Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Beautiful and Goofy--Traditions

It's Fall.
It's time for pumpkins and leaves and traditions and ahhhh!!!!
I love it all.

But there is less and less time for it all.

I refuse to let traditions die.

Sure they may change or be rushed and most definitely be messy and ridiculous, but they will be done (or at least most of them will be anyway). Rushed and messy and ridiculous is my whole life anyway right now. Life is also surprising and sweet and full of love and laughter. And I want my kids to remember all the messy, sweet, good stuff. I want to remember it. Years from now, and even a week from now when I (and maybe all of us) feel overwhelmed with something or other and want to be reminded of the surprising and the sweet and the love and the laughter.

Traditions like the pumpkin patch are the kick-off to our most tradition-filled season--Fall, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and dun-du-du-daaaaa (my trumpet-y sound)....Christmas. The pumpkin patch sets the tone for all of it. And all of it is important, to me. So last week we had 30 minutes in between games and birthday parties and homework and church and work, and we went to the patch for our pumpkins.

This year we added a corn maze to our tradition. Everyone loved it. Except me, I didn't love the corn maze. Maybe it was too much like my mind, all twists and turns and no certainty. Waaaa. Or maybe it was the fact that my whole family made it out and I didn't for a long time. They picked their pumpkins and were ready to go by the time I got out, and I was like "wait, what? I didn't take pictures or give an opinion and what?" They laughed. And again I was like "wait what?" Then we all laughed.

Last weekend, Tim and I got in a fight about something stupid and I left without him to take our annual "Fall Kid Picture." The kids were oblivious to our bickering. They posed and played together. An impromptu game of football broke out because of course. 

When I got back to the house, Tim and I laughed at how dumb we were being and sat together and looked at the pictures on my camera. 

"Look at how grown up they are!," Tim said kind of shocked. 

"And beautiful," I added. "And goofy."

We needed a reminder. That's what traditions and rituals and pictures do sometimes.They remind us that our life is surprising and sweet and full of love and laughter.

The tone of our traditions this year? Beautiful and goofy. Here we go....

Monday, October 17, 2016

13 Miles to the Old Me

I ran a half-marathon yesterday in Detroit. It was raining, and it was exhausting, and I was sick and unprepared, and had to stop and catch my breath and decide if I was going to keep going around mile nine. But it was also the best thing I've done in years.

It's no secret I've been feeling a bit lost with my kids getting older and busier, and me working and worrying and, ahhhhh. Not to mention all the hormonal hell I've been experiencing from my stupid perimenopause. The past couple years have been full of so much good stuff for my family and I am still a half-full kind of person, BUT I've been lost and frustrated and anxious and not sure who I am or where I fit into everyone's/anyone's lives, even my own.

I started running a decade ago. After my third baby, JT, was born I decided to get healthier and running seemed like a good idea. I ran in the dark because I was embarrassed by my weight and my form. Eventually I worked my way up to running in the daylight, to running a 5K and then a 10K and a couple half-marathons and the ultimate, a marathon in 2010. I was a runner.

Running alone was my therapy, my escape, my joy. After the marathon I was convinced that I was a runner for life. But then life got busier and messier. I gained weight. I went back to work. Did I mention busier? Because holy shit did life get busier (older kids and activities and all their sports and choir concerts and ahhh!!!!). I stopped running regularly and promptly started losing my identity at the same time.

I still craved alone time and would go for short runs here and there. I always felt better when I went for a run. It is the only cure I've found for my anxiety and scattered brain. I just never found or made the time for regular runs. Until last summer, when I decided to train for a race, a half marathon.

I fit my runs into our hectic life and to be honest wasn't as prepared for the race this Sunday because it was really, really hard to find the time for longer runs.

Over the last six months, running gave me a feeling of control. I decided how many miles to run and where to run. If I ran the entire distance great, if not nobody cared. Running didn't impact my job, my kids, my bills, my marriage, my dogs. It was all mine.

Yesterday, running over 13 miles in the pouring rain through Detroit made me feel like myself again. A slower, sweatier, achier me, but still a bit like the old me. After the race I felt so proud and happy. "I am happier than I've been in six months," I told Tim. "Oh my god, I'm nicer when I'm happier, aren't I?" He nodded emphatically.

I was so happy that Tim and the kids were at the finish line to cheer me on and congratulate me. It felt good for them to see this side of me, not just the tired, overprotective mom who tells them to get off their phone all day.

