Wednesday, May 29

Summer is really here

Every inch of my garage is covered with lawn chairs, dirty rugs, pots that need scrubbed, coolers that need rinsed. Despite three washings, my hair still smells like bonfire. I've been doing laundry since Monday.

And now there's a nice thunder boomer lighting up the night.

Summer. Is. Here.

Oh, can you just feel it? May was a biggie for our family, and we wrapped it up with an epic camping trip over Memorial Day weekend. The weather wasn't perfect, but it made for a better story. We started with sun and ended with mud slicks, and in between there was glorious music. There may have been enthusiastic singing, and definitely a serenade by my dear husband on the bongos. Yep, the bongos.

There was also fishing. And ice cream, and hiking, and a momentary trip to the beach on a cool night. Because you just gotta, even if it's sweatshirt-weather.

And on Monday afternoon, our rough-and-tumble crew joined a few other fresh-from-camping families at the Grumpy Troll for one last hurrah before heading home for a long night of drying out after a big weekend of memory-making. 

Grateful beyond belief for wonderful, God-given friendships and traditions. 

I've been thinking a lot about traditions, as we've mapped out a summer of fun. Mixing in things we've always loved to do with things we've always wanted to try. And how making schedules work is the new trick, as kids are involved in different activities and we need to squeeze in vacations and friend-time and make the finances work. I was talking with a dear friend tonight and realized we'd both be gone a lot in June. It seems strange to see part of the summer already committed. And while a lot of fun has already begun, there is much to come ... and I am reminded that it goes so very fast.

Which makes me think more about priorities. There are areas of my life where I know I must be more intentional - with how we're raising the kids, with how we're spending our money. And I also am aware of areas where I need to try less ... areas where I let God work His magic while I wait expectantly.

I've also been thinking more about my career. With Scott home this summer, I'll be working more and refocused on the type of legacy I am leaving with work. For some reason, this seems more important these days. I can't explain it, but it feels time to make a bigger impact.

And I'm also learning that less is definitely more. We are still determined to sell our home in the next few years and I keep thinking how awesome it would be to leave half our stuff behind when we do. It's freeing to think that way. For now, the quality of my furniture doesn't bother me. My stuff doesn't own me quite as much. I couldn't always say that. It's kind of nice.

I feel a tide rolling in. Something is changing. I am excited about where this summer will take our family. 

I hope to see you all on the journey.

Monday, May 20

Random thoughts, v.2

I warned you this day was coming. Sometimes my brain is overworked, and I can't form coherent sentences. Usually the result of exhaustion and "epicness."

This is one of those days! But it was a fantastic weekend, the weather is sweaty-hot and sunny, and I am all caught up on cleaning ... so I am supremely happy. Random, but happy.

On my mind these days:

-- Dear Legs, why are you so angry at me today? It's not like I totally punished you yesterday. I mean, I felt great running all 13.1 one of those miles ... in my mind and in my lungs. But somewhere around mile 6, you started protesting. I think I even heard swearing. But I showed you, didn't I? One hour and fifty-six minutes - after four races, finally made it under 2 hours!

oh, and did i mention the weather was perfect? 

-- My running partners-in-crime included my best friend from high school and her sister. That pretty much made the weekend perfect! So fun to kick pavement together, which included a lap around Lambeau Field. So cool. Excellent pasta meal the night before, which included two of Jill's friends - one of which offered some last-minute inspiration at Mile 12, when I needed it most! Love when people you just meet hours before remember you and cheer you on. This is why the racing community is so dang awesome. 

-- Favorite road signs from the crowd during the half: "Naked time starts here," (what?) "I heart run" (with the "n" crossed out and an "m" substituted), and "Punch here for power."

-- Subject change: The camper is in our driveway. I repeat, the camper is in our driveway. Let the season begin. Packing like a fiend today.

-- First bonfire of the year on Friday. Perfect night outside. Thanks, hubby, for last-minute decision to start one.

-- Dinner with friends on Sunday night was perfect way to end a start-to-summer weekend. Feeling extraordinarily blessed.

-- Is school over yet? Seriously.

