Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Self care is the new black

As much as I would enjoy posting funny stories like, why we got a rabbit versus a dog, or why all college girls get the flu and should stay out of my spin class, this blog as been more introspective for me as of late.
I mean, there's no question WHY we got a rabbit...look at that face! 
My blog needs to move on from its toddler phase! Especially now that the twyns are no longer toddlers! A friend suggested I post more '40 in transition' stories. Well that sounds sad. Maybe: "40 and up", like we are in a cool new bracket for sports.

Today I just wanted to share a story from a yoga class I've been enjoying. It's a late evening class that focuses on only a few poses and has a more meditative bent. So during the final pose the teacher relayed the story that her weekend including traveling and sharing a hotel room with her three children and husband. So, in order for her to stay sane, she needed to quietly wake up twenty minutes before everyone else, steal a corner of the room, and meditate/pose to start her day. She tapped into that feeling for just a short while, and it set her day off well.

I have 'heard tales' of women waking up before their children in order to find that peaceful moment before the chaos begins (and never really believed that bs because like, WHY would you wake up early when you could SLEEP more), but this put it in a different perspective. Perhaps it doesn't have to be a quiet moment, or even an alone moment, perhaps it just needs to be that 'centering mechanism' that you have.

Hmmmm...what do I have...that always centers me and makes me remember who I am?

It's not necessarily meditation....my mind is never quiet enough for that...

OH YEAH. MUSIC. DANCE. SINGING. General annoyingness. THAT'S WHO I AM.

So this morning, after having watched Doctor Strange this weekend and hearing them discuss Chuck Mangione's "Feels so Good", I played it for the children while they ate breakfast and I prepared their lunches (our morning ritual.)

AND IT DID FEEL SO GOOD! It wasn't just music - I have to interact with the music in some way. And just remember that I have music in my soul and it is always there, a part of me. A big part of me. Now that it is no longer tied to my paycheck or self-esteem, it is there for me once again.

My husband has been on a Paleo diet since he got bad cholesterol/triglyceride numbers in mid-January and has been doing great. He feels better, he lost weight, and overall has more energy and all those obnoxious things people say when they make a "lifestyle change."

For my part, I was trying to stay 'grain-light' and 'dairy-light' and 'sugar-light' in support. Also, in an effort to help me lose a little weight too. Of course I haven't lost a pound. I even went full-on Paleo last week for exactly 6 days and pretty much lost the will to live. So we will not be doing that.

So, weight loss is frustrating. What else is new. This week I'm approaching it, not as the scale moves, but as self-care. Why shouldn't I do this FOR ME. Green smoothies, less caffeine, better sleep, workout, meet friends, purchase new workout clothes, FOR ME. Stop in each moment and think, "Do I WANT to be doing this? Will it feel good?"

Any smoothie with banana just tastes like banana so it's a win.
I know I'm not the first person to post about this, but just wanted to share. [as usual.]
[I could basically end all of my blog posts that way, heh heh.]

TO THIS WEEK! Cheers to self-care! I'm sure next week I'll explain why DONUTS FEEL SO GOOD but hey! You never know! :)

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

I don't want to be a mom anymore.

That sentence is shocking, isn't it? 

After all I've been through to conceive and bring these babies home and healthy, I'm ready to call it a day.

Isn't that ok, though? When you are nine years into a job, interest may start to wane.

If you're a parent, you get it, right? The JOB of the mom, as it is, completely sucks most of the time. Now there are its benefits, like being the one thanked at the Academy Awards, or being the first one they run to when they get a boo-boo. But let's be honest: it's back-breaking, it's gut-wrenching, it's thankless, it's misunderstood, it's increasing in responsibility whilst simultaneously decreasing in authority.

That's the worst!!

As I wrote that last line, my daughter ran in from a snowstorm, told me my son was hurt, and when I ran outside, found him laughing with the neighbor boys over a sled wipeout. Hence negating the reason for my being out in the cold with a mini-heart attack.

I am going back to school. I think I've covered that. I'm SUPER excited, likely, OVERLY excited about my new career of nursing.
Here's my excitement over the imminent dissection of a cat.
Be lucky I didn't post the "after" pic.

Now nursing is certainly going to have it's suck-worthy days, right? It's probably completely going to drain me physically, psychologically, spiritually, and not to mention completely obliterate my current way of supporting my kids and husband in their daily endeavours.  So I am considering a pre-nursing-school-nuptial agreement so I don't head to my graduation ceremony only to be served with divorce papers!

Only partly kidding. Also only partly gracing the surface on the deep deep pool of anxieties in which I am swimming.

But I can imagine: it will increase in interest. In respect. In knowledge. In self-respect. In money? In understanding. And in respect.

Did I mention respect? 

We definitely do not respect parents, and the job of parenting in this country. There are certainly a lot of things we don't currently respect and honor in this country, so I'm going to let this one be my own personal demon for the time being rather than my overarching cause I cry about upon a mountain.

But for the most part, I have to say, the kids REALLY don't need me right now. They come home from school, I banter back and forth with them about practicing piano, finishing homework, and shuffle them off to their various activities. All the while cooking a relatively healthy dinner for them, and currently, a paleo-friendly dinner for myself and my husband. They help me with the prep of laundry, the mail, the trash, even the vacuuming and cleaning of the bathrooms! They are my little soldiers half the time, and the other half of the time, they are engaging in complete mutiny. Or at least, operate as conscientious objectors.
Let's not get started with the PTO. I've never seen a bunch of ladies work so hard to create life and stimulation for the students and teachers, at the same time as trying to remain unnamed, unthanked, and under the radar.

NOT MY THANG. I need CREDIT, mamas.

I am desperate for a little recognition...a little glimmer of understanding that I have a brain, a heart, and an ability to MAKE MONEY. Which is all that some people respect these days.

I won't make A LOT of money. I never do. I didn't aim to, EVER, (not even when I left performing) and I just don't see life through that filter. It's something my husband and I have struggled a lot with in our marriage. I have started to see life through his filter...how economics controls politics, how money controls relationships...but I still can't quite get him to see life through my filter. He WISHES he could. It would certainly be a lot more joyful for him. When he's skiing...yes, when he's skiing...he lives well within my filter.

#skifamily

We spent his 40th at his 'dream ski location' of Whistler. It's been over a year, and I still haven't blogged or scrapbooked it! But it's just for me, like most things, so what's my motivation?
Here's the last thing I know. After all is said and done, and nursing school is over (only 14 months!), I have landed my dream nursing job, and the twyns are enjoying fourth grade, and even if my weekly work hours match up to my husbands exactly, I will still be doing the majority of the housework, laundry, chauffeuring, homework support, and meal prep. Don't get me wrong, he has his chores: the entire outside of the house, all the repairs, the entertainment, technology needs, financial planning/investing/tax preparation, etc etc...we have chosen our division of labors. And with two incomes, we may even hire some support in one or two (or five) of those areas. But the sucky part of parenting will still likely reside with me. Including the hiring/firing/coordinating of care if we need support for my new hours.

But I still. CAN'T WAIT. 

It's MY time. 

The kids have heard me of late saying, "I can't wait to get a life!" It's not that they aren't my life, they absolutely ARE, but I am no longer at the center of theirs. And this is one of the cruel acts of motherhood that many women wiser than I have described:

it's the one job you train yourself out of. 

And the teenage years are coming! But those sweet, 'feed me' ' bathe me' 'play with me' times...are fewer and far between. I think we will ALL enjoy togetherness more when we prioritize it in ALL of our schedules, not just mommy sitting around shouting "GET OVER HERE AND ENJOY SOME FAMILY TIME DAMMIT!"

Thank you for listening. That was very sweet of you to listen to the rantings of a mommy who hasn't had a paycheck in five years. You certainly didn't need to pay her any mind at all ;)

P.S. I didn't make any political rants a part of this blog! Aren't you lucky!




Sunday, January 22, 2017

A letter of apology to my mother #womensmarch

Dear Mom,

I'm sorry. First of all, I'm sorry we didn't join the marches yesterday. You could have come here to Philly, I could have gone to you in NYC, or we could have met in my old stomping grounds in D.C. It seems like we missed a historical moment, and I'm struggling with the reasons why.

Chicago Tribune
When I first heard about the organization of the marches, it was immediately after the election. I started receiving invitations on Facebook for the group "Pantsuit Nation" and the event "Women's March on Washington, January 21." I saw friends posting about their knitted pussy hats and what they were working on for the March. People started sharing places to stay, and organizing bus trips.

And it all made me angry. And more depressed.

I was angry that there wasn't this much chatter before the election. I was frustrated that I was afraid to wear my Hillary shirts and merchandise. I was feeling so alone in all of my posts on social media about Hillary, and in my discussions with my peers in the last year. I had to convince many of them to give Hillary a chance. I had to talk my way into a few votes, or at least an understanding of why I was excited to vote for Hillary.

And NO, not because she was a woman.

You and I both know, I do not need to go into her level of experience and expertise, or her smarts, to know that she would have gotten the job done. That she was vilified like no old white man ever has been on the Hill, or ever will be. That the level of celebrity that had reached politics had only put all women in the category of "Kardashian" rather than "Albright." That she was facing an uphill battle no matter which direction she took.

