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Back-to-school

Disclosure: This back-to-school post was sponsored by Target but my love of all things Target are all my own.

Today, I got the email that our school supply list is ready and waiting. How can it be that it’s almost time for back-to-school already? It’s already time to hit Target with my school supply list in hand and start my annual “crazed mom on a mission” scavenger hunt for just the right supplies.

As a child, back-to-school was a favorite time of year for me. I loved the smell of new folders; the chance to shine my personality through with a new Unicorn Trapper Keeper and, of course, back-to-school clothes shopping was my favorite thing to do.

But as a parent, it’s a little different. Every August, I know it’s time to let go just a little bit more. With each passing new beginning, I am painfully aware that I have one less school year with my child. I’m sad about the letting go but so proud of their achievements so I try to make every back-to-school special.

My daughters see things completely different, they are ecstatic about the chance to see their friends again and, even though they won’t admit it, we all look forward to the return of our routine. The new school year is also a chance to reinvent themselves, as far as style and personality are concerned. There’s just one small problem – my girls wear uniforms. But we never let something like school uniform restrictions stop us from letting our personality shine through.

My girls have to wear school-mandated pants, shorts, polos and skirts or jumpers. There is no wiggle room here. This is an absolute. Even a rogue button or pocket is a violation of dress code and can warrant disciplinary actions, so we stay within the uniform guidelines but when it comes to socks, shoes, belts, jewelry, hair baubles, coats and school supplies, that is where the girls can pick what they want. My girls live for shopping for these pieces.

Lucky for us, Target sells uniform pieces and when it comes to accessorizing and dressing up lockers and school supplies, they’ve got that covered too. Talk about one-stop shopping.

While my oldest is excited about shopping for socks, shoes, belts, jewelry, hair baubles and coats to let her real style shine through. She also can’t wait to find the perfect outfit for the first dress down day of the year because it lets everyone know what her “real” style is and when you wear uniforms every day of the year, this is a really big deal.

My youngest, however, is really excited about the Frozen licensed products available this year. Target has Frozen pencils, composition books, notebooks, folders, backpacks and lunch bags. They also have a great selection of Star Wars, Avengers and Minions products for this year’s back-to-school. If you have to buy school supplies anyways, why not get your favorite characters to make it a little more fun?

A few friendly tips that have helped my family get through back-to-school shopping and actually enjoy it:

Start shopping as soon as the school supply list becomes available if you don’t want to end up frustrated with all the masses that waited until the last minute. Been there, done that. Not doing it again.

Go early in the day so the kids are not tired, cranky or wanting to be someplace else.

Feed everyone before you start shopping. Hangry and shopping do not pair well together.

Go with an open heart and mind and let your child allow their personality to shine through. It might just be socks or a folder to you but to your child, it might mean everything.

Enjoy every second of it because it all goes by too quickly. Take the chance to make it a day of bonding with your children. We make a day of it with our girls.

Target always makes it easy for our family to head back to school. This is why Target is my first choice for shopping for all the things my family needs. This year won’t be any different.

How are you preparing for back-to-school this year?

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Back-to-school, first day of school, kids growing up, letting go

Back-to-school school is upon us.

Yesterday morning, I took my girls back-to-school. I know that I should be rejoicing. I thought I might be. This summer has been very busy and trying but instead, I was sad. Sad that another summer is gone and there are so few left before they go off to college. When they are babies and toddlers, each day feels like 72 hours but these years now pass more quickly than I prefer.

The girls are growing up so fast. They are no longer the two little mop top toddlers who I chased with a brush while putting pigtails into their hair. They no longer mismatch their clothes or put shoes on wrong feet. No they are up before me every morning, dressed and waiting for me to curl or straighten their hair while they change earrings and strategically place rainbow loom bracelets up their arms. Suddenly, there are lockers and acceptable and unacceptable types of belts and socks.

They both got back-to-school haircuts and all I can think is where did my children go? I am so proud of the young ladies they are becoming but pump the brakes. I’m still the mom of single digit children, for one more year anyways. I can’t believe I’ve been a mom for almost a decade already. I really am trying to be “cool” and give them space to spread their budding wings but they are still my baby birds and when I see panic, pain or fear it’s my instinct to swoop in and make it all better.

The girls are now 9 and 7, so we don’t have to worry about the dreaded first day of preschool and kindergarten. Those days nearly broke my mommy heart in half. Again this morning, moms were dropping like flies in the kindergarten corridor; collapsing into pools of snot and tears just outside of the doorways. I kept a stiff upper lip and pushed their limp bodies aside as I took my girls to the more “dignified” end of the hallway to second grade. Not really, by second grade we’ve just learned to wear huge sunglasses and wait until we are safely back in the car before we have our breakdown.

