Day 31:  Goodbye March, Hello April

This month went by fast!  I remember saying how much I love March because it is the beginning of spring, well I am hoping that is what April brings!  While March has been full of hectic workdays, it wrapped up with many lazy, rainy days.  March was full of connecting with friends and laughing with my kids.  March brought me peaceful days at home and some trying times of raising a teenage boy.  Daylight savings time brought me more evening walks with my dogs, which will only continue to be more frequent. March brought me writing each day and connecting with people I have never met.  March gives me time to slow down, think about my days, and notice the good that is around me.  When I have to write about it, I am forced to notice it.  March brought the realization that people all over this world have many of the same thoughts as I do, and even the same struggles and fears.  Reading and writing these blogs for 31 days, helps me build relationships with people I don’t see or talk to often, some I have never even met.  The Slice of Life Challenge is a writing challenge, but it challenges us to connect and open up to other people about our everyday lives.  This is why I like this challenge so much.  I am a people person, but I do not connect with others as much as I should.  My work life is busy, my life as a single mom is hectic, and my circle of friends will always be there, no matter what, so we don’t need to connect on a daily basis,  This challenge forces me to not only share parts of each day,  it also allows me to read about others’ days, and it encourages us to comment and interact with each other.  This is why I love this challenge and another reason why I love the month of March.  As I wrap up March, I had an amazing girls’ day with my daughter full of haircuts, manicures, and pedicures.  Tonight, we will have dinner and cake celebrating her. Tonight is my last night with an 11-year-old and tomorrow, my baby girl will be 12.  

I hope even though the challenge is over, I will continue to notice the good in each day, the little things that make life happy.  Maybe I will even continue writing about them.

Day 30: A Perk of kids Getting Older

Today was a day that was relaxing and not rushed in any way.  It was raining and cold, so all of us knew it was a day to stay home.

I slept in later than unusual, then spent more time relaxing on the couch with both dogs while my kids slept in.  I watched tv for a bit, then turned it off and started reading a new book, while drinking my coffee. The kids slept in and after they relaxed a bit they knew what their day consisted of.  Both headed to their rooms this afternoon to get the one thing I asked to be done over spring break, done.  I wanted them to clean out closets and drawers.  It is amazing how many things they have that are too small or that they won’t wear anymore.  Drawers and closets are full and I am supposed to magically know what is needed for spring and summer.  While my daughter needed more help staying motivated and organized, my son just put on his tv and got to work.  He has always been my more organized one. They have been up there most of the afternoon.  Both have TVs in their room and have taken plenty of snack breaks, but it is getting done!  

As I headed upstairs, there were 4 bags of clothes to donate, rooms were dusted and vacuumed, and things were put away, not all over the floors.  I did not look under beds and I did not open the drawers where they keep their junk, that will be for another day.  Today I am just so happy that this is done and they were able to do most of it without me.  I am debating if I should go through the bags or simply put them in my trunk, deliver them to Goodwill, and check it off my list.  I have not decided that yet.  

One of the perks of kids getting older is that things can get done without my constant help. It may not be how I would do it and their rooms may not stay clean for long, but they did it.   I absolutely miss the days when they were little, but I have to find the positives in this stage too.  While I hung pictures, cleaned the kitchen, and folded laundry, I still had plenty of time to read.

Day 29: Half the Dad he Didn’t Have to Be! 

By Brad Paisley

(If you have an amazing step-parent or are an amazing step-parent, please listen to this song if you haven’t heard it.  While it is written for a boy and his step-dad, it is what I danced with my step-dad to at my wedding.

Today is my step-dad’s birthday. He is an amazing man who married my mom 35 years ago. He willingly married a woman with 3 girls of her own, two teenagers and one preteen.  At the time I didn’t think this was amazing, but all these years later, as a single mom, I could only imagine finding someone like him. He was there to support my mom while she raised us. I am sure he had PLENTY of opinions about my sisters and about me, but he did not jump in and try to raise us.  He supported us, he helped us, he cheered us on through all of our sports, but he never tried to be our dad, he was always just Dan and he was always an amazing step-dad.  Now, 35 years later, we called to wish this amazing man a “Happy Birthday!” For the man who never tried to replace my own dad, he has found an important spot in all of our hearts.  He has helped me rent, buy, and move numerous times.  He has been my handyman. He walked me down the aisle, with my own father.  He is Grandpa Dan to all of our kids.  He is a role model for my son and he just laughs in my direction when my daughter says or does something that reminds him of me at that age.

My ex-husband and I both have amazing step-dads.  My daughter asked me at one point if they would have a step-dad someday.  My answer was honest. I told her that  I do not see myself getting married again, but I would love for her to have an amazing step-dad like I do and like her dad does.  It takes an amazing man to be a step-dad.  I am not sure how we got so lucky to have him in our lives, but I am so glad we did!

Happy birthday to the most amazing Dad that he didn’t have to be 😉

Day 28 – Perfect Timing!

As I got back home today, I started thinking about what I really wanted to accomplish this week.  The kids need to clean out their closets so we can see what fits, what doesn’t fit, and who needs what for spring and summer.  The carpets need to be cleaned, but I am waiting a couple of weeks to do that because our old couch will be gone (hopefully) and our new one will be delivered.  I’m hoping to have a day or two without a couch to clean the carpet well.  We have haircut appointments Thursday, and my daughter just asked if we could get manicures and pedicures for her birthday, which is Friday.  So far this sounds like a good to-do list.

As I sat on the couch with aching legs and a tight back, I thought, I could really use a massage this week.  The place I normally go was booked this week and I couldn’t find a time that worked around my schedule until April 23. I booked it but was not happy about it.  I do not plan appointments appropriately.  I think of it and want availability when I call, but that is not how the world works.  I thought about my friend, who owns her own business.  I have never gotten a massage from her before because I don’t treat myself often.  I am also afraid that if I don’t like it, she is a friend, and how do I not book with her again?  I texted her, “Any chance you have any availability for a massage this week?”

She replied instantly, “I literally just had a cancellation for 5:30 tonight.  Can you come then?”  I didn’t even think about it, I responded, “Yes!! I’m in!”  Perfect timing!

I was so excited that I got in at the last minute.  This has been something on my to-do list for months, but because it’s for me and not really “necessary” it goes to the bottom of the to-do list every time.  I didn’t have a chance to think, debate, or cancel because something else came up that was more important.  I went for a 60-minute massage and supported a friend’s small business while relaxing.  We chatted, she worked on the months of knots and stress in my shoulders and back.  I had decided right then, that this would be something I treat myself to.  I will book my appointments through her. I rationalized that it is good for me, good for her business, and good for our friendship.  A total win-win!

It got even better when I went to go pay and she said, “My treat, consider it a late birthday gift!”  Of course, I tried to pay, but she said with the cancellation, she would have just been sitting there anyway.

This gave me even more of a reason to go again!  I am so excited that my last-minute scheduling worked out today, that I found a perfect place to continue going, and that I am sitting on my couch writing this feeling SO much more relaxed!

Day 27: Today

This morning, I woke up without anything planned.
This morning, I woke up without any errands or chores needing to be done.
This morning, I woke up to birds chirping, the sun shining, and complete silence.
This morning, I woke up excited to get moving and to take in more fresh air.
This morning, I woke up to a lazy morning and was able to do whatever I wanted.

This afternoon, the sun was shining.
This afternoon, I hiked until my legs hurt.
This afternoon, I explored nature.
This afternoon, I napped because I could.
This afternoon, I enjoyed not checking my phone.

This evening, we grilled out.
This evening, we made a fire.
This evening we watched silly, inappropriate movies.
This evening, I played card games and laughed.
This evening, my heart is full.

