The Eve of Another Year

To all the wonderful, passionate, and loving people who put themselves in positions to teach, protect, and love our children…well, summer has been extra good this year. 

Like, maybe my sweaty boys stayed up too late riding bikes and fighting crime on the culdasac and we were lucky to get one shower a week. But we spent a lot of time at the pool and that’s about the same, I think. This summer we got rid of one set of training wheels and are on our way to another set. We mastered swimming without a floatie for one and putting our head under to swim for two. It looked like it was a lot of fun and games, but we were learning and growing. 

Maybe bedtimes pushed back later and later because no one can sleep when the sun is still up. Plus, there was all that crime to fight, stars to look at, and the occasional plot to sneak out at midnight to have sleepovers. I swear, no escape plans ever worked. Those kids slept like the dead, once they gave up on asking 7 million questions and getting out of bed 102 times. Every night. 

I promise that we’ll be on time {ish} now that summer is over. And I’m sorry to the summer crew who watched us walk in every day at 8:12 {probably actually 8:16}, but thank you for saving their favorites even though breakfast was over at 8:15. I’m confident that we’ll get our act together. By Christmas. But also, thank you for keeping it to yourselves on the days that it was obvious I hadn’t showered yet either. I promise that will only be a summer thing. 

My most sincere apologies for their clothing. We haven’t mastered the perfect stain fighter solution and boys are messy. I think 50% of the time they are wearing clean clothes, unless it’s the same outfit from yesterday. Not that it has happened more than twice a week for a certain four-year-old. It’s really hard to tell what clothes are clean or dirty since none of them make it to drawers or laundry baskets. I have tried to instill the idea that they at least change their underwear every couple days. 50% success rate might be a little lofty…A regular shower schedule should bring those odds up to 100%. Well, except for a particular four-year-old taking a head dive in the shower requiring five stitches. {A little too dramatic for a bedtime stall or shower boycott…} 

We might need to work on general hygiene as we work back up to 14 teeth brushing events per week. Don’t judge. Something has to give when it’s 9:30pm and PLEASE.JUST.GO.TO.BED or it’s 8:00am and FOR.THE.LOVE! no we don’t have time to do anything besides walk directly to the car! 

Don’t worry, I bought a $10 planner from Target to get me into the scheduling spirit again. I promise to stay current and advance the months in a timely fashion. I’m looking at you April and May. Boy did I boycott any form of organization in June. Just remember, I’m always a social media post or text away. 

There aren’t any fancy chalkboards or homemade anything, we’re winging the first day of 1st grade and we’ll wing 4-year-old preschool next week. We try to focus more on the moments than the stuff. {But-also I’m 0% crafty.} I can’t promise they’ll look put together, but I can promise they are both worth every bit of love and teaching you give them. Both in their own special way. They’ll bend and grow with you as everyone adjusts to sitting still and remembering how to use listening ears and raising hands before yelling out words. {I am very much looking forward to you getting them back into respectful human status!} 

To all those protecting and teaching our youth, good luck and thank you. And to all the parents, good luck with the shock of another school year. To the special ones teaching my boys, if you let them in they’ll love you forever! And when they love you, they give the best hugs. 

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The Eve of Another Year

The Groundhog Day Phase of Life isn’t Easy

I’ve been here before, in this groundhog day feeling of life. Somehow I’m still surprised by how smooth and easy life can be and then suddenly you’re smacked in the face with life. Like, when did it all get so hard? When did days start bleeding together and when did my to-do list get unmanageable? When did my friends lives get so busy that we barely have time to chat and seeing each other is basically out of the question.

I thrive in social situations. I don’t do alone very well. I miss my friends and I miss my sense of togetherness. Life is getting consumed with work, taking care of a family and home, activities for children, and activities for adults. I’m exhausted by the end of the days and I don’t get rejuvenated during the one-hour of “free time” at the end of each day. I’m constantly forced to choose to spend that time on chores, something for myself, spending time with my husband, or attempting to catch up on sleep. No one warns you about the daily life. Or the constant groundhogs day.