Back-to-school, first day of school, kids growing up, letting go

My 4th grader, while she still wants me to walk her to class, under the guise of being her Clorox wipe and paper towel pack mule, gives me a hug and dismisses me in front of everyone. She has always been the stiff upper lip kid, since preschool. She’ll get watery eyes and a bit of a lip quiver and then she will give me that hug, you know the one that needs to last both of us the entire day, and then she will send me off. Even if she wants to run off after me crying for me to take her home, she will not make waves. She will make do. She gets that from me. It’s awesome, except for when I wish she’d just let go and not stiff upper lip it. I want her to know that she doesn’t always have to be the stoic one and that’s what I am here for; her safe place to land, to carry her when she is too weary to walk and to always, always hold her hand.

 

My 2nd grader however, well, she is a rage against the night, do not go gently, make waves, cry and freak out type. She knows how to make a mama feel needed but she is also my high maintenance, squeaky wheel. This morning, she tried a bit of stiff upper lip on for size. I don’t think it suited her because just before I walked her into her class, she said, “ Mama, my stomach hurts.” This is her go to ailment whenever she is afraid or nervous. While I was unloading her supplies (pack mule) I asked the teacher where to put the supplies. When he answered that the kids were supposed to read the board and follow the directions, I saw the panic and freak strike the heart of my youngest baby bird. She reads but she’s not a “great” reader yet and there were a lot of unrecognizable words on that board so I explained the instructions to her and helped her to put her little heart at ease. I could see that she wanted to cry but instead she unsurely said, “Okay, mommy.”

 

It was time to leave. I could feel her willing me to stay. I could feel my heart being tugged back in her direction. I hugged her and she reciprocated tightly. I assured her that she would be fine and that it was going to be an awesome first day; all while willing those damn watery eyes of my own to stay behind the sunglasses and not reveal themselves to my girl. She gave me a big kiss and whispered, “Mommy, I’m scared!” I looked her in the eye and told her that there was nothing to be afraid of and that I was only a phone call away and more importantly, that I loved her. That seemed to put her at ease and then I left, as she stared a hole into the back of my head; turning back to catch one last unsure smile.  Then I walked out of the room.

 

2 minutes later, I walked back to the doorway to see if she was okay. She was sharpening pencils when she caught a glimpse of me. She ran to me and gave me a kiss and told me she loved me. This time much more enthusiastically. I told her, “See, if you need me, I’m only a phone call away!” And she smiled and dismissed me.

 

I left my second grader in her new class and before I even left the school building, my heart was heavy with all the feelings; the missing, the growing up and the letting go. I freaking hate the letting go.

 

Apparently, back-to-school never gets easier but does the letting go?

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back-to-school, first day, third grade, letting go, growing up

back-to-school, first day of school, letting go,motherhoodThis year, I was prepared to not be the crying pool of snot that I once was, have been, for the past 5 years on the first day of school. Sure, I was prepared to miss my children but what I was not prepared for was to not be missed.

Every year, I get my girls up, we have a special back-to-school breakfast and then I get them dressed in preparation for our 1st day of school annual photo shoot. They endure it. I love it and one day, they will thank me for documenting their childhood so they can share it with their own children. I am not a crazy, mamarazzi, I am performing a public service. Damn it!

Anyways, after the photo shoot we drove to school; 30 minutes early, in preparation for all the crying and don’t go’s (them not me)(well, maybe me a little bit) because, that is how it has always been since kindergarten. That’s the way it is always suppose to be. Moms leave their kids, moms cry, kids cry and then at 3 pm it’s lovapalooza. It rocks but not today. Today, maturity kicked me square in my mommy gut and told tradition to go suck an egg!

The girls were both nervous walking into school, squabbling whose class we would go to first. Obviously, I was dropping off the 3rd grader first because 1) she’s not the one who might throw a tantrum and cry when I try to leave 2) she’s the one who will actually get demerits for being late.

So, me and my 2 girls dressed in their brand spanking new plaid uniforms and sporting the fanciest headbands they could find, because that is the only place they can show any kind of fashion sense whatsoever walk down this new and unknown corridor. Up until now she had been in the same corridor as her little sister. Bravely, we find her classroom. I can feel myself tensing up. I do this every year because like childbirth, I just don’t know how bad the letting go is going to hurt each time.

back-to-school, letting go,motherhood, first day of school

“Here, we are!” I say.

“Great….” She mumbles, her long silky blonde hair falling gracefully into her eyes, as if she is trying to hide from the rest of the class.

We introduce ourselves to the teacher, who I must say was either a bit flushed or put her blush on in the dark because it was looking a bit Mimi-esque. Never mind, I avert my eyes to stop from staring. The same can’t be said for my 6-year-old whispering beneath her breath, “Mom, what’s wrong with Bella’s teacher’s face?”

“Shhhhhh,” I hush her.

Then I notice the entire class is watching and NO.Other.Parents.Are.There!!

FUCK! I can’t be the mom who embarrasses her 3rd grader but, FUCK! I haven’t gotten my goodbye kiss. Someone’s going to have to suck it up. So, I go in for the goodbye kiss and I say bye one last time as my 3rd grader wills me away with her glare. Now, I’ve never had the misfortune of experiencing my child letting go of my hand and running off on the first day but now I know how that must hurt. It appears that this love that my 3rd grader and I share, is now strictly on the down low; never again to see the light of day on school grounds. My eyes misted up and I sauntered off to the K-2 corridor that I’ve made my home for the past 3 years.

These are my people; the weeping mothers of Kindergarteners martyring themselves to release their grip on babyhood and children who appreciate a mom who covers them in kisses and hugs. I love this hallway. This is where I belong.

motherhood, first day of school

My sweet little first grader holds onto my hand for dear life. God, I love that kid. My ego needed that. I walk her into class. I can see the trepidation building in her eyes and I can feel it in her grip on my now turning purple hand.

“Here, we are!” I say.

“Mommy, please stay here!” she whispers.

“I’ll stay for a little while.” And I do but eventually after sweaters are hung, backpacks and gym shoes put away and I’ve settled her at her desk, given her 2000 hugs and kisses and taken as many photos, I give her one last kiss and squeeze and I tell her that I love her and to have a good day. My eyes are filling up, I can feel them burning.

back-to-school, first day of school

“Mommy, don’t go,” she whispers.

I choke out, “I’ll be back in a little bit to pick you up. I love you!”

And she jumps up and wraps her tiny little hands around my neck and hugs me one last hug; the kind of hug that can get a mommy through 7 hours without her children. I reciprocate. We are reassuring one another as much as we are ourselves. Then she sits down and yells after me as I am walking away feeling empty.

“Don’t forget to buy me some good snacks for tomorrow!”

With that, she lets me go and my heart is good. We’ll both be okay.  As I walk away down the hall, past all the weeping mothers of corridor K-2 crumpled in the floor in pools of their own tears and snot, I smile because I’ve got one more year of this corridor and all the hugs and kisses I can ever want and I can cry if I want to. I also know that next time I walk them in we’re going to this hallway first, so I can kiss and hug my girls goodbye properly without the judging eyes of the entire third grade.

Now, I wait til 3 pm for loveapalooza!

back-to-school, first day of school, letting go, growing up, third grade

How was your first day of school? Was the letting go hard or did your child dismiss you?

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back-to-school, school, kids growing up

back-to-school, school, kindergartenIt’s back-to-school already! My girls start back to school in a couple days and I am decidedly simultaneously ecstatic and sad about back-to-school. Last year, my baby entered kindergarten and while trepedatious I was completely ecstatic to have the day to myself for the first time in 7 years. Then on the first day of school, I was promptly grief stricken. Alone. Crying because I was alone. What the hell was wrong with me? My baby was gaining independence at lightening speed and her childhood was a runaway train. Stop.that.train!

I should have been dancing around the house in my undies, playing air guitar and celebrating my hard earned freedom. Instead, I sat on my couch looking out the window sobbing at my computer, counting the minutes until my babies were back in my arms; the very place from which I was pushing them out the door that morning. The duplicitous of motherhood; it’s enough to make you crazy.

This year is different. I know they are both going to school. I know they both love it and I know their teachers. There is nothing scary about this year. Only the summer went by way too fast and now, I am regretting all the lost moments that I should have spent enjoying my children instead of swatting them away and shooing them into another room so that I could complete my work. It sucked. I sucked and I have the guilt to prove it.

This summer did serve one purpose though, it has taught me to appreciate the moments and to know that next summer, work will have to wait. My girls will always come first. You know the nature of my business is to be a mommy. I write about being a mom in all of it’s many facets. So, when I am doing a shitty job of it; being a mom, not writing about being a mom, it makes me feel like a fraud because in the end, I want to be great mom not a great writer writing about being a mom. So, this summer has taught me some things.  The most important being that childhood is fleeting and the older my girls get, the faster the summers go.

back-to-school, school, kids growing up

It’s like life is this crazy carnival ride we are on together and it just keeps speeding up. It goes by so fast some times that I feel like I just might get sick. Wasn’t it just year that my daughters were born? Wasn’t it just a few months ago that they learned to talk and walk and say “ I Love you”? Where did the time go?

