28 May 2010

Happy Hour

I have been HORRIBLE this year about taking pictures of teacher appreciation gifts, etc. Probably for the same reason I'm having trouble typing right now--my full-time helper. He's currently eating Mommy up (num num num, he says).

Today is Kayci's last day of first grade--sigh. Where does the time go? More on that later. Right now, I just wanted to share a happy thought (since most of y'all have another week of school and probably need a teacher gift or two). Kayci's teacher got a Kindle for Mother's Day, so her gift was easy--an Amazon card. (If you've never bought an Amazon giftcard and printed it out, I highly recommend it--so easy!) But of course you can't just give a gift card if you're Kristi, you have to put it in a theme-y sort of gift. So I thought, what would go with a good book? I thought about putting the gift card with some nice sunscreen & bug spray (Sherri sells Avon, you know!) or in a cool bag (but Heather and I both bought her bags for Teacher Appreciation, so that's been done). Then I thought about a fun cup...and I went from there to a Sonic card. Then I thought, well this would be cute for the principals, secretaries, etc...so I had to come up with a cheaper way to package them. And I remembered something I saw at WalMart last week, and the straws from Emily Bean's party this past weekend, and this idea was born: May all of your summer hours be HAPPY hours! (Get it?)

(These are the disposable margarita glasses--our WalMart has already put them on the clearance aisle, can you believe it?? The umbrella straws are from Dollar Tree.)

26 May 2010

Me and a dollar store...

So, yesterday was the last meeting of the year for one of my PPCD teams. One of the administrators graciously offered to host the gathering at her home (yippee--no reservations or carting stuff around...color me relieved!). I love hostess gifts and *try* to take them when I go places (not always possible, and if you're a good friend, sorry, not going to do it every time!), especially in a case like that where she was doing me a huge favor. So, I was going to buy fresh flowers. Then I started second-guessing myself...she's got 4 kids, what if someone's allergic...so I was like, fine, I won't take anything. But, when I was at a dollar store yesterday picking up chalk for the teacher gifts (dang it, I forgot to take a picture! Will have to make one for Kayci's teacher just to snap a pic...), I was checking out and I saw something and thought, that's it. So I went back in and found a cool bucket, grabbed a tie-on card and ribbon at the grocery store when I picked up the food trays, and voila--hostess gift. The card says, "have a ball with your kids this summer!" :) And I'm a happy girl.

25 May 2010

It's that time again...


(It's the most wonderful time of the year...)

23 May 2010

Second Chance

I pride myself on living in such a way that I have no regrets. But a couple of days ago, in the midst of this fun moment, I realize I do have a regret. A pretty big one. It's been nagging at me for a while, but I couldn't put my finger on it, or put a name to it.

When Noble's freaking out, I don't freak out--I just hang on and know that the moment will pass. When he's screaming, I don't feel like screaming back (most of the time) because I understand that he's just frustrated and it needs to come out somehow. When he trashes a room, I don't (usually) to grab a black trash bag and throw away all of the offending toys. When he's melting down in a restaurant, I don't take it personally. I don't get ticked off (most of the time) when he's throwing a fit in the grocery store. I don't get embarrassed when we're at the library and he toots--loudly--while we're all sitting there quietly for story time.

I've learned, over the past couple of years, to enjoy him. God has blessed me with patience and forgiveness and grace to extend, and the ability, finally, to slow down and enjoy the little moments that make up our life.

But I didn't just become a parent a couple of years ago. Almost seven years ago, we were blessed with this beauty. Kayci is a beautiful child, inside and out. I can't say enough about her--she's just amazing. She's smart and funny and sensitive yet resilient...generous and caring and sarcastic and intuitive. I have been amazed, since the very moment I met her, at the work God has done in her. She is everything I could ever hope for a child to be, everything I could ever hope for ME to be. She is me...only so, so much better.

From the start, though, I'm wondering if my feeling toward Kayci hasn't been flawed, somehow. I saw her--still struggle not to see her--as an extension of me. A reflection of me. While that has its good side (when she was little, I may not have had new clothes, but she always did. I have worked with her extensively on manners and politeness and how to get along in the world, how to be a good friend.) there's also a huge, horrible downside: I take her human-ness personally. I don't want to say her flaws, because she's 6--we don't know what those are, yet. I don't want to say her mistakes, because again, she's 6--she's learning. Kayci rarely acts up, rarely throws fits, rarely is unkind, is almost never disrespectful...I say this as a Mom but also as a professional: she's a wonderful, wonderful child.

