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Friday, September 28, 2018

Day in the Life - Part-time Working Mom Edition

6 am: Time to rise and shine! This is 45 minutes later than I used to wake up and I cannot tell you how much I love and appreciate those extra 45 minutes of sleep.

I wake up early enough to do a 30-minute workout. Some days I run, some days I do workout videos from fitnessblender, some days I do Pinterest workout routines, and some days, like this one, I'm feeling lazy and I just walk in place/stretch while watching the news. 

6:30-6:55 am: Shower and start getting ready for the day. (Brian leaves the house at 6:45 am for work, which allows him to get home a little earlier in the evenings!) I know you're dying for me to do a makeup tutorial since clearly I am a beauty blogger in the making, but that will have to wait for another day. I will say my favorite makeup item is this Tarte tinted BB cream.

6:55-7:10 am: Eat breakfast (peanut butter toast with half a banana) and prep the twins' breakfast (dinosaur oatmeal - insert eye roll- and strawberries) while watching the beginning of The Today Show. Usually this is also when I pack my lunch, but on this particular day, I packed all my lunches for the week on Sunday so I got to skip this step.

7:10-7:35 am: Wake the twins up. They are both almost always grumpy and require lots of prodding to get dressed/brush their teeth/make their beds. I miss having Brian home to help me with this part! On this particular morning, someone peed in their pajamas (thankfully not enough to soak the sheets) so I also got to start an early morning load of laundry.

The twins eat breakfast while I finish getting ready. If they have time once they finish, they get to watch part of a TV show while I clean up breakfast, etc.
7:35-7:55 am: Noah and Buster had to go into the kennel for the day since rain was yet again in the forecast. I pack up lunches and load the car before we leave the house at 7:45ish to head to school. (Colby was unbuckled because we were just waiting for our turn to pull up in the carpool line, FYI :) I drop them off and it's off to work I go!

8:15 am-2 pm: I'm at work and taking care of business. I moved into a new office when I came back as a contractor and now I have a pretty nice view of the freeway and Pappasito's... which means I am very regularly craving Mexican food. I usually eat lunch in the break room with co-workers (long live lunch bunch!) from 11:45 am-12:30 pm and this day was no exception. 

2-3:10 pm: Most days I go home and have an hour of down time before picking up the twins, but on this particular day I had to make a quick Costco run. Once I got home, I sorted mail, had a snack (those green pea crisps are really tasty, for the record!), updated my PHR re-certification application, and let the dogs out of their prison before heading out. Had I not had an errand to run, I would have resumed my preferred afternoon activity of watching Dawson's Creek, because I'm mature like that.

3:10-3:45 pm: The twins get out of school at 3:25 pm and I park and walk to pick them up (no thank you, afternoon carpool line). They were both excited to tell me they received good behavior reports for the day, which was a refreshing change from the days prior this week! Also for a change, the mosquitoes weren't eating us alive so I let them play on the playground for a few minutes before we left. 

Once we got home, I unloaded and sorted through the 8 million things in their backpacks and folded the load of laundry from the morning.

3:45 pm-5:30 pm: The twins each get to pick a TV show while I clean out lunch boxes, make lunch for the next day, and get everything ready for dinner. Fridays are my grocery days, so I also started on our grocery list. Brian got home at 5 pm and we ate dinner shortly thereafter. He was thrilled, as you can tell!

5:30-7:30 pm: Clara has ballet/tap on Thursdays so I take her while Brian and Colby hang out, which usually involves them playing Pokemon Go, watching Pokemon on TV, or doing some other activity revolving around Pokemon... can you tell what Colby's current obsession is? Clara and I got home at 7, at which time we did baths and bedtime (part 1).

7:30-8:45 pm: I had my nightly fudgesicle (because again, I have very sophisticated taste) caught up on social media, e-mail, etc. while Brian watched football (yawn). Normally we would have gone upstairs to enforce bedtime (part 2) around 8-8:15, but since the twins don't have school today, we let them stay up playing a little later than normal.

9-10 pm: Bath and bedtime for me!

So there you have it. This isn't 100% representative of my days lately as this particular day was a little more full than most, but it still gives you a decent glimpse into our new routine. As I said, I have no idea what to expect when my temporary contract role wraps up... I mean, there are only so many episodes of Dawson's Creek available to pass the time, am I right?!

