Wednesday, September 28, 2005

No news is good news

Bedtime stories

I'm finding that the days quickly turn into weeks. I track time by how many times I've made lunches and how many groceries we have left before the weekend trip to Costco. Our tasks and rituals each morning are finally becoming more habitual as we get used to our school-day routines. This lowers my stress level which helps lower my childrens' stress level.

Harrison, especially, needs routine. He has a hard time with change and, unfortunately, he's had a lot of it in his life. Three preschools and now a new public Kindergarten since we've moved to Utah. This alone would freak out anyone, let alone a little five-year-old boy. I have tried very hard to keep our life calmer this fall. Little things, like not taking him on too many errands,or visits to friends, during the week has helped a lot. He thrives when he has time at home. He seems to have a need to play with his toys each day. When he doesn't get that time he becomes very unhappy. I finally understand why he gets upset certain mornings before school - it's not that he doesn't like going to school - he just wants to stay at home longer. Nine out of ten times, when he has problems in the morning, it's because we had a break in routine the night before.

Ella, on the other hand, loves to leave the house. She doesn't crave it as much during the week, but on weekends she asks for it. For example, if I even look at my shoes, she'll ask me where we're going. When we do venture out, she is ready and willing no matter where we go. When our errands or activities are over, she'll always ask to go somewhere else "Mom? Can we go to one more place?" However, as much as she enjoys being out and about, her first love is her brother. She will stay home with him and play whatever make-believe game Harry has created. Lately they've been rearranging the dining room chairs and playing train or firetruck. Whoever sits in the front is the engineer or the driver - it's awfully cute.

Hopefully, the house sells (we have earnest money collected from Buyers C, BUT are still waiting on a home inspection contingency) and one more huge stressor will be lifted from our lives. This has to help bring more calmness into my two little ones' lives. God knows they could use some!

Monday, September 26, 2005

Skater wannabe

Earlier this week, he wrote his first "love" note to a neighbor girl. Now he wants to grow his hair out like the "big boys."   I'm okay with that except today was picture day and I had an early meeting and wasn't there to supervise the gel use. I can't wait to see the results.

Quote of the day by Harry: "Mom? Are we in the forest?"

Looking for fall colors which really weren't here yet.

Ella was SCREAMING at this point something like this..."NOOOOOO, you can't go!!! I'm first!!! I'm the leader!!!!"

Harrison posing for his senior picture.

Ella and "Jammy Baby" examing nature.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Mundane updates

Update on the house - Buyer B DID withdraw their offer yesterday. She had an out written into her offer that allowed a plumber to come in and see if adding a bathroom to the house was feasible. Of course anything is feasible - but adding a bathroom to an old house can be extremely expensive. DUH!!! Another example of why we called her the "crazy lady."

Buyer C came through with a legitimate contract and seem to still truly want the house. Big "however", though - they want the house CONTINGENT (my new unfavorite word) on a home inspection. The house is 110 years old. There are things wrong with it. If they want us to fix anything it will become a problem. Have I mentioned that we are broke? It will become quite a hardship if we have to deal with a big problem. Once again - please cross your fingers that they accept the house "as is" and that by the end of October (yea! for the earlier closing date) we will no longer be residents of America's Dairyland. I just realized, writing this, that is we do close at the projected date, we could have our "We Lost Our Ass On A Bad Real Estate Investment, But We LOVE Living In The Mountains" celebration party on Halloween. One could think of many creative costumes for this theme!

Update on my mom: Her latest chemo stopped working about a month and a half ago, but her doctor came up with a new cocktail that has her feeling hopeful. She lost most of her white blood cells the first week after her first IV treatment which was pretty bad (she had to stay away from all people until her count went back up), but other than that - and a tiny bit of nausea - she's doing really well. Their house has been on the market for about a month and they haven't had the activity they hoped for. It's surprising - everyone assumed (just like with our house) that it would sell in the first month or week.

Update on the kids: Harrison claims to not like Kindergarten, but is doing wonderfully and loves walking to school with the neighbor girl. He even drew her a picture of a pirate ship today and put a heart on it. I asked him why he added the heart and he said it was for love. Right after that, he asked me how to spell his "girlfriend's" name so he could put it on the top and give it to her. I'm not sure if I should be sad or thrilled. I don't want him to like girls yet, but I'm so happy he's having connections with other kids.

Ella is thriving in her preschool even though Harry is only there in the afternoons. She is still extremely whiny, but I think I've figured her patterns out and am having slight successes in subduing her whine outbursts and frequency.

That's it...not much to report this week. Going on a hike tomorrow - colors are at their peak in the mountains. Should make for some brilliant pictures!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

"Vacation" Home Update

Inside shot of living room which is between the parlor and the formal dining room.

