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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Dream Walk

What needs to happen: is I need to not freak out.  I started sort of freaking out – about this going back to school business.  I was freaking about big things like: how will I manage to do this?  Can I really learn and master college math when Math is my sworn enemy, my arch-nemesis, the ultimate evil?!  Why would I leave Kayli to do my student teaching during HER last few years at home before she’s in school full-day?  (This one was REALLY upsetting me).  But I also started freaking about some smaller things (but still realistic issues): If we’re both working full-day, how do I stay on top of the laundry (which even now as a ‘stay at home’ mom consumes many hours of my days)?  How will we get healthy dinners made?  (Again, now as a mostly at home parent, I’m able to spend some of my time – typically earlier in the day – doing at least some dinner prep to make our afterschool/homework/dinner/evening time less chaotic and stressful.)  How will I survive without my weekly Tuesday morning Spin class at the gym?! A class that I’ve attended for six years now!  Needless-to-say, I was starting to freak out. 

In the end, I don’t have answers (yet) to these questions, though I did realize that it’s okay for me to just SLOW DOWN.  I will have MANY years when Kayli is in school.  That day is coming, it’s just not here yet.  And I don’t want to be there yet.  I want to enjoy these last couple of years with her at home.  (Next year, she’ll do two half-days of preschool; the following year she’ll do 3-4 half days, the school year after THAT, 2016-17, is when she’ll start Kindergarten).  So, for today anyway, I am NOT freaking out; and we had a wonderful day.  Kayliana helped me make muffins and pumpkin smoothies.  We played with my felt board stuff from music class.  We had a mini-dance party.  I did about 35 minutes of arms/abs P90x while she watched a PBS cartoon. (Yes, I’m trying to defend her watching of TV mid-day).  Then, I decided to do that thing that I actually have been looking forward to for YEARS.

When we bought our first house (in 2002), we were told that the empty lot at the bottom of the hill (about two blocks away) would eventually be the location of our city library.  I couldn’t wait!  I dreamt about walking the kids down for storytime (and the inevidable schlep back up the hill with the wagon full of books).  Well, my dream didn’t EXACTLY work out as I’d imagined.  They didn’t build the library for a while…like a long while.  The doors didn’t open until December 2012 (slightly off from their goal of 2008).  We moved away in May 2012.  We only moved two miles east, but still!  So, while we’ve still benefitted immensely from the new library, my dreams of walking down and back never came to fruition…until today. 

Let me paint the picture:  we now live two miles (exactly) from our old house/the library/our little downtown area.  But these aren’t just two miles – these are two miles with an elevation change of 400 feet.  Our house is perched at 800 feet.  Downtown is at 400 feet.  These numbers don’t really mean anything to me…until I walk out the front door for a run…or load Kayli in the stroller, throw on my empty backpack and fill it with books at the library and a few essentials from the grocery store and head back home.  Then the numbers mean something to me.  Needless-to-say:  Downhill the whole way there and then up hill the whole way back. 

To further illustrate the scene for this hike: it’s been really, really super foggy in the Seattle area lately.  For some reason last year, when we had a foggy spell, it kind of weirded me out.  I felt a little claustrophobic driving down the street or walking to the school bus stop and not being able to see very far ahead of me.  This year, I LOVE it.  Huh! Go figure.

 Let me wax poetic for you (on you?) a moment. (I’ve never liked this expression: wax poetic. I know it has to do with the kind of wax like a ‘waxing’ and not ‘waning’ moon, but it just makes me think: Am I putting poetic wax ON you?  Anyway, here goes).  As Kayli and I descended through the fog – huge maple leaves crunching under the strollers’ tires – we noticed the shimmering spiderwebs bedazzled in dew like millions of tiny chandeliers adorning the trees.  (See, I told you I was gonna get my poetic on!)  The leaves were fifty shades of not gray.  Every bright color conceivable hung on the trees.  We went down the steepest part of our neighborhood hill.  I looked to my left and saw a very life-like statue of a young buck – antlers and everything.  There are tons of deer in our neighborhood (we back to an enormous state park.  I’ve also experienced one bear sighting if you’ll recall), so I honestly thought that this statue was to scare actual, real deer away from the plants and garden of these homeowners.  Kayli and I slowly continued by the house and then I saw another deer statue – but then this one moved.  OK, I sound like a moron, because we do see deer frequently, but honestly, I watched the buck for quite a while and it didn’t twitch at all; I couldn’t even see it breathing and we were pretty darn close to it!  So, as soon as this other deer moves, I look back at the buck and watch in awe as it majestically stands up…and then starts to slowly saunter towards us.  I quickened my pace a tad and we continued down the hill. Where, at the side of the next house, I spy two more bucks, a doe and a still youngish looking fawn.

Beautiful!  The fog.  The intense fall colors.  The crisp air.  It really was breath-taking.  (And, seriously, climbing that 400 feet back up to home, literally took my breath away).  As I was finally nearing the end of our ascent, another (or one of the previous) bucks and a doe go leaping around the yard about ten feet to the left of where I was. I could hear the sound of their hooves as they crunched through the leaves bounding so effortlessly into the misty fog.

 All I could think was: seriously, are we in Narnia?!  This is amazing.  And for now, anyway, I am not freaking out.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

BIG decision(s)

I sincerely apologize that I’ve left you wondering.  I’m sure you’ve lost sleep since my last post – tossing and turning with the unknown verdict: Will she or will she not cut my hair?  Will she really commit to growing it out in order to donate 8 inches for Cancer patient wig making?  Well, fear not, I’m here now with an answer.


Away she grows!  I’ve decided – and you’ve heard it hear first (or from my mouth if you’ve been blessed as a person with whom I’ve discussed my hair in deep detail) – that for the next 1.5-2 years I’ll grow my hair.  I’m also going to get Kayliana a good trim in the next few weeks and grow hers as well.  She has such gorgeous hair and I think it’s a pretty amazing thought that a little girl could help someone in need in that way as well.  (Obviously she doesn’t really ‘get’ the plan, but oh well.  Plus, it’ll sure save us both on hair cut costs!)


So, a big decision has been made, oh, and another maybe just slightly more significant and life-changing one as well: I’ve decided to go back to school.  WHA?!  I know, right?! I really need to finally buckle down and get my teaching certificate.  That’s right, I’ve taught without for years now – I’m an illegal teacher! (Well, not actually, just a non-certified one).  Having my certificate will give me the ability to – once the kids are all in school full-time – sub occasionally and then eventually should it become necessary or desired I could teach full-time in a public school.  Ideally I will also – later down the road – get my Music endorsement.  The actual program that I’m looking at is on-line and typically only takes a year and a half.  I, however, need to do some Pre-Req work before I can even apply.  Plus, the last term is the full time 12 week student teaching bit, and I really don’t want to do full-day work until Kayli is in school full-day…which isn’t for a few years yet!


The part that freaks me out the most is MATH.  Math is the enemy.  I’ve bragged and boasted for years now on how I managed to graduate from the University of Washington without ever having to step foot in a math class.  Actually, I even worked it so I only had to take three years of math in high school.  I’ve not been in a mathematics course in SIXTEEN YEARS.  I really did think that I would just relearn math along with my children.  So far, that’s worked pretty well and I’ve been able to keep up with Matthew’s 4th grade load!  However, it’s going to take a little more than that to get my Post Bacc in Elementary Education.  I have to have two college level math classes.  Initially, this thought to me sounded so awful, I’d rather have someone slowly spork out my eyeballs.  However, I’m actually starting to warm up to the idea.  I even spent an hour last night doing some math review and practice problems.  I’d like to say, “Thank goodness! It wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it’d be and I’ll be just fine!”  But no, it was hard and I’m embarrassingly rusty/inept. BUT, I do feel more ready and excited with the prospect of really committing myself to this whole plan. 


