Monday, December 18, 2017

The Twelve Days of Christmas from My To-Do List

On the first day of Christmas, my to-do list gave to me, a Christmas that's too busy.

On the second day of Christmas, my to-do list gave to me: 2 family visits and a Christmas that's too busy.

On the third day of Christmas, my to-do list gave to me, 3 Santa lists, 2 family visits, and a Christmas that's too busy.

On the fourth day of Christmas, my to-do list gave to me,
4 calling friends, 3 Santa lists, 2 family visits, and a Christmas that's too busy.

On the fifth day of Christmas, my to-do list gave to me, 5 extra things, 4 calling friends, 3 Santa lists, 2 family visits, and a Christmas that's too busy.

On the sixth day of Christmas, my to-do list gave to me, 6 gifts delaying, 5 extra things, 4 calling friends, 3 Santa lists, 2 family visits, and a Christmas that's too busy.

On the seventh day of Christmas, my to-do list gave to me, 7 stores a-shopping, 6 gifts delaying, 5 extra things, 4 calling friends, 3 Santa lists, 2 family visits, and a Christmas that's too busy.

On the eighth day of Christmas, my to-do list gave to me, 8 presents shipping, 7 stores a-shopping, 6 gifts delaying, 5 extra things, 4 calling friends, 3 Santa lists, 2 family visits, and a Christmas that's too busy.

On the ninth day of Christmas, my to-do list gave to me, 9 cookies burning, 8 presents shipping, 7 stores a-shopping, 6 gifts delaying, 5 extra things, 4 calling friends, 3 Santa lists, 2 family visits, and a Christmas that's too busy.

On the tenth day of Christmas, my to-do list gave to me, 10 meals a-planning, 9 cookies burning, 8 presents shipping, 7 stores a-shopping, 6 gifts delaying, 5 extra things, 4 calling friends, 3 Santa lists, 2 family visits, and a Christmas that's too busy.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my to-do list gave to me, 11 cards addressing, 10 meals a-planning, 9 cookies burning, 8 presents shipping, 7 stores a-shopping, 6 gifts delaying, 5 extra things, 4 calling friends, 3 Santa lists, 2 family visits, and a Christmas that's too busy.

On the twelveth day of Christmas, my to-do list gave to me, 12 drop-offs driving, 11 cards addressing, 10 meals a-planning, 9 cookies burning, 8 presents shipping, 7 stores a-shopping, 6 gifts delaying, 5 extra things, 4 calling friends, 3 Santa lists, 2 family visits, and a Christmas that's too busy.

That is life in MomZania

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Thanksgiving, ThanksMas, & So Much More

Whoever said, "life's a party," must have been following us around recently.  It is two weeks until Christmas, but we have been celebrating for a month already.  Mimi, Poppa, & Auntie Em arrived for a Thanksgiving visit that we fully expanded into a Christmas celebration.  We frolicked in the winter air of Yosemite (though with record high temperatures it felt more like a summer sojourn).  Then, we rolled from turkey and stuffing right into trimming the tree and exchanging gifts.  It was a full-on Harrell ThanksMas and we have the shirts to prove it.

With the arrival of December, the holiday festivities were full-steam ahead.  From ice skating to cookie baking to The Nutcracker, we are speeding our way down the Christmas Party Highway.  There are even more events to come, but I may need to take a power nap to keep up.

Never fear, our festivities have been kept (somewhat) in check by regular life.  There is work and school and homework and sports.  It will all slow down at the end of the month, but right now they are full steam ahead.  Sarah just finished her final season of middle school basketball.  It was great to watch these young ladies improve so much in three short years.  By clinching a spot in the playoffs, they cemented a three-year streak of post-season play.  Jaley signed up for the fun and very hard work of the school play.  Auditions are over and rehearsals have begun.  The kids and parents (due to lots of required volunteer hours) work their backsides off, but the end result is truly impressive.  Mick is getting ready for a hip-hop dance holiday performance.  Scott and I are busy, but with things much less exciting. 

