Monday, September 22, 2014

Of Sundays and Mondays

I'm not sure which one of us registered more shock when our neighbor, fellow kindergartner, and Monday morning carpool friend, hopped out of her minivan and onto our driveway in full cowgirl attire this morning. Charlie turned to bury his head in my legs, while my brain churned ever so slowly back to an announcement that came home on Friday about Spirit Week. I'm not sure if Charlie was upset about his lack of western attire, or if he was just overwhelmed by the exuberance of an unexpected cowgirl on Monday morning. The cowgirl's mom smiled and muttered something about how she had thought about reminding me. I stood frozen, with Charlie attached to my legs, trying to think. We had nothing he could throw on at the last minute - no vest, no cowboy hat, not even a bandana. It was a major Mom Fail to start the week.

As I drove to work fighting back tears, I marveled at how something so insignificant could completely wreak my morning. Turns out nothing is insignificant when it comes to your child and the chance to make him/her happy. In that instant this morning when faced with the cheery cowgirl, I had let Charlie down. I carried the weight around with me all morning, letting it pull my thoughts into sad distraction.

And then I decided to let it all go. I decided instead to look back and focus on the very recent past. We had an absolutely beautiful Sunday with the kids. We had brunch at a friend's house and then the kids all played together while the adults took in the Plaza Art Fair. It was relaxing, refreshing, playful and just what we needed after several stressful weeks of kindergarten expectations. Our friends have this wonderful swing in their front yard, and it was the perfect day for swinging. Who knew a simple, old-fashioned swing could make them laugh so hard?

I will have a chance to redeem myself with Spirit Week and tomorrow's Crazy Hair Day. But for now, I'm reliving Sunday in all its carefree glory. These are happy, loved kids - western wear be damned!

The Plaza at its finest!

This tipi is part of a new exhibit at the Nelson Atkins Museum on the Plains Indians. It is temporarily in Arno Park on Ward Parkway and we stopped to take a look.

Charlie waited (somewhat) patiently all through Sunday brunch for his chance to play these drums. He has clearly watched someone play the drums before and we were surprised that his approach was so deliberate. But we're still not getting drums anytime soon!


The next time I'm having a bad day, I will listen to this laughter and smile big!


Thursday, September 18, 2014

lower case letters

We are still adjusting to our new Kindergarten schedule in the Maniger household. We are out the door earlier every day and have to stick to a strict bedtime schedule or everyone is tired and cranky these days (kids too!). And because I know kindergarten is so much more tiring for Charlie than what he was used to at daycare, I try to pick him up earlier each day. School is out at 3:10 and then he goes to aftercare at the school where he essentially plays and gets out all his energy after sitting all day. I try to pick him up from aftercare around 4:30. This means we are home just before 5:00 most days and I am loving it. It feels like a huge amount of time, even compared to coming home just one hour later. When we are home at 5:00, we aren't so rushed to make dinner and get to bed and instead can ease out of our day.

This time after school and before evening has become my favorite time of the day. Charlie is usually starving so I make the kids a snack and they sit at the counter while I prep for dinner. Izzy will color and work on her scissor skills and Charlie will work on his letters.

When Charlie started school he didn't know any of his lower case letters - major mom fail! I had no idea we should have been working on lower case letters. But this week he sat down and without asking for any help, he wrote his name in both upper and lower case letters, and at a decent pace. He was clearly proud of the accomplishment, and so was I. This week I helped PhD students understand lung mechanics and respiratory physiology, but helping C make the letter "e" was the highlight of my week!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Growing up

I started this blog 6 years ago when I was still pregnant with Charlie. It has been many things to me over the years, most importantly a place where I can think out loud. Motherhood can be completely overwhelming and I found myself unprepared for the onslaught of new information, skills and knowledge I would need to be a parent. No matter how excited you are to become a parent, no matter how many years you dream of the day it will happen, there is no way to prepare yourself for the role. This blog became my outlet for all that was mysterious, interesting, challenging and rewarding about motherhood.

I've written about the fright we had when Charlie entered this world, making my own baby food, and finding time to exercise. I've posted favorite recipes, shared my working mom struggles, the fun aspects of my work, as well as my views on cooking, nutrition, and exercise. I've posted photos from birthdays, vacations, farm table dinnersweekends around the city, our home remodel, major life milestones and everything in between. Writing about all these things made me feel connected, a part of the bigger parenting universe. Writing down my experiences made them resonate for me, and hopefully for a few others. It makes me happy to know friends (and some strangers) enjoy reading my blog. But in the end, I write for myself and how it makes me feel, reflect and remember.

This isn't a good-bye to the blog. I'm not done with this space, but I do feel like something has shifted. We've entered the world of elementary school and it is a completely different place from where we've been for the past 5 1/2 years. It is all new and a tad overwhelming right now, but it is not entirely foreign. School is something I know! I was in one school or another for more than half of my life, and I am still in a learning environment (remind me to write about how first year medical students are similar to kindergartners!).

(Dare I say it?) I am growing more confident about this whole parenting thing lately. The classroom, the field, learning, standardized tests, setting goals, making friends, teamwork - these topics are not as scary and unfamiliar to me as sleep schedules, breast feeding, and teething. I am starting to believe I have something to offer my children and it doesn't have anything to do with Pinterest-worthy parties or homemade crafts.

I'm not sure what this means for the blog or what the blog will be when it grows up. My kids are growing up too, and I don't want to post things here they wouldn't want the world to see. I might have to experiment with this space for a while and see what feels right. I'm not ready to lose this outlet entirely, it still means too much to me. Stay tuned!