Turn the Beat (Year) Around

I’ve had writer’s block for almost two weeks. I can’t decide if it’s because I don’t know what to say, or I don’t know how to say what I want. I have things that I want to talk about…to write about…to hash out and try and make sense of things that don’t always make sense. I want to start conversations and get the ball rolling. I want to be creative and wake up that side of my brain that seems to be sleeping away the rest of 2013.

We had a wonderful Christmas. We enjoyed spending time with family. We surprised the hell out of my mother in-law on Christmas Eve with visiting family from Mexico. I still get verklepmt when I think about how excited she was (and still is.) My sister came to town a few days ago, so we’ve been spending time with her and her family, too. We’ve gone to a hockey game, we’ve gone to Apple Hill…we’ve tried new things around town that we’ve never tried before. I’ve spent time with friends. I’ve enjoyed my family.

So maybe it’s not that I have true writer’s block. Maybe my energy has just been spent on being present and enjoying my loved ones.

Maybe sometimes you just need to realize that you’re where you need to be.

I’ve taken some time to think back on 2013. To say it’s been a big and busy year is a tremendous understatement.

I started Life of Jill.
I chopped off all my hair. Because of course.
Sarah and I ran the Tinkerbell Half Marathon.
Ramona turned 11.
I was a cast member of Listen to Your Mother – Sacramento.
Beezus went to prom.
I went to a couple of amazing conferences.
Campfire Wednesday was the best thing to happen to summer.
We bought a house.
A Giants game where they lost, but we had a blast.
We met some amazing people and had some amazing experiences along the way.
Beezus turned 16.
Ramona started middle school.
My brother got married.
Paisley turned 1.
Cap City Moms became a (softly launched) reality.
Celebrated 16 years of marriage.
College Visits? Ooph.
I enjoyed the hell out of my family and friends.

 

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That’s not even all of it. Not even a little bit!

Yeah, there were stressful and hard times and sad times mixed in. But when I think about 2013, there were some pretty badass things that I’ll be celebrating tonight.

And maybe that’s where I get stuck.

I focus so much on the past. I am celebrating a fantastic year coming to an end. I think about all the good that happened. I am thinking about all the fun that was had and all the love that was shared. But for some reason, I get stuck on how great things were, and I have difficulty looking ahead. I prepare myself for disappointment in 2014 because 2013 was so rad? That’s a pretty piss-poor way to do things if you ask me.

AND YET.

I basically have about 15 hours to celebrate and enjoy the end of a very awesome 2013 and snap myself into realizing that 2014 could be even more. More fun. More family time. More awesome. IT COULD HAPPEN.

Instead of sitting here worrying about what could go wrong. I should focus on all that is so totally right.

Life is what happens when you’re too busy making plans, right? Well, sometimes you can’t even make plans because you’re stuck looking back at the past and trying to walk into the new year backwards.

So yes…I have 15 hours to celebrate an awesome year. But I also have 15 hours to turn myself around and start walking face forward and get ready for what an amazing year 2014 will be.

Happy New Year, everyone.

gratitude…in whatever form

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Today is just one of those days. I set out to be super proud that I made it through last week, but to celebrate, I’ve burned the crap out of my hand, somehow put a scrape on my leg and bruise on my arm and stubbed the hell out of my toe. I have very little makeup on which means I look like leftover hell. The “brown football helmet” I’m sporting doesn’t help things.

Maybe it’s just better if I check myself in to a plastic bubble and also, please don’t look at me, I’m hideous.

I mean…well, it’s kinda funny when you think about it.

I think.

At least, it will be.

When I looked at the calendar, gearing up for last week, I actually got a little concerned about how I would fare. So, quite honestly, a burn, scrape, bruise and stubbed toe is probably my body’s way of telling me that last week kicked my ass. But last week? Well, it also kicked all kinds of ass.

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There was Stanford. There were work deadlines. There was my nephew’s birthday. There were practices and lessons. There was a midnight showing. There was two hours of sleep before getting up for a (wonderful) food drive. There was being so proud of my cute little sixth grader and her school play. And then her school band was in a parade. And then I took the girls to the movies. Again. And then we celebrated Thanksgiving with my inlaws. Which was LOVELY.

