Friday, May 30, 2014

Last day of school/First day of summer

It's finally arrived. The day marking the end of the longest 9 months of my life. No, I didn't just give birth to octuplets. Today is  . . .

THE LAST DAY OF SCHOOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I have to be honest. I feel like I have a little bit of PTSD after this school year. I can't put my finger on it exactly. Was it the 4 kids in 4 schools on 4 different schedules? (Leaving at 7:00, 7:30, 9:00, and 12:30, and coming home at 2:30, 3:10, and 3:30.) Was it the accelerated learning programs that both Will and Elizabeth did with their multitudinous projects and homework? Was it Kate's profound sorrow and anger over the irrelevance of every. single. assignment. she received all. year. long. and the hours upon hours that I spent trying to get her to either focus and finish her work or JUST GO TO BED FOR CRYING OUT LOUD! (Yes, I'm exaggerating, but this was not the best year for Kate the Great. Or her parents. Especially the one who can't stay awake past 9:30pm.) Was it my mistake of answering the phone back in September and saying "yes" when the PTA president-elect personally called to ask if I wouldn't consider signing on as Room Mom for Rachael's kindergarten class? (And I was the worst room mom ever, I might add. Thank goodness there was a surrogate mother-type who did all the "extras" that a real room mom should do. I stopped after delegating via email.) Was it a combination of all these things while also trying to tackle a variety of home improvement/decorating projects and my responsibilities as the monthly party planner for the ladies at church? (1st Counselor in the Relief Society presidency for the Mormons in the room.)

I don't know, really. Maybe if I had 4 more kids in the queue waiting to start school I would have had more endurance, but getting to the end of my last child's last day of kindergarten after an eternity of half-day hades (okay, Kate went to preschool around 2001 I believe, so I guess that's just 13-ish years of half-day hades) was much harder than it should have been. It felt like doing the last of a hundred push-ups, or running the last mile in a marathon, or forcing down the last hot dog in an international eating contest. In fact--and I feel really badly about this--I actually got to a point somewhere in May when I not only started to lose gratitude for my children's schools and teachers, but I actually started to feel angry with them with each additional assignment, paper, email, or special invitation that showed its ugly face in my inbox. It was as if they were trying--deliberately trying--to complicate my life and destroy my relationships with my children as I was forced to go into SuperNag mode. (I know this is completely irrational, and my rational brain is still eternally indebted to these people, but I hope you know what I mean.)

So it is with great joy and supreme gladness that I present to you a few low quality iphone pictures of our last moments of school and first moments of freedom. Sweet, sweet freedom.

Here we have Rachael and Elizabeth on the second to last day of school. (Because the second to last day of school is really the last legitimate day of school since going for an hour and a half on the last last day without even a backpack doesn't really feel like anything. It's so totally anti-climactic and made even more so in our home by the fact that Kate and Will don't even go to school on their last last day. Anyway.) Aren't they just the cutest things ever?
Today (the last last day of school) started off with a bang as Elizabeth (wearing her new Dr. Who t-shirt and necklace she bought with her birthday money) and I went by Smith's grocery to get a bouquet of flowers for her teacher. (See? My rational mind really is still intact.) I dropped her off early at school so I could get back home in time to pick up Rachael for kindergarten carpool. (They had to be to school at the same time--but again, different schools. So fun!)  

I will actually really miss kindergarten carpool and all the hysterically cute conversations I've overheard over the last year. Wish I could have recorded them all because there is no way to recreate them. As much as I was complaining back there, you know there is a big chunk of my soul that is weeping over the fact that I will never have another preschool or kindergarten age child at home with me half days doing all the super cute things preschoolers and kindergartners do. 

And maybe that has been a part of my personal trauma and drama over the past year as well: feeling angst over wanting to move on to the next stage and be done with half days while simultaneously not wanting it to ever come to an end. Honestly, sometimes motherhood feels like nothing more than a big ball of emotional contradictions and paradoxes. It's exhausting.  

While the little girls were attending their last hour and a half of school (I hadn't seen hide nor hair of Kate or Will by this point who were obviously still blissfully sleeping in their beds), I headed back to the grocery story to get lunch stuff for the first day of summer get together Will was having at our house. After picking up the girls again and getting lunch ready, I took Rachael to a first day of summer party at one of her friend's homes. The mountains are so green right now!
And by the time I came back, cute teenage girls had invaded my home. Is it just me, or do 13-year-old girls look way older than 13-year-old boys?
After lunch the five of them went tubing in the natural lazy river in our backyard. Will's poor friend popped our tube just two weeks ago when the two of them tubed the river, and then he managed to pop our neighbor's tube again today in addition to cutting his arm on a tree branch. I don't think he's going to be tubing our little creek again! (It's pretty cold and gnarly down there . . .) I love this picture:

While they were down in the lazy river, I had Kate do some driving. (She's getting her license next week--finally!!!) First we went to the next neighborhood over to pick up Will's back pack from the porch of someone who emailed me saying they found it on the sidewalk in front of their house. He actually left it where the bus picks him up when he realized it was yearbook day and he didn't need it-- that is called teenage boy brain, right there! Then I had Kate drive me to the copy store to pick up the flyers we're going to take around to nearby neighborhoods to advertise for our 2nd annual "Reynolds Camp". (Taking reservations now! If you are in the area and feel like you could trust your children to the care of me and my children, text or call!!)
Not long after Will and his friends got back from the lazy river, he had to finish packing up for his campout at the sand dunes with his scout troop tonight. After dropping him off at the church, I dropped Elizabeth off at a friend's house to go with her family and a few other friends up the canyon to make a bonfire and burn all their old school papers and make s'mores. (I want to burn all my paperwork!!)
Look at that big bag of knowledge about to be burned to ash:
About this time Rachael was already getting bored, so we invited over her bestie for a late-over. So glad she could come entertain my little fireball! These two have spent the majority of this school year pretending to be cheetahs, and the last I heard them playing tonight, Rachael was complaining she had hurt her tail:
So ya, it's the last day of school/first day of summer, and I'm already kind of exhausted. THIS IS A BAD SIGN, PEOPLE! But I will tell you what makes everything okay. Kate has spent the entire day in her pajama clothes (you know, the kind you can wear to run errands and no one would even know you slept in them?) listening to music and drawing. She has morphed into the calmest, nicest, happiest person in the world. Overnight. She's back to drawing instead of studying, sleeping instead of procrastinating, and what a difference that makes in this girl. And what a difference that makes in this mother! I heard one of the truest things ever said just the other day from a friend: "A mother is only as happy as her saddest child." So if summer means happy, carefree kids for a few months, then I say bring it! Bring on summer!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

January 2014 (I'm baaaaaaaaack . . .)

Sigh. (Happy sigh.) It feels good to sit down at the computer to relieve my brain of thoughts, and the hard drive of pictures. It's been way too long since I've logged into Blogger--longer than ever before. And I've had mixed feelings about being away.

The pro's? Not worrying about chronicling my life as much as living it. Being in my own little bubble. Feeling free of the pressure to keep up with my blog like it's a project, and wondering who, if anybody, is reading. (And caring.) Having more time in my schedule for other things besides sitting in front of a computer. Technology has felt like a burden to me lately. An indispensable burden. This is probably the biggest pro, because for some unexplainable (and some explainable . . .) reasons, my life feels busier now than ever before even though I no longer have any babies or toddlers clinging to my body all day long. (Actually talked about this in a segment on Studio 5 yesterday.) I just really feel like I don't have the time anymore to keep up with regular blogging, and who knows? That might be the long-term reality. Only time will tell.

The con's are that I realized I really, really do need to write for my own sanity. Writing my mothering articles for Deseret News and Power of Moms is a wonderful outlet, but I need the perspective that comes from writing about and chronicling my family's constantly changing life. And I want to chronicle my family's life. If I don't, who will? It's really important to me that it happens. So while I have been an Instagram regular all along (@brandonandallyson if you want to know), I need to have a place where I can really dig in and write more than a one liner--though I find it pretty amazing how much those snapshots and one-liners can communicate! Plus, I know my mom would like a few more details and pictures of our comings and goings. So here I am.

So if anyone is reading, and if you have read my blog in the past, then you know that I get totally weird about trying to catch up when I've been away for awhile, and yes, that's what I'm feeling compelled to do now. I just can't resist. So even though I'm in the middle of end-of-school-year craziness and the full onset of a Utah spring, I'm going back to January. That's right! Don't argue with me. This is my blog.

But first, a bit about my feelings for January. I think it might be my new favorite month. January-March actually. The very three months I used to dread so much here in Utah after leaving our sunny and fragrant L.A. winters, these months have become a respite in my otherwise crazy year driven by school/extracurricular activities and seasons/holidays that take over every square inch of my time and energy. January to March is so quiet and undemanding. No holidays, no yard work, no birthdays, no breaks that call for vacation planning, no end-of or back-to season/school year anything. It's just dead in the best kind of way and I really do love it. Because of the dearth in the schedule, and the dark, cold days, I feel completely licensed to hunker down at home and do whatever I want to do and not what everyone else wants and needs me to do like during the busier months. It's almost like the nesting instinct of pregnancy in the sense that I feel super homemake-y and have this urge to put my home and family life together and keep to myself while doing it. It's like I'm trying to realize my unrequited (and wholly unrealistic) dream of living in the 1800's when a person would have to actually rig up their horse and carriage and travel over miles of terrain if they wanted to talk to me and make a request of my time and energy. (Only, I still want to be able to drive to Costco when needed.) 

And maybe that's why I stopped blogging in January. Because when I blog it feels like I am reaching out to and inviting the outside world into my life, and I think I really just wanted to hide out for awhile and do my own thing. And truthfully, part of me still thinks that sounds like a good idea. Sure, I could just have a private blog and only invite certain friends and family to read, but then why blog at all, right? Just send a mass email. Who knows. Like all forms of technology and social media, things change and evolve so quickly that blogging might not even be around in another five years. But I guess I haven't moved on or gotten entirely sick of this mode of communication yet, which is why I'm here right now.

On to January! (Or should I say back . . . ?)

Good-bye Christmas! It was nice seeing you:
Disney Just Dance:

Some people sleep in even when school is session. Oh, to be an afternoon kindergartener! We only have one child left who occasionally wanders into our room at night. Look at those lashes:
I was unusually "regular" in the kitchen making many home cooked dinners, hot breakfasts, and even packing lunches the night before. This is what happens when there is nothing else going on! First Sunday of the month during the winter months is always--always--Japanese curry rice:
My kids didn't know how good they had it. Most of our current school week breakfasts are just cereal:
Yes! Downton Abbey returned! The best part of January:
Does this take you back to your childhood like it does me?
The temple is beautiful year round, but there is something about a white temple with a white winter background:
Kindergarten carpool minus one:
We enjoyed lots of specialty hot cocoa and Teavana tea in January:
Pumpkin hot chocolate:
My favorite flavor of herbal tea was a white chocolate peppermint:

Another favorite:
A lazy pre-kindergarten morning at the McDonald's playland. Considering these two spent months and months pretending to be cheetahs, this picture had to happen. Rachael is in her ready-to-pounce position with her "paws" also in character:
Cheetahs like ice cream, too, you know:
An afternoon lunch at Zupas with this cute girl after something that had to do with that sticker on her shirt which I can't remember now:
We enjoyed lots of lazy Sunday morning brunches since our congregation doesn't meet until 1:00 in the afternoon:
The little girls made Olaf:

Doing a segment on Studio 5 was the one and only slightly stressful "extra" during the entire month of January. And when you only have one "extra" in an entire month, it just doesn't seem that bad. Maybe I could learn something from this? (You can watch the segment here.)

My requisite trip to the Salt Lake Trader Joe's after:

I got so homemake-y in January that I started organizing and using my food storage. What?!
We called this "bugs" when we were little. Cooked whole wheat berries with warm milk and honey. Mmmmmmm . . . .
I cleaned out both the garage and the basement. DID YOU HEAR THAT?! The garage AND the unfinished basement:
I've been buying 2 or 3 boxes each month in an effort to get a year's supply. I'm using my good friend Liesa's program (which involves more than these boxes I know most people have no clue how to use) because it's so super easy to understand and follow and, honestly, it just makes sense. Go check out her blog and buy her book. Doesn't this look so neat and tidy? 
Gonna get me some shelves for this stuff when we figure out exactly what we're doing with this basement of ours:
While cleaning out the basement I also recovered this gem that I purchased for nothing months ago at NPS (with Liesa, who introduced me to the place) which I intended to give Brandon for Christmas. Think he could learn anything in here?
This is about as stressful as life got for me in January:
Cute girls playdate. We've gotten a lot of mileage out of these Asian dresses I bought for nothing years ago at my favorite second hand store in Iowa City, "Stuff". Kate was the first to wear them:

We watched the Martin Luther King "I Have A Dream" address on MLK day:
And I struggled through the SOTU (these speeches are always so hard to stomach):
I actually started and finished a book during the month of January! Well, more like over a weekend. It was too compelling to put down:
I love these pictures of the "bookends: doing their homework together:

Brandon and I convinced Elizabeth to wear Kate's old green velvet dress that was also found for nothing at "Stuff" by Grandma Reynolds to use as Kate's post-baptism dress. Doesn't she look gorgeous?
We have an identical picture of Kate twirling in this dress. This has got to be THE MOST twirl-able dress on the planet:
We dealt with Rachael's bedtime issues in a variety of ways. (The girl CANNOT wind down at night!) I have since gone to the use of melatonin thanks to the suggestion by multiple friends on Facebook:
Rachael was complaining that she never had any fun socks for "Crazy Sock Day" at school, so I went out of my way to get her some and get her all dressed up only to realize after the fact that we got the week wrong. And yes, we forgot when it was the real "Crazy Sock Day" . . .
(This is such a perfect example of how most things go in my life.)
Oh, nothing. It's just nice to throw in a cute dog picture every once in awhile:
And beautiful sunset pictures never hurt anyone either:
January, I miss you!

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