I’ve teeter-tottered back and forth the last few days (while looking into the program and going back to school in general).  I’ve gone from – eh! It’ll be a piece of cake! To Holy Crap! I can’t even do basic math, what if I can’t even get in??!  I mean, not only will I have to brush up on math in order to be ready for taking college level courses, but I have to actually pass two different assessment exams that both have math sections.  I’ve kind of freaked out.  I’m still kind of freaking out.  And yet…I think I can do it.  I know I can do it.  I have yet to not do something that I’ve really set my mind to.  (Now, we’ll just see if I can actually grow my hair as well.  It’s going to be a busy few years!)

Sunday, October 06, 2013


I’m weird.  I’m really weird about hair – especially my hair.  But also hair in general.  Hair, once off the head, disgusts me…like irrationally grosses me out and kind of freaks me out.  But, for now, let’s talk about the hair on my head.  I’m fairly certain I think about my hair way more than is normal or necessary.  For a while now – about nine years – I have had short hair.  I have thick, naturally curly hair and, for whatever reason, once it gets “long” (for me – which is like just below my chin) it starts to drive me nuts and I chop it off again as quickly as possible.  I have, in the past, come from a hair cut that I wasn’t happy with and took scissors myself and went to town.  I LOVE short hair on women and I spend an unhealthy amount of time google-searching, bing-image perusing, Pinteresting “short curly hair,” “curly pixie haircut,” “curly short hairstyles 2013…” You get.  You name it; I’ve searched it. 

The other weird thing about me and my hair – especially short hair – is that while I love it and think I look better with a short, sassy ‘do I also have what I like to call “short hair low self-esteem.”  This can be traced back to my glory days of 7th grade (terrible, awful 7th grade) when I didn’t understand thick, curly hair yet.  I didn’t know how to use good product to keep the frizz down and I had a not so good short haircut.  Like it was a border-line old lady short hair cut and I was in the throes and woes of awkward adolescence.  My hair cut was such that, one of the, mmm, probably 50 year old gals, who worked at the middle school, complimented me nonstop, asked where I’d gotten it cut and came in to work a few days later with a carbon copy cut. Crap.

My relationship to my hair can be traced back to those awkward days and also hearing the (at the time) “mean girls” make fun of me.  I was chubby, I had acne, and when all the other girls had long straight hair, I had a short, poofy coif.  Another “friend” referred to me as (and I perfectly word-for-word quote because I’ll never forget it) an “egg on toothpicks.”  So, essentially, while I think I look better with short hair, I still constantly question and am plagued with self-doubt as I look around at the moms at the bus stop (all with their long, straight hair and also all tall and thin…and gorgeous), I wonder, “Do I look like an egg on toothpicks with a poofy old lady frizzy ‘fro on my head?”  Honestly.  These are the thoughts.

Now, for nearly two years, I’ve been going to a new salon where the owner, Karly, TOTALLY knows curly hair.  She’s magical.  I’m a huge fan.  As I’ve said, my hair has been short-ish for nine years.  Last summer, it was closer to my chin, -- the angled curly bob look that I’d rocked for a few years.  I decided to take it even shorter.  But another problem I have is: I do love change.  When I get my haircut I want it to look like I’ve gotten a haircut.  I wish my hair grew CRAZY fast so that every single time I got a haircut it would look really different.  I don’t grow out my hair to have longer hair.  I grow out my hair so I can chop it off again.

Well, this past spring, I got my shortest ‘do yet.  But pretty soon, I started to feel antsy (again) about having short hair. It also didn’t help that we were coaching Matthew’s baseball team and I didn’t feel like the haircut looked good under the baseball hat everyone saw me in several times a week. Karly suggested we grow it out – like REALLY do it – just to see if maybe I like longer hair again.  For a change.  I’ve also always wanted to have long enough hair to donate for cancer patient wigs (this requires cutting off at minimum 8 inches in a pony tail).  I’ve had a few friends do it and I’ve always wanted to.  Karly even pointed out that if I was willing to cut it SUPER short, then 8 inches isn’t necessarily CRAZY long hair.  The thought of cutting it SUPER short gets me so excited.  I can’t wait…and yet, again, I get plagued with my self-doubt: “I’m young(ish) now.  Shouldn’t I have long hair while I’m young? Old ladies have short hair.  I’ve got the rest of my life to have short hair…but I love having short hair.  I feel sassy and fun.  When my hair gets longer I actually feel kind of frumpy and mleh….but do I DESERVE short hair?!  Am I thin and spunky enough to pull off a sassy, maybe even edgier short hair cut so that it doesn’t look like an old lady ‘do…but I should really grow it out….but it takes so freakin’ long to get long…but I really just want to chop it off already…but short hair doesn’t look as good under hats and I do love hats….but should you really base your haircut on how it will look under hats…but can’t I just commit myself to growing it out for donation?  I mean, in the big picture, growing it out for two years isn’t THAT long of a time….EVERYONE has long hair, don’t I want to fit in…but I want short hair…but….”  Do you see what I mean when I say I think WAY more about my hair than is normal?  I mean, I can even write a whole blog about it!