-- I love the way mulch looks, but for crying out loud, those little pieces are everywhere. How do you tame this stuff, anyway?

-- Confession: I turned on the air conditioning last night. I know, it is only May. But it was 90 degrees in the house and I just wanted to sleep. Not sure I got much of that anyway, but at least I felt good.

-- Confession: The air is still on today. I mean, it's 84 degrees. And this is the primary reason why Scott won't move me farther south. He is sure I can't take it. I disagree.

-- I don't like doing bills because I think we are pretty good about overspending and I don't like to face that truth once a week. There is nothing fun about budgeting when you keep finding fun things to do. But life is life, and I always feel better when I stick to a plan.

So, off I go to budget.

Be blessed beyond measure this week!

Wednesday, May 15

Just thankful

I'm sitting here with a glass of wine, Billie Holiday on Pandora, a breeze dancing through the window, the ceiling fan humming a tune of its own. 

Scott is doing dishes and putting kids to bed.

So thankful. 

This week, life feels good. Waking up before 6 am doesn't feel difficult. That's because the sun has been greeting me every morning and I tell you truly - it's like heaven. Scott is always reminding me that if we didn't have the winters, we would never fully appreciate the summers. Perhaps that's true, but I think I could appreciate the summers a little longer, you know what I mean? The smell of fresh air alone is changing my world right now.

And can I just say that having Scott home more this week is utterly fantastic?! This summer will be the first time in 16 years that he will not be teaching summer school (which, by the way, always started the Monday after regular school let out ... what?!). He will have a real break, the kids will have real Dad-time for three straight months.

So very thankful.

And I guess that sums up all I have to say tonight. Because I want to rest in being-in-the-moment. There are plenty of times when it seems like I can't "just be" - I've got too much on my plate not to be thinking about the next plan. But to "just be" ... oh, this also feels just like heaven.

I was once challenged to keep a journal of all the things I was thankful for each day. I know this seems easy since I enjoy writing. But I don't enjoy an unchanging routine, and I was sure I wouldn't make it longer than 2 weeks.

But I did. I made it 458 days. And when you take 2 minutes at the end of every night to write what you appreciated that day, it made you live in the moment and embrace even the crappy stuff. It taught me to overcome, to just love the small gifts we have received.

Maybe today, I will start again - how about a pictorial this time?

This past week, I've been grateful for:

flowers! they are back! and now, they are properly placed in my yard, where
I can enjoy thoroughly enjoy them. paradise.
it's here! camping season is here! you better believe I busted out the
big lamp (which would have been handy in last night's power outage
if I had enough batteries ...)
bourbon pecan chicken. i don't want to discuss the amount of butter in
this beauty. needless to say, i was loving it on monday after my run.

a date with the two main men of my life. lucky gal!
this quote inspires me to do, do, do - even if I am nervous about what
someone might say. "the credit belongs to the man who is actually
in the arena ..." i love the part about daring greatly. what amazing words.

I hope your week leaves you feeling grateful for all you have. Savor each moment!

Friday, May 10

Hey mama, you're doing great

This is my 10th Mother's Day as a mom.

Wow, really? I still feel like I'm just getting started. Probably because there are weeks when "I've got this," and weeks when I haven't got anything at all.

What is up with this job anyway? Right after I gave birth, a switch was flipped from "confident" to "woh, nelly - you sure about this?" Which probably means I was actually more insecure pre-mom stage than I am willing to admit, but the mom job brought all those feelings to the surface. It's like being given a CEO job title and all the responsibilities that go with it, with absolutely no training whatsoever except what you witnessed from others and experienced growing up. (Luckily, my mom was a good role model!)

It's a crazy learning curve.

see? sometimes they really like each other!
of course, their relationship began with a bit more skepticism

There are other times in the biz of mothering when I feel like a rock star. Like, I did that today. I accomplished 80 things. I made hurt feelings go away. I taught a life lesson that might actually stick. I got the coveted "You're the best mom ever" nomination from my kids today. Yes.

And then there are the other times.

Is this true for CEOs, too? This up-and-down feeling is more dramatic than I like. I prefer to feel like I'm driving a nice, reliable Camry all the time, not a beat-up Pinto one day and a Maserati the other. 