On the rare occasions when Kayci has acted up or been disrespectful or thrown fits, I am embarrassed to say I've overreacted. I think I've disciplined her too harshly (my ugly voice is my downfall...I hate, hate, hate it about me but don't know how to STOP). Not physically, before you call CPS. It's worse than that, because I think a physical injury would be easier to nurse, to see it heal. I worry, I regret, that I've been too impatient with her (which is ironic, as she requires so little patience in the first place--how horrible does that make me?). I regret that I've been downright ugly at times. I regret that I've overreacted to minor things. I regret that I've cut her off at times when she was trying to explain herself. I regret that I haven't always encouraged her to feel all of her feelings, but to buck up and be a good little camper. I regret that I spent the first two years of her life working 24/7 and, though I loved her beyond distraction, I couldn't STOP working to enjoy her. Sadly, now I realize I just didn't know how.

We prayed and waited for a child for a long time. When Kayci came along, I KNEW how lucky I was to have her. I appreciated it--I appreciated her. I spent hours holding her and just loving her. Talking to her, listening to her...every day she changed and I think that at the time, life was so busy and I just didn't know to really stop and enjoy the little things. I was always looking at the next big thing. By the time I left the classroom and started spending more time with her, she was 2. But then for a year I was torn between life in Houston and the life I wanted in Brenham and learning how to be a consultant...then we moved here and I had to relearn who I was as a parent, a wife, a worker...I think I got a little better every day at slowing down and enjoying her. By the time Kayci was 4, I was feeling pretty good about things...I think we'd found our rhythm. Well, I had--she'd always had it, always been exactly what she's needed to be.

It took having Noble, losing Dad, and taking stock for me to realize that I am a different person, and a different parent, than I was before. All too often, though, that impatient Mommy comes out and gripes at Kayci. All too often, I speak in a harsh voice over something minor, like a wadded up hand towel or the dirty socks stashed under the bed. All too often, I put too much pressure on her to buck up. All too often, I ask her to be the bigger person if there's a struggle with Noble or a friend...and none of that's fair.

Don't get me wrong, I do have peace that I've been a good parent to my Bitty. She's amazing, and I love her beyond measure, and I know that she knows this. I don't know why I'm so flawed and have to work at being patient with such a good kid. I was trying to explain it to James...I think part of it, as it tends to be with Mommys and Bittys, is that she is so much like me. The things that drive me nuts about me...these are the things, I'm afraid, I overreact to when they pop up with her. Maybe all these years I've been looking at it wrong, like I was training her to be a better me. Inadvertently, I'm afraid, I've been one of those sad parents trying to live vicariously through her kid. How sad is that? I always swore I would NOT be that guy--the parent yelling at their kid from the little league stands, making her daughter dress perfectly...you know, all those things we make fun of. I have been the worst kind of hypocrite, though, because I've been doing it--feeling it--on the inside.

So as I stood there on Friday and Noble rode the cow for the 2nd time, I finally put a name to my regret. I've been aware for a long time that I parent the kids differently and that I'm too hard on Kayci...and I've been working on it. But when I get stressed or things get tough, old tendencies come right back. So I'm working on it. I can't undo the damage I've done, but I can pray that it stops now before it's too late and something comes between Kayci and me, before she quits looking up to me and having faith in me...before she doesn't want to be my best friend anymore. I don't know what's next, but I know that I'm working on it. Now's a great time--summer's coming, and for the first time in a long time, I don't have plans. My plan is to enjoy my kids, fix healthy meals, be active...and be patient. With them, and with me.

17 May 2010


How ironic that today's Freelance Folder article is about distractions, both external and internal. Seeing as how I've been holding this laptop for the past 40 minutes and have done work but not written a word for the assignment that's due in...hmm, 35 hours. It is going to feel SO GOOD when I am done with that, and even better next week after I've presented it...and by the time I present it next week, Family Fun Night will be over, I'll have attended my last 2 PPCD meetings of the year (and distributed all 20 end of the year gifts...)...and theoretically I'll be done with my LP gig. Oh, what a difference a week will make! Well, a week and a couple of days...then it's off to the Lake for Memorial Day weekend and a great start to a fun summer with the kids.

And there's another 4 minutes of not writing. So I'm watching "Tori and Dean"--did I mention the weather kept us at Mom's again tonight? Does that help explain why I'm so distracted--I'm SOOOOOOO off schedule and out of routine! Anyway, I'm not an expert after only 2 episodes, but can anyone else totally relate to Tori Spelling? She seems to be just another overachieving, overextended Mom...I'd do Starbucks with her!

