Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Weekend Mommy #TBT

If I were to write a new post right now, it would go something like this. Substitute lazy days of Summer for Fall fun and this is how I'm feeling...

Some weeks I feel incredible satisfaction at work and in my profession. I feel like I am making a difference and accomplishing many things - things that matter. Some weeks I am inspired and excited about the work I do, the people I get to work with. There are times when I feel I have the world on a string.

Not this week.

Perhaps it's because our new house is feeling more and more like a home and I just want to spend more time there - with the kids. Perhaps it is because very soon I will be signing Charlie up for kindergarten, and the many years of school that will quickly follow frightens me. My babies aren't really babies and I'm missing so much. Perhaps it is the fun of Halloween and the desire to make ghosts and spiderwebs and carve pumpkins. Lately, the weekends just don't seem like enough time. 

Perhaps it is because I want to try something completely different with my career. Find a new challenge and a new form of inspiration - one that fits more comfortably with raising a family. I'm not sure such a career exists, nor if I have the nerve to find out.

Our house is full of toys the kids only get to play with occasionally. They spend 40+ hours a week away from home, just like I do. They rarely get to spend a lazy morning in their pajamas playing on the floor, watching Sesame Street. Kids should get to watch Sesame Street. It is a right of passage, one my children barely know exists. 

I want to have time to take them to the library, not just at 6:00pm on a Tuesday when we have to rush to get home and make dinner, but for Story Hour on Thursday mornings. I want to take them to museums and the occasional movie in the afternoon, to visit Dad's office, to the park for a picnic lunch. 

I'm tired of being the weekend mommy, when park visits and puppet shows have to play second fiddle to cleaning the house, doing the laundry, going to the grocery store. Because all those chores have to get done by Sunday evening. Monday morning we all head back to work, to daycare.  

I know my children are exposed to amazing people and experiences in their current daycare. I know they are loved and well-cared for every day. They are learning. They are thriving! But I am not with them for the majority of their day. I am not teaching them new skills. I am not there to see their smiles, their tears, their struggles and victories. I am not there.

Maybe things will get easier when both kids are in school. I've heard the guilt subsides somewhat - all kids go to school, after all.  Maybe I can find a way to fit my work into the span of a school day. That would be ideal. Until I find my ideal, I'll cram as much as I can into the weekends and strive for early pick-ups once in a while. 

I have no plans to quit my job anytime soon. I know the grass is always greener and the ideal work/home situation is a moving target.  For now, I'll take it one day at a time. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Parks, bars and gardens

It is finally Spring which means we are hitting the parks hard these days. Charlie loves to go to a park and play a game, any game. We take basketballs, tennis rackets, and baseball bats just about everywhere we go. He played tennis and then basketball at the park the other day until I thought he might fall over. Then he wanted to go home and play soccer in the yard.

This shot went in...

Check out this vertical! And with his tongue it.

Izzy doesn't usually want to play sports with us and instead plays on the playground on her own very well. She loves to climb and she will attempt to climb just about anything - which means I have to keep a close watch on her.

I took this picture of Charlie and Ryan playing catch on the front lawn just after dinner the other night. I look forward to long summer days that end just like this.

Ryan and I had a lovely date night two weekends ago that was something of a Westport pub crawl. If you haven't been to this KC neighborhood in a while, you should check it out. Westpport has moved up its game with interesting new bars and unique restaurants. We hit the new KC Julep Cocktail Club for a drink, Westport Cafe and Bar for an always fantastic meal, and then Ca Va for an after dinner drink. All sophisticated, interesting places worth a try. These places all surround our one true love in Westport, Port Fonda.

Charlie cannot wait until he can play with his cousin Max, teach him things and, most likely, get him into trouble. You can see in this picture how well his face is healing - still can't believe it.

Some of the many beautiful vegetables going in my juicer these days...

We visited our friend Brit's garden this past weekend. She has three large raised garden beds and more vegetables growing than I would know what to do with. She gave us some seeds and starter plants for our own raised bed, as well as some helpful hints and advice for planting our bed. The kids enjoyed eating leaves and flowers (with Brit's approval), searching for strawberries, and smelling the large compost bins. I will post here about our adventures in gardening this summer. I'm a total beginner, but eager to learn!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Happy Mother's Day Weekend!