I started to keep quiet since the election. I tried to let it go. We tried to retreat together, and to lick our wounds in private. The burgeoning excitement over a march was, to me, unproductive. Where were you on election day. Will you still be here in two years, in four years, when we need your vote. Do you want to get together on the Mall to take a selfie and prove you care? Or do you want to alleviate the guilt you feel for not doing something more, sooner.

Because for all I did, which was, only discussion, donation - in person, on social media - I do, indeed, feel like I did not do enough. I should have proudly worn my shirt at my children's school and at their soccer games, regardless of what anger or prejudice it might have engendered. I did shy away from the manufactured controversy, when it came to my kids. So I do feel guilty for that. I feel like we let your generation down. That in 'trying to do it all', we are letting go of the power that got us here - your power, your fights, your protests, and your passion.

We take it for granted. And by not showing our children, we are insuring that they take it for granted.

Well, my generation has let you down. And I'm so, so sorry.

So I wished we had organized our family: you, me, and the mother of my nephews, to head to D.C. yesterday.

It wouldn't prove anything, or solve anything. It would have just made us feel... less lonely.

And I think that's what you, your generation, and frankly, me and mine, needs most right now.

I love you,
Ash


Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Schedule


It has been two years since I've become the type of SAHM who has her 'days free.'  And let me emphasize, as this week's episode of American Housewife so eloquently illustrated, both the words "days" and "free" belong in quotations, because it never ends up being all of 9 to 3, and it never ends up being free. I'm not all 'woe-is-me-my-life-is-harrrd', but a lot of sh** comes up and gets thrown on your plate when the kids enter full-time school schedule. Not to mention we hit upwards of 30 sick days each in our first two years of 180 school days (thank you, tonsillectomy.) So I count approximately 300 days in the last 8 years that have been eligible for doing stuff. Mommy stuff. And ME stuff. There's Mommy. And then there's ME. We share a body. It can be awkward at times.

Hence the reason I started putting my own schedule together. I'd like to share it with you, and basically myself, my-future-me, when I am all misty-eyed about these magical "free" "days." Maybe it will help you get started on organizing what needs to be spelled out in your work-week.

When the twyns started kindergarten, there was what was affectionately referred to in our household as "the musical." That was my primary project that year. For first grade, I started my pre-req's for nursing school. Always leave room for your personal projects, ladies. And I highly recommend a long-term project so that you must devote weekly time to it/yourself. This is "YOU" time without having to spend money at the spa ;)

And of course this is all amidst the making of Breakfasts, Lunches, Dinners, finishing of homework, baths, reading, TV binges (Alias then and now Call the Midwife), the practicing of piano nearly every day and working out nearly never (injuries, amiright?.) :) 

MONDAYS
My day:
Laundry - Bills 
Twyns' laundry (I make them bring their baskets to the laundry room, and I leave them full of clean clothes in their room at the end of the day. They have to put them away.) I do their sheets every other week and put them right back on the beds by the end of the day if I'm lucky.

Computer time: pay bills, trip/holiday planning, catch up on emails

After School with twyns: 
Piano - Soccer
Piano shuffle: I pick up twyns at school with bikes in van. I drive to piano teacher's house and ride bikes with one while the other is in the piano lesson.

The boy's soccer practice: we change into shin guards and cleats in the car and drive straight to soccer that goes from 6-7, or now that it is getting darker, 5:30 - 6:30. We are late as of late.
We are not doing karate at 7 pm during soccer season, obvie.


TUESDAYS
My day: 
Garbage - Laundry - PTO
Twyns help me by taking an empty garbage bag all around the house and empty the small bins. They then add that to the garbage bins in the garage and take them down to the curb on their way to the bus stop.
I do adult laundry. This is not a euphemism. I fold it by the end of the day and put the baskets in our room. I do our sheets/changing the bed every other week and put the sheets right back on the bed by bedtime.

On the last Tuesday of the month we have a PTO executive board meeting with the principal so I'm dedicating Tuesdays to PTO work: visiting school/paperwork there, emails and paperwork at home for any PTO projects I'm working on (currently the grant proposal and contract with the Walnut Street Theatre residency at school), and looking at field trips/any other volunteer events coming up. I could always use this time to organize a binder for the next person in my job hahahaha hee hee hee that was a good laugh.

After school with twyns: 
Run Club - PREP - Soccer
The boy is in running club; the girl comes home on the bus and we have a snack before picking him up at exactly 4:30 and miraculously hitting PREP classes at the same time. I pick up our CSA in that neighborhood, take it home and divvy it up with my friend, put mine away and pick twyns up at 5:30 and we change shin guards/cleats in car and head straight to girl's soccer that goes from 6-7. I kick the ball with the boy at the girls soccer practice.