My oldest is 8 and almost as tall as I am. She is becoming such a beautiful and amazing young lady; full of personality and wit. She’s thoughtful and caring and I see sincerity and loyalty in her eyes. Her thoughts and opinions are no longer something I told her, she is forming her own beliefs. I can still see the cherubesque little face I once held in my arms as she looked up at me like I was her everything but it is evolving into the woman she will someday be and it will be here before you know it.

My 6-year-old is funny, silly, beautiful and charming. Her passion and fierce convictions about life teeter on scaring me at times. She has been and will always be an ask permission later kind of child. She’s still small enough to cuddle up into my lap and she loves to cuddle with me at night. I should be forcing her to sleep in her bed alone but, my God, in no time she will not need or want me to cuddle her to sleep. So, I take it all in sucking every bit of marrow out of their childhood. I want to linger awhile and watch them sleep, listen to them speak and truly hear what they are saying.

School starts back on Wednesday and I am going to make today and tomorrow count because once these last days of summer vacation are gone, they are gone forever. Moments in life cannot be DVRed and rewound, they have to be lived while they are happening or they are lost forever.  Stop. This. Train. I want to get off.

back-to-school, school, kids growing up

What are you going to miss the most when your children go back to school?

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Got Milk?

by Deborah Cruz

shelf stable milk, tetra pak,milkunleashedIf you are a mom, you KNOW how much milk kids consume. My girls are little milkaholics but they come by it naturally, as I am too. We drink a lot of milk, at least 2 gallons a week between us 3 girls but I am limited on space in the refrigerator so that means when I run out I have to run to the store to buy more as space is available.

I was recently part of a virtual briefing session on shelf stable milk. Sounds like something your mom might have kept in her Y2K pantry or maybe someone from the 50’s might have kept in their bomb shelter and all of that might have been true but it is also a nutrient rich, great alternative to refrigerated milk. There is no difference in flavor. You just have to wrap your brain around a new way of storing your milk.

You might be wondering what the heck shelf stable milk is. It is exactly what it sounds like, it is milk that can be kept in your pantry and doesn’t need to take up valuable (and limited) real estate in your refrigerator. You may be using it and didn’t even realize that shelf stable was what it was. I’ve been using it since my girls started school in the form of Horizon’s Organic milk in individual packaging. My girls love the flavors they offer; Strawberry, Chocolate, Vanilla and plain white milk. It’s the same milk you get in your grocer’s refrigerated section; the only difference is the packaging.

shelf stable milk, tetra pak, milk unleashed

Shelf stable milk has been pasteurized at a higher temperature for a shorter amount of time to preserve taste and nutrition. Refrigerated milk is heated to 165 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-20 seconds then packaged in traditional cartons. Shelf stable milk is ultra pasteurized and heated to 280 degrees Fahrenheit for only 3 seconds, cooled quickly and then immediately packaged into a sterile Tetra Pak shelf-stable cartons that keep out light, air and harmful contaminants. Shelf stable milk can last up to 6 months unopened and unrefrigerated compared to traditional refrigerated milk, which usually expires in 3 weeks. This is awesome because you can stock up when it’s on sale.

It doesn’t taste any different than traditional milk. We are huge milk aficionados and take our milk pretty seriously in my house so I would tell you if it tasted weird. I do buy jugs of organic milk that I keep on hand in the refrigerator for everyday drinking but my pantry always has shelf stable milk in it for lunches, snack times and it also comes in handy if we run out of milk in the fridge. I simply pop the individual milks in the fridge the night before and pack it in my girls’ lunch boxes the next morning. I pack them cold but they can be drank at room temperature or over milk. My girls love it and so do I. My favorite thing aside from it being convenient is knowing that I am sending them something nutritious to drink with their lunches. It’s also great when traveling. I make PB & J sandwiches and put the milk in a cooler. It’s much healthier than stopping for fast food, more cost effective and more convenient.

Back-to-school is right around the corner (one week from today for us) and I think this is a great product to keep in mind for lunches for your little ones. They are easy to find; most stores carry shelf stable milk. You’ve probably just never looked for it and sometimes it is shelved in the refrigerated section. I know for a fact that Kroger carries it Organic Valley brand and quite frequently runs the individual packs for 10 for $10, so you can mix and match flavors. I also know that Wal-Mart carries the Organic Horizons brand.

