Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Where I belong.

An interesting thing happened when I made the switch from a career focused woman to a mom who stays home with her kids.  I didn't know exactly where I belonged.

In the beginning (when Max was a baby and I went back to work) whenever people would ask what I "did" I would always feel a pang of guilt saying I was a working parent. I wondered if they judged me for having a baby, but not being home with him all day, every day.  
Getting my snuggles in after a day at work.  Circa 2010.
I loved my job.  I actually had a really awesome job working with people I truly respect and consider friends.  But there were days when I wasn't sure how I was going to give 100% to both my career and my family.  I give so much credit to the people out there who are able to do it all flawlessly.  I personally was left feeling exhausted and inadequate at both roles.

After much inner turmoil and a lot of thought and number crunching, Billy and I decided I would stay home full time. I thought that the question "what do you do?" would become easier to answer because I'd no longer feel guilty about working. But I struggled to find the voice to say "I'm a stay at home mom." I would add the word "just" in there and smile...a little embarrassed. Part of me worried it would sound like I was boasting that I didn't "work". The other part of me worried that someone might think I was lazy because I didn't "work". It's such a weird paradox that I never imagined being faced with when we decided to have kids.
Reading to Max after bath time.  I cherished the short hours I had between getting home and putting him to bed.
Once I stepped away from the working world it took me a little while to get comfortable in my new role. Not the day-to-day parenting aspect of it, but owning my stay-at-home status as a part of who I am and maintaining a sense of self.  Embracing that, for the time being, it's where I belong.  And now I couldn't be happier to be here.

Too soon these "little" days will become memories neatly packed (and blogged) away. I know that one day I'll return to my career and begin to uncover aspects of the person I was when I was able to put myself first.  

It's not easy to collaborate all of the parts of oneself. The mom and the wife and the person I am at the core all find a place within me and constantly work to live in equal harmony. One not overpowering the other. But it takes a conscious effort to keep them all thriving.

I don't think I have it all figured out quite yet and probably never will, but I'm committed to living each phase of my life in a way that feels right to me and in a way that's best for the people I love most.

There are sacrifices we've had to make and days that I WISH I had an office to escape to.  But I know without a doubt where I belong for now.  And I'm giving it all I've got.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Real Life Moments: Summer Edition

It's hard to believe summer is officially over.  The boys started school at the beginning of the month and our schedule is much more structured which has been good for all of us.  But we did enjoy a carefree, fun-filled summer that can only be described with photos.

Most of our "big" summer events and vacations were captured in other blog posts, but I had so many random photos of what we did during lazy days collected on my phone. I'm glad I have this blog as a place to dump them all.

As you can see most of our summer days were "clothing optional" :)  

Loves his superman cape made by Mimi.
Loves Momma's shoes too :)
Helping to get our garden started. 

We had to take a break from the heat every once in awhile and find fun inside...
Indoor Cosmic Bowling.
No-mess painting.
We got to have new experiences, like a lobster boil.  The boys were fascinated by the deconstruction of the lobster.  I was disgusted.  But had no problem eating the lobster once the shell, etc was out of sight :)

Lots of pool and sprinkler time in the backyard.
Max would start at the back door and run as fast as he could toward the pool yelling, "CANNON BAAAALLLL!"

Riding trikes (and tractors) in the driveway. Around and around in circles.  

Cowboy hats were worn daily.  I love Max's "stop copying me..." look :)

Caught being sweet...

Celebrating our Irish heritage.

Indulging in pure sugar.

More brotherly love.

We're so happy that fall has arrived and so ready for all of the fun things that go along with it.  The boys have already been asking to wear the Halloween costumes we've been working on and asking how long until Santa comes down the chimney.  I can't believe these things are right around the corner!  I'll have my camera ready...

Sunday, September 15, 2013

New Love.

The whole family is so excited for our new baby-love to arrive in a couple months.  

I had no idea how interested the boys would be in the whole process when I first told them they were going to have another sibling.  They've been very patient and know that the baby needs to grow before he/she can come out and meet them.  Max talks to the baby every day.  Sullivan gives razzberries and kisses.  They both hug my belly every night before bed completely unprompted.  

I never imagined that they would both embrace this experience so much, but I love that they have.  This baby is already very much a part of our family even though we haven't had formal introductions yet.

Because of this bond the boys have already formed with their new sibling, we decided to take them to our 3D sonogram.  We initially planned to go by ourselves, but something about that just didn't feel quite right.  The boys are so involved with this pregnancy and truly understand that their brother or sister is in my belly.  We thought they'd love to see the baby's face to make things even more real for them.

And here's what we saw...

These images are not as clear as we got with Sullivan, but we definitely got a good glimpse of our little ones face.  The baby was all curled up, hugging the umbilical cord and had arms in front of the face most of the time.  We DIDN'T see any boy/girl parts.  The sonographer said she couldn't even tell with the way the baby had his/her legs crossed.  We asked her to stay away from the bottom half either way.    

I thought baby resembled Sullivan quite a bit.  The lips and ears were very similar to what we saw in his 3D sonogram, but then we saw the baby frown a couple times and looked so much like Max :)  

The boys were unbelievably good for the first half.  They sat quietly and watched the big screen with nervous little smiles on their faces.  I was completely surprised by their behavior...sitting still and politely answering the sonographer's questions about preparing for a new sibling.  

