Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Solo Parenting: Two Months In

As of the last time I checked in on how parenting solo was going (a mere one week in), things were going pretty great, really.

Then we moved.

(Welcome to our home!)

I knew that I was going to miss Madison, but I truly did not realize what a support structure we had built up there.  I usually met up with friends and their kids a few times a week, with several mom friends that I could text the morning of to make plans.  My church had a mom's group.  Heck, the kids even went to "school" for five hours spread over two days a week--five hours that were guaranteed to be mine to do whatever I needed or wanted. (Pack.  The answer is that I always needed to pack.)  I don't have that built up here yet.  And while I thought it was hard to fill our hours when we were in Madison, that was nothing compared to what it is now, when the only people I really know here related to me.  (Don't get me wrong-my parents have been incredibly helpful-but it's not the same as being able to spontaneously meet up with other mom friends during the day or connect at mom's group...with childcare included!)  There is no "school" nearby for them, at their age.  The libraries here even require registration for their storytimes, which are completely closed as I'm sure they were filled up weeks ago.  I'm trying very hard not to compare our lives "here" to our lives "there", but it's even harder not to.

I'm working on it.  A week and a few days into our move here, and I'm working on joining a couple of local moms groups (though unfortunately they don't meet or we aren't able to attend their gatherings for at least another couple of weeks).  Obviously, it will take time. We built up our relationships and connections in Madison over five years for crying out loud.  

This past weekend was also the first weekend that Tyson did not come home.  He will be home for four days this weekend, a week at Thanksgiving, and then permanently just before Christmas (woot woot!), but he can't really do more than that since we are twice as far away now.  The weekends with him home are so valuable to me to be able to get a break and get things done.  I cannot wait until this weekend-especially since Caden has kept me up for 2-3 hours the several nights recently (teething...I think?).  Not to mention that I miss having Tyson around, and want to be able to enjoy our new house together.  And the routine is still just plain different with Tyson gone.  I've been showering every other evening, (so my morning routine gets cut to only about 15-20 minutes, instead of an hour of having to shower/dry hair) (dry shampoo FTW!), Daniel Tiger and Baby Einstein help us through cleaning up breakfast, making dinner, and cleaning up dinner, and I think the kids might be getting as sick of me as I am getting of them.  Caden has been particularly challenging lately with throwing food and toys and just plain old not listening to me, and I think it is due at least in part to Tyson being gone (though now that I think he is teething, that may have something to do with it).

(Watching videos from the comfort of mommy's bed while she gets ready in the morning. They clearly get the better end of the deal, since I usually always wish I was still snuggled there myself.)

We'll get there.  The days are just particularly long right now.  That much more so without our friends and the routines we were so used to.

And only two more days til the weekend.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Pumpkin Patch

This is it.

The intersection of childhood and wonder and therapy and changing seasons and relief and plain old fun.

And it can be found at the pumpkin patch.

I may be biased, (fall is my favorite season after all), but this is exactly what I expected-or at least wanted-parenting to be like.  Something relatively mundane-a church lawn transformed into a "patch" for pumpkins-turned into the best of excursions through the eyes of two toddlers, surrounded by gorgeous golden-orange orbs.

Oh, and two wagons.

You could see the lightbulb moment these two had as they observed my mom and I loading up our (much more substantially sized) pumpkins into a wagon to wheel to our car.  Wagon = pumpkin carrier.  It didn't take long for them to load up another wagon with about fifty bucks worth of baby pumpkins.  At seventy-five cents a pop...that's a lot of little pumpkins.

We did not purchase the $50 lot of baby pumpkins, but I am quite happy with what $21 bought me.  (Two large, two small, and three mini baby pumpkins for inside the house.  I don't know too much about pumpkin pricing, but I thought that was a pretty darn good deal to get some fall in, around, and all up in this new place.  Not to mention that I'm glad we got to move in the fall.  Fall is a good season for cozying up and nesting.  Summer?  Not so much.  But fall?  Makes you feel good to cuddle up and be at "home".)