Monday, September 24, 2018

Kindergarten Ramblings (Alternatively: I'm baaaaack... maybe)

Remember that time that, after 10+ years of continuous blogging, I abruptly stopped with no explanation? Sorry about that. Well actually, I'm not really sorry about that because it has been refreshingly freeing not to feel "obligated" to crank out weekend recap posts since that's really what the blog turned into anyway.

I kept thinking I would feel the urge to get back into it but the urge never struck and so I just kept the hiatus going. Fast forward to this past summer. In July, I turned in my notice at my job, where I had been working for almost 11 years. Brian and I had been talking for a while about how I would like to stop working full-time by the time the twins started Kindergarten, so once the calendar changed to 2018, we started discussing the possibility more seriously.

We crunched the numbers and knew that it would be a stretch to make it work on one income, but after much thought and prayer, we realized it was time to take a leap of faith and go for it. When I finally worked up the courage to put in my notice, everyone was shocked, myself included. I had been planning to do it but simply couldn't wrap my brain around it actually happening, and truthfully my last day felt a bit like an out of body experience.

My last day was August 1st. We then went on a (pre-planned) cruise with some friends for a few days before I came back to spend 1.5 weeks as a stay-at-home mom before the twins started school. Those 1.5 weeks went quickly and basically just felt like a really long weekend.

Despite the fact that they were just tiny little 5+ pound newborns a few blinks ago, on August 15th, Colby and Clara started Kindergarten. The next day, I went back to work for my same employer on a part-time basis as a temporary contractor. So yeah, there were (are) a lot of changes going on in this house.

I work from 8:15 am-2 pm, Monday through Thursday. So basically I drop the twins off at school, go to work, come home for about an hour, then pick them up at school and begin our afternoon/evening routine. On Fridays, I volunteer at the school during lunch (opening yogurt tubes, peeling oranges, etc.) and run errands- for obvious reasons, this is my favorite day of the week, but it also seems to go by the fastest!

I would like to do a new "day in the life" post some time soon to capture the new routine both for my own memory's sake and for those of you that are equally nosy and like to know how I fill my days now in this new season of life.

But besides the fact that our world has been logistically rocked (in a very First World Problem kind of way), I have also been itching to write lately so that I could reflect a little bit on how the transition has impacted all of us on a slightly deeper level. Again, this is partially for my own therapeutic purposes, and partially because I'm hoping someone else will read this and say, "Yes! Me too!" If you're one of those people that reads this and thinks, "Whoa, you are super high strung and need to take a chill pill," know that I'm having those same thoughts, too.

The biggest shift for him has been that I am spending more time with the kids than he is (whereas prior to me quitting, we were rarely ever not with them together thanks to our dual working status and carpooling arrangement). This means he has to listen to me whine about them more and that when he gets home, the mood has already been established. I can imagine it is tricky (and a little terrifying) for him to arrive home and not quite know what to expect. Did the kids have a good day or a bad day? Have I already reached the end of my patience or am I for some reason inexplicably relaxed that day? God bless him.

I will say that the lack of rest/nap time has affected her more than Colby. She doesn't come home sleepy or pass out at the dinner table, but she just gets cranky and emotionally fragile in the evenings more easily than she did before.

Other than that, she has really adjusted to Kindergarten pretty well. She loves her teacher, loves making new friends, and seems to be thriving in a predictable environment wherein she is often "rewarded" for doing the right thing (she gets this from me).

I would honestly say that between the twins, she has adjusted the most smoothly, which surprises me because I spent more time than I care to admit fretting about how she would do in the months leading up to school and I hardly ever gave Colby's transition a second thought since I figured it would be a non-event. Silly me, of course, because my concerns were all rooted in her academic abilities. And while yes, the fact that she (still) hasn't mastered her letters and numbers has come up, it has not been an issue like I thought it would be and she seems to be catching on more quickly than I anticipated.

Much to my surprise, Colby is the one that has been struggling to adjust. The good part is that I don't think he realizes this at all and he seems to enjoy school for the most part. He would definitely still prefer to be at home, but I don't think he is unhappy in the new environment.

He started off the year with a substitute teacher because his permanent teacher hadn't been hired yet. She was sweet and more than likely a little hands-off, so the first couple of weeks with her were uneventful. However, as soon as his permanent teacher started (literally on the first day she was there), we started getting reports in his daily folder about his behavior.

It has all been relatively minor... he lays down on the carpet when they're supposed to be sitting and listening, he speaks without raising his hand, he gets up and moves around at lunch when he's supposed to stay in one place. There have also been a few episodes of disobedience (telling the teacher "no" and sticking his tongue out at her... neat). As is the case in probably every other Kindergarten classroom in America, they use a green/yellow/red color chart to report on behavior and I would say he has come home on "yellow" about 75% of the time thus far, which is fairly mortifying to a former teacher's pet like myself.