That is life in MomZania.  Happy Holidays!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Halloween is Over, Now It's Getting Really Scary

It is that time of year, that time of year that gets very, very scary.  No, it's not Halloween, though the occasional creepy clown can be startling.  With Halloween passed, Christmas is only 51 days away.  That has me very, very scared.

Halloween is the like that moment right before you go flying down a giant water slide.  You have waited in the long line, climbed a million stairs, and you are finally seated in the flume looking down with anticipation.  You know it will be thrilling, you know it will be worth the price of admission, but you also know it is will be a fast, furious ride to the finish.  So hold onto your inner tube, this Holiday Ride is underway.

With the holiday season here, that means the first season of sports is ending.  Jaley finishes basketball this weekend.  It was her first time playing (beyond the surprising competitive family games in the driveway).  In just a few short weeks she went from novice to player.  It is amazing how quickly kids pick up sports.  Fall field hockey is also coming to a close.  There is one more tournament and the girls can retire their sticks until the winter season starts in January.  It was great to watch Sarah and Jaley on the field together.  It was all sibling synergy and no sibling strife - now they just have to carry that over to home.  Flag football would have been finishing up, but Mick's season never got started.  He went from meet the coach to meet the injury roster.  Since my last post, Mick has recovered well.  His teeth are currently cooperating and we have had good reports from the many dentists we have seen.  Hopefully, those permanent teeth will decide that hanging with Mick is a better place than their brief visit on the ground.

With all these activities winding down, you may be worried about what we will do with all that free time.  Never fear, the next round of activities are queueing up.  Sarah made the 8th-grade basketball team.  They already have two decisive wins under their belt.  I signed Mick up for Little League on Wednesday.  Tonight at exactly 6pm, the signups for the middle school play open.  I better be ready.  It may be easier to score tickets to Hamilton than score one of the slots in the school play.

That is life in MomZania.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Eight Years Old and a Dental Emergency

Mick is 8!  Technically, he turned 8 a couple of weeks ago.  However, the instant communication available in a blog runs about two weeks behind for me.  Like many boys his age, he celebrated with a new (bigger) bike and a Laser Tag party.  What Scott and I celebrated was the end of the car-seat era!  After nearly 14 years, we are driving car-seat-less cars.  There are many things we miss about not having babies anymore, but car-seats and diapers are not on that list.

September also brought a wonderful visit from Nana.  She spoiled all of us and cooked up a feast.  We also used her visit as an excuse to check out some of the local sites we never make time to visit.  Filoli House and Gardens is beautiful year round and so is the Stanford campus.

Mick and I headed out for the National Coastal Clean Up Event.  We picked up (literally) tons of trash along one tiny stretch of Coyote Creek.  In just one day in just our one county, over 55,000 pounds of trash was collected.  It is sad to think of how much trash is wrongly dumped, but it felt good to lend a hand in helping clean it up.

With life running along so smoothly, it was time for an emergency.  On the way to school, Mick fell off his scooter.  It looked like a tiny fall; the type that leads a mom to say, "dust it off."  That is until he looked up at me, with blood streaming down his face and a beautiful tooth sitting on the ground.  Not just any tooth, but a beautifully big, permanent, front tooth!!!  And another beautifully big, permanent, front tooth hanging on by just a thread.  Over the years we have had our share of kid accidents, from broken bones to stitches to some many injuries in between.  Usually, I'm calm as a cucumber, but this one left me on tilt.  I was all alone with a rather toothless child who was bleeding prolifically.  All I had was my bike and a tooth in my hand - no car, no purse, and, most definitely, no cell phone.

Thanks to the amazing kindness of strangers, we got a giant pack of tissues and a  ride home.  We dropped that tooth in a glass of milk and were at the dentist within the hour.  For now, the teeth are splinted back in place.  Cross your fingers and send your prayers that his teeth will heal well.  Only time will tell.

That is life in MomZania.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Finally Following Through on My Intentions of Posting

I see something, do something, or hear something hilarious and have the best intentions of blogging about it.  Then, I don't.  Next thing I know, I haven't updated this blog in way too long.  Here is the last six (OK, seven) weeks, Reader's Digest Style.

