I can't remember the last time my house was so quiet.
School started today and while we've been doing this back to school thing for the past six Septembers, this is the first time that I have come home from drop-off alone. All four of my kids are in school this year and it's kind of lonely, as in weeping in the car lonely.
I know it'll get better and I know that I won't be bored, I start working part time as their school's art teacher next week but for now, today, I'm kind of sad. Not bad sad at all, just bittersweet sad.
I didn't have any little chatterboxes with me in Target this morning and I didn't have anyone begging for chocolate at the checkout line in the supermarket. What I did have though, was time. Because, man, I am so much faster in Target when I'm alone - I just didn't know it was possible to be in and out in ten minutes and still get everything I need. If we're ever in and out of somewhere in ten minutes it's most likely because we were not behaving and so we left a full shopping cart in the middle of the store and came home to take a nap.
Anyway, while I was in Target, I picked up a few things to make a (very) small first-day-of-school dinner party.
We now have balloons hung in the kitchen, a small wrapped toy on each bed and a plate of cookies on the table, along with a new book for each kid. I love new books. And the kids love meatballs, which is what we're having for dinner so win-win for everyone.
The whole party took 15 minutes to throw together (and that included wrapping toys) and now we have a new tradition for the first day of school for years to come.
These balloons are from the first grade Author's Tea, a delicious play about reading and literature by the first grade.
When we left the play last night, my kids stood in the school's parking lot and let the balloons go. They each made a secret wish about school for next year and let the balloons fly away. It was all kind of sentimental, as this was our last school function in this school.
This school year went super fast; I can't quite believe it's over - and not only the school year but our time at the JEC, a most wonderful school where our kids were loved everyday.
Thank you JEC for the past four years, it's been a wild ride.
And now, after we get last-day-of-school ice cream after, it'll be on to to packing, moving and getting acclimated to a new school and new community.
I still kind of think change is not good. But that's a step up from being bad, right?
Milestones are a fact of life and we hit a big one yesterday - and yet, it appears that I was the only one traumatized. The only one sitting on the floor, holding back tears while saying yay and hooray with everyone else.
After begging for months, we finally moved our just-three-year-old into a big girl bed and she's loving it. Now, every few minutes, she will announce that she is tired and must take a rest in her new big girl bed right now. And off she goes, returning 90 seconds later, all rested.
We've been through this a bunch of times before, this whole transitioning from a crib to a bed thing (or, in our house, a twin mattress on the floor), but this time was extra bittersweet because she is the youngest. We've had a crib, and for a long while, two cribs, consistently in use for the past almost 8 years. There have been times when no one has slept in these cribs, but they were always there, we were always a house of babies and toddlers. And now, we're a house of biggish kids and it makes me sad.
But I take solace in the fact they are so much fun to be around now and that I really love watching them grow and expand their wings. I take great joy in listening to their after-school stories and make believe games that all four play together. And I love watching them experience new things and try, even if it's something they are scared to do.
There are many hard adjustments with little kids - giving up the stroller (where am I supposed to put all my stuff?), potty training (I hate going to the bathroom in the mall), and the kid who is just learning to recognize their letters and causes you to think hmm, maybe this one is dyslexic.
But I truly believe that crib-to-bed is one of the hardest adjustments - for parents - and not for the reason you may think.
I dislike the big-kid-bed move because it's one more kid who can get out of bed.
One more kid who can come downstairs and say they can't sleep.
One more kid who can come downstairs and complain that their roommate already fell asleep.
One more kid who can wander into our room at 3am and either poke me hard in the arm* or silently stand there and stare until my eyes open**.
I feel like kids of all ages should sleep in big cribs because then once they're in for the night, they can't get out.
How awesome would that be?
Now I have four kids coming out of bed - and I'm not making this up - in the first thirty seconds of her first night in her big-girl-bed, she was out and on the top of the steps calling my name. Twice.
She is definitely the boldest - the other kids all had the decency to stay in bed at that age and just call our names. But nope, not this one, she's a wanderer and I'm thinking we may have to lock the bathroom door at night so she can't get in. Only problem - how will the other kids get in? Okay, that wouldn't be the only problem - how would I get in? I'm always in there.
We have to figure something out. But that's a whole other story.
** Am I the only one freaked out by this? Truly terrifying.
There have been some serious germs in this house over the past two weeks,
ending with bronchitis, for me. At least, I sincerely hope this is the end; I
cannot handle more coughing and sneezing and dirty tissues behind the couch.
Isn't that where your kids throw their tissues when they're done
blowing their noses?
My kids don't either, except that they do and they are and I didn't know it.
But now I do and now the children understand that a garbage can is a garbage can
and a behind the couch is a behind the couch - you know, where we throw
the toys when we don't want to sort them.
The last time I was sick like this was almost three years ago, right after
my youngest was born - except then, no one thought I was sick. What we did think
was that I was having a very hard timing recovering from a c-section and also,
possibly, a vicodin addiction. Well, not a real addiction, it was more like I
finished every last pill in that very small bottle and called my OB to beg for
me because I felt, how should I say this, very very bad.
I was told, in no uncertain terms, that it was time to transition to Advil;
no more vicodin. So I transitioned and it didn't help and 12 days post
c-section, on a Sunday, I found myself in my internist's office begging him to
write me a prescription for something stronger than Advil. Luckily, he was
immune to my red eyes and drippy nose and obvious womanly charms
and noticed that I had a hacking cough.
Apparently, when you go in to have a baby, the baby isn't the only parting gift.
They offer bronchitis and a touch of pneumonia too. All for free, except for the
enormous co-pay for that private room, but that's a whole other story.
Anyway, back to now, I once again have bronchitis.