Have you ever tried shelf stable milk? Would you use it for school lunches?shelf stable milk, tetra pak, milk unleashed

 

Disclaimer: This blog post is part of a paid Milk Unleashed blogging program. The opinions and ideas expressed here are all my own.

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Gordmans

Gordmans, like life, always has something unexpected. I’ve shopped TJMaxx and Marshalls forever, because, I will admit it, I love a good bargain. I love nice clothes but the reality is that I live on a budget but I don’t want to dress like I live on a tight budget and neither do my kids. I shop a lot of sales and clearance racks so I can get the style I want for the girls and me without breaking the bank.

I can’t believe it, school starts back in less than a month; 3 weeks to be exact. I’m partially freaking out because this summer has gone too fast and partially thrilled because I miss our routine but that also means, one of our favorite times of year is fast approaching, back-to-school shopping.

It’s not terribly difficult to get my girls excited about back-to-school shopping; they are girls who love to shop. I do too. The only problem is that when you have children and tuitions and activities, things get expensive and you need to watch your budget. My girls have great taste; unfortunately, great taste usually translates into high price tags but not always, not at Gordmans.

My girls know that if you have $200 to spend you can spend it one of two ways, you can buy 4 full-priced items from a department store or you can go to Gordmans and buy an entire back-to-school wardrobe for a child. Smart little fashionistas choose Gordmans. There is just something so satisfying about a seeing the tag and realizing that if you’d bought it elsewhere you might have paid $100 for something that you only spent $40 on at Gordmans.

I love Gordmans because the store is clean, well-organized and you can get great brands for less than what you would pay at a department store in the mall. Same quality, same name brands, but for a much lower price. As if a huge selection of brand name fashions at incredibly low prices is not enough to get you in the door; Gordmans also has some of the friendlier associates to help you find just what you’re looking for.

Another thing I love about Gordmans is the “Gordmans giggles” area which is a children’s theatre with fun, colorful seating where kids may view children’s programming on a large-screen tv while you shop for sizes and styles, you can still keep an eye on them and they are not bored out of their minds. Honestly, it is the little things in customer service that make all the difference.

Fear not, there is also a place for your guys. “Gordmans Grandstand” is a comfortable seating area in the men’s department where guests may view sports-oriented programming. We all know most men hate to shop for clothes, but what if you could shop sizes and styles while he got to watch the game? Just think you could get his immediate response to if he’ll wear that button up oxford without having to lug it home and back to the store. What a time saver!

My absolute favorite thing about Gordmans is their loyalty program, gRewards. The new gRewards loyalty program is a free and easy way for guests to shop, earn and redeem! This is not a credit card, but a way to earn points on purchases for future rewards!The gRewards program allows you to earn one point for every dollar you spend and receive a $10 reward for every 200 points you earn; you can earn points faster if you are a Gordmans credit card holder. The gRewards card also gives you a special birthday discount of an additional 10% off your entire purchase. It’s like free money just for doing what I already had to do anyways, shop back-to-school. Talk about something unexpected!

Simply by commenting on this post you can be entered to win prizes from a Gordmans sweepstakes.

Official Rules

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Gordmans. The opinions and text are all mine.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Gordmans.  The opinions and text are all mine.

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dream, dog, loss, back-to-school

Last night’s dream has me perplexed. This morning has thrown me for a loop. I am a bit out of sorts. It’s only  my second day completely alone since the girls started school. This is weird for me. I’m not so sure that I like it. This is it. I will never have my sweet little girls home with me on the weekdays again. Is it wrong that I am actually looking forward to days off?

dream, dog, back-to-school, Saff, loss

Sunday night, I stayed up until 1 am. I blame HBO and insomnia. Anyways, when 6 am on Monday morning rolled around, I was pretty much feeling like death warmed over. Not just tired but sick to my stomach. My body was mutinying saying “BITCH, why don’t you give us more sleep and better food?” I splashed some cold water on my face, brushed my teeth and got everyone ready for school. I came home and cleaned like a crazy woman, trying to avoid looking in any direction because all I kept seeing was where my dog is supposed to be. The tired mind plays tricks on you. Needless to say, I spent most of the morning folding laundry through tear filled eyes; partly because I miss my dog and probably in part because I miss my Gabs being home with me during the day. It’s lonely when you’ve been used to a little side kick for the past 7 years. I’ve not been lonely because I am never alone until now. Yes, I stood around my house crying like a big baby all by myself. So last night, I did what any really tired, completely sane person would do. I went to bed when I put the girls to bed, at 7 pm.

