house for my kids to return to - and am more of the opinion that if I could rid myself of this place right now I probably would... but it requires too much work that needs to be put in - and I have zero time right now.

Ok, so I have put this post here. It is rambley and not terribly well organized. But out there.

My kids were born here, all delivered by a fabulous doctor, all attended a wonderful daycare (in the larger scheme), are working their way through teachers that, by in large, we adore and have enriched our kids’ lives. We have friends we can rely on and call on. We have food. We can travel nearly anywhere we may want to. I get my kids on the bus and can be home at the end of the day (most days) to watch them get off. AB has Friday’s off. Life is good. Just why can’t this place be the community we would love to love?

Monday, May 14, 2018

The next phase

I felt this first coming on about 6 years ago. Skadi was ready to go to Kindergarten and suddenly, she needed less. I would wander the house waiting for someone to need me. And time would drip by. I was paralyzed to start something because any minute, any instant, she would need me. Or maybe Leif would need me. And I wouldn’t get what I started accomplished. So why try? It was a kind of lost feeling.

A few months later that feeling went by the wayside when suddenly I had a new life inside me to focus on. All the things that needed to be done for a new baby! Organizing the house, moving the bedrooms, painting, sorting clothes, setting up things, figuring out what needs to be bought. My free time went away.

And here I am again. All of a sudden my house has that somewhat familiar quiet. Or maybe it’s not quiet, but a dull roar? But this time, whatever it is, it’s not going away. No new babies for us (HA! Funny to even think about.). And Leif is even more independent then he was 6 years ago at 7. (And Skadi was 5.) Leif just wants to be left alone or dropped off places. Skadi hides in her bedroom and does Lego set after Lego set. Oh, but if she isn’t there she is binging on Netflix, riding laps around the neighborhood on her bike (14 the other day), or reading whatever the book series of the minute is (Lumberjanes right now).

Silas entertains himself by playing, watching Netflix with Skadi, riding any “mobile” up and down the driveway, doing laps with the backyard zip line.

All of a sudden none of them need me. Ok, they need me. They need me to make dinner, check homework, do their laundry, mediate the occasional fight (when they associate with each other). But no one is hanging off my legs every waking hour. No one is begging to be carried. They go to bed on their own (we still read to Silas - though he is just starting to favor chapter books and I do still read Harry Potter to Skadi when I can). On weekends? They sleep in. Even when I sleep in, I am usually up before Leif and Skadi. Silas has typically gotten up and turned on the TV.

So my goal for this work trip is a list. A list of what I can do. I feel like I can kind of reinvent myself! What do I like? What do I want to do with my time? What are my goals? What are the things I can do when I have an hour of spare time? What if I have two? What can I pick up easily when I have a few minutes? What am I going to make an effort to devote time to?

It’s somewhat melancholy, but exciting as well!

Sunday, February 04, 2018

What if?

Sometimes I sit and wonder what it would be like to be a stay at home mom? To have the time to plan and fix a healthy dinner, to volunteer at some organization that could use my help, to volunteer at my kids’ school (!!), to be able to go on every field trip and not have to apologize, “I am sorry honey, I am supposed to be in Florida that week”. To be able to participate in all the car pools. To not have to tap friends for childcare and figure out who it is that I haven’t asked in awhile.

I mentioned this to AB the other day and he laughed at me. “You couldn’t stand it. It would drive you absolutely insane. And you wouldn’t have any miles and points to track. We wouldn’t have four free tickets to Hawaii because of all your miles.” 

I’m not sure he is right, I think I could do it. I think I could immerse myself in something - my kids’ middle school is brand new and having issues - maybe I would actually understand better what the issues are and have some role in defining the future. Maybe I would be one of those moms that I presently roll my eyes at who is always posting on the middle school’s Facebook page with inane little observations or problems? 

Work is busy, and complicated, and sometimes scary right now. There is a lot of pressure for big wins and successes in nuclear R&D right now. We are already very applied in our research, but now more than ever. Deliver what we need in the field. 

The other day one of my colleagues asked how I was doing with everything going on? She admitted to me that the current events in the world have her questioning her work. That some days she just wants to say, “don’t tell me” and walk off. I told her I got it. Some days I want to come home and tell my husband to start packing, we are moving to the mountains of Alaska where no one can find us! Ok, so some days I do say something similar this this and he tells me not to tempt him. 

