Sep 27, 2013

Pictures and the Passing of Time

Tomorrow it will have been 4 months since Steve started his new job. After years and years of him working extreme hours to meet deadlines it has been great to have him home in the evenings and weekends. His switching industries was the best thing we could ever do for our family and marriage.  Now that he's here and we are still so busy I wonder how I held it together for so long. There have been a few business trips but I have managed and it's far better than having him gone most of the time. We are catching up.  Life is getting better and now it is time for me to take some time for myself.

I decided to get back to scrapbooking since it's something I enjoy but the family will also benefit from. Eileen, a Creative Memories consultant runs a scrapbook studio in her home and every Tuesday she holds coffee crops from 9-2. I finally made it to one this Tuesday. It was great to be there. It gives me hope that someday I will have albums again. Before going digital in 2004 I had every single photo in an album. Since that day I have ONE incomplete album.  Sometimes we watch slideshows on our big screen TV so our pictures aren't completely unseen, but there are literally thousands and thousands of pictures that even I have never even looked at once. The reality is that I'm taking far more pictures than I can keep up with.

As Eileen says the journey of 1,000,000 photos starts with a single album. So I decided that I would create an A-Z album. When Ainsley was a baby a friend had shown me her family alphabet album that she'd made. I thought it was fabulous but honestly I was a little annoyed at her suggestion that I might do the same since at that time I was struggling just to make it through the days. Since then 5 years have passed so maybe now I could finally do something neat like this for my kids. How hard could it be? There are only 26 letters in the alphabet.  Right? Besides, I can justify the time spent since Ainsley is still learning the letters of the alphabet and it would be a fun teaching tool too. A perfect starting place, I thought.

Later in the week Evie and I picked the most adorable digital artwork. I planned my subject for each letter. Together Evie and I designed a couple sample layouts. But to really get started I need PICTURES.  And that's when it all grinds to a halt. I started viewing my photos (thankfully starting with years that are all fully edited). With roughly 10,000-15,000 photos per YEAR finding 26-75 photos is like looking for the proverbial needles in a haystack.

There are SO many photos. Don't get me wrong, I am grateful that I took them. It gives me the chance to look back and see that even during stressful days and ordinary days there was magic. Even if I couldn't see it or feel it at the time. My kids were and are BEAUTIFUL! So many memories I'd forgotten. To look back and see their little faces breaks my heart. They've grown up so fast! Life is busy for everyone. Balance is a challenge for everyone. But when you throw in a highly demanding job, a fixer-upper house, and a medically fragile special needs child....well then it's impossible. Really. There is no "balance".  It's more like extreme juggling.
And I see that on my tired face (in the few pictures that I'm in because usually I'm the photographer).  I see it on my kids faces as I recall how difficult those times were.  It's especially difficult to see the pictures of Ainsley and all that she's been through. There will be ordinary pictures and then all of a sudden pictures that no parent should have in their collection, like the heartbreaking one below that I found today. Sadly this is just one of hundreds of such photos. Having to comb through our photos is cathartic. And probably good for me even though it is a painful process.

The truth is that although I did the best I could under the circumstances, I really wanted to be a better mom. My pictures reveal that. But they also reveal that I did okay sometimes, maybe even more than sometimes.  And it validates my perspective of just how difficult it really has been. They say that parenting is the hardest job there is. Since there are so many ways to screw up I wonder if ANY parent EVER feels like they've done it well.

I also found this photo of a forgotten everyday moment. I love that my kids made me a crown and that I'm balancing it on my head while suctioning. In reality I was probably a little irritated and overwhelmed. This is one of  thousands of photos I probably don't need.  But I'm so glad to have it. It shows how perfectly imperfect our life is and will always remind me that I did the best I could. 

Sep 17, 2013

The Grass Is Greener

Do you often feel like the grass is always greener on the other side (of the fence)? I think it is human nature. At least I hope so because I often catch myself thinking that way.

During the school year summer sounds so lovely. I think I romanticize the idea of what it will be and forget about the cooking and cleaning and dream of the fun things I'll do. The reality of being home all day caring for 3's not so much a "vacation".