Mother's Day should be celebrated for the entire weekend, don't you think? One day is not nearly enough.

Happy Mother's Day to my incredible Mom - you are my role model and my inspiration.

Happy Mother's Day to my mother-in-law. I feel so lucky to have you in my corner and to call you family.

Motherhood is the toughest job I've had so far, and I've only just begun. But the rewards more than make up for the work and worry.

Sometimes I feel like I'm still adjusting to the title of 'Mom.' I spent 35 years figuring out who I am, what I love, what I value. Since becoming a parent five years ago, my life has been turned upside down in ways I could never have imagined. My needs and interests come second and I view the world through a different lens. I am more cautious than I ever was and I am in awe of my role as mother, teacher, and mentor. I feel the weight of their eyes always watching, observing, mimicking, and I try to be better, stronger. I try to give them what they need even though it changes daily.

They give me what I need, too - hugs, kisses, understanding, forgiveness. They teach me about happiness, joy, laughter, resiliency. I don't have this whole motherhood thing figured out, for sure - it's a role that requires a lot of on-the-job training. Sometimes the days are long, but the years go by fast. There are days when I think I'll go crazy if I hear one more "Mommy!" And yet, even on those days, I feel compelled to check on them and admire them while they sleep. They are chaos, love, joy and challenge. They redefine me and I'm glad for it. I'm thankful to be their Mom.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A (hectic) week in the life of a dual-career family

Ever wonder what it takes to make a dual-career family work? Here is a glimpse into one very hectic week for our family.

Sunday April 27, 2014

Ryan leaves town for a short work trip. I decide to start a 3-day all juice reboot diet that leaves me dragging and tired for 2 days. Not my best decision.

Monday April 28

Months and months ago I was asked to participate in a ceremony for graduating KU athletes and help hand out their K Rings at a dinner on the Lawrence campus. With Ryan out of town, I recruited my Mom to meet me on the way to Lawrence and take the kids home with her for the night.

Tuesday April 29

My mom brought the kids to me in KC which was very helpful. Ryan returned that evening. My energy was restored on the juice reboot.  It was a quiet day - the calm before the storm.

Wednesday April 30

I left work a little early to go for a run and called my mom to wish her a happy birthday. Then, daycare called. Charlie fell on the playground and caught himself with his face. His poor face! I was up 4 times during the night helping him sleep through the pain from his fall. My busy schedule turned chaotic.

Charlie's face the day of the fall (left) and the next morning - with a tear! 

Thursday May 1

Happy May Day! Ryan's parents came to our house in the morning to take Charlie home with them for the day - I caught a few of Jordan Metzl's morning show interviews while I waited. Charlie's eye was swollen shut when he woke up in the morning and he looked even worse than the day before. I tried to keep my emotions in check as I began a very long day that ended with Jordan's talk at Unity Temple. Students, colleagues,  friends, and Jordan and his parents all gathered for a much needed glass of wine to end the day. Ryan's parents picked up Izzy from daycare and stayed with both kids at our house until 10pm.

Friday May 2

I woke Charlie up early and got him dressed in the dark to head to work with me. He would hang out at our Exercise is Medicine conference until my Mom could pick him up later that morning. We scheduled Baby Jay to come and greet folks at our conference and lead us in some morning exercises. I had no idea how useful that would be for me at the time! Charlie followed Baby Jay around all morning and played games on the ipad during the first talk. As I envisioned the day of the conference over the past few months, I never once imagined it like this.

Photo by Greg Peters, KU School of Health Professions
Photo by Greg Peters, KU School of Health Professions.
**Note Charlie's shoes in this photo as he sits in the front row with me during the seminar!

My Mom watched Charlie until 2:00 that afternoon and then Ryan's parents came to relieve my Mom so she could make an afternoon appointment. Tag-team grandparents at their best! Ryan had an all day retreat that included a later dinner so I summoned up as much energy as I could to spend quality time with the kids. We all crashed early.

