I’ve got your back

When my girls were little, I’d get up extra early in the already-early mornings and I’d make them breakfast and lunch and get all their things ready for the day. I am not a morning person and these weekday mornings were especially hard. I’d be making sandwiches and cutting up fruit and thinking “I can’t wait until they’re older. No more lunch-making duty for me. They can make their own and I can sleep a little longer.”

Every day, that litany would repeat in my head as I cut up fruit and packed Little Debbies and Cheetos, remembering which girl was currently not eating yogurt and which one couldn’t get enough.

And I couldn’t wait.

I couldn’t wait for the independence and self-sufficiency that would come with my girls getting older. And for the small break that I hoped I’d get from some of these thankless chores.

And sure enough, as they got into high school, I started to step back from the lunch-making duties.  I started traveling more for work and the girls had to do their own thing on the weeks I was out of town. I remember coming home from one trip and having them tell me about how my youngest would get up, make the coffee, make sure her also-not-a-morning-person sister was really and truly awake.  She’d make coffee, fix lunch, and then go up to get ready for the day, waking her sister again if needed.  And I marveled at this new normal they’d found while I was gone.

I thought, “They’re really doing this.  I can’t believe it. All these years and they did it all on their own!”

And I reveled in it.  My micro-managing mom mornings were finally coming to an end! Glory Hallelujah!

I started spending my mornings sipping tea and surfing social media and blogs, enjoying a slower start to my day.  I’d do the carpool run, but the girls pretty much managed their time and tasks without me. It was awesome.

However, in the last few months, both of my girls have had really crazy busy schedules. You know the kind I mean – where there are eleven thousand things to do, go to, read, study, finish, etc.  In that final push before the semester ends and the teachers are piling on the assignments, midterms and finals are looming, and everyone has some type of performance or gathering to attend.

They’re burning their candles at both ends.

And they’re in the stage of life where there isn’t much I can do as a mama to help them – I can’t take their tests. I can’t help with a project.  I can just be there for them, but that’s about it.

And so a few weeks ago, I decided I was going to do just that.

And I resurrected my micro-managing mama morning duties.  But with a slight change.  I’m not managing their day, hurrying them along and out the door.  But I am picking up some of those mundane chores for them.  I’m making the lunches and fixing the breakfast. Filling their water bottles and reminding them to take their vitamins.

What felt like so much to do a few years ago now feels like a little thing.  And in doing it I’m showing my girls I’m still here for them. Trying to take some of the stress of doing ALL the things so they can focus on doing the important things.  I know they’re capable. And have learned to manage these tasks. But I want to shoulder this for them and say, in an unspoken way, “I’ve got your back.”

One morning when my youngest had had a late rehearsal the night before, projects and tests that day, and she was exhausted and running on fumes, I’d packed her lunch, made her some breakfast and had everything waiting for her on the kitchen counter.  She came rushing downstairs, already running late and knowing she still had these things to do.  I could feel the stress and anxiousness coming off of her in waves as she dashed by.  She walked into the kitchen and skidded to a halt.

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“You did this for me? Oh, thank you, mama. I am running so late.”

And that’s when I knew I’d chosen the right path.  She can learn time management another week.  Right now I just wanted her to know she wasn’t doing it all alone.  I had her back.  “It’s all good, honey. I got you. Let’s go.”  And off we went for another jam-packed day.

Monday Morning Musings

Happy Monday,  y’all.

It’s a quiet Monday here – one girl is off to school and one girl is in bed recovering from a weekend “boot camp” church retreat. Came home sick with a cold and no voice. She’s going on 13 hours of sleep right now. But I think it was worth it, given the stories she shared yesterday before she crashed – stories she told with a hoarse whisper, her voice gone from congestion, late nights and lots of singing and shouting. Stories of faith, of friendship and of precious memories that were made.

 

One of the other moms we waited with yesterday – watching for the parade of buses to pull into the church parking lot – mentioned that she realized Saturday night that her son was making memories all of his own for the very first time. Memories that she couldn’t share with him. It resonated with me and I thought about that last night as my girl chose what to share with us – and as I heard the gaps in the stories that were most likely not intentionally kept from us, but just not part of what she chose to share.

 

It’s bittersweet. This growing up thing.

I’m so proud of my girls and the young women they are becoming.

I love watching them realize they have thoughts and opinions of their own – and helping them to sort through those (and learn that it’s OK if they differ from ours)

I love seeing them stepping out into unknown things (like a weekend church retreat) and embracing the challenges and emerging successful.

While my young one was off on her adventures this weekend, the big one was hanging out with us.  She went to church with us on Saturday night to volunteer at an event – and the staff loved her and begged me to bring her back. They were so appreciative of her willingness to serve and to dive in and do whatever was needed.

 

And on Sunday morning I fought back tears of pride as I watched her dive into a mess – a borderline special needs little boy who was having a “moment” – and respond with kindness, compassion and grace.  She calmed him down, loved on him, and provided him a safe place to recover his dignity. And then she stayed close to make sure he was OK for the rest of the hour we were with him.  I started to intervene and as I saw that she had it under control I just stepped back and let her go.  That’s her gift – relating to kids with special needs – and she is really good at it.  She loves them, and they love her.  And I’m so proud of her for what she does with them.

So, this Monday morning, as I sit here and sip my tea and look out at the dewy front yard, I’m reflecting on my two girls – no longer my babies, but young women coming into their own.  And I’m thinking of how blessed we are and wondering how in the heck they turned out like this.  You know what I mean? Super Man and I were talking last night about how so much of parenting is an experiment – you do what you think is right at the time but you never really know.  The result is often years ahead of you. You just say a prayer and hope the choices YOU make in the moment help THEM to make the right choices themselves when the time comes.

It’s the hardest job I’ll ever have.

It wears you out and breaks your heart.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Thoughts on a Rainy Day in August

I’ve been traveling this week for work.

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I don’t normally have to travel – maybe once a year at the most – so this was an unusual occurrence for me although not an unwelcome one.

Except for one fact.

My kids started school today.

Yeah. Crazy week.

I flew out on Monday and had two and a half days chock-full of meetings. Wonderful, exciting (seriously) meetings that left me energized and thrilled about what’s to come for work in the next few months. I work with a fantastic group of people and I can’t wait to get started on this next project with them. It’s going to be a LOT of work but it will also be a lot of fun.

I flew in late last night – flying in the rain over ATL was interesting. Grey, gloomy skies with pops of twinkling lights as I landed.

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When I finally made it home, I found this waiting for me on the kitchen counter:

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Isn’t that sweet?

They had also cleaned the house, done the laundry, stripped and remade beds (!) and made their lunches for the first day of school.

I love my girls. And, I love that they are big and can do all these things while I’m gone.  Talk about making a working mama’s life easier!!

I woke up this morning to get my babies ready for school – their first day of school – Big Girl started High School and Little Bit (who isn’t so little anymore) started Middle School. 

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When did this happen!?!? I mean, seriously. Some days it feels like I took a nap and they woke up grown.  Other days… well, I’m sure you know what I mean.

And now? I’m pooped.

I just posted this on my Instagram:

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And that’s exactly how I feel right now.

I’m going to go see how early I can get these large people that live with me to go to bed. Or, maybe I’ll just go to bed without them!

First Day of School 2014

Where did the summer go?

It seemed like it was just yesterday that we were packing our bags for Disney and counting down the days until school was out for the summer. And before you know it summer is over and school has begun again.

I have to say, though, I think my girls were more ready than me this year. Usually, I’m counting down the days, ready for the routine and structure that school time brings and they’re hoping and praying someone forgets that it’s time for school again. This year was different. Even though they said they were not excited or ready for school to start, I could tell they were.  Big Girl was checking the online schedule system a week before school started to see if they’d posted anything.  Little Bit had her book bag packed with her supplies days before school started.  They both had new clothes, new shoes and new supplies. They were ready.

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Only I wasn’t.  It was such a fun summer.  It’s the first one where I just threw schedules out the window – I sort of had to while we were at Disney and then I just never started them once we got home.  The girls are big now and schedules just didn’t seem to be as critical.  Our days started slowly. Tea and the morning news together. I’d go to work and they’d wander off to their rooms or the basement for a while to watch TV or play.  We’d break for lunch and then they’d do chores and then it was time for SuperMan to get home and dinner and maybe a swim. 

But I didn’t fret about dinner time or bed time – we often ate late – 8 or 9 PM even – and bedtimes seemed to creep closer and closer to 11 or 11:30 as the summer wore on.

But you know what?

It was OK.  We had fun. We relaxed and enjoyed our time together.  And they got to just veg out and be kids.  Be creative.  Be imaginative.  Be BORED. All those things I remember about my summers growing up.

And as July wound down and August blossomed bright with school, they were ready.

But I wasn’t.

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Not quite ready to set the birds loose from the nest again.  To watch them spread their wings and fly a little higher, a little further from Mama Bird.  To watch them walk into school with their heads held high and ready to tackle whatever was thrown at them.

And the house was quiet today.  Almost too quiet.

I kept thinking about all the mamas that are packing up their college freshmen and preparing to drive them to their dorms – knowing their baby bird is really flying the nest. 

Thank goodness it’s not time for that yet.  Because I’m sure not ready.

What a week

It’s been a busy week at our house – lots of happenings for our family, especially the little one.

First, there was a lunch date on Saturday with Mommy & Daddy ~

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And manicures with Mommy.

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Then, there was pumpkin carving with our neighbors on Sunday evening (Big Girl was in on the carving but I didn’t get a picture of her)

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And then a field trip on Thursday to the planetarium~

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And then finally trick-or-treating with our friends ~

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And now we are all exhausted and ready for the weekend.

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Kittyless

Last night, my sweet Scooby cat – my companion of 21 years – went to Kitty Heaven.

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She had been declining rapidly in the past few months and even more so in the last two weeks. So much so that she had become paralyzed in her lower back and back legs. And while I am glad that she is no longer suffering and will finally be at peace, I’m really going to miss her.

Scooby was one of those scrawny little kittens we adopted at the humane society – she was a gift from SuperMan and looked like this tiny little rat with big ears, big gold eyes and not much else.  She used to run around the house, scooting across the floors as fast as her little kitten feet would take her.  (Which is where she got the nickname Scooby.  Her real name was Gabriella Pussycat)

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She was the senior kitty in the house for a long time. Putting up with a lot of new feline and canine additions with grace and dignity.  She would look at the newcomers like, “Seriously? Another one?!”  but she always accepted them into the fold and taught them who was the boss and who would and wouldn’t accept their playful attentions.  Our giant puppies learned to back away carefully when she walked through the room – giving the matriarch the respect she was due.

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As she neared her twentieth year last year, SuperMan and I knew that we were living on borrowed time with our Scooby cat.  She had slowed down considerably and the age was showing in her fur (white appearing in the black) and in her increasingly diminishing activity levels.  In the past six months or so she had really begun to decline. She had “spells” (I think they were seizures) and began to lose the use of her back legs.  The past month has really seen a rapid decline.  We braced ourselves and the girls for what we knew was to come.

Last night, my sweet kitty finally went to her rest.  While I’m sad and my lap is cold and my house a little quieter today, I am at peace because I know SHE is at peace.

Superman, the girls and I are trying to remember the good days and the snuggles and love we got from and gave to our Scooby girl.  It’s especially hard because she was our last kitty.  My Gracie cat left us right after Labor Day.

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Hug your creatures close, folks.  Love them while you can.

We are so fortunate to have these creatures with us in our lives who love us unconditionally, expecting nothing but our love in return.  They trust us with their lives and in turn give us so much.

This is the first time, I think, in my life (my adult life for sure) that I will be kitty-less.  I’m not quite sure yet what we will do, if anything, about that.  With the big galoots in the house, I’m not sure a kitten would be advisable, but the girls are already campaigning (and have been since Gracie died) for a new kitty.

I think, right now, I need to grieve and to remember my two girls.  Maybe in a few months we’ll add to our fur family again.

Right now, I’m going to go hug those galoots and be glad they’re here to keep me company today.

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Autumn Adventures

Last week the girls had two half-days and one holiday for their end of term “break” and so we took off for the mountains as fast as we could go.  We headed to our favorite spot – in North Carolina near the Cherohala Skyway. We stayed at a cabin that we’ve stayed in before and met Mom and my stepdad for the long weekend.

On Thursday, it was rainy and cool so we spent most of the day at the cabin listening to the rain and relaxing. It was a lazy day and one we very much needed.  We spent a lot of time right out here on the porch enjoying the rain and yet staying dry.

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On Friday, the day dawned cool and crisp and so SuperMan and I decided to take the girls to the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest for a hike. It is a wilderness area so the trails are rustic and rough, but it was a beautiful walk through the woods.

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SuperMan and Big Girl led the way as they’ve been there a few times on previous trips.

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The streams rushing along the paths were so beautiful and soothing.

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SuperMan was never one to stay on the beaten path – and he wasn’t going to here, either…

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Big Girl shot a “selfie” and got both of us as I walked up into the picture by accident. I like it, though. Not sure why she likes the lopsided angle, but a lot of her selfie shots are that way. Must be a teenager thing.

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Along with the very big trees there were very big leaves which doubled nicely for bunny ears.