Summer ended.  Jaley and I closed it out with a mother-daughter trip to Pismo Beach.  The weather was in the 60's, so there wasn't much sun worshipping.  Instead, we went ATVing in the sand dunes.  Jaley had a ball, I thought we were going to die.  It wasn't our ATVs that had me scared, it was the million other ATVs, motorcycles, dune buggies, and 4X4's zooming past that had me convinced our lives were in peril.  We also toured Hearst Castle and pretended to live the rich and famous lifestyle.

School started (almost a month ago).  The grades: Sarah-8th, Jaley-6th, Mick- 2nd.  Jaley is loving the new found freedom of middle school.  That freedom extends beyond switching classes and reaches right into the community.  The middle schoolers can bike all over town, hang out with friends, and frequent (possibly, torment) the local Jamba Juice and Starbucks.

The Great American Eclipse arrived.  Two days of travel for two minutes (actually 1' 53") of totality was totally worth it.  Last year, I got a wild hair and decided I wanted to see the Eclipse.  Much to my surprise, everything was already booked.  But, I'm persistent.  Eventually, I scored us a room south of Portland and tickets to a NASA viewing party in Salem, Oregon.  Crazy as it was, the kids and I flew up for the eclipse.  Traffic, crowds, and lining up before sunrise, but I would do it again.  It was amazing.

New Job began.  Scott is off to a new role at Cisco.  It takes what he was working on in enterprise networking and adds in engineering.  He is looking forward to the new challenge.

New (Old) Job began.  I'm back to nursing kiddos at the local school.  There is a new group of incredibly cute kindergartners, but the boo-boos, belly aches, and band-aids are pretty much the same.

19 Years & Counting Arrived.  Today is Scott and my 19th anniversary.  I can't believe how many years have passed, but I love him, even more, today than I did in on the day we said, "I do."  Scott is my rock, my best friend, and the love of my life.

I've left out lots of events, quips, and great stories, but that is the update.  Enjoy the start of Fall.

That is life in MomZania.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Already 11!

Last week was Jaley's 11th Birthday.  With plenty of rainbows and a bit of magic, we made sure our Jaley-corn, had a special, unicorn birthday.  She kicked it off a few days early with a drive-in movie & slumber party with her a few friends.  Then, she was off to a week of Camp for her actual birthday.  Don't worry the US Postal Service delivered a few surprises right to her cabin.  Finally, it was a family fiesta complete with friends (who are as close as family) visiting from NC.

It wasn't just Jaley at camp, all three of the kiddos were at overnight camp last week.  A glorious coming of age event for children and parents alike.  It has been a very long time since Scott and I enjoyed a week without kiddos.  While we weren't able to play the whole week, we did sneak away for a few two nights.  We explored north of San Francisco in Marin County. We slept in late and ate at the types of restaurants that don't readily welcome children.  We hiked Angel Island and enjoyed 360 degree views of the Bay, climbed Mt. Tam and enjoyed 360 degree views of fog, and biked through the Marin Headlands down to quiet beach cove.  We came home with our bellies full and our bodies tired.

After a couple of days of play, it was back to our very quiet, kid-free house.  I was a bit lost on the 27th with Jaley away for her birthday.  Lucky for me, the next day I was off to pick her and Mick up from camp.  The first thing I did was deliver Jaley a giant, birthday hug.

Even with her birthday and camp over, the fun continued.  The Fiedlers came to visit all the way from NC.  We hiked in the redwoods and hung out in Santa Cruz.  Best of all, we shared the weekend together.  That is the thing about lifetime friends, it doesn't matter how many miles separate you or time that spans between visits.  When you have the chance to connect again, you pick up right where you left off, with tons of great stories and endless laughs.

With August begun, the days of summer are coming to a close.  All this sun has led to taller kids this fall.  We hit the mall for some new shoes yesterday and will need to return again soon to grab some new clothes.

That is life in MomZania.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Mom, Let's Race!

