Thursday, January 12, 2012

Grad School

Well, I've finished my first week of grad school!  I am lost.  Boy did I forget a lot in the past (nearly) 6 years!  I'm not complaining, I'm just saying that I'm going to have to work WAYYYY harder than I ever expected.  Justin doesn't know it yet, but I'm planning to spend as much time as possible in the library at CNU this weekend.  I have a lot of reviewing to do.  I studied very hard in undergrad and I'm prepared to do it all over again.  I guess putting things in long term memory only lasts for so long...

I'll be at school for long hours twice a week - six hours of TA work (for this semester I'm just in a lab to offer help when needed...and I'm hoping to get some studying done then too), followed by four hours of classes.  Ten hour days.  Yikes!  But this is a blessing and what I truly wanted because I didn't want to drive over to Norfolk (about 45 minutes to an hour of travel time door to door each way) anymore than I had too.  Extra driving time would mean extra time away from my sweet babies.  So, twice a week I will leave the house at 8am and return home around 8pm.  I'm not really excited about that part, but we are incredibly thankful that I was able to get a TA position.  My tuition is paid and I get paid to work.  There's no way in hell I could do this and make cakes at the same time.

I am determined to do this.  And to do this as quickly as I can.  And then I want to go back to spending as much time as possible at home with the kids.  I mean, I guess I'll try to get a part-time job teaching as an adjunct instructor somewhere close to home...but mostly I just need to do this before anymore time goes by.  So that when the kids are in school, I can work part-time.  Catch where I'm going with this...I'm not all that eager to go back to work full-time, ever.  Some people like to say they just don't "do school" very well.  I like to tell Justin I just don't "do work" very well.  I like school.  I want to get my PhD someday, just to have it.  And I wouldn't mind having a PhD to then just turn around and sit at home and bake cookies, color, and play with my kids. 

Enough wasted time.  Time to study!  I've already learned that waking up extra early to study doesn't work.  The kids sense that I'm awake and think me waking up two hours early is just an invitation for them to wake up two hours early. 

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Ordinary

In my free time...wait stop right there.  What’s that?!  In reality it‘s the time I make time for when I‘m avoiding what needs to be done around here or the time that occurs after Justin has fallen asleep, but I drank too much coffee at 9pm and can't do the same.  But back to what I was saying, in my "free time" I Facebook stalk. There. I said it.  I confessed that I love wasting time on Facebook.  I like looking at pictures, reading posts, reading posted articles, reading links to blogs, the list goes on.  Justin laughs at me, but I like how mindless it is. So anyways, I was avoiding finishing a cake this afternoon - i.e. Facebook stalking - and I stumbled upon the blog Momastery  and this post in particular Don't Carpe Diem. And I realized something. I tend to blog about the really good things and days we have. Every once in a while I blog about the crazy rough days, but I think for the most part I try to put up that front that we have it all together here at the Loda house.


At all.

Not even close.

Therefore, in an effort to be more transparent and real, I would like to blog more about the ordinary days. Most days are ordinary days. And in light of a "Simplicity Parenting" point - the ordinary days are what make the extraordinary days special.  (Sorry, don't know the exact quote and I'm too lazy to go get the book and look it up.)

So, you ask, what does ordinary look like around here?

It looks like every piece of Tupperware and every pot and pan scattered across the kitchen just so I can make an elaborate lunch of grilled cheese because for yet another week I forgot to buy the damn lunch meat and we are stuck with just a big block of cheese and no meat to go with it.  It looks like my one year old pulling as much toilet paper as possible off the roll in the short amount of time it takes me to wash my hands. It looks like a two year old that refused to leave his diaper on and insists on wearing "unda-pants" even though he can't seem to get the whole timing of telling me when he needs to pee down (he announces it as it's running down his legs...despite my constant asking and attempts to get him to "just try" a mere two minutes beforehand).  And then after he's peed everywhere he wants to "try", all while his sister is doing all she can to get her hands in the toilet.  It looks like Cheerios all over my kitchen floor, dining room floor, and living room floor despite my best efforts to keep all food at the table only.  It looks like bumps, bruises, falls, and smashed fingers.  It looks like markers all over a two year old's legs, because obviously that is a good place to color (thank God it wasn't the furniture or walls - at least legs are easier to wash off).  It looks like green and orange Play-doh in smashed in the carpet.  It looks like a screaming two year old because his one year old sister won't stop knocking over his block tower, picking up and throwing his train track, or trying to eat his crayons.  It looks like dog hair all over the floor, couches, and our clothes.  It looks like a two year old in his firetruck pjs all day because this mama just doesn't feel like it's worth the fight.  It looks like never getting dressed beyond yoga pants and a t-shirt.  It looks like a growing list of errands because it's just too much work to get myself and two toddlers dressed and out of the house.  It looks like beautiful, crazy, out of control, perfect chaos.