And this is just how I feel about my hair.  I haven’t even delved into the commentary that I get from others.  While Mike has been supportive and is always complimentary about my short hair, I know for a fact that he does prefer longer hair (as most men do).  So, then I’m like, ‘well, shoot, I know that my hubby would prefer me a different way….’  Then there’s my mom.  Ahh, mom.  She was the one that initiated my short hair middle school days that will forever live in my mind in infamy and regret.  She had my best interest at heart, obviously.  And I think she, too, really didn’t have a good grasp on hair product and care for my super thick curls.  I mean, it took me nearly thirty years to figure it out!  She’s also made it abundantly clear that she thinks I look much better in short hair.  When I was discussing with her last week this plan to grow it out but that I struggle with it because I do think I look better with shorter hair, she interejected, “You can just pull it up all the time.  You don’t look very good with long hair.”  Oh.  I see.  I thought I looked BETTER with short hair; I didn’t realize that I looked BAD with long hair.  Oye vey.

So, here we are.  I went to Karly for a hair cut/trim last week convinced that I was going to throw in the towel (after only a few months of attempting to grow my hair).  I was ready to just say, “Forget it.  Take it the shortest it’s ever been.” But she talked me out of it.  She encouraged me to just try a little longer.  She did shape it and give it more style so I don’t feel so blah about it…but…but…my next hair cut is November 26th and I’m already thinking and wondering – way too much – about what I should do to my do.  I really don’t have a lot of hope in myself in this whole ‘I’ll grow it out for two years’ plan.  I just really don’t think I can do it.  But then, am I being selfish?  I mean, people going through Chemo would love my thick hair! But it is, still technically, my hair so shouldn’t I wear it the way I want it?  But then, can I pull it off?  Plus, longer hair takes longer to style.  I want my long hair-styling time for Kayliana now.  She can be the one with long hair.  Yeah, I’m totally chopping it off…or maybe I won’t…but…ugh.

The facts: Long hair Jenny (so youthful, so free)

Medium length-haired Jenny

Short, sassy haired Jenny (yet 'mature' = old??!)

This is what a nerd I am about this: I would appreciate your input and opinions!!

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Life, man. Life.

It’s crazy talk that it’s already October!  The weather here has been awfully fitting for the season – cold, rainy, windy – but there’s still a part of me that is maybe stuck back in summer wanting more days of warmth and sunshine and the chance to get more projects done outside.  Oh well!  I’m also happy to be wearing sweaters and scarves and tall boots and drinking more tea and eating soup and anything pumpkin or squash-themed!  (Zachary, on the other hand, cries when I make soup and questions my love, and is definitely NOT thrilled with food this time of year).

This weekend was insanely stormy and yesterday brought endless rain and high winds.  I had my first music class of the year at a new Montessori school like I’ve lined up.  Kayli and I left plenty early to drive up to my parents’ place (where she would hang while I went to teach).  While driving we came across not a puddle, nay, but essentially a small lake, that was smack dab in the middle of my lane.  I had no choice but to drive through it.  I’m sad to admit that the first words out of my mouth were of the rather colorful language persuasion and THEN after that I switched to praying (sorry, God).  Thankfully, Kayli didn’t repeat my words (I’m sure they’ll randomly be said sometime when least optimal….like she’ll loudly proclaim it during church), but she did say afterwards, “Woah, enormous car wash!”