We have been hitting Wendy's on the way home. SHOCKING, I know.

WEDNESDAYS
My day:
Vacuum - Bathrooms - Meals
Vacuum the whole house (ok somedays this seems like everyday, but at least I have a target day in case I don't do some rooms.)
Clean Bathrooms (same.)
Prepare family meals/grocery shop (is there an echo in here?)

After school with twyns: 
Karate
Wednesdays are nice. Sometimes we have a playdate, play with the neighbors, etc, before we hit karate at 7 pm. Plenty of time to practice piano and catch up on homework.

THURSDAYS
My day:
Volunteer - Social - Projects
Volunteering at the hospital, Social time, Me project time
This year I'm working on a few long term projects before I start nursing school:
a baby clothes quilt, a red-and-white quilt, a down-the-shore quilt for my husband's aunt, the first grade scrapbook, the disney cruise scrapbook (yes, from 2013), and fixing up the basement, including the basement bedroom, which has been uninhabitable up to this point. I'm having fun with this one - thrifting and scrapping to make a shabby chic girl space. Maybe I will live there when my husband and I get divorced because I have no more time for him during nursing school. Anxiety, much?

After school with twyns: 
Our one truly free afternoon. We can make-up karate at 6 pm if need-be, otherwise, we play, do homework, and practice piano. Oh, that's all?
A rare sprinkler-worthy day in October. 

FRIDAYS
My day: 
Recycle - Tidy up - Vacuum - Projects
The kids help me take the recyclables down to the curb on their way to the bus stop.
I tidy up so we are ready for the weekend. I take some real serious project time - perhaps I plan on Thursdays what needs to be done, shop for materials, and on Fridays, I get to really have fun before everyone is home for the weekend and steals my thunder.
The girl comes home and helps me pick paint colors.


After school with twyns: 
Karate - Dinner

We usually do take-out or go out to eat with Daddy to start the weekend off right.

Hee-yaugh!

WEEKENDS
Soccer Saturdays

Family house projects / yard clean up

Fall festivals / skiing in the Winter / Spring things.


Did this help? I don't think so! Maybe I'll make a chart. How's this:

MEKIDS
SPECIAL THIS WEEK: CostcoFlu shots
MONDAYKid laundryKid laundry
BillsPiano
Computer timeSoccer
TUESDAYGarbageGarbage
Adult laundryRun Club
PTO projects/emailsPREP
Soccer
WEDNESDAYVacuumKarate
Bathrooms
Meal planning/groceries
THURSDAYVolunteering
Me projects
FRIDAYRecyclingRecycling
Me projectsKarate
Tidy house/vacuum
SATURDAYFamily timeSoccer games
house projects
yard cleanup


I usually just refer to this "note" in my iPhone and add specifics for each week to help keep me on track. It sounds silly, but I look at it almost everyday!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Society of Women Engineers head toWE16 #swe #womenengineers #philly #we16 #swe

I received a package from the Society of Women Engineers a few weeks ago that I wanted to share with you! I recently had the pleasure of hosting some young women who have just started their college journeys at Villanova University and it got me thinking. One of the six of them was pursuing engineering and she was the most confident in her career path and chances of success. All of us agreed!

SO WHY. Are there so few women in engineering?

[and yes I did prepare a home-cooked meal for six hungry freshmen, 
that's called: domestic engineering]

As a mother of both a young boy and a girl, I would equally encourage anyone to go into a STEM and/or engineering field. But for women, who represent less than a third, and sometimes less than a tenth of engineers in their fields, the firms are looking for you!

What's more staggering, is that, because it is a male-dominated field, women tend to leave engineering and STEM positions as they grow. So they need comrades to make this work.

We have got to get our girls more interested! There are great careers out there but they require exposure.

I know, for one, Radnor Township has a fantastic annual STEM night which the kids have participated in for the last two years. I wouldn't miss it! The kids get to choose four different seminars and each lasts thirty minutes. For two hours they are playing games and participating in demonstrations that all they know of as fun, and meanwhile they are, unbeknownst to them, being exposed to structural, mechanical, chemical, and computer engineering career paths. It's fantastic.

This is what I imagine the upcoming "Invent it. Build it." EXPO at the Society of Women Engineers event at the Pennsylvania Convention Center will be like for girls in 6th through 12th grades. Nearly 2 out of 3 girls who attend say it strengthened their confidence in these skills!!
There are four ways to participate depending on grade level and your interest. Check them out here.


Let me know how it goes! My daughter is only in 2nd grade but we never shy away from these kind of events and are looking forward to it in the future!





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