Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Operation: Awesome Summer

Summer has officially begun and Beezer and I are ready. Of course, she doesn’t actually know what summer is, but as long as we are doing fun stuff, she is excited. Now, as a teacher, I have been lucky enough to extend the idea of summer into adulthood. But, the truth is, summer as an adult is not quite the same as summer as a kid. Then, we would spend every day sleeping late, lounging poolside, planning outings to the mall or an upcoming carnival. As a grown-up, summer begins with the promise of completing all the tasks you didn’t have time to work on during the school year, and ends with an overwhelming self-loathing at not having completed said projects. Needless to say, I am prone to what some might refer to as the “summer blues.” This feeling stems from my assumption that every day of summer vacation should either be A) incredibly productive, or B) super fun. And yet despite my desire to make this happen, a heat-induced, alone-in-the-house-all-day kind of lethargy takes over and I inevitably slide into a summer slump.

Juxtapose all this with a little something I like to call “the beezer.” This is my second summer as a mom and in case you don’t remember, last summer was THE WORST SUMMER EVER! Yes, I said it. My first summer as a mom was awful. Go ahead and judge me, but it is the truth. Perhaps you have forgotten that as far as my research has shown, I had the most difficult baby on the planet. Our summer days consisted of crying, nursing, walking around the block, more nursing, not sleeping, pumping, and crying some more. Basically, last summer sucked.

So, you can imagine my silent trepidation as the school year came to an end and flashbacks to last summer whirled through my head. I kept trying to remind myself: she’s not a baby anymore, but it was still hard to imagine how the two of us were going to spend all day every day together and not go crazy. This girl is used to spending her days playing with her friends, making art projects, dancing and singing at circle time. I began wondering how I’d ever compete!

In light of all of this, I decided that this summer needs to start off with a new plan. A “Super Summer Fun” plan if you will. I want to make a promise to myself to not give in to the slump. I don’t have it all worked out yet, but here are some of the features of the plan so far:

1. Exercise at least five days a week (which always makes me feel unslumpish)

2. On Thursdays and Fridays when Ella goes to daycare (go ahead- keep judging me, I don’t care), I will do something just for me like go to the gym, have lunch with a friend, go for a hike, watch an episode of True Blood, whatever.

3. Do fun stuff with Beezer every day.

I think the third task is the most important, but I’m not exactly sure what that “fun stuff” is going to be. Michael suggested the Beardsley Zoo and the Maritime museum. I’m also thinking about hiking up to the castle at Sleeping Giant, walking around downtown, hitting up some library circle times, and maybe even the Children’s Museum in Bristol. I think the most important thing will be to get out of the house, which isn’t always easy, but definitely makes both of us much happier, even if we just go swimming at Wendy’s or Kristy’s, or go for a little hike on the Blue Trail using my new toddler backpack (more on that in a later post).

I’d love to hear some more suggestions for little kid fun in Southern Connecticut if you’ve got em as well as some companions if you’re around. I’m on a mission this year, and I’ll take all the help I can get.

Operation Awesome Summer is underway!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Growing Up

On Wednesday, my kids graduated. No, not my Ella B. My other kids. The ones I am not biologically related to, but the ones I spent 50 minutes with, 5 days a week, for the past 5 months. It may not seem like enough time to get so attached to a group, but somehow this year I did. This happens sometimes, where you end up with this magical little group that just seems to click, where everyone supports and befriends everyone else despite their different social groups outside the classroom. On any given day, they might not have looked like the "it" group that every teacher desires. They were generally unmotivated, hated to write, and often didn't hand in their work. They tried their best to get me off topic everyday, and relished the moments when they succeeded. Some barely squeaked by and I cheered extra hard for them on graduation day, knowing how lucky we were to have made it there.

Yet, despite all of this, something flourished in that little room. An energy, a vibe, something cheesy like that which made us all look forward to period 6. When they talked they were honest, invested, jovial, and sometimes even serious. They supported each other and teased each other and called each other out on everything. They laughed, a lot, and they made me laugh, too, and we became a tiny family, if only for a few months.

It's raining now as I write this and they have graduated, moved on, and I'm feeling sad in a way I never have before in the seven years that I have said goodbye to my seniors, and I'm trying to figure out why. I think that part of it is that these are a special group of kids, but I think another part of it has to do with Beezer.

This is my first year of teaching as a mother and I thought it was going to be the most miserable year of my life. How would I ever juggle working and being a mom? When would I sleep? When would I grade those stacks of paper? And now it is suddenly the end of June and I realize that it wasn't so bad. I got used to not sleeping, I became a more efficient grader, and I stopped sweating all the small stuff. I realize now that these kids give me a lot of the same things Beezer does: frustration, laughter, pride, whimsy. They helped me to make it through this year more than they could possibly imagine. And so, perhaps as I watched them receive their diplomas, I felt a twinge of what's to come, of all the moments when Beezer will be a little more independent, will move a little further away from me, and a little closer to herself, and it is beautiful and exhilarating, and also, really, really hard.

I know that we have many years with Beezer before we have to think about high school graduation, but these kids reminded me that she will be grown one day and I will have to let her go. At least I get to practice it for a few more years with someone else's children before it is my little girl standing up on that platform, flying off to do bigger and better things.