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My little tree-hugger. Smile

Little Bit and I got tired on the hike and headed back to the base camp early while SuperMan and Big Girl finished up the route. We propped our (tired) feet up and relaxed in the sunshine by the stream while we waited on the others.

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Oooh, my achin’ feet. Cowboy boots were not meant for hiking in the mountains… (lesson learned)

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After we left the Joyce Kilmer Forest, we headed up to the overlook above the trails. IMG_4018

SuperMan was keeping me warm. It was breezy (and cold!) up there.

Then we headed over the pass for a ride along the Cherohala Skyway.  As always, it was beautiful.

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Isn’t that just spectacular?

On the other side of the Skyway is Tellico Plains, TN.  As we drove along towards Tellico Plains, we passed the Tellico river. It was absolutely beautiful and so after we ate some barbeque and headed back over the Skyway to the cabin SuperMan stopped so that I could take some pictures of the river.  My scenic photography was interrupted by two goofballs who decided to be in the photos …

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They’re cute, though, aren’t they?

Summer Stories (continued)

It is still technically summer, you know. Even if we’re in school and it doesn’t exactly feel that way based on our schedules.  Fall doesn’t start for almost 3 weeks!  And it certainly felt like summer this past weekend… 90+ degree days and high humidity. Ugh.

This past Saturday, SuperMan’s company had a party to celebrate their 65th anniversary.  All employees were invited and they closed down the zoo and catered a big family party.  We LOVE the zoo, so it was most definitely something we didn’t want to miss.IMG_3800[1]

As I said, it was HOT.  But we had a good time – we got to see the new baby gorilla (about 2 weeks old!)

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Giraffes, lions, tigers and bears (oh my!) (sorry, it just slipped out)

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We enjoyed visiting with some of SuperMan’s work friends and their families, ate BBQ for dinner, rode the train, listened to some speeches, and said good night to the critters as we headed home from a very fun evening.

As we were heading home, SuperMan kept turning here and turning there — I had no idea where we were or were we were going.  I never worry, though, because SuperMan has a homing beacon in his body somewhere and we always manage to find our way home.  In no time, we were cruising past his current job site – a hulking building that takes up an entire city block –

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It’s always fun to see where he is working and watch the transformation from a shell to a finished masterpiece.  It’s especially fun when they do new construction and things start as a muddy hole in the ground and morph into a skyscraper.  This is a restoration of a historic building and I’m happy to see they’re repurposing it and giving it new life. It will be fun to see how it develops in the next year.

I happened to ask SuperMan if we were close to “that donut place we used to stop at when we were down here somewhere that time”  Luckily for me, I have a man who can read my mind and knows what those very vague statements mean and can turn them from a passing comment into reality.  (which is one of the reasons why I call him SuperMan!)

And before I knew it, we pulled into heaven on earth –

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*choirs of angels sing*

Yes, the light was on. It meant a mandatory stop.

The girls had never had fresh, hot donuts from Krispy Kreme so we absolutely, positively, had do share that experience with them. And I swear they taste even better if you eat them after 10PM (and have no calories).

We drove out of the parking lot with two dozen donuts and some milk and we were quickly diving in.  From the moans and sighs in the back seat, I think the girls loved them as much as we did.  SuperMan warned me to be careful, “You’re going to be in a sugar coma.” But I told him I’d be in a happy  sugar coma, so it would be ok. Smile

It was a late night but a very fun evening for all of us… family time is always the best time.

Summer Stories (part 2)

Continuing with my recap of the summer adventures, I thought I’d share with you some pictures from Little Bit’s 9th birthday party.

We vacillated for weeks on what we would do for her party. Traditionally, we have a pool party; but this year with monsoon-like rains every single day, we were unsure whether or not the weather would cooperate.  We sent out invites with the warning that plans were subject to change and then we crossed our fingers and prayed for sunshine.

The day dawned hot and sunny and our hopes were up. I let everyone know that we’d meet at the pool and began to gather our supplies – cake, cups, etc.  At party time, we were all set up and the weather was still holding out.

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The guests arrived and we had a fabulous time – as part of our rainy weather backup plan, the girls and I had planned some “Minute to Win It” games so we took those with us to the pool and played them as well.  We had such a great time – even the grown ups got in on the fun.

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Here’s the whole gang –

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We had such fun – even the guys – who ended up doing a little minor repair on the pool when the light fell out. Thank goodness one of them was an electrician and could get ‘er done. Smile

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Question: how many guys does it take to change a pool light bulb? hee hee

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She had such a good time – I think everyone did – and the rain held out until right when it was time to leave.  As we pulled into the driveway it started to rain.

What a perfect birthday!