"Time Stand Still" OR "The Crier"

Do you have any Facebook friends sending their firstborn off to school or out into the world this fall? Are you sending a sweet baby into the realm of new teachers and new friends yourself?

Yeah, me too.

We've come to the end. We've made it to the finish line in many respects. Our little birds have flown the coop. From what I hear, time only goes faster from here on out.

Oh Lord, please make time stand still.

Wanna see me cry? Let's just start talking about how someday these little people who are MINE, (mine mine mine), will one day, up and leave me. And they won't need me or in some rare (very rare) cases, they won't want me (I don't want me either, guys).

And this once bustling and busy house will be empty. And too quiet. And perhaps really clean.


I already feel like I want to make time stand still. My "baby" will very soon make the transition to "toddler" and my big guy Mr. A is officially no longer a toddler or preschooler. We've entered the realm of grade school y'all and I'm completely terrified. Can you imagine these kids in middle school or high school?

I can't, really. And I don't want to. Do you see the level of completely irrational emotions I go to? Two of my kids aren't even in school yet, and the other two are in primary grades.

In the words of a fave blogger, Jen, "I should be medicated."

And then the crying, like instantaneous sobbing, with every class assignment letter we receive. I made the mistake of opening one of those bad boys in the front yard while the kids were playing last week. Mr. A's response? "Mommy, why are you whining?"

Compassionate little fellow.

Then I nearly choked myself on a sob at the school today while looking at the new class assignments list they put out in the window. Of course I was surrounded by a group of other, more experienced moms. I felt like the word "rookie" was emblazoned across my forehead.

Oh geez, here comes "the crier."

They probably have a bet going on how many seconds it'll take me to ugly cry on the first day of school. ($50 bucks says I don't last 10 seconds).

But the school issue aside, even when I'm home with my babies, I'm constantly taking pictures of them to help me remember this crazy time. And oh the iPhone videos in an effort to capture those moments full of garbled toddler-ese grunts and grins. Or the way they dance with one leg cocked out to the side. Or their funny little songs.

And even with those pics or videos in hand and heart, I still forget. Because they always seem to get bigger even when I ask them specifically not to. Then over time I can't seem to remember what they were REALLY like every day.

How their small voices sounded.

Their little mannerisms.

What their hands felt like.

The funny ways they said, "carry you" with outstretched arms for "pick me up," or "gueek" instead of "drink."

What their fuzzy heads felt like resting on my chest, heavy with sleep.

So Lord, if you can't stop time, can you please help me remember? I don't want to forget these sweet babies. Even on the bad days and the crazy days or the days I can hardly see their little faces through my tears. I'll take all the days I can get.

Some thoughts on staying home...

A few minutes ago I read a post from a great blogger named Bonnie. I was introduced to her page by my friend Meagan, I think...sometimes I get lost so far down an interwebs rabbit hole that I really have no idea where I started or how I got there!

Anyway, Bonnie is a first-time mommy and a high school teacher and her post was about the mix of feelings that comes with working outside the home and being a stay-at-home mommy. I've got a little experience in that arena.  

These are the questions Bonnie posed to her readers: 

"Those of you who stay at home full time or part time, what do you do to keep yourselves busy?  Is it hard for you or do you enjoy the long, open days with your kids? Honestly, I think more than anything I will feel lonely.  I mean, I adore my little June bug, but she's not exactly one for stimulating conversation and you can only go to Target so many times a week."

I'll do my best to answer you, Bonnie, but know that this is but one perspective in a world full of perspectives and opinions and thoughts. Maybe there will be some great comments to offer you even more perspectives. 

For the six years I was in graduate school (Master's followed closely by Ph.D. work) I would go to campus several days a week and then spend the rest of the time at home with the kiddos. That alternating schedule just seemed to work for us. 

It was certainly hard because I constantly felt pulled in two very opposing directions. I wanted to be a great SAHM and bake all the breads and organize all the pantries and keep a perfectly clean home and play all the games and read all the board books and the list goes on. 

But I was also terribly bored by the unregimented, un-adult like schedule. Sure, I could decide on a whim to back a batch of cookies with the kids (and maybe eat every last one during nap time). I could even make a grocery run or go say 'hi' to the hubby at work. The world was my oyster--except that I had to factor in potty breaks, and nursing/bottle breaks, and more potty breaks, and then a diaper change or two. And some tantrums here and there. 

But on the flip side, I also craved the comfort of a schedule and the knowledge that I had to be at this meeting or that class period or this conference call. I genuinely liked being in the classroom where I could interact with my students (even though I was a lowly PhD candidate at the time instead of a full professor).  It gave (and still gives) me purpose. 

It gave me a title other than 'mommy.' And I personally needed that very much. 

So Bonnie, to answer your questions, yes, sometimes it's hard to fill the days. Sometimes calling a friend for a play-date just so you can talk to an adult (although the idea of cleaning the house to do so seems daunting) will make you feel utterly ridiculous. 

Do it anyway. 

