Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Meaningful

Well, I was supposed to use the three week interval between my last day and the kids' last day to get an entire summer's worth of writing in, but AS IT TURNS OUT, I am not a little burned out after an extremely difficult semester.  Once I surrendered to the burnout last week and took an intentional day to chill the eff out, I started feeling a million times better.  Tuesday of last week I spent the day staring at my computer in complete overwhelm and felt miserable and defeated by the time I picked up the screamers from school.  Wednesday, when the kids got out at 1:00, I determined would be a recovery day.  I went to a hot yoga class and then had lunch with a friend and then finally ran an errand I've not had time for, buying a frame for a sampler I recently completed. 

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Yoga+sangria+indulging my old-lady hobby = much better day.

Thursday I was compelled to go to a weather balloon launch, which made it hard to make grand declarations about being off for the summer.

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Because academics are thrilled to work for the love of knowledge, they don't need pedestrian things like MONEY to pay for CHILDCARE or anything like that.

Someone I work work with remarked to me near the end of the semester, just when I was teetering on the brink of panic facing down a summer with both no childcare and also bizarrely high professional expectations, "You're going to get so much writing done, now that you don't have to worry about summer research!" I responded flatly "Summer research is when I get ALL of my work done. Now that I don't have any summer money, I cannot pay for childcare. No childcare means that writing time is squeezed into the hour(s?) between dinner and collapsing into bed." The fact that I have to explain that I CANNOT WORK WITHOUT A SALARY to people is infuriating. But explain it I will, because if no one points out the incredible absurdity of continuing to function as if academics are bunch of monks we will never progress.

I can't even think about it without sending my limbic system into crisis mode.

I think this is what they call burnout.

This semester was incredibly hard for a lot of reasons and I feel like I barely made it through. I am completely dumbfounded by my fairly good teaching evaluations, because most of the semester was focused on convincing the administration I'm good enough to keep around, not by doing a good job in my classes, but by scrambling to submit a manuscript and prepare for a three-day job interview that began the day after Wes snapped his arm in half. Add in a kid spiraling into depression, lashing out at his siblings and having massive tantrums every night, the general state of things in this country, and the normal demands of caring for a house and five other people, and I wanted to run for the hills.

So now, writing all of this out, I guess I don't feel at all guilty about taking a few hours to recenter myself for the next EIGHT WEEKS of ALL MOM ALL THE TIME.

Yesterday I had back to back kid commitments from 8:00 AM until 9:00 PM. THIRTEEN HOURS, GUYS. When I walked into the kitchen after kissing the last kid goodnight, it was 9:20, I hadn't eaten in eleven hours, Ryan was making hot dogs and cutting up fruit, he had already opened a Belgian White for me. I immediately started crying. Approximately thirty minutes later I was drool-sleeping on the couch, having only made it through half an episode of Father Brown.

And now I am going to put on my big girl panties and tell the people I'm supposed to meet with at one o'clock today that I have not accomplished anything meaningful in the past seven days and that I will not be driving down.

And then I am going to re-evaluate the concept of "accomplishing something meaningful."


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Monday, May 14, 2018

Mother's Day Weekend in Pictures

Saturday: Graduation.  It is always such a happy day for all the families.  Fun to be a part of.  Also: fancy outfit that I wish I could wear more than twice a year.

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Sunday: Yummy fried eggs and toast in bed, a passel of wonderful, earnestly scrawled cards.  Church, followed by a yummy brunch at the hippie grocery store (one of my favorite places) during which I ordered whatever I wanted and payed no heed to calories or financial responsibility.  Sat in the sun drinking a sangria while the kids ran around on the playground and the pond.  Went on a shopping spree afterward for a picnic dinner that somehow managed to cost twice as much as the London broil dinner we had originally planned (I blame the fancy cheese and snob beer.  And the cookie cake).  Bought a Topo Chico just because it sounded good.  Gave the kids sips in exchange for hugs.  Perfect day, actually.

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Went home for a bit of quiet time and goofing around with the watermelon we brought home from the store.  Me, after Wes did this: OK, now try to take a preschooler to the grocery store. #empathy

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Went to the pool for swimming and dinner, endured the screams of every teenager for three counties that was out for mandatory family time in honor of the holiday.  Chastised myself for being irritated by their loudness and horseplay, considering I would also be irritated if they were lounging on the deck staring at their phones.  Noted my kids engaged in a fair amount of noisy horseplay.  Had a beer.  Calmed the heck down.  Talked Wes down from a freakout after Mary accidentally kicked his bad arm.

Went home and released fifteen-hundred ladybug army into the garden in hopes of getting rid of the aphids that keep eating the leaves of the bean plants.  It is really fun to watch fifteen-hundred ladybugs attack a garden.  A whole bunch of them got in Mary's hair (pictured).

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And then I started the morning with a great, and very sweaty row.

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Things are good around here.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

M.S. in Procrastination

I have worked so hard to procrastinate on working on this problem I found with a research project I'm working on, you guys. First I went to the kids' school to sell tickets for the 5th Grade Picnic. Then Mary was being so adorable that I didn't want the party to end and I took her to breakfast. And I couldn't just stop at one taco each, so I ordered us a giant buttermilk pancake to share.