I will wake up tomorrow morning ready to head home.
I will wake up tomorrow morning ready to sleep in my own bed.
I will wake up tomorrow morning ready to accomplish things on my to-do list.
I will wake up tomorrow morning with a sore body, but feeling healthier than I have in a while.
I will wake up tomorrow morning so grateful for this weekend away.

Day 26: Another Trip Around the SunAs I woke up this morning, I realized how happy I am to be spending my birthday in a cabin away from home. I feel like I am in the middle of nowhere. I bundled up, got the dogs on their leashes, and took a short walk enjoying the quiet and the fresh air, while thinking about this next year ahead of me. I love that today I can just enjoy the day and focus on what I want from this next trip around the sun. Time definitely goes by so fast and I can not believe I am as old as I am. I can vividly remember my 16th birthday, my 21st birthday, my 30th birthday, my 40th birthday, and many in-between. For many of these birthdays, I was surrounded by friends and family, others were not as eventful, but that is how life gets as you get older. I am spending time today also thinking that no matter what the number is, no matter how many trips around the sun I have made, I am blessed to be here. I am blessed to be happy and healthy, because that is all that truly matters. Like all of us, I have lost many people that I have loved, some were way too young! When thinking about it that way, 48 is an accomplishment, not a number to be worried about.This year, I am promising not to dread the years as they pass, but to live them.I am promising to remember that age is just a number and that it is my job to make the most of each day I am given.This year, I will love, I will laugh, and I will live life to the fullest.Today, I get to celebrate with long walks, fresh air, and amazing company.Cheers to 48!

Day 25: Looking Forward to Friday Night

It has been a hectic week.  Well if we are being honest, it has been a hectic school year!  In many ways, I can’t believe it is March and at the end of the day today I will officially be on spring break.  While I always hope that someday spring break will once again mean fun times, beaches, and sunshine.  It isn’t happening this spring break….again.

This year, however, I am excited that we are continuing our spring break tradition from last year.  

With my kids being in junior high, I didn’t think it would really be somewhere they would want to go again.  I was wrong!  Right after Christmas, my daughter asked if we could go to Starved Rock again this year over spring break, my son agreed, and I was shocked that both were still interested.  Their dad and I had found this cute campsite of cabins.  We stayed the first year we were married, before kids, because it has a few “dog-friendly” cabins and we just wanted a weekend getaway.  The second time we went, we had the same dog, an energetic 3-year-old, and a year old.  It was a perfect “vacation” for our young family.  I hadn’t been there in years, until last year.  My kids and I headed there with our 2 new dogs.  I showed them pictures of when we were there 10 years prior, the same cabin, the same frog pond, and the same front porch swing. I thought for sure they would be bored, but we were still living in the covid times and this got us out of the house.  They loved it!

Tonight I will be sitting in the same small cabin, that may or may not have phone reception.  We will bring groceries, games, and our two dogs again.  We will have a TV with no cable, only a DVD player.  There is a community store on the grounds where we can buy firewood, borrow movies and games, and buy forgotten items and snacks.  The store is run on the honor system and is open 24 hours.  I am so excited and I love that my 12  and 13-year-old are happily going with me.

Tonight, I will be sitting in a quiet cabin surrounded by nature.

Tonight, I will be with the two people who mean the most to me.

Tonight, we will be watching old movies that the kids have never heard of, playing board games or card games, and probably laughing a lot.

Tonight will not be about texts, Snapchat, Facebook, or Tik-Tok.

Tonight will be about face-to-face conversations.

Tonight will not be about planning grocery lists, chores that need to get done, or places that we need to be.

Tonight will be about starting a fire in the fireplace.

Tonight might be about seeing stars.

Tonight will be the perfect start to our spring break.

Day 24: Hand me Down Flowers are Still Appreciated ❤

Today a student of mine came back into school at the end of the day. He was holding a bouquet of purple flowers and he handed them to me. I was surprised and asked him what they were for. He started telling me the story:

“My mom is a dietician and people were celebrating in her office. Someone gave her flowers, but we are leaving for Arizona tomorrow so we won’t be home. She told me to bring them in to you, so you could have them.”

I started to thank him and another teacher walked into the office. “Aww, what are the flowers for?” she asked. He gladly started with the story again. While he was telling her, she interrupted her and said,”I think you meant to say because she is an awesome teacher!” He laughed and said, “Yes, that is the SECOND reason.”

He smiled, laughed and headed out of the school.
We laughed in the office and I mentioned that I just got “hand me down flowers.”
It was a sweet ending to my day, even if they weren’t originally intended for me.

As I am writing this slice, I am sitting at my kitchen table, looking at some beautiful flowers, and thinking that hand me down flowers are still appreciated and they still brightened my day!

Day 23- Fun Sponge?

My daughter is almost 12 years old and in 6th grade. So obviously that qualifies her to know what is cool and what isn’t. Recently, she started referring to me as a “fun sponge” and she felt the need to explain it to me. “You know Mom, like you just suck the fun right out of everything!” Like I couldn’t figure out on my own what it meant.

I hear things like:
“Mom, don’t be a fun sponge!”
“You are such a fun sponge!”
“Do you want people to think you are a fun sponge?”

This morning, I made the mistake of telling my kids that we were having spirit week this week at school and today was “Have your family members dress you” Instantly, my daughter was interested. Our conversation went something like this:
“Yes, let me pick out your clothes!”
“No way!”
“Our teachers always dress up.”
“No! I am not letting you pick out my outfit.”
“Why? Your kids would love it!”
“No, I don’t have to participate in all the spirit day days.”
“I bet your kids think you are a fun sponge.”

So I am heading off to work knowing that I am now a fun sponge as a mom and a teacher. I am not sure where the fun girl went, but apparently she is not here anymore.

Day 22- The Gift of Color

I have a friend at work that is always so thoughtful.  She remembers EVERYTHING! When I got engaged there were brides magazines on my desk at work, baby gifts for both of my kids, a “sunshine” bag of yellow things when I was going through my divorce just to brighten my day, and little birthday gifts along the way.  She is the person at work who remembers everybody’s birthday, she remembers things about our kids and our extended families.  I admire this about her so much because it is SO not me.  Don’t get me wrong, I feel like I am a thoughtful person and I do try to remember birthdays and all the things everyone has going on in their personal lives, so that I can ask and they know that I care.  It just doesn’t always happen.  I walk into work and there are meetings, lesson plans, and kids with so many needs.  There are academic needs, behavior needs, and emotional needs.  At work, I survive minute to minute, even though I am a planner.  That doesn’t seem to matter because the things that pop up daily, that I need to deal with, are never planned!

This morning we walked in to work together and chatted.  She has her own family stuff going on, so I felt great that we finally got to focus on her, her family, her plans etc.  I was glad I took a few minutes out of my day, before things got crazy to talk to her and what was going on outside of our school lives.

Not even five minutes later, she comes back in with a birthday card and gift!  My birthday is still several days away, but she will not be at work and she had obviously bought the thoughtful gift a while ago.  As I opened it and saw what it was, I died laughing.

This is a movie from the 80’s that we both loved.  We have had our kids watch it, we have quoted it at work, and talk about way more than really ever needed!  I told her that it would be perfect for the upcoming weekend.  We will be heading to a cabin for three days of hiking and relaxation.  Coloring in my “Goonies” coloring book sounds perfect.  When I got home, I showed both of my kids.  They both found a picture of their favorite part of the movie and are looking forward to coloring also.

My daughter said that we should frame our artwork and leave it for the next people in our cabin, but then quickly added, “No way, it’s too awesome of a picture to leave behind.”

Today, it was the thoughtfulness of a friend that made my day.

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