Wednesday, August 08, 2007

If this is a dream, please, don't wake me up

Ok, so as a family we have reached a major turning point in our lives. I am a stay at home mom who cherishes her job every single day. I love being with my kids, taking care of the house and being able to take some of the day to day stressors off of Mark's back. I love that he can come home and not have to worry about dirty laundry, yardwork, etc. He works his patootie off all day and I am so incredibly grateful to have a husband that is dedicated to his work and supporting his family. I really feel that we are some of the happiest most fortunate people in this world. So, back to the turning point. Alex starts kindergarten in just three itsy bitsy weeks. My job as a stay at home mom is nearing it's end and naturally, my role must change. It's heartwrenching enough watching the best job I've ever had, and the best years of my life slowly slip away. Add the emotions of watching my favorite little boy take his first steps away from his momma's nest, knowing that never again will we have that precious, precious time together. And you get one very distraught momma.

Mark and I have been full time working parents. Before Alex was born, that's just what we had to do to get by. There was no question, there was no other option. And that's just reality for most families. What's also reality is that it sucks. Coming home after a 30+ minute drive in traffic with an interstate full of people with lousy attitudes who are tired and just want to get home before dinner is just a small piece of the nightmare. And what are we all rushing home to do? To pick up the kiddos from the child holding tank and get home in time to throw some sort of mostly nutritcious dinner on the table. It's hurry this, hurry that, brush your teeth, oh wait there's homework, and throw in some laundry because Ashley has to wear her school shirt tomorrow, clean up the dinner mess, and there's soccer practice, and kids that want to play with thier friends, and when it's all said and done you've spent all of 2 and a half MAYBE 3 hours of chaotic time with your precious family ALL DAY.

BUT, we say...there's always the weekends, right.

Well yes, there are the weekends, but what do we REALLY do on the weekends? We bust our a$$es to get the laundry done, and we get the house, and yard picked up so that we might not go completely insane the following week from looking at all the things we WISH we could get done. And you know a messy house does nothing but create tension. But, we also would like some "me" time, because afterall, all we've done all week is take care of everyone but ourselves. Spending extra time with your spouse and children sounds ideal, but in reality you just want to do what you want to do. You end up doing one of two things: You take the small chunck of time for yourself and only partially enjoy yourself because you have this looming cloud of guilt hanging over your head for not doing what you know is right, which is spending time with your family. Or, you: Spend your small chunk of spare time with the family, with your less than par attitude because you are once again feeling like you're living your life for everyone BUT yourself. Unless of course you have a dream job in which you are completely fulfilled at and actually enjoy most of the time.

Ok, so there are some days that aren't as stressful as this, but from my own experience, having been on both the parental and the childs side, this really is the reality of it MOST of the time. And while a lot of people do this because they have no choice, what breaks my heart is that there are so many of us who think they're working to survive, but really they're working to pay their fancy SUV car payment, and to have that big "mines bigger than yours" TV that they don't get to enjoy nearly enough because there is no "spare" time. Instead it serves a new purpose, it keeps the children entertained while the parents play catch up, or have some of that much needed time to themselves. And it doesn't end there, we're also working to afford a house big enough so that everyone can have their "own space". And don't get me wrong I like nice new pretty things, and nice new fancy cars too...but where do you draw the line?

These are all the things that have been going through my mind lately and quite frankly I'd rather pull out my fingernails with needlenose pliers than go back to that. And strangely enough, I actually LIKE the work I would be doing if I went back to full time. However, I do like my sanity, and seeing my family happy far more. So, after a LOT of thinking, and planning and looking and talking Mark and I have agreed that working full time is out of the question. Yay! That's a big step in itself. So, how do you find a job where you can work part/part time, have school holidays off, do what you like, close to home and make decent money? (Well if that isn't the question of every stay at home mom I'd be surprised) You keep your connections and don't burn bridges. Ha! To be perfectly honest I didn't do either of those things, (and I'll have to save that story for another post) but somehow it has all worked out. You get really lucky, that's what you do. Ironically enough this job opportunity defies all of that...this dream is coming to fruition. And all I had to do was ask.

So, my new job is 7 minutes from home, I will work four hours a day and have all the school holidays off, better yet, I will be doing work that I enjoy. I can drop the kiddos off, pick them up, help them with homework and even have a small chunk of time each morning to either volunteer up at their schools, get in a workout, or keep up with the housework. I am so, so thankful to my employer for being so open to my demands, and to my husband for allowing me to do what I want to do...and for putting up with all of my crazy ideas. I finally feel like I can relax and not worry about what the future holds, because I know that no matter what becomes of this, everything WILL be ok, because between Mark and I we always seem to find a way to make things fall in to place.

And because I'm a total sap, and this guy is so talented...

Monday, August 06, 2007

Florence, Alabama

I swear, someday I will actually post about something more than vacations, but for now, it's summer, and that's what we'll do. When school starts in just a few short weeks, I imagine my posting will be a tad less sporadic.

So, Alabama. What a trip!!!! It's been over 5 years since Mark's mom has had the pleasure of having all three of her boys together in one place, and that alone was reason enough for making the 13 hour drive to Alabama with our three dogs and two kiddos. Her 60th birthday was the 29th, which made it just that much more special, I'm sure. I could easily make our drive sound painful and exhausting, but I'd be lying. It was actually an incredibly relaxing, uneventful day. Aside from the occasional unidentified debilitating stinch that made it's way to the front of the van, we never even noticed the 200-ish pound load of animals we were carrying. All three of them are such good travelers, in fact, they are much more well behaved than other two animals we call children.

We spent the week doing all of the fun stuff we normally do, like sitting on the porch swing with Mamaw and chatting about hummingbirds, ducks and the like....

And we certainly did a lot of riding around with Papa Jack on the Gator...gotta make sure we check those fences ya know I'm pretty sure that's what we're supposed to do out in country...

And after dark, that's when the crazies came out. Oh wait, that's just uncle Frank and Aunt Nicola. But seriously, these have got to be the luckiest kids EVER. Their uncle Frank and aunt Nicola have to be two of the sweetest, most patient, fun loving people around. They always make time run off with the kids and almost always come back laughing. In fact after this picture was taken I couldn't help but smile when I heard them a few acres over laughing at god only knows what. I am so, so thankful that they were able to make the trip, and I know the kids are too.

I mean come on, is this not the coolest uncle EVER.

Or is this is the coolest uncle ever? Steve made such a big impression on Alex (and me) this past week. He took the kids fishing and actually took the time to teach them all the little things that only an amazingly patient uncle would. It was adorable to see Alex look up to his uncle Steve and just take it all in. He taught him a lot about safety (Mr. Game Warden coming out here) and even gave up a few of his catch for Alex and Ash to reel in. I was touched by his efforts to include the kids.
Just about every night we made our way down to the pond to fish and just sit by the pond and have a little fun. The kids looked forward to this each night, as did the adults. Uncle Steve gave Alex his official Native American name, Pants on Fire which suited him quite will during those nights by the pond. This is uncle Steve showing Alex how to hold a fish...he even gave him the whole schpeel on how to kneel down and pose. I think the look on Alex's face pretty much sums it all up. Now that is priceless.

The day after we arrived was Grannie Frannie's 60th Birthday. Before we took her out to dinner the boys gave her the gift that they'd been working on for the past few weeks. They started by letting her open up the wall mount to kinda leave her hanging a bit, and then they led her to the garage where her new plasma wide screen was. I'm not sure how I managed to do this, but of the almost 2,000 pictures I took this past week, I did not get a single one of the new TV! What I did get were these pictures, which really say it all. Fran makes giving gifts such an amazing experience.

"You DIDN'T!" teehee And notice Mamaw's face in the background. Too cute!

While we were there we did a little hiking in several different places. We walked a bird watching trail where we found an amazing waterfall. We walked an old railroad bridge that is now non functional, a great spot for photos. And one night Frank and I went out and took some night photos. That was a lot of fun, and my first experience with night photography. It was pretty cool having someone around that understood my passion for taking pictures.

I have sooo much to do, and so little time I'm going to have to cut this short. The kids are gone for the week and I have way too much that I want to accomplish while they're gone. I will up date with more photos later.