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And then I dropped her off and headed to Goodwill to see if I could find any cute summer dresses (me) and school uniform dresses (Mary). (I found one cute summer dress and one awesome summer date night dress, which I will totally wear on a date someday, even though most of our dates now involve some kind of athletics because before we can actually relax into a conversation over dinner we have to bike or climb or run or kick out all the stress involved in getting to the point where we can leave the house).

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The moment I've been waiting for since her 20 week ultrasound.

And then I came home and jumped right into watering the lawn, which involves finding the sprinkler, trying to attach it to the hose I asked the kids not to disconnect from the sprinkler, putting it in just the right spot, fiddling with the water pressure until the water is hitting as much of the giant dead patch as possible, setting the timer in the kitchen, spending a few moments having a mental conversation about whether I should grab a couple of cookies on the way up the stairs (final decision was no, given the giant pancake and the way my arms look in my new Goodwill dress--pretty strong from rowing, but definitely room for improvement).

I also spent about forty five minutes making my to-do list, returning an email to a friend, and talking to my mom on the phone.

And then the timer went off so I went downstairs to turn off the sprinkler. And then I remembered to switch the laundry over.

And now it is 11:08 and I am about to cram all of the things on my to-do list into the next three hours before it's time to run to the store and also get the kids.

And the only reason I feel guilty about any of this is because I just sent one of my mentors my list of research goals for the summer, organized by project and date. I think that is how accountability is supposed to work.

But at least the grass is watered!*

*We've had a huge dead patch in our front yard for months and I've just been waiting for the HOA to get pissy about it. Ryan had the trees trimmed so it would get more light and I barked at the kids every time they walked on it. I've been working at home for a week and so have watered it twice and GRASS IS STARTING TO GROW. Rocket science, you guys.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

This all feels positively EASY now that classes are over

May Schedule-pocolypse continues unabated. On Monday, it took Ryan, me, our sitter, and a neighbor to get all the kids to and from their respective places. It was a TRIUMPH of to-the-minute schedule planning and now I think I am ready to run a presidential campaign or a military invasion. It went like this:

3:30 - Sitter gets kids from school, takes them home to change into swimsuits, eat snack
4:15 - She drops Charley and Wes off at piano, takes James to pool for swim team practice
5:00 - I pick Wes up from piano, drop him off with sitter at pool for his swim team practice, observe James contentedly playing with a friend on the playground, barefoot and in his Speedo

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He was stuck.

5:30 - Pick Charley up from piano, deliver him to pool for swim team practice
6:00 - Ryan arrives, I leave for my guitar class (40 mins away)
6:45 - Charley's practice is done, he changes into his scout uniform, Ryan drops him off at Scouts, returns home to put younger kids to bed
7:00 - My guitar class begins
8:00 - My guitar class ends, post class happy hour begins
8:30 - Neighbor brings Charley home

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Monday Afternoon Invasion Staging Zone

Saturday and Sunday were similar, without that pesky school to get in the way or give any of us even a second of breathing room.  Yesterday Charley hassled me to take him to Academy for hiking boots until I finally retorted "If you want to add something to the schedule, you need to submit a written request two weeks in advance!"

Ironically this exasperating conversation occurred while we were on the way to the orthodontist to pick up the massage gift card the kids won for me for Mothers' Day (and pick up Mary, get gas, pick up Wes from tutoring) by writing nice notes about me.

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Last night Wes and James had a scout meeting that began at 7:00, and since Ryan is the Cubmaster they usually tag along for setup around 5:30.  We decided that I would drop them off closer to the start time instead because it was CLEAR that everyone needed a little bit of time to relax and blow off steam.  While I cooked a normal dinner that wasn't a sandwich, and the kids streamed in and out, helping with dinner here and there, they met up with a neighbor friend and all made kites out of string and plastic grocery sacks.  When I went outside to call them in for dinner there were eight kids running around in the culdesac, trailing plastic bags behind them on strings.


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Scout meeting shenanigans.

Also yesterday, between not enough sleep and too much caffeine, and some stressful situations around getting medication refills for a kid, I was all amped up and not getting anything done, so I went for a long row.

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This really did the trick and ended up being an extra good workout when I failed to account for the higher than normal current, rowed pretty far away downstream, and then had to come back. It was a good kind of difficult, and wasn't really a problem until I tried to stand up on the dock. I came home refreshed and stinky and sat down to develop a schedule for summer research (the kind I will be squeezing in around kid activities) for my mentor at school. Never set goals for yourself while still on a workout high.

Wes got his drone stuck in our neighbor's tree, thirty feet off the ground a couple of weeks ago. Charley and Ryan both tried climbing the tree to get it back, but it was just too high. My neighbor's son and I threw balls at it for an hour or so one night and all that did was get a soccer ball and a football stuck up there too. Ryan and I had resigned ourselves to it just being one of those hard childhood lessons, but then I was sitting outside with a friend and Ryan pulled up in his car, produced three ten-foot long sections of PVC pipe, went to the garage and fashioned a fork-shaped device out of another section of PVC, then walked over and plucked the drone out of the tree. Just in time too because there was a MASSIVE rainstorm the following day.

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Ryan's parents came this weekend and we went to a baseball game to continue celebrating Ryan's birthday.

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And today we have school until 1:00, tutoring 1:30-3:30, swim 4:30-6, choir 6:15-7! They're coming to take me away ho ho hee hoo hoo hee hee!