Buyer A offered a REALLY, REALLY low price for my stately Victorian home in the Midwest. Buyer B offered a REALLY low price. We countered both at a slightly higher low price. Buyer A ran away with tail between legs. Buyer B countered and we compromised and accepted. Hell, we HAVE to get this done! Buyer A had a house to sell as a contingency. Buyer B had cash. We were happy with Buyer B.

Two days later, I was notified that Buyer B (single woman with SEVEN children) is crazy in more than one way. She apparently isn’t aware of the current definition of “cash”. She has since qualified for a loan, but still has another annoying contingency that should be cleared up by this afternoon. In the meantime, Buyer C appeared two days ago. Begged to see the house even though there is an accepted offer. Buyer C fell in love with my house. Wife is pregnant with third child and has visions of three portraits of her children over my three fireplaces. They are IN LOVE. Today they will make a secondary offer.

It’s all hard to believe. Where the hell were these people last January, or last September???? I hope that whoever ends up with our house truly wants it and will cherish it. They will be family #13 (the house was built in 1895). This house was meant to house children. It’s big, has cool staircases and lots of secret hiding spots. The monetary loss is still hard, but I’m trying to abdicate it by thinking positive thoughts about the new owners. Am I becoming too Pollyanna about this? Probably, but it helps.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

The Farm Park

While Chris mountain biked this morning, we played at this cool park in Park City.

The first thing Ella does whenever she enters a park is to head for the swings.

The kids loved the volleyball courts - they created one big sandbox!

Mr. "King of the Mountain" decided this was his favorite spot in the park.

Harrison and I love to find pictures/shapes/things in the clouds. He wanted me to take a picture of this shark's mouth.

We ended our adventure downtown watching the Vikings get trounced over a beer and some lunch. A trip to the candy store for taffy was the perfect dessert.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Bittersweet and cautious happiness

An old picture of the vacation home while it was still "under construction"

Several long distance phone calls, fax transmissions and heated conversations later, we have a deal. We have countered, she (single mom with SEVEN children) has countered our counter and we have accepted. There is one semi-minor, albeit extremely annoying, contingency in all of this, but we will know the answer to that in five business days. So… of next Thursday, we will hopefully know – for sure – that someone else will own our house at the end of November.

We are definitely going to lose money. Big money. But at times like these you tend to stop feeling (something I’m VERY good at) and just accept it. The monetary loss will take a few years to absorb, but we are trying to look forward with hope. We probably never know why this house had to take so much from us – sweat equity, mental health stability, money – but I have hope that we will figure it out someday. I have big theories on that. In the meantime, my neighbors are already counting on a celebration.

Not until after the closing. I’ve become too hesitant, skeptical and pessimistic in my old age to count my chickens too early. SHOW ME THE MONEY. Then we’ll party.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

I really have no place to complain about my daughter's whining. After you read this, you'll understand.

I have to admit that I have been throwing a pity party for myself for many months now. Home alone with my kids more often than I’d like. Woe is me. Chris stressed out about work and bringing more of that stress home with him than I’d like. Poor, poor Carol. I work full time AND raise two very young children. How do I do it? Our circa 1895 Victorian vacation home in Wisconsin STILL hasn’t sold. Get out the Kleenex. My mom’s last chemo stopped working and she is now on a new cocktail that may or may not be “the one.” Boo hoo. Running daily before work has become harder since it is PITCH black out and some weirdo in a car spooked me. Cry me a river. The fascination with eating healthfully has waned – I’m hungry for NON-baked, jalapeƱo flavored Tostitos and Ben & Jerry’s (it doesn’t matter what flavor anymore) ALL the time. I want my cake - literally, but don't want to gain any of the weight back that I've lost. It scares me to death that I'm going to blow all my success. Whatever.

I know that this list of issues is big. There are definitely a couple of valid stressors in my life, but I wish I could stop more often and appreciate the good things and live for today. I am completely the opposite of the people that surround me on a daily basis. I work with so many high school students who can’t think beyond today - who can’t realize how important education and hard work are for their futures. They totally live in the here and now. They spend their limited incomes on food, clothes, cell phone minutes, gas and music downloads. They study for tests and grades – not necessarily for learning and understanding.

I, on the other hand, can’t stop thinking about the future. How will we manage financially if our house in Green Bay doesn’t sell? How will Harrison manage socially in full day elementary school if he struggles a bit in half day Kindergarten? When will Ella stop whining and have mature conversations with me? When will my husband’s job calm down enough, as well as the other stressors in our life, so that we can move our marriage beyond a business partnership (running the household and managing the family)? When the house sells what will our total financial loss be? What will happen if my mom doesn’t get better?

