Holy moly — it is already March! I am honestly looking forward to this month SO much. February was mostly cold and rainy…and it was just a tough month in general for us (despite all the fun highlights below). It’s hard to believe that March marks one year of living through a pandemic. I have had so many feelings the past few weeks — restless, anxious, exhausted, depleted. However, I am feeling optimistic about March and I finally see some light at the end of the tunnel in the form of warmer weather (spring gardening, summer bucket lists, dinners al fresco), North Carolina is loosening some restrictions (in-person school days, increