If you give a mom a work deadline….

If you give a mom a work deadline….

If you give a mom a work deadline,
She will clear her schedule to finish the project.

When she clears her day to finish the project,
She will probably get a call from the school that her son has had an accident and needs a change of clothes.

She will get in the car and bring him the change of clothes.
When she gets in the car she’ll notice that her husband’s medicine was left in the car.
So she’ll drive downtown to give it to him.

When she gets back from downtown it’s almost time for carpool so she’ll go straight to the school. She might even pass the time by doing some work in the car and listening to the radio. When she goes to turn the car back on, she’ll realize that her battery is dead. So she’ll call AAA.

By now the baby needs a change. Going to change the baby she’ll realize that in her rush to bring the change of clothes she left the diaper bag at home. So she’ll put some tissues in the diaper instead.

After she’s done stuffing the diaper, it will be time to nurse. She will nurse the baby. After nursing it will be time for pick up. Since the car is still dead she’ll walk inside. Since it is raining, she’ll look for her umbrella, only to realize it is in the hall by the diaper bag.

The mom and baby will pick up the boy. The boy is so excited to see them, he’ll want to go home right then and have lunch! Only the car is still dead. Looking around the car, the Mom might find one small pack of crackers. The boy, Mom and baby will share this pack of crackers while waiting in the car in the rain for the car guy to come.

The car guy will finally come. He will look at her funny. The mom might then realize that she has left her blouse open after nursing.

Once the car is working the mom, boy, and baby will go home. Entering the door, the mom might notice a funny smell and realize she forgot to turn the burner down on the soup she had been making for dinner. She will open the pot to find the soup burnt.

Smelling the burnt soup smell will make the boy refuse to eat lunch. By the time he finally eats something it is time to get back in the car to go to speech.

Only in her rush to deal with the soup the Mom forgot where she put her keys. So she’ll make up a game called “find Mommy’s keys”. They will all play and finally find the keys. But by this time they are late for speech.

Getting home from speech, the boy will want a snack. Giving him a snack will remind the mom that there is nothing for dinner. She’ll look through the take out menus.

Looking at the papers will remind the mom that she still has her work deadline. So she will clears her evening schedule to finish the project. Except when a mom clears her schedule, she will probably get a call to interrupt it…

And how was your Monday?

Cinderella Ate My Child… And I am perfectly OK with it

Cinderella ate my child… And I am perfectly OK with it. The difference, Ms. Orenstein, is that my child is a boy. That is I was OK, until he started wearing Cinderella panties.

I introduced M-man, then two years old, to Cinderella out of desperation. My cousin was getting married and we faced 16 hours of family togetherness, in a car, with a two year old. Desperate to entertain and constrain an active two year old, I turned to my old favorite – Disney movies. Only little M-Man was going through some tough nightmares at this time, so whatever he watched could not have a scary bad guy, any monsters, or really sad parts. That means: no Toy Story (I mean, really, Sid is one scary kid), Monsters’ Inc. (a funny monster is still a monster), and definitely no Lion King (Mufasa. Sniff.). I landed on Cinderella, thinking the mice and animals could be fun. He LOVED it! He loved the funny mice and birds, he loved the bibbity, bobbity, booing Fairy God-Mother, he even loved Lucifer the evil step-cat! But mostly he loved Cinderella and Prince Charming. He watched Cinderella countless times. His stuffed animals attended royal balls, drawings of castles filled the gallery wall, and dress up always included a prince element. Then we visited Disney World and he met “the real” Cinderella. It. Was. Love. Pure love. After meeting her, he was so aw-struck he literally could not talk for a solid 5 minutes, which, as anyone who’s ever had a two year old knows, is a significant amount of time.

