Friday Free for All~Back to School Edition

These short school weeks are hard. The kids are WIPED OUT when they get off the bus, and by wiped out I mean cranky and angry and not at all a pleasure to be around. We’re taking a trip to the library after school today in a desperate attempt hopes that everyone will get rid of their crankies before we step inside the house. Parenting school age kids is a rough gig sometimes.

September is my vacation time. Classroom volunteering doesn’t begin until October (after the myriad of testing dates-3 weeks worth-end) which means I have free time to myself after a long summer vacation of only having free time when I went to work. I can play Candy Crush with no one looking over my shoulder, eat a piece of candy without everyone whining that “it’s not FAAAAIR” and generally take a small breather during the day. Oh sure, the house needs to be vacuumed and the collection of paperwork from school is starting to breed (already, I KNOW) and oh look the dishes aren’t done. But in order to be a better me when the zombies darling cherubs get off the bus, I’m going to drink coffee, fritter away time on Facebook and read a book. At least for today.

Fall showed up on our doorstep the other night and it’s glorious right now. The mornings have been chilly and the afternoons have been nice, unlike last week when the kids were sweltering at school and we had to run the air conditioners all day. The leaves haven’t started to turn their gorgeous colors quite yet, but this new weather pattern will definitely help the cause. Fall has always been my favorite season and I try to soak it up when it arrives. I think I need to go dig out some fall related decorations today.

Soccer is on the agenda for us this weekend. What about you?


Getting Organized

As we are quickly approaching the first day of school, all the cleaning and organizing stuff I managed to avoid all summer is starting to catch up with me. My kitchen island, which is the great dumping ground for mail, schoolwork, toys the kids fight over, and other assorted stuff is one task which needs to be completed before September 1st (my artificial deadline). I spent this past Sunday sorting through all the mail and leftover schoolwork (I know!) and have it relatively organized. Of course then we had to take everything off our TV stand in order to get Directv installed earlier this week, so of course it all got plunked on the island. I finally just tossed the now-dead flowers Doug bought me for my 40th birthday in JUNE that had been in a vase on top of the TV stand. I’m slowly, but surely, going to start this school year off organized. Staying organized will be the hardest part.

The other big dumping ground in our house is our “computer room”, which currently contains our computer desk, an upright piano, three bookcases, kids shoes, a couple of small tables covered in PAPER (so, so much paper), my grandmother’s chair, and other kid stuff. My mom was here last week and helped the kids get the room clean while I was at work, but you can’t even tell that it was clean. Doug and I have gone back and forth about getting a new desk, or buying more shelves, but this week we hit upon the perfect solution, thanks mostly to The Pioneer Woman. I am a faithful reader of her blog, own her two cookbooks and watch her show. If you follow her at all then you know that she created a room for her daughters in an upstairs attic space. Instead of providing the girls with separate desks, the designers built a long worktable for the girls (you can read about it all here). I am fortunate enough to have a father-in-law who has lots of power tools and loves to build things, so we’ve signed him on to create a long worktable to replace our desk, three small tables and take the spot of a bookshelf. I am beyond excited for this project, despite the fact that it means I have a ton of paper to sort, file, shred and generally organize.

The computer room currently looks like this:

(photo taken with my iPhone)

I will post projects updates and photos as we move along in the process. I’m so excited to have space for the PC, the laptop, our other important paperwork and be organized at the same time.

Stream of Consciousness

I have Meg home sick from school today. She’s been home since Monday afternoon when the school nurse called to say she was ill. She had strep throat over April vacation and it appears to have returned. I took her (along with the other 3 kids) to the doctor yesterday for another strep culture and he also decided she should go for blood work to rule out mono. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it’s “just” strep and that this new antibiotic will work. I can’t even fathom her having mono and having to miss more school.

Little League season is upon us! Meg is playing Majors Softball and Drew is playing Coach Pitch baseball. Annie and Izzie are still on the sidelines, at least until next year. Meg has been stepping behind the plate to play catcher and she is doing so well with it! She also found her swing this year, which took a small hiatus last year and left us all scratching our heads. She got a two-run single on Mother’s Day!

(photo courtesy of my dad)

Drew is in LOVE with baseball this year. While t-ball was fun, he just wants to HIT HIT HIT a ball! He also has a great arm and got his chance to try out catcher on Opening Day.

I am loving my new paralegal job! Right now I’m only able to get into the office about 2 hours a week but I have a very understanding boss who will basically take whatever I can give him for hours. I’m hoping to add more hours this summer with the help of a babysitter to hang with the kids. I’m learning new things every time I’m there, as most of the work I’m doing isn’t anything I’ve ever done before. It feels good to put on something other than jeans and a t-shirt for a few hours a week and use my brain. I’m not sure what the future holds for this job but for now, I’ll take it.

Sitting up on a hill in my backyard is a blue tarp-covered chicken coop that my father-in-law built for us. It’s actually pretty cool for a chicken coop.

I’m waiting for a good stretch of weather to be able to paint the coop a nice barn red color. I went to Lowe’s, told them what I wanted, and voila: Valspar 1010-3 Heirloom Red at MyPerfectColor
Valspar 1010-3 Heirloom Red at MyPerfectColor. I figure if I’m going to have a coop, I’m going to make it my own!

