Happy Father’s Day

Happy Father’s Day Scott from Juliana, Ruslan, and Wyatt! The letters aren’t getting any smaller so the children must be getting bigger again. {DAD Series 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014} They are better at standing still and staying in the same space, maybe next year is the year that the stand still and smile.

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The Perfect Addition

From the first moment I saw this house 4 years ago, I loved almost everything about it. The rest was cosmetic and we have been slowly working on changes. There were 3 large panels with Chinese drawings separating the front entrance from the living room. It makes sense to have a division between the two areas, but I hated these panels.

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We discussed several options over the years but I really didn’t want to build a replacement wall or even a half-wall. Then I saw a picture of an upstairs hallway where they had replaced the wall between the stairs and the hallway with a built-in bookcase – it served as a divider and it was functional – and I started to come up with a plan.

We agreed to a general concept of what we wanted and then called a few cabinet makers for quotes. After a few consultations we finalized the design – closed storage for backpacks, jackets and other kid stuff on the entrance side and open bookshelves on the living room side. It would be a large piece of furniture, solid wood stained to match the living room floors.

A few weeks ago we took down the ugly panels.

The next morning the kids were so excited that they could run all the way across the front of the house and there was nothing blocking their path. Later that day the cabinet pieces were delivered and installed. It’s so pretty and it feels like it belongs. From that first day it was installed, it has fit right into that spot and seems like it has always been there.

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The kids were ecstatic when they came home from school. They quickly assigned “lockers” to themselves and put their school shoes, jackets and backpacks away. Then they picked up their other shoes and put those away. They were so happy to have their own space for their belongings.

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The novelty has not work off. We always know where their school shoes are and the backpacks are no longer a tripping hazard in the entry hallway. Wyatt keeps the basics in his locker; Juliana’s is full of extra books, school papers and the latest play she is writing; and Ruslan keeps his treasures there – his is the most organized.

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I could not be happier with this new addition. Now let’s hope that the next set of custom cabinets are just as successful.

The Love of Math is Serious

All three kids love math. The boys have enjoyed numbers and counting for as long as they could talk. Ruslan used to come home from school counting which he had been doing since he left school. The boys quiz each other on math problems and love math assignments at school – they are fun. Juliana continues to love math and science and excel at both in school.

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While waiting in line or sitting in a restaurant or riding in the car, they will request that we play the number game. One person selects a number under 100 and the rest of us ask questions to guess the number – is it higher than 10, is it lower than 50, etc. Scott and I get tired of this game long before they do. This game is currently Wyatt’s favorite.

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Homework with Ruslan had become a challenge and I got tired of dealing with 30 minutes of drama for a 3-minute assignment. Finally I talked to his teacher and she created an award chart. We decided that he would be able to choose a reward when his chart was full. It took months for him to fill the chart and homework time was never easy. When the chart was almost full he told me that he had selected his prize – he wanted to do First Grade math.

We sent the completed chart to school with his completed May homework. Last week he redeemed his award and spent several hours in First Grade including math. He was so excited!

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The end of year paperwork has been coming home everyday. Projects, field trip permission slips, event schedules, etc. One of the notes was about summer math journals – weekly math assignments for the summer – completely optional. I filled out the form for each child and tucked the papers in their binders to return to school.

The next morning I was in the kitchen and I heard Juliana scream and yell – Thank You Mommy, Thank You so Much!! I couldn’t figure out why she was so excited at such an early hour and then she added – Thank You for letting me get a summer math journal! I can’t understand why anyone would be that happy to have math assignments for the summer, but I’m certainly not going to argue about it.

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Don’t worry we will spend most of the summer having fun!

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The Year That I Forgot How Old I Was and We Ended Up With Twins

It was a few days before my birthday in May 2008 and Scott and I had the following conversation.

J: I can’t believe I am turning 35 this weekend.
S: What?!?
J: Yeah, 35 is so old.
S: Are you kidding? You are already 35.
J: No, I am 34…wait I am 35. Oh no.

I had been procrastinating and I had given myself a deadline of my birthday to make a decision – were we going to have another child?

I think that most people assumed that we were always planning to have more children after Juliana, but that wasn’t the case. I wasn’t young when Juliana was born and I hated being pregnant. Juliana was such a good baby and toddler, but children are a lot of work. I loved being Juliana’s mom and maybe our family of three was enough.

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My birthday deadline had arrived and brought with it the news that I was a year older than I thought I was so the decision was even more urgent in my mind. The “advanced maternal age” line had passed a year before and time was not on my side.

So after thinking about it for a few weeks, I told Scott that I wanted to have another child. And while I was still getting used to the idea, I was quickly pregnant. Morning sickness had already hit when I went to the Dr for my 5-week confirmation appointment and one of the first things I said was, “At the top of my chart I want you to write the following: Repeat C-section and tubal ligation. Because we are only having two children.”

Three weeks later we found out that I was pregnant with twins and I spent the rest of my pregnancy getting used to the idea and then they were suddenly here. Life on my birthday in 2009 was very different than the previous year.

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Life happens fast – those babies are almost done with Kindergarten and my little girl is going to be as tall as me before I know it.

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Work, Life and Trying Not to Fall Over

Last fall I started the planning process for a new project. A steering team was assembled and a kick-off meeting was scheduled for the first week of December. The team spent 3 days with consultants and we left with a long list of requirements for the new project. We continued streamlining the project plan and prepared a timeline to complete the project by July first and presented it to management and that’s when the plan changed…drastically. The week before Christmas, we reshuffled the requirements, agreed to new priorities and accepted a project deadline cut by 60 days. Suddenly this project was dubbed a high priority for the company and needed to be done faster than was reasonably possible.

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I spent the first week of January in a conference room with consultants finalizing project requirements and writing specifications.

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My new boss started the second week of January. For the first time in over five years my direct supervisor is in the same city as me.

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My new work schedule started the third week of January. After 10 years of working in a home office, I was suddenly required to start working at the office. Fortunately I was able to transition to part time in the office and continue to work from home several days each week as well but it has still been a huge adjustment.

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Summary: Over a one month time period I ended up managing a highly visible project where the project timeline was cut from six months to four months with no change in scope, I got a new boss and my work schedule changed to involve a one-hour commute each way several days a week.

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The children did not respond well to the change, the boys would immediately start crying if they woke up and saw that I was dressed up for the office. My office hours were long. Over the first few months of the year, the boys were ready for bed when I walked in the door after work. I would tuck them in, change my clothes, and soon be back at my computer to keep working.

After the first month on the new schedule, I decided that I needed to go into the office later in the morning. Instead of leaving the house by 6:30, I changed my morning so that I get the kids up and dressed before I leave the house and I try to leave by 7:00 instead. That seems to have helped the morning routine so that the children see me each morning before school. They still aren’t happy that I am leaving because they know that I won’t be home when they get home from school.

The second half of February and March and April were a blur. I worked a good chunk of every weekend and until midnight many nights during the week. I knew things were bad when I was excited about nights that would include 6 hours of sleep.

The months of long hours paid off and my project launched on time and was considered a success. Juliana knew about my deadline and the next morning she asked if I would be able to work at home all the time again since the big project was over – sadly no – it’s interesting that she combined them into one event.

Since the second week of May I have been scaling back to more reasonable hours. I am no longer staying at the office until 6:30/7:00 and when I come home I am not working in the evenings. Weekends have been returned to family time and eventually I will catch up on all of the neglected home projects.

Since the project ended, we have filled our weekends with fun! The first of many trips to Kennywood for the summer.

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Several Pirates games.

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Breakfast at school for Mother’s Day.

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Planting flowers together.

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Over the next few weeks there will be field trips and Kindergarten graduation and the start of the summer schedule which will mean more adjustments and we will squeeze in as much family fun as possible.

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Weeknight Birthday Parties are My New Favorite Thing

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The boys sixth birthday party was at Chuck E Cheese on a Tuesday night. Why a Tuesday night? 1 – The boys could not agree on a location for their birthday – they declined every idea that I provided and couldn’t come up with anything that they really wanted. 2 – By the time . . . → Read More: Weeknight Birthday Parties are My New Favorite Thing

Dramatic and Inventive

There are always a few gems in the stack of Mother’s Day projects. This list from Juliana is one of my favorites.

It is titled “I Am Poem” and it covers a range of emotions.

I hear Butterfly’s Wings Flap and I touch The Sun’s Beams and I see the future.

I wonder how . . . → Read More: Dramatic and Inventive

How Do You Do It Mom

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I was unloading the dishwasher Saturday afternon and Juliana was sitting at the kitchen table eating a snack. She looked up and said, “How do you do it Mom?” How do I do what I replied. “How are you such a good mom? You always give us what we need without asking. You always . . . → Read More: How Do You Do It Mom

Growing Theater

Juliana had a minor virus the third week of third grade and missed two days of school. Open house fell on one of those nights so she wasn’t with us when her teacher told me that Juliana would be missing the introduction to Growing Theater. He said that this program was practically made for . . . → Read More: Growing Theater

6.0 Times Two

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I could sit and listen to the two of them talk for hours. They go from idle chatter to fighting to laughing to arguing to happily playing together. There are injuries and hurt feelings every day, but most of all they love each other and would rather be together than apart. These two boys . . . → Read More: 6.0 Times Two