And what have I learned this time around?
That I have good friends.
I have friends that offer to bring dinner, I have friends that share the
secret witch's brew their dad swears by when he doesn't feel well and friends
who will gladly share the last of their pot of chicken soup with you.
We're all busy - some of us at work, some of us at home and some of us are
just busy coughing these days. But I love the friend who calls before she runs
to Shoprite, just to see if you need more cough drops. You say no, you're good
and she brings some anyway.
Thank you to my friends for taking care of a very-pathetic fellow mommy
this past week or so. But the very best friend of all - the husband, who
rearranges his life and work for days at a time to make sure the kids are good
and who makes sure I'm extra good. I'm good, Josh. Everyone will have clean
clothes again, soon. Maybe not in their drawers, but definitely near their drawers.
I hope that title was decriptive enough.
Three things to discuss today:
3. A Whole30 Vegetable Soup
I'll start with number 3 first because I'm always hungry. This soup was so good that Josh was concerned he might have to make room in his life for a third soup. Currently, he only eats chicken soup and oddly enough, cauliflower soup. And now there might be a third. He's worried.
You should try it - and it's Whole30 compatible too.
Here's what you do:
Saute 3 sliced onions in some olive oil.
Add 2 cloves of minced garlic and a little salt to the pot and keep sauteing.
Wash, peel and thinly slice two large carrots.
Add to the pot and saute the carrots too.
Wash and slice 6 zucchinis into 1 inch pieces, add them to the pot, cover and let them cook for about a minute.
Add 5 cups of water to the pot and bring to a boil.
Partially cover the pot and lower the flame so the soup simmers until the carrots are done. The zucchini will be done a lot faster than the carrots, even though the carrots are a lot smaller than the zucchini. Go figure.
Once the carrots are done, allow the soup to cool and then use your very handy immersion blender to partially puree the soup.
It's really very good.
Moving right along to numbers 1 and 2 on the list above. They're intertwined so we'll just mix 'em up and call this number one and a half.
Manners and Chanukah**. Mannukah. Something we seem to have none of these days.
Right around night #4, my kids seemed to get very blase about the whole "gift each night" thing. As in, this is it? I didn't want that!, along with some tears. And that my friends, is not
even a little bit okay. But lest we defame only my children, this seemed to have been going on in many other houses in the neighborhood. And before we malign the neighborhood, I really do think it's a generational thing. Having said that, next Chanukah I am supposed to remind several of my friends about this ungratefulness. Next year, we are not giving the kids a gift each night of Chanukah. Yup. You heard me.
So here's the thing. I grew up getting a little something each night of Chanukah and I kind of like that tradition. But it's not working for us. In fact, on night five of this Chanukah, we did not give gifts. We had a gift for each kid, wrapped and ready to go, but we didn't hand them out. Instead, we used a popcorn maker to make popcorn and we all watched a movie instead, with the lights off and the couch turned to face the tv. And once the kids got over the initial shock of not having anything to unwrap, they loved it.
I think that's what it she be about - experiences. Popcorn and movie might not sound like much of an experience, but for my kids, it really was. Piling onto the couch and getting cozy under one big blanket with popcorn and drinks - it's just not something we do as a group, ever. Maybe it should be, maybe we should do it more often, but that's a whole other guilty-mommy-blog-post.
*In case you've been wondering where the heck we've been since seemingly dropping off the internet since the middle of Chanukah, we've been right here. Being lazy. I think (hope) we're back now.
** I know it's over, but I think it's still okay to talk about Chanukah, mostly because I still haven't finished putting away the menorahs.
Yup, it's over. Thirty long days that went weirdly quickly at the same time.
I weighed in this morning and found that I am down 7.3 pounds. At first, I was kind of upset. I had really wanted to see Biggest Loser type numbers but as my brother so sagely pointed out this morning, this is a lifestyle and not a diet because diets are bad and don't work. And also, like he said, something must have changed internally for the better over the past 30 days. I can't know what it is because I (sadly) don't have x-ray vision, but I do know that I am sleeping (and waking up) better, am way more even-keeled when it comes to my kids and am generally in a much better mood than I have been for a long time - and those are all totally worth it.
I began a second round of Whole30 this morning, but this time I am including exercise.
Why all over again?
A bunch of reasons, but mostly because I have not yet slain my sugar dragons. I still want what I want when I want it and what I want is mostly chocolate and brownies and just plain handfuls of chocolate chips. And while logically I know that those things are not good for me, I still know that they taste amazing and make me feel better. And therein lies the problem. I don't want those foods - or any food - to make me feel better. I want food to be just that: food. No strings attached.
More than losing weight, I am looking to sever the emotional ties that I have to eating. And those ties are very deep-seated and very rooted into who I am. This is something that I have been struggling with my entire life, something I will most likely struggle with forever (although hopefully to a lesser extent) and something that I worry about a lot when I look at my daughters, and my sons too. They're still so little and they have so much living to do, and I don't want food to follow them around like an emotional noose. Food is just food. Nothing more, nothing less. It is not a reward, it is not a hug, it's just fuel to make a body run.
I explained to my seven year old who sometimes has trouble knowing when he is full and should be done eating that G-d put us here with all these yummy foods so we can eat to live and not live to eat. He didn't seem to fully understand it the first couple of times (many adults don't), but the other day he uttered those words back to me after dinner, after not finishing all his food and what can I say? It made my heart smile. And he smiled back and walked away from the table when because he was full - and that's more than I ever could have said for myself thirty days ago.
Maybe, if I can conquer my issues, my kids can avoid these issues all together. That, I think, is my dream.
Are you a Mom?
Of course you are,
your shirt is dirty :)