Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

AlexaandMommyWkndAlone

My flexible (errr, unpredictable) work schedule affords me the privilege of spending lots of time with Alexa.  That same schedule (and the career it has built)  affords me the luxury (and necessity, as finding babysitters on short notice for 4am arrivals is none too easy) of  full-time, live-in help. So this means that while I often get to do drop offs and pick ups and school, enjoy afternoon play dates and sit on the sidelines at soccer, I don’t often do straight 24 hour “mom” shifts without a little (or a lot) of help from our nanny and/or husband. 

Until last weekend.  

As a result of this experience, I identified “The 5 Stages of A Weekend Alone With a 3.5 Year Old”:

1: PANIC.
Upon figuring out that my husband would be out of town, and our nanny needed the weekend off, my (very large at this moment) stomach dropped. Holy sh*t. I was going to be ALONE, with Alexa, for 2 bedtimes, 2 bath times, 8 meals, 36 hours, on a weekend where we didn’t have any birthday parties, any out-of-town visitors, any major plans, and a mediocre weather forecast?! For many, I imagine this would not bring on hives. But for me, I sweat through 2 white t-shirts just thinking about it (a big inconvenience, mind you, since I only have 2 white t-shirts that fit me at the moment.) Especially in light of a very trying week where I became convinced Alexa was put on the earth to put me in my place, test my patience, and age me by at least 15 years with every tantrum and attempted time-out that followed…

2: OPTIMISTIC EXCITEMENT.
I scoured local websites for fun activities to keep us busy. Festivals, parades, apple picking on a farm 2 hours north of us, a back-to-school shopping trip to the mall, a stack of craft how-to printouts from Pinterest (and the accompanying outing to Micheal’s for supplies)- for about 3 hours, I fancied myself as Mary Poppins or something, envisioning Lex and I, skipping about town, hand in hand, smiling ear to ear, not a care (or meltdown) in the world.

3: MOMENT OF REALIZATION.
By 7am on Saturday morning, we were awake. And dressed. And had eaten breakfast. The weather outside was nothing short of abonimable, and the fact that at any moment we could (and did) lose power and access to Netflix was quite Now what? 

4: RAGE.
Why does my daughter insist on defying even the smallest request I make of her? Why is “Sofia the First” only 22 minutes long? Why did I think it was a good idea to run around in the muddy backyard so that even though I am exhausted beyond the point of function I still need to give said defiant daughter a bath?Why can’t a pregnant woman to safely enjoy a few glasses of wine without the ensuing guilt that she did something horrible when women in Europe (and my own mother in the ’70s) imbibe at their leisure?  Why did I agree to let my husband go on a guy’s weekend? Why did my husband think it was okay to go on a guy’s weekend, even though I told him it was totally fine, doesn’t he know to read between the lines? And on, and on, and on…

5: MARTYRDOM. 
It is 5pm on Sunday. Alexa and I are both alive, and actually kind of happy. We had a great weekend (due in no small part to some very amazing friends who made the extra effort to include us in their family activities, because I have learned, it really does take a village), lots of laughs, a few adventures, and some quality down time cozied up on the couch watching our mutual favorite movie, “Annie”. But there was NO way I was letting Brian know any of that when he walked in the door, lest I lose the opportunity to guilt him into doing the entire bath and bedtime routine. Not a chance. But truth be told, I felt blissfully proud of myself for not only making it through the weekend, but actually enjoying the weekend. That isn’t to say I am not grateful for the skills I learned at drama camp- channeling my inner Mommy Martyr afforded me the luxury of watching not one, but THREE episodes of “Sons of Anarchy” before passing out sometime around 9pm. A whole other kind of bliss, let me tell ya. 

 

First Day of School photo

This week Alexa started the 3′s program at preschool. And of course, in this new age of social media snapshots fueled by Pinterest creativity, I had to take the requisite first day of school photo. And truth be told, the photo actually says more about me than it does about her (and I am not just saying that because I am an egomaniacal only child who has to make everything about her…) Let me explain…

I don’t think Alexa really grasps the momentous occasion of starting a new school year and all the changes that it will bring (new friends, new experiences, etc.). She definitely sensed that today marked something new- but the more of a big deal I made about it, the more anxious she seemed to become. So, being the perceptive cause-and-effect parent I guess I am (haha) I began downplaying it a bit as the clock inched closer to 8:45am (inching is the best way to describe that sometimes 2 hour before-school stretch of time, right?) But, there was no way I was letting her go to school without taking this photo. You wanna know why?

Because I made the sign. All by myself. On Photoshop. (Refer to this blog post about teaching myself to do things this year to understand why this is such a personal point of pride.) Last year, at this exact same time, I vividly remember trying desperately to fashion a cute sign out of my Sharpie collection with no success- and then turning to Etsy around 1am in a fervent attempt to find an instant download that referenced the first day of the 2′s but had to settle for a more generic “preschool” sign.

Fast forward 365 days.

I found a little tutorial in chalkboard sign making here. Then I used a special font I had chosen (and figured out how to download into my Photoshop program, none the less!) for Alexa’s school logo wear which I am in charge of this year (another reason today was big for me too- for the first time I wasn’t this shy awkward mom tip-toeing into school, but rather I strode in with the confidence that, for me, only comes with having an official purpose).  In an effort to further personalize my little work of art, I altered the color from white to a bright pink. Then I figured out how to resize the image so it could be printed out and placed in the vintage frame I picked up on a recent Goodwill trip for a perfect fit. 

