Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Embracing life...

It may not always be simple.   It may not always be happy.  But it is always full of love...

I've been neglegting the blog a bit, this I know.   For lots of reasons really... lack of time is at the top of the list followed closely by lack of clarity.   And also(?) I'm sick of complaining.   I miss the days of writing about my funny, happy, beautiful kids, which they are...they've always been.   I've just been too distracted to really take note.

I'm really going to try and focus on all the positive wonderful things in my life for awhile.  Yes, there are still reasons for stress and worry,  and issues that I refuse to burry my head in the sand about, but BUT there are so many reasons for me to be happy and grateful for this life I do have.

Thanks to a wonderful group of parents who accompanied me in the battle with schools, there has been a resolution.    In my opinion, no it's not perfect, but it is a resolution non the less.  Now, life here can go on without all the uncertainty.    We will stay here.  We will add on to the house.    We will make this home.

We will get back to embracing life:)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

homeschool?

Ugh.  My kids are already smarter than me so it's not even an option...

The fact that this thought even crossed my mind should give you a good idea of just how upset and disgusted I am with our school...

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Monday, October 31, 2011

Longing for simplicity again...

Jud and I were talking the other day about how difficult life is lately.    He said something like he just wishes something in our life was easy.    I laughed and said something snarky about how no one's life with 5 kids can be easy, let alone all of the other crap going on in our lives...

Really though,  I do understand his point,  up until a little over a year ago our lives did always feel easy.   Not that we didn't have stress, or worries, or chaos in our lives but it was always manageable because it was never everything all at once.   We were both full and happy and energetic and able to take care of one another, fill in each others rough spots, pick up each other's slack so to speak.   These days, I think one of the reasons life feels so much more difficult is because we are both feeling a lot of stress and are exhausted from being pulled in a million different directions.    We both need support from one another like we've never needed before, but for the first time honestly in our entire marriage it's been a struggle to hold each other up.

Now, I'm not saying we are unhappy or our marriage is in trouble,  I'm simply saying that we are real people.   Our life is not always perfect.  Although under normal circumstances it's pretty damn close:)   We are both working really hard.  We are a team, but life is hard right now...and we are both longing for simplicity again.

So what's so stressful you ask?

Well, for one Jud has had some major changes at work, which in the long run will be great,  but for right  now it means lots more work/stress and even more time.  Leaving early, getting home late, working at home once the kids are asleep, traveling.   Even when he's not working he is always thinking about not just his ( and our family's) future but also for every employee that he over sees.   It's a huge weight to carry, and it's taking a toll on him.  Every minute of every day is packed with work or family, there's no time for himself.   He doesn't have nights out with  friends or even time for a run or a bike ride, which is normally a great stress relief for him.  And I have not been as understanding or supportive as I have been in the past.  Not that I could carry the burden for him, but I used to be so much better about listening, asking questions, understanding what he needs, taking care of him, even if it just means insisting he take time to go for a run outside rather than just a run to the grocery store to pick up the milk that I forgot to get.

I haven't been there for him because my plate is overflowing too.  I'm making progress with understanding myself and my ADD but it has not been easy.   I've had to rethink and relearn everything about myself and who I am. Who I've always been.   Why I say or do the things I do.  Why I feel the way I do.  Why I can't let things go.  I wish my mom were hear to talk to about all these things, because the more I find myself, the more I feel like her.   There was a connection there.  I wish I had realized that sooner.    I'm getting closer to accepting her death, but of course that's not easy either.   Meeting my dad's new"friend" has of course complicated the grieving process more than just a little bit and has brought up a lot of feelings of hurt and anger and betrayal and sadness...and guilt.

still with me?

because that's just the stuff going on in my head, then of course we have all the real life stuff too... not just the soccer schedules or the piano lessons or the what do I make for dinner or how much do I still hate doing homework,  but big heavy real life stuff.

For instance, Caroline is really growing up.  My sweet little girl, who used to have wonderful, open, heart to heart conversations with me, has been replaced with a moody, eye rolling, adolescent girl, who is struggling to find her independence.  It hurts my heart to see her growing up and to feel her pushing me away.   She's having a tough time these days but doesn't want my help.   I never imagined watching her grow up would be this hard.   Again, I wish my mom were here so I could apologize for all those years when I was such a little shit to her....I'm sure she's up there somewhere smiling down and nodding her head...she always said it'd come back to me:)

Sam has also been having a rough start to the school year, which means meetings and emails with the teacher and principal and conversations with our pediatrician and lots and lots of reading and research.  Staying on top of all of those issues are a big stress on me too...remember I have ADD?   Following through with important details is a huge struggle.

Then there's Emma, my dear sweet Emma.   She's been on quite an emotional roller coaster herself lately.   She is really starting to feel real feelings...She has always been very guarded emotionally.   Lately she's had lots of questions about Ethiopia and her birth family,  her birth mom in particular.   She's trying to sort out the truth of her story.  She obviously doesn't have any memories about her early life in Ethiopia,  however we've always talked about it, about her Ethiopian Mommy...about her history.    We've always answered any questions she's had as honestly as we could, with the information we have, but we also had to keep in mind what she was emotionally ready to hear.  I guess in hind sight this allowed room for her to add in her own details which she started to see as real.   Details that she has only recently started to share.  Emma had created a sort of fantasy life story.    We've recently had several REALLY honest conversations about what is real and what is not.   I think part of this has to do with her age, she's getting to understand much more, but also I really think  a big part has to do with the loss of my mom.   Emma saw me open up and allow myself to be sad and cry uncontrollably, she saw me being vulnerable and angry and upset.   She saw that I started to question things that I had always known... I think it opened up the door for her to finally realize and feel and grieve the loss of her own mother.   It is sweet and heart felt and in many ways beautiful  to witness but at the same time unbelievably heart breaking...Every night she sleeps with a photo of the most beautiful woman whom she has no memory of...but still, it gives her comfort.

again, I never imagined her growing up would be so hard...

still there?   You may want to go pour yourself a cup of coffee, or better yet a glass of wine because here's where life gets really interesting.


So Then...and this is absolutely the biggest stress these days...for me anyway.   Let me tell you this has caused many a sleepless nights in this house.

We are in a fight with our school.   The school that we love.  The school that we moved here for.   The school where we Love our teachers.

It turns out this year a new policy was put into place in which students were to be allocated to certain classes according to race.

mmmmhmmm you read that right.

separate students into classes by race.

You all get why I'm pissed right?   Because I don't know if many parents at our school do... But then again, most parents in our school don't have minority children.

The fact that a policy like this, (which is illegal let alone morally wrong)  was allowed to be implemented in our school, which is considered to be one of the best schools in the area,  without the support or even the knowledge of parents has me wondering if we moved to right place after all.   Who the heck is in charge here?   Who let this happen?   How can I ever trust that they are looking out for my children....my white children and my black children?

I've talked to the principal.   I've attended school board meetings...I've actually called every single school board member personally at home.  I've had meetings with the superintendent.   And every time I get off the phone or I leave a meeting I feel like banging my head against the wall.   They just don't get it.

It is beyond frustrating.

Which has led Jud and I to have several serious conversations about if in fact this is where we want to raise our family.   No, of course I don't want to move again...I hate that we've moved as much as we have.  I want our kids to feel grounded in a community.   Build lasting friendships.  But this?  Really?  I don't know if we can deal with this...

problem is...we live in Milwaukee which in general is a particularly segregated area.    This is where Jud's job is.   This is where we have to live.   We could move again to another area around the city, but which one?   We've already tried 4 different ones and none of them fit either!    Is this just what our life is  always going to be like?   Will we really always have to fight to have all of our children treated fairly even for the most basic of things, like a good education, no matter where we live?

Let's just say current plans for the expansion on this house are on hold.











Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

People living deeply have no fear of death. ~Anaiïs Nin, Diary, 1967

I have no idea who Anaiïs Nin is, but when I stumbled upon that quote today it struck me.  

This was how my Grandmother lived.   And she was not afraid.   She was genuine and loving in everything she did,  and we have been blessed to have been in her presence as long as we have.   Even though I will forever miss her quick wit, her incredible sense of humor, her loving smile, and really everything that made her, her, I know that she was not afraid.   She was ready.   I'm quite certain that my mom was waiting to greet her...two beautiful angels.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A little Thursday Rant

You know what I'm sick of?

Feeling put down because I am just a mom.

Not like this is anything new,  but today I had the third comment in two days coming from other women, other moms.    Not that it doesn't bother me when the belittling comments  come from men but it just feels bigger, harsher, more judgmental and frankly, infuriating  when it comes from other women.  Women who work outside the home i.e. have real jobs.

I have never judged another woman for working outside the home, wether she needs to or loves to.  

I am so sick of the working moms who think they are superior or more important, or smarter or whatever, just because they work outside the home.  

I happened to bust my ass at work all day every day at a job I love, but which does not include sick days, lunch breaks,  potty breaks,  bonuses for remembering who has library on what days, (wouldn't that be cool?) or even appreciation, or respect or acknowledgement.    This is my job.  And I love it.  Wouldn't change it for all the money in the world.

Now if you'll excuse me, the littles are sleeping so Will and I are heading off to the shower for the first time in three (or is it four?) days.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Back to School

was a  few weeks ago.

No back to school pictures. Not a one.   Four excited, clean, nicely dressed kids with backpacks and no pictures.    Ugh.   Mom fail.  again.


So far everyone is really liking school, their teachers, friends and I think just being back in a routine.    I love our school and I'm so glad that we all get to walk together every morning.   It's such a nice way to start our day.   This is our first year that all four of the bigs are on the same schedule.   One drop off- One pick up.   Which means Will is the only one home from 8 until 3.   Sounds easy right?   Just one kid all day?   Yeah, I don't do easy very well.    I've never had just one at home before.  Well, I guess I did last year because Emma was in all day 5k, but Will and I were always running errands in between drop offs and pick ups and nap times...it never really felt like I was home with him all day.

So....I decided to do something that most people will think is crazy  (Jud included:)

I'm watching a friend's twin one year olds during the school days!

I didn't really mention it to many people, not even my sisters, because I realize it sounds nuts....I finally have just one at home, why don't I just enjoy the simplicity, and maybe have a little down time?    Well, here's the thing, I wouldn't do that.   I didn't do that last year.  I was always working on some project, repainting someone's room, or running around town in search of some new rug or shower curtain or... whatever...(can you say ADD?)   My point is, I didn't take the time to just sit and play with Will.   Not like I did with the other kids.   And I felt a tremendous amount of mommy guilt for that.

I was missing the best of little Will.  

So when my dear friend asked about watching these cuter than cute babes,  I had a hard time trying to find a reason to say no.

My initial thought was this would force me to really be home all day.   I mean have you ever tried to bring three toddlers anywhere?   It's really quite comical:)    

But now that the boys have been here for a few weeks,  I realize I don't feel forced to be home.   I really love it.   This is what I do.   I love spending time with kids.  

It's been so great, I have time to play with just Will when the little boys are sleeping, Will has time to work on the art of sharing when the little boys are awake,  and when Will is sleeping I get to snuggle little wee ones again:)

I mean really I get paid to watch this?   What on earth could be better?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wednesday

a new birthday tradition.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Monday, August 22, 2011

One Year.



Actually it's been one year and 39 days... Not that I'm counting days because clearly after a year of grieving I should be past the point of missing her every. single. day.  right?

not so much.





 





 








Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Wow the summer is just flying by!

I can't believe I haven't written anything about our summer, other than the camp experience that wasn't!     We've been busy.   Really busy.

Lots of golf

Lots of swimming

Lots of playing with friends

Lots of playing in the sprinkler

Lots of softball games

A much needed night alone with some of my favorite women.

A road trip to see cousins in Minnesota

A few trips to the zoo

A weekend at the cottage with more cousins

A birthday for a little someone

A sad anniversary

A happy anniversary

A ginormous backyard barbecue party 

A trip to Bay Beach

A day at the children's museum














Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Jodie

At last, the post I've been trying to write for the past two years.



Honestly I don't know why it's been so hard to do.    It's easy for me to gush and could go on and on about this incredible woman (and I frequently do).   It's just there's so much more to Jodie.

Yes,  she's a phenomenal mom,  and by phenomenal I mean totally kick ass put my lame mothering skills to shame sort of mom.   And she's absolutely a one and a million kind of friend- you know,  the kind of friend that knows just how you take your coffee, and just when to invite you in for a cup.  She's not only the most hard working and giving person I know,  but also the most thoughtful and sincere friend I've ever had.   I feel like I'm learning to be a better person because of her.

But she's so much more than all of these things.

Jodie is the hand that wiped my tears.

Jodie is the voice that tells me to get over myself.

Jodie is the smile that can light up a room.

Jodie is the reason I believe in friendship.


When I met Jodie, gosh like 12 years ago (wow, we really are getting old!) I never in a million gazillion years would have guessed how important and permanent she would become in my life.

It was a company party.  Jodie worked with Jud and I was the new kid.   I remember meeting her and thinking,  wow this chick has her shit together.   She was gorgeous, dressed incredibly, very smart, talked all businessy,  mingled with all of the "important" people.   My insecure self felt a little out of place.    But as soon as she started talking to me those insecurities faded away.  She was real.   She was genuine.

Over the next few years we saw each other occasionally.   Jodie left the bank to stay home with her kids  and my life at that time was all about my growing family.    I remember bumping into her a number of times at story time with the kids, and every time she was so warm and sweet.   I always thought, man I wish I had a friend like her.

Then two years ago when we moved to this part of town,  I emailed Jodie because I knew she lived in the same area.    I thought maybe she could give me the scoop about the school and maybe even get our kids together so they felt like they knew someone when they started school.    Sending that email was probably the smartest thing I've ever done.

It was 4th of July and Jodie had written to tell me about the big parade and festival at our local park.    Jud and I packed up our excited kids and started walking to watch the parade.   I immediately noticed all the people lining the streets and started to panic.     We were so stupid, we didn't go out early and set up chairs or a blanket.   Jud and I started bickering because I think I may have mentioned going early to save a spot but he didn't think it was necessary.     I remember being so irritated because there was no way we were going to get a spot where the kids could actually see,  I started envisioning the walk home with sad disappointed kids... when Jodie walked across the street, sort of like my knight in shining armor ;)    She of course had a blanket all set up and invited us to watch the parade with them.    The kids all immediately hit it off.   They got along almost bizarrely well, like friends at first sight.   That night we watched the fireworks together (on their blanket of course because we didn't go early to get a spot for that either)  both of our families.    I kind of knew that night that this lady was going to be in my life forever.   At least I hoped she would.

Since then Jodie has taken me under her wing.

She has taught me, she has listened to me, she has really understood me.    Not to mention she has saved my unorganized butt on many occasions.  

Having her just a few blocks away makes me finally understand what it's like to have family close by.

During our wait for Will,  I had mentioned to Jodie that I was really nervous about the travel to Ethiopia.    I was terrified about making the trip alone, but there was no way Jud and I could both go because we had four kids at home and no real other options.   Jodie looked at me and just said "no. you both need to go.  you're both going."  

Seriously, who does that?   Just takes in someone's kids?  

Not only did she take care of all four of my kids (plus her own three) so that Jud and I could travel together, but she loved my kids while I was gone.    I never ever could have had the experiences I did in Ethiopia (like meeting birthfamilies) if it weren't for Jodie.   Knowing that my kids were with her put my mind at ease and I was really able to just focus on the trip and embrace that whole experience.    For that I will always be indebted to her.

I don't know how I would have made it through these past few years without her love and support.

When I told her I was going to speak at my mom's memorial service, she made sure she was there.    She knows when I need her without me ever having to ask.

Part of me is going to be lost when she moves.   And the other part is going to be texting and calling her nonstop!

Jodie- I know you hate being the focus of attention but I had to find a way to tell you all that you mean to me.   I'm so grateful to have you in my life.











   








Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

These days

I'm thinking of my mom

I'm remembering where we were one year ago.

just.one.year.ago.

It sucks.

It's still hard to move forward.

And as soon as I think I AM moving forward

I find myself falling ten steps back.

Ah Summer

The plan for this summer was to not plan so much.

The boys baseball season is just wrapping up and Caroline's softball season is in full swing.    Other than practice and games the 4 bigs have golf once a week and Caroline and Jack have piano and guitar once a week.    So our summer was left pretty open.   That's what I planned wanted.



This summer I really wanted the kids to just have time to play and be together.   Take bike rides, walks to the park, make up games on the playset, run through the sprinkler, have Popsicles in the middle of the afternoon for no reason.

But our crappy weather the first two weeks of summer vacation put a damper on all things.   We were stuck inside.all.day.everyday.  We were all ready to strangle each other.

Oh and when it rains really heavily for multiple days, because of our flooding basement history, my husband tends to have a coronary every night which leads us to carry up ALL of our shit  most prized possessions from the basement.





Then I get to spend the next day carrying everything back downstairs and reorganizing the storage room.

Fun Fun.

On the bright side I did get to really go through everything in the basement and was able to purge a heck of a lot, which always makes me happy.   Most things I put on Craigslist for free just to get it the heck out.  Which is another story for another day.

This week was the first really nice week weather wise that we've had so far.   It was also the only week the 4 bigs had any other big scheduled days.    A first for us, we signed the kids up for a one week y day camp.   Caroline, Jack and Sam were dropped off at the bus at 7:15am and then picked up at 5:45pm   a looong day away from home.   Caroline loooooved it!   Seriously,  the nature, the outdoors, the adventure, the sense of independence, it's so Caroline.  Perfect fit.  Yesterday was an optional overnight...I was very anxious.  Caroline not so much.   As we were walking up to the bus she told me that she really wanted to do the 2 week overnight camp next year.   UmmmNo.





Tuesday night (two days into camp) Sam had a bit of breakdown.    Turns out camp is just not a good fit for him.   Too much.   All of it.  Too much.   Of course I didn't want him to feel that way about something I thought would be fun for him, so I told him he could be done.   No more camp for Sam.

The next morning when Jack found out that Sam was not going to camp he suddenly had loads of complaints about camp. (even though everyday he gets in the car and goes on and on about all the fun he had that day)   Jack wanted to stay home too.   Ugh.  Now I'm thinking about how much we paid for this one week camp and they're only two days in, what will the husband think about them dropping out?   I tried to talk about all the stories he had and what fun adventures he had in just those two days, what would he miss if he didn't go back?    Then he said, "yeah, camp is fun but I like being with Sam more.  If he's not going I don't want to go."     How do you say no to that?    So...no more camp for Jack.   Both boys were home.

I had Emma in a little camp at the park for the mornings because I was worried that she would feel left out with the other bigs at camp all day.    She was so so.   Not too thrilled.

Then she gave me this


She told me she really just wanted to be home.

No more camp for Emma.

I guess maybe we're just not a camp kinda family.

Other than Caroline of course!




and as it ends up after the overnight Caroline had a huge rash on her neck and a scratch on her eyeball!   The next morning she could barely open her eye....so no camp for Caroline.

So much for planning.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Monday, June 6, 2011

Jackson is Nine years old!

Sigh. Seems like only yesterday....


(wow do Jud and I look like we're about 12 years old in this picture?!)


Looking up to his big sister from the very beginning!


Couldn't you just bite him?   Oooooh those cheeks!   Where do you suppose he gets those dimples from anyway?





Future President?

or Rock Star?


The possibilities are endless for this kid!



Yes,  his birthday was month ago and yes I'm just now getting around to writing his birthday post.    We did celebrate it on time though, so at least we've got that going for us;)

This year ended up being the year of birthday parties in our house!   We don't always do big friend parties, but after the year we've had I thought it was really important for all of us to be able to celebrate our most happy days.  The kids all happily obliged.

For Jack's party he chose a laser tag adventure with some of his best buds!   (he even included Caroline and Sam on his guest list without any prompting from me!)




It was a really fun party, and I think he had a great time.   One thing about the party that pretty much sums up Jack in a nutshell,  was his birthday cake.    He had originally wanted a lego ice-cream cake, picked out the picture for the top and everything....I was about to order when I remembered one of his friends severe food allergies.     I told Jack that I'd talk to his friends mom and we could figure out a special treat for him.    Immediately Jack said, "we'll all have what Max is having, I don't want him to feel left out."    I was so impressed that he thought of his friends feelings over his own wants.   So impressed in fact that I offered to make a cake from scratch that Max would be able to eat too...not quite as cool looking as the lego one he picked out, but he loved it anyway.   That is Jack.   



Jack has me pack him a special lunch everyday so that he can sit at the "nut free table" at school because he doesn't want Max to be alone.    

Jack is a very loving friend.

He really thinks about people.  

There is something really beautiful about a child showing sincere compassion and genuine love without being prompted.    That is Jack.    He has always had such a huge heart, and he fills mine with pure joy.

Jack is a fabulous big brother.   Sam has idolized him and tried to follow in his every foot step since he was able to walk.   Rather than running ahead Jack will always slow down to wait for Sam to catch up.    


He is and always has been very protective of his sisters.   If someone has a problem with Caroline or Emma, well then they have a problem with Jack too.    He watches out for them, listens to them and sticks up for them.







Reading to Emma's Class, look how proud Emma is to have him there.  I love that.


Oh man does Jack love Will.


I mean like serious, crazy, nothing else like it, loves Will.




This boy melts my heart with his sweetness.


Jack has always been an avid reader and really likes school.   Luckily he seems to have gotten his smarts from his dad....he picks up new things incredibly quickly.   He's a math wiz, which comes in handy for me when we're shopping because he's great figuring out % discounts!     Every teacher he's ever had has commented about what a sweet boy he is and what a thoughtful friend he is to the whole class.   He makes me so proud in so many ways...

He is a sensitive one, this boy.   He obviously gets that from Jud too ;)     It's a wonderful quality to have.   He keeps my "tone" in check.    Jack will get very sad if I raise my voice the tiniest bit or even if I mumble something sarcastically under my breath.    If he does something wrong, or does something to hurt one of the other kids feelings, he is crushed.   When we lost my mom this year, Jack was so incredibly loving and gentle with me.   Even though he was hurting too, he was always looking out for me, giving me extra cuddles, coming up behind me and rubbing my back,  reaching out to hold my hand on the way to school...  He helped heal my heart.   

Jack loves family.    If it were up to him, our house would be overflowing with children!   He loves when we're all together, or even better when we're all together with cousins!     He especially loves his little cousins Spencer and Christopher.   And those little boys sure think Jack is pretty darn awesome too!

Jack has always had a special love for my dad.   And I have always loved that.  





He's Papa's boy!




through and through...




I love this kid so much!

It's been nine amazing years!