Bad dream #1

Guess what happened? I woke up three times and I had a shitload of weird freaking dreams. The first dream was this; I was with my girls at what looked like a school of some sort. We were there to see some sort of pet show. Obviously, in this dream, Gabi, my 5-year-old, immediately runs toward the animals. This kid loves animals. I see veterinary medicine in her future. Quite honestly, I’m pretty convinced this kid prefers animals to people most days of the week.  The entire time that she ran ahead, I had her in my sight because I am terrified of stranger danger and I’m pretty sure that I would die if something really bad ever happened to the girls. Suddenly, the dogs became roving exhibit and those bitches were being moved to another location. Gabi was not stopping. She ran after them, out of my line of sight. I am running down the longest corridors I’ve ever had the misfortune of running with her sister in tow. We run down the retractable bleachers and at the bottom they were not pulled all the way out. I jump about 6 feet to the ground. I am not stopping. I. MUST. CATCH.GABI. My 7-year-old refuses to jump.

I beg and plead with her. Gabi is disappearing into the venue and I can’t even hear the stampede of children anymore. This is my nightmare. Bella looks at me and shakes her head with that “not gonna happen” smirk that infuriates every mother. We’ve all seen it. And then she turns and runs in the opposite direction. I am simultaneously terrified and pissed off. Who do I follow? Who do I save? What if something bad happens to them? Then. I . Wake. Up in a cold sweat.

Commence Bad dream #2

I lay awake for 2 hours in the middle of night trying to figure out this riddle of a nightmare. Here’s what I came up with; it obviously has something to do with the fact that we just lost the dog and Gabi is having such a bad time of it. It also speaks volumes to the fact that Gabi always runs off without thinking (not listening to me) and Bella has recently started defying me, to test boundaries.

Then I tried to go back to bed and had another nightmare. What? Forget this. I’ll just be tired and stay an insomniac. Sleep is brutal, not for the weak.

When I went back to sleep, I dreamed that I was at a hotel with the Big Guy when we spotted an elderly woman who could not walk and had been stranded in the lobby by her people. She gave us some story about feeling really dizzy and needing to get up to her room. The Big Guy, being the nice guy he is, picks the elderly woman up and carries her up to her room. We were waiting for the valet to bring our car so her told me to wait while he took her up. Then he never came back. I spent what felt like forever searching the hotel for my husband. He had been kidnapped. It was a scam to get him upstairs. Eventually, after much freaking out, questioning hotel patrons and workers alike and crying on my part, we found him locked in a dog cage, which is totally bizarre because the Big Guy is 6’5″ and would never actually fit in one of those cages. Even more bizarre was that when we arrived at the room and found him locked in the dog cage, our deceased dog was walking around the outside of the cage.

So what the fuck does all this mean? I’m serious anybody have any good theories? Obviously, it has something to do with losing the dog and fearing losing the people I love but it was one of the weirdest dreams that I have ever had. I may be off sleep completely after last night’s dream.

dream, dog, loss, back-to-school

What do you think this dream means?

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kindergarten, back-to-school, first day of kindergarten 2012

It’s the night before kindergarten again and I am not ready for this. UGH! I am dreading it now. I’ve been breaking down all day because my dog’s very sick and we’re not sure if she’s going to make it and now, I am sure tomorrow the crying will be of inappropriate proportions. As I sit here typing, the thought of reading that damn book “The Night before kindergarten” has me choking on tears and knowing what the kindergarten hallway looks like, think a mine field with mothers crying like they are Mary and their kindergartener is Christ on the Cross. It’s every thing I can do NOT to turn around and say fuck it. Never mind, I will home-school; thank you very much.

Oh yeah, I fell prey to this menagerie of crying Mommies last year when I had to tiptoe over their strewn carcasses as I made my way to the 1st grade corridor. It was brutal. I was holding it in and squeezing my Bella’s hand to reassure her. Damn the letting go. It hurts so bad. I hate the first day of kindergarten. I’d like to throat punch the first day of kindergarten or maybe even roundhouse kick it in the nuts.

kindergarten, first day of kindergarten, back to school

The First Day of Kindergarten

I started this post yesterday when I was filled with trepidation and bursting at the seams with nauseating nostalgia.  I was up most of the night unable to sleep. Gabs woke me up twice and the dog woke me up about three times. There was not much sleep to be had anyways. This morning I woke the girls up and the Big Guy too. The Big Guy made pancakes while I got the girls dressed, one by one, in a haze of no sleep and a fog of can I really do this? Let my baby start the leaving process. I don’t think I am built to let my children go.