I know in my head that this is all normal. He is 5. This is new to him. He's a boy. But it has been very challenging for me not to take it as a personal affront to our parenting abilities.

Which leads me to...

Nevermind the minor identity crisis I've been experiencing about not having a full-time job. Truthfully that blow has been softened since I basically went right into a part-time role doing a lot of the same things I was already doing. The real struggle for me has been Kindergarten.

The obvious issue mentioned above is that my self-esteem has taken a major hit as a result of not having "perfect" children that have impressed their teachers with their stellar behavior and above average intelligence. I KNOW THIS IS INCREDIBLY UNFAIR AND SELFISH OF ME, but it is just how I feel so I'm going to be honest about it.

The reality is that I put the same unachievable expectations on myself, and find it very challenging to give myself any grace, so often the same is true in my expectations with others, especially those I'm close with and even more so those in my immediate family, since I more or less see them as extensions of myself.

Basically Kindergarten has been full of new settings and exposure to new people for all of us (obviously them with their classmates, teachers, etc.), but also me with meeting the parents, getting to know the teachers/school administration, etc. With all of this newness comes a lot of vulnerability and I guess I just didn't anticipate how that would make me feel. Or honestly how it would make the twins feel, because I'm sure some of their behavior is a result of some of these same feelings.

So yeah, it has been harder than I thought. Overall, I know that we could all be doing a much crummier job of adjusting. We aren't dealing with any severe behavioral or academic issues and I have been making a few new friends with other parents (though still waiting for the appropriate time to add them on Facebook considering the only way I know most of their last names is through extensive online stalking). The bottom line is that change is hard, but it's extra hard for perfectionist creatures of habit like myself... and their family members.

I'm pressing on in my quest to pursue grace over perfection for all of us and asking for forgiveness when I screw it up again. In the meantime, I might report back with updates or I may fall off the radar again. You'll just have to stay tuned intermittently to find out!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Post-Christmas 2017

In the life of a family with two full-time working parents and kids in full-time daycare, the concept of "breaks" (spring break, summer break, winter break, etc.) doesn't really apply. To me and Brian, this doesn't mean much because most working adults don't get those types of breaks from their jobs anyway; but for our kids, it means that with the exception of vacations, they really never get any extended time "off."

So this year, like the past couple of years, we made an effort to take off the week between Christmas and New Year's and keep the twins at home as well. Although it's a tiny bit painful to know we still have to pay for the full week of daycare tuition even though they aren't there, it has been well worth it!

We have managed to get in a few outings during our time off, but mostly we have been hanging around the house playing and, most importantly, relaxing. Colby and Clara have loved it because unlike a normal weekend, they aren't being rushed off to accompany us on errands, go to social functions, etc. As I often mention, I am one of those people that struggles to just enjoy free time and prefers to fill it with productivity, so having a few days with no agenda has been helpful for all of us!

A few of the highlights from our time at home have been sleeping in (all 4 of us for a change), lighting fires in the fireplace, enjoying new Christmas toys, and for me and Brian, catching up on Dateline after the twins go to sleep (it's a thrilling life we lead).

A few highlights from when we weren't hanging around the house:

Breakfast at La Madeleine (aka: killing time while the housekeeper was at the house)- the twins were extra excited about sitting next to the fireplace!

Bowling with the Olivers (before Avery fell victim to the flu)

We were all a little surprised when Colby ended up getting the highest score of our whole family!

Donuts at a new (to us) donut place in town and a trip to the children's museum

Colby was for real obsessed with this phone booth exhibit; Clara was not actually trapped, though her pitiful expression would suggest otherwise

Dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, complete with costumes; Colby is a major homebody and as usual, he wanted to stay home for dinner. He agreed to go only if he could wear a costume, so of course Clara followed suit. 

It hasn't been the most eventful way to end 2017, but it has certainly been the most restorative, and for that, I am thankful. 2018, we're ready for you!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Christmas 2017

I know you're all relieved that I didn't keep you waiting long for this much-anticipated Christmas recap. You're welcome.

We road tripped up to Dallas last Saturday (side note: 8 am is too early to have to listen to Captain Underpants... the twins disagree with me on that). We spent that day helping prepare for Christmas Eve (including helping Franny make cookies), running amuck with the cousins, looking at Christmas lights, and welcoming Uncle Andrew into town.

On Christmas Eve, Mom, Allison, and I started the day with our traditional mall walking before everyone ate out for lunch. We intended to go to the family service at church afterward, but only ended up making a brief visit to the live nativity (petting zoo) area outside before deciding it was too cold and heading home.

Colby's highlight was feeding the camels whereas Clara's was getting hot chocolate and a cookie; clearly they both embraced the true meaning of Christmas. Also, fun fact: this is the same church where Colby and Clara were baptized, my siblings and I were all baptized, my parents were married, and even my grandparents were married!

Christmas Eve also held a few photo shoots with only minimal protesting from Colby. Thankfully there were a lot of cookies on hand to use for bribes.

The best photo opp was my family's recreation of our 1988 Christmas pic- impressive, right? We also posed for a "normal" picture afterward. I'm sad that the 6 of us don't get to be together more often!

My parents hosted dinner for our extended family that night. The twins, as always, were in Heaven with all the cousins around! They also made s'mores with daddy and once they were nice and sugared up, we got them in their (matching) jammies and attempted to get them to sit still for Pop Pop's reading of 'Twas The Night Before Christmas

Much to everyone's delight, Santa got the memo that we were in Dallas and made a stop at Franny and Pop Pop's that night to deliver their presents. Colby was most excited about his new Devastator Transformer and Clara was nominally excited about her new Lite Brite (another nod to the '80s!). 

We also got to open lots of great presents from Franny and Pop Pop and were yet again reminded of just how loved and spoiled we all are!

The rest of Christmas day was spent playing with presents, visiting my grandmother (who was at home sick with the flu, sadly), and eating meals with my family. It was actually not unlike most of the Christmases of my childhood, really, except that I had a lot more responsibilities :)

We packed up the next morning to head back to Sugar Land and were sad to see yet another fun-filled Christmas come to an end. This time of year is always very overwhelming to me (particularly now as a mom), but somehow when it wraps up, I'm still always sad to see it end.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Pre-Christmas 2017

OMG 17 days have passed since I last posted and with the 8 million things that have occurred in December, that is basically like a lifetime. Let's do a speed round catch-up, shall we? I'll do it in pre-Christmas, Christmas, and post-Christmas installments so as not to overwhelm myself you with pictures and mind-numbing recaps.

(1) Two weeks ago, the twins had their LAST EVER daycare Christmas program! I'm not as sentimental about this as many other pre-K moms because admittedly the Christmas "program" at the twins' school has never been much to write home about. All that to say, we still enjoyed watching them sing Christmas carols with their friends (read: sort of mouth the words and hide).

(2) The next day, we hit up the local farmers market, where we purchased zero produce and opted instead for hot chocolate, Christmas cookies, and a miniature pie. This was in keeping with our all carb/sugar dietary plan for the month of December. To really hammer that plan home, we made gingerbread cookies afterwards (bottom left). The bottom right pic of Brian and Colby playing with Transformers has no significance other than that Clara jacked my phone when I wasn't looking and took this picture on her own- I was glad she captured our boys doing what they love to do together the most!

(3) That night, we went on a Christmas double date with the Olivers to have dinner, dessert, and look at fancy Christmas lights. It also happened to be the 14th anniversary of Brian's and my first date, so that was pretty special.

(4) The next morning, we celebrated Christmas with Brian's family and had a belated birthday celebration for my SIL, Shannon. There were seriously more gifts bestowed upon the twins (and us) than I could count, which was awesome, but also put them (and if we're being honest, me) into a bit of sensory overload and resulted in a lot of undesirable behavior for the rest of the day. 'Tis the season!

Nonetheless, we were grateful, as always, for Brian's family's endless generosity and for time to celebrate together.

(5) That afternoon, we did some more early Christmas celebrating with my grandmother (and my dad, who came into town). There was an abundance of Mexican food and more presents for the twins, so it was a successful gathering.

We followed it up by going on a hayride with our small group to look at Christmas lights, which was more fun than I expected. However, as you can imagine, by the end of this particular day, we were all totally exhausted.

(6) Later that week, the twins had a Christmas party at school (I wasn't able to attend since it was during work, but a sweet mom friend sent me this pic of my two little nuts), and then Clara's dance class had a little party that night as well.

So much celebrating, and it was only December 21st at that point! I took the next day off of work to pack and prepare for our trip to Dallas, which I'll recap in the next post. Sorry to leave you all on the edge of their seats, but that's just the way it goes!