But this is life. And really, the bumps of mothering could be better handled if I fully embraced my Pinto days as well as my Maserati days. This definitely means a shift in my attitude.

So here's the bottom line to all us mamas out there. If you are in the ring, if you are bringing it and giving it a real go, then You Are Doing Great. You are rockin' this job, and if I could, I would give you a raise.

I mean, come on - we all have a "parenting kryptonite." Mine is whining. When I hear it, I become irrational and unhinged. I think my eye starts twitching. I cave. Even though I know the whining is coming from a place of hurt and struggles and deeper issues, there are days when I lack empathy. We all have kryptonite. When it appears - when it seems our parenting skills are most in jeopardy - that's the best time for friends and family to swoop in and rescue us and take us away for a few hours to help restore our sanity.

Because this is pretty much an insane job. But the best insane job there is.

Feel good about what you're accomplishing. Brush off those failures. Insecurity rankles me. I hate it in myself, I don't like seeing others struggle with it.

We need to build each other up, don't you think? At least for me, there's a perception that everyone is my very own personal critic. Because my kids will only eat PB&Js, mac and cheese, some fruit, zero veggies, and cake. And, did she really just yell at me in the middle of the store in front of all these people? Fantabulous. Oh, and - that's my kid, the only one who didn't win an award this year. Lovely.

We are hard on ourselves. I don't know of a mom out there who hasn't compared their skills, their kids, their husbands, their lifestyle to those of other moms in their circle. What are we doing? We don't know each other's entire story - the pressures, the concerns, the experiences, that drive the parenting choices we each make. While there are those in our lives we know very well, we all reserve special places deep in our hearts that hold the biggest fears and insecurities and regrets that very few people get to see.

And added to that, our children have been born to us for incredibly unique and special purposes that we are just discovering. There's a reason they were given to us, and not someone else. Which means our stories would, and should, all read differently.

Can someone remind me of that once in awhile? Or every single day?

So raise your glass, ladies, 'cause you've got this. Here's to having a Maserati Mama Weekend!

Monday, May 6

Thirty-wise, sorta

I was all set to write a post last week about turning 39. I don't know exactly what I had in mind - something about being older and wiser and feeling more confident and yada yada. Then, the time got away from me rapidly. I was classic-ly epic last week.

Ends up, it was a good thing I was delayed and could re-think the post. After I really thought about it, I discovered there are a few things I feel wiser about as I round off this decade, but many things that also make me feel naive.

So, for example, I am wiser when it comes to money. I'm pretty sure it's no longer a good idea to sign up for a credit card just to get a free t-shirt. That's a classic Spring Break twenty-something mistake that I may have made a few times. Everything sounds better with the word "free" attached. Until you realize it isn't.

But then there are things I am clearly just now learning. Like how to raise a tween - and that the word tween even exists. And how to parent a kid with a growing list of extracurricular activities. Or how to look at my face in the mirror and not criticize the, ahem, "laugh" lines and small streak of gray hair.

Or how to appreciate wasting time. It seems I have gotten worse at this skill, actually. I was pretty good at this in my 20s, but the pressures of life tend to overtake me. I will carve out activities in increments and watch the clock to make sure I don't run over my "designated" slot. I am not sure what to think of this one. It seems necessary sometimes, but I prefer giving in to a good book or a long conversation with a friend. How does one fight this battle?

Still learning.

There is one thing I do feel pretty good about in my 30s - I've been around long enough to have met a lot of pretty wonderful people.

got to hang with this amazing friend this weekend - bonus event was
celebrating the Kentucky Derby with mint juleps. why not?

What a ridiculously huge honor to grow older and grow your circle of relationships. Seriously, if meeting more people who challenge me, who change my perspective, who introduce me to new experiences and ideas, comes with age, then I am ready.

If flying into my 40s means I know more about my kids, and how I can both influence who they will become as well as learn from their incredible perspectives, I'll take it.

But hey, I am not there yet. I am only 30-wise today. Tackling one thing at a time right now.

Whatever birth year you are celebrating in 2013, revel in everything you have learned and have yet to learn.