And we survived. And my house is only in a tiny bit of a shambles. And I’m thankful and grateful and apparently so excited about it I’m a hazard to my own well-being.

But we crossed off things on the College Bucket List. We did good, you guys. We helped people. I watched my kid blossom…and I could see how much she’s enjoying herself. Which was amazing and wonderful and I’m so stinkin proud of her.

It was a good week. A week to be proud of.

And I’m just so glad that I have this place to write it all down and remember how wonderful and insane it was.

My life is (overly) full. And you know what? I just wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

Touring The Farm

So, okay…I’ve stepped outside almost every comfort zone I have this past week. A week ago today, we (softly) launched Cap City Moms. And, well, I’m ridiculously excited and proud of this community of mamas we’re working towards. We’ve made some pretty big plans. And I can’t wait to tell you more.

But this morning, I find myself reeling a little bit from yesterday.

Stanford University - Hoover Tower
Stanford University – Hoover Tower

You would be proud of me. I was very well behaved, believe it or not. I didn’t cry once during the admissions tour and meetings. I didn’t cry when we toured the campus. And I mean, there we were…at STANFORD. Doing the college tour things like we’re supposed to. At MY first choice for her. (And her dad’s first choice for her. And HER first choice…for her.) My big brained child would do well there. It’s hard to get in. But I think she has a pretty good chance.

And she would do so well there. It would be so good for her.

It would also be good for me.

Stanford University - Memorial Church
Stanford University – Memorial Church

I feel like it’s far enough away that she could “go off to school” and have the college experience I am so hoping for her. But it’s close enough that The Dude and I can take off after work one day and take her and her roommates to dinner. (I don’t know…I just figured this would totally be something we would do.) (I promise to not do this super often. I mean, I think I promise.)

It IS Rival Week.
It IS Rival Week.

And honest to goodness I was excited. My goodness, it’s beautiful there. The campus is ginormous, but I could picture her having a blast there. I was so glad we toured with one of her best friends. The two of them were so excited. Not to mention, adorable.

These two. Adorable, yes. Also, ginormous brains
These two. Adorable, yes. Also, ginormous brains

I didn’t cry. Not once.

Well, not until we were almost home at least.

I knew she was overwhelmed by the day. As excited as she was, she couldn’t believe that college wasn’t so far away. Even though we keep talking about it, being on campus and touring made it a lot more real.

For all of us, really.

You guys, I’m just so proud of her. I couldn’t stop thinking about how proud of her we are. And then how proud I am of our family.

And then I told her. And then I cried.

And then she cried.

But it was more from being overwhelmed, I think, than sad or worried or scared. I think it was just a lot for us to take in. A lot to process.

I’m still reeling. And probably more overwhelmed by it than I care to admit.

But I left yesterday knowing that she’s going to be so awesome wherever she ends up going. She’s going to thrive. She’s going to have a blast.

I know (I KNOW) I’m going to be a mess when the time finally arrives.

But you guys? I think we’re all going to be just fine. Really.

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time: sworn enemy of bucket lists

I couldn’t get my act together for the football game. Well, let’s be honest…we didn’t have a free weekend in all of October and September, really. So attending a high school football game as a family just didn’t happen.

Next year we’ll just have to go to two of them. (I think that’s how it works.)

But hey…Hunger Games tickets HAVE BEEN PURCHASED. So at least we’re not completely sucking!

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I feel proud of the tiny bit of progress we’ve made. But I’m also panicking at HOLY CRAP NOT ENOUGH TIME DO ALL THE THINGS RIGHT NOW.

Helpful!

But…well, this kind of stuff makes the pressure to get it all done even greater:

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I’m really not a complete mess 100% of the time. When discussing plans for 2015 holiday with my family (yes, we know that’s two years away but whatever) I didn’t even cry as I mentioned that those holidays will be the first of Beezus coming home from school for the holiday break. No really…didn’t cry!

But man, time just keeps going by way to fast and I’m nervous that we won’t get to everything on our bucket list.

I may have to get a little more efficient and surprise her while she’s sleeping. You know, if I’m actually going to surprise her. Does ‘surfing’ the internet count as learning to surf as a family? Or maybe I should start a food fight AFTER we cook one of those fancy dinners.

I feel this is the may be the only way I’m going to keep up with this list.

 

 

 

Beezus and Ramona

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photo: sarah maren photographers

Years before my children were ever born, Beverly Cleary wrote a book (well, books) about my children. I mean, it isn’t EXACTLY about my children. But the similarities between Beezus and Ramona and my own children are pretty hilarious. And the very reason that I call them by those names on this here blog.

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In fact, it was after seeing the movie about the same characters that this realization hit me over the head. And by “hit me over the head” I mean, sitting in a dark theater completely gobsmacked and cousin Lucy leaning over to whisper, “OMG your kids. Those are your kids.”

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I don’t even know how that happens. I mean…is Beverly Cleary psychic? Did she change the actual events of our lives in her books so we wouldn’t sue her?

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photo: sarah maren photographers

I knew long ago that my girls would be ridiculously different for each other. Even the pregnancies were amazingly different. And yet, somehow I still find myself surprised when their differences lead to hefty battles. Or getting whiplash from the change of pace that the two of them set.

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photo: sarah maren photographers

Sometimes I think I am completely ill-equipped to parents such polar opposite children. What works for one will NEVER work for the other. And yet, somehow here we are…so many years later…kinda sorta hanging in there doing okay. Sometimes we’re just surviving to survive. But for the most part? I think we’ve done just fine.

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But at the end of the day, I am just so amazed that they are mine. These…PEOPLE…these amazing daughters with all these opinions and talents and personality.

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They really are the coolest kids ever. I should probably thank Beverly Cleary.

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Ramona the Brave

I cannot believe the difference in Ramona the past couple of weeks. I mean, they are subtle differences, but I can see the changes in her every day. I’m grateful that she’s doing better. I love that she loves certain parts of school. I’m relieved…well, I’m relieved that she doesn’t hate life.

thumbs up, baby
thumbs up, baby

She’s making friends. She’s enjoying school more and more. At least most parts of school. Homework and test taking are a struggle in a couple of her classes, but we’re working on that. We’re trying to figure out what works for her. I haven’t said anything, but I’ve been wondering about a slight learning disability and maybe even some sensory issues that I didn’t realize before. I’m not get into that right now, but she works so hard studying and yet struggles so hard on her tests and quizzes. I’m not quite ready to give her a label. I’m also not sure that I’m right. But let’s just say that this mama is working on doing a lot of research to understand the way she learns. (For the record, I still have don’t really know.)

What I do know? She loves band. LOVES it. I had no idea that she would take to it so well. She’s playing the flute and can play Mary Had a Little Lamb like a BOSS. Her close friends have come from meeting them in band class. I even got to meet one of their moms at last week’s school event. Which makes me feel like we’re actually getting to be part of the community. (Bonus!) And these friends seem so nice! Like, really nice! I’m almost afraid to say it out loud, but no drama! (4th and 5th grade was fraught with drama. It was not my favorite.) She is thriving and absolutely adores her band teacher.

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Last week my dear child got in trouble for her attitude and then grounded from her iPod and TV. Quite honestly, it’s the best thing that ever happened to her. I think she’s sleeping better. She’s not as distracted. She’s reading more. I’m not saying it solved all our problems, but my goodness she’s different without those two things. The Dude didn’t give her a time period of how long she’d be without the iPod and TV privilege. I don’t know how or when we’ll even start talking about it. But for now? It’s better for her not to have constant and easy access to them. It’s almost like her mind is at peace without them.

And in completely unrelated news, she got her very own razor this past weekend. Yeah…leg shaving milestone. Leg. Shaving. Milestone. Super not ready for that. I mean, she spent the day wanting everyone to feel her legs so that helped to bring things back a little bit, but yeah. These kids of mine are making me feel old.

Of course, it just took me several (SEVERAL!!) tries to spell “subtle” in that sentence up there so who knows? Maybe I’m just getting old all on my own. Looking into convalescent homes is next on my to-do list. Because of course.

