Farewell Summer

On the first day that feels like fall might almost be here . . . . I am finally posting my summer pictures.  Oops. :)

This was the summer of water. Henry learned to swim. My primary memories of this summer will be playing in the pool with the boys. Watching Henry overcome his fear of water. Sunbathing with the boys at the y pool. It was the very best summer. I come from a long line of water lovers.  I'm from Florida.  My whole family swims. A lot.  Family functions often center around the water.  I spent my summers in a bathing suit.  I was either in the water or on the water pretty much any chance I got. Jason didn't grow up like this.  He just isn't a fan of the water.  Sure he played a little in a pool as a kid but it was nothing like my childhood.  We knew we wanted to boys to learn to swim and I knew that I wanted to cultivate a love of the water in them.  It is hard to explain, but it is important to me.  I know that might sound funny but so many of the memories of my mom center around water.  Initially Henry approached the water with a level of trepidation. Okay, maybe it was more like full blown fear. Last year was the first year he really got in the water and he refused to let his head go under.  Because Henry was nervous I decided to enroll with boys on swim lessons at our YMCA. I never took a swim lesson in my life. My mom taught me to swim and really can't remember a time I couldn't swim. But, with Henry I was hitting a wall I decide to get the help of a professional. Henry was so scared at the beginning of the classes. He begged not to go and informed me would never go under water or swim without his floaty. But, I encouraged him to stay with it and took him to the pool to practice every day. I'm happy to report after a couple weeks this was happening.

Henry has found his love for the water. It fills my heart with joy.

Alex, loves the water so much and has no fear to the point we had to put his floaty back on because I couldn't handle the stress. He tired to drown himself twice. Next year will be Alex's year to master swimming.
Basically we've soaked up a ton of sun kissed fun this summer. Even Jason got swept up in all the fun. I'm pretty sure he swam more this summer than he has in the 10 years we've been married. 

PS. Speaking of sun, we went to Florida this summer too! Here are some family photos. Yes, it was a great summer but I'm ready for fall! 

We even got in a sunny Florida run while we were there.


All moms work

One of the hardest choices a mom has to make is the decision to work outside the home or not. I never intended to be a stay at home mom. It kind of happened accidentally. Going back to work after Henry was born was painful difficult (I wrote about my first day back here). Then, when I found out I was pregnant with Alex (unplanned) it just made sense to stay home. So I did. But, if I were to be honest I've not been truly settled being at home. I love the boys more than life but something always felt a bit off. I know I'm lucky to be home and even more blessed to have the choice to work or stay home. I know there are lots of woman who would love to be at home but can't afford too.  I feel a lot of mom guilt over the fact that I missed working.  I thought for a while selling my art might help balance me. But I realized that art shows and craft shows weren't what I wanted to do. Besides being tons of work, not always profitable and stealing precious weekend and family time they also started to shift how I felt about my art. I like to create for the purpose of creation not because it is marketable. But, even more that my issues with selling art I missed being involved in my community. That was the biggest thing I took away from the Run Now Relay. I missed community engagement and I missed working with non-profits (which is what I did before staying home). After lots of long discussions with Jason, I decided to start looking for a job (although truthfully, it wasn't the first time I did). And, I found one. I just started. After a three and half year lapse I have re-entered the workforce.  I'm working with the service-learning program at our local community college.  It a part-time position with summers off. I don't think I could have asked for a better position to help me return to the working. I still get to pick the boys up from school and paint. If you follow me on instagram or facebook you noticed both the boys started school.  Basically our whole family dynamic has changed. It is a huge change but I feel so much peace about it.  I know right now we are all where we need to be and that my friends is am amazing feeling.

Before I bombard you with pictures of the kids, sorry guys Kindergarten and Preschool are a big deal. I wanted to say that I think all mom's are amazing.  I think as women we struggle in our choices.  If I have learned anything it is to be true to yourself. I spent the better part of the year trying to be a homeschooling momma and guys that just isn't me.  And, that is okay.  If you are privileged enough, follow your heart and find your path. Also, I have some fun stuff lined up in regard to my art too. Some new paintings and such.  Basically, things are golden and I'm trying to enjoy this moment. It is a good feeling to know you are where you are supposed to be.


