Summertime. I mean, really.

First day of summer break. Awesome and awful all at once. I woke up Monday to a child screaming, “Mom! Mom! Mom! Mama!” I jumped out of bed worried about what the screaming was, only to find that the boys were watching Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Augustus Gloop’s chunky butt was screaming for his mommy from the tube. I crawled back into bed for a minute.

Once I gained my bearings I climbed into my running shoes and poured a cup of coffee to chug before my summertime baby-sitter arrived. I hired someone (actually a teenager I used to babysit when I was a teenager) to sit with the kids in the morning Monday through Friday so I can continue on with my runs while the boys are on break. She pulled into the drive way and I took off.

I got a great run in, although I’m still not in what I consider “shape”, I was able to run two, under 9 minute miles so I was good with that. I relieved the sitter and hopped in the shower. Afterwards I worked on garage organization while the kids played in the yard, searching for worms so we could go fishing. We were starved by 11:30 and the boys have established an obsession with Subway so we loaded into the car, had sandwiches (veggie for me – have I mentioned that I’ve lost 6 pounds since the beginning of May?) and then stopped at a convenience store to pick up bait (you can buy bait, beer, chips, dip and lottery tickets all at the same venue in Ohio).

We pulled into the park and unloaded our fishing gear. Josh’s dad bought the boys fishing poles and all that goes with it so I fumbled for a few minutes trying to figure out how to pull the line through the rod, hook the bobber and attach the hook. I managed though and within little time the boys were looking at me like I was the definition of badass ūüôā

We fished for about an hour, maybe a little more, and I was impressed with how quickly the boys caught on. Theo could cast like a master fisherman and Parker caught three fish! I was also a little surprised with how unafraid Theo was. He’s usually very squeamish about all things but when it comes to animals something is just different. He caught one fish, grabbed it and began to release the hook when Ruby tripped over his line causing the hook to dig into his finger. He freaked out for a minute but it wasn’t that bad so he shook it off like a champ. In the meantime, every fish Parker caught waged a war between he and I. I’ve declared this summer as the season of learning and I’m digging my heels in when it comes to making sure the boys do the things they can do, on their own. I read an Ann Landers quote recently that basically sums up my personal parenting philosophy and I’ve taken it to heart.

“It is not what you do¬†for¬†your children, but what you have taught them to¬†do for themselves¬†that will make them successful human beings.‚ÄĚ

Anyway, I told the boys from the get go that I would help them bait their hook and cast a couple of times but that was it. If they wanted to fish, they had to fish. Parker was totally creeped out by the wriggling fish every time he reeled one in so we spent about four minutes per fish (the first two at least) arguing about whether he should pull the hook from the fish’s mouth or whether I should. And then the third fish happened. I watched him literally, mistakenly, cast his rod into the first dip of water and within two seconds a fish had caught. Excitedly, he reeled it in only to find that the fish had swallowed the hook. As soon as I saw it several choice words flew through my brain.

Park worked on getting that hook out for about three minutes before I finally said, “Okay, we’ve got to get this fish back into the water or it’s going to die.” I threw the fish back in still attached to the hook. Parker flipped. He was going to de-hook this fish and save its life. He told me to reel it in again because he was going to get the hook out. He asked that I gently step on the fish so he could get a better grip and then he proceeded to try every angle while tearing up and bickering back and forth with me for twenty. minutes. Twenty minutes. It was so pitiful and though I was annoyed with his squeamishness, I felt so bad for the little guy by the end of it. Eventually I told him it was a lost cause. The fish was dead. We had to cut the line and just throw him back. All three kids broke down crying and we all hugged in the 85 degree weather by the pond in the park.

We called it a day and discussed whether we’d ever go fishing again. Theo said absolutely not because he “can’t handle when things die. Except for germs.” Parker said yes because he had had a blast until the third fish fiasco but next time he’ll bring gloves to better handle the fish. We headed off to the library to return some books and check out new.

When we got home I realized that I had left the garage door open. Now, our garage is not for our car. It’s at a really terrible angle in our driveway and I’m actually not even sure that our van would fit even if we could make the required turn. If I had my way, I’d tear the damn thing down. On top of our inability to use the garage for what a garage should be used for, we need a new door. The one we have is ragged, ugly and off the tracks.

As I pulled the door down, the stupid thing got stuck. With my handbag and library books in my right hand, I used my left hand to partially  re open the garage door so I could pull it closed, but as the door dropped, my left hand caught inside of one of the sections and began to smash as the door continued to lower.

Though I didn’t make any noise, all I could think was, “Holy shit, my fingers are being cut off and I’m here by myself with my three kids who will just be completely traumatized.” Parker thought it too because he screamed and said, “Mom! Are your fingers there? Are you fingers there?” I dropped everything I was holding in my right hand and slowly began lifting the door. As the door lifted, it got tighter and I grew even more scared thinking there was no way out. Luckily, after a certain point I realized that I could manually separate the sections of the garage door that my hand was stuck between and managed to escape with a minor gash and three bruised knuckles. It actually didn’t even hurt that badly but it was scary as shit. I held it together until I was in the house and then 5 minutes later, when the kids were distracted, I called Josh and broke down crying.

The rest of the night was filled with vodka and lemonade (duh), eating dinner outside and Face Timing  my aunt, sister and husband. After the kids were in bed I vegged on the couch while drowning my sorrows in Housewives and London Ladies. Day 1 is in the books.

 

Hello! A catch up post.

I’m kind of over blogging. Over as in, I don’t ever feel like taking the time to write things down anymore. Over as in, I never want to upload/edit/share pictures from my camera anymore. My hobby of blogging has been evolving since the day I started my first blog back in 2010 and I assume it will continue to evolve until it eventually fizzles out. Then I read back on something I wrote 4 years ago and I’m so thankful that I took the time to blog because I love the little glimpse into the time capsule that I created. Our lives are so different now than they were just 4 years ago. I’m ridiculously nostalgic so even though my life today is exactly (almost) where the me from 2010 would have hoped it to be, I can’t deny that it makes me sad to look back and remember where I was then.

I think I’ll probably get back to blogging a little bit more since it’s officially summertime in the Kistler house but since I can’t promise anything I thought I’d write a little random update post to share with everyone (especially the future me) what is going on in our family and my mind lately.

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  • Living separately from the love of my life absolutely sucks. Today marks two months since we started this geobacheloring journey and while these two months have flown by, we still have 16 to go. As to be expected, we’ve already had some issues but we knew this wouldn’t be easy when we signed up for it. For me, aside from just really, really missing my best friend, the hardest part is keeping the feeling of resentment at bay. Some nights, when the kids have been particularly difficult or the work on the house is wearing on me and Josh calls to tell me he’s out at a bar in Manhattan with the guys from work, I feel it creeping in. I feel like he’s such an ass to be out on a Wednesday night partying like he’s one of the guys (everyone he works with is single) and I really, really want to be mad at him. But I know that he isn’t really¬†partying like one of the guys and that¬†this isn’t something he would be doing if we were there with him. I don’t expect him to sit in his apartment and twiddle his thumbs because I’m back at home tucking our kids in bed. Sometimes I just have to remind myself that he’s not choosing his friends or the bar over us – we’re just not there for him to choose. The kids are handling it well though. I was afraid they’d live their lives Sunday to Friday just waiting for dad to come home but just like they always do, they’ve surprised me with their resiliency. We FaceTime every morning and every night and have only gone 5 days max without being able to squeeze Josh so it’s not too bad. Ruby has become obsessed with New York. Any time she sees¬†anything¬†that resembles a city she says, “Look! It’s New York!” because she knows that’s where daddy is.¬† photo IMG_8627_zpsa2831249.jpg
  • Moving back home has been pretty much completely opposite to what I thought it would be like. It’s not a bad or a good thing, it’s just different than what I imagined. I love our little house but it doesn’t feel like “home”. As a matter of fact, while we are very happy that we made this decision and we’re very happy to be back in our hometown for right now, I don’t think that any of us feel this is long term. For the first month, while the New York funk wore off, Parker made comments every other day about how badly he wanted to grow up here. I felt it too. I was actually disappointed that we didn’t buy a bigger house because this house is just too small for us to grow into if this is going to be our forever town, but slowly that feeling started to fade for all of us and now I wonder if we’re just addicted to the nomad lifestyle. A few weeks ago, Parker and I were talking about our life here and I asked him if he was happy that we moved back. He said, “Yeah I like it here and I want to stay for a little while but I think I’d be okay to move again.” Hearing him say those words felt a little like gaining permission for something. It felt like a relief of some kind.

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  • As for the house, Josh and I have been busting our butts and have the downstairs 99% of the way completed. We’ve changed nearly everything. The color of the walls, the light fixtures in every room, we’ve painted the fireplace, stained the mantle, installed a door bell, installed central air, changed the entire kitchen, upgraded the blinds in the windows and on and on and on. We’re currently working on fencing in our back yard and we’re creeping upstairs as we continue on with sanding the floors, painting the hallway walls and changing out the upstairs hallway light. I’d say overall, we’re at about 70% complete with everything I envisioned on the first day we walked through the house. The speed at which we’re working is insane – basically projects haven’t stopped for 2 months – but it’s just one of those by – products of being a military family.¬†You only have so much time in this space so do what you need to do before you have to move on.¬†That’s the way my brain is wired now. That feeling is draining at first but now that we’ve accomplished so much I’m actually starting to feel elated. I nearly have the house I’ve been picturing since February which is allowing a little bit of contentment to trickle down. I don’t think I’ve felt content since 2011 so this is nice. With that said, I am very bipolar when it comes to this house and some¬†hours days I feel like we’re pouring sweat and money into a pit. Hopefully not.

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  • I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited about summertime in my life. The dog days of the two summers past have given me a huge appreciation for Ohio summers. I plan to move at an extremely slow and laid back pace, earn the nick name of pool rat, play outside in our pajamas at 8 am, eat most of our meals¬†on our new picnic table, run and bike hundreds of miles and eat more fair food than I’d ever admit to. The boys are signed up for basketball, soccer, and art camp, we have two vacations planned and a visit from my sister and new baby nephew in early August. I know I’m going to blink and it will all be over with but like I told the boys this morning, the second half of the year in Ohio is just short of magical. Fireflies, football, holidays and family is all that’s left of 2014.

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iPhone photos from a really great day in Central Park.

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Bring on Spring and Summer! With 60 degree weather today, we¬†had¬†to get out of the house and decided to go to Central Park since we won’t get too many more opportunities to just go whenever we want. The boys love Heckscher playground and have dubbed it “the best playground” they’ve ever been to “besides Firestone Park!” ha! Firestone Park is the little park in our hometown, which obviously pales in comparison to Central Park but does go down in history as one of the best back home.

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One of the best things about Heckscher is the giant boulder that the playground is built into. The kids are encouraged to climb the rock and the views up top are gorgeous.

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After playing for a good long while, we stopped at an ice cream truck and then walked down the mall and into Bethesda Terrace where a woman was singing opera. This is what I love and will miss about New York. It was beautiful.

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Walking through Central Park on one of the first nice days of the year is electric. Everyone is out and everyone is happy. We saw wedding parties, performers, musicians and no less than 1,000 dogs. Ruby seemed to enjoy the city more today than she ever has and even ended up walking completely by herself (since she refused to be carried) nearly 40 blocks throughout the day. We went into Manhattan today with the idea that it may be our last visit before we move. We were not disappointed.

 

 

Snow Day.

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We kicked off our mid winter break by taking the kids sled riding for the first time today. The boys have gone a couple of times on the small hill in our back yard but today we took them to a big hill down the street and it was a blast. I thought we’d make it twenty minutes top before Ruby was cold and crying but even she loved it. I took her down the hill once on Parker’s sled and even though we were flying, she cackled the entire way down. Theo is a pro sledder and loved every minute, even telling me that he was “training for the Olympics.” Parker asked if we could go back tomorrow.

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Sledding is terrifying. You never realize it when you’re a fearless kid but I went down the hill twice today and thought I was going to die both times.

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Our view is pretty amazing. Not everyone gets to sled beneath the Verrazano Bridge. One of the most beautiful bridges in New York, in my opinion. 

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A lot of times when the kids ask me to play outside with them I balk at the idea and try to come up with excuses as to why I can’t. I want to stop doing that.

 

 

 

 

Laundrygate.

Oh what a morning. It’s one of those where you just have to laugh because otherwise you’d go insane. Luckily I have this hysterical little boy called Theo to lighten the mood.

It all started when I told Parker to grab a uniform shirt from the dryer. Yep that’s right. A school uniform because, you know, Mayor DeBlasio thinks it’s imperative to issue a commuter warning (stay off of the roads) but not to cancel public school. Hmmmm…

Anyway, Parker went to grab a shirt from the dryer which was filled with a load of the kids’ laundry. He came back with a white undershirt covered in blue marks and said, “Mom, there are blue marks on¬†everything¬†in the dryer.” Both boys denied having put any markers in their pockets, which happens every so often, and I wasn’t really concerned with it because marker is easy to get out. I went on with my morning and continued packing lunches.

When Theo was done eating breakfast I told him to grab his black gym sweats from the dryer and start getting dressed because surely blue marker wouldn’t show on black pants. But even the pants had bright blue spots all over them. Josh unloaded the dryer and I quickly saw that¬†every single thing¬†was covered in blue. Including several of the boys’ expensive, embroidered school uniforms.

I was mad. We looked through everything but didn’t find any clues as to what or who caused the blue. Both boys vehemently denied leaving anything in their pocket but Theo fought back a smirk while telling us it wasn’t him and passing off the blame to his little sister. At this point, we figured that it had to be a blue crayon because the stains were showing up on everything and were a little waxy. Plus there were no remnants of anything so it must have melted. That just reinforced Theo’s theory. “Coloring with crayons is for babies so it¬†had¬†to have been Ruby.”

As I sat and sprayed Spray & Wash on all of the blue stains I checked the pockets of the clothes. Wouldn’t you know, there was one single pocket from one single pair of little jeans that turned up bright blue.¬†

But I wasn’t mad anymore. I mean how do you stay mad at a kid who says, “Well I think the blue makes the clothes look kind of fancy.”

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What’s new with the kids?

Since I don’t have a Facebook account to keep everyone updated on the random things going on with the kids, I thought I’d post about what’s currently going on with them (and us). I’ve relied on Facebook a lot over the years to document the funny things they say and to share their achievements so that is something I’m missing now. Especially because we live in our own little bubble and barely ever get to talk to our outside family.

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Parker – Park’s¬†class is reading “Because of Winn Dixie” and he came home annoyed because his teacher had censored a part. Apparently during the preacher’s 10 things about Opal’s mother, his teacher refused to read one of the numbers because it was “inappropriate.” Of course this led Parker to make a beeline for the book section at Target where he picked up a copy, flipped to the page and read that what was “inappropriate” was that Opal’s mother was an alcoholic. I’m completely against censorship but this pissed me off on another level. I don’t understand why a teacher would believe that rather than have a conversation about a disease, which alcoholism absolutely is, it’s better just to label it not suitable for third graders. I’m against hiding things from kids in any capacity. It leads to two things: 1. kids take it upon themselves to find out and then get misinformed/the wrong idea and 2. you, as an adult, miss your opportunity to effectively communicate with your kid. If we didn’t have the type of open relationship that we do with Parker, he could have possibly actually believed that drinking alcohol is a bad thing or that alcoholism is something that shouldn’t be spoken of.

Park was selected for his school’s soccer team. It’s not competitive and it’s actually just an hour a week of drills, skills practice and fun but he really likes it and was very excited that he was picked.

One of Parker’s teeth is growing in way too high in his gums. I had this same problem with my teeth which is what led me to need braces. I know it’s inevitable for him too but I have no idea when we’ll start seeing an orthodontist. He hasn’t seemed self conscious about the tooth but he did mention to me that he thinks it’s ugly.

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Theo – ¬†Theo came home from school one day last week when Josh had picked him up, ashamed to tell me that he had cut his hair during class. And not just a little bit, he cut half of his “bangs” off. Apparently he had been pretending to cut his hair, laughing with a friend, when the friend said “I dare you to really¬†cut your hair.” so Theo did. And Josh and I were not surprised. We acted like we were disappointed and had the whole talk about how he knows better than to do things he’s not supposed to just because a friend tells him to but Josh and I both know that Theo isn’t a follower – he’s a character who likes to make people laugh. Who can be mad at that? The hardest part was trying not to laugh as he explained that after he did it, he had to take the entire chunk of hair to his teacher’s desk and explain what he had done. I mean, all I could think about was being this teacher who thinks her students are sweetly working on an assignment only to have this crazy 5 year old bring a giant chunk of hair to her desk! To be a fly on that wall.

T was not selected for the school’s soccer team and was pretty devastated for about a day. He takes things hard but he also moves on quickly.

Theo is so excited for his birthday that almost every night as we tuck him in he wants to go through the list of options for his celebration. Since we don’t live by any family and very few friends we never have birthday parties for the kids but instead we let them pick something special to do for the day. Theo has his day narrowed down to the Crayola Factory, the Liberty Science Center, the Please Touch Museum, CoCo Keys (an indoor water park), or a Caribbean Cruise. Not that the last one is really an option but he continues to keep it on his list.

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Ruby –¬†Rubes is a real big girl now. She seems to have the same great memory that the boys have and can recall events from a week ago. She’s talking up a storm and speaks in sentences. She’s obsessed with her brothers, pretzels and hummus and giving Lolly treats. She refuses to wear half of her wardrobe. For some reason she started saying “note” instead of no and I can’t stop laughing about it. She’s the girliest tomboy with the craziest, frizzy curls that I’ve ever seen. She has a stuffed tiger that she takes everywhere and though she had originally named him Guy, he now goes by Tigey.

Last night Ruby woke up at 3:30 am, which is really unusual for her. Josh tried to comfort her but she just wanted to get up so we let her cry/whine for about an hour. Finally, I gave in and brought her into our bed with us for the first time in her life. At first she thought it was party time but then once she realized that we were just sleeping too she said, “Mommy bed.” which was her way of letting me know that she wanted to go back to her bed! I couldn’t believe that two hours of whining and fighting sleep ended with her telling me she was ready to go back to her bed. I laid her in her bed and she rolled over and slept until 7:30.

The other day Josh put on his work gloves and pretended to “Ironman” Ruby’s face. She screamed, “Aweshum!” and Josh and I died laughing. Aside from the fact that we didn’t know she knew the word, it was hysterical that she thought that Josh’s gloved hand in her face was awesome.

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A morning with Parker’s class.

I forgot how much I love spending time in little classrooms. Up until we moved to New York last April, I spent a lot of time in Parker’s schools. In Cape May I volunteered once a week working in the teacher’s lounge, helped run the class parties, chaperoned field trips, and attended all of the school concerts, awards assemblies, and after school family nights. In Texas I was the room mom, I planned and organized all of the holiday parties, went to the school fundraiser dinners as well as the special assemblies and events. I loved it and it always made me wish I’d finished my education degree.

But in New York City public schools, there isn’t much opportunity for parental interaction. There aren’t really any awards assemblies, concerts, holiday parties or family events. You’re not even allowed to have lunch at the school, which is something Parker used to love for me to do. Now excuse me while I step up onto my soap box for a minute. ¬†Being a presence in your child’s school is so important. Not only does it show your kid that you care about their education and what goes on in their daily life away from home, but it opens up a dialog with your child’s teacher that normally parents don’t get. I don’t understand people who have the ability to be involved but choose not to be.¬†Okay, I’m done now.¬†

Today was my first real day in Parker’s class in almost a year. The third graders finally finished up their informational writing unit and parents were invited in for a reading of the essays. Let me just say, these essays were a pain in the ass. Parker wrote his on sharks and while he just might be a little expert on the subject, writing this paper involved several hours of research, arguments and discussions about plagiarism, and an eventual turning of the back to mom and heading to dad for help. The cover page alone took an hour to design and print.

I headed into the school with Ruby in tow because Josh wasn’t able to take the morning off to come along (or stay home with Rubes). I was a little nervous about bringing her because she has been pretty demanding lately and shows no signs of Parker’s shyness or Theo’s desire to meld with the big kids. She couldn’t care any less about what the teacher thinks (Parker’s huge on not disappointing authority) or acting like a big kid (Theo used to sit at a desk and not move if that’s what the rest of Parker’s class was doing).

Screen Shot 2014-01-30 at 11.50.05 AMDon’t let that picture fool you.¬†

We spent 45 minutes listening to the kids’ essays and during that time Ruby took her shoes off and refused to put them back on, licked Parker’s face and piercingly screamed three times – and not because anything was wrong, she just wanted the attention of the class I guess. Parker let her share his seat with him and gave her one of his pencils and post it notes so she could draw. He never seemed annoyed or embarrassed and when I mentioned that I may have to just take her and go, he insisted that she wasn’t a distraction and that they were almost done. Luckily the teacher had donut holes for everyone because Ruby was not planning on leaving without taking Parker with her. The donut was just enough of a distraction to get her out of the school before she started wailing.

I had to laugh because while I used to get complimented on Theo’s behavior anytime I took him into the school with me, today I got complimented on how well Parker handles his sister. Basically it was, “Your daughter’s out of control but your son is a really sweet big brother.” Ha!

Even though Rubes was a little nuts, I still had a good time. It was nice to see Parker interact with his friends (he’s the leader of the table and it was adorable seeing him instruct the 5 kids he’s responsible for) and to put a face to some of the names I’ve heard so often. It was also a relief to hear that Parker wasn’t the only one who had issues with plagiarizing. Let’s just say there were a lot of words that were unable to be pronounced during those 45 minutes.

Today reminded me how much I love the atmosphere of elementary schools. Don’t tell Josh but it even got my wheels spinning towards the possibility of going back to college. In the meantime, I’m going to continue doing as much as I can here and waiting patiently to get back to a school district where volunteering is encouraged. And next week I get to make pizzas with Kindergarteners as a chaperone for Theo’s first ever field trip. That should make for a good time ūüėČ