Our College Bucket List

For the past four or five months, I’ve been compiling a list. A bucket list of sorts. But it is all about things I want to do before Beezus goes to college. (Also, I just went and counted. I haven’t had a sunrise/sunset, talked about college moment in eight posts. I’m not saying it’s a record, I’m just saying it’s an improvement.) I spent a LOT of hours working in an office when she was younger and missed A LOT of important (to me) events. Let’s just say that creating a College Bucket List is a way for me to focus on what I CAN do before she’s off to college instead of what I can’t go back and change.

And listen. I know that sending kids off to college isn’t hard for everyone. Or maybe other people just handle it better than I ever will. But I have LOVED making this list. I don’t want to be holding on to regrets when I’m already having a hard time letting go. And YES, some of these trips will have to be when she’s home from college on summer break, but let me pretend I can get this all done in a year and a half.

college bucket listI will probably revise this as we go, but I love that I already have things scheduled or at least know the time frame that some of these things will happen. I guess, like many things in my life, if I have a “TO DO” list, or a plan, it almost feels like it’s all going to be ok. I mean, I’ll still be a weeping mess once the day arrives, but I feel a little less out of control. I feel like these are going to make some pretty damn awesome memories that we’ll all remember.

I have a few things coming up that I’m super excited to talk about. And putting this list together and on the blog helps me to be even more excited about all of it.

no rest for the insane

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There’s something about an “all hours of the day/night” Labor Day weekend softball tournament that makes you question everything about letting your child play competitive sports. Because I’m not joking. I really meant ALL. HOURS. OF THE NIGHT. And it’s the reason why I’m not sure that I’ll ever catch up on sleep or ever feel human again. It’s also the reason I just found 17 typos in just this first paragraph alone.

For the record, I love my children. I love to support them in all that they do. But since even Beezus hates this tournament, I don’t feel bad telling you how much I hate it, too.

Just to give you a visual that you don’t want, the tournament starts Friday night. Beezus’ first game wasn’t until 10:30 Saturday morning. The next game? Not until 2am Sunday morning. And then another game at 5:30 am. The next game times depend on brackets and game scores, so we didn’t find out until later Sunday afternoon that the next games would be at 10:30pm…and then the winner of that game (which was my kid’s team) would advance to the next round. That particular game would start sometime around 12:30 or 1 in the morning. (And? Let’s be honest…we were a little glad they didn’t win that game because the Championship game was scheduled to START at 5am Monday morning. Ugh.)

Sounds fun, right?

After that first game Saturday morning, I spent most of the afternoon getting a few things done while making sure that Beezus gets enough rest. I also made arrangements for Ramona to stay the night somewhere so that I could go to the Saturday night/Sunday morning games. There wasn’t really time for me to sleep because, well, because that’s part of being a parent. There are still things that have to be done even if I know I won’t be getting much sleep.

And I didn’t.

At all.

All weekend.

But I will tell you that there are some benefits of being sleep deprived. Well, there are benefits to choosing to hang out with your kid instead of catching a few hours of sleep.

After the (very early) Sunday morning games, Beezus and I head out in search of waffles. And…probably Eggs Benedict. Because DUH EGGS BENEDICT. I had no idea how I was going to stay awake for this breakfast, but it was one of those times where there was no way in hell I was saying no. Sleep deprived hilarity ensued, but it was so much fun to have an early morning date with this kid. We may have been laughing so hard that nearly the entire restaurant turned to look, but that might’ve been my imagination.

my early morning breakfast date
my early morning breakfast date

Now, because my kid burns thousands of calories a day with water polo and softball…and just regular life, I don’t mind telling your that she pretty much hoovered all the food in front of her. I’ve never, ever seen her be the boss of breakfast. But that’s a title she now has. She took no prisoners and showed no mercy. But the best part was as she took the last bite, she embraced her inner rock star diva.

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But not only does she drop her fork like a boss, she says out loud:

“And THAT’S how you do it.”

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I almost expected her to add “bitches” to the end of that sentence. But she refrained.