Saturday May 3

Not over yet! I had an advisory board meeting in Lawrence from 11-1, and Ryan had his work retreat from 9-noon. I once again put the kids in the car and drove them to meet my Mom on the way to Lawrence. The kids got to watch their cousins' soccer games and have a lovely afternoon outside in the sunshine. Charlie actually played in his own soccer game later that afternoon. Kids heal amazingly fast!

Sunday May 4

We had my whole family over for lunch to celebrate my Mom's birthday. Did I look as exhausted as I felt?? At 6pm that evening, I had to race across town to join some colleagues for dinner with a visiting speaker. After a quick run through the grocery store, I made it home just before 10pm on Sunday evening. The week was finally over!


There is inevitable fall out to this sort of crazy week. Izzy got significantly less attention this week and is going through separation anxiety as a result of my being gone so much, the shuffling around from daycare to home to grandparents, or maybe just because she is three. All weekend if I so much as walked out of the room she would panic and start crying and run after me. Weekend chores went undone and we're behind to start a new week.

I do my best to avoid a week like this - it isn't good for any of us. Not to mention I would wear out the grandparents very quickly! I try to be very selective in saying yes to evening/weekend work events and decline unless they are absolutely essential. But I worry that this will end up being detrimental to my career or make me seem less committed.

I will admit to feeling very conflicted Friday when I had to bring Charlie to work with me in the morning. I didn't want to seem unprofessional and I needed to be available to handle the inevitable hiccups that come with setting up a big event. I worried that it was an abuse of my position as faculty - would a graduate student or a staff member be able to bring their sick/injured child with them like I did? And a part of me just wanted to focus on my job and what was a very important and meaningful day for me.

In the end, Charlie's health and well-being took precedence over all of those thoughts. If it was unprofessional or if my colleagues resented me for it, I would just have to deal with that. This is what life with a career and family often looks like - a blending of the lines, a juggling act, a bit of hand waving and asking forgiveness later.

And sometimes when career and family blend, a little bit of magic is created. Like when I watched Charlie shadow Baby Jay around the conference room on Friday morning. Charlie was self-conscious about how his face looked and he hadn't really smiled or laughed in over 24 hours. But his face lit up when Baby Jay arrived that morning and he happily followed him around the room, holding his hand, and appearing in everyone's photos with a shy smile on his face.

Suddenly, I no longer cared what others thought about my bringing Charlie with me to work. I did what I had to do to make things work and to get through the day, the week. In the end, my child was smiling and happy, the conference was a success, and I lived to write about it.

A million thanks to Mike and Sharon and my Mom. It takes a trio of grandparents to make this family run!!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Got juice?

Do you juice? We do now. My wedding anniversary present from Ryan this year was a juicer - and I love it! Our inspiration came from the movie Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. If you haven't seen it, put it on your Netflix list for this weekend. It is eye-opening and inspiring - and it will make you want to juice! I will write a full post on 'the juice' next week when my life (hopefully) slows down a bit. I will tell you all about my 3 day juice reboot - it left me feeling amazingly healthy and nothing short of fantastic.

May is Exercise is Medicine month and as I wrote about last week, we're kicking off the month with our conference and author event with Dr.Jordan Metzl. (If you missed that post, read about it here.) One more crazy story related to Jordan and his book. Around the time I was planning our Exercise is Medicine conference, we had my parents over for dinner and I had The Exercise Cure still sitting out on the kitchen counter. My Dad noticed the book and said, "I know this book. We gave a copy to every employee at Geiger Ready-Mix this year." Amazing! He (nor anyone at the company) had any idea I was working on getting Dr. Metzl to KC and we had never even discussed the book. How crazy is that? The company is also sponsoring a ticket to Thursday's talk for those employees that want to attend. They are ahead of the curve for workplace wellness - I'm so impressed!

Some links worth sharing:

Dr. Metzl was on KCUR's Up to Date on Tuesday. You can listen here.

Walking can boost your creativity. More reason to fit in short walking breaks throughout your day!

Exercise vs. Diet in the weight loss battle. Love this - "You can't out-exercise a bad diet."

A refreshing take on feeding kids.

I had the opportunity to hear Austin Kleon speak last week and was inspired to show my work.

This race has become a tradition for the women in my family. Lace up!