The chickens arrived this past Thursday. I am willing to admit that they are so adorable!

(yes, Doug does have a Bruins playoff beard going)

They’re already growing wing feathers and trying to fly out of their brooder (which is a 20 gallon fish tank set up in our basement) every time we go down to visit them. We have two kind of chickens~Orpingtons and Brahamas. Both kinds are known to be docile, friendly birds who lay brown eggs, which is what we eat here in the Northeast. Right now the Orpingtons are a honey color and the Brahamas are more of a classic yellow chick color. We picked up a great book at Tractor Supply Company when we got all our supplies; it’s called Chick Days and it’s the perfect book for a beginner. I’m pretty sure my father-in-law read it cover to cover on Mother’s Day!

Speaking of Mother’s Day (nice seque, no?). The kids all made me items at school and brought them home before the actual holidays, so I’ve been enjoying my framed picture of Annie and Izzie that they painted and decorated with sequins, Drew’s flower magnet and Meg’s beautiful card (by 4th grade they don’t do as many projects). Doug made me the Pioneer Woman’s Cinnamon Rolls for breakfast at my request and we had our parents come for a lunch BBQ before Meg’s softball game. It was a busy day but I did enjoy lots of hugs from my kiddos.

So, that’s what’s new in these parts. What about you?

It’s been a long, long time

I’m sitting in my “computer room”, which is a room with my computer, shredder, piano, books, school papers, bills, hats, mittens, games, shoes, and cats (at the moment). I’m looking at the mountain of snow in my front yard, which had been melting a bit until we got about 18 inches of fresh snow starting on Friday. Winter is a long season here in Maine, where it can be 40 one day and then 15 the next. Last year at this time the snow was almost all melted. I think it’s going to be June before all of this snow is gone.

It was school vacation week last week and I fully intended to rest, relax and catch up on blog posts~writing my own and reading and commenting on others’ posts. But Megan was in a hockey tournament over the course of the week and I was sick with some awful cold that I’ve had for three weeks that’s just lingering, so when we weren’t at the rink, I was curled up under a blanket watching Star Wars movies or coughing like someone with the plague. I avoided most social media, other than the occasional email or Facebook post. I took Meg to two different playdates (are they playdates when the kids are 9 and 10?) and event spent a few hours with friends on Sunday scrapbooking.

I can’t believe it’s March first though. It felt like January out when I took the kids to school today, which was their first day back from vacation as we had snow, sleet/freezing rain and rain yesterday, which kept them home. While I enjoyed the quietness of vacation, I like having my schedule to rely on. It forces me to get up and shower every day, drink smaller cups of coffee and make sure that things get done, like laundry or dishes or bills. That doesn’t mean I’m not looking forward to April vacation though, which will be after hockey ends and before softball and baseball begin!

So it’s been a long time since I’ve sat here and clicked away at the keys and written something, anything on this blog. I suppose it’s because I’m living life instead of just writing about it, but I think there needs to be a happy medium between the two. I want to live life and then come back here and share it. That is the sole reason I start this blog~to share my life. Certainly, I like comments when I post, because really, who likes to write into the void. But I don’t write solely for the comments, but for myself, to remember what I’ve been living. I can’t scrapbook every little aspect of our lives, but I can bring some of it here. So I plan to be around more, sharing more. Make sure you hold me to it.

Stream of Consciousness

It’s snowing outside my windows. We had a good storm yesterday, one that sent all the kids home early from school. I kept Drew home today as he has been under the weather since the girls’ birthday on Sunday. Given how he’s been acting today, he should have just gone to school. Annie and Izzie took a nap on the loveseat with me this morning, which they haven’t done in years. Then Izzie woke up and promptly threw up. Sigh. We don’t ever seem to catch a break in the illness department.

We’re on the end of the month of birthdays for the kids. Meg’s birthday is next, with a party with her friends here next Saturday. Most of them got their invitations yesterday and those that did were telling her today that they will be here. She is quite over the moon about it. I’ll have to do a birthday wrap-up post once we get through next weekend. We’ve gone from a hockey birthday to a Hello Kitty birthday and now to Harry Potter (complete with costumes!).

I signed up for my first ever blog conference. I’m going to Boston in May for Bloggy Boot Camp. I just decided that I’d like to do something that’s a)relatively local (only 2 hours away) and b)hopefully going to give me some inspiration with blogging. I am not attending with anyone I know in person, so this is way out there for me, but I’m quite excited. Plus, I can stay with my brother (you know, once I make sure he’s going to be around) and hanging out with him and his wife is always fun.

My house is a total mess right now. This is disheartening after we cleaned it up for the girls’ party on Sunday and right now my living room is covered in books, silly bands, Barbie dolls, and various stuffed animals. The kids’ rooms were clean on Sunday and are now a mess again. The “put things away when you are done with them” is being completely ignored by my kids.

We’re having breakfast for dinner tonight. Bacon, sausage and The Pioneer Woman’s Eggs-in-A-Hole. It’s cooking now and spells so darn good. NOM! I guess I should go set the table.