I thought it was wonderful. We talked about optimism and the power of hope and the importance of dreams as Cinderella sang about her dreaming heart. We talked about kindness. Love, different types of families, how men should treat women… I covered all of them with my two-year-old boy within the story of Cinderella. Then came potty training. As a reward for doing such a good job with his potty training, I let him pick out a new pack of underwear. He studied each pack intently. This was a serious decision and not to be taken lightly. Then, eyes shining, he turned to me and proudly showed me his selection. Cinderella panties. White with powder blue and purple trim and a picture of Cinderella on the front. My hand froze. Watching the movie was one thing, but wearing Cinderella panties? In what I believe was a defining parenting moment, I swallowed the no in my throat and said, “Those look great, dear,” and carried on shopping.

M-Man is now four and still wears Cinderella underwear. One time recently he wanted to wear a Cinderella pair instead of a Spiderman paid I had grabbed. I asked him why. He very plainly said that he likes the Cinderella ones better because they do not have a “penis pocket”. This means the picture is on the front instead of the back (or butt) and he can see it better. Though this moment did crystallize why he insists on wearing his all of his other underwear backwards, I felt sick at the thought that someone would tease him as school. Still, I dropped him off at school with his Spiderman shirt and Cinderella panties.

Yesterday The Boston Globe Magazine ran an article about the problem with separate toys for boys and girls. Not surprisingly, it’s negative. Boys stop playing with girls earlier than developmentally appropriate, thereby strengthening gender stereotypes and deepening gender inequalities. It is natural for boys and girls to play together. Through this play, children gain a foundation of respect for the opposite gender because they realize that the other sex really isn’t all that different from them. Playing together teaches that everyone likes to play, and is therefore equal. From this equality comes respect.

As a mom of two boys, it is extremely important that my sons respect women. I want my sons to value strength, independence, and kindness in girls and later in women. But our children live in a blue and pink world. So it is up to us as parents to get our boys and girls to play together. It is up to us to teach them to see that blue and pink are simply colors. When Mother Nature creates a rainbow or paints a flower she doesn’t let the color dictate where it goes. Neither should the color of the toy aisle dictate what toys my child plays with. Neither should a cartoon picture on a pair of underwear lead me to discourage my son from wearing them.

So I am going to let my son wear Cinderella underwear as long as he wants. I am going to set up play dates with boys and girls. I am going to buy toys based on his interests, not aisles. I am going to model that certain colors do not belong to one gender or another (“Yes, Mommy wears blue shirts. And Daddy wears pink shirts.) I am going to ask him which girls in his class are strong, fast runners, and funny; helping him create concrete examples. And I vow to keep doing this, even when girls become gross and then not gross again. I will talk with, listen to, and observe my son. I will remember how I act around “boy things” and “girl things” matters. Because when he is in college and at a frat party, I want to know he will respect the girls there. I want him to date girls who are smart, interesting, and adventurous. I want one day for him to find his Cinderella, and for him to be one heck of a Prince Charming.

Until that day, I want him to wear Cinderella underwear.

Things to Do When Stuck Inside with a Preschooler

IMG_3913Winters in Virginia will always make the New Englander in me smile.  Snow storms are few and far between, but when they come they bring with them snow days a plenty.  you’ll hear a lot about how “Virgina doesn’t have the equipment or the snow budget…”, but I think M-man hit the mark best.  When driving him back to school after four days off, he asked with a look of utter confusion on his face “But Mommy, we can’t go to school.  There’s snow on the ground.”  Well, snow is still on the ground, the weather forecast calls for another 6 inches tonight, and schools are fully expecting another couple of snow days.  So parents will dress the little guys head-to-toe in marshmallow-filled snow suits and send them outside to play.  Until the inevitable lost mitten, wet hands, snow ball to the face, or (and this is the worst) Mom gets cold.  Too soon the winter wonderland adventure ends and cabin fever sets in.  Pair that with the fact that in our house snow days mean drinking copious amounts of hot cocoa with extra marshmallows plus baking cookies or brownies or both and you can quickly have a preschool disaster.  There are only so many crafts you can do and pictures you can color before one of you starts climbing the walls.  So for all the parents gearing up for another snow day, here’s something I wrote during my preschool teacher years when you just can’t weather another snowman, but your little person needs to move. (Wall climbing not included.).

 

Here are a few ideas on how to keep a preschooler active when stuck inside:

 

Freeze Dance Party

Grab your tot and turn on the tunes! Anything with a beat will work. Dance and be silly with your child as you listen to the music. Help teach impulse control and listening skills by having the child freeze when you briefly stop the music. An added element to the Dance Party could be “dressing up” prior to the party – raid mom and dad’s closet and don silly hats, ties, make-up… anything can go as long as the child will not trip over it.

 

Obstacle Course

Turn your house into a personal training course. Run up stairs, climb under tables, tag walls, crab walk (or any other animal walk) across the living room, climb through hula hoops, lift up old sheets like parachutes, hop over jump ropes on the floor… the world (or your house) is your oyster!

 

Treasure Hunt

Arrrgh, there be rough weather outside and a slurry of pirates inside. Your dining room table becomes a pirate ship when your tot finds a treasure map taped underneath! Use picture clues of items throughout the house to lead him or her on the hunt. At the end hide tissue paper coins inside a treasure bag along with a healthy snack. Share the snack together onboard the pirate ship (underneath the table) while counting the coins and reliving the hunt.

 

Yoga

Encourage your child to appreciate the quiet beauty of a snowy day while you find your inner peace from your mats (or beach towels). Downward Facing Dog, the Cat Stretch, the Camel Stretch, the Tree Pose, and the Heart Pose are all child friendly yoga moves.

 

Book Acting

Draw your child into reading by acting out the book together. My family’s favorite is “The Gingerbread Man” as our little man “runs, runs, runs as fast as he can, but we can’t catch him because he’s the gingerbread man!”. Mom and Dad then take turns being the other characters. Click here for a list of recommended books.

 

Poetry Slam

Ask your child to listen to a poem as you read it. After you are finished, discuss the poem with your child. What were the favorite characters or event that happened? Then encourage the child to act out the characters or actions as you read the poem a second time.

 

Shape and Movement Game

Cut out various shapes from construction paper. When you hold up a triangle, your child can only move his or her head. When you hold up a circle, the child can only move his or her legs. For a square, only move shoulders; for a rectangle, only hips. For an oval, the child can move his or her entire body! Change shapes quickly and play music during the game to add to the fun.

 

Become

Let your child act out the features/characteristics of some every day items such as a bike, rake, hose, wheelbarrow, beach ball, kitchen mixer, etc.

 

Line Challenges

Using masking or painters tape make a line on the floor. Encourage your child to see how many things he or she can do on the line: jump over the line, walk on the line, hop along the line, stand on the end of the line with one foot, stretch out on the line, slide on the line, tiptoes across the line, roll over the line, lie beside the line, run or skip around the line, etc.

 

Classical Music and Movement

Play classical music to encourage creative movements. Selected sections from Saint-Saens’ Carnival of the Animals are excellent for inspiring animal movements; Tchaikovsky’s “Dance of the Little Swans” from Swan Lake is a natural for tiptoeing; Herbert’s “March of the Toys” from Babes in Toyland or Grieg’s “Norwegian Rustic March” from Lyric Suite; etc.

 

And when you run through these, “Do you want to build a snowman?”.  Thanks for reading!

 

XO

Jane

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Our heart mailbox.

Our heart mailbox.

M-Man's valentine to us - his thumbprint heart!

M-Man’s valentine to us – his thumbprint heart!