If there's one thing I've learned in the last six years it's that you need your friends, they'll help keep you occupied and make you feel less--less, what is it, useless? Worthless? Those terms seem really negative, but I can't tell you how many times I've said to my husband, "I feel worthless doing this every day."

But your friends, especially your mommy friends, will set you to rights and remind you of the blessing it is to spend time with your kiddos. 

And you might need that reminder. You might need it often.  

But I can tell you one thing. You will never look back and regret a single moment you spent with that precious baby--even the moments when you were bored out of your mind and feeling a little crazy. (One can only kick a ball through the house followed by a crawling baby so many times before it becomes a little nerve-wracking.) 

You will never look back and wish you'd gone to work more. You will look back and wish you could sneak in one more hug, and one more kiss on squishy soft cheeks. You will never wish the school-year had been longer so you could see your students one more day. You will look back, perhaps more so as she gets older, and wish that you could spend just one more day with your new little one. 

You will feel lonely, Bonnie, sometimes even sad as you contemplate what you're missing out on at work or in your career. But you will NEVER feel sad about this time with June. Ever. 

So soak it up momma. Enjoy your part-time work and enjoy your full-time mommy jobs. And when you really need it, call in those mommy friends (virtual or otherwise) and they'll remind you just how good you've got it. 

Because you really do have the best of both worlds. 

Hope that helps! Any other mommies want to chime in? Any other part-time SAHM/WAHMs in the house? Anybody want to offer the full-time SAHM perspective?

Back-to-School Part 2: Lunch/Snack Essentials

TWO YEARS AGO...Mr. M wasn't even on the scene yet (for another month at least...)
Alright, we are T minus two weeks and counting from the Crazies heading back to school for a new year of fun and discovery...AND Mommy will be down to JUST ONE CRAZY for a couple of hours two days a week as the Puddins makes his foray into preschool.

And I shall dub those hours "Mr. M time," and they shall be glorious, bickering-free, baby-spoiling hours complete with Starbuck's runs and He shall look upon them and call them 'good.'

Amen and amen, y'all.

So we're gearing up for school and have already collected those school supplies and I seriously need to do some back to school clothes shopping. But for now I'm going to focus on the items and recipes I need for back-to-school lunches. I present to you, dear reader, my most favoritest of all favorite snack and lunch items.

I'm still in need of one key piece of equipment--the full-size lunchbox/bag--so I'll show you the options I'm looking at down there at the bottom o' the list, and you tell me which ones are the bestest. Deal?


1) Squooshi Reusable Food Pouch:

These little yogurt/applesauce pouches are a serious hit around these parts. The kids can open them easily, I can fill them easily through that little zipper at the bottom, and you can even purchase extra lids if you lose one. They are reusable and wash in the dishwasher.

We have the animal ones, super cute. 

2) Itzy Ritzy Reusable Zippered Bag:

Mr. A took this little bag for snack everyday last year, and I'm looking for a new one for R, and maybe a couple of extras. Again, reusable (eco-friendly, people!) and these clean up easily in the the washer/dryer.

3) Klean Kanteen:

I showed you this one in my camping essentials post, and like I mentioned, we used this canteen all last year for kindergarten. The kids love these, they are super durable, and made of stainless steel instead of plastic.

4) Favorite lunch ideas:

You guys, Pinterest is TEEMING with awesome lunch ideas for school-age kids and the toddler set alike. I'm thinking Sunday will be prep-day and I can even put together lunches for the little boys to make things uber easy. I predict this plan will last approximately 3 weeks before I fall into the just-shove-some-crackers-and-cheese-in-the-lunchbox phase. Shall we count down together?

Anyway, for those first three weeks I'll be relying on the good ideas of other people.  Check out the Pinterest board I made--it is chock FULL of great ideas!

5) Freezer items: Lisa over at 100 Days of Real Food always has great tips and freezer options for foods that she can quickly grab and place in lunch bags. I made lots of pumpkin muffins and froze them last year, so hoping to do that again, and also try out her home made poptarts too!

6) Lunchbox options: These are the boxes/bags I have my eyes on. What do you guys think? Anybody have these and can share their opinions? 

Gotta be honest, I'm a little overwhelmed by this one. I can't even find an insulated bag I like!
And lastly...

7) Two items I just ordered:

Silicone smoothie container: A friend said she has these and likes them, Lisa also uses them, and my kids are smoothie-aholics, so I'm thinking freezing smoothies ahead of time will be another great lunch treat.

Silicone muffin cups: I've seen these all over the interwebs, and parents use them to divide the food out in lunch boxes like the one from ziploc.

Can't wait for those to arrive so we can give them a try. A friend of mind did a trial run by serving the kiddos their food lunch-room style so might have to give that a go too--you know, to help ease the children's worries...'cause I'm totally not worried.

Well, we may not have any fall clothing and my kids toes are busting out of their shoes, but at least they'll have a lunchbox (eventually) full of goodies, right? I'm gonna ROCK this lunch-time thing.

Famous last words.

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