Thursday, August 23, 2018

Before Another Year Begins

In the land of Angus, we are busy finding back packs, cleaning out old homework we didn't turn in, dusting off locker materials and getting ready to find new clothes so we can go back to school. But I wanted to just post at least once about the amazing year that was 6th and 3rd grade. Both kids were in new school buildings this year and had really fabulous years.

Seren started middle school!
And with middle school came more independence, no standing in line with your classmates, a new locker and 6 classes to manage. The homework was no joke. It was an amazingly challenging transition to go from homework taking like 30 minutes to sometimes several hours. She did a ton this year as she couldn't help herself from trying out new sports, activities and clubs. While still really shy, she really blossomed!

The fall brought cross country with the club team as the middle school doesn't have an official team until 7th grade. She did really well.

Fall brought 6th grade camp which was overnight camp for the entire 6th grade! She got to go zip lining and have so many adventures! I stayed over the 2nd night and had a blast! This school is amazing!

Then she joined science Olympiad which was a year long pursuit that none of us enjoyed. :) She had to build a 'roller coaster' and it took Sam and Seren hours and hours to build the thing! She also studied physiology and got 3rd place with her teammate!

She also joined a small basketball team that was co-led by three local dads. I think they lost every single game but one.  Basketball was not her thing but it made the winter pass by!

This year was her second year taking lessons and playing the upright bass. She joined the fiddle club during the school year and was selected to play as part of a special ensemble in the spring concert. She also won a scholarship to a summer camp for her music!

In March she got her braces put on. It is like living with a lizard with the amount of licking, sucking and general grossness that accompany having to wear braces but she is taking it in stride!

She also turned 12! So that was amazing! She celebrated by having an 1980s party which was awesome!!!

She also met a friend which challenged her to come out of her shell! With this friend, they joined a new band in which they play the drums, electric ukelele and electric bass. They performed twice- once at a talent show which blew everyone away- and once at a local event they call the Mardi Gras. They did well there but Seren was not pleased with her performance. Life is all about leaning in and trying new things!

And right after school ended she went to 4 nights of music camp! It was awesome! So happy for her- she found her people!

Wyeth the Third Grader!

Meanwhile, Wyeth was learning the ropes in a new school too! As a third grader, he was the youngest in the 3-5 building. He had a fabulous teacher who kept him motivated! He did cross county as well with dad as the coach. He really went from hating running to being very fast by the end of the season which was fabulous to see.

He kept up his electric bass work and performed with "the band" and with Seren during two recitals with his teacher. He played Crazy Little Thing Called Love, Sweet Child of Mine, and Stairway to Heaven. This mom couldn't be more proud of these guys!

He also continued to play piano. The winter recital was a mess because he performed with a high fever which in retrospect was a poor choice! Spring went much better!

He played flag football in the fall and enjoyed the season but had a bit more fun the year prior. But man is that ever cute!

He turned 9 and had a nerf gun battle party and small sleepover! it was awesome!!

In the winter he played basketball with his team. They had a great season and his coach was amazing!

Spring brought Science Olympiad where he had to launch a rocket and fly a paper airplane. Which was really low stress and a lot of fun. His teams didn't win anything but the small group of 3rd graders from our school enjoyed being together.

He actually participated in scouts the whole academic year which was a first. The year prior, we basically missed nearly every meeting due to conflicting schedules! He enjoys being outdoors with the boys which is a lot of fun. They crafted boats and made stools out of wood and generally did manly man things!

In the spring he joined the running club and ran well at the one race they have towards the end of the year.

And of course there were family things too! Like an epic Halloween!

And Christmas,

And a family trip to Colorado in February to SKI

and a new car!

It was an amazing year!! We are really really blessed! And now wait for the new academic year to begin!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Kicking my butt

I never blog anymore. And I rarely complain on social media. But man, this year is kicking my butt. Our lives are just frantic. I want to capture this because I think I'll not remember these years. In part, because of the giant BLUR that is our lives. This isn't what I want. And it isn't what we wanted. We have bought into the idea that more is better. More is not better. More is just more.
My children are age 10 and 8. And we have a foreign exchange student living with us who is 18.
My daughter is in 5th grade. Since September she has done/we have done:
  • Cross Country running
  • Field Hockey at the University of Michigan
  • Gifted Math which runs in trimesters
  • Piano lessons weekly
  • Ukulele lessons weekly
  • Started the bass in 5th grade orchestra
  • Auditioned and participated in a local community production called the Pirate Show
  • Participated in 'Super Saturday' for 4 weeks in March which focused on field hockey
  • Played basketball on the local team
  • Joined the Science Olympiad team
  • Has to deal with damn lip bumpers and expanders in prep for orthodontics
  • Had legitimate homework
From March through June she will:
  • Finish up the play production
  • Finish Science Olympiad
  • Complete Gifted Math program
  • Get her runs on and participate in a local 5k
Meanwhile, the 2nd grader has:
  • Joined Boy Scouts
  • Played Basketball in the winter
  • Played Football in the fall
  • Started to play the electric bass (December)
  • Participated in Super Saturday where he has done Bricks For Kids
  • He is also on his third 2nd grade teacher due to a maternity leave and a short term sub leaving
  • Has weekly piano lessons
Additionally, we welcomed our foreign exchange student, driven him to his rehearsals and try to get us all to attend the necessary (and fun) events offered through his foreign exchange organization.

On top, I have traveled for work and work full time. Sam works part time, and also volunteers in the classroom. We've done house projects, bought a new car, attended birthday parties, been "friends", protested our new president, and we've tried to be good brothers, sisters, sons and daughters.

But as the snow falls and I only have energy to complain and not take care of myself, I am just toast.

It is kicking my butt.

Some weeks are crazier than others. We still all eat together as a family. (Some nights are later than others). And we are generally ok.

But add on some out of town guests or a deadline or a broken faucet and it all seems to go to hell. And then I look around and think 'why are we doing this? In what way, shape or form, does this make sense for us?' 

Self care on a weekly basis just doesn't happen. I need to run after the winter and I'm too tired to get off the couch and make that change. The lack of exercise means I'm down on myself.  Date nights are far and few between. (we had one in October and one in December) And the saddest part? We have CREATED this. We have the privilege to afford these luxuries and experiences for our children. And we wanted to live in a community that offers these events at affordable prices. And we are doing it! But this isn't quite living. This is DOING.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Questions and Answers:
A few months ago, the internet was sharing 15 questions and asking children to answer the questions. Here are my children's responses at age 9 and 7.

1. What is something I always say to you?
S: I love you
W: I love you

2. What makes me happy?
S: Hugs
W: Zerberts

3. What makes me sad?
S: When we hit each other.
W: When we punch each other

4. How do I make you laugh?
S. You tell silly jokes and do goofy dances
W: Tickle m

5. What was I like as a child?
S: You had golden hair and looked like me in the picture.
W: How am I supposed to know that?

6. How old am I?
S: 39
W: 38, right?

7. How tall am I?
S: 5'4 of 5'9
W: 5 feet and 30 inches

8. What is my favorite thing to do?
S: I don't know.
W: Play

9. What do I do when you're not with me?
S: It depends on where you are. If you are at work, you are doing research. If not,  you might be dropping pee off at a doctor's office!
W: Work usually or sleeping

10. What am I really good at?
S: Typing
W: Tickling

11. What am I not very good at?
S: Football
W: Fighting

12. What do I do for work?
S: You work at Mathematica Policy Research
W: Research

13. What is my favorite food?
S: Sushi and Thai
W: Brussel sprouts

14. What is my favorite drink?
S: Mike's hard lemonade
W: Wine and coffee

15. What do you enjoy doing with me?
S: Snuggling and doing crazy things!
W: Tickling

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

4th grade Highlights

I don't even add 'blog' on the to-do list anymore. I couldn't even remember my password. It is a relic of time past. I use facebook. And journal. But this space still exists.  My heart is a bit heavy tonight. On the eve of the last day of school. I always feel melancholy. An entire year over. And summer begins. I feel like I've missed it. That I haven't always been present. But, I have. I really have. It just all goes so fast.  Off the top of my head: memories of fourth grade