To everyone who has already had to watch their babies go, give me the strength to do it gracefully.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

From Ella with love

Dear Dad,

Hi. It's me, Ella. I know I should be in bed, but I didn't want to go to sleep without telling you a few things on this very important day. First of all, I love you. You rock. I love when you wrestle with me and tickle me and chase me around. You can make me giggle more than anyone else. You are very silly and know how to have a good time and I appreciate that. Thank you for bringing me to school in the morning and for making me a waffle even though I hardly ever eat it. Thank you for putting me to bed at night. Sometimes I cry when you put me in my crib, but it's only because I love spending time with you, and I like that we get to have that special father/daughter time together at the end of the day. Thank you for always reading me the story "Marley and the New Kittens" even though you don't like it, and thank you for letting me watch "Wow Wow Wubbzy" over and over again, even though you are pretty sick of it.

But most of all, thank you for doing your part to keep mommy happy. She can get a little overwhelmed and frustrated sometimes (whatever those words mean) and you are always the calming force that keeps her grounded. I know that she'd like to think that she could do this without you, but you and I both know she's wrong sometimes. And don't tell her I said this, but she told me that she loves you to the sky and back. And guess what? So do I.

Thanks for being you, Dad. No one else could ever fill your shoes.

I love you. Happy Father's Day.



Saturday, June 11, 2011

Bubbles and Rain

There are many challenges that come with having a child, especially a "spirited one" like mine, but also many gifts. One gift is that you get to enjoy the whimsy and pleasure of childhood all over again.

This morning, as I made my way towards the kitchen for a much needed cup of coffee, Ella B banged against the kitchen door, begging me to take her outside. "But it's raining," I thought, "and it's 5:30" and, "I'm wearing a nightgown." But Beezer didn't care about any of that. She only knew that she needed to go outside and pleaded with me like a puppy dog with a leash in its mouth.

So, Beezer and I sat on the porch and watched the rain, and I blew bubbles while she chased them. She squealed with delight as she popped each one with her tiny fingers or chased an errant bubble until it disappeared into the sky. And she was so happy, and I was happy because she was happy.

People who don't spend time with kids don't get to experience moments like this. We are all genuinely far too busy with life to waste time blowing bubbles and watching the rain. But part of my life, the best part, is out there on that porch, and if it weren't for Beezer, I'd be missing it.

Ella reminds me of how wide and wonderful this world is, and without even knowing it, she gives me that gift everyday.

Thanks Beeze. I love you.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

30 is the new awesome!

For those of you who don't know, this is the year of "30" for me and all my girlfriends and I had the pleasure of hosting the 30th birthday of one Caitlin Murphy this past weekend with Michael, Alex, Larry, and Ella B (who rocked out until 7).
We began the evening with cheese, meat, olives, and melon wrapped in prosciutto (skillfully prepared by Mr. Ransom-Wiley himself).

Then, we moved on to the main course, a beautiful cioppino filled with red snapper, clams, crabs legs, scallops, and shrimp (thanks to Alex for stopping at A-1 fish market for the primo goods). I also grilled some bread and rubbed it with garlic, and Caitlin made a beautiful salad that we were all too full to eat.

We ended the evening with a lemon tart, Grand Marnier whipped cream and a food coma. It really couldn't have been better.

During our toast to Caitlin, Alex reminded us that Cait was always the one who knew how great the "30's" and "40's" were going to be, way back in sixth grade when she instituted "Blazer Fridays" and could rock a pink lipstick like nobody's business.

Seriously though, the twelve year old me always imagined that I would be spending my thirtieth year with these girls, but the grown up me realizes how lucky we are that it actually worked out that way. It is hard to believe that we have been friends for 25 years and that no matter where our lives have taken us, (New York, D.C., India, Luxembourg) we are still just good old Bethany girls at heart. I'm so happy for the life thirty has brought me and so happy to be able to share the blessings of that life with the people who have helped shape the person I've become. I love you girls. Happy Birthday to us!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

What a difference a year makes

Wow! It is hard to believe that just over a year ago, I was the hurtin' pup in that hospital bed and Christina was the happy-go-lucky girl who got to ooh and aah over the newborn baby, and then go home and go to sleep. In some ways it seems like a million years ago that Beezer was this little tiny nugget all swaddled up, and in some ways it seems like yesterday. I'm just so glad that Christina and I are able to share this journey with each other. I love you Chris!

Here are a few pics and highlights from our big day out to the hospital:

Here I am holding Miss Loreli Elizabeth for the very first time. She was born on June 3rd on a beautiful, sunny day weighing a hearty 8 lbs 14 oz. She is a C-section baby, but still has a hint of a cone head since her poor mother had to push for 5 hours before Loreli finally decided it just wasn't going to happen.

Beezer spent all morning saying "baby" and acting really excited over whatever it was that a "baby" might be. Once we got to the hospital, she got a little jealous when either of us held Loreli instead of her, but she was pretty excited to get to see her upclose and stick her finger in Loreli's mouth (sorry Chris).

Now that's a big baby!

Okay, so I am clearly not the greatest baby photographer, but damn this kid is cute. Congratulations to Christina and Jeremy and please join me in welcoming to the world:

Loreli Elizabeth (AKA Ella B's future best friend)