They each picked out their own pumpkin, which was adorable.  You could see the pride as they carried them to the wagon.  Which, for Caden, took quite awhile, since he kept trying to pick up pumpkins that were easily twice his body weight.  While my mom and I searched for pumpkins to fit our taste (height and width not so much an issue, as long as they were perfectly spherical, no dents, and the deep, rich rusty-orange color of autumn), Caden and Brooklyn's requirements were pretty low: one that I can pick up by myself.  Their slightly-dented, almost yellow (in Brooklyn's case), mostly missing a stem (Caden's) now sit proudly on our front stoop along with the rest.

In a hectic week: moving!  unpacking!  where is everything in this house and how do the appliances work?!?  solo parenting again!  Caden's moods are driving me slightly crazy! online searching like a madwoman for miscellaneous furniture/stuff for the house!  let's add runny noses to the mix!


is what it's all about.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

We're Here!

Remember when the back of an SUV used to be more than enough room to transport yourself plus everything you owned for a move?  Say back-and-forth to college, or as newlyweds, for instance? 

Five years, two (and a half) kids, and a couple of apartments later, and it takes the back of an SUV, a 15-foot truck (packed to the brim), the back of a Prius, and the back of another SUV to haul all your stuff.

(I blame the kids.)

But we're here!

And we've got us some exploring to do.


In case you were wondering about the neighborhood playground:

It checks out.

 As does our own, personal, playground in the back yard.

(Their little minds = blown.)


And possibly my favorite part?  THE PLAYROOM.  We have a playroom.  It needs to be fun-ed up a bit, but for now I'm happy that the toys are (relatively) CONTAINED.  It's a new home miracle!

(Also, I would like to point out that from the first picture to the second picture above, a bookshelf has been moved in with things on it that have started to be ORGANIZED.  That's called PROGRESS, people!)

House tour to come!  Though don't hold your breath.  When you move from an apartment that's almost exactly half the size, and then put some money down on a house, well, I haven't taken a math class for a solid decade here but add a few rooms, subtract the changes you want to make, realize how much furniture it will take to fill said rooms, multiply by the number of boxes that still need to be unpacked, remember that you're an interior designer so you have IDEAS, DAMMIT, carry the one're going to need to save up some money for quite some time before things are "done".

But we're here (well, Tyson is gone again to work, BUT for all intents and purposes WE ARE HERE) and we love it.


Because there might be boxes to unpack, but it's still fall.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

A Week of Lasts

When you know you're not going to stay someplace forever, you view the place differently. Madison has always been a fun sort of adventure, and yet we (or at least I) never truly allowed myself to settle in here.  And yet, it still feels like home.  Five years-half a decade!-in a place and of course it is going to become familiar, you get settled into routines.  I have my grocery store and my doctor and the kids have their school, we know our way around, have favorite places and don't even get me started on our favorite restaurants.  Things have happened while we've been here.  I moved here one week and one day after we got married, I've had three jobs here, Tyson earned his PhD, we've lost two grandparents, one cousin, one of our dads had cancer, the other had open-heart surgery, and we've had two babies.

And even though this has all been temporary-we knew that Madison would be temporary-it's weird and strangely emotional when the "last" week is here.

The last time at the playground.


The last time at this restaurant.  

The last time at this coffee shop.

The last time at the library.

The last time shopping at this store.

The last time going to this school, to this church, seeing these people.  Yikes. 

It's a different move than graduating high school, than leaving college.  Everyone else is dispersing at the same time.  So many of the things and people we know are staying and making their lives right here.  We're what's different, what's changing.

And as excited as we are for this new stage, new adventure, new home, and soon-to-be new baby, what I'm trying to say is...we're really going to miss you, Madison.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Projects: Plaid Blanket Scarf

I want a plaid blanket scarf.

