5 tips for transitioning to the school year

5 Tips

Summer is hard on us working Mamas for a lot of reasons: Logistics and carpools, childcare coverage, juggling vacation schedules and work deadlines, and the endless amount of guilt over whether we are robbing our children of sweet summer memories because we work outside the home (ok, those all top MY list – what are yours?). In spite of it all, I still love me some summer. It’s the best time of year in Minnesota and it really is quite lovely to have some free-flowing, unstructured time for me and the kids, no matter how brief.

The school year is just around the corner – and shit’s about to get real. I thought I’d share some real-life tips for transitioning back to the school year, based on my years of working momming. Continue reading

31 days of gratitude: The wrap up

Day 30 – My neighborhood and community

I am a child of the 70’s. This means I spent the majority of my youth outside my home, against the backdrop of the oft-repeated parenting refrain of that decade: “Don’t come home until the street lights come on.”

Community.jpg

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31 days of gratitude: The Mama Paradox

Day 28: Loving them, missing them and enjoying time alone

These 2 leave tomorrow for 3 days in the BWCA with their dad. With travel time, I won’t see them again until next Friday. It breaks my heart when I say goodbye to them for so long. And yet, in that same breath I think about all the things I’m going to do while they’re gone…with Day 29’s gratitude topic being the top priority.

TwinsGame

Day 29: Sleep

TiredMeme

This is one of the recurring themes of my gratitude journal. Sleep. Sweet, delicious sleep. Until children, I never fully realized how damn awesome it is to sleep. Last week was a doozy and I have some catching up to do (even though I know that’s really not possible).

xoxo,
Karen

31 days of gratitude: It’s about damn time #LikeAMother

Day 27: This makes me so happy!!!!!!!

HillaryC

Hillary Clinton in tenacious, brilliant, strong and knows what to do. I have faith in her and I absolutely believe she is the best person for the job.

I hope my fellow Americans don’t fuck this up. Use your heads, people. Use. Your. Heads.

xoxo,
Karen

31 days of gratitude: I’m still here!

Yes, life is busy. Yes, summer is always full. Blah, blah, blah…Ginger. Tell us something new.

I’m behind on gratitude postings, so I’m getting on it with!

Day 20: The puzzle

My girl has had a rough relationship with math due to a learning disability. One of the things we know from her diagnosis is that seeing things spatially is difficult for her brain. When she was very little, I couldn’t get her to even try to do a basic little kid puzzle. But after 2 years of working with an incredible math tutor and having extra help at school (and her own damn hard work and determination), she is finding ways to learn math – her way. Seeing things spatially and in relationship to each other (think numbers lined up in columns), which is something many of us take for granted, does not come easy for her. So killing this 200-piece puzzle was HUGE! Next up: a 500-piece horse puzzle that she picked out.

Look at that proud smile!

Elenapuzzle

Day 21: Long-time friends

This is definitely more fodder for a book. Last week 2 of my very favorite and dear families came to MSP for a week-long visit. Our kids re-connected immediately and hardly skipped a beat. WE reconnected immediately and hardly skipped a beat.

My brilliant friend (damn her!) Erin was recruited by MIT. She is one of the foremost scholars on work-life/family issues and their business school courted her relentlessly and made her an offer she couldn’t refuse, so she and David and their boys moved to Boston last summer. Our boys are best friends, which enabled us to have all kinds of reasons to spend time together when they lived her. And the happy result of that is my dear friendship with them. They are one of the few couples that I feel my ex and I share custody with very well. They are loving to and respectful of us both – and we’ve found a way to make all our individual friendships work in spite of my divorce.

I hate that my lovelies Michelle, Liem and clan live in Austin, TX. They were such an integral part of my life for the early years of parenting, I have nothing but deep love for all of them. We refer to the days they had here in Minneapolis as “Camelot.” We had dinner together every Tuesday for almost 2 years. “Hippie Tuesday” is one of those things that got all of us through the long Minnesota winters with small children. I have so much more to say about them. My heart aches whenever I say goodbye, and yet I’m profoundly grateful for the work we put in to keeping our connection strong over the miles.

The kids together again.

Friends

Day 22: Real life

Last week was lovely (see above!) and also full of pain. I guess that’s a microcosm of what life really is, right? The joy and suffering all mixed together in one big heap of living. I won’t blather on about all the sources of my angst last week, but Glennon’s words came to my Instagram feed at just the right time. The Universe, she is looking out for me.

Glennon

Day 23: Ice cream

WTF? I was craving ice cream like a pregnant lady (I’m NOT!) and managed to stuff my pie hole with ice cream 5 (FIVE!) days in a row last week! Who does that? Piggy McPiggerstein does, that’s who! Still can’t figure out why I’m up 3 pounds now….But man, it was a delicious run.

IceCream

Day 24: Freezer cooking 

My pal, Jilene, and I powered through 2 hours of freezer cooking while listening to Bob Dylan in her gorgeous kitchen. What a fun way to spend time together and get some stuff done!

Freezercooking

Freezer cooking has been a game changer for me. Half of my loot, above, included 4 pounds of sloppy joe meat and 3 pounds of taco meat. We threw in the cukes to balance out the photo.

Day 25: La Semana culture camp

This never gets old! This is Year 6 of day camp for me and my chick. 500+ adopted kids from Central and South America all converge in a Minneapolis suburb for 5 days of culture camp.

LaSemana

My little muñeca lights up like a firefly when we go here. She LOVES camp – learning about identity, talking about race and adoption and loss, learning Spanish, singing songs, making crafts and most of all – dancing. She will be on stage in two different Latin dances at the Fiesta on Friday. Heaven for my girl.

I always take a week of vacation to volunteer at camp. I enjoy talking with all the other moms and learn so much. It’s like a fun intell gathering mission every year and I come away with more ideas, tips and a feeling of camaraderie with all those other Mamas.

Day 26: Minnesota – you can’t make up this shit

This was going around my FB feed last week. We can proudly (?) claim the potential of a bi-polar 164 degree temperature swing over the course of 6 months. From 116 to -48.

Can your state do this?

Minnesota

While I can’t claim that life in a temporary blast furnace is something I’m grateful for, after 27 years of living here I can agree with the MN natives: “well, at least it keeps the riff-raff out.”

xoxo,

Karen

31 days of gratitude: Team Seal

Day 19: My healthcare squad

Health

This is a pretty dopey picture, isn’t it? But I couldn’t figure out how to snap a picture that adequately represents the group of people who keep me healthy, so I dove into free stock photos for help.

Today I’m especially grateful for the amazing team of healthcare providers I’ve assembled over the last 20+ years. I’m super healthy (knock on wood), and I think it’s because I’ve done a lifetime of preventive medicine AND have surrounded myself with people who keep me from getting ill.

I had a car accident before the July 4th holiday that landed me with double whiplash and a sore lower back. Watching how my team sprang into action to circle me with healing is incredible. I’m one lucky gal to count each of these people as one of my own:

  • My body worker/healer (so much more than a massage therapist), Tove, whom I’ve been seeing regularly since 1994. She knows me, my body and my spirit better than any other human. She was the ring-leader on the recovery plan for my accident.
  • My chiropractor, Becky, has been treating me and the kids for more than 6 years. We have avoided so many costly medical procedures (and kept me off steroids when I had tendinitis in my hand) because of her dedication to our care.
  • My acupuncturist, Jalashree. If you ever look up the textbook edition of “spiritual healer,” you’d see Jala’s picture. I started seeing her during the dark, awful days of my divorce. Game changer.
  • My osteopath, Richard. I met Richard through Tove, and he has worked with me over the years to rid my body of some funky and no longer needed patterns.
  • My western medicine doc, Deborah. I’ve been with Deborah for more than 10 years and she has been tracking with the full story of my life. I don’t see her very often, mainly because I have very few health issues.
  • And the woman who has literally been with me through it ALL: My therapist of 20 years, Lynn. We are “celebrating” our anniversary this summer. I could devote a whole book to the experience of having a top-notch therapist working with me for two decades…helping to heal the significant damage done by my family in my younger years, and riding along with me through the blossoming that happens after doing so much inner work.

I do believe I’m feeling stronger every day.

xoxo,

Karen

 

31 days of gratitude: Open water swimming

Day 18: Clean, safe (and GORGEOUS) swimming lakes within 30 miles of home

Swimmer

I’m training for a sprint triathlon with my friend, Traci. The race is August 27, and although we *could* muscle our way through the event without truly training (given our base level of a-notch-above-couch-potato fitness), we know full well that it wouldn’t be a pretty sight. So, I’ve been out to my favorite Twin Cities lake, Square Lake, twice in the last month for some open water swimming.

Before my divorce, I’d have bet the farm that being separated from my kids for 50% of the time would have been the early death of me. There are times when my heart still absolutely breaks when I say goodbye. And then there are these surprising times when I find myself reclaiming a part of myself that has been put aside for motherhood.

Because I didn’t have the kids for the weekend, I was able to spend the day swimming in this gorgeous lake, biking some beautiful trails and…yes…drinking beer on a patio with my honey bun. When I was younger and dreamed of my future as a mom, being away from my kids 50% of the time was never part of the plan. But I’ve found a little silver lining in the reality of where my life is now, and for that I’m profoundly grateful.

xoxo,

Karen