Monday, August 27, 2012

Enough with the STUFF already...

This weekend we finally found time to do something the girls have been begging us to do all summer ...we split them, and their stuff, up so they no longer have to share a bedroom. They've shared a room Brea's whole life. When we were house hunting they were okay with continuing to share a room for a bit after the move, but they both took house tours with an eye to what might eventually be their own rooms. After kicking Scott and I out of our first bedroom in this house last summer so that they could have a larger room with an A/C vent, the final switch has finally been made and I have 2 very happy girlies.

Besides the lack of an A/C vent in the small room that Lexi now occupies, the move required us to take apart and rebuild the bunk-beds which we had converted to 2 stand alone twins so they could each have their own half of the room after the move to the larger room upstairs. This summer's toasty weather was by no means encouraging for taking on such a task. With the remainder of our fall weekends filling up with activities of all kinds, I figured this weekend was our best shot at getting the move finished before November!

After we got the bulk of the furniture moved, the girls went to town sorting and organizing their stuff. Age appropriate libraries were created and stuffed animals were divided. A desk has been created by our brainy almost 11 year old, while our 6 year old foodie spend a good hour organizing her toy kitchen and play foods since we could move those items upstairs from our enclosed front porch that has been serving as the extra toys space for the past 2 years.

Throughout the day as we sorted and organized I got more and more annoyed at the amount of stuff we had to find room for in their new rooms. Knowing how much we off-loaded when we moved 2 years ago I wonder how we could have so much left, and where we put it all in our old house?! Between the Polly Pockets, the Littlest Petshops, the Barbies, the stuffed animals, the babies, the random dress-up jewelry, and the little bits of things the girls hoard, from treasure box toys from school to birthday party trinkets, I had had more than my fill of toy sorting by day's end Saturday. Seriously, HOW do the girls end up with SO MUCH STUFF?!?!?

Scott and I are trying our best to teach our girls to be smart consumers. At their current ages it's hard to figure out how to make it a lesson about making smart choices and not just a NO when they see a new toy/trinket/etc they might like. Trying to teach the girls about smart consumerism and the damage of unnecessary consumption (both on one's budget as well as the environment) is important to us because we ourselves have learned the hard way how difficult life can be when you DON'T make smart consumer choices. While yes, we were unfortunate to have been one of the families affected by the recent recession, we were not well prepared to weather that particular storm because of the financial hole we had dug ourselves into early in our lives together. It's not one of the strengths of our relationship and something we may be struggling with for years to come, but we are working on making that part of our lives together stronger. Part of "working on it" is hopefully giving our girls the foundation they need to make better choices later on in their lives.

I decided that writing this post in my super annoyed state on Saturday night PROBABLY wasn't the best way to share my thoughts, so I let it simmer through the rest of the weekend. What it all boils down to is this: When I think back on my childhood I can think of only 1 or 2 THINGS that have left an impression through the years. What I remember the most are the EXPERIENCES my childhood offered. I can name almost every pet we ever owned, including many of the random barn cats that just hung around on the farm. I remember the morning my parents sent me out to the barn on a random errand (I think it was a, "go feed the cats" kinda errand) knowing that when I got there I would find our mare and her new foal that had been born through the night. I remember picking and eating fresh peas in the garden thanks to the fact my Mom knew they were my favorite and planted a little row just for me to enjoy while we worked. I remember well the long HOT car trip we took to Memphis to visit my uncle and his family. I thought it was SO COOL that he had REAL pool in his backyard and how eye opening it was to walk the ped-mall in downtown Memphis as a little white girl who had lived in the Midwest her whole life. That was one of the 2 big vacations that I remember taking with my family, the other being to the Black Hills in South Dakota, because we simply couldn't afford to travel much. I will always cherish the time I was able to spend with my grandparents growing up. On of my favorite memories of my Grandpa and Grandma Reitz will always be the evening I spent interviewing them for a school project about what it was like to live during WWII. Their words often echo in my memory when I think of them. I will never, NEVER forget the day I went flying with a HS friend's Dad who served in the Air Force and flew a small acrobatic plane in air shows in his free time, or the sorrow I felt when 2 weeks later he died in a plane crash at one of those shows.

Even now as an adult it's the experiences life has given me I treasure most. A work trip to D.C. and an unplanned layover in Cincinnati that resulted in sharing some pizza and conversation well into the night with other passengers caught by the same missed flight. The amazing gift that is pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood. A night spend dancing in the rain as lightning lit up the sky like nature's disco ball. The generosity of friends and neighbors when we have found ourselves struggling to stay afloat. A night spent talking to a good friend over a bottle of wine until the sunny rays of morning peeked over the horizon. So many good memories spend with people who will always hold a piece of my heart.

It's those type of experiences I hope are what define the girls' childhoods when they look back on them from adulthood, not a collection of things. I wish we could afford to help them make a few more of those types of memories. Scott and I dream of taking the girls to Washington D.C. to share with them the treasures held there before they are too cool to travel with Mom and Dad and enjoy it. I would love to take them camping/hiking in the mountains or to play on the sandy beaches of the ocean...something I still have not done at 37. I'm thankful for the gift of time we have all gotten to spend with my Great Grandma and I hope the girls remember that special gift in the years to come.

We are fortunate that our girls have many, many people who hold them close to their hearts. I am so thankful for that fact. Odds are if you are reading this blog post you are one of those people. If so, please consider this post the next time you would like to gift our girls with something. Give them your time. Share with them your memories. Help us give them experiences and memories which they can carry with them in a space no bigger than their hearts as long as it shall beat. They will forever be touched by your generosity, and I will be forever thankful that I won't need to go buy more plastic totes in which to organize and store your gift. In the end they will never miss having more stuff because their hearts and their minds will be full of wonder, joy, and of life which you can never, ever have too much!


Friday, August 24, 2012

Ageless? Aged?

I have a hard time remembering my age sometimes. I often tell people I think it's because I started dating Scott in high school when we were so young and still to this day he can make me feel like that giddy teenager. Or because we dated and got married in college, even before I could legally drink in public, and it's been like we just continued living in frozen time. But mainly I think it's because even though the years tick past I just don't FEEL any different at 37 than I think I felt at say 25. I'm just me, regardless of age.

Then today it happened, a new co-worker, a very young new co-worker made a comment that clearly (though I am sure not maliciously) pointed out the difference in our age. Wow. Apparently not everyone sees me as the youngster that I feel I am. And well, my 20th high school reunion is coming up next summer. And we are celebrating Scott's LAST thirty something birthday next week, which means mine is only 18 months behind. And I have a 5th grader! Do you realize that come the end of the year that 5th grader will have completed 1/2 of the first stage of her academic career?

Age is such an interesting thing as an adult. In most instances it really means nothing as we tend to surround ourselves with people of common interests regardless of age. But at the same time it's getting harder and hard to ignore the fact that I am indeed getting older...and damn it I STILL don't know what I want to BE when I grow up.

I need more time...


p.s. This is part of my new just writing series where I am challenging myself to sit and write a little bit almost every day because it just makes me feel better...and it keeps my brain young and active ...and as we've already established in this post no body is getting any YOUNGER over here!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Getting To Know Mrs. Mavin...

As a teaching assistant I spend my day in a single classroom full of students. (Technically speaking I am a 1 on 1 SpEd Paraeducator, which is a fancy way of saying I help 1 kid get through the school day a little more smoothly and successfully than he/she might be able to do on his/her own) And while I am an adult whose pretty much always in the room through the year, my relationship with those students is very different than the relationship they form with their normal classroom teacher. I spend most of my days quietly lurking at the edges of the room, working with my student, and on occasion reminding a kiddo about proper classroom behavior, answering a question here or there when the there is just not enough of 1 teacher to go around If I have time I help grade papers or organize materials for upcoming lessons. (Laminating is my favorite mindless helper task.) It's kinda strange for me, as I'm sure it is for the kids at times, to just be the "extra" person in the room.

Now that we are 4 days into the new school year a few of the kids in my new classroom are starting to piece together little bits about who I am besides "the extra adult in the room." (Or the lady who tells them to be quiet at lunch. Or the lady who tells them not to do things they should not be doing on the playground. You know, the "bad cop".) I thought it might be fun to put together a little list of 10 things I might have told them on the first day of school if I had been the teacher at the front of the room, rather than the "extra" assistant at the back.

(This is WAY more flushed out than I might say in conversation. But hey, I'm wordy when I write. And this here is my humor me.)

10 Things You May Not Know About Mrs. Mavin

1. I was born in Nebraska. I lived in Nebraska most of my life between the ages of 0 and 22. When I was preschool aged, my family moved to Colorado. On very clear days you could see the Rocky Mountains far off in the distance to the west of where we lived. Even through I only lived there for about 4 years, I still get a little homesick for the Mountains when the leaves start to turn colors in the fall (the perfect time for camping in the mountains) and when Colorado ski season starts. My brother was born in Colorado while we lived there. I lived for a short while in Kansas after graduating college before moving to Iowa. I've lived in Iowa for 13 years.

2. If I could travel any where in the world it would be to Italy. My Great Grandma, who is 98 years old, immigrated to America from Italy when she was 7 years old. I think traveling to Italy would be the best way to learn to speak Italian, learn about my Italian heritage, and see the many historical places in Italy. Plus, the food is really good!

3. When I was in 4th and 5th grade, the same age as you students are now, I lived on a cattle ranch in the sandhills of Nebraska. I went to a small "one-room" school where 1 teacher and 1 teaching assistant taught all the students (and all the subjects/specials) who where in K-6th grade. We had 11 kids in our school. My 4th grade class was the biggest class in the whole school...we had 3 students.

4. In high school I did lots of activities. I played volleyball, basketball, sang in our traveling show choir, played parts in 2 school musicals, was a member of National Honor Society, and was a member of a clown troupe who visited elementary schools to talk to kids about being drug free. When you are in high school I think you should try all sorts of activities so you can discover things you enjoy doing. My high school had about the same number of students as currently go to CHS.

5. I applied to college to be a teacher. Then I was offered a scholarship to study to be a doctor. I ended up graduating with a degree in Exercise Science because I decided I wanted to work with people in a way that helped them maintain/recover their health rather than treat illnesses. I took MANY more science classes than were required of me to graduate. My favorite subject in school has always been science.

6. I've been married for 17 years to my husband Scott and we have 2 daughters. One of them is in 5th grade at our school. The other is a 1st grader. They are the reason I now work at the school. Working at the school gives me more time outside of school to just be Mom. Our family also includes 2 dogs. We wish we could live on a farm like I did when I was growing up so we could give a home to a couple horses, some chickens, and maybe a goat. (My husband might not agree about the goat.)

7. I own a small business. I teach yoga, and other exercise/health related things. I LOVE to talk about and teach people about health and the human body. Someday I would like to go back to school to get a Master's degree so that I could teach human anatomy and physiology classes to college students.

8. I like to learn new things and do all sorts of crafty/artsy projects. I like photography. I like to build with wood and power tools. I like to sew. I like to cook. A few years ago I taught myself to knit because I wanted some special mittens. I guess I'm what some people refer to as a DIY sorta person.

9. I love nature and I feel very strongly about protecting our environment by using less, recycling more, and in general being good caregivers of the world around us. I wish all people could learn to be kinder to one another.

10. Reading, writing, and spelling were never really my favorite subjects in school. Now some of my favorite free time things to do are to spend time reading a good book, playing word games like Scrabble or Bananagrams with my family, or writing my thoughts, feelings, and memories on my blog. I encourage you all to try your best at all you do because you never know how your interests will change throughout your life!


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Checking the List...

Someone is VERY excited to FINALLY be getting ready for 1st grade. I think she thought this day would never come this summer...


As much as I hate to admit it, I am ready for the return of school, and a more regular schedule (and daily adult interactions....and the return of a second pay check) as well. I will be attending 4th grade this year. Apparently 5th grade was too much for me last year...I'm gonna let Lexi have all the 5th grader glory on her own this year.