I feel a little bit like me again and it feels good.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Turning 7

My baby turned 7 last Friday. It seems crazy to me. How can time go so fast? How can my baby not be a baby anymore? I feel confused.

Poor Wade is just as confused as I am. Somedays we treat him like a toddler and other days we act as if he is a teenager. He likes hip-hop music and talks about who is taking who to homecoming like his teenage brother. He also likes me to read him Berenstein Bear books at bedtime. 

He is such a baby of four kids! We do so many things differently with Wade than we did with Peyton. From bedtimes to routines to shows we let him watch. "I don't really get the jokes in "Blackish"," he told us the other night. I praised his self-awareness and being able to tell us, but then questioned why in the world I was letting him watch it. But it seems way better than what I was watching at 7, "Dukes of Hazard" and "Dallas." I mean right?

A couple weekends ago, we had our first "Home Alone" moment. Tim and I always drive separately to almost every event because we are usually driving and picking up another one of our children. As we left JT's football game, Tim thought I had Wade in my car and I thought he was in Tim's. Luckily we realized it when we called each other to do the van check before we left the parking lot, you know where we ask "who do you have in your van?" I mean thank god we have checks and balances/quality control/somewhat of a safety system because we realized he wasn't with either of us. We rushed back to field and found Wade sitting with a mom he knew who was getting her phone out to call us. He was calm and sort of even a little pissed at us, but he wasn't hysterical. He thanked the mom and got in one of our minivans to go home.

That's the thing about being 7 years old and the baby of four, Wade is this awesome mixture of little kid and big kid. He is snuggly and sweet and will proudly make the shirt with the giant, crooked 7 I made for him to school. He is also pretty self-aware and confident and brave and independent, not to mention forgiving and pretty flexible.

Wade got his first friend birthday party this past weekend and he was psyched. We did little kid crafts (painting pumpkins) and then played touch football games like the big kids.

The great thing about being the baby of four and having two older brothers is that those brothers help organize the game and have friends that can play too.

Peyton was awesome.
I see a possible camp counselor job in his future. 

My feelings on football are the same, it scares me. BUT my boys love it, I mean they really love it. So, duh, I made a football birthday cake. 

The rest of our weekend was packed with football and more football, and bike rides and parties and cross country meets and a visit from grandpa and ahhhh!!!!

This picture is everything. If you look closely you can see JT at quarterback, Wade playing with a buddy on the sideline and Peyton nervously watching the game. Brothers and football!

So proud of Lucy! She got a medal and her team won the meet.
She was so excited.

My dad came up for a visit from Pittsburgh and got to see our busy weekends first hand. And spend a lot of time with the kiddos.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Stormy Weather and Change and Homecoming Dances

My oldest kid went to his first high school homecoming dance this past weekend. I can't even believe it. Time is so damn weird. I mean it feels like just yesterday but at the same time a million years ago that I went to my own homecoming dance at my high school. Everything feels surreal right now not to mention exhausting, but at the same time very clear and poignant and sweet and important.

Just like in a movie, the past week's plot change was marked by winds and rain. The kind of metaphor that makes you roll your eyes in the movie because it's so obvious...stormy weather ushering in a new season, change. 

Obvious or not, after three days of constant rain and dark clouds and cold-ish wind, ch-ch-change happened. The rain stopped, the sun sort of came out and I became the parent of a kid that goes to a high school homecoming dance. Whaaaat?!?! 

Peyton went with a group of friends. He had fun. I was overwhelmed with all the people and the pictures and ahhhhh. But honestly it was all pretty cute and fun to watch.

And you know what? It's weird and I can't believe I'm so old and I don't really know what I'm doing, but I think I'm finally settling into this role of a mom of older kids. It's been a real struggle for me. Mostly because I absolutely loved having little kids. It was my jam.  But this new-ish role, these big kids that have dances to attend and football games to play and races to run and friends to hang out with and homework to stress about, well it's all pretty interesting and wild and nerve-wracking and fun.  

There was a lot of football last week per usual in this family.

It's a good thing I'm adjusting to these big kids and homecoming dances because I have a few more coming up behind Peyton. But I do need to pace myself because um, it's going to be eight years before Wade goes to his first high school homecoming dance.

We had to take a picture because having older, busier kids means it's rare for us to all be in the same spot for very long.

Saw this song pop up on a blogger's site that I love and it just felt so right on:

(click here for the video)

And duh, I said ch-ch-change, I had to post this song: