Scattered

I start with a cliche, something about brushing off the cobwebs or ‘is this thing on?’  I make excuses about having a baby and adjusting to three kids, but we all know that my blogging had fallen off long before that.  (But seriously, having three kids has been such a game changer, especially when one of them is a kid like Gabriel.)

Never before in my life have I been able to understand people being too busy to be my friend; if they still managed to carve out time for a nap or other such time-wasting activities, then they would make time for the things and/or people they care about most.  Ha ha ha, I was wrong.

At this moment in my life, I now realize that I was wrong about e-ver-y-thing e-ver.  I am learning not to judge quite so much because there’s a story there.  Because we’re working on our story.

But that’s not why we came here today.

My soul has been slowly reawakening, and it wants to do some real writing.  Not because I have so much to say, but because I have a lot to sort through.  But it never happens.  The clutter of the days has spread everywhere, and I seem completely incapable of getting it under control.

On a good day, I cycle the dishes and the laundry through the machines.  On a really good day, I clear off the kitchen counters and pick up a handful of items from the floor.  Many days, I think, I will get every stitch of laundry put away and I will organize my closet and the I will really get something done.  But then the day is gone, and I can only feel accomplishment about mostly clean dishes and laundry.

And the laundry room floor is still covered with shoes, and those toys have been out for weeks, and where am I going to put everything that has collected on the dining room table?

Weeks go by where I didn’t touch the kids’  journals.  (I haven’t even started poor Ezra’s.  I got pregnant a full year ago now.  The poor, poor third baby.)  I’ve barely sewn in months.  (Instead, I just keep buying new purses.)  I did make one photobook after Ezra was born, but there are still months and months of pictures to document.  (I barely use my camera anymore, relying on my phone more than I’d like.)

I think, if I can just get the house cleaned up, then it will be easier to manage, and I will be able to sort out my thoughts and do something with them.  In the meantime, I can’t even make a proper to-do list because the baby wants to eat again.

But stay tuned, because for the first time in forever (ha ha), I think I just may get there.  But not before school starts…and summer is only halfway done.

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What if I blogged again?

Because deciding to start up blogging six weeks before I have a baby/adding a third kid to our lives makes so much sense.

I just keep thinking that I almost have something to say.  I’m pretty sure that it wouldn’t amount to much once I tried to put ‘something’ into words.

Mostly I’m okay with letting my sewing projects stand in as self-expression these days.  I create by choosing the fabrics and patterns, I practice patience through the cutting and preparation, and I feel great accomplishment when I finish a project.  It’s enough (though I am almost completely hopelessly behind with the kids’ journals, and I must make that my biggest priority before Ezra).

This long, cold winter is definitely making me restless, but it’s just easier to stay (very) close to home during this third trimester.  I still dream of a warm vacation, though.   (Hmm…remember how we went to France?  I should blog about that.)

Rhythm is the word that I keep thinking of as I empty/reload the dishwasher and/or the washer/dryer, when it’s time to take kids to school or pick them up.  But I’m not sure what that means other than I read too many blogs written by women who do have things to say.

Maybe I’ll try again another day.  But I won’t promise anything.

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Gabriel goes to school

It was six years ago when Jacob and I had very recently moved to Wisconsin, and since we were still waiting for cable and internet, we were sitting at Panera so Jacob could work.  I remember seeing a couple of moms who had sent their kids back to school, and I probably thought something along the lines of “someday that will be me”.

Yesterday Gabriel started kindergarten, and I didn’t feel any of the usual sorts of feelings.  I don’t feel like the time has flown by.  Especially this summer.  This summer was exhausting, trying to manage Gabriel’s sensory needs and subsequent behaviors.  We had some successes, and we had a lot of struggles.  It could have been worse, I suppose, but it was still not something to relive.  I have spent most of the summer waiting for this day.

Yes, Gabriel started school, except that it’s not a real kindergarten class, and I can’t help but wish that he could handle going to the neighborhood school.  I wish I could feel more than relief this week; I wish that I felt like I wanted to be a part of his first day, but I let Jacob take him and pick him up as I brace myself for what I fully expect to be a very rough transition lasting at least a few weeks.

From the day he was born and went directly to the NICU, Gabriel has been a lesson that I can’t control much at all when it comes to parenting.  I regularly forget that’s true and need to be reminded.  I wish that I could see ahead through his elementary years and see his development.  I wish I could know that it will be okay in the end.

Two years ago, as I left him at preschool for the first time, I prayed that it would be what he needed.  Instead, it cracked him open, but I suppose it was what we needed as his parents to move forward.  Now here I am, wanting to hope for great things out of this school year, afraid to have too many expectations.  And yet…

I am beyond grateful to leave Gabriel at a school where he is understood and loved even before he walked through the door.  The staff is willing and enthusiastic and optimistic, even when he is screaming on the floor, and I have a text before I get back home showing him happily playing with bubbles.  That is why I feel so much relief.

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Bunheads is a stupid name

I’ve been trying to watch as much as I possibly can off of my TiVo because we’re hoping that we will have U-verse come Monday.  (Stupid stupid Time Warner; I want all my channels, especially the one I pay extra for.  We’ve tried to order U-verse before, but they have claimed that they can’t reach our house.  Maybe this time is different.  And I can’t use my TiVo with U-Verse, most sadly.)  Sometimes when I have a new show I’m really excited about, I’m somewhat afraid to start watching it, and so it sits there on the DVR for a long time.  Therefore, I’m just finishing up a three-day Bunheads marathon (if you can still call it a marathon when you have to pause every five minutes because of the children), and that is what I am blogging about this morning.

To begin with, Bunheads is a really stupid name.  Thankfully I can forget about while actually watching, but I wonder if maybe the show would have had more viewers if the name wasn’t so dumb.  (Never mind the fact that I never contributed to the ratings because I just let the show sit on my TiVo.)

The show should probably be named Gilmore Girls 2 because that’s what it feels like.  The music, the fast talking, the obscure references, the endless supply of quirky characters.  Lorelai and Michelle are basically the same character interpreted a little bit differently by Lauren Graham and Sutton Foster, and Kelly Bishop’s two characters are definitely the same but with different wardrobes.

Even so, I have enjoyed my marathon.  It makes me miss Gilmore Girls, in a good way.  And now I adore Sutton Foster, whom I’ve never really noticed before.  (She can make what could quickly turn into rather cheesy dialogue honest and real.)  It’s too bad that the show didn’t have any closure whatsoever.

Now I wish I could rewatch seasons 2 and 3 of Veronica Mars before Monday, but it’s not going to happen.  Tonight Jacob and I have a night in Chicago staying at the Waldorf Astoria for free.

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Just a little test

I don’t actually know that anyone is still reading this blog.  But if you do manage to still read it in spite of the demise of Google Reader, then I will give you a prize.  I am letting you be one of the first to know that I’m pregnant.  (Or rather, I am presumed pregnant…my doctor’s office makes you come in for a blood test before they will talk to you with any respect because their patients include a lot of teenagers…but I will go there anyway because then we will have the local NICU if we need it again, and I like my doctor.)

After more than two years of trying, we are surprised and relieved and happy.  Now, even if we don’t get to #4, I believe that I can be content without too much effort.  Gabriel is a grace because we got pregnant right away.  Anneliese is a grace because she is a girl.  This baby is a grace because I was afraid it was getting to be too late; I won’t even mind very much if it’s a boy.

I’m not sure how to tell the facebook when the time comes.  I know that I have quite a few friends for whom such news is difficult, and I am sympathetic to that.  But I also have lots of people with whom I want to share my joy.  My feeling is that if you want to get something good out of the facebook, you have to be willing to put up with a lot (or just start blocking people, which you better believe I do), but that doesn’t make it any easier sometimes.

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Where dreams come true

I finished writing this a few weeks ago, and I thought that I had published it, but now I discover that I did not.  So now that it’s super overdue…

We survived our vacation to Disney World (ha ha about the “vacation” part), and there were ups and down and some more downs, but the ups were truly lovely.

I never went to Disney World as a kid.  I first went after I had finished my masters degree, a “now-I’m-all-grown-up-and-can-do-what-I-want” present to myself.  And I loved it.  Technically, this is not the first time for the kids either, since we went with Jacob on a work trip when Gabriel was 2 1/2 and Anneliese was five months, but this will always feel like their first time there.

The kids were bouncing off the walls with excitement right before we left, all through the airports on our way there (thankfully they were much calmer on the airplanes), and at the hotel once we arrived.  Even though I tried to give some ideas about what Disney World is like, you cannot prepare kids this young.  In the end, once they got past the sickness (Anneliese’s asthma flared up) and got used to being tired and hot, I think their minds were blown.  We’ve been home more than a month, and they keep asking about going again.  Jacob can probably make that happen next summer.

Anneliese was taken aback at first at how big the characters were, but once she got over that, they had a lot of fun meeting the characters (but not much fun waiting in line in order to meet them).  Gabriel did some kung fu with Woody and Buzz, and he was often interested in details of the costumes themselves.  Anneliese would jabber fairly incoherently at Daisy, Minnie, and Jessie.  However, she felt disappointed that the friends never played with her, which was rather sweet and sad.  (Speaking of characters, I have some thoughts on princesses, which I will try to turn into a separate, semi-interesting blog post at some later date.  Probably a year from now.)

I was worried that the rides would freak the kids out enough that they wouldn’t want to try anything, but that was not at all the case.  We did Toy Story Mania at Hollywood Studios first, and they asked for Toy Story ride all week (luckily there’s the Buzz Lightyear ride at Magic Kingdom as well).  Anneliese basically threw a tantrum every time a ride was over because she wanted to do it again immediately.  We didn’t do the 40-second Goofy roller coaster until the end of our final day because I thought it would be too much for them, but they loved it so much I wish we had tried it much sooner.  Gabriel pointed out the tea cups, which was another favorite, and it was fun to see Anneliese’s delight at It’s a Small World.  Anneliese loved the animals at Animal Kingdom, and Gabriel was excited about the slides at the play areas both there and at Hollywood Studios.  We didn’t spend as much time at Epcot as we could have, but I’m very glad that we went on the Spaceship Earth ride (in the giant golf ball) because they thought it was really neat and would have ridden it again.

We were able to minimize the time we spent waiting in lines by grabbing fast passes (it amazes me to overhear cast members constantly explaining what they are to people…don’t you do basic research before you come to Disney World?).  It was also incredibly helpful that I had gone in September with this trip in mind, so I had a very good idea of what rides we wanted to do and how to cut through the parks as efficiently as we could without having to refer to park maps terribly often.  We were able to average 5-6 hours at the parks each day, which was better than I expected, and we were happy with what we accomplished.  Although I had planned that we would definitely see fireworks at least one night, we ended up not doing it.  Anneliese had a few hard nights, which meant that everyone (except for Gabriel) had some hard nights, so it did not feel like a good idea to keep them out late.  Especially because we will be back.

Jacob and I talked a lot about how Disney World is a vacation that we can do again and again because it will always be such a different trip as the kids grow.  Now that they will remember it, we won’t have another “first time”, but there is so many rides and shows and experiences for them to continue to discover.  Ten or 12 years from now they won’t have the same joy giving the characters hugs (I would hope), but they will be old enough to go entertain themselves while Mom and Dad start to explore all of the fantastic restaurants we couldn’t even dream of walking into on this particular vacation.  (On the day of our anniversary, we ate our way around the World Showcase after renting a second stroller for Gabriel.  And we got buttons because it’s actually pretty fun to have every cast members tell you Happy Anniversary everywhere you go.)

And we loved our hotel.  I’m pretty sure that I will never again find another lazy river so perfect.  And we were upgraded to a Disney view, which meant we could see the Epcot fireworks/laser show from our window.

It was tiring, and I have to admit that I yelled at my kids a little too much, but we have really good memories.  Memories that get sweeter the more time that goes by.

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What I want to be doing

It’s one of those posts that sounds more like a to-do like than anything else.

I want to blog about Disney World.  Now that it’s been a month since we took that trip.  I also want to write about Disney World and everything since then in the kids’ journals before I get so hopelessly behind.

I started cutting squares for a rag quilt for Anneliese a year ago, and I want to put it together already.  And I want to decide on new sewing projects because I have so much fantastic fabric stashed away in my sewing room.  (I think I’m going to make bunting for the kitchen windows!  And how can I help but make another purse?  And then there’s everything else on Pinterest…)

And I need to type up the minutes from the MOPS meeting and download/upload photos and put laundry away and actually read something.

I have plenty of motivation, what I lack is energy.  What I really want is to take a nap…and still be able to go to sleep at night.  (Oh, who am I kidding; I can’t go to sleep at night anyway, which is why I’m too tired to accomplish anything at all.)

I want to have more to show for my days, even though keeping the kids alive one summer day at a time feels like a lot.  I’ll be productive again, one of these days.

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Baby blues

Anneliese is pretty much potty trained.  Of course I bought a big box of diapers that I will barely use, thinking that she would still wear a diaper at night for a long while, but most mornings she is dry, so before long we really will be a 100% diaper-free household.  Sure, that’s a great thing, and I’m happy, but I’m not.  First we took down the crib, then I started leaving the child locks hanging off the cabinet handles and I put the window cranks back on, and now we put the diaper genie in the garage.  The only baby gear left out is the high chair, because she still prefers to sit in it (well, that and the exersaucer, which I mean to drop off for friends to borrow).

I don’t wish for Anneliese to still be my baby.  This year she started answering questions with hilarious answers and using her own brand of logic and narrating everything along the way, which is so refreshingly normal.  And–be still, my heart–she makes up her own songs.  Maybe I do miss the teeny-tiny dresses, but I am not taking for granted that I can still pick out all of her clothes.  She can tell me that pink is her favorite color, but purple is still mine, and so far she isn’t pitching a fit about it.  We have plenty of whiny and dramatic moments, but I love watching her grow.

No, I’m not mooning over my baby girl getting so big (much).  But I never planned on hiding baby stuff away.  You know, because getting pregnant is just about deciding that you want another baby.  But then a year goes by.  And another.  And I’m tired of thinking ‘surely by then’.

And most of the time I’m too busy with the two I have to notice what I don’t have.  Gabriel is my boy, the child I wanted so much, so miraculous and beautiful and clever and challenging.  And Anneliese is the girl I wanted so much, so miraculous and beautiful and clever and challenging in completely different ways.  Sometimes–a lot of the time–I wonder if I’m I not allowed to want more.

I’m 35 now.  It’s just a number, except that it’s a little bit more than just a number.  We want four, which is so much more than just a number, but I no longer believe that will happen.  Now I’m just desperate for a third.  A third who will already be at least four years behind Anneliese in school.  That was not the plan.

One too many friends having (or having already had) one more than they really planned.  While I feel like I’m falling further and further behind.  And I’m painfully aware of how I sound to plenty of others, with my boy and my girl.  Haven’t I learned yet that life is rarely fair?

I fear never having closure; I want to be able to one day feel like “we’re done”.  I fear feeling that we’re missing people at the dinner table 20 years from now.  I fear learning to be content with the way things are.

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News shift

First Google Reader forced me to look for an alternative–I went to Bloglovin because I needed something with a mobile app; I’m happy enough with it–and now I am dropping CNN as my primary news source.

I’ve always been aware of the news, probably more than most of my peers, which is why my speech coach pushed me into extemp, and how I became a state champion.  Anyway.  When I was a kid, we watched the evening news during dinner and my mom subscribed to Time and Newsweek and read the newspaper first thing every morning.  For a long time I also subscribed to the newspaper and read it first thing, even as it became increasingly clear that a printed morning paper was no longer relevant as a news source.  When we moved away from Nebraska, I finally dropped that habit.

I do remember a time before CNN, of course, but ever since my family had cable, I have thought of CNN as the ultimate news source, especially at times of tragedy.  I watched Oklahoma City and Columbine on CNN.  When I got a series of e-mails from my mother on the morning of September 11th, I kept refreshing CNN until they could get some semblance of a headline back online.  When I wanted to hear the latest, I went to CNN.

But I have had a growing skepticism as 24 hour news has redefined the news.  I remember sitting at the dinner table every night of that damn O.J. Simpson trial trying to understand why this was the entire evening news broadcast night after night after night.  (I’m sure we didn’t actually watch it every night; I’m sure my parents turned it off plenty of time.)  That was a defining moment for me, but obviously I still followed television news for a long time.  Too long, obviously.

These days I never watch television news anymore–I can’t stand the noise and the lack of actual news, and don’t even get me started on what Fox News is–but I do watch The Daily Show and The Colbert Report for commentary on politics and on the news itself.  But I’ve still been reading most of my news on CNN.com.  Habit, laziness, whatever.

But this past week I finally hit my breaking point.  As the Daily Show reported–because sometimes the Daily Show is the only one doing real reporting–CNN “reported” that a suspect from the Boston marathon bombing had been caught, and then they spent an hour hour debating among themselves whether or not it was true (which it wasn’t, and they knew it) before they retracted that statement.  (I was paying more attention to this story than I probably would normally because Gabriel’s teacher ran the marathon and was on that street at the time.)  CNN didn’t lose their credibility with that–they lost it years ago–but finally I shook myself out of my daze to do stop listening.

The other factor here is that this week I’ve been watching the first season of HBO’s The Newsroom.  Yes, Aaron Sorkin is all idealism and pretension, and on every show he writes, his characters lecture at the audience So MUCH, but he’s right.

So I put the Associated Press app on my phone and I bookmarked BBC.  I should have done this a long time ago.  Better late than never.

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Kindergarten

Thinking about school for Gabriel for next year has been at best daunting and at worst downright frightening.  This semester he got an IEP with the school district, and he started two mornings a week in an early childhood class.  We have our ups and downs with this situation, and this taste of the school district has made us realize with a surprising amount of clarity that Gabriel is not going to be able to reach his potential in our school district, or any traditional classroom.  (My feelings about our school district is probably not helped by the fact that I’ve been reading Jonathon Kozol this week.)

To be honest, it’s a painful realization.  Jacob and I were always very successful in school, and I believe so strongly in the public schools for a number of reasons.  But now I feel something shifting in me as I am forced to reconsider what education should look like.  No, not “should”, but rather could, as in options I never before took seriously.  This is where, I think, parenting will change me the most.

Here is this new progressive school in the area.  I know someone who works there, so I keep hearing about without having to seek it out.  It is very sensory-based, prioritizes social interaction, and individualizes instruction.  It’s expensive, but surprisingly not out-of-reach.

We met with the director, then ate at our favorite Chinese restaurant (which is next door).  I opened the following fortune: “This is the year when ingenuity stands high on the list.”  Then Jacob passed me his fortune: “Wise men make more opportunities than they find.”  Never mind the fact that you can apply cookies fortunes to whatever situation you want if you try hard enough…

This is a shockingly easy decision for us to make.  This year has been its first year, just as we are looking for options. A school like this in a bigger city would have a daunting waiting list.   We are being given an incredible opportunity for Gabriel, and I actually feel excited.

Gabriel, my beautiful and strange child.  I’m still waiting for so much from him.  Being his mother is turning out to be so different from all expectation.   But I can say that now, for the first time in a long time, I feel real hope that he will get to where he needs to be sooner rather than too much later.

Now I can’t wait for him to go to school all day come fall (even though I had originally hoped that maybe we could find a half-day kindergarten).  It’s going to be wonderful for him.  And me.  Now I wish for Anneliese to go to more than two mornings a week (especially because I have an ongoing commitment one of those mornings).  When Gabriel was three years old, two mornings seemed like plenty; oh how things do change.

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