The craving hit me suddenly, immediately.  I was going through my clothes (I called it packing, but it was more figuring out what I can still wear in that annoying Most-of-My-Regular-Clothes-Don't-Fit-But-I'm-Not-Big-Enough-to-Fill-Out-the-Maternity-Ones-Yet Stage) and realized that I had a couple of sweaters that simply Could Not Be Worn without a blanket scarf.  A plaid blanket scarf, to be specific.

The online search commenced.  However, it quickly became clear that this was not going to be easy.  My problem was twofold:
  1. Most of the ones I really liked were more than I cared to spend.  Which wouldn't be the end of the world, except...
  2. I wanted it now.  NOW, now.  Like, as of yesterday now.  When this bug hits, INSTANTLY is not soon enough for me.  And unfortunately the ones that I found online,  at least the ones that I liked, regardless of price, were not available in any stores near me.  Did I mention that I wanted one NOW?
Commence Project Plaid Blanket Scarf.

Never mind that there is packing to do, that we close on our house in a mere one week and five days, that there are toddlers around.  PRIORITIES, people.  I simply cannot live another fall day without one.

So I made two.

Here goes:

  1. Purchase 2-2.5 yards of flannel.  If you get lucky, your fabric store of choice (Jo Ann Fabric, in my case) will have a special display of "Fall Flannel", 50% off, to make it even better.  Note that in the above photos, the scarf on the left is closer to 2 yards, the scarf on the right is closer to 2.5 yards (+ a little extra on the end of the roll).  If you buy much more than 2.5 yards, you will end up not with a blanket scarf but an actual blanket, and will suffocate or at least sweat profusely if you try to tie it around your neck.
  2. Cut off all 4 edges of fabric (bonus: plaid flannel comes with built-in lines for you to cut on!).  It's not the end of the world if your cut isn't perfectly straight (like say if you already packed your good fabric scissors so you use a not particularly sharp scissors instead), since you will be fraying the edges.  Speaking of...
  3. Fray the edges.  Pull loose threads on all edges until you get the amount of fringe you desire.  Find something interesting on Netflix to binge watch; this step was more time-consuming than I expected.
  4. Put on a fabulously fall sweater and accessorize with your scarf.  There are plenty of tutorials online about ways to tie a blanket scarf, so I'm not going to go there.  Note that a 2-yard scarf will have much less "tying" possibilities than a 2.5 yard one.  2 yards is enough to loop around your neck once or twice, and looks cute with some fluffing and puffing.  2.5 yards will give you more leeway in tying options, such as braiding, knotting, etc.
  5. Add hot beverage of choice (coffee, tea, cider), grab the closest pair of suede boots, and find some leaves to frolic in.  Your fall can now commence.

Friday, October 2, 2015


Five years ago we planned to take a vacation, like our honeymoon to Jamaica, for every fifth anniversary as a rejuvenating getaway.  In theory, that sounds absolutely, totally, ridiculously doable.

Then, as it does, life happened.

That vacation is going to have to be postponed for awhile.

Instead, this year you graduated with your PhD (YAY!!!) and started a new job.

We have a move juuuuuuuust over the horizon.

To our very own (first!) home.

We have the most adorable twin toddlers.

And...another on the way.

Last year, our four year seemed so appropriate that four years also marked the first year we celebrated being a family of four.  When writing last year, I never dreamed that the five year mark would see us soon expanding to a family of five.

(Note: this number of years married = number of people in our family has really gotta slow down.  It's not gonna be sustainable for too much longer.)

So...that vacation?


Maybe next year.

(I see us going to bed at 10, sleeping "in" until 8, watching anything but PBS on TV, eating several consecutive meals without once having to get up to refill a cup or deal with spilled (aka thrown) food, with no babies or babies on the way, so we can indulge in all the fruity, girly drinks we can handle.  Deal?  Deal.)