Field Trip - A Small, But Meaningful Victory for Mommy


I won't lie.  Working full-time stinks.  Only a few short months ago, I had the chance to work three days a week and spend the other two with my son.  It was perfect.   I could earn some money to help pay for household expenses, spend valuable time with Lewie, and find some hours in-between for myself and my own well-being.

Working full-time, for me, has changed everything.  I have less time for Lewie, less time for myself, less time to clean the house, and just less time in general.  Everything has turned into a very tightly wound schedule--one that can unwind at a moment's notice if one detail falls out of sync.  Doctors appointments are strategically planned, personal days are requested months in advance, and weekly chores are prioritized on a level of 1 through 10.  Grocery shopping, of course, gets a # 1 rating; whereas, mopping the floors is a # 10.  (Mopping the floors never happens because I never have time to move past level # 5.) 

I find that with this type of schedule, I have to start rewarding myself for small victories.  Yay, I was able to put up Halloween decorations a week before the holiday, or yay, I was able to squeeze in a quick walk during my lunch hour at work!

This week's small victory was being able to go on my son's field trip.  After rearranging appointments at work and promising to make up my time by staying late during other nights of the week, I was able to spend three glorious hours with my son and his teachers and classmates. 

You see, ever since I started working full-time, Lewie has felt the effects of Mommy not being around as much.  As I drop him off from school, he usually begins his chorus of requests...

"Mommy can you stay at school today to read us a book?"

"Mommy, I wish you can work here."

"Mommy, can you pick me up early?  Can you pick me up after lunch time?"

The requests go on and on, and the mommy guilt presses on me like carrying a 350 pound bag of sand on my shoulders.  I know I'm not unique; many moms have to work and trade in treasured moments with their kids for banal hours with irritating coworkers and demanding customers.   I know I will eventually adjust...he will eventually adjust.  We're just not there yet.

So, in the meantime, I'm happy to share these prized pictures of Lewie's field trip.  It was a memorable day because it was a day where once...just once...I could say "yes" to one of Lewie's tender requests.  "Yes Lewie, I can stay with you at school today, and yes we will be able to have fun together." 

Lewie, me, and his little class on the hayride.  (Lewie found an interesting piece of hay...)

My little boy and I.  (Wish he was smiling...oh well.)

The view (right from over my little boy's head).

Cows coming toward us.  Evidently, the thrill of this hayride is that the cows get to eat...

Right from our wagon...  That's one of little Lewie's classmates feeding them.


Lewie preferred to watch the cows eat instead of feeding them himself.

Miss Nicole writing Lewie's name on his pumpkin.

Om my...what is Dennis the Menace up to now...?

Lewie's little Kokopelli preschool class.  They were all angels.  Honestly.

Driving through the muck to get back.

We were seriously going through two feet of water... I won't lie; I was nervous we were going to get stuck!

Made it!  Whew!

Goodbye Schreiber's Farm!  Time to return to our van.

Fall: Good for the Soul


I love the fall--apple and pumpkin picking, hiking, leaf collecting, corn mazes, hayrides, farms, crafts, fairs, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and more...

We've been fortunate to have some sunny, warm weekends, and so we've been spending every moment we can get in the great outdoors taking in all the beautiful, majestic glory around us.   Our days have been full--squeezing eight birthdays into a single month along with the season's festivities, but every single minute (both rushed and relaxed) has been worth it.  Yes, fall this year has truly been like "chicken soup for the soul."

Celebrating a friend's birthday at a nearby farm!

I love this picture (taken after feeding the goats.)

Ice cream at the farm!

One seriously noisy rooster.  (This guy never stopped!)

My little pumpkin.

I don't ever want to let go...

The one!

Daddy chose a different "one."

Being silly in front of the corn maze...

My mom and Lewie shopping for mums...

Shall we pick white, or yellow, or purple, or orange, or red?

Time to pick a pumpkin for my mom...maybe?

Yummy apples for sale.

Day date w/ hubby...a view from our restaurant's outside table...

Hiking w/ hubby...

View from the summit!  It looks like our "peak" weekend is holding off some.  There's still lots of green trees!

The Big 38!


I'm 38.  I had to think twice about it this morning (perhaps Dementia is already setting in).  After having Lewie (just before my 32 birthday), time seemed to stop for me.  After all, the focus is on my little guy now.  It's about his birthday parties, his milestones, and his achievements.

If I had one wish, it would be to freeze time, not indefinitely but say, for a year or two more.  I'm enjoying Lewie as a five year-old now, and I can handle 38 for a while.  It seems like once I turned 30, time started going by exponentially faster--and years went by in twos--32, 34, 36...

It took me a while to find my soul mate and begin a family.  Sometimes I wish I had started sooner. Perhaps, I would have three children by now!  Still, I believe everyone has their own destiny in life, and mine has been pretty good to me.  Today, as I grow another year older wiser, I'd like to reflect on some of the lessons I've learned later in life.  Some are lessons I learned in this decade and still others are lessons that I've only learned this year...

Our most recent visit to the pumpkin patch...I think we both blinked, but for some reason I like this picture.

1.  It takes a community to raise a child.
Oh, how I've heard this expression again and again, but when I was pregnant with Lewie, I had my mind made up that I would be the one taking care of him from sun up to sun down, and even more, I would be the one teaching him, perhaps even homeschooling.

It's five years later, and I've learned that I can't do it all.  I can't take care of him 24/7 without a break, and even more, it's not healthy for his only interactions to be with me.  Little by little, I learned that I needed to give up control, and guess what?  It's working.  I have a happy, well-adjusted little boy that loves his daddy, his Gramy (my mom), his Ninny and Papa (my in-laws), his aunties, his teachers, and his little friends.  He seems to learn so much more from a structured curriculum at school, and while I know some moms that are amazing at homeschooling, I've finally admitted to myself that I'm not one of them.  We play games and learn a little at home, but ultimately, he does his primary learning with his teachers and friends...and that's okay with me.

2.  I've learned "to let go and let God."
This is a common saying, most used in AA and NA meetings, that has applied to my life for a while.  It seems that every time I try to be the one "in control," I lose it.  In these last few years, our little family unit has had to contend with big issues such as addiction to pain medication, mental health issues, depression, and major financial loss.  Answers to problems such as these are not found in a pill. They're not found in anxiety, worry, and unrest.  They're not found in a doctor's or  psychologist's handbook.  Answers, I've learned, come from prayer.  Prayer has helped me make it through some very difficult days, and prayer has given me hope when I thought our marriage might not survive.

3.  I've learned to focus less on the future and enjoy NOW.
As an adult, I'd like to think that I'm the one teaching my son, but often the table is turned, and it's my son that's teaching me major life lessons.  One of the biggest of these lessons is to enjoy the moment.  I'm a daydreamer, but after having my son, I quickly realized that when I'm with him, I have no time to think about the past or the future.  In order to be fully engaged with him, I have to be concentrating on the "now."  Life, for him, is about the present.  It's about swinging on the swings, jumping on the trampoline, picking up an acorn for his collection, or playing with his train table now.  If my mind starts to wander, he brings me back to reality, and I'm glad he does.  Life is not to be lived in my head; it's to be lived with real, tangible conversations, emotions, actions, hugs, and kisses that I can see, hear, and feel.

4.  I've learned the greatest gift you can give to others is empathy.
The saying "Don't judge a man until you've walked two moons in his moccasins" or "Don't judge a man until you've walked a mile in his shoes" is so true.  Many times I'm quick to judge people either by their appearances, their demeanor, or their attitude.    I'm quick to judge people who seem angry, defensive, or hostile.  I also catch myself envying people who seem like they have the perfect life or the perfect marriage, BUT...  I don't know them.  I don't know their life.  I don't know what hardships they've faced, and I certainly don't know their own worries, anxieties, or fears.  In the past year, I've learned to practice having empathy for family members and friends.  I've also learned  to have empathy for complaining students and even bickering politicians.  At the end of the day, we're all just little kids in adult bodies.  In fact, when I start picturing adults as a three year-old versions of themselves, I realize that we all started out the same.  We were all once young, innocent, and pure; underneath those harbored insecurities, failed dreams, feelings of loss and mourning, we still are those pure, perfect babes.

5.  I've learned that it's not always about money.
I live in a wealthy part of the country, and consequently, a very wealthy part of the world.  Connecticut, being close to New York, is usually ranked as the third or forth wealthiest state based on our median household income.  While I live in a working class neighborhood, some of our more prominent surrounding towns boast million dollar mansions with perfect green lawns, sprawling gardens, and picture-perfect sunset views.  I catch myself admiring those houses way more than I should and wishing I had a larger kitchen, a greener lawn, or you name what else.  While I still struggle with wanting to make a higher income, I've learned that my happiest days were those when I didn't have an income at all.  It was just about me staying home with my little boy and being present for all his big and small moments.  With him, it felt like time stopped, and for once, it didn't matter if my neighbors had a bigger house.  At the end of the day, do I want my son to remember me for being a loving mom who was fully present with him or to remember me as the mom who didn't have time because she was always trying to make money?  We need enough money to get by, but after that, its about creating fun, long-lasting memories (ones filled with love, joy, and support) that truly count.

6.  I've learned that true happiness comes from appreciating what you have.
A while back, I started a gratitude journal.  These days, I don't always have the time to write my gratitude list for the day, but I still wake up every morning thanking God for the wonderful gifts we have in our lives.  When I stop focusing on my "wants," and instead, focus on what I already have, I realize just how much I am blessed.  It's the simple things that we take for granted that truly mean so much--I'm thankful that I can wake up to a warm house, that my favorite cereal is in the pantry, that I have a car to drive to work, that I have a job where I can earn a decent salary, etc.  And then, of course, there are the larger things that I take for granted such as having a healthy and happy little boy that keeps me entertained all day long.  I've come to realize that the answer to being happy is to stop focusing on what I don't have and to instead pay attention to the abundance that I've already been given.