Sunday, February 19, 2017

Welcome home!

There is nothing like coming home to my family after a long work trip. This week I returned home from a week in Vietnam. The kids loved the outfits I brought back from them, and I loved the little notes and constant hugs! Family is the best!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Valentine's Day

This year, my Valentine filled both dad and mom role for a week while I went to Vietnam for my work. He did the cooking, cleaning, laundry, meeting the school bus, nagging about homework and piano practice, and even driving to baseball practice.  On Valentine’s Day, my husband cleaned up vomit from a sick four-year-old all night long, let two little girls sleep in his bed afterward the sickness, and the next day picked  the girls up from the school nurse—when he was home sleeping because he himself got sick.  He did it all for me and for our children.  Thank you, Marc.

Our dear friends, the Piantanidas, a few months ago. We miss them! This year they mailed Valentine cards and treats all the way from Colorado.

Friday, February 10, 2017

This is 40

I vividly remember my 30th birthday. I had strep throat and felt terrible. Marc and I were living with his parents in Arlington, Virginia where we moved when Marc had graduated from college the summer before. Joseph was not quite one.  As I turn 40 this week, I’ve been thinking back on this decade.  I really grew into motherhood—having two more children (my daughters) including giving birth to Abigail unassisted in the car!! I filled my days with library story times, visits to construction sites to see the big trucks, hours at playgrounds and parks, and many, many miles of walking pushing the stroller—graduating from the single stroller to the double stroller (and often Joseph accompanying with a bike or scooter).  I spent hours on laundry and cooking and stretching each dollar as we lived on one salary in one of the most expensive places in the United States. This last summer our children’s librarian retired. To honor her, I created a photo book of her with our family over the years.  On her last day we hugged and both sobbed. Both of us were ending phases in our lives. She was heading into retirement, but I knew that days of Spanish storytime, and Halloween craft activities, and the many hours we spent singing and reading and enjoying the discovery of young childhood were fleeting for me too. On hard days, Ms. Desiree would help me laugh and sing and read with my kids—reminding me of the very best parts of motherhood.  I know that this phase is passed and I lately look longingly at the new moms with their one little toddler and think of the hours at the park and the springtime walks ahead of them. But I know this new decade will bring other joys of parenting—of watching my children really develop their own talents and interests. This will be a decade of baseball and soccer practices, dance recitals and piano lessons.  I see endless science fair projects and homework nagging. I also see glimpses of the joys to come in developing friendships with my children. Joseph and I can chat about all kinds of issues now; he has opinions and questions, and best of all I simply enjoy him as a human being!  He’s kind and good and curious and ready to take on the world. I see Abigail learning to read and soaking up as much information from everywhere she can. She spells her answers to questions instead giving the word, and she literally dances and runs and skips through her day. When she arrives home from school she runs laps in the house as she tells me about her day. At dinner she climbs on the back of the chair/bench, runs into the other room and back again between bites.  It is like she literally cannot sit still. And, Anna. Our sweet Anna who if she were the first child would still be little, but as #3, she is anxious to keep up with the older ones. She rides the bus with the big kids and attends Montessori preschool at the elementary school.  Her backpack is as big as she is. She gives reports of what happens on the bus and who gets in trouble at recess. Sometimes she is allowed in the recess club with Hanna, who actually is a bit of a “mean girl,” from what I can understand. Anna is still a champion snuggler, who snuggles every morning in our bed. All the kids still let me lay by them and snuggle at night before they go to sleep.  Anna also really counts on me staying and waving and blowing kisses until the school bus is out of sight. She and Abigail are best of friends and archenemies! Anna is the only person on earth who calls Abigail, “Abby” and I love it. They play games and dress up and talk about their school days in the same Montessori class. They do art projects and love jumping on the trampoline with dad. And they have a wonderful time until it abruptly erupts into an all-out war, where an insult can break Anna’s heart. But she has learned to respond with a big shove—I guess I am glad she stands up for herself!
I feel so lucky that I have had my 30s to stay home with my children and fully embrace that season of my life. I had endless days (and nights) of young motherhood. Times that were hard, but bonds that will bless me forever. 
As I enter into this new decade, I realize how much will change. I’m a full-time university professor. I travel internationally as the director of our international social work program.  I’m lucky to have a job that I love and a schedule that is amazing—I see the kids off on the bus and am home when they get off the bus on most days. Marc’s work is flexible enough that he can be home early on the one night a week I teach late. We've come along way, baby! Right now, I'm living the dream--with the best of full family life and soul-stretching professional life. 

I'm ready for this decade!!

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Winter Zoo Day

Luckily, we had an early release day which coincided with  unseasonably warm February weather. We headed to the zoo. I was in heaven--surrounded by cute kids, nice weather, and the whole National Zoo to explore. Just what my mama heart needed.

This video is Ariel singing  on her rock! In case you couldn't tell! Isn't Anna wonderful?