Travel tomorrow. I was here last week, but not the week before. 

Sometimes I long for a simpler life. But when it comes down to it, I like traveling with my coworkers most of the time. I like feeling like I am making a difference. I like negotiating paths forward with clients, other labs, etc. I like strategizing who I need to talk to. And I get off on the fact that lately I am on the receiving end of this. “Nuclear Mom, I was hoping to chat with you a bit...” I like sitting in the car with a coworker who asks me if I would be willing to move to DC for a few years to support his program - even though I know (and he knows too) that I will still say no... right now. Right now, I tell him, let’s talk again in a year or two. 

History, it’s being made. And I dream that someday my grandkids will read about events and my kids will say, “your grandma worked on building that capability for the United States”. 

So for today, this week, I’ll keep on trucking. But if I disappear to the mountains, it’s because I want something simpler. 

Friday, October 06, 2017

Silas 4.5

The things that Silas says. Oh my. Where do I even start?

“Puke Brothers”
Silas is prone to exaggeration with his health. A microscopic scratch renders him paralyzed. Hypochondriac at all? But with this one, Leif had been pukey feeling, so I wasn’t taking my chances.

Silas: “MOM! I need water or I am going to puke!”
Me: “Silas we are in the car I don’t think I have anything.”
(I found a random water bottle with old water, it was the closest I could get.)
Silas (after guzzling it): “Oh that’s better. The puke brothers said, ‘come on, let’s go back to the stomach, we don’t need to leave his throat now’.”

Ever since Silas was a baby he has been a sweaty kid. He would wake up from nap, drenched. He could never wear fleece footy jammies because he would get too hot. But he doesn’t say “I am sweaty.” He says, “I am sweat”. Like this.

Silas: “Mom, I am so sweat.”
Me: “Well you should take your jacket off at school and not wear it in class. Then you wouldn’t get sweaty.”
Silas: “No, I didn’t say I was sweaty, I said I AM sweat.”

Me: “Silas, I love you to the moon and back!”
Silas: “Oh yeah, well I love you 159.”
(That would be the highest number he knows, so it is the most in the world... it used to be 23 just a few weeks ago.)

Me: “Silas, would you please quiet down, you are being SO loud!”
Silas: “What? You want me to be loud? Let me go get a friend and I will be even more loud,” (Suddenly increasing his voice volume.)
This kid doesn’t miss a beat. I guess you would have to know that this is from Mouse Soup. One of his favorite books. But I cannot tell him he is being too loud anymore as we get into this long routine whereby he just keeps getting louder.

Silas wants Siri to NOT call him April when he talks to her on my phone. So he tells her to call him (me, really), something new.
Silas: “Siri, call me ‘Silas again’.”
Siri changes my name to “Silas again” - everything says “Silas again”.
Yesterday Skadi changed it to her name. Well that was short lived. Silas snatched my phone and changed it again.

Except this morning I woke up to learn that I am now “Starlord”. Leif officially believes that Silas is a genius.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Bye September

Something about the changing weather invigorates me. I find the energy that I knew I had once, several months ago, and my drive returns. September is always a good goal month for me. I did crank it out this month.

My one goal was to figure out something with photos. I have so many photos on my phone and I did recently sign up for Google Photos as another stop gap for the "what if I lost them" feeling. But that didn't fully cut it. One of my sister's and my favorite things when we were a kid was sitting down and flipping through our old sticky, magnetic photo albums. We loved flipping through the pages of memories. My parents had some old ones - paper ones with corners on the photos, that were there too from the time before we were born. But we rarely looked at those because WE - the center of attention in the house - were not in them.

This is a bit similar to our house. I have albums upon albums of 11 years of our joint lives before children. Every once in awhile one of them gets pulled out - our wedding, or look at the monkeys we saw in Costa Rica, or the bears at Katmai National Park, and it inevitably migrates to look how skinny dad was and how young mom was! We have an album of Leif as a baby I think. Back when we thought we were so busy. But apparently I wasn't busy enough not to do a photo album.

Then I did some photo books. That was always kind of nice because I could print off a few of those as gifts. But then life smacked us in the face and there was no longer time to organize the digital photos and caption them electronically either. I have managed an occasional album here and there - focused on single events - like Disneyworld trip #2 or Disney cruise and Disney trip #3. But the photos are slapped into a themed album and called good.