First day of school

Right until the day before school, we didn't have the name of the teacher. Seren's assigned teacher moved to the 6th grade leaving a vacancy. We ended up with a team of teachers. Ms. K and Mr. S. We adored one of the teachers.  Seren was also placed with her best friend.  Socially, she didn't have a great year this year. She has become really inarticulate, introverted, and awkward. You have to WORK to get to know Seren. Which is hard to see. But that doesn't seem to be the real Seren. The real Seren is loud and wacky and super funny. But not many people see that side of her. Hormones plus not a great teacher fit made it a hard year academically. We advocated on her behalf many times and didn't get too far which frustrated us to no end. But one of her teachers 'gets it' and was wonderfully supportive.

Her year as a guinea pig. She helped me make the costume and loved dressing up as Hector, her beloved guinea pig.

Uncle John's Wedding
She was thrilled to be a flower girl among a whole bunch of flower girls. She was nervous but loved it.

Breaking her arm
I'll never forget the call when Sam called to say that it was broken. The day she actually broke it she said "Hi mom! I might have broken my arm! Isn't that cool!?" We wrapped it and iced it. But it still hurt. Two DAYS later, we took her in and yup, fracture.  Poor thing. A split then a cast and then a splint were in our future.

Seren wanted a ukulele for Christmas and my  in-laws generously gave it to her. She ahs LOVED this instrument. Holy smokes! She has taken off with it. And is a quick study. She loves to play Prince, Beatles, the Rainbow Connection and others. So fun!

Scouts, Running club, ukulele, piano, super Saturday activities in March
I co-lead the troop this year again with my neighbor. It was a larger, more organized troop which was super fun.  My favorite activities included visiting a nursing home and conducting a 'talent show'. The girls did a great job! Seren played the piano and the ukulele. And the residents performed for us! We all just loved it!!

We also went camping with the scouts. In September. It poured and poured. But they had fun doing archery. And I had fun with the troop. The girls stayed up too late of course the first night but then did compassing, etc. My favorite moment was dawn by the lake.

Spring break
We escaped for a few days to Indiana to freeze our butts off during 'spring break' in the snow. We cancelled our camping trip and rented an old farm house.  It was ridiculous. Filled with mice, water that smelled like ass and ants. But it was better than camping in the snow!

Running Club
Due to the broken arm, she was sidelines from basketball. But come the spring, she participated in both the Super Saturday activity which included field hockey and running club. She kicked butt in the running club. I'm telling you, this girls' stride is amazing! She completed the training by running the Chelsea Heart and Sole. Last year she came in first place but was very disappointed by her time. This year, she also came in first place but took 6 minutes of her time. Finishing her fastest 5K yet. And far faster that I've ever run it. Super proud.

She continues to enjoy playing the piano and has gotten quite good. If, however, you only saw the spring concert? You'd never know it. She bombed the spring concert. Terrifically. But ya know what? You gotta fail to learn how to succeed again. She burst into tears at the end of the performance. But I was proud of her for giving it her best and trying to do the performance without her books. She came home, sat down, and played in perfectly. Nerves can really get to ya!

Nine wasn't easy. It is a mixture of raising a little girl who wants to snuggle, play with your hair and sleep with a stuffed sheet AND someone who yells 'whatever', doesn't answer your questions, ignores your nagging, is messy and can just be rude. It has baffled me this year. Just baffled me. She is so smart and so creative. She understands things better than most people I know. And is one step ahead of me. Yet not quite mature when it comes to interpersonal stuff. As with all years, we continue to do our best, love on her, celebrate the victories, downplay the challenges and advocate on her behalf.  We celebrated TEN years old by having a small pool party. No big sleepover party full of girls. She wanted it small and intentional. She had a really good time.

Tomorrow, she will walk out a 5th grader. New territory. Parenting is awe-inspiring, exhausting, baffling, rewarding, hysterical and so much more. I wouldn't trade her for the world. She is mine and I love her.

Sunday, May 31, 2015


Any one who has kids knows how serious some allergies can be. And training your own kid, the parents in a class and your child's friends to avoid dairy, nuts, gluten, can be very, very hard.