So many things about the paragraph above make me feel majorly grown up, you have no idea…

Oh- and in case you are wondering, after all of Lex’s anxious pleas to stay home with me for the morning, minutes after walking into her class she was happy as can be and waved me out of the room in favor of playing pretend store with her friends. Go figure- the girl tugs at my heart strings for two hours and then, with the wave of a hand, dismisses me completely. And so is motherhood…

Note: I feel like there should be an apostrophe between the “3″ and the “s” however, in the font I used, it wasn’t an option so I improvised. Also, the smudgy part of the sign is actually where I printed the name of Alexa’s school, but thought it smart to delete that from my public blog post. Honestly, for a few minutes I was torn on whether or not to do the whole smudging thing at the detriment of showing off off my  design prowess.  But clearly safety comes first (see how mature I am becoming?!) hence you will have to use your imagination as to the true extent of my Photoshop expertise. 

 

OneLineaDayJournal

Things that keep me up at night: Losing track of all my photos and forgetting all the funny things Alexa does and/or says on any given day. Especially now, with the reality setting in that a second is on the way and Alexa will never remember this time when she was our entire world, I constantly worry that the special every day moments we share will disappear into the ever-eroding abyss of my memory.

I have tried so many different methods of “journaling” over the past few years, and for the most part, after a week of dedication, I inevitably miss a day here and there, berate myself for slacking, and hide the evidence that I ever started it in the first place. The One Line A Day five-year memory book is the first thing that I have found easy to stick with- and here is why:

1- It is pretty. So I don’t mind displaying it on my night table (as evidenced above.) Having it in such close proximity every evening serves as the perfect non-obtrusive reminder to write.
2- The pages have the dates at the top, so it is easy to skip ahead when you miss a few days but still know that those days won’t forever be lost the following year- you will simply have more lines on the page if you so desire to record extra thoughts.
3- As the name clearly suggests, you really only have room for a sentence or two (I can squeeze in 3 if I use the margins and a super fine point pen on days I feel really deserve the extra characters)- so there is nothing daunting about cracking it open to jot down a little anything before bed.

It for sure helps me to sleep more soundly knowing I have, in some capacity, recorded the day for posterity. And in more promising news, I may have discovered a solution for the whole photo stress situation- currently I am in testing mode but if all goes well, I will soon be able to share one more sanity saver, so stay tuned…

Continuing on the theme of “Things Jenn Never Thought She Would Do” (i.e. have a second kid!), I figure its time to share what is likely my most unanticipated suburban passion….Gardening. Yep, gardening.

SelectingLettuce

When we moved into our house, there was a an area along one side deemed too sunny for grass, so my husband conspired with the builder to turn said space into a fenced in area complete with gravel and garden beds. I laughed hysterically upon hearing this news- I mean, what a waste of space! And it sat there, untouched, for almost an entire year, taunting me every time I looked out the window with a whiny chant that sounded (in my head, at least) something like “Haha you can’t even microwave a meal without burning the edges, imagine the disaster that would ensue should you even attempt to plant (gasp!) something living over here!”.

Never one to back down from an (imaginary) challenge, I decided to give the whole gardening thing a go. It seemed like a fun activity to do with Alexa, and a good way to motivate myself to hone my culinary skills- in an effort to not waste the fruits of my labor (should there be any) I had to amass an assortment of recipes centered around whatever I chose to grow.

Full disclosure- I had some help. My “ghost gardener” Michelle Moore taught me the basics- laying out the garden game plan, if you will. She spearheaded the initial planting, and showed me how to best care for the different vegetables so as to maximize my chances of success. Last summer, Alexa and I spent hours every evening tending to our plants and taste testing recipes. It was a great “witching hour” activity to keep her happy between 5-7pm, and I quickly fell in love with the surprisingly Type A aspects of gardening- seeing your harvest grow based on proper pruning techniques, testing different amounts of watering to yield more or less fruit, etc.

This summer, we doubled the size of our garden- adding 4 raised beds and 2 bamboo trellises. Here is the breakdown:
-Bed 1: Herbs (dill, cilantro, horseradish, oregano, thyme, 
rosemary, sage)
-Bed 2: Lettuces
-Bed 3: Squash (yellow, zucchini, Sspaghetti), shishito peppers, assorted hot peppers, marigolds
-Bed 4: Heirloom carrots, artichokes, jalapeño peppers, strawberries, marigolds
-Bed 5: Cherry tomatoes, russian red kale, red peppers, celery, cucumbers (on trellis)
-Bed 6: Assorted heirloom tomatoes, sunflowers (planted by Alexa’s class on the last day of school), scallions, chives
-Bed 7: Assorted tomatoes, hungarian wax peppers, peas (on trellis), cauliflower, beets
-Bed 8: Broccoli, yellow tomatoes, beefsteak tomatoes, mini pumpkins (on trellis), brussels sprouts, onions
-Containers: Dahlias, zinnias, mint (chocolate, mojito, spearmint)

As with anything, we are having some successes (herbs up the wazoo, delicious cucumbers, the most lovely lettuce) and just as many (if not more) challenges (why won’t ANY of my peppers grow and how did my squash plants end up with some weird white speckled disease?!). And while I do get very frustrated by the unpredictability of it all, I try to remind myself this is sort of an experiment and I just have to go with it.  Some things (the weather, the chipmunks) are beyond my control. 

So now I get it…gardening just may be the best form of therapy. And coming home to a delicious tomato, onion and cucumber salad served beside an herb roasted chicken is for sure preferable to a stack of expensive doctor bills followed by hours spent quarreling with your health insurance provider over coverage.  

EatingaPea

RaisedGardenBed

Zinnias

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