No one warns you about all the tough moments life will throw at you, but no one really warns you about the awesomeness that comes with children. When my four-year-old goes through a phase where he gives air kisses and I know it’s his compromise of not having time to give me a kiss but he knows it makes me happy. Or when, even though he weighs 40something pounds, he asks to be carried into daycare every day and pets me as we walk. {Yes, I think these are strategic to get me to still love him through his orneriness.} My heart melts when my six-year-old goes to the back of the car to unbuckle his brother when unknown forces make a four-year-old suddenly not able to get out of a car seat. Or when Maximus tells me he saw Quinten during the day and gave him a hug. We have a lot of hard in our every day lives, but these little glimpses of sweetness help me wake up and do it all again the next day.

I know long summer days will help me feel refreshed and happy again. Afternoons spent at the pool relaxing and watching the boys play will calm my soul. And sitting in my favorite place on the deck in the slowness of weekend mornings will put me back in my happy place. It won’t slow life down or make us any less busy, but maybe a little more sunshine and warm weather and a lot of baseball and softball will right my world.

I was raised on summers at the ball field and it runs deep in my veins. It won’t solve everything or make anything easier, but I hope it will help me feel grounded again. That it will bring me a sense of peace and calm in this crazy busy time of life. Because at the end of the day, I know how to do the ball field. Playing and watching fills my happiness bucket. Even if sometimes I have the added stress of children who steal my Gatorade and throwing it at a tree until they can get it stuck.

No one warned me that I’d keep having the same day again and again, but they also didn’t tell me that it would make me a stronger person. I may not see the growth today or tomorrow, but I can feel it when I look back. When I pull myself outside of today, I can see how the repetition is propelling me forward. But, I’m still looking around for that easy today!

The Groundhog Day Phase of Life isn’t Easy

A day in the life of a default parent

default parent | noun : the person who children come to for everything

A while ago I read a post on default parenting. It was like someone smacked me upside the head. Why didn’t I put that together before?! The default parent is the one who the children come to. Even if it means walking right past another parent on the way to seek out the default parent. Even when the default parent is in the shower and can’t realistically help find something or help put something on. Children see no obstacles when it comes to finding the default parent to ensure all of their wants and needs are met. Immediately.

Labeling the default parent helped me understand why most days I fall into bed physically and emotionally exhausted. In our house, we share a lot of responsibilities when it comes to parenting. Or we try. Three times in one week, Quinten came into our bedroom at 1 am. He doesn’t say much, but he makes a lot of noise on his way in. He usually throws open the door and loudly makes his way up on my side of the bed. He takes over my pillow and falls asleep in 10 seconds. Each time, I wake Bryan up to carry our very solid preschooler back to his bed. {That’s what a default parent calls delegating.}

Being the default parent translates into being the default housekeeper, food maker, food shopper, and school schedule keeper. No wonder I want to faceplant into my bed most days at 6pm. It’s mentally exhausting to keep so many balls in the air all the time. Children don’t care how much sleep the default parent got. They don’t care if you have a headache or the flu, they have needs to be met on their timeline. To all you default parents, word. 

Nights out are extra special for a default parent. When you get together with other default parents, everyone is responsible and no one needs parented. It’s simply amazing!

  1. You don’t get interrupted
  2. You willingly go with others to the bathroom because it means there’s something to be talked about in private
  3. Getting someone a drink isn’t a chore
  4. No words are off limits!
  5. We naturally take care of each other without noticing

This fall, we took a girls trip to Kansas City. We were basically gone for two days, but I still spent Friday doing all the things so my family was taken care of while I was gone. It’s exhausting being the default parent, even when you’re gone!

Here’s a glimpse into the going-out-of-town-default-parent life.

Responsibilities, Yo.
Wash, dry, and fold. BAM!
Here’s your meal plan family: chili and pizza.
Beer for lunch! Because it’s already a long day.
Always have a friend who knows the life of a default parent.

 

A day in the life of a default parent

My least favorite parenting duty: potty training

Warning: This is not a post that will help you potty train a child.

No, really. Just because we successfully brought one kid to the proper age of schooling does not mean we know how to raise the other. This a post that will tell you how I spent a weekend trying very hard to convince a very stubborn child to use the toilet.

Here are my tips for potty training:

  1. Stock up on the essentials.
  2. Clear your schedule.
  3. Give them lots of fluids.
  4. Sit on the toilet A LOT.
  5. Give them treats.