Wondering if you’d all like to ask me questions and I’ll do a post answering them. Thanks to Megan at Twinsomnia for the great idea! Go ahead, ask away!

Stream of Consciousness

Our house has been hit by some sort of nasty flu-type bug. The kids were all sick before Thanksgiving, and it lingered for Izzie for two weeks. I spent the past two weeks fighting the good fight, but losing in the end anyway. Doug actually took a sick day today when he woke up feeling all yucky. I can’t remember the last time he stayed home because he didn’t feel well. Hopefully this bug is on its way out and we can get some Christmas spirit going here!

We’ve been listening to lots of Christmas music here, since Thanksgiving week. I’ve either had Pandora on one of their several Christmas stations, or have been playing my CDs for the kids. I have a soft spot for Josh Groban’s Noel; his version of O Holy Night make my heart sing. It is my very favorite Christmas song. We also love the Charlie Brown Christmas CD. Who doesn’t love the Vince Guaraldi Trio?

We finally got our tree decorated. It’s a fake, which works well given that three cats and four kids are constantly hovering near it and I despise crawling underneath it to water. It sat, undecorated but lit, for over a week, but we finally got down to business yesterday and the decorations were put up. Having the kids help decorate the tree is incredibly stressful to me and yesterday was no exception. Despite the fact that several sections of the tree are inundated with ornaments, they actually did a good job. I’ll post photos of the tree and some of my favorite ornaments soon.

Have you clicked through your reader yet to check out the layout? I added a couple of pages; one about me and one about the kids. I’m hoping to spend some time creating a custom header at some point. Maybe over Christmas vacation when Doug is home for 10 days. Let me know what you think of the pages! And if anyone knows how I can get my Word Press blog as my default for my comments when I use my Google account, please let me know. I don’t want comments linking back to the old blog.

I’ve been missing blogging. I’ve been reading posts by everyone and commenting here and there, but I’ve been going a million different directions lately between volunteering in Drew’s classroom, hockey (five events this past weekend between two kids!), and trying to get ready for the holidays. Drew’s 6th birthday is later this month (hold me!) so I’m trying to plan a friend party over vacation. I’m excited about the theme-black and gold. Can anyone guess what that stands for? I might give a prize!

Pocklock wrote about traditions the other day and I’ve got a post formulating about my holiday traditions. Christmas is my favorite season; I can’t wait to share them with you!

Busy is as busy does

Life here has been busy. I remember rejoicing at all the free time I’d gain when the girls started preschool, but that hasn’t materialized much. I’ve been so swamped that I’m taking next week off from school volunteering, appointments and such and taking 6 much needed hours to myself to regroup.

Drew started soccer for the first time through our district’s recreation department. He LOVES it. Turns out he’s a bit of a natural at it. Natural like scoring 7 goals in his game Saturday while neither Doug nor I were there to see it! Yikes. He has boundless energy so soccer is a good fit because quite frankly, the boy can’t sit still and running around for an hour somewhere other than inside my house is good for him.  He is really enjoying kindergarten. His class if full of little blond boys with crew cuts like his and it’s pretty funny to look at. I’m anxious to hear what his teacher says at his conference next week. I’ve volunteered in his class twice and chaperoned the field trip to make fairy houses and to me, he’s taken to school quite well.

Doug and I are sharing director duties for our hockey organization.  We’re in charge of over 100 kids and their placement in the program. We’re also in charge of the coaches and their certifications. The last couple of weeks have been non-stop hockey preparation. There are currently 7 boxes of hockey jerseys courtesy of Tim Horton’s in my living room. Our season opened this past weekend and while it was an enormous amount of work we were both pleased with how well it all went off. Meg helped out on the ice for Drew’s hockey session and she surprised us with how well she was skating. I’m looking forward to seeing her on the ice with her team Friday night at her first practice of the season.
Speaking of Meg, she is loving 4th grade so far. We have her school conference today and I’m anxious to hear what her teacher has to say. She is in a reading class separate from her regular class with kids at her own reading level and she’s enjoying that. She is taking keyboard lessons again and despite not much playing over the summer has really improved. I look at her and am amazed at how grown up she is getting. Literally and figuratively. She’s almost 5 feet tall! She wears my sneakers! What’s next, my clothes?
Annie and Izzie are loving preschool. They have a couple of friends that they spend lots of time with and love doing their art projects. We knew they’d love it there after spending 3 years shuttling Drew there. There have been no tears at drop off and while they have a great time they’re quite excited to see me when I return to pick them up. We’re taking a field trip to the farm across the street from Meg’s school tomorrow and that is always fun. 
I’ve been spending more time in my car than I can remember since we moved here. My dad fell and broke his arm (which if you follow me on Twitter or Facebook you are already aware) and despite surgery to put an 8 inch plate and screws in his arm is doing quite well. He started physical therapy last week and is improving daily. I’m frustrated that I can’t help my parents out more even though I only live 20 minutes away. I can’t imagine how my brother feels as he lives in Massachusetts. My in-laws are angels and are taking my dad to and from his appointments this week so that my mom can work.
So that’s where I’ve been. What about you?