Stretched Thin and What to Do About It

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Almost two years ago when I quit my corporate job, my wise aunt informed me that I would fill up my newfound time so much that I would wonder how I ever fit that job into my life. Nervous to be home full time with my kids, I had a hard time believing her. How would I manage the long, lonely days tethered to my children without the assistance of day care? Even though I desperately needed a change in my life, I was intimidated by the vast amounts of time awaiting me each week on Monday mornings when my stay-at-home-mom routine went into effect.

Filling up the calendar was a challenge the first summer I was home. I would schedule weekly activities on my Cozi calendar, write out daily craft ideas on a refrigerator pad, and have yet another place to list chores like grocery shopping and bathroom cleaning, in fear that I would run out of ideas for things to do. This system was my safety net, providing me with structure and security when I needed it. I was lucky to rope in a few moms to schedule regular-standing playdates, which really seemed to help my routine, and I tried to stretch out park playtime and water table fun as much as possible.

It’s hard to imagine that I feel stretched thin now, given that my life seems relatively similar to twenty-three months ago. I still have two little kids at home and am managing at least one of them at all times every week. Yet, despite this reality, I have added so much to my plate without even factoring in how I will accomplish it all with my limited free time. Unconsciously, I have created a sinking ship.

I am inspired to grow my editing and writing work into a dependable business and am energized to still have a career two years after leaving my reliable corporate job. But I am tasked to fit work into my already-packed schedule of ferrying children, arranging playdates, and completing chores. I’m also volunteering at church frequently and have added workouts to my calendar three days a week. While I want to “do it all” — raise my kids, have a career, and give back to the community, life has its limitations.

I didn’t realize this internal strife about time until this week. After working the entire weekend, which happened to be the first gorgeous one of the year, and receiving message after message via email and social media accounts of awesome volunteer opportunities and not-to-be-missed social dates, I started to agonize about the hours in the day.

As I went on a walk with a dear friend yesterday, I dumped these feelings on her as we meandered through our neighborhood. Her observations crystalized the thoughts running through my head, though I didn’t have the breakthrough until later that evening. She said that from personal experience, she’s only able to manage two things at once. After thinking about this breakdown of life’s many responsibilities and opportunities, I realized that I need to grab hold of the two things I want to focus on most and let everything else go. So, at this juncture, I am choosing family and my small business (which includes getting back to blogging!). Every commitment for the time being will have to relate to those priorities. Of course, I will work on myself too, but I am using this 50/50 rule to help reduce the feelings of overcommitment and stress in my life.

After breakfast this morning, I read a blog post from my feedly account called “How to Give People a Watered Down, Exhausted Version of Yourself” from yes and yes. Wow, how that post was the right message at the right time! Here’s an excerpt:

Being exhausted and overwhelmed serves no one. It’s better to be great at two things than shitty at seven. You deserve to actually enjoy your job and relationships; they deserve the best you have to offer.

Are you guilty of taking on too much and then doing a less-than-amazing job on all of it? Where could you cut back? If you’ve stopped overdoing it – what did you stop doing?

So, there you have it. The universe is telling me to stick to those two things that are calling me at this very moment. I’ll keep you posted on my progress in giving those things the best I have to offer.

One Year Here

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Today (or tomorrow, depending on how to look at it), we celebrate one year in our forever home (I hope). What a year it’s been! Full of decorating and now redecorating, establishing new traditions, and living everyday life.

In April 2014 we were excited and overwhelmed. We doubled our square feet, bought a house that was built in 1928, and found a neighborhood that is absolutely amazing for raising children.

This April, we feel settled and comforted by the fact that we’ve found our family home. It has been a joy to see the seasons change in our house, and we look forward to enjoying the second round of each season. This year’s spring will be much more productive in terms of yard work, which I am eager to get to (if only it would warm up!).

What better way to commemorate the year by receiving a book chronicling our move today?

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And to show this house that we’re going to keep on keeping on, we finished our work on the powder room last weekend, thanks to a super handy friend.

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(Here’s a before of that lovely room when we bought the house!)

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It’s been a great year, friends!

Sunshine

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There’s nothing like a clear, sunny, 70-degree day without plans. I sit here basking in our first truly beautiful day of 2015, watching the kids play in the backyard. Nora pushes the Sit and Stand stroller, pretending to mother her brother. Carson plays along–until he’s had enough and then finds a stick to use for his ninja moves.

I see buds on the trees. Irises poke out of the soil in our front yard. Spring is here, at last.

School reopens tomorrow after a weeklong spring break. How I’ve loved this time to go on adventures with my little ones. We’ve logged some miles in the car, stayed up past our bedtimes, and eaten a lot of Easter candy.

These days are good.

Onward & Upward

March has been a whirlwind for me. I’ve been slammed with paid projects. Don’t get me wrong, I love freelance work and am really enthused about building my business, but when three huge deadlines pile up on top of one another, anyone would break out in hives! Thankfully, my hubby and mother both rescued me and provided much-needed child care to help me meet my deadlines.

And let me reiterate, I am so excited to be growing my editing/writing business. So much so, in fact, that I am having difficulty falling asleep at night!

I’ve been noticing a new energy in our house lately, and while I usually feel so on top of the shifts that occur with my family, something a bit indescribable hit me like a ton of bricks this weekend.

There’s a change in the air around here. My kids are different, and I am different too. I am reticent to opine too much about these thoughts and feelings, but I am pretty jazzed. Happy to see my kids get older and more interested in new things. Joyous to be able to challenge myself in new aspects of life.

I’ve got lots of ideas in the works right now — house projects, summer vacations, business ventures. If there’s time, I’ll document them here. If not, I am getting more and more comfortable with walking away from this blog. Though it’s been a big part of my life for so long, I accept that sometimes you know when it’s time to move onward and upward.

Only time will tell about this virtual corner.

Happy spring!

Early Taste of Spring

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How does one prepare for spring when the ground is covered in snow and the temperatures are not even flirting with the freezing mark? Well, if you are in Philadelphia, you travel to the Flower Show for an instant pick-me-up!

This more than hundred-year tradition is one of the best-timed events. In our area, the seasons stick to the calendar for the most part. This means that it snows in March (still winter) and is blazing hot in September (still summer). As much as we’re ready to move into the next season during these transitional months, Mother Nature insists we wait it out until those equinoxes arrive!

This year’s Flower Show focused on the movies, which was a perfect them for a four-year-old and a two-and-a-half-year-old. We enjoyed the beautiful displays while trying to guess the movies.

Here are some of the highlights:

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What magnificent floral displays!

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Themed after Cinderella’s wedding.

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Here’s Elsa’s castle.

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From Ratatouille. (Love the tomatoes in the floral basket!)

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Peter Pan.

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An Up doghouse.

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Winnie-the-Pooh, of course!

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Merida’s archery skills displayed.

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And some other beautiful displays!

Winter Wonderland in March

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Well, Mother Nature kept her mightiest snowstorm for the Philadelphia area for March. The dumping we received yesterday followed an entire week of ice and snow events. It’s hard to believe that spring is just a few weeks away!

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Aside from my parents’ travel plans being derailed, we’re embracing these winter temperatures as best we can and are trying to have a little staycation this weekend in hopes that it will keep our children happy.

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And I guess I needed a little March snow to motivate me to sew a project for the kids. Thanks to some cute fabric from JoAnn and the One-Yard Wonders pattern for preschooler-sized messenger bags, the kids and I completed a sewing project in just one icy/sleety/snowy afternoon.

A New Day

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Last night’s sunset marked the end of a long, agonizing month for us. Steve’s work schedule and lots of illness dominated January, and I am so eager to start fresh now that it’s February.

This cold winter day feels rather warm. With the end of the football season, our lives return to normal. We’ll have weekends and evenings back together. We can take a little vacation or two. What a relief!

Even though it was painful at times, January was an essential month for me. I had a lot of time to think, to read, to plan. I read Wicked, The Little Way of Ruthie Lemming, and Still Life with Breadcrumbs. I networked with a lot of former colleagues and new associates. I trekked to the pharmacy often. I let the dark evenings shepherd me to bed a little bit earlier. I rested. I wrestled with my stay-at-home-mom plan. I embraced the dark, cold, and slow month.

No matter what the groundhog says tomorrow, this is the end of our winter in many ways. For the next six months, we have flexibility and normalcy. Thank goodness!

Bottling Up This Week

This week my kids have been adorable, fun, adventurous, and a little bit snotty — but that’s thanks to a lingering cold. These are the moments I want to bottle up and savor forever.

Carson Is Batman

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This boy loves his Batman costume from Halloween. With the cape attached, of course! He prefers this costume with the “seat belt” rather than the Batman shirt with the Caped Crusader’s mug on it. (Why would he need a picture of Batman on a shirt when he himself is Batman?) Yesterday he pointed out to me that he does not have a Spiderman shirt. Is that a hint that he’s open to being another superhero?

Or Is Carson a Cat?

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At a birthday party this weekend, Carson requested I tape a pipe cleaner to his rear end so he could fully embody the cat theme. With his ears and tail, he made quite an adorable feline.

Nora Upside Down

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This girl loves her gymnastics class at the YMCA. I couldn’t believe how the kids tried headstands the other day. It really brought me back to my own childhood. Tumbling is such fun when you are miniature-sized. Thank goodness we have a carpeted attic for forward roll practice!

Nora the Adventurous

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This girl has grown out of toddler and preschooler food selectivity, and I am so grateful. At an event this weekend, she ate three different kids of chili, surprising herself by how much she liked the flavors. She helped herself to quite a few chocolate desserts that night too. Gone are her food-snubbing days. Such an awesome development!

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The fun will continue tomorrow, with a foot of snow projected in our area. Looking forward to making snow memories in our new house. We’re lucky to have sledding right out our front door.

January Scrapbooking Mission

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Lest you think all I do is brood about my existence, I am back to show you that I actually do things around the house. One of my big “tackle this already” projects for January has been to sort through the pile of kid artwork underneath the desk in my office. At our house, we display preschool projects for a few weeks on the fridge, and then I remove them, toss them in a box, and vow to sort through them at some point, usually a couple of times a year. A majority of the artwork ends up in the great big bulletin board in the sky. The most treasured pieces get displayed in scrapbooks I compile for the kids.

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Updating these scrapbooks takes some time, mainly because the sorting process agonizes me. I hate to toss things my kids created. However, as a pragmatist and nonhoarder, I know that it’s essential to cull through the giant stack of projects and keep only a few. I tend to save projects that involve kid hands and feet, show great enthusiasm with lots of embellishment and detail, and display developmental skills. I updated Nora’s scrapbook with her first drawings of people and faces. Carson’s scrapbook includes some of his first preschool projects.

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In addition to the project pages, these scrapbooks include progress reports from school, class pictures, professional portraits, and birthday party momentos. I hope the kids can see their development over the years and enjoy flipping the pages of the books throughout their lives. Though it’s sometimes arduous to keep up family memory collecting, I consider it one of my household responsibilities.

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