Tag Archives: kids

Maybe Reality Really DOES Bite.

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Ya know what, Troy?   Cram it.  (Credit: http://www.spot.ph)

40 is coming. Or rather, I am currently rolling downhill like a snowball headed for hell toward my 40th birthday in June. If you smash my twin sister and I together, that is 80 years of twinny “us-ness” on this planet. Scary stuff.

I didn’t think 40 was going to bug me. After all, 40 is the new 30, right? We are a FAR CRY away from the 40th birthday I remember my mom having, complete with coworkers stringing black streamers everywhere and outfitting her with a cane and veiled black hat to go with her “over the hill” cake.

That just isn’t what 40 means today. Think about who else is turning 40 this year. Reece Witherspoon. Ryan Reynolds. Melissa Joan Hart – Sabrina the teenage witch, yo! Keri Russell – awesome first name to match her awesome looks! 40 ain’t nothin’ at this point, right?    I remember thinking when Jennifer Aniston turned 40 (7 years ago, people,) that 40 was spectacular. That all you had to be by 40 was a grown-ass version of you. (With apologies to Troy from Reality Bites, because none of us knew ANYTHING at 23, really dude.)

But therein lies the rub. 7 years ago, 33 year old Keri was, if I remember correctly, putting some fairly substantial pressure on herself regarding her Jesus year, and thinking that “way far off into the future” of Keri-ness, at the ripe old age of 40, she would finally have gotten it together as a grown up.

Guess what? NOPE.

I am a warmed over mess. Don’t get me wrong, it is my warmed over mess… this is my 40 year old bed, I made it and I can lay in it, blah blah blah… It isn’t the whole “I’m so damn old, woe is my aged self” thing that has me reeling, although I do confess feeling kind of old of late. It’s the nagging “shouldn’t I feel like a dang grown up by now?” question. I am like, way far into this dog-and-pony show, right? At what point, exactly, am I going to stop feeling like I should be calling my mom to come and pick me up from this charade, because it MUST be way past my curfew? The ghosts of Keri-ages past would be pretty disturbed to know that at 40 it was all still going to be feeling like a total crap shoot. That sucks, yo.

I briefly considered diving into a good old-fashioned midlife crisis- but dipping my toe in those waters by taking an ill-advised shopping trip in the Juniors’ section for clothes that look ridiculous on me, drinking like a 23 year old at the neighbors’ house, taking on a bunch of contract work in all my free time so I can “do what I love,” and otherwise generally acting “un-Keri” just left me feeling embarrassed and desperate and old.

Man, I miss just feeling old.

So the midlife crisis is off the table, as I don’t have time for self-destruct just now since I can’t get even my adult shit together without that added BS.  There’s really no spare time to blow everything up when you are just hoping to get your kid and yourself out the door with lunch packed and pants on both of you, can I get an amen?

But what then? Or what now, I mean. Here I am being all old (but not,) coming to terms with the idea that maybe, JUST maybe, this is all there is.

I am not destined to change the world, or even my little corner of it. There is no cosmic line to cross or switch I have to find and flip to make things “the way they are supposed to be.” No fairy godmother is going to come donk me on the head and pronounce that I am now fully qualified for adulting and open a door to some wonderland of grown-up-edness.

I always pictured myself as the girl humming the Mary Tyler Moore theme song and whipping my hat off to toss as I spun around knowing I was “gonna make it after allllllll.”

But staring down the barrel of the very adult age of 40, all I seem to be able to muster is a half-hearted bit of the theme from “One Day at a Time.”   Then I realize that BOTH of those shows are so ancient, I can’t even come up-to-speed on TV references. AND I LOVE TV!

Again I find myself back at Reality Bites, and Troy; the-once-and-now-again voice of my generation…  Now it seems, is “the winter of my discontent.”  But Troy remains forever frozen in fresh-college-grad smuggery as he utters that line through his 90s facial hair.

Here in 2016 and MANY years away from my English lit degree, borrowing lines from Shakespeare seems awfully grand a way of phrasing the realization that I’ve been on the planet for 40 years and still cope with stressful situations primarily through nacho consumption and magical thinking.

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Local Love – Finding My “Places”

Not to get all “80s TV Show” on you (and really show my age) or anything, but makin’ your way in the world today really does take everything ya got.
Having places of refuge, where you feel truly welcome and wanted can make a crap day (ahem, or week… or month,) feel just a little less awful.

Some times you wanna NEED to go where everybody knows your name.

When we left the city almost 4 years ago (4 YEARS!! WOW… did you think I would make it!?) it was one of the things I worried about most.  Where would I go, in the spread of the ‘burbs and all of those strip malls and chain restaurants?  It wouldn’t be like our little corner of the city, with my sushi bar and coffee shop just down the block: and my beloved little pizzeria/ wine bar just around the corner waiting to pull me in after a tough day and feed me  flatbread with olive tapenade and Rose and make it all better.

Where would we go when The Mr traveled for work?  Who would be as happy to see Jr and I toddling through the front door for dinner as the waitresses and chefs at our little sushi place? His baby self giggled and flirted as they passed him around, making googly eyes and feeding him little bits of things while I ate my miso soup, piping hot. (Hot food/drink = the ultimate mommy treat.)

Those neighborhood places are, quite literally, the center of the world in this mama’s heart.  What would I do without that?

Oh Keri-from-four-years-go….  you need not worry at all.

It is true, it took a while.  There were some false starts with places where the love affair ended when it had hardly begun.

Then came our discovery of the awesomeness that is Big Choice Brewing, a truly spectacular mix of spectacular beer brewed and sold by equally spectacular people. I never miss a chance to gush shamelessly sing their praises, and it instantly rose to the top of my list of places I want to go to celebrate or commiserate the ups and downs of life.

Slowly… slowly, I started to find my places here. A couple good coffee shops not too far away,  a great sushi joint from the city that opened a second location within walking distance from The Casa, a little diner where the waitresses call you “honey” and freaking ADORE my kid.

Then, just a few months ago, the cherry on top of my sundae of local hangouts came into being.  A perfect combo of great creative chef-driven pub food, a rotating craft beer list, really cool “Colorado Casual” decor, and a bookshelf full of games that keeps Jr excited to go back again and again.  It is the joy and beauty that is  The North Side Tavern.

Much like Keri does whenever something new is opening in this town, I was practically beating down the door to come in when they opened.  The location was sorely in need of a “something for everyone” kind of place, with great local personality to make it stand out.

BOOM – NST delivered.

The bar includes ample  electric outlets with both traditional plugs and USB spaces, and the owner Steve is all too happy to see you using them (as I frequently do during a working lunch when I get stir-crazy working at home.) Current favorites for me are the “construction zone burger” (so you can build your own,) the Colorado Cuban, and the traditional wings.  The crispy Brussels sprouts and naked nachos both call to me after a long day as well.

There are good happy hour specials on both drinks and appetizers, and a kids’ menu that Jr loves –  their chicken tenders are like preschooler catnip.    Andplusalso,  we lobbied to get get them to offer BBQ sauce, because it is Jr’s current favorite condiment, and TAH DAH – they did!! (No more tiny Tupperware of BBQ in this momma’s purse!!)

It has quickly become a true gathering place for the neighborhoods around it – a place where Gina or Anthony behind the bar will greet you by name when you walk in for happy hour or dinner with the family.

At night after the littles clear out to get tucked in, The NST hosts local bands on weekends, with the coming acts available on their website.

It’s been a minute (or a year) since I’ve done a Local Love feature here, and it hasn’t been for lack of the love.  Quite the opposite. I have found so very much to love, indeed.

So I have added a Local Love tab on the top menu – if you find yourself here in the perfectly in between spot between Denver and Boulder, for a visit or as a fellow resident, check out some of my favorite spots around the area.

Of course, I am always itching to try something new and wonderful – so if you know the area please do give a shout out to your faves down below, or in the comments on the Local Love page so we can all enjoy.

Finding “your places” where you live means so much more than just knowing who has the best burger or latte (although that never hurts.)  It is finding what speaks to you in a place – what connects you, and grounds you.  It’s finding the people and places that make you proud to call it your home.

 

 

 

 

 

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Legos and longing -second thoughts on working mom-dom.

I am sharing this piece which I first posted on Spirit of Power early this week, because the response has been so overwhelmingly supportive, and because the topic has consumed my thoughts since the spark was lit in my little mind.  I have joked that I seem to have triggered my midlife crisis (which it very well might be,) but I hope that I can channel the upheaval into something mildly more practical than buying a sports car.  (ha)

Original Post Here

mommy and me

Late this morning over a quick lunch break, I was diving down the rabbit hole of Instagram to let my mind wander from a project I was a bit stuck on for work. I stumbled on a simple post of an ADORABLE baby sitting in the sun in a chair, giggling at his mom off camera. SO CUTE! I clicked to read the caption of this cuteness.

Two minutes later I was broken, sobbing and groping for tissues in a haze of envy and guilt and sadness.

The cutie-patootie’s mom posted the smushy picture of him to celebrate her first day as a stay at home mom. It is a simple thing, upon first thought. It was the second wave of my mind’s wandering that kind of ripped me in two.

It was her first day of being with that smiling boy at home, completely on purpose. Not because she was on vacation and trying not to think about the email that must be piling up and the fires that will need putting out when she returns.

Not because the baby was sick, or because plans for his care fell through, or because she was working from home with him there as well due to a heavy snow storm. (The latter of which never truly works, resulting in guilt about sticking in a video and begging the kiddo to please be quiet for that conference call, followed by work guilt because productivity drops when you have one eye on the laptop and one eye on your offspring.)

It was her first day without division in her mind, her heart, and her time. No internal war to be everything to everyone. For the first time, she was all his. Concentrating on him, and his surroundings, and nothing else, is ok for her now.

Years ago, before Junior came along, I would daydream about that being my reality

It wasn’t in the cards, and I adored the lovely Christ-centered daycare Junior attended during his first year of life. I am so proud of all he learns and of the way he has found his place in his little community at the academic center he attends now, truly I am.

In our neighborhood, there are many moms who stay home with their children, and I think it has accentuated some of the things I fear Junior misses as a “day care kid.”

He misses the flexibility of schedule to try new activities, or have a play date with neighbors, or even stay in pajamas all day “just because.” There’s no chance to abandon an activity to head outside for a bike ride or snowman building or kite-flying, regardless of perfect weather conditions.

Days are full of hurrying out the door late, off to day care as mom worries over email and deadlines and trying to cram it all in, while also figuring out when doctor appointments and dentist visits and haircuts might fit in to the picture. Of course, always keeping fingers crossed that Junior doesn’t get sick and bring the whole precarious mess to a screeching halt.

It’s a tough realization to find that I am resentful of my child for getting sick, when he does, because it throws off the tightrope walk that I am barely pulling off with him healthy.

Evenings are a blur of pick-ups and meal prep and rushing toward bedtime routine to (hopefully) get him in bed before “tired” turns to “overtired meltdown madness.” Usually I am thinking of the To Do list I need to get started on once he is asleep and praying that he will drift off quickly. Then in a few short hours the whole scene plays out again.

It feels like our family, and especially Junior and I, are running and running to get to some place or goal or SOMETHING, but never getting there.

Suddenly today, while inhaling my lunch and trying to distract myself from the reality of my truth, it smacked me square in the face.

Today is the first day of a really great new normal for that mom and her sweet smiling son.

Today for Junior is just another day where his mom bustled him off to “school” early because she was stressed about looming deadlines and semi-dreading what the impending snowstorm would mean for her ability to work tomorrow (while trying to squeeze in some “one eye on each” activity with him, if possible.)

You know what? That sucks.

My proudest accomplishments lie not within deadlines met and task lists checked off. They are measured in the way he pulls my ear down close to his mouth and whispers “I love you mommy,” and in the joy on his face as we build a new incarnation of a superhero hideout out of legos.

I do imagine what it would be like to focus just on him.

I don’t know what a next step would be – Instagram mom’s new SAHM path can’t be mine right now.

Parents who do stay at home with their children have challenges and feel conflicted too, I am sure. I don’t mean to discount the mountains each person must climb each day.

But I think that the search for a new normal has begun today…. in my heart, and I pray also in my actions.

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HOORAY for 2015

2015.  What a ride it has been. Join me in a walk down memory lane in some of my favorite and most popular posts, linked throughout the post.

I started the year with bacon and nostalgic weeping over Fisher Price Little People and tiny underpants, and we are indeed, now in the land of big boy beds and button up jammies, and coloring in the lines (he is better than me at this point.)   BUT, 2015 has been so much more than just that.

It was the year I got trapped in a car wash, the year my hair grew a mind of its own, and the year I got slightly less nostalgic about our former life in The Treehouse.

It was the final au revoir to a touchstone of my younger years, and the year I discovered that some hurt leaves holes in the heart that no amount of roast chicken can ever fill.

2015 gave me my most treasured and proudly worn laugh line.

 

For Jr it ushered in The Age of the Questionable Decision, and gave him ample opportunity to shake his preschooler head at his nutty mom’s behavior, (and occasionally pay her back for it. Just Sayin’.)

 

For The Mr, it was a year of deep, important questions…

Questions like “How’d she end up sick?” and “What the hell is that giant pear for, anyway?”

 

It was the year I mortified the barbecue man.  (Seriously though dude, you have LOTS of company in that, I promise.)

2015 was the year that I clarified my stance on the all-important and extremely divisive issue of leggings usage. (Not Pants. NOT.)

 

It has been a great year, and fantastic to share the ups and downs, ins and outs, and highs and lows with all of you!

I appreciate you taking the time to read – I look forward to trying some new things here on Reluctantly Suburban in 2016, and I hope that each of you will join in with me.

Happy new year!

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FIELD TRIP!!!

Yesterday was Jr’s first official school field trip. Like with permission slips and busses and “completely disposable packed lunch required.” Like for REAL field trip.
Also, with chaperones. EXCEPT, since it was the first field trip, half the kiddos’ in his kindy-prep class had parents who wanted to chaperone, and the teacher didn’t want to deny any of the parents the opportunity to witness this momentous occasion, so she let everyone who volunteered join.
I was one of those parents. And I lived to drink tell about it.
At 9:00 a.m. sharp under cloudy skies, 28 little energy-balls loaded on to two tiny busses, and off they bumped down the road with a line of carpooling parents convoying behind. 20 minutes later the whole kit-and-caboodle rolled up at a pumpkin patch located on the edge of the suburbs where sprawl gives way to wide open farms. What kind of hilarity/insanity ensued on those busses I will never know – Jr was tight-lipped about his first bus rides. I guess the Preschool code deems that what happens on the bus stays on the bus, yo.
With the abundance of parents, I had kind of pictured in my mind a paparazzi-style pack of us following the class around snapping pictures and looking conspicuous. But OH NO NO – if we were going to go, we were climbing in to the trenches with the teachers!! We each got two kids, our own and one other. I referred to them as my “accountabilabuddies,” amusing myself (and exactly not one other person,) to no end with the South Park reference.
Jr was so pumped – even in the chilly wind of a Colorado plains Autumn morning, he was way too excited to notice the cold. Accountabilabuddy numero dos was less impressed and talked mainly about when lunch would be, even as we lumbered through the field on a wagon pulled by a tractor and Jr squee’ed and squirmed with glee on the other side of him. (Honestly, it was pretty dang cold until the sun finally poked through, but come on dude, FIELD TRIP!!)
Each “friend” (as they call kids in preschool world,) got to pick out his or her own pumpkin with only one rule: it had to be small enough that the child could carry it without help. 15 minutes later a pack of empty-handed kids loaded back on to the wagon with 14 parents carrying an armload of kid-selected pumpkins, because four year olds? Not so much with the listening.
At lunch my formerly hungry accountabilabuddy suddenly swore off solid food, pounding his Capri Sun while side-eyeing the rest of his bag’s contents. Jr snubbed the Lunchable that was his special treat, opting instead for my pumpkin seeds and prosciutto and leaving me with slightly gummy crackers and ham. (He was happy to take the cookie off my hands though.)
Then there was goat feeding (no shit,) followed by handwashing and me pouring an amazing amount of hand sanitizer on to both of my accountabilabuddies up to their elbows (because seriously guys, do you even know your hands can go places that AREN’T on your face!?)
Which brings us to the pinnacle of the pre-k pumpkin-patch-apolooza. The one thing that every kid probably told their parents about when asked about the whole deal; AND the one thing that made accountabilabuddy number two grin and giggle and shout.
The “mine car ride.”
As it turns out, the mine car ride is actually a train of mini hay-ride-style wagons pulled by a tractor out into the fields and around a course designed to make Keri cry. (No? Well that is my story and I am sticking to it.)
It was FAST – way faster than I thought it would be – and I swear I heard the lady driving the tractor cackling maniacally she snaked us over built-up bumps and around crazy sharp corners. I froze my smile in place, reaching behind wooping accountabilabuddy B to clutch Jr’s arm because in my addled mind CLEARLY one of those kids was going to be thrown from that contraption, and dangit if it was going to be mine. Thankfully the cackling driver returned us to our place of origin (the barn, NOT the throne of Our Father, though I really thought it was going to go down that way for a minute,) and we disembarked.
The majority of Jr’s class is still firmly ensconced in the ritual of the afternoon nap, so some pretty significant cracks were starting to show in the behavioral foundation of the group as a whole. There was a fair amount of whining, dragging, hanging, and shouted refusals at this point. Must be group picture time! The parents tried in vain to position worn-out kids on and around an old-timey pickup truck and get everyone to hold still(ish) for a pic. It was like telling a nest full of hornets to smile and say “cheese.” ( I can’t wait to see if any of the parents there actually got a good shot – mine are a hilarious stop-motion series of the chaos.)
One more potty break, and back to the busses/cars for the return trip to school.
An hour later I was daydrinking chardonnay with a plateful of not-diet-approved chicken wings, because that ill conceived dare mine car ride left me with an acute sense of YOLO that could only be quieted with cheat food.
So we survived the first field trip.
Pretty sure I have a conference call the day of the next one… whenever that might be.

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