Wyeth is in kindergarten. Two of his friends are allergic to nuts and one is allergic to gluten. The whole class is very sensitive to this. And very kind about it. The classroom is nut free. And the cafeteria has a nut free bench where kids who are allergic to nuts can sit. 

It all makes good sense.

In late December, my dear brother and his then girlfriend (now fiancé!) came to town with their big, hairy, lovely golden retriever named Teton.

Wyeth plays without problem with my in-laws' pup, Minnie. He lays in her dog bed and pets her. No problem. But within about 5 seconds of playing with Teton, he broke into hives. ALL OVER HIS BODY. It was ridiculous! Huge, hives down his legs, up his neck. It was insane. So we called the doctor who asked us to take him to the ER.

A few bills later, we are all good. Wyeth did very well and hasn't had an allergic reaction to any other dog.  (We are going to get this checked out this summer).

So today he says, "Mom! You know at school they have a big nut free sign? Why don't they have a golden retriever free sign? I'm allergic to golden retrievers!"

It was a serious question but my laughter got him laughing. I said, 'well, while nuts can come into the classroom in the form of sandwiches, and other foods, golden retrievers don't sneak in!"


Gotta love 'em.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Family 5K

This past Saturday, we all strapped on our running shoes and finished another 5K.  I joined my local gym in January to fight back at anxiety, winter blahs and fat.  So I had begun running again. And starting in March, Seren joined a running club through her school. Around the same time, Sam and Wyeth started to train.

For Wyeth, it was his first 5k with a time of 33, he did a nice solid 11 minute mile. 33.24! Nicely done for a first 5k! At age 6, rock it little dude!

Sam took one for the team and ran next to him the entire time.

Seren was PUMPED to run this thing. She had been talking about her fast runs at school and her 'sub 8 minute' miles. So I was excited to see what she could do.

Come race day? Total flop. 

She was ahead of me by quite a bit the first two miles. Looking strong. She took a short cut to run through some water feature and that was the last I saw of her. I thought she was still ahead of me as she had been. But when we came up on that last hill and I didn't see her, I knew she was behind me.

This wasn't going to be good.

And here is the thing with older kids and/or competitive kids. You can't lie and say that her time was faster than it was. Because it wasn't. She knew it and we knew it. We tried to emphasize the effort and the fact that she was the fastest girl (first place!) in her age group. Nope. She was mad that she performed so badly. 32.09.

I am still so proud of her. For training. For going on ALL of those runs. For doing it solo. And learning how to pace herself. Plus? She is so freaking cute. And ALL leg.

I was upset about her reaction. I talked to my friend Jessica last night who actually found her response somewhat encouraging. Noting that maybe having those standards for yourself is a good thing. And that she is motivated to do better intrinsically.

Me? I felt good about my race. It wasn't my fastest. It wasn't my slowest. But I got 2nd place in my age group- not bad for an old broad. 28.25 isn't going to really set me as a world class runner. But I had fun.

Good job Angus family!!

Dead Elves and Evolution

Our kids continue to meet other kids and their families with different sets of beliefs. And it includes everything from believing in creation to believing that the elves on the shelves die if you touch them.  Wyeth continues to challenge all of these beliefs.

We firmly believe in the Elf on the Shelf. And so does his new friends' family. So much that when one of their children touched it, it 'died'. This left such an impression on Wyeth that weeks later he continues to say 'I just can't believe he is still there! He isn't with Santa! He is just DEAD in their house!'

The poor mother had to tell the boys to simply drop the subject because both of them were getting too upset about it.

Wyeth also is finding out that not everyone has the same belief set he does. He isn't much of a creationist and strongly believes in evolution. He also believes in god but thinks that it could be a man or a woman. Or maybe that we don't know.

Let's just say that his strong politics aren't winning him any friends. A teacher had to intervene when Wyeth argued STRONGLY that people came from monkeys. (Which is somehow what he got out of some books we read and movies we saw on Darwin).

Nuance and learning that everyone has a different set of beliefs is the next lesson.