16 May 2010

Ode to a Boy

Hey, look, I do remember how to blog! So, things have been pretty busy, work- and family-wise, and I just haven't had time to think, much less write about what I'm thinking. Tonight the kids and I ended up staying at Mom's (we weren't planning it, long story, but it works out great!) and I'm sitting here working while Noble snores at the other end of the couch. Kayci finally gave up and went to sleep after 9, although she tried to argue that she hadn't actually fallen asleep...sure, kiddo. Go to bed. :) I don't know how late I'll stay up...probably until I fall asleep writing the course I'm still finishing up...for real this time, I'm just a day or so away from DONE. Next week I'll present it to the instructors, and after that...just regular daily work. End of year stuff for schools and Kayci, but pending disaster, no major projects otherwise. I can't WAIT! Can you believe it's almost summer? Kayci gets out of school a week earlier than GPISD, so she's only got two more weeks!!!!! I'm really looking forward to summer this year...don't know what it's going to look like, but I love, love the rhythm of summertime. And to get to spend that much time with Kayci? AWESOME!

So, back to my Boy...a week ago was our anniversary. With everything else going on, we just didn't have time or energy to go out. We knew we'd be coming to Houston this weekend, so we just planned on having a date here. But, this past week was just as crazy as the week before and yesterday ended up being a lot, lot longer than we expected...so needless to say, when 6:00 came last night neither of us was feeling very romantical. But, we said we were going on a date, so we kissed the kids and headed out. I owed James a boy flick (he reminded me of the subpar Amy Adams movie I dragged him to earlier this spring), so our plan, for lack of a better one, was to go see Iron Man. Here's the thing, though: when we got into the car, I was g-rumpy. Grumpy, grumpy, grumpy...I had been looking forward to a DATE, something special. Granted, neither of us had time to plan said date, so the lack of a plan wasn't anyone's fault. It just was what it was, the product of a craptastic couple of weeks. So there we were, in the car on the way to a movie neither of us was dying to see right then...and I was just like, no. No, I don't want to do this. We're going to go to the movie and then I'm going to be all grumpy and let down--what kind of an anniversary date is going to a guy flick? We weren't even planning on dinner since we had such a late (and crazy expensive!!) post-graduation lunch, so it didn't even feel like a "real" date. My boy is so awesome--instead of getting ticked off, he listened to what I was saying (and what I wasn't saying!) and he called an audible. He said, let's go do something James and Kristi. So we made a list of things that are hard to do with kids in tow...and that's what we did! It wasn't a make a movie of it romantic night, but we had a GREAT night, and a great date. And when it was all said and done, I felt so much closer to my Boy and much more in tune. Isn't that what an anniversary date SHOULD be? :)

Then today James spent his whole day doing stuff for me and my Mom and then taking our kids skating so I could work for a while. And THEN, since it was so late and he didn't want me to have to go home tonight and then turn around first thing in the morning and drive BACK with Noble (long story), he drove Mom's truck home tonight (another long story...we needed to drive it 100 miles over the next few days, and I wasn't looking forward to working that in!) and the kids and I stayed. So now I've gotten a couple of extra hours of work in and will hopefully do the same tomorrow morning, all because my Boy is just awesome. I love you, Boy-o!

So that's my ode to a Boy. Thanks for being there for me, and for being awesome you. :) Have I told you today how much I appreciate you?

11 May 2010

Lunch Date

I treasure the little moments with my Bubby. Not so much the moment in Starbucks this morning that had me bumming a quarter from Heather since I didn't quite have enough cash in my pocket to cover the $15 cup he broke (accidentally, of course. Personally, I was shocked at how easily that "unbreakable" cup shattered!). Such is life with Noble. But then there are times like lunch today, when he so carefully counted his tortellini (1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 5...I didn't know he could get past 3, this was a first!). Or when I sneezed, twice, and both times he sweetly said, "Bess you!" And now, while I'm distracted with this, he's climbed up on our bed and us singing "Piderman, Piderman!") at the top of his lungs.

That kid...my heart is full.

10 May 2010

When you gotta go...

...night night, you gotta go night night! We're hanging out with Noah while Paula is at a lunch meeting, and Noble finally just stopped. And promptly fell asleep. :)

-- Post From My iPhone

Pace Check

Today on my calendar, there's a big, bold note: DEADLINE. The course I'm writing is due today, but of course, the past two weeks of craziness have gotten in the way and I've just cancelled the meeting. Sigh. I hate, hate, hate missing deadlines...it's so unprofessional. This is the hard part of living a dual life: sometimes, they can't exist side-by-side. They overlap and one gets in the way of the other and it gets messy. A couple of years ago, I would have let the house go to seed and pawned Kayci off on Grandpa (or just worked while she watched TV or played, good parenting, right?) and just put life on hold until I got the project done. But I don't have that kind of drive anymore. I don't know if drive is a good word. I am driven to do well and succeed, and I won't turn in anything that I'm not proud of, but at the same time, I can't put work first. Not everyday. And this past week? No way could I have missed the funerals or time with the family. I'm just not built that way. And so here I am, with all of these icky negative feelings that come with missing a deadline--it's embarrassing and not how I want people to think of me. But it's done, and now it's time to push on and get the project done.