Real life:

  1. Nailed it. Stocked up on all the essentials. Even put all the underwear in a cute little bucket. Had the washing machine ready, too.
  2. Three days of no reason to leave the house. Check! That worked until day one evening when he wanted nothing but to leave our house. We bribed him all night long and finally left our house at 8:45pm to get supper because trickles of pee came out!
  3. Day one: He refused to drink more than sips because it would make him pee. {This is when I knew he 1. is very capable of using a toilet,  2. was going to be more stubborn than I thought, and 3. fight me until the death.}
  4. Day one: he willingly sat every time I asked. Day two: he refused to sit on any toilet in our house because he did it yesterday and doesn’t want to do it every day.
  5. YOU CAN HAVE ALL OF YOUR HALLOWEEN CANDY IF YOU JUST PEE IN THE TOILET! Here, have three pieces of candy if you’ll just sit on the toilet. Here, have three pieces of candy because I know you have to pee really bad and you “want to go to bed.”

I did have a few wins during the three-day endeavor. Like telling a story about his older brother wearing underwear when he was little and then we guessed which pair were his favorites. {I totally made up a favorite, because he was engaged in a story with me and I had a chance of getting him into underwear.}

My second win was when he asked to go play outside. Within three minutes, I had surpassed a HUGE hurdle and had gotten him into underwear. When I asked how he liked them, he said, “these are comfy!” It seems his previous experiences in underwear may have been a bit dramatic. Or maybe the underwear were no longer laced with acid that burned the skin when worn…

I suppose I would count his first accident as another win. He held the pee in for 3 1/2 hours and didn’t like it when he was covered in pee. That’s a win, right?! So then he held the pee in until 8:30 that night. That’s a stubborn child. He sat down every hour and refused to ever pee. Super stubborn.

Have you ever seen a three-year-old pace the house because he has to pee so bad? We hadn’t either, but it’s pretty funny. Us: “What are you doing?” Him: “Nothing. Just doing this.” Us: “Why? Do you have to go potty?” Him: “No.” Sure. 

Have you ever had a three-year-old ask if it’s time for bed? We hadn’t either. It appears the King of Bedtime Stalling wanted to go to bed at 6:30 one night. Why you ask? Obviously because he had to pee and wanted a pull-up. Here’s where parenting can be fun! All of a sudden we’re willing to let him stay up later, because eventually that pee has to come out. That backfired on me. Literally. He was pretty bouncy {to stop the pee from coming out, obviously} and when he went still I got concerned. Rightfully so as I felt my hand get warm. Yup, he totally peed on me when we were sitting on the couch.

It’s basically a rinse and repeat every time we’re at home. He goes into underwear and holds the pee in. It’s beyond me why I thought that weekend was the magic weekend. He has clearly decided he’s not going to do it yet. I’ll take the wins when I can at this point…and wearing underwear is one of them! Plus, I don’t have the anxiety of a fresh three-year-old mom. He’ll be four in a few weeks and that means he has a bladder of steel that holds up for hours and hours.

Step 1: Stock up on the “essentials”

*Disclaimer: please, no potty training tips. Only tips on favorite stress relief after a LOOOONG day of parenting.  

My least favorite parenting duty: potty training

Reflections of Kindergarten

We’re starting our fourth week of Kindergarten and I’m feeling like we’re in a good rhythm. With my new job, our morning routine is more relaxed and we basically gained thirty minutes. That means the people in our house who need more sleep {me + children}, get a little extra each day and none of us are as rushed as we used to be. We still have a few areas of improvement – I need to find my new workout groove and Quinten needs to work on his focus while getting himself in the carseat. {Have you seen the meme about being late because a toddler had to buckle himself in? That’s my life.}

While it’s only a month in, we’ve already learned a lot about having a kindergartener.