"Mom, let's race!"  How many times has every parent heard those words?  From toddler to teenager, all kids want to win, and beating mom and dad is an ultimate victory.

Back in the training wheel and stroller days of our family, I used to envision what family activities would look like as they grew up.  The kids would slowly improve until a magical time when we rode, ran, skied, fill-in-the-blanked at basically the same level.  Then, after enjoying a few years of playing as equals the baton would be handed off and the kids would be better than me at everything sporty.

Though like most of parenthood, the reality is never quite like the vision.  It turns out kids don't really improve athletically at a slow steady pace, instead they leap frog from level to level at an incredibly fast pace.  That magical time of being at the same level is minutes not years.

This year all three kids in their own individual way have left me in their athletic dust.  It started with Jaley on the ski slope. We were at the top of the mountain and she said, "Mom, let's race." She was headed down the mountain before I even answered.  I really did try to catch her, but I didn't have a chance.  She was back in line for the lift by the time I made it to the bottom of the hill.

Then, it was Sarah at spring break.  While I'm happy to hike for hiking's sake, she wanted to make the trail a little more interesting.  She set a spot and said, "Mom, let's race."  Off we went.  It was kind of like racing my minivan against a Maserati.  I was hopelessly outmatched against her.

Last, it was Mick this weekend.  He is only 7 and, yes, he schooled me.  Scott and Sarah were out of town, so I grabbed Jaley, Mick, and a friend and headed for a mud run at the Kids Obstacle Challenge Race.  We were the first wave of the day and Mick yells "Mom, let's race." just before he darted off like a jack rabbit.  I wasn't worried, it was a long course, he would tire quickly and I could catch him.  Ha!  Next thing I knew he wasn't in my line of site.  Ego aside, I didn't know if the course was well marked or if he would be able to make it over the obstacles without help.  I went from jog to sprint.  I made up enough of the gap.  At least I could see him.  Every time I got close, he took it as a challenge and picked up the pace.   Over walls, through tunnels, scaling netting, and Tarzan swinging into massive mud, he was ahead of me right through the finish line.  What do I expect? Mick hiked Yosemite's Mist Trail at age 5.

I'm sure there will be many family athletic endeavors ahead, but the baton has officially been passed.  The kids will either be holding back to hang with me or cheering me on at the finish line.

Beyond getting passed by the kids, we have been making the most of summer vacation.  After our travels East, we finished all the new puzzles and maxed out on junk TV before the real world caught up with us.  It turns out bills, laundry, and grocery shopping do not take a summer vacation.  With less than a month left of break, I'm back to busy ways.  I'm finally getting to several house projects that never happened when we moved in, the girls are back to field hockey and taekwondo, and for Scott work is business as usual.  Without the pressure of Saturday sport games and homework, we are saving our weekends for fun. While Jaley, Mick, and I were playing in the mud, Sarah and Scott checked out the sites in Chicago.  Sarah is on her way home now and Scott is staying for work tomorrow.  If our plans hold, the next few weekend will be just as much fun.

That is life in MomZania.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Southeast Sojourn

School released and we escaped for a Southeast Road Trip.  The kids and I headed to DC to check out all the sites.  Next, we headed southeast to see as many family and friends as we could, before catching up with Scott and the extended Harrell tribe for family camp at Callaway Gardens.

We jump started our travels with three days in our nation's capitol.  We filled them full - overfull.   DC is the king of my favorite four-letter word - FREE - and we (I) didn't want to miss any of the sites.    Thanks to our Congresswomen (Yes, we are proudly represented in DC by ALL women), we got passes to the White House, Congress, and even breakfast with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (HINT, ask early on their websites and your Congress people can hook you up, too).  We cruised the whole town on bikes (OK, the bikes weren't free, but it was still a deal) - checking out Ben, George, Abe, and all the other giants.  It was an humbling and awe-inspiring visit.

While our country faces nasty rhetoric from the Left and the Right, touring DC is a wonderful reminder of just how great our country is, how many have made the ultimate scarified to make it such, and the best outcomes usually arise from compromise not conflict.  In fact, maybe some of our nation's leaders should revisit the DC sites to remind themselves of those facts.

We left DC exhausted and with more on the list to see, but the real reason for our trip was family and friends.  We enjoyed a great, but too short visit, with Scott's cousin and Uncle in Richmond, and sent our love to all the other cousins in VA.

Next was three days in NC.  As they say, you can take the girl out of the South, but you can't take the South out of the girl.  That is how it feels every time we visit the Carolinas.  Nana was the bestest hostess.  She fed us, housed us, and spoiled us.  She had special grandma time, while I reconnected with friends from UNC.  We all enjoyed hanging out with the crew from Mintawood Court.

Bidding adieu to NC, we headed south to ATL.  It was short, but sweet.  We visited with my aunt and cousin, had a little (too little) time with Auntie Em before swinging by the airport to pick-up Scott.  The poor guy had to work while we played.  With the Harrell 5 together, we headed to Callaway Gardens for Family Summer Camp.

In honor of Mimi & Poppa's special birthdays this year, they wanted to introduce a new generation to a place they enjoyed for summer vacations when Scott was a kid.  Even with monsoon rain from Tropical Storm Cindy, it didn't disappoint.  There was water skiing and cooking classes.  There was golf for the guys and the spa for the ladies.  They were rope courses and zip lines, biking trails and a 5K.  There was even circus camp for all ages.  It you are wondering when you cross the line as too old to try the trapeze, I think I passed it about three years ago.  I didn't care, I climbed that ladder anyhow - because you don't get to ride the flying trapeze very often.  Our family did get to fly through the air, but let's just say it wasn't with the greatest of ease.  Who cares about the sore muscles, we got to fly on the trapeze!!!

As camp came to a close, it was time for Sarah and I to head home.  Scott went straight to a work conference.  Jaley and Mick extended their travels back to NC to enjoy some private grandparent spoiling from Mimi & Poppa.  

Now everyone is home and our memory bags are very full.  It was an epic start to our summer; going forward it is much more low key.  Puzzles are spread out on the dining room table and the DVR is full of second run movies.  We are ready to test our lazy skills.

That is MomZania.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

And She is Off to Middle School

1st Day of Kindergarten - 2011
Just like that, Jaley is off to middle school.  Of course, just like that meant two weeks of celebrations, a field trip to a water park, a half-day outdoor DJ/picnic/festival soiree, a personalized class song, a kindergarten tribute, a musical performance, and a graduation ceremony with a touch of Pomp and Circumstance, but Jaley is indeed off to middle school.  On the one hand, I can't believe her time in elementary school has come to a close.  On the other, I am amazed by how much she has matured, learned, and experienced in six short years.  From the alphabet to zoology, manners to multiplication, they cover a lot of material in elementary school.  Jaley was right there gleaning all her teachers shared and more. From curious kindergartener to phenomenal fifth grader, she is ready to make the leap to middle school.

Last Day of 5th Grade
A piece of me wishes I could recapture the just turned 5-year-old I dropped off for her first day of kindergarten.  More so, I am ready for her to make this leap. It is an important milestone in the life story she is writing for herself.  I look forward to seeing what the next chapter brings.

Before we start that chapter, we get to enjoy the beautiful interlude named summer.  Yes, summer is here!!!  Ten glorious weeks to enjoy whatever adventures come our way.  Unlike most summers of recent, our family is (finally) at a steady state.  Scott and I aren't going back to school or moving coasts or renovating house or moving homes or starting new careers or looking for work, we are simply cruising along hoping the current landscape stays our status quo.  Of course, by writing the words status quo, it is most likely a guarantee some big change is around the corner.  If major change is coming, it will have find us; we certainly aren't looking.  

Bring out the sunscreen and heat up the grill; we are ready for some summer fun. That is life in MomZania.  