As summer draws to a close I am usually ready for the kids to go back to school. Then when they do I think "How could I have forgotten how much work this is?!" Forms coming out my ears, the morning rush, packing up all Ainsley's special stuff to send her off with the nurses, homework, after school activities, squeezing in therapies and "at-home-therapies". Yes it is nice that when they are gone I have time to pick up, do laundry, errands, grocery shopping etc. Throw in e-mails to doctors and teachers etc....A miscellaneous project or two and the hours before the first kid comes home are gone but I like being able to get those things done without feeling like I'm ignoring the kids.

There is good and bad in both. Every lawn has it's dandelion and clover, it's just that it's harder to see from the other side of the fence.

My last two weeks have been like this......
I love my coffee. When I go to microwave my cold coffee and find yesterday's cold coffee well THAT is a sure sign that somethings not right. 
I realized after my last post that I probably can't show you too many pictures from the magazine photoshoot since the issue isn't due to come out until summer 2014 and I don't want to be a spoiler. When it does, I'll post official pictures. It was interesting to be a fly on the wall. Our house is pretty ideally designed to do something like this with a minimal disturbance (garage for storage, gate for entry, a bathroom near the garage away from the rest of the house, a covered area to keep their stuff dry if it rained which it did). I was really glad the kids weren't at home. Penny hated having them here so I couldn't let her outside. All in all it was a good experience, though a distraction for sure.
The crew needed access to my bathroom (which is in the laundry room) so when they finally left on the 9th it was major laundry catch up time for me. I sort on the floor, I don't know about you. I just didn't want them walking in on THIS. 

They used a lot of potted plants, and bought plants they never used, so I agreed to take them. It would be a shame to throw them away. Unfortunately I couldn't keep their pots so I had to buy my own. Since they paid us a rental fee I used some of that money (that I don't have yet) toward pots (I'm trying to look at it as free potted plants.). The local nursery had them for 30% off. Yay! These are what was left AFTER potting everything.

We realized after watching their set design that our yard could really use some pots with flowers. I don't have a ton of time for watering so I hope I don't regret it.

I repositioned the pots I already had and I think all the changes are a definite improvement.

After the potting work was done I cooked a late dinner outside. It might have been the one and only time all summer other than our 4th of July barbecue that I used the outdoor burners. It makes cooking more fun. I need to do it more often.

I was so excited that I actually got some green beans off my plants(this was the whole crop). My first seedlings died and these were planted late in the season so I thought I wouldn't get any.
Eating outside (in the dark) as a family was a nice way to finish off the summer.

We even lit candles. I don't know why I don't do that more often, they make an ordinary night special.

The crew hung lanterns off the pergola with wires and left us the wire. We already had these lanterns and I simply hung them with wire. They went from clutter on the countertop to a nice accent.

I had other end of season vegetables to use up. I had used some tomatoes to make turkey chili, and was thrilled when Ainsley finished her bowl! Later in the week I finished off the greens and we ate the last of our grapes and I've STILL got more tomatoes. (I highly recommend the black pots in a sunny location for tomatoes!)

Steve was on a 3 day business trip last week so I was on my own to try to prevent Evie from wearing this to school. We compromised but she did wear the short shorts with navy tights (for the one and only time, we agreed) with navy tights to de-emphasize the legs and with high tops intead of black boots. Should 12 year olds wear short shorts to school even with tights under them? Reminder to e-mail the school office.

 That night Evie washed her hair with olive oil and feigned ignorance and we got in our second fight in two days. She got to bed late (that always makes me mad) and then had to get up early to wash it out. In the process she woke me up at 5:30.

After being up at 6:15 the day before. I'm NOT a morning person. Yes, I know lots of you probably get up that early all the time. I hope you don't also stay up until 12-1 am regularly.

She is surely heading into her teenage years and my mother will finally get the last laugh. I've got it comin' to me.

I spent hours trying to repair our printer, cleaning the print head. Next step delete and reinstall drivers. After buying all the ink I just want it to work!

Ainsley came home from school with these broken blood vessels on her chest and we had no idea why. It is so frustrating at times, having a non-verbal child. There is no good way to ask the kind of questions that might give clues to what happened. Which makes me sad to think about. A few days later we think what happened was that she squeezed a ball tightly against her chest.  The girl is stronger than you'd think. The embroidery caused the pattern.
AND the wheelchair pin came out again. Completely this time. It was incredibly difficult to fix because with all the parts in place you can't see the hole the pin goes into, which doesn't line up because the frame is tweaked. Eventually I got it and foraged a part to replace the missing nut and hold it all together at least temporarily.