Oh and that was just today. 

Yeup, we have a wild little family and life.  We try to create a calm and simple lifestyle, but I'm hoping the fruit of that is in the labor.  We try.  We don't really achieve it.  But we try for it everyday. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Let the good times roll

Yesterday I was ready to throw in the towel on ODU.  I was so annoyed that classes started in a week and I still didn't know the decision on the TA position.  (I like to plan.)  I sent a one line email to the professor in charge of the TA decisions.  I kept it to one sentence for fear of sounding sarcastic or rude if I wrote anything more.  And at noon today I got a response letting me know I GOT IT! 

Boy am I a happy camper now!  There isn't enough money for a full position, but this one is a 2/3 position.  Meaning, I'll receive 2/3 of the stipend and work 2/3 of the hours.  However, I still get all of my tuition paid!  Yes, I am happy.  :)  It feel like it's a double win.  We get the financial help we need, but I don't have to give up quite as much time with my babies.

Of course, I told Justin not to get too excited - we will still be eating plenty of rice and beans for years to come.  (Side note, for our second bean-based meal of the week I made a FABULOUS lentil soup for dinner tonight.  It was a Loda family crowd pleaser!)  It's not oodles of money, but it's enough that I can stop making cakes during the semester (with the exception of wedding cakes) and focus on school and family.  This is a HUGE relief for me. 

In other happy news (because anything new my kids can do is happy to me)- Jackson completed a 24 piece puzzle completely by himself.  I really mean all by himself.  I was reading to Summerlin while he did it.  I did not help him one little bit.  Maybe that's typical for a 2 year old, but I was very impressed.  I am his mom, so of course I think he's the greatest little boy ever - and I'm not ashamed to admit that publicly.  In all seriousness, I think spatial perceptions and puzzles/mathematics are going to be his area of giftedness.  Language clearly is not, but he is finally starting to sound like a little parrot and he still LOVES books - so who knows, that could change.  He's starting to love to sing - which really means he loves it when I sing to him.  I've had fun remembering all the little songs of childhood and making up hand motions to go with them.  (Summerlin dances along while I sing which just adds to the overall cuteness factor she has going on.)

Summerlin can also identify her ears and hands now.  I think her showing me where her hands are is the most precious of them all.  When you ask her where her hands are she moves them around and holds them up in the sweetest little way.  I can't resist grabbing her and giving her big smooches when she does.  It's hilarious how much more verbal she is than Jackson.  She wanders around the house babbling all day long - "Da-de" this and "(ba)Na-na" that.  It seems like she adds a word to her vocabulary everyday.  And she gives out sweet slobbery kisses constantly.  She has a cold, so they are extra sloppy, but I'm a sucker for my babies kisses - boogers and all.  Don't judge. 

Here's the puzzle whizz and his usual scowl at the camera. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Introducing...our playroom!

Our playroom is (mostly) complete. I really shouldn't even say that, nothing around here is ever complete. I'm always dreaming up new ideas and ways to change things. Ask Justin - it drives him crazy.

Our playroom is upstairs, which is a little quirky, but there's really no other good use for this space in our house.  The house is a cape cod, so the upstairs has slanted ceilings and lots of nooks and crannies, making it a perfect cozy little space for kids.  The room has a weird layout due to the staircase in the middle of the room, but again, looking at the room as a space for kids it makes it that much more fun.

A little background on the room - when I bought the house the upstairs had unpainted pine paneling and ugly wood trim/doors/windows.  It looked so dated.  Before Summerlin was born, we (I) painted the entire upstairs.  Now the playroom is a nice, soft yellow with cheery white trim.  The staircase had a very not child friendly railing.  I'm not kidding you when I say the posts were far enough apart for small children (under the age of five) to fit between.  So, Justin and his dad tore it down and built a half wall railing.  We figured the half wall would be the sturdiest/safest option - and in the end the cheapest.  He finished that project over a year ago....and I still haven't gotten around to painting the wall and trim on it.  Maybe next weekend....

Anyways, here are some pictures of our playroom that is complete for at least the next month or so.

 Here is the kitchen set!  Justin did an EXCELLENT job!  We realized the screws for the handles were too long, so we still need to put those on the doors, but it is otherwise complete.  There is also a sink piece that will be added later (maybe we'll even wait until her birthday).  The sink isn't finished because it needs a new top board.  The existing piece has a rectangle hole and we couldn't find a container to fit the hole.  So, we bought a metal bowl instead.

 The reading nook.  This is one of my future projects.  I'm waiting for Summerlin to outgrow her crib.  Then I'm going to use her mattress (it's the perfect size) as the floor cushion and I might even try to make a little tent of some sort for the area.
 Books, puzzles, and games area.
 View from one end of the room.
View from the other end.  Yes, the Christmas lights are staying up year round.  Jackson (and I) love them!