Valentine’s Day gets a bad rap. Sure, there are reasons as to why it can be a complicated holiday (made by Hallmark, can make people feel lonely, blah, blah, blah).  I love Valentine’s Day.  I think it just needs a bit of a makeover.  It is a day to celebrate love.  That is a wonderful thing to celebrate!  I wish the world remembered to celebrate love a bit more throughout the rest of the year.  Love is not all about romance or fifty shades of anything.  I honestly think that is the most shallow kind.  Real love is when you would put someone’s happiness before your own.  Moms, dads, grandparents, brothers, sisters, friends, dogs, cats, …even my son’s old catfish…  everyone has someone they love.  Valentine’s Day is just a day to remember to show it.  The show doesn’t have to be big, or fancy, or expensive.  It just has to be shown however you best say I love you.  (For me, construction paper is my tool of choice.)  Hubs and I try to teach our boys that it’s good to show love, and that you should show love and kindness every day.  But, lives get busy.  People get tired, bills have to be paid, work stinks and sometimes you just get grumpy.  Sometimes the ones you love the most are the ones who get your grumpy side the most, because you know that you can be grumpy and your honest self with them and they will still love you.  Valentine’s Day serves as a reminder to pause your to-do list, no matter how much is on it or what you’re worried about, and show the people you love how much they matter.  It’s the simplest holiday, really: you don’t need presents, you don’t need to decorate, there are no big breaks to get through, no meals to plan, no family gatherings to get through, and no religious element.  You just need to pause and say I love you.  So, to all of the people I love, near and far, you are special to me and I love you.  Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

XO – Jane

He’s Crafty… How to Organize Kids’ Arts and Crafts

My son calls himself a crafter. The proud four-year-old exclamation of “I’m quite the cwafter, huh, Mom?” following each creation’s reveal melts my heart every time! I try to encourage his interest. At any given time I have on hand: googlie eyes, glitter, paper towel rolls, fabric scraps, foam shapes, pom-poms… you get the idea. It also means that at any given time I have an arts and crafts mess somewhere.  My house looks like a children’s craft shop. And while the former preschool teacher in me loves his passion for “cwafting”, the mom in me likes to think I have better ways of spending my time than on my hands and knees picking up pieces of the craft du jour. This brings me to my fifth week of 6-Week Clutter-Buster Challenge: How to organize your kid’s arts and craft supplies. (I want to add, “so they don’t just become Crap Supplies”, but I’m better than that, right? Wink, wink.)

 

My goals were for his art supplies to have their own place and looked tidy, yet were still easily accessible to M-man. (There goes that former preschool teacher again!) And of course, the organization solution needed to be easy enough that M-man could do it and make it a habit. I got to say, I think I succeeded. Here’s what I did:

 

  1. Observe.  It felt counter intuitive, but instead of jumping in right away, I took the time to really observe M-man. I watched how and where he naturally crafted, and put into words what specifically I wanted I wanted to improve. By watching, I learned that there were actually two crafting “hot spots” that need a bit of finessing: the kitchen and the family room. Once I identified where the messes were happening, I drilled down to the type of messes occurring and why they bothered me. The family room tended to attract paper cutting, coloring, and sticker work where the kitchen was where the bigger, messier arts and craft projects were happening. (Phew!) So, I made a plan for each place based on what naturally happening in those places. I’m about modifying habits, not creating new one!
  2. Give them a table. When M-man crafts he sppprrreeeaaadddss out. Unfortunately, he typically spreads out all over the family room rug. Enter one-year old baby H-Bear into the mix and suddenly the family room rug became an all you-can-choke-on buffet. Our refrain became H-Bear putting something in his mouth, me frantically fishing it out (I’m STILL waiting on that penny to surface), while M-man yelled about his artwork getting messed up. We needed a change. We needed a change in height. I rearranged the furniture so our resident artist could have a proper table to sit at and craft. Craft doodads are now kept out of the baby’s mouth, the four-year-old’s masterpieces are safe, and all it took was getting off the floor.
  3. Keep materials visible, but contained. As far as I am concerned, Bell jars are the greatest invention of all time. They allow me to store the kids’ arts and craft materials so M-Man can see what he has and use what he has, but everything has a place. I then took the ‘visible but contained’ rule one step further. In the kitchen I added a small, glass-front cabinet near the kitchen table, and in the family room I hung a cute cubby piece over the crafting table. Both these pieces keep art materials visible for the resident artist, but provide needed storage solutions in handsome pieces that compliment the décor.
  4. Establish a purging routine. We display and keep a lot of M-Man’s artwork. But if it were up to my son, we would keep every scrap of paper. As you can imagine, my house holds a mountain of crafting clutter. I needed a system to quietly and gently purge at a few of the lesser masterpieces. I developed system centered on a Tupperware container. The container lives by the crafting cubby in the kitchen and we call it the crafting tub.  In reality, it is more the crafting purgatory and is my key to having at least some control over the amount of construction paper in piles on my dining room table. Whenever a piece of artwork is created that I might not want to save forever (we all know those pieces), I put it in the box and hold on to it for a few weeks. It’s my litmus test. If M-Man really loves the project, he’ll ask about it within this time period. Otherwise, it’s out of sight, out of mind. It’s then easy to empty the old pieces from the box on trash night* and life continues onto the next masterpiece (*it is important to leave no trace or they will be found in the trash and then you’ll have to save it forever).

