I get it.

^^^ This was taken during one of Ryan's attempts to get out of a nap by trying to lecture me on the importance of rest. 

And he did it. Whew! On Friday Chris turned in his final, final paper for his first semester of grad school. He took Ryan and Conor with him to the professor's office to drop it off, and I do hope that becomes a tradition. Maybe I'm a bit too sentimental, but what a memory that will be! Walking with Dad to witness him hand in hours of hard work and then a stop at a candy wall at the student center to commence a glorious perk of the academic world - appropriately and thankfully long breaks. Hopefully we always have little ones who will want to tag along ... I mean,  I will be happy to do my part to make that happen. 

This break is welcomed. Very welcomed. It might have been evident on the blog, or really from its absence, that this year has been one of the happiest thus far, but it has also been one in which I struggled. 

I'll put the boys to bed, and everything will have been good. Happy bath, cuddled family prayer on the giant beanbag in the boys' room, Ryan calling, "Thanks for praying with me, Dad!" and Conor waving, "Baaaaaayyyye! Baaayyye!" as Chris leaves the room to go start studying. And yet when I sit down after their breathing is steady and the washer is whirling in the laundry room, I sit shell-shocked from the constant catch-up of the day. Let's back up. 

When I worked in Chicago, a lot of the superiors in my office worked from home for the majority of the week, and they all had childcare. Of course they had childcare! But back then, my baby was on the easy side of the belly, and I just didn't get it. I didn't get it! Why would they pay out the wazoo to send their kids to daycare when they had earned an awesome work from home job? Couldn't that give them the best of both worlds? Couldn't they just work during a consistent nap time? Couldn't they just work while the kids gleefully and obediently independently played? Couldn't they just work when the kids went to sleep for twelve uninterrupted hours? Occasionally one of my bosses would conduct phone meetings when her sick toddler was being a toddler in the background, and I could practically hear the silent screams of frustration in her head. Nevertheless, I was at the bottom of the daunting hill called student debt and I so wanted to stay at home with my baby, but we weren't sure if we were going to pull it off so all I could naively think of was the amount of money "wasted" and the amount of time lost. It didn't make sense.

Now, I have two kids on the difficult side of the belly, and I see vividly and clearly that it did, in fact, make sense. The status of Chris' job was slightly precarious last year and he was going to go to grad school anyway so we were proactive, and I had had feelers out for a while and many a novena had been prayed when I was basically handed an excellent work from home job and started within a few days of knowing about the job. Glory! We were so thankful.

What I was not handed was a game plan of how to peacefully carve work hours out of a day with a terrible-twos toddler and a four month old with no childcare because the job didn't pay enough for it, and I most definitely was not handed the humility to ask for grace and help and more grace and more help. 

My stimulation level as an introverted stay-at-home mom went from being on the mark or slightly under to way over. Way over. That first month I would wake up and do work before the little ones woke up, go straight into caregiver mode when they did, the tornado of a morning while thinking of when I would be able to work, the messy lunch, the war of naptime while getting more frustrated by the second of lost time to work, the tragic brevity of synchronized naptime, the bouncing of a wailing babe who napped too shortly while I gave a truck driver a survey on the phone (one of my jobs for eight months was a truck driver exit survey conductor ... glamorous!), the ignoring the lack of housekeeping anywhere, the calling on Netflix to slowly snap the toddler out of his post-nap stupor while still bouncing the wailing babe and calling and calling, then the tornado of witching hour and dinner making and putting to bed and wanting to unwind, but being too wound up until I just fall asleep on the floor at the computer before I finish my quota for the day for the other (seasonal) job and thus start the next day already sorrily behind. 