I, however, an having more 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

You Can't Relive Your Youth - But Sometimes You Can Try

This year marks 25th years since I graduated high school.  It is unbelievable to even contemplate that milestone, but it is here.  Like many milestones, it leaves me a bit nostalgic.  While I can never relive my youth (once was probably enough anyhow), every once in a while I get that chance to relive the forgotten promises of yesteryear.  Yesterday, was one of those chances.

Grab your scrunchies, Keds, and acid-wash jeans, we are rewinding back to 1992.  Who was topping the music charts?  U2, of course.  Where did U2 decide to kick-off their 1992 Zoo TV tour?  None other than Lakeland, Florida.  Never heard of Lakeland?  That's OK.  Lakeland is a small town (just 25,000 back then) a few miles from where I grew up in Orlando.  Like every music fan in the area, I was going to get tickets for that show.  There were no online purchases back then.  If you wanted tickets, you had to prove it, earn it, camp for it.  The night before, like zillions of other fans, my friends and I lined up outside of the JC Penny, an authorized TicketMaster retailer.  I don't remember what we did all night, but we definitely waited, and waited, and waited.  When tickets went on sale the next morning, we raced inside, only to find out the concert was already sold out.  No U2 concert for my friends and me. Just the promise that we would catch the next tour.

Here I am 25 years later, I still love U2 and I have still never seen them in concert.  Until last night.  It wasn't the intimate, tiny venue of the Lakeland Civic Center; it was giant, outdoor mega complex of Levi's Stadium.  It was great nonetheless.  They played Joshua Tree from beginning to end.  For just a few minutes, I was that 18-year-old once again.

While I don't want to go back and relive my youth again, it was quite a night, a night 25 years in the making.  It was fun to be 18, if only for a moment.  It was definitely fun to finally see U2 so many years after I camped out for tickets.

That is life in MomZania.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Are you an National Park person?

I've decided there are two types of people in this world - National Park People and Everyone Else.  Jaley, Mick, and I are most definitely a National Park People.  Scott and Sarah fall into the Everyone Else.  Don't get me wrong, the people of Everyone Else visit, appreciate, and fully enjoy our country's National Parks.  But, Park People are a different breed.  We love the Parks, we love talking about the Parks, we love planning to go to the Parks, we love dragging our family to the Parks, and we love Teddy Roosevelt for creating them.  Like I said, we are a different breed.  But we are a mighty large breed.  Want to book a lodge in Yellowstone for Summer of 2018?  You better be online May 1, 2017 at 7AM, because that is when reservations open.  All of us Park People will be queuing up to secure our visit.

Since I am a self-described Park Person and, conveniently, the person who plans our family trips, where did we go this Spring Break?  National Parks, of course.  We hit the Mighty 5 in Utah.  Today, we were off to Pinnacles National Park, America's newest national park.  That is how I picked to spend my birthday, so the family had to say yes. Is that all? No, that is not all, no, no that is not all.   I have plans for a few more this year.  Of course, living within driving distance of so many parks is quite the unfair advantage.  Heck, Pinnacles was just over an hour away.

Today, marked the end of National Park Week.  It meant free entrance to the parks, but don't worry, they have free days through out the year.  Plus fourth graders (and their families) get in free all year.  Even if you can't score free entrance, it is still a deal.  The per person cost is usually good for a week and costs less than a movie ticket.

With April closing out, it means summer is around the corner.  Track season, Little League, and end of grade testing are all past the midway point.  Jaley had an amazing time at Science Camp last week.  A week away with her 5th grade classmates, what a fabulous right-of-passage.  The weather is (finally) nice and our calendar is quickly with the many celebrations that mark the end of a 21st century school year.  That has left the kids (and I) suffering from a bit of endofschool-itis.  It will be here before we know it.

That is life in MomZania.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Hurry Up! We're Running Late.

I have a mantra and that mantra is, "Hurry Up! We're running late!"  It doesn't matter where I'm going or what I'm doing, I'm running late in the process.  It wasn't always this way; I was once a timely person.  If an appointment was at 9, I was there at 9 or (gasp) a few minutes early.   That time was a long time ago, dare I say about 13 years ago.

With the arrival of each Harrell baby, I slipped further and further behind.  There were unexpected diaper changes and sippy cups spilling in the car and a zillion other baby things that left me racing to make up time.  We are long past the diapers and sippy cups, but here I am still running late.  Sometimes, I can blame it on the kids - like when we are half-way to school and one of my posse realizes his/her backpack/instrument/lunch/other important item is still sitting on the kitchen counter.  Most times, I don't have the kiddos as an excuse.  I overestimate how quickly I can get out of the house and underestimate how long it will take to get where I'm going.  The perfect recipe for "Hurry Up! We're Running Late."

This week, as daylight saving arrived and we sprang forward, I decided to spring my backside into on-time gear.  How's it going?  Well, I'm batting about 500. (Can tell baseball season has started?) Though I'm not sure if picking a week when you loose an hour is the best week to start trying to be on-time, I'm trying nonetheless.

With Scott out of town and new activities starting, I have ample chance to try. The rain finally stopped and swim lessons started. Fingers crossed this is finally the year, I can sit on a lounge chair at the pool reading a magazine, while the kids splash unaccompanied. Baseball is well underway for Mick and Opening Day scheduled for this Saturday.  Who knew that a) Opening Day of Little League was an all-day affair and b) Opening Day was actually many weeks into the season.  Jaley got a medal at the Science Fair (no worries, everyone got a medal).  Sarah is busy with all the things that middle schoolers do.  If you know exactly what that is, please share.

Best of all this month, my mom came to visit.  As moms often do, she spoiled us. She cooked and made cookies.  She had "Nana time" with the kids, so Scott and I could have a date night.  She even timed her visit to share her birthday with us.  As a gift, I made her hike through miles of sand and cold, windy weather to look at wildlife.  I'm not sure if it was what she wanted, but you can be guaranteed no one else gave her a beach side elephant seal tour.

There is lots more to write, but "Hurry Up! I'm Running Late" to pick up Sarah.  That is life in MomZania.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

I'm Looking Forward to Summer...The Rain will Get Warmer

“The sun did not shine. It was too wet to play. So we sat in the house all that cold, cold, wet day.”  I believe Dr. Suess may have predicted this winter when he penned the opening line of The Cat in the Hat.

It has been a wet and wild winter here in California.  While we have had a few issues from the water and wind, we have been so much luckier than many others - friends with 5-hour commutes, colleagues with mudslides in their yards, neighbors with downed trees, and all those whose homes were destroyed by the massive flooding.  After years of drought, we are now just hoping the rain will end and end soon.

While the weather has been putting a damper on things, it hasn't slowed us down very much.  Jaley and her good friend are ready to debut their Science Fair Project next week.  Yes, it is every parents "favorite" project of the year.  If you are wondering, you can get a charge from a lemon, but you can't get it to power an iPhone (or at least we couldn't).  Jaley also advanced to Red Belt in Taekwondo.  Just one more belt before Black - what an accomplishment.

Sarah finished basketball and Mick is finishing next week.  They may not be ready for the pros, but it is impressive how much they improved over the season.  Just as winter will turn to spring, basketball will turn to baseball and track in the coming weeks.  

That is getting ahead of myself, this week was Winter Break.  Winter Break is awesome!  The kids and I had the week off of school; while Scott was traveling for work, we had ourselves a "staycation."  I love to travel, but staying home this week was wonderful.  As the rain fell, we went to movies, and ice skating, and go carting.  The kids caught up with friends and I caught up on my to-do list.  I ran into a mom-friend at the library yesterday and she said, "I have never seen you look so unstressed."  I'm not sure what that means about the stress level of my regular vibe, but this week I am feeling pretty relaxed.

This month we also said good bye to our cat, Epy.  She was a stray kitten who joined our family in 2001, just as Scott and I bought our first home.  She was a master of hide and seek - hiding from us and seeking any food anywhere.  We nearly lost her when she ran outside and hid as we loaded the truck to move to California.  After that, she decided never to leave the house again.  She slept most nights right above (or on my head) and had the loudest purr of any cat.  She was skittish of most everything, but when she wasn't hiding, she was in your face convincing you to pet her.