 

I can’t believe that next week is my last week of my 6-Week, Clutter-Buster Challenge. I’m so glad I made myself do this. The house is laughably far from being done, far from perfect, and seems to generate it’s own clutter, but it’s a start.  I believe that as long as I do one thing to improve life’s mess each week that I would not normally do (dishes and laundry don’t count – sorry!) then I’m doing something right.  In the meantime, I am going to go enjoy my two boys chasing each other around the toys and detritus in the living room.  Thanks for reading!

 

XO

Jane

 

Taming the Laundry Room.

Where has the time gone since I made that resolution to really get organized this year?  Just between you and me, I haven’t even begun to take the Christmas ornaments off the fire-hazard, I mean Christmas tree!  But, it’s time to start.  Time to get off the couch and clean under it.  Mess and clutter foul up my family more than anything else. We bicker trying to find things, feel rushed and thrown together, and never just rest in a peaceful room. There is a reason why teachers take weeks before school planning, setting up and arranging their rooms – environment matters.  So, I am rolling up my sleeves and working on my environment.  I am holding myself to a six-week cleaning challenge. Hopefully by then I’ll be a bit closer to fulfilling one of my greatest resolutions, living in an organized house.

I thought the most logical place to start was the least sexy place in the house – the laundry room. It is the minivan of the home – maybe not sexy, but boy it can hold a lot of useful crap. I figured if I could get it under control I’d be off to a great start. I’m not done yet, I still need to figure out where to keep the cats’ food so the dogs don’t eat it yet I can still use my folding table and I need to develop a good recycling system, but it’s a start.  Here’s what helped me tame the laundry room:

  1. Install a shelf over the washer.  It sounds so simple, but installing a shelf next to the washer was the best thing I did.  Suddenly my detergents are right at hand, spills don’t matter because they go right into the washer, and I have room on my folding table.
  2. Mount a wall drying rack.  I took a short cut here.  I had hooks already on the wall and a standing drying rack.  So I simply put them together.  I now have a place to hang shirts to dry, nothing drags on the ground, and when I’m done it folds completely out of the way.  I love simplicity!
  3. Repurpose a back-of-door shoe rack.  I am in love with this simple, clever idea!  I spent $7 at Wal-mart and got a completely made over, tidy closet that is easy to maintain.  Cleaners, miscellaneous things like extra screws and other things that live the junk drawer are contained and easy to find when hung on the door.  I am now obsessed with adding back-of-door shoe racks to all of my closet doors.
  4. Hang a broom rack.  Brooms, mops, and dustpans need a place live when not in use, and cluttering a poorly named “broom closet” simply was not cutting it.  So I spent $5, attached a broom rack to the wall behind the door, and now all my brooms are off the floor, ready for use when I need them, and I have room to store the kitty litter in the broom closet.

All for now – until next week!

Jane

PS: If you have any great organizational tips or life hacks that you think are brilliant, please share them! I need all the help I can get to get my self not just off the couch but also cleaning under it. In a home with two kids 5 and under, two dogs, and two cats I am looking for simple to create, easy to keep going hacks. Bonus points are given to anything that helps wrangle the tumbleweeds of pet hair and mountains of kids’ arts and craft projects!

 

 

 

 

Yes, there are boy fairies!

photo(25)When I signed my child up for the local park’s preschool “Fairy Chase” program, I had a pretty clear idea of what it would consist of – exploring the gardens, chasing fairies with nets, and maybe a craft of building a fairy house with sticks or making fairy circles with rocks. My assumptions were mostly right. It was a charming program. The day was sunny and bright. The staff members were warm and welcoming. It was the perfect day for a fairy chase. And yet we left early.

The problem was my child is a boy. He is a sweet, typical three-and-a-half year old boy. He loves playing pirates, soccer, and super heroes. And he believes in fairies. We build fairy houses in our garden, imagine the world fairy-size, and have watched every Tinker Bell movie multiple times. So when spring break rolled around, he begged me to sign him up for the Fairy Chase program. I knew it was going to be geared towards girls, but it was a preschool program. I figured it would be like a little boy in a ballet class or a little girl in pirate camp. It might be going a bit against gender stereotypes, but big deal. It was a big deal. Many times the instructor referred to the group as “girls” this, and “come on girls” that despite the fact that my son was a part of the group. During the fairy circle time the group was asked their favorite colors, yet pink and purple were the only colors offered as suggestions. All of these bothered me, but I could shake off. Then the lead fairy told the group they would all make lovely fairies, yet the instructor then turned to my son and said “and you would make a lovely pixie or an elf”. That was it. No one tells my son he can’t be something because of his gender. Even a fairy. I whispered to my son it was time to go and we quietly left the group.

I understand that these were all innocent comments and in no way meant to be harmful. However these innocent comments are noticed. On the drive to the program my son’s car chatter centered around how to find fairies, whether he’d be fast enough to catch one, and hoping the fairies saw the bright colors he wore. (“Everyone knows fairies like colors, Mommy. That’s why flowers are so colorful!”) On our drive home from the program my son was quiet for a long time. Then he quietly asked, “Mommy, why don’t fairies like blue and green? Why do they only like pink and purple? Don’t boy fairies like blue and green? Are there no boy fairies?”

Yes, there are boy fairies! In both the old folklore of the English countryside and the modern day stories of Tinker Bell and Pixie Hollow, there are boy fairies. For anyone who needs a quick fairy education, here you go. (Listen up, Ms. My-son-has-to-be-a-pixie-or-an-elf). Fairies are most closely associated with the British countryside, especially England, Scotland, and Wales. They are magical, usually tiny, winged creatures that live in nature. They are fond of pranks, often get into mischief, and tend to quick tempers. And there are both female and male fairies. So, why can’t little boys like fairies? Nothing in their historic roots seems extremely “girly”. Yes, Disney markets their fairies to girls, but Tinker Bell and believing in fairies a fundamental part of the Peter Pan – Captain Hook myth that appeals to the masses of preschool boys. Fairies teach children to be kind, clever, and imaginative, while appreciating the beauty of nature. These are not girl-only traits last time I checked. If I had a little girl who wanted to go to “pirate school” I would hope she would have fun pretending to be a pirate while learning to be brave, bold, and strong – not return wondering why girls cannot be pirates.

So my son and I returned home and did our own Fairy Chase. We watched Disney’s Tinker Bell and talked about how Terrance (the BOY fairy) was a good friend. We hunted for rocks and sticks to add to our fairy houses, and ran around the yard trying to catch bugs who could be friends with the fairies. My boy went to bed happy, believing in fairies and himself. The time he will believe in fairies will be brief and fleeting, and I want him to be allowed to enjoy it. I will not let some park-led class tell him otherwise. All children should have chance to believe in the magic of fairies.

A Year Without Heels

I always loved high heels. When I was twelve I practiced for hours in the upstairs hallway of my house (carpeted, thankfully) walking back and forth in them. As an adult, heels were a staple of my working wardrobe. I have never been described as tall, and I loved the added height they gave, but it was more than that. I loved the way they made me feel – powerful, sexy, and fully in control of any situation. Just their click-clacking sound gave me a confidence boost. Then suddenly I walked into my closet, took off my heels, and I have not put them on since.

A year ago I traded a successful, rising career of a marketing executive for the messy raising of a now-three-year-old. I knew it would be a life-style change, but it turned out to be an utter life change. When I left my marketing job, I could count the number of times I trimmed my son’s fingernails on my own hands. We outsourced everything – from cooking to cleaning – or it simply did not get done. I know many amazing, wonderful women who work full-time, juggle it all and have loving, cohesive families. Only I have never been a good juggler. I struggled to keep all the balls in the air, but my family was falling apart. It was only when I forgot about a monthly senior staff meeting – the type of work meeting you can count on as regularly as coffee breaks and office memos – that I realized how far my family, and especially I, had fell.

We survived day-to-day like primal beasts. Family meals came from restaurants served to us by surely waitresses. An exhausted silence always filled these gatherings, often ending with a tantrum (not always by the toddler). Laughter and joy were superficial and forced. When we did eat at home, the mythical homemade meal had been replaced by premade, prepared foods with the standard ingredients of too much salt, fat and money. Whether it was to eat, to feel brief joy, or to make it through the next day, we hemorrhaged money. I remember going to Target to buy clothes for the Mickster just so he would have clean clothes to wear the next day, and honestly wondering what the hell I would do for the day after. My family was a mess and it was anything but wonderful.

Fast-forward one-hellova-year later. Today we spent a lazy, rainy day doing laundry together in between kitchen science experiments, chasing imaginary dinosaurs, and building cardboard space ships. Of course, the highlight of the day for Mick was dumping the freshly folded clothes out of the basket. (Gravity, entertaining children since Newton.) There are long days of course, frustrations aplenty, and some days I honestly long for the ability to go into my old office, shut the door and have some actual alone time (this usually happens after the third candid appearance of either a boy, a dog, or a cat while I am trying to use the bathroom). But my family is happy. We laugh genuinely, deeply, and often. If I ever miss the click-clacking of my heels walking powerfully into an office, I just think of that laughter and I know this year has been more important to my family than any bit of work I did in my past life. I know if given the chance, I would hang my heels up all over again.

 

(Many, many thanks to my sister-in-law and her inspiration.  Thanks, Manic Pixie Dream Mama!)

The Beginning

When Pete and I booked my solo New Zealand trip six months ago we had no idea the turns our life would take. Since hitting the “buy now” button we realized through a series of events that my full-time job was no longer working for our family. Now six months, one resignation, one career change, and one big life-style change later I sit on a couch next to a snoring dog in Queenstown, New Zealand half-way around the world. It seems amusingly fitting. Once your actions turn your life upside down, why not fly so that your physical location matches your state-of-mind?

But at least I am doing it. That has become my refrain. Our life had reached a point where we were simply surviving each day just to survive the next. We had no time to enjoy our family, to live our life, or even to simply keep our house a home. We were missing the good stuff. So we did it. We cut our family income in half and suddenly I am a preschool teacher and stay at home mom. Four days later I said good-bye to my husband and two-year-old son and hopped a plane for New Zealand to see my good friend and her new baby.

On the plane over I watched “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” and I think I might have to replace my refrain with Sonny’s: “The end is good. If it is not good yet, it is not the end yet.” Our life has become very new and unknown. Things have not settled down yet and some things still have yet to land. We are in the hard-work stage and not yet seeing the rewards of our hard work. But, I know we will. It is just not the end yet. In the meantime it is a wonderful mess.