  1. Recess. Turns out our very first year of school is also the year when the answer to every question is “good,” “nothing,” and “recess.” What we’ve gathered is that recess is spent playing superheros with his buddies. His favorite parts of the day are playing with his friends who aren’t in his class. Luckily, recess happens. Before school started, we had a mini-meltdown because not all the boys were in his class and he was VERY concerned that the other classes would have Batman toys and his wouldn’t. So, recess. With superhero friends. Whew.
  2. They don’t let kindergarteners take home library books the first two weeks. It turns out, week three is the magic number. Every week he told me the next week he would get to take a book home. I hope I always remember the sheer excitement and look in his eyes after his first media day when he told me his school had a LIBRARY! And he got to pick out his own book to look at so he picked a Star Wars book. 🙂
  3. One of the areas he’s grown the most in lately is dealing with unexpected or unknown things. We don’t always know the details of his day and he’s been ok with us telling him that. I tell him to see what it’s like that day and tell me when we get home. He accepts it really easily and has a good time telling me about it later. And then he knows for next time! I was nervous about him not dealing well with the unknown, but he’s been doing a really good job of adapting.
  4. This summer I panicked about how he would know how to get food. Thankfully, I was still logical in my thinking and decided that he would have to eat school lunch for a while until it became a routine for him. Some days I look at the food and know he probably won’t like it or I wouldn’t even like it, but he’s been a champ and talks about eating some of everything he gets. And he alternates between white, chocolate, and strawberry milk during lunch. He obviously thinks that’s pretty cool!
  5. He knows where he’s supposed to go! On his second day, when I was worried about us not being with him, he knew exactly where he was supposed to go at drop off. And was rather disappointed that he and his two friends got a special car ride to school for the first week. He wanted to be with the big kids in the van with the daycare logo on it. It wasn’t enough that he got picked up in it, he wanted dropped off. Well, now he’s officially in the van and I kind of wish they had a dashboard camera because I’m sure that van is ridiculous with a bunch of elementary kids in there!
  6. Emotions are heightened. In general, we try not to make a big deal about crying. In our house, it’s ok if boys cry and we never make it a big deal. HOWEVER! We do spend a lot of time asking little boys to take a deep breath and talk about what is wrong. Not that crying is bad, but we can’t help if we don’t know what is going on. {Side note, kids cry a lot.} Since the beginning of August, right after he turned six, we’ve noticed a lot more outbursts when something doesn’t go his way.
  7. It’s hard to keep up with all the things going on in school! Not that I want last minute information, but it’s hard when we get a bunch of stuff that all has different due dates. We don’t have a good organization / office situation at home so it makes it a little more difficult to stay up on everything happening. Thankfully we get reminder texts and stickers that come home on the kids the day before something happens.

It’s still weird talking about having a kindergartener, but he’s rocking it and we’re all figuring it out as we go.


 

Reflections of Kindergarten

On the eve of the first day of Kindergarten

Bless the hearts of children and parents everywhere. 

We had back-to-school night on Monday. Or in our case, first time IN the school night. Or in Bryan’s case, nerd out remembering where all of his classes used to be and what is “new” since he’s been gone. 

I’m still shocked that when the teacher introduced herself to Maximus, he looked her in the eyes and told her his name. In the sweetest, kind of quiet, and definitely shaky voice. If I hadn’t been holding the heaviest 3-year-old, I would have melted into a puddle. It was the sweetest thing and helped reassure me that he’s going to be fine. 

And I suppose I’ll be fine, too. Other than the random panic about how he’s going to figure out lunch or remembering how shy I was, I’m doing ok with it. He has a lot of friends going to his school and a few in his classroom, so he’s not alone. 

Plus, HE INTRODUCED HIMSELF TO HIS TEACHER. Without any prompting from us. That was one of those proud parent moments that I won’t forget. That’s also why I let my kids answer questions for themselves when adults ask questions. It teaches them good life skills! 

We spent about 20 minutes talking about tomorrow. All the super cool stuff that he’s going to do, who’s taking him where, and how it’s ok that he’s not great at math…yet. Yup, that happened. “But mommy, I’m not great at math. Is math when you, like, add numbers together? Like 10 plus 10?” So Bryan asks him what the answer is and he laughs while he tells us it’s 20. Ok. So maybe you’re kind of ok at math? He did ask me once if I could just stay for his first day. I told him I already had my first day of Kindergarten so I couldn’t. And the teacher will spend tomorrow telling him all the things they’ll do every day. (He’s only there with 1/3 of his class tomorrow and everyone on Friday.)