About 20 minutes in they got antsy.  Fighting for the seat closest to me and bickering over their snacks.  The funniest part was that you could see the baby's reactions to the background noise on the sonogram.  Frowning at each outburst the boys made.  I could have watched the baby for hours, but it was time to call it a day before we traumatized all of the dreamy-eyed first time parents in the waiting room with the boys' antics :)  I had unwisely scheduled the appointment near lunchtime and things were going to spiral out of control quickly if we didn't get out of there.

We left with pictures, a video and full hearts knowing that our new love is just patiently waiting to meet us too.  

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Back to School

Max is officially a pre-schooler and Sullivan has started his academic career in the 2+ class this year.  It's hard for me to believe that twice a week I'm a free woman!  However temporary.  

I genuinely missed them the first day.  Sometimes I feel stuck in a weird place between desperately needing a break and not wanting them out of arms reach simultaneously.  They, on the other hand, happily left my side for the excitement of a new classroom.

Prior to their first day I gave them each a little back-to-school package.  Max received a new lunchbox when he started school two years ago so it was Sullivan's turn to get his own.  And Max got a backpack since he's a big pre-schooler now.  He always envied the "big kids" in the pre-school and pre-k classes who walked in with backpacks and had their own little "lockers" to hang them in.  It was his turn to upgrade to backpack status.
My kids actually get excited for play-doh and new undies :)
Sadly, Max did not have the reaction to his backpack I had hoped for.  Apparently he had his heart set on the dinosaur one.  I got him the monkey, because he has a monkey lunch box. It seemed like ok logic on my part, but it was clearly the wrong choice. Tough cookies...sometime's life isn't fair, little man.

Sullivan's reaction was awesome, though!

And just as Sullivan was discovering how multi-functional his lunch box truly is.  Something magical happened...
Max put on the backpack and was transformed.  His initial reaction of disappointment had completely disappeared.
 And he ran like the wind.  Yelling "I love my monkey backpack!" 

And, then, posed for the camera like an awkward model :)
Ahh...the manic behavior of three-year-olds.  Keeps me on my toes.

The morning of school I set up a fun little breakfast table setting and made french toast.  This is the most effort I've  put into breakfast in a long time, so they had to occupy themselves patiently while I actually cooked something from scratch (with my camera nearby).

Max measured all the items at his place setting while Sullivan studied his apple.

 Max drew with crayons while Sullivan still contemplated his apple :)  

Max started drumming with the pencils and Sullivan was like, "Shh...its too early for that racket.  Chill.  Drink your smoothie."
And then Sullivan was like "Seriously. Stop. Or I'm going to make you."
I love their individual personalities so much :)

Dad left them a note since he had an early meeting and couldn't come with us to drop off.  He did get to help pick up at the end of the day, though, which made for two happy little fellas.

 Sullivan has come a long way from that sad baby in the window from the first day of school last year!  No longer left behind...
Sept 2012.  Max wasn't sure what I meant by "smile"?? 
 The boys had met their teachers briefly prior to school starting, but we made these little "Hello My Name Is..." gifts to reintroduce themselves on the first day.

When we got to school I let Max do his big brother duties while I stood back.  He took Sully's hand and walked him over the the playground.  I heard him say, "Here's where we go to recess.  And if you miss me today I'll see you out here, ok?"  Sully just nodded :)

Once inside Max continued to show him the ropes.  Where they have to go potty, get a drink and wash hands prior to going to class. And then helped Sullivan find his little lunch cubby.

I can't believe how big Sullivan looked when I peeked in to get a picture after we walked out of his classroom.  He was watching some other kids start their morning activity.  He joined in after a moment of observation.

Max's teacher asked the parents to stay for their morning story, "The Kissing Hand".  Max kept turning around and whispering "I love you, Momma!"  and then "Why are you still here??"
 Then they played "Who Is This Special Friend?" to learn each others names.  His class is bigger than it was last year, but he knows most of the kids already.  So many wonderful kids and families at our school.
Embarking on a new school year and taking on new challenges.  I'm so proud of my big boys!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Catching Butterflies

I hadn't been to Kauffman Memorial Garden in years.  Four years, to be exact.  My mom and I took a watercolor painting class at the KC Art Institute when I was barely pregnant with Max.  That was the summer of 2009.  Our first assignment was to paint flowers, so we came here to sit and work on our assignment.  

Fast forward to 2013, I was sitting on a blanket in the shade watching my boys run around while another little one kicked my belly from the inside.  It's hard to believe sometimes how quickly life moves.

Max has been on a mission for butterflies recently so we made catching one our goal of the outing.

{Supplies needed for a successful butterfly hunt}

1) Butterfly net, cage and pretend butterflies just in case real ones are scarce.

2) Curiosity.
Searching high and low.
Secret garden gate.
May have been breaking the rules just a little bit...

3) Binoculars and/or paper towel telescope

Sullivan was serious about the hunt :)
4) Sketch book and/or nature coloring book
Max really wanted to accurately capture the purple flowers we were sitting by.  Sullivan focused on coloring his snail picture.
It was a beautiful day to spend with my loves.  Capturing yet another moment in time...but not a single butterfly :)