If it were up to me, I would keep them snuggled up in my arms for all eternity. I know it’s crazy. Babies are born to grow up and become adults and go off on their own but why does the letting go have to start just when they are really starting to be interesting? I dressed both girls to perfection in their cute little navy uniforms with the hairstyle of their choice and we were off. Me with the camera on hand and the Big Guy under strict instructions to video tape everything.

As we drove along the same route we have driven so many times before to drop off her sister, I looked to the backseat and saw the baby I loved so much beaming with excitement and fidgeting with nervousness. I pretended not to notice the trepidation. She caught me staring at her and smiled just a little bit bigger. My heart, my mommy heart was starting to quiver. Silently I command myself, “ Don’t ugly cry, lady. You have to wait until you get outside of the building. Never let them see you cry.” Yes, my inner monologue is a pretty bossy bitch.

She has no compassion for me or the first day of kindergarten.

When we arrived at school, she was the first one out of the car. “Mommy, take my picture!” as she posed in front of the welcome sign. I followed silently snapping photos, committing every second of the letting go to memory. Smiling my nervous smile that only my husband recognizes. Gabs and her sister bounced through the hallways, sprinting towards the new year of new experiences; toward growing up. I could feel the pull at my heart as I watched their tiny bodies walking away from me.

After a photo or two beside the “KINDERGARTEN “ sign, it was time to let her go and trust someone else in the world with my most prized possessions; my children. This is the hard part. This is where I swallow hard and hug tight and slowly watch helplessly as I do the right thing and encourage her to go. Oh, how it hurts my heart and stings my eyes. Swallow that lump lady! I swallow so hard that I almost choke on this familiar lump. She runs back for one last hug and whispers, “I love you, Mommy. I’ll be okay.”

I slowly turn and walk away. I sneak one last backward glance she is smiling and coloring with new friends. As I walk away, I can hear her giggle and engage in excited conversation and I remember the words she just spoke to me, “I’ll be okay.”

I know she will. Will I? I didn’t cry, though I really wanted to. I loosen my white knuckled grip on my little girl’s childhood and I look forward to afternoon pick up when I can once again fill my arms with my little girls and my heart can be happy. How did you deal with the first day of school, daycare or kindergarten?

I know eventually this won’t be so hard but today, on the first day of kindergarten, letting go hurts like a motherfucker.

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daylight savings time, kids and daylight savings time, surviving daylight savings time, DST, parenting and daylight savings time

exhausted, lethargy, back-to-school

My little girls are exhausted

Summer is almost over and I am exhausted. I’m not quite sure where it went but I do know that it’s gone; next week my baby starts kindergarten and my oldest starts second grade. Back-to-school, already? Where did the time go?

I had all kinds of wonderful ideas of the many splendid things that the girls and I would do with all of our “free” time this summer but apparently, there was none because it doesn’t feel like we came even close to doing half the stuff I had planned on doing. We filled the time with lots of busy work but there were no major happenings this summer. It was like one endless Saturday. Saturday’s are good, right?

exhausted, Disney, Back-to-school

I promised the girls play dates all summer; we had two. I promised them visits to Chicago to see their grandparents and play with their cousins. We went once. I said there would be picnics in the park and outings to the beach. There were none. Well, there was that one time that we split a DQ chicken tender meal in the parking lot of the park (surrounded by nature so it should count). We were running errands and they wanted to eat at the park none of us like bugs very much so we ate in the car.

exhausted, back-to-school,horses, the zoo

We had plans to go to my uncle’s horse farm in Tennessee, see Beauty and the Beast at Navy Pier and I had even planned a day at Cedar Point. There have been no baseball games this summer or drive-in movies. There were no bon fires and s’mores. I didn’t get to teach my 7-year-old to ride the bike with no training wheels. We never got to fit in cheer camp or swimming lessons. I feel like I’ve been running around trying to catch a moving target. I am exhausted.

exhausted, back-to-school, fireworks, family

My love for my family is never exhausted

Just so you know that I am not a complete and utter failure as a mother, we did take the girls to Chicago for a week. We also took them to Florida for 10 days, spending 3 days at Disney World. We’ve played in the pool all summer, until it got so hot that the water in the pool was actually scalding to the touch. We played dress up and Barbies until the cows came home. There has been a burn ban all summer but we did manage to take the girls to see the firework display downtown from the best seat in the city, my brother’s balcony. We’ve been on one family bike ride. We went to the festival. We bought them a trampoline; a tornado came and ripped it away. I am exhausted just thinking of all that we did do. Imagine if we had done more.