He picked out his first day clothes…typical Leger boy apparel…and will be sporting a new highlighter yellow dry-fit shirt and black mesh shorts. I don’t blame his comfort level goals. Luckily he still favors jeans over any other sport pant so I’ll keep holding on to hope of a nicer dress code this fall. 😉 

I know Maximus is going to love school. He’s always enjoyed preschool and cares so much about details and why things work. It’s going to be an exciting year for him! 

Bless all the teachers, but especially those who help care for our littlest learners as they adjust to new environments and routines. 

On the eve of the first day of Kindergarten

Adjusting to the new

I finished my first full week at my new job! Honestly, I’ll be happy when the new job is old habit and the routine is “normal” to me. Everyone says change is hard and I won’t discount that. But, something tells me that spending 10 1/2 years at a job makes this change a little harder than someone who has considerably less time in. Or stays at the same company. 

I thought I’d probably spend the first couple of weeks too busy to fully realize the life change. And maybe enjoying the one job thing so much that I wasn’t thinking about the old. {That’s my style. Deny & ignore.} I have a lot of work to do in the new job so I didn’t expect the first few days to be so hard. Mentally hard. I thought I’d be blissfully ignorant of my major life change. Monday came around and it was so quiet. Not that my team was loud, but I was missing the sound of voices. I used to have a lot of meetings too, which made it hard to get anything done but it filled the quiet air. I hear people but it’s the public or people unlocking their office doors. It’s different when you have no connection to what people are saying. It’s not comforting noise like in a workplace. Basically, I’m going to know every pop song lyric for the rest of time. And I might become that girl in her office singing…OR TALKING TO HERSELF! 

It’s so intriguing to me how a job can mess with your core. How it can make you crave personal contact so much. How it made me view all areas of my life with a gloomy perspective. Then again, I’m a pretty social person who was used to being so busy I barely had time to think. {Which only intensified once I had two job responsibilities.} I’m not used to a wide open schedule. I have a few deadlines next week and I was feeling that familiar anxiety as I contemplated bringing the work home. Until I looked at my calendar for Monday and realized I have one meeting at the end of the day. That means I get to spend the work days getting things done! {Maybe this change won’t be so hard…}

Something clicked on Wednesday and I found my groove again. It was glorious! My mood was sunshiny and bright and I was happy in all areas of my life. I am struggling with the fact that one area can touch so many others and impact my life. I didn’t realize that being able to do things that I was used to would bring my confidence back. Like sending out a message to my softball team about a tournament or coordinating a girls weekend to Kansas City. Things that Kyley does and Kyley can still do. It may be from a different office and email address, but I’m still me. This seems like basic stuff, but my brain has been SO full this summer that those things were always last priority and usually last minute. I enjoy being the organizer and I was finally able to get back to my pre-chaotic planner self! 

We joke at our house that Bryan is a total Type A personality and needs to feel control in all situations. The truth is I do too. I just go about it differently. Mine doesn’t look the same as his so it’s not as obvious. I have certain areas I don’t need to control so it looks like I’m a free spirit. I’m not. {Or I am if you compare me to an engineer! 😉} 

I’ve struggled with my transition because I don’t know EXACTLY what it looks like. It was a cloudy image of something I couldn’t touch. I drove to the right office every day, and it’s starting to feel more like my place, but it’s still not my normal. I know it’ll come, but I want to fast-forward through all those feelings and get there right now! Because it’s unsettling to be in a new situation. And I like to be in control of my mind. 

A sense of peace has come over me this weekend. I’m not spending my Sunday feeling anxious because I’ve already done that first full week. I’ve already had my first board meeting and a lot of other firsts. Now it’s just getting into my groove. Getting used to scheduling meetings via phone or email instead of an Outlook calendar. Not being able to chat with someone via messenger because I’m not part of a company. And parking in really small public parking spaces. 

Five or six weeks ago I wasn’t sure what any of this was going to look like. I was terrified and felt like I was losing control of my life quickly. I’ve still got a ways to go, but I have a better idea now. Time heals, even when you don’t think it actually will. This has definitely been an exercise is patience and faith. I know I could and should have done a million things differently, but I’ve never done things the easy way. This is my journey and I wouldn’t change any of the struggles and pains. If it weren’t for half of my struggles, I wouldn’t have realized how amazing my friends really are. When you’re in a crisis situation, you see how much your friends hold you up when you need them. 

Here’s to week two! 

Adjusting to the new