Saturday, August 29, 2015

Charlie Spahn: Kindergartner

Well, it's Friday and we made it through the first week of school (and the week before which was just as exhausting and logistically crazy!)  Here's the recap:

Some brilliant people (without Kindergarten students at home) thought it would be a good idea to start school on a Monday this year-- with full days every day.  Lovely.  Actually, the weather really was lovely.  Every day felt like the most desirable fall day you can imagine-- crisp chilly morning air, and that smell that only comes with Midwest autumn mornings.  You know exactly the smell, right? I don't even have words to describe it except to say that every morning smelled like fall.  So, the smell alone made the first day pretty perfect for me.

Our Get-out-of-the-house-routine still needs some perfecting.... but the "put all the things by the door the night before" policy seems to be helping out.

Charlie was thrilled about going to kindergarten and has been telling people for weeks that he's almost a kindergartner.  But Sunday afternoon, his tummy hurt and he only nibbled his dinner.  On Monday morning, as I fed Anna in the living room, Charlie called out to me, "Mommy?....I'm a tiny bit nervous....."   I think my heart melted on the spot but I held it together all morning.

Finding a donut at his breakfast spot seemed to ease his nerves for a minute or two.... (Sprinkle cake donuts really do make things better for awhile,  you know)

And before we knew it, we were taking photos of the first day of kindergarten! 

Since it was also AP's first day of school, Charlie insisted that I have my picture taken too (Our school-wide-theme this year is Superheroes-- which justified buying fun knee if I need an excuse)  Oh, and I think I had those same shorts in fifth grade-- just a smidge longer.  Seriously, did I wear koo-lots on the first day or do my chicken legs just make it look that way?

And here we are!  First day at Grundy Center Elementary.  (I kind of love that this is also where I took my first "real" job)

Charlie's principal is a former co-worker from AP!  He is amazing and I feel SO good about Charlie attending GC schools with him in the leadership position.  They are going to have a great year!

Charlie was so excited to learn that Jenna is in his class...

On the first day, I arrived after lunch (since I'm working afternoons there) and guess who was the very last person eating his lunch?  Surprised?  I wasn't.

And this:  He was so wrapped up in his lunch job that he didn't even see me standing next to him and taking this pic.  :)

So we officially made it.  In many ways it feels like I just met Charlie and held him for the first time and in so many other ways, it feels like he's been a part of me for a thousand years.  Kindergarten is such a milestone.  It signifies the beginning of the next 13 years-- years that are going to fly by with delights and challenges and things we never imagined.  I am fully aware that he will push against us and test limits and cross boundaries.  He'll try new things (both good and not-so-good) and hopefully take new risks.  He'll succeed and fail and hopefully learn from both.  He'll experience a range of feelings --which will lead me to feel those feelings too!  And at the end of the day, I hope he knows how much we love and support him, and are so proud to call him ours.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

What? It's August?!

I'm behind on pop culture.  I'm behind on blogging.  I'm behind on reading blogs.  I'm behind on reading in general.  These days, I'm feeling like I'm just behind.

But am I?

In the summer, my whole entire life shifts.  I spend time doing  immersed in so many things that just aren't possible during the other nine months of the year.  I swim and walk and play and travel.  I meet up with old friends.  I cook less and drink more.  I watch less TV, I read fewer books, I buy fewer groceries.  I water more flowers, I go for more walks, I pick and harvest more garden goodies.   We spend time at the pool, in the backyard, on the patio, in our neighbors' yards, and at parks.  We retreat to the cool, sometimes musty, basement when the mercury rises above 85 (No, this is not my choice, but I give in because my kids are normal and don't seem to have my "need for extreme heat" gene yet).  This time is so fleeting, and we're consumed with so much cold and wind and God-forsaken S.N.O.W. here, that I've decided to just fully embrace summer and not give two shits about getting anything else done.  Hence: the behind factor.

So here I am.  It's freaking August and I have a zillion blog posts that I want to write but I just keep putting them off because, well....summer.  I have a serious Vitamin D addiction.  (I want that on a T-shirt-- who can hook me up?) There are so many things I want to write about, including (but not limited to!):

 * Charlie's miraculous swimming lessons
 * Having "Milk Fever" (That's what Mastitis was called hundreds of years ago and did you know, that women DIED from this before antibiotics were available?!)
 * Traveling to St. Louis
 * Hanging out at the Waterloo Arboretum
 * My Yoga Conference
 * Hanging out at Holiday Lake
 * Adventureland
 * Ellie's Birthday
 * Our Northwods Getaway

This always seems to happen.  Summer starts out just like a vacation; where the days seem to stretch endlessly before you and you just relax into them.  And then, halfway through summer (or the vacation week), you realize just how fast the days are passing and that in equal parts time, you'll be back to the grind (or packing up school supplies and heading back to work).

The upcoming school year is going to contain some big changes for Spahnville.  Not only is Anna starting at a new daycare, and Charlie is heading into Kindergarten, but I will be working an additional 2 1/2 days per week.  The story is long but basically, I'm helping out in the GC district this year while they figure out what the future counseling position will look like (aka: they get their shit together).  I'm hesitant to take afternoons away from being with Anna, but I'm excited to work in the same school with Charlie and get to know his peers and teachers.  In the end, I know this is just another thing to pass, and we can get through anything for a year.  Be sure to note my optimism now, in August, because I'm fairly certain that by October I'll be cursing this whole idea.    

And hopefully by then, I'll have updated the blog and given you a little glimpse into our summer.

In the meantime, if you want a little glimpse into our daily lives, check out this beautiful video that my friend/ doula/ photographer made for us.  We chose this over a traditional 9 month photo shoot and I couldn't be happier.  What do you think? (Click on the link below to view the slideshow)

Friday, July 24, 2015

Lady Crush

I'll be the first to admit that I am extremely thankful for the man in my life, and I honestly can't imagine Spahnville without him.  (But without him, this little abode might be called Bomgaarsville and that just doesn't have the same ring to it, does it?) I love sharing hopes and dreams with him, I love discussing the tidbits of daily life with him, I love whining to him about work or the kids or life in general.  And while I consider the two of us to be great friends and I think we make a fantastic team, having a man just cannot fill the place in my heart that is sacredly reserved for girlfriends.

Over 30 years of my life has been spent next to a girlfriend who really does seem to be my other half. This comes as no surprise to anyone who knows us-- I think it would be impossible to hide the fact that she and I are as soulfully connected as two people can be.  And while she lives across the country, she's always close in my heart.  My relationship with Kelly has really taught me how important it is to hang on to girlfriends.  This seems hard to do with my generation and I'm not sure why.  Maybe it's because we're kind of obsessed with our kids or maybe it's because we are kind of obsessed with each other's kids.  Or maybe it's because we're kind of obsessed with the internet and what everyone else is doing with their kids and how that affects us with our kids.  Whatever the reason, I think it's hard to find good girlfriends these days.  Lucky for me, I've got quite a few.

Earlier this summer, one of my friends seemed a little down.  A quick plan with a mutual friend and we whipped up a little girls-only fun day;  Kid free and sun-filled.

 Here's how we gave her the news:

When we got there:

We chatted and took a long walk and drank wine.  We sat on the deck and looked at the lake.  We talked about our kids and husbands and jobs.  We kayaked and paddleboarded dipped our toes in the water.

We used a selfie stick!

Spending time with these ladies helped me connect with myself again.  Raising little kids is a lot of work and taking small breaks to rejuvenate with other women is so important.

And the Universe must have known I would need a little rejuvenating during that week because the following night I was lucky enough to have another ladies-only retreat.  This time, I met with ladies from my church for a mini camping trip.

We ate a delicious meal, drank good red wine, and roasted S'mores like little kids.  When night fell, four of the ladies drove home but I stayed and camped.  The weather was perfect for Midwest camping; cool and crisp with a little breeze to keep those pesky skiters away.  My friend, Juanita, and I talked into the night about so many things.  When I could no longer keep my eyes open, we said our good nights and snuggled into the comfy camper.

That night,  I listened to crickets and other critters scurry around outside the little camper.  I reflected on my previous two days and how much beauty I'm surrounded by with these women in my life. They all bring something unique into my life.  They each are knowledgable about different things.  They all have walked different walks in life.  They all have unique challenges or stressors that are happening right now.  But each one of them is kind and caring and thoughtful.  They all are accepting and encouraging to those around them.  They are not judgmental or rude or caddy.  I think about these things and how fortunate I am to have attracted these women into my life.  Every time I'm around them, I feel refreshed and hopeful and alive and I can't even begin to explain how thankful I am for these friendships.

On The Road Again...

Long ago, Mason and I decided that there is a huge difference between a vacation and a family trip. Traveling to Arizona with a nearly-two-year-old: Family Trip.  Just the two of us going to Bed Bath & Beyond: Vacation.  (Well, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration but you get my point.)  At any rate, we both fully acknowledge that traveling with kids in tow is a lot of work.  Some might even venture to say that the hassle makes the travel not worth it.  But for me, leaving home to provide my kids with the opportunity to see and experience new things and interact with people we don't see everyday is completely worth it.  This explains why our summer is usually packed to the brim with travel: day trips, weekend trips, mini-road trips, we travel our summer away.  And honestly, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Last week, we returned from our annual St. Louis getaway (I'll post the pics when I can find time to catch up!) and about ten minutes after I finished the laundry that was waiting for me, I packed up the kids and the suitcases, loaded the minivan, locked the front door, and hit the highway again.

This time, we headed just down the road to Holiday Lake, where some good friends recently built a house and have left a standing invitation to "come any time!".  (Now, perhaps they are just being cordial but we take them at their word and try to do just that.  I figure Dee Dee will let me know when we begin to wear out our welcome.)

We arrived on Monday afternoon and were greeted by perfect sunny weather.  The temperature was in the 80's with a little breeze to keep us cool, and the water had been warmed up by the previous scorchers--making it super inviting to our little fishies.

This one enjoyed the water, but definitely enjoyed the sand more than anything.  I finally gave up trying to prevent her from eating it-- and just let her feast on the stuff.  

The boys loved using the paddleboard as a platform to jump from

Deidra got a good paddlboard workout with Max chillin' on the front of the board and towing Ellody behind. 
Somehow, we talked our husbands into taking Tuesday off so they all came down Monday evening and hung out Tuesday.  It was like old times, I tell you.  Well, old times in that they drank beer and played wiffle ball, new times in that they changed diapers and filled sippy cups and cut the pizza into tiny pieces.  But I think they enjoyed themselves, too.  I'd venture to say that we all had a pretty dang good time.  

Charlie would have tubed all-day-long if given the chance.  He was having a blast.  

And Little Sister seemed to love the boat ride--too bad her mom held onto her hat-- she really loved the breeze blowing through the few hairs on her head. 

I couldn't resist the invitation to go tubing...

She loved the shade... and the water table.  

And she might have eaten a flower or two while I wasn't looking...

No selfie-stick needed
The cutest little navigator we ever did see. 
I recently talked with someone who sighed and said, "I just don't know how you do it.  I think being on the go that much would drive me crazy-- I'm too much of a homebody to do that!" At first, I didn't know how to take the comment, but I understand where they were coming from.  What's funny is that I consider myself to be the ultimate homebody.  I love being at home and spending downtime right here in Spahnville.  I love sleeping in and watching TV and playing at parks.  I love grilling out on our deck, drinking Summer Shandies, and catching the lightning bugs that litter our backyard like glowing confetti.  But I also love my friends, and unfortunately, I don't get to see them very often during the school year.  If I had it my way, we would all live on one big happy cult-de-sac....but we don't.  However, we do live within driving distance and we do have time during the summer to drive.  So in summer, I pack and load and buckle in and travel and do it all over again.  And if there's one thing I've realized during this crazy travel-season, it's that being away really does make coming home to the Shandies and the lightning bugs that much more sweet.