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Alex can be a little bit a little set in his ways. I was nervous about how he would adjust to school but I am happy to report he LOVES his new school and teacher.  And, he loved this little boat.  His teach has the whole room decorated so cute but this little corner is his absolute favorite. 

PS. Just one more thing . . . . can I just say adjusting to having to have all of us out the door and ready in the morning is a HUGE adjustment. Seriously, whoa. We are working on getting into our new groove but until then we will be eating lots of sandwhiches for dinner :) PPS. Here is a recent family picture, via Henry. If only our dog really could fly.


What it means to be a good parent . . . .

It has been a weird summer.  I have been overly reflective.  That is to say, I've spent many nights up late thinking.  Thinking to much. Over thinking.  Questioning.  I've been thinking a lot about my life and the boys.  I think a lot of it has to do with Henry going to school.   It has caused to be think about my time as a stay at home mom.  Have I made the most of this time?  Have I been patient enough?  Or maybe I have been to selfish.  Perhaps I have taken on too many side projects.  Maybe it's just me but I always feel insecure in my roll as a mother.  I'm constantly agonizing over my choices.  To be honest, the boys have been hard this summer.  To be really honest they are always a lot to manage. I keep expecting to get to a point where I don't feel so overwhelmed.  But it never seems to come, even now as Henry gets ready for school I find myself so exasperated some days that I am counting down until school starts.  Then I feel guilty because I will miss him so much.  This circle of guilt and regret have been driving me crazy.


The other night, like the several nights before, I was up questioning and over analyzing my life and my job as a parent.  As I was tossing and turning, I heard Alex whimper.  I went to check on him. I snuggled in bed beside him.  As a lay down he threw his arms around me and asked me to sing "Honey, Honey."  Yes, he is referring to this "Honey, Honey" from The Musical Momma Mia.  We have a soft spot for musicals and Abba.  That's normal, right? As I hummed the chorus to him it hit me that maybe the fact that I worry so much about being a good mother is proof that I am one.  I care, probably more than healthy at times, if I am being the best mother I can.  I worry about the time I have with the boys.  It is slipping by so very fast and I won't get it back.  As I held Alex and hummed Momma Mia songs it hit me as well that I am not perfect.  I get frustrated.  I raise my voice.  There are times when I need nothing more in the world that a few minutes away from my beautiful boys.  And, I almost always feel guilty and while I can take the guilty too far (ie staying up all night) at 2am it occurred me that makes me a good parent.  Am I am perfect parent?  Oh God no.  You should see my house right now.  But. I am trying so very hard and that is what matters.

IMG_0021 I should add a few moments after my motherhood epiphany Alex started mumbling about getting something out of his eye.  I then realized his top eye lashes were stuck in the bottom of his eye lid.  Like folded down, covering his eye ball and stuck in his bottom lid.  Did you just just squirm reading that?  You should have.  It is super gross and this was the third time his beautiful long lashes have gotten stuck.  Thanks to my friend nurse friend (hi Valerie)  I learned a neat trick of using a Q-Tip to help get them out.  But of course Alex gets hysteric and I had to wake Jason up (not that he could have slept though his screaming). There we were in the middle of the night trying to get our toddler's eye lashes unstuck.  Parenthood can be so weird. After we finally freed his eye lashes he asked to sleep with us.  Given the tramua we all endured I agreed and we all snuggled together.  And I remember what I thought in the bed, I am doing an okay job (and so is Jason). We aren't always the best but we love our boys so very much.
 Here is to  the sleepless nights of parenthood, whether self imposed or forced upon you by screaming children.

PS.  I have to tell on Jason . .. . .  he took Alex to the Y the other day without pants. Yes, you read that right . . . sans pants.  While I was working on the mural he decided to hit up yoga.  Somehow when they were getting ready to leave, Alex removed his paints.  He believes that underwear are adquate and would only wear them if we let him.  Jason managed to buckle him in without noticing.  They were running late.  When they got to the Y he went to get Alex out of the car seat and realized his folly.  Poor guy had to turn around and go home.  Thus missing yoga.  But seriously, funniest story ever.  I laughed far longer than I should have when he told me.