Clearly she’s a better person than I am.

all the roads we had to walk are winding

The thing about having your oldest child start her junior year of high school AND turn sixteen in the same week is that it makes you a bit nutty. Or raving effing lunatic. Whatever. You’re a nut job that is sad and happy and certifiably crazy. You just never know what Jill you’re gonna get.

But here’s the thing: I’ve woken up a lot of feelings and emotions this year. A lot of it surfaced when I wrote my LTYM piece. And then it continued to surface as I faced things that I didn’t know I needed to face. Maybe even forgive people that I didn’t know I needed to forgive. Maybe people that thought that teenage mom me shouldn’t, perhaps, keep a certain pregnancy…or maybe that I shouldn’t keep the baby. That I should give her up for adoption. And even more people that thought I shouldn’t get married.

I always thought that I wasn’t mad. But maybe I was a little. Maybe a little bit more than a little.

There were times that I worried that I was going to ruin that sweet baby’s life. We were too young…we weren’t ready. We had a lot to learn about being married and being parents all at the same time. We were ridiculously poor sometimes. We sacrificed a lot. We couldn’t give her and her sister everything we wanted to. I still have guilt and regret over the times when I have failed miserably. I worried that all those people were right. The ones that doubted us the most.

But I think now is the time that I let that anger start to go away. The anger at myself. At the other people. Because the best part of proving everyone wrong? It’s her. It is all her.

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photo: sarah maren photography

I’d gloat about being right, but I don’t even know how. Because I’m just still in awe that I get to be her mom. Even after sixteen years, I can’t believe she’s mine. She is magical. She is a blessing. And she is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. And I would go through every bit of sacrifice and hard time if it meant that I could still be her mom. Every single bit.

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us…last year’s birthday party

I know I need to learn to let go. I need to learn how to let her grow up and be the amazing person that she is. But I can’t yet. I want to be selfish for just a little while longer.

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photo: sarah maren photography

Because with a kid like this? It’s hard not to.

I’m just hoping you’ll put up with me

I keep forgetting to tell you about all this free time I (apparently) should be getting. Or at least that’s the opinion of someone I know. So I wrote about it.

We all make choices in life. And, well…I guess I choose to be busy. I could say no more. I don’t have to spend quite so much time with my family. Sure, I might be able to cut down the amount of time I spend driving in the car if my kids didn’t play so many sports. I guess I don’t have to go to EVERY game.

But I choose to do all these things.

My “me time” is usually spent with the people that mean the most to me.

I also need to write an update on our Summer Challenge. And while we haven’t been perfect at it, we’ve also had some successes at just being better about eating at home. Sometimes it means thinking outside the box. And sometimes it’s all about NOT TAKING THE EASY WAY OUT. One of the best parts of the challenge is coming up with things to make that I wouldn’t have ever thought of before. And realizing that I’m a better cook than I give myself credit.

Ramona is getting better and better at sixth grade. And so are her parents. We went to Back to School Night yesterday and feel even better about all the awesome at her new school. She has amazing teachers, the school offers so much to her education…and it’s just feeling so much better than before. She even has someone to sit with at lunch sometimes. Which makes my mommy heart feel a little better.

Beezus starts her junior year tomorrow. I’ve taken to Facebook to apologize for being THAT mom. The mom that is a complete b00b about her kids growing up and OMG could I please knock that off? But, yeah…a junior in high school. Happening tomorrow. This is weird, you guys.

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And if starting her junior year wasn’t enough to ruin me, she also turns 16 this weekend. So, you know, I’ll be getting ready for the big event…and sobbing quietly in a corner.

But because I can’t leave you with the sound of me crying (thank goodness this blog doesn’t have sound) there has to be something fun. Back a million years ago…before blogs were really even a thing, Sarah used to post her current song on repeat. And this isn’t a hip, new song that everyone should know about…it’s the amazing George Harrison. And the song and I just got reacquainted. And it’s on repeat. My only explanation is that it makes me happy and I love singing along at the top of my voice. (Again, we’re grateful that there’s no sound here.)

Thanks for the happy, George.