Unexpected Tears and Some Big Moments...

So a few major things have happened around the Simmons home these past two weeks. Here is a list of them, in no particular order: 

1. Livi (and Layla) started school. 

Layla started on Monday of last week, and she is doing a 5-day Pre-K program (half-days on Fridays). I wanted to do the 5-day program for several reasons... one being that Kindergarten is REALLY long days and I didn't think she would transition well if we went from three days a week of 4 1/2 hours a day, to five, 7-hour days next year. She is also on the younger side of her class, and I just think she is going to need a little bit more. The second reason is that Livi's program is Tuesday/Thursday, and the 3-day program is Monday/Wednesday/Friday...so I would still be driving someone to school every day and I would always have a child, which is just silly. She wore a beyond adorable peplum top and white bermuda shorts. 

She acted like an old pro and l(thankfully) no major issues have occurred (yet). 

So Olivia's first day of school was Tuesday of last week. From the person who was literally rejoicing over the fact that I would have a few hours to myself each week, I certainly was not expecting to cry... TWICE... over this milestone. I really thought I was going to do the happy dance... but, sure enough, I woke up with a lump in my throat. She is my baby. She is growing up. SO fast. A tutu was obviously essential (she would wear one every day if she could), and she was SO excited. The photobombers in the pic are beyond amazing. 

They were super excited to go together: 

She marched right into her classroom and that was that. No tears, no hesitation, no nothing. That obviously made it a fantastic transition, but I walked back to my car with a slight feeling of emptiness and like I was forgetting something. I guess I can still surprise myself sometimes... 

2. I got a new steam mop. 

If I could steam-mop my entire world, I would be a very happy camper. Just putting it out there. Matt witnessed me cleaning our floors with this the other day: 

He looked at me with an amused expression as I hunched over, fumbling with the top half to push the button to spray, and said, "Go buy yourself a new one." If Matt actually tells me to go BUY something, he doesn't have to say it twice. I ordered what I had been eyeing for months... The most amazeballs Bissell Steam Mop in the history of the world. I love him (I'm talking about the mop, but I obviously love Matt as well). He is so simple, so wonderful, so effective. He makes everything so shiny and glisteny. I think his name is Reginald.

3. We booked a trip to Mexico for January. 

This summer, we failed to really schedule a vacation that was longer than four days. If you have kids, you know that the hassle and ordeal of packing everything and everyone up. You also know that the third or fourth day is when you actually, finally start to relax. A few years ago when Livi was just a few months old, we took our first official family vacay to St. Thomas and we had the most phenomenal time. St. Thomas Steph emerged... meaning-- a totally laid-back, not a care in the world, go with the flow, I love everything and everyone-Steph. She has had her moments where she surfaces, but she was there to stay for the full week. I need her back. We happened to find DIRECT flights at an amazing price (having to pay for all the girls now is a doozy), so we just went for it. I am beyond excited. 

4. Livi decided she was over diapers. 

This is clearly huge. Like, amazingly huge. Like, I don't quite believe it so I'm not quite processing it, huge. The ONLY caveat to this hugeness is that she hasn't really gotten the hang of the whole poop thing... which is a slight/major problem. She will go pee by herself no problem, without me asking or reminding her. Once we get the poop thing down, maybe I will believe it. It is hard to process that I may have bought our last pack of diapers ever. Okay I'm not going to cry because that would be utterly ridiculous. 

5. Football season began.

If you know me and Matt in the slightest, you will know that we are diehard Redskins fan. It isn't always fun, but we are committed. Opening day (post-going to the Maryland Seafood festival), we had everyone over to watch the game. While the outcome was disappointing, the little ones were thrilled to have some quality time with my grandma. She told them stories and taught them how to do a push-up (seriously). 

So it is a joke that the two reasons I married Matt were for his air conditioning (I grew up without it... I know, I'm sweating just thinking about it), and his Redskins season tickets. We have tailgated in the same spot for the last nine years together. The group has evolved over the years (it used to be like 50 people and two kegs). Now it is a smaller group and we make super delicious food each week. For the home opener this past week, it happened to fall on Matt's brother Ben's birthday. It was epically amazing weather for football and we had a wonderful day. 

Summer had probably a top-10-of-her-lifetime-amazingness quote which I must repeat. She was going to sleep over at my mother-in-law's house the night before, and as we were packing she says to me, "Mom, I don't want to bring my wallet to the Redskins game tomorrow. It's purple, and people might think I'm a Ravens fan. Ugh, that would be awful."

I love that kid. 

6. My grandma got her own buzzfeed article.

My little brother Tim meets random people, and I don't really ask a lot of questions how. He somehow met someone who writes for BuzzFeed and was telling this person about my grandmother. I have previously written about her (links--->her surprise 90th birthday party and her 89th  birthday as well). But this is just downright awesome. Here is the link to the article. It's pretty cool. 

Ooma's Buzzfeed Article

7. I survived my first Wednesday of the fall season.

Back when I was arranging my life and planning activities (---> link <---) I made the decision to do multiple activities on Wednesdays. This involves picking up Layla from school, taking her directly to gymnastics, entertaining Olivia for 45 minutes during what is normally her naptime, race home to make it to Summer getting off the bus, feed them all a snack, pile back in the car to go to Summer's swim clinic, entertain both an exhausted Layla and delusional Olivia for another 45 minutes in a steaming hot indoor pool, drive home and attempt to get some semblance of dinner on the table. Yeah.... I don't know what I was thinking either. And I am too tired to expand. 

8. I purchased my first Pumpkin Spice Latte of the season. 

I know, I know. #whitegirlobsession, along with Uggs and instagramming pictures of sushi. But it just needed to be acknowledged. 

So there you have it. Never a dull moment! 

Happy Thursday!!! 


Regaining Structure and a Whole Year Home...

School!!! It started!!! Well sort of. Layla and Livi's preschool doesn't start until next week but this week has been full of back-to-school nights, orientations and whatnots. Summer is happy and cruising in her second official week. First grade apparently demanded a fashion show. 

Day 1- A new maxi dress (that was too big and I sewed MYSELF to make it work. Yes that was a Tim Gunn reference.  

Heading off. 
With her sad sisters at the bus stop. 

Day 2- A neon pink chevron skirt and white tank top. I didn't snag a picture.

Day 3- I want this shirt in my size.

Day 4- I totally can't remember right now. 

Day 5- A leopard print tutu and pink tank top. 

So all-in-all, quite an adorable week. 

I vowed I would stop apologizing for not posting consistently, but I do have an excuse... endless amounts of school forms and getting my life together. The fall/a new school year is always such an invigorating time for me. I don't know what it is, but it feels to me like even more of a fresh start than New Year's. Structure begins. School supplies are bought... quick sidenote: I am awkwardly obsessed with all things related to school supplies. My pen collection in extensive colors is borderline embarrassing.

 There are few things that get me more excited than an aisle with endless arrays of adorable notebooks, bright-colored pens, and just plain college-ruled paper. Alright. I'll move on. 

Anyways, few things get me feeling like there are endless possibilities than the start of fall (like my yearly plan to feel comfortable and confident in a bathing suit next summer). I also have an additional obsession with expensive jeans, and knowing that weather is around the corner is SO exciting. I hope my annual aim to get some sort of handle on my life will stick one of these years... but I kind of doubt it. 

While attempting to work out some kind of cleaning/working out/staying sane schedule, I also get renewed excitement for new projects around the house. I am currently obsessed with redoing parts/finishing my kitchen/family room area, dealing with the debacle that is our master closet (an entire shelf has broken off the wall and is currently on a precarious slant), and creating a gift wrapping/crafting organization station in the guest room. Sidenote... I have a passion for gift wrap. I cannot go to Home Goods without selecting a new roll of cuteness (they have the BEST paper). 

I have an odd amount of respect for people who wrap beautiful gifts, which is not a talent I have... but it is a talent I am striving for. I can fold and tape the paper perfectly... bonus points if I can line up the patterns. It's just the other accoutrements that make everyone else's gifts look so much prettier. If you have the supplies (REAL ribbon is a must), the possibilities are endless. So my mind is being pulled in 17 different directions... and I just need to commit to one and go for it. But when it involves other people (like getting a paint quote or a closet design estimate) I tend to drag my feet. We shall see... 

Now that the girls are getting older, choosing and juggling activities is a major part of my life. And choosing what I am willing to put myself through was something I needed to consider. The knowledge that I will be having to entertain Olivia during Layla or Summer's stuff is a major game changer. I also feel like because I didn't do a ton of different activities as a child (being the 4th of 5 didn't put me at the top of the scheduling or $$ priority when I was super young), I want my girls to do and try everything. When I really sat down with my weekly schedule, their desires, and prices, I did myself a favor and didn't go crazy. I limited them to essentially two activities per season. Summer is doing an art class after school once a week and also a weekly swim clinic. Layla will be doing swim lessons and gymnastics. Olivia will be doing nothing until she turns three in December (yeah... we did a mommy and me gymnastics class last winter and I'm over it), but school is new for her so I don't feel bad. There was a dance class that I really wanted Summer to do, but Sunday afternoons in the fall just don't work... AKA we still can be a tad bit selfish and I didn't want the stress of logistics with our Redskins season tickets. That class or maybe lacrosse can wait until the spring. 

In doing all of this getting-my-life-sorted out, I realized that I recently had a major anniversary. In August, I have been a stay-at-home mom for a WHOLE year. Here <--- is the link to last year's post about my decision. Crazy how quickly it has gone by. Since I have been home, my girls have not miraculously become little angels (I swear they behave the worst for me and me only). I'm pretty sure my house is even more of a disaster (nixing the professional cleaning, not wanting to just follow them around cleaning, as well as knowing later is an option just kills it). I haven't always done the things for myself that I know I need to stay sane. I most definitely feel like a failure on a daily basis, I'm exhausted, and my patience wears thin more than I want to admit. I am really sick of playing Candy Land. I can quote Disney Junior to an awkward level. I never get to go to the bathroom in peace. Matt gets my short temper at the end of the day far more than he deserves (he actually never deserves it). 

But despite the many MANY days of wanting to hide in a closet and cry... I wouldn't change anything for the world. For me and my family, this works and is what is best for us. I noticed a definite change for the better in everyone... since I previously had funky hours and we didn't have super-consistent childcare, I could tell my girls were on edge every time I would walk out the door. Their behavior in general was all over the place because they had several different caretakers who all handled things differently. Everyone who watched my kids was absolutely amazeballs (they wouldn't have gone near thing if they weren't), but the overall inconsistency of each week was tough on them. Now they are more settled and I can tell they feel secure in everyday life. 

So I have absolutely zero regrets about committing to stay-at-home mommy life. I got these napkins from my sister-in-law for my birthday: 

Yes it can be totally mind-numbing... yet I realize how incredibly lucky I am that I have the option to stay home. Like I said when I quit my job-- staying home, for ME, is a far more difficult task in many ways than going to work. The constant stress of childcare logistics, making sure I had off for field trips or class parties, etc... that is something I will never look back on with anything but anxiety. But I have come to realize that as a mom, the balance is impossible. There are few things I hate more in life than the battle between stay-at-home moms and working moms. We are all in this together, and we are just doing the best that we can. And may we all have dance parties as awesome as Olivia...

Happy Thursday!!