My first days back at teaching are always a honeymoon stage.  I was so happy to be back at it and these kids were so freakishly cute and well-behaved…of course, I have done this long enough, that I know that will likely change in the weeks ahead as they get more comfortable.  But one little boy…oh. My. Goodness.  I want to bring him home and put him on my shelf he was so stinkin’ cute.  He was about three years old and was wearing a pair of corduroy pants. I’d noticed that they looked a little big and loose on him when we were up dancing for our first movement song.  Afterwards, once sitting back down on the floor in our circle, I did a double take when I glanced over at him.  There he was just happily chillin’, sitting on the floor in his little blue striped underwear.  His pants were all the way down around his mid-thigh region and he couldn’t care less…or didn’t even notice…and no one else did either.  When we stood back up for our next movement song, I made sure he got them pulled up, obviously, but the thought of him just chillaxin’ in his ‘roos in music class cracks me up. 

I’ve spent more time this year – than any other – trying to line up additional classes.  I called 27 Montessori schools (and either left messages or was politely turned down – either they already have a music enrichment program or they don’t have the space for one, etc.).  I successfully landed this one new one and also had my same school from last year on the schedule…only to find out that the school that I was returning to can’t actually have me right now (they’ve been moving locations and a bunch of stuff is just up  in the air for them).  My plan for later this week is to a.) lock Kayli and I at home and potty train (a plan in which, I’ll admit, I’m not very optimistic seeing as she seems pretty darn stubborn and that she WILL be the one kid heading to kindergarten in three years in diapers) and b.) call every library within a twenty mile radius (and that’s quite a few, mind you) and try to line up some gigs there. 

So, yesterday, I had my first day back at work, my one whopping music class.  THIRTY whole minutes of work and after getting home to Mike and the kids I was questioning everything.  How do families do this when both parents work full time?  Granted yesterday was a little extra crazy – it was my first class, Mike has a deadline for work and is really stressed out, the weather made traffic so bad for Mike that I had to rush home to be sure one of us was at the bus stop for the boys and THEN I had to drive back up to get Kayli from Mom and Dad (so I had probably an extra hour of driving), both boys had had a rough day at school so they were a hot mess, plus Mondays – now that we’re into the school routine – is big homework night.  The packets come home and we have everything for the week which is nice but also a little overwhelming.  Anyway, I HAD rocked and gotten dinner going in the crockpot so at least I didn’t have to come home at 6pm and make food.  But I felt like a failure.  A failure as a ‘working’ parent (my whole WHOPPING THIRTY minutes of work) and a failure as a mostly-at-home parent.  Lately, because I DON’T have music classes, I’ve been able to be home during the day to get dinner at least prepped, if not made, so that the short window after school of homework, dinner, playtime, family time, showers, bedtime, etc. isn’t quite so chaotic, but all I could think yesterday was: How do people do this?!  And how will I do this???  Especially as the kids get older and homework gets harder and there’s more of it.  Matthew’s already struggling to get it done as it is…and for crying out loud I struggle with some of his math and he’s only in fourth grade!  How are we going to do this?!  (When these panicky thoughts really started to freak my freak I realized that it was well after 5pm, so pouring that glass of wine DID take the edge off a little, but still…still!).  How ARE we going to do this?  It’s not even basketball season (for Zachary) or baseball season (for Matthew)…yet.  We’re not doing swim lessons…yet.  We don’t have three kids with homework…yet.  We don’t even have a dog who needs to be walked...yet.  How, pray-tell, do people do this?  I need to do some research. 
But this is life, man.  I need to get on board.  I need to figure this thing out.  In the meantime, I’ll do what I know to do: be selfish and take care of myself so that I HAVE something to give to everyone else.  I’ll go to Spin at the gym, get myself a sassy short haircut (and give up on this whole silly plan to grow it out…we’ll see) and get my first pumpkin latte of the season.  Now THAT sounds like a day I – an apparently extremely self-absorbed person – can handle!