(I think it's pretty obvious that I adore Chris more than anyone on this earth, but I do want to throw in a quick defense for that helpful husband of mine. I'm happy to help provide for our family! I'm far from miserable; I've just struggled with how to do it gracefully. I'm not trying to be a martyr; I'm just being honest, and I have a hard-working husband who loves me and cares for me and is the bomb.com as much as he cringes when I use that phrase. Chris and I are still babies in the timeline of marriage and parenthood. Grad school is not just his dream; it is our dream. Staying at home with our children is not just my dream; it is our dream. We as a couple are both learning how love languages are fluid through marriage and parenthood and school, but getting to learn with him is pretty much the cat's pajamas). 

I know my position is a privileged one, and I am fortunate to be a stay at home and work from home mom. I know my life is not a hard one. I completely acknowledge that and don't want you to think for a second I have it anywhere close to as hard as others. I just want to say loud and clear, "I GET IT. I get it."

I get why my coworkers had childcare. Not only did they need it to do their job justice in order to maintain their position with integrity and provide for their families, but they needed to not suffocate under the guilt and exhaustion of not having any sort of boundary between family and work.  

Working from home with kids means you have a lot of bosses, guilt is your officemate and you have zero breaks. It is not for the impatient. And yet, here I am. I firmly believe that parents do not need to give their children their undivided attention constantly. I want to be able to waste time with my children,. At the same time, I also want my children to see that loving them does not mean constantly being a playmate. This year, that happy medium evaded me. I know some people are able to work from home seamlessly, but I am not one of them ... yet. Some days are good, and I heave a satisfied sigh at the end of a delightfully productive day, but some days started out with me crying over a pot of oatmeal. I do not have nappers no matter how hard I attempted to nap train them. Ryan is just recently able to play independently for a solid amount of time. Our schedule this year has also been thrown for a loop with lots of packing and unpacking and extra responsibilities. And unlike this rockstar, I just let my survival mode go on for ten months rather than pulling up my big girl panties and doing something about it. I cringe at the books I haven't read to my babies or the kind emails I haven't responded to or the frequency of pretending to ignore that the automatic play next episode feature is on in the name of twenty more minutes of work time. 

But. But, but, but. 

Humble is good. This year has given me quite a dose of always needed humility. And I have learned an incredible amount of what I am capable of, and possibly more importantly at this stage in life, what I am not capable of. I now have an even better work from home job with a boss who tells me, "Katrina. Your first job is to be a wife and a mother. If you get overwhelmed, stop." I know. Answered prayer, right? And it is.

We are taking this break to reorganize life so we can really take advantage of all the great parts of grad school and working from home.  And I see a mother's helper for a few hours a week in my future. 

My first crush.

Disclosure: I am part of the Netflix #StreamTeam so I will be writing one post a month about movies and shows that have made me happy to have in our family queue. To be totally forthcoming, I have been compensated with a streaming device and a one year streaming subscription to Netflix, but this is a service that I have used at minimum four times a week for the past four years (and at many points in the timeline, everyday) so you can say that I am definitely excited to be partnering with them. 

I was scrolling through the Family and Children genre searching for Mulan when I started to jump up and down. "THEY HAVE The Mighty Ducks! ... and D2! ... and D3!" My brother, sister and I loved watching those movies about those little Minnesotan hockey players, and I think the last time I had seen the original Mighty Ducks was on a VHS tape that skipped when we were getting to the good parts. I think I will write more about the series when I do a post on sports movies (including a Harrington fave - Rudy!) 

I was very delighted to continue to scroll through the rest of the movies available and did quite a few more happy dances. Here is one movie that I don't think many have watched, but is one of my favorites:

Swiss Family Robinson. This is a Corcoran past time. For most of my childhood, if we watched a movie at my grandma's, one of my favorite places in the whole wide world, Swiss Family Robinson would eventually get turned on. I mean, my dad is in the movie, after all. 

 

 

Okay, no he isn't. Same name, different guy. But we do love pulling people's legs about that one. 

It's easy to see why this was always chosen and approved. Based on the book by Johann D. Wyss in the 1800s, it follows the tale of a Swiss family (you could have guessed that from the name, huh?) who is shipwrecked in the East Indies. They build the epitome of tree houses, and really make being stuck on an island like the thing to do. There are plenty of feats of survival, rescues, ingenuity and pirate fights for both children and adults to enjoy. I love the themes of family loyalty, hard work and self-reliance. And Fritz? He was my first crush. The origin of the blond haired, blue-eyed tasteof mine. 

Have you seen it? Was it a part of your childhood, too? Did you really believe my dad was in it? ;)

Other great Family and Children movies available:

- Robin HoodMulanHercules, TarzanDumboAristocatsPocahontasThe Fox and the Hound

- The Parent Trap - I have this memorized. We went through a few years where my sister and I alternated between this and Billboard Dad. (And I love the original Hayley Mills version, too!).

- Anastasia

- Flubber

- High School Musical - Judge gently. I know every lyric.  

- Ever After

- Honey I Shrunk the Kids

Opossums and friends

It's been a sorry week in the wellness area for this Harrington household. The rugby team is kind to Chris and lets him play even though he is geriatric compared to the undergrads ... undergrads who have called me Mrs. Harrington when on the sideline, ha! Anyway he played in the game last Friday night, and it was not a kind game to him at all. Then the week started, and I could tell my lower back was going as it does twice a year.  Tuesday and Wednesday I alternated between crawling around or, when I was feeling sprightly, walking with my upper body bent almost parallel to the floor ... super interesting conundrum with two toddlers who love their time perched on my hip. When I was finally on the mend, Conor fell into the (rounded) corner of a little toddler chair, and he is now sporting a slightly black eye. Poor guy. Maybe he wants to look like a rugby player? Ryan saved the worst for last with his 3am announcement of, "I frew up," which lead to all of us in our bed. Conor nursed the rest of the night, and Ryan was tucked into me with his head on my shoulder. When Chris woke up at 6am, he said they looked liked opossum babies hanging off of me. I didn't really understand until I saw this photo:

And I feel like the look in her eyes is telling me, "Solidarity, Girl."

(Ryan has been feeling well all day! Two thumbs up).

So it has been a week, but today is now a wonderful day even though you wouldn't think so judging from last night's pajamas never leaving my body today. For right before bed, after pausing from scaling every structure in the room and while stubbornly trying to pull his freshly donned pajamas off so he could "sweep in his un-duh-wear," Ryan looked at the giggling and screeching Conor waddling around, fueled by that last gust of slap-happy energy, a few slow steps here, some fast steps there, a teeter here, a totter there. Ryan let out a little toddler guffaw and contently sighed, "He's my fwiend."

Good day. Good week.

 

Halloweenie meenie minie mo

(Thanks for the love on the new blog design! It made me smile a whole lot. Rosie was smart enough to let me know that if you use Feedly, the blog isn't automatically transferred over so you will have to resubscribe - so sorry for the trouble!)

The weekend before Halloween was spent tossing around costume ideas for the boys. I feel like this is the last year that we really get to choose what they go as. Chris came up with the idea of Calvin and Hobbes. Of course he did! I thought it was perfect so I spent all of Monday morning going to two thrift stores and Once Upon A Child. Black pants for Calvin that Ryan could wear again were easy enough to find, but this must definitely not be the year of the tiger because when I couldn't find a tiger costume that morning, I called Target, Old Navy and Walmart and none of them sold them! Good ole Amazon to save the day (although I soon learned that a true Hobbes really should have rounded ears ... oops!) Finding a red shirt with very thin black stripes were also like finding a needle in a haystack so I considered myself lucky when I found a red stripe with very thin white stripes for a couple of bucks. They were nothing a little Sharpie couldn't take care of. 

Jana had let me know about St. Mary's traditional trick-or-treating in the dorms that was happening Wednesday, and I'm so happy she did! My favorite St. Mary's grad showed me the ropes, and Ryan, Peter and Mary Frances ran around Le Mans in a sugar search frenzy. Conor and James were unmoved by the excitement. I definitely see it as a new tradition. Their majestic dorms are huge so a good candy return is pretty much guaranteed, the girls are so sweet and genuinely excited to see kids or really anyone under the age of 18, and it is inside, but you still knock on doors and say trick or treat like the real deal. It's a winner, and when it snowed during the city's trick-or-treating hours on Friday, and I most definitely did not want to go out around the block, Ryan was happy to stay at home. 

(Poor Chris still had to go out to play a rugby game in wind chill that made it feel like 19 degrees). 

^^ Hobbes, Calvin, a knight, a fairy princess and a parrot. Conor and James just appear pleased with the spectacle. ^^

And for a walk down memory lane ...

^^ 2011, Prego Tomato Sauce and my friend, Meagan, is a shot in the dark - she's clever! ^^

IMG_5918.JPG

^^ 2012 Ryan the Lion ^^

^^ 2013 - a hobbit and his pastry ^^

Was it cold for your Halloween/All Saints?

Oh, is that a new dress? It IS!

Well, I have always known that I am terrible at giving gifts on time, especially if I am making them. I still have lofty plans to finish a sketch for Chris that I started for his birthday ... four years ago. So it isn't surprising that this blog birthday post is occurring when the blog is two years and one week old. 

Last year I got a fancy schmancy custom domain on the first blog birthday, and this year I decided that October 29th would be a good time to make the switch to Squarespace and finally redesign the blog's look. I thought I could do it in a night. Ha! It's been a hair-pulling, head-banging-on-desk, kids-watching-lots-of-Netflix, husband-hearing-I-CAN'T-FIGURE-OUT-WHY-IT'S-ONLY-250-PIXELS-this-and-that redesign. I'll get more into it if I write a post on what not to do when changing blogger platforms. 

^^ Kind of an unrelated photo, but this is what my brain felt like this past week. In case you are confused, Ryan told us the top sequence spelled "Christopher" and the bottom sequence says "Katrina." ^^

Until then, it's here! Cedars and Tiny Flowers' new dress is finished. Well, some of the seams are raw as there are broken links galore so please bear with me for a few weeks, probably months, while I get all of those sorted out. I'm still in recovery code and every element painfully and annoyingly reminds me how long it took me to solve, but I'm sure I'll forget about it soon

My time with this blog has been good. Wonderfully good. If you are new around these parts, here are my five favorite posts from the past two years.

- No Whispers, Sisters - We have many dear friends and family members that I look up to who are happier mothers and have happier families because they work outside of the home. I love that mothers aren't automatically banished to slave over the stove and ironing board all day anymore. This post touches on the flip side of the culture change. I was pretty darn nervous to hit publish on this one. (It's really not that controversial).

- On Marrying Young - Let me preface this post by saying there is nothing wrong with getting married when you're older, if it's for the right reasons, and there's nothing wrong with getting married when you're young, if it's for the right reasons. I only have experience with the latter, and so I wrote about it. This post was one during which I felt most vulnerable writing since I had to open up quite a bit

- Grin and Bear It - Chris' grandpa told me that he loved this tale about my solo flight with the boys which automatically puts it in the top five. He is not one to aimlessly toss out mom blog post praise so I take his opinions very seriously.

- How We Met - I'm so grateful I have our How We Met story written down. (Thanks for the push, Grace). I love going back to read it, and I always end up thinking, "Hey! That was fun ... hey, it's still fun!"

- Birth Stories - I mean ... I think this one is self explanatory.

On this second anniversary of my over-sharing, if you'd like to, I'd be really touched if you would comment with a little about yourself or even link to your blog so I can start following along! How did you happen upon this corner of the internet, and what kinds of posts do you like best? I'm so thankful for all of you, and I'm not just saying that because it's the month of Thanksgiving!

 

More of people's favorite things over here.