Today, is the regular Saturday drill of kids activities and chores.  Next week, it is back to the regular routine.

That is life in MomZania.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Welcome to the Teen Years

This weekend Sarah turned 13.  She is officially a teenager.  On the path of life, it is one of the big milestones, the threshold to adulthood.  She is ready; I am not!

As with all birthdays at our house, we made sure to celebrate it fully.  She enjoyed a delivered lunch and dessert at school (I wish moms bringing take-out to school was the thing when I was young).  Using only our cleverness (and some clues from the host) we beat the clock at an escape room.  Finally, there was the (mandatory) slumber party.

With a teenager in the house, I find myself wondering.  Who will Sarah become?  Then, memories of my own teen years come to mind and wonder turns to worry.  Is she working hard enough?  Is she working too hard? Will she enjoy her teen years?  Will she enjoy them too much?  Is there a right path?  Is she on it?  Is she making her own path?

Instead of asking questions and stocking up on books to parent teenagers, maybe I should simply remember the final letter from The Breakfast Club.

"Dear Mr. Vernon,
Who (do) we think we are...We found out each one of us is a brain…and an athlete…and a basket case…a princess…and a criminal. Does that answer your question?
Sincerely yours,
The Breakfast Club”

Who will Sarah become?  That is not my question to answer; it's hers.  Yes, I will still wonder and worry.  As a mom, I will still give guidance and advice.  As the adult, I will still make the rules of the house.  But, I won't be the one to decide who she becomes.  Happy Birthday, Sarah and welcome to being a teenager.

That is life in MomZania.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Happy New(ish) Year

We are half way through January; I'm an just now writing my first post of the New(ish) Year.  On January 1, I resolved to do a better job of updating my blog, I wouldn't call it the best start, but I wouldn't call it the worst either.   That is about how I'm trending on all my New Year's Resolutions.  If Resolutions were a graded assignment, I would probably get a C-.  But I went to Georgia Tech, so I'm counting on the professor to curve the score before posting the final grades.

I guess that is the ultimate lesson with New Year's Resolutions, and, much of life. We may not make the proverbial honor role.  Sometimes we may even fail, but we have to keep on trying.

With discussion of New Year's Resolutions, that means another holiday season is in the books.  The holidays were busy.  Yes, just like you, our holiday "downtime" left us with little actual downtime as we tried to cram festivities into every moment.

We started the season at Thanksgiving, with a fun-filled, overdue Reunion in Atlanta with both sides of our families and tons of college friends.  Then, it was back to work, school, and an Olympic-caliber sprint to Christmas.  We skidded into the finish with little time to spare.  Then, came the morning of December 25.  The kids were up before 6:00AM.  The presents were opened and fully operational by 7:30.  By 8:00, we had most (some) of the mess cleaned up. That was good news, because we were on a plane to Florida just a few minutes later.

Then, we enjoyed Christmas all over again.  This time with Mimi, Poppa, and Auntie Em in Vero Beach.  Florida lived up to its promise as "The Sunshine State" with sunny skies and weather in the 80's.  We enjoyed the beach, the pool, and an awesome trip to Kennedy Space Center.  Mission to Mars?  That is the plan at NASA.

We were back home again soon, hung out with tons of friends for New Years, and then it was off to Tahoe.  The record snow fall led to record traffic, but it was worth it 21 hours of driving there (including an unexpected night in Auburn, CA), and 6 hours driving home.  We had two days of sunny skies and fresh powder on the slopes.

Last week, it was back to reality.  School and work are in full swing.  Basketball started for Mick and is mid-season for Sarah.  Spring Field Hockey also started (Spring? Even in CA, January isn't spring).  Jaley just tested in Taekwondo and is now a red belt - just two steps to black!!!  After a nice hiatus from work travel, Scott will be back earning frequent flier miles.  Next up, the big week of birthdays in the Harrell family.  Stay tuned.

That is life in MomZania.