exhausted, back-to-school, festival

I’ve taken them to the park a few times and we’ve spent a lot of time daydreaming about our new home. Which reminds me, after 3 years, we sold the house and close on a new one on September 6th. I’m planning on going to a baseball game, the zoo and having a bon fire this week. I feel like I have fallen short this summer but honestly, the girls could care less. They are over the moon about the new house, especially since most of their friends from school live in the neighborhood. I can’t wait for after school play dates and to hear the house filled with my daughters’ giggles.

exhausted, back-to-school, dressup, Disney

It’s been a long summer, packed with everything and nothing all at the same time. We’ve all grown and changed this summer. I’ve spent a lot of time working, which is totally a good thing, but I’ve also spent a lot of time not sleeping. It’s hard to have it all and do everything because something suffers. The mommy guilt is kicking my ass today but the one thing I did do every day this summer is kiss my girls and tell them that I love them and that says something without saying anything. They know. I know. It is.

All the school supplies are bought and uniforms too. Backpacks are ordered and planet boxes are in the mail. Now, I am on to autumn. The time when seasons change and children grow. We start school next week, I’m not really ready to let them go but they are excited about seeing old friends and meeting new ones. They can’t wait for ballet to start back and Nutcracker auditions, in fact, they are in their bedroom right this very minute watching the Nutcracker and practicing their moves. We’re all looking forward to making our new house our home and all of the love, laughter and memories that we will fill that house with. I am exhausted thinking of all the things we have planned for this upcoming year but I am so excited to be able to be a part of it.

exhausted, back-to-school, tulips

Blissfully exhausted

What was your favorite part of this summer? Are you blissfully exhausted?

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back-to-school

Back-to-School ; it’s the most wonderful or awful time of year (depending on how old your children are) again.

Back-to-School

  • Purchasing all the items on the school supply list is like a going scavenger hunt for the holy educational grail. It’s exhausting, exasperating and you will most likely not find the last item on the list.
  • Abruptly dragging kids off the beach to go school clothes shopping is like trying to take a carb starved model away from cake.
  • Trying to wake a kid ( who’s been sleeping in all summer) for school is like trying to lose ten pounds on the chocolate shake diet.

Back-to-School Truisms

  • Shopping for school uniforms is about as exciting as watching paint dry, for all parties involved.
  • Walking away from your child on the first day of kindergarten is emotionally harder than 13 hours of transition labor.
  • Lunches, do yourself a favor and invest in a bento box, one of those cooling Packit lunch boxes and make lunch for your kid. What they let pass for a healthy lunch these days are NOT what any Mommy in her right senses would consider “nutritious”. A bread stick, grapes and something fried…does not a healthy lunch make.

  • The first time you leave your child with strangers (school, ballet, daycare) you will cry and feel overwhelming guilt. You are not a bad Mommy. Guilt is the benchmark of a great Mommy.
  • For the younger sibling of a kindergartener, every morning is like sending the kindergartener off to war and every pick up is like the return from the war…safe and victorious.
  • NOT allowing your child to go on a field trip with 47 five year olds, 2 teachers and no chaperones is not only a good idea, it’s pretty much required for safety.

Back-to-School;Back to letting go

  • Watching your child struggle in social situations is like watching them try to learn how to walk for the first time. You stand back, see what happens and then you give them gentle nudges in the right direction,if all else fails, you grab them by the hands and show them how it’s done.
  • In all things concerning your child’s well being, trust your mommy gut. It’s not there just for decoration.
  • The first week of school will be exhausting, overwhelming and frustrating. It won’t be a picnic for the kids either.
  • You will take three trips to seven different stores to find that just right sized pair of uniform pants that fit perfectly and don’t look to “uniformy”, only to find out that they are $200 vintage khaki’s that were worn by Marcia Brady on an episode of the Brady Bunch and you can’t afford them anyways.
  • First day of drop off, you can be sure that some uber Mommy will walk right up to you , call you by your name and talk to you like she’s known you forever while you stand there speechless because your brain is fried from the summer sun and you have NO idea who the hell she is..
  • Seeking absolution from your drop off faux pas, you will feel the need to step up your Mommying game.This can cause you to do something foolish, like volunteer for several different committees. DO not do this.Your guilt will pass but those committees will expect you to show up.
  • Back-to-school is more than checklists, new clothes and a new school year. Back-to-school is letting go and growing up. More often than not, Back-to-School will leave you in a pool of snot and tears.

Back-to-School

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