Last night one of my instructors needed me to fill out a 7 Habits checklist for her for a training she's doing today. I had to laugh--she sent the e-mail at 9 pm and it was due by 10 pm. Made me think of my situation a little. But as I filled it out, I found myself feeling a little ashamed that if someone were filling one out for me, they wouldn't be able to put punctual, manages time...and that sucks, because I pride myself on being dependable and organized. So I need to take a step back and reevaluate some things, how I'm utilizing my work time. Okay, that's a load of crap...I don't have work time, for the most part. So I need to MAKE some. That oughta do it.

As an online instructor, one of the things I regularly is send out a Pace Check to either my instructors or students, depending on my role that cycle. A Pace Check is just a quick, hey, great work on A, you should be on B now...blah blah.

This morning, Noble and I dropped Daddy off at Germania and then walked over to the Credit Union to get some cash. At that point in the day, I was still working under the assumption that we'd get home, I'd do something with him and then I'd work my tail off to get ready for today's meeting. I knew I'd still be short, but I was determined to just be DONE. But as we meandered down the sidewalk, chasing leaves, picking up rocks, climbing the wall to walk by the fountain, observing doodlebugs...it hit me that I wasn't going to make the deadline today. I could try, and make myself and Noble pretty miserable in the process. I could have told him to "hurry up!" or even better, picked him up so I could walk faster. I could have skipped the chit chat with the lady in the Credit Union and gone right back to my car and my schedule. But I made a choice to humble myself and apologize for missing the deadline (and commit to working my BUTT off for the next couple of days to actually finish it!) and just move on.

What's cool is that after we went to the grocery store, we popped over to the Headleys' to drop something off. I think Paula could see how anxious I was, and she invited Noble to stay and play for a while so I could come home and work. I accepted on the condition that I could watch her boys while she has a lunch meeting today, so that worked out perfectly. I came home and e-mailed my supervisors about the project and heard back pretty quickly...they're not nearly as stressed about the deadline as I am, thank GOODNESS! So I thought I'd be relieved, but not yet. I need to let go and move on with my day, reevaluate my plans and schedule this week and make it all work. Right.

09 May 2010

Happy Anniversary!

Today is our 12th anniversary! Look what I found when I moved into my new office drawers earlier this year:

Inside, it says "Life with you is never dull!" What's cool, other than the fact that the picture looks like Mary Engelbreit could have drawn it of our family of four, is that I bought this card in 2000. 10 years ago! Who would have thought we'd end up with a big girl and a little boy...and all the accompanying craziness! Why, you ask, have I never given him the card? I must have been saving it, then it got lost in my box of cards. I also found a couple of cards we bought back in 1998--I know this because I remember exactly who I bought them for. And Mark's graduation card (he graduated the year after us), and Preston's 3 year old birthday card (he's 6 in a couple of weeks), and assorted Halloween and Easter cards I've bought for my niece's and nephews over the years and apparently forgot to send. But this card...this card is absolutely perfect for today. I'm glad I am a pack rat! Well, in this case...

Happy Anniversary, boy! And thanks for 12 decidedly-not-dull years!!

07 May 2010

You Glow, Girl!

I'm hiding in the bedroom...it got to the point where I'm so desperate to get a project done, I hired the kids' favorite sitter to come over this afternoon so I could work for a while to be ready for Monday's deadline (it's a school holiday here). I have been very productive, and this is my first break in over 2 hours if you can believe that! I just had to share a text that just came through on my phone, sent from Kayci...

My nails glow in the dark!

And well, you know my response.

She and Madeline have been planning a manicure day for ages, and I wish you could have seen her face when Madeline walked in carrying a big ol' case of nail polish. :) My plan was to put Noble down for a nap so Kayci could just enjoy hanging out with Madeline, but of course he hasn't slowed down a minute since she's been here. But that's okay--all I hear in the other room is happy kids playing, and that makes for a happy Mommy. And probably a very tired Ms. Madeline!

Making my Monday deadline will also make me happy, so back to work...

06 May 2010

Morning Bossy

I haven't had a lot of time to blog lately (story of our lives, right?) but I promised myself I wouldn't post again until I could post something HAPPY. What a whinefest lately! So, here's a happy for today...Noble woke up at 5:30 and immediately asked for bossy. Hmm. That's my boy!/

(Noble loves coffee, but pronounces it, "bossy." Thanks for the pic, Jhido!)