I have been using Instagram since Silas was about 4 weeks old. And I have used it pretty consistently, so I thought my easiest, low hanging fruit solution would be something that prints my feed. And Chatbooks is so far easy. An app on my phone that continuously uploads my Instagram feed into volumes. I go through the volumes and pull the dumb photos, the food photos (well most of them), and they print up 60 page hard bound small books. I have enough photos for 25 of the books so far... so it isn't an inexpensive deal. I am buying 5 volumes a month, which means in another 4 months or so I will have my last 4.5 years of important photos in hard bound books.

The quality is alright. I wasn't blown away, but he photos are there, available to be handled and loved and laughed at. And someday if I want, I can reprint or create custom books for each of the kids.

It works for now. I am inspired to continue posting to my Instagram. And my September goals is done.

And because it is fall now and my motivation has returned I also accomplished a boat load around the house this month. Because I feel better when I can document my accomplishments, well here they are:

  • Cleaned, purged, and organized our linen closet.
  • Cleaned, purged, and organized our medicine closet. 
  • Cleaned, purged, and organized the linen closet in the boys' bathroom. 
  • Cleaned, purged, and organized Silas' bathroom
  • Cleaned, purged, and organized the laundry room. Ugh. You have no idea on that one. Apparently it has just been neglected since we moved in. But I organized and threw away a ton of stuff, scrubbed the floors and walls, relocated a bunch of stuff from my medicine closet (second linen closet in the master) that the kids and everyone comes to our room to retrieve (Kleenex, toilet paper, wet wipes, etc.) to the shelves in there. I am now very happy with that space. I dream of painting it... but I don't fantasize about making it happen yet. 
  • Patched and painted a massively dinged up wall in my front stairway. Then relocated a few pictures there. 
  • Patched and painted a messy, dinged up small hallway between my kitchen, pantry, and dining room. It needed it so badly. 
  • And then since I had a nice clean freshly painted hallway, but measurements from 2 of my 3 kids were now gone, I pilfered a really nice board from AB's stash and made a giant ruler thing, then sealed it, hung it, and moved over all my kids' height measurements from their growth records and the walls. Now I have a beautiful board with a boatload of interesting data! I LOVE it. 
  • And last today - I cleaned out my pantry. 
See - - really pretty amazing for one month. I also worked on my plans for my October - November - and probably December project. The playroom reno- which will be the next blog post.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Counting Down...

The signs of the weather changing are there. The evenings are cooler - in the mountains this weekend they were downright cold. School is starting (7th, 5th, and last year of preschool). My pumpkins in the garden are starting to turn orange. The garden is overflowing with yumminess. Fantasy football is spinning up.

My absolute favorite time of the year. I am pretty sure I say it every year - I used to despise summer the way many people around here complain about snow. I love snow. I want to live around it more. This last snowy year was fabulous in my book. But anyways, summer is my 4th favorite season - but despite that, I don't hate it anymore. I don't like the heat (neither does AB, probably even more so than me). But since moving to the Pacific Northwest 15 years ago I have found a summer I can go with. The days are longer, the super hot days are shorter lived. The summers in the Pacific Northwest are yummier than anywhere else I have lived (except for the RibFest in Reno, and Palisade Peaches and Corn in Colorado).

I can't wait. I love the football season weather, the cool nights, the Indian summer warm days, the food, the Holidays and watching my kids anticipate the upcoming holidays. I'll take it.

So I always take a break from my goals in the summer. I didn't write about them much last spring - just no time. (Even right now I am sitting near a squealing 4yo, after I moved from a room where he was rough housing.) But I did work them and succeed in redecorating our bedroom.

So here it is.

September Goals:
1. Figure out my photos. Create a plan. I miss having photos in hand, but don't have time for sorting, printing, putting in albums, or photo books. I have recently come across some subscription services that print your Instagram feed monthly for a fee. That's where most of my "good" photos. This might meet my need.
2. Plan the "Playroom Transition". We are taking the kids' play space that Skadi no longer uses, filled with toys that no one plays with, and transitioning to a teen space. Skadi and I are doing this together and have been pinning many ideas. She even saw some chairs she liked recently at camp and went to the director and asked where she got the chairs. Then promptly forgot. But I loved that she is thinking about this and excited to make this transition.

October Goals:
1. Start the Playroom Transition. This may be a two month thing... and actually the completely finished date may be Christmas time since some of the upgrades (new TV, game system) will likely be gifts.