I guess I’m wishing for balance. It seems that my life is full of great moments and awful moments. I can’t seem to find a way to stop and smell the roses enough. To stop and enjoy the process of life. Dinner in our household, for example, is a very chaotic, rushed event. Potatoes aren’t boiling, roasts aren’t baking, vegetables aren’t steamed – hell, they’re not even cooked. Dinner is healthy, but not pretty. Ok…sometimes it’s not even healthy. I long, at times, for the desire to cook meals – not just prepare them. Of course raising our children is my biggest regret when it comes to this. I wish that I would stop more often to play with them. Harrison asked me, the other day, to play in the toy room with him while Ella was napping. He handed me an airplane while he manned the helicopter. I had no idea what to do. I twirled it around the room a couple times – made some airplane noises that apparently were inaccurate – and then landed it next to the train set about 15 seconds later. My next instinct was to start picking up. That I knew how to do. That I felt comfortable with. I justified my cleaning by telling myself that at least I was in the same room with him which was “better” than cleaning upstairs.

I know as I age that balance will come. I also know that stressors come and go. I just hope that life doesn’t pass me by while I wait for everything to be perfect.

P.S. After SIXTEEN and a half months of trying to sell our vacation home, we have received our first two offers in the last 14 hours. We may actually sell it. That would definitely call for a celebration! I may not cook, but I can mix a fairly good drink.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Parenting Dilemma #7,593

This shot was taken during the two minutes of pre-game practice yesterday before his first fall league soccer game. Harrison loved the idea of putting on a uniform and playing outdoor soccer, but quickly decided he didn't like. He spent the majority of the game avoiding the coaches (so they wouldn't remember to put him in the game) or wandering around the field instead of chasing the ball.

I don't know how far to push this one. I want to expose him to things, but don't want to force things on him. I want him to stay with things and not think he can quit, but don't want him to hate something because of all the conflict. His only verbal insight to me: "I don't like playing with so many kids. I just want to play with Kyle (his friend)." He does know four or five other kids on the team besides Kyle, but not as well.

I would just like to have him participate in sports. I want to see him smile as he runs up and down a field. I want him to find friendships in his teammates. I'm just not sure how to handle this.  Chris has suggested tennis or golf - individual sports. I agree. 

Harrison may have a gene that is designated for sports negativity. He will try things for a minute or two and then give up when he realize that it takes work to improve your skills.  He also has some sort of social anxiety about team sports.

This "problem" is not significant, just annoying. I wish only good things for my children and want them to enjoy life and all it has to offer. Exposing them to new things is my job. I do really look forward, though, to that moment when they discover their passion. The interest/hobby/sport in their life that will motivate their existence. How cool will that be?!!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

I'm having one of those weeks: Kindergarten paperwork is more than I expected. Teaching a college course is much more than I expected. Working full time, in general, pretty much sucks. Managing a family life/household while doing so is also hard. I miss my Mom. I wish I could go home.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

With kids, who are you kidding? It's always about poop.

Ella tends to be a whiner. The last few months have been especially bad. Her whining, more specifically the extremely annoying tone of her voice when she’s doing it, has reached epic proportions lately.

Some of her favorite whines:
“I don’t WANT to go to quiet time!!”
“Mom…Maaaamaaawwwmmm…MOMMY!” – “yes, Ella?” – “I NEED you.” – “I’m right here.” - “But, I NEED you!!!”

The other day, she was napping really well, but I knew if I didn’t wake her she wouldn’t get to bed on time. Her I-just-was-awakened-from-a-nap whines are much bigger and whinier than her regular I’m-three-therefore-I-am-entitled-to-demand-whatever-I-damn-well-please-from-you whines. As we drove to the grocery store during one of these moments, her main complaint was her neck. “My neck hurts….MOM!!!! it really hurts.” I asked her if it was inside (her throat) or outside that hurt. She was unable to really tell me. I figured she got the sore throat I had a few days ago. She whined about her neck off and on for over an hour. During dinner, about an hour and a half later, I asked her about it. “How’s your neck, honey?” “Good. I went poop and now it’s better.”

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Scenes from our evening at the park (note: LOTS of pictures ahead. Doc, feel free to skip this one.)

Mom and the kids


Turned off for the night

The mall

Have a seat

We all SAY we love ferris wheels, but have never been on this one just a few blocks from our house.

The park gets artistic

He will climb anything he can

so much to little time

Taking a break

Water play

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Two days of Kindergarten and he already thinks he's 13

Harrison and I were having a conversation while he was in the bath tub about why he couldn’t play with bath toys tonight.

Me: "Remember? You’re having a 'quick bath' (what we call a bath that entails just washing up – no play time)."

Harry: “It’s dumb that we can’t play with toys.”

Me (trying to stay calm and not jump on the fact that he used the word “dumb” so that we won’t have a fight): “No, it’s called a compromise. You chose to go to the park tonight, so you don’t have time to play in the tub.”

Harry: “Compromise is dumb. I wish we didn’t have parents… (thoughtful pause as he re-loaded)…then we could whatever we wanted. We could have M & Ms…and we could do anything we wanted. We wouldn’t have to eat as much chicken. Yes…I really wish I didn’t have parents."