We did get a couple things done that have been on my wish list for the past 2 years.

The rusty basketball hoop got a coat of paint and it looks amazing.

And we got the garbage cans off the driveway. We'd planned to put down pavers but I just didn't want to wait any longer. It's crazy that it took us 2 1/2 years to do that.  It feels so great to get things done, no matter how small!

One of my nurses is on vacation and I attended school with Ainsley Monday. That was good because I was concerned that perhaps the work she was doing was above her (ie. a waste of her time). I'd considered hiring an educational consultant and have a few e-mails out. But after
 talking to the teachers I do think they have her interest at heart. It is a challenge though to meet these kids needs. All we can do is our best, knowing it won't be ideal. I'll be there 3 more full days during the next week so I think it will really help me figure things out. A good portion of the work needs to come from home. I just need to figure out how.

I've been e-mailing Ainsley's doctors and got a last minute appointment with her ENT. My nurse had car trouble so we went on our own. And it was great. He agreed to try the Botox again. I signed consent and got it scheduled for mid-October. We got a flu shot and Ainsley acted like it was the end of the world. Cried the whole 20 miles home and then some. Sheesh she's had milder reactions to surgeries.  On the positive side she ASKED to eat at the cafeteria (using that special Mommy/Ainsley special code of talking) and she really ATE. A few potatoes from soup, a couple pieces of shell pasta, a bit of cheese, and quite a lot of oyster crackers. I was SO proud of her!

In addition I purchase my PLANE ticket to California. I'm taking some mommy respite days for the first time EVER, meeting up with some other SN moms from around the country. I can't wait! 

Sep 4, 2013

Last Weekend of Summer, Now Back to Business (School)

Our GRAND FINALE of summer was the Taylor Swift concert. To say Evie was excited is a massive understatement. We've heard of little else all summer. She wanted to have a great sign to show what a huge fan she is, and hoped to get noticed and picked for Taylor's backstage Club RED party. She paid for the lights and materials for this sign herself. And for her outfit. With her own real money.  I spent a lot of time helping her. It was a little tricky. I sure hope all this crazy stuff we do pays off in the form of a graphic arts career or something.

Ready to head to the show. 
Here's Taylor in the 22 video, the inspiration for Evie's outfit.

We showed up early and found we had a decent spot in line to get into the pre-party at 4:30. There are a LOT of red wearing, sign toting Taylor fans.
Evie found her friend Antonia, and they had their pictures with the "Bananas for Taylor Girls".

The much discussed merchandise stand.

I was so happy to be sitting next to Evie during her first concert experience. I think it's a real coming of age experience. She danced and sang, held her sign with pride and had the time of her life.
Miss Taylor puts on an amazing show!!!


 The next day we had a family barbecue at Grandpa Davids. It was really nice. He gave Evie the scrapbook from his family from England, dating back to the 1800's which she will treasure.
The cousins came back with us and stayed the night. Then the following day the kids played in the pool for the last day of summer.

Squeeze bottles are on the OT list for pre-writing strengthening. Ainsley didn't know she was "working". The best kind of therapy. I was also happy since she never used the honey bear for drinking.

Penny got a cruiser. How cute is that?! She can doggy paddle a bit, but was scared so this fixed that.

We had dinner on the patio and Smores for dessert.

It was a great last day of summer!

Steve took Evie to the carpool location at 6:40. She loves her new school.

Adrian was nervous that his teacher would be strict (she has a reputation) but it turns out he likes her a lot.

Ainsley's nursing thing worked out. She has the same special education teacher this year, and the same para-educator as well as the same 2 nurses. I anticipate the continuity will give her a smooth start and she'll have a great year!

When the kids left I got ready for the magazine photographers by cleaning up and picking a bucketful of grapes (that were dropping all over). Penny was a bit sad that all her playmates were missing. She had fun following me around though.  We'll be spending a lot of time together. She's a good little doggy.
It will be an interesting week around here with the photoshoot. More photos of this process to come.

Boy was Penny happy when the kids got home! Lots of doggy kisses were shared.  I don't know about you but I am very happy to get back to regular business!