Mural is Done!

The mural is done!  First, let me say, I could have NEVER done this on my own.  I had so much support, help and encouragement in this endeavor. I did the math and I had a little over 30 hours in this mural. Truthfully that isn't really that long for a project this size.  I would have been out there painting a lot longer if I hadn't had so much help.  Not to mention all the sponsors and donors that made it possible. It has been an amazing experience.  I really do love my town and I am so happy I got to contribute to my community.  My favorite part was just being on the Greenway.  As a runner I am out there a lot but this was so different. I was stationary.  I got to speak to all the different people who use the Greenway. I love meeting people new people and talking to people from all different walks of life.   I met so many interesting and diverse people.  Everyone was so friendly and  encouraging.  Doing a project like this helped to remind me that the world really is full of good people.  Kind people.  Generous people. Supportive people.  I really hope this project will help remind people of the goodness in the world, like it did for me. I really can't even begin to tell you how meaningful this project was for me.  Not only did I have amazing donors but I also had awesome friends who donated their time, as well as their resources for this project.  I had lots of volunteers.  Several of which I didn't even meet until this project was underway.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart to all the people who helped bring a little art and cheer to one of my very favorite places.

Here is a group pictures with a few of the volunteers and donors.


I want to give a special thank you to Carrie Workman Photography, Ace Hardware of Cleveland, the Habitat Restore and my dear friends Tim and Laura Gould.  Without these folks this would still just be an idea floating around in my head.  They enabled me to put the paint brush to concrete.  I'd also like to give a HUGE shout out to Rhonda from Create and Celebrate Studios who gave me a ton of paint and helped bring the daisies to life.  I wish I could list all the people who donated paint, but that list would be too long.  And last I want to thank all the kids and adults who braved the heat and humidity to help me.  I'm so lucky to know so many kind and generous people.

Speaking of giving folks . . .  my friend (Hi BEN!) made an amazing time lapse of the project.  The song playing is "Love Don't Go" by The Family Crest which inspired the concept painting for the project. Please listen to this band if you haven't already, they are amazing (one of my favorites).

Now for some fun facts:
  • This took over 30 hours of painting
  • I had over 20 volunteers help with the cleaning, priming and background painting
  • The painting itself was done with 100% recycled paint
  • I was only bitten by two ducks (seriously feed the ducks of face their wrath :) )
  • I destroyed three paint brushes doing the detail work
  • Henry (my five year old) put some red blobs of paint on the wall when I wasn't looking so I turned them into lady bugs.  I also hid a bunch more for the kiddios to find while walking by.
  • I wish I had kept count of all the friendly strangers who encouraged me while I was painting (it was amazing).  Basically, it was everyone who came by. 
  • I donated my time.  I didn't make any money off this.  All funds raised went to supplies.  
  • Mural is a little longer than 40 feet and 7 feet tall under bridge (9 on end caps)
  • I had never painted anything bigger that 4 feet before this. 
Our paper wrote two great articles about the project.  Here is the first one and the followup article (which I love because is has volunteers and donor interviews in it).  Funny story, the reporter asked my kids what they thought of the mural.  Alex told her is was kind of dorky. Seriously, I cracked up.  Who knows why he said that but he did.  Kids, you really never know what they are going to say!

Here are some more photos of the finished underpass.
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And my favorite picture is of my family.  They were so great.  Jason is always supportive of my crazy ideas.  After running to Boston I promised him a quiet summer.  My exact words were "no crazy projects."  Then a month later I told him I was thinking about the mural.  Without hesitation he told me to go for it.  He is the best. 
I decided I wanted to hide a little something extra in the painting for the boys.  So, I made a little lady bug say hi to the boys. 
 And for Jason, I got all sappy and hid two kissing lady bugs.  Seriously, this man is so supportive.

Once again, THANKS to everyone.  I still can't believe I got to see this mural come to life.  It is amazing and I know I could not have done this alone.  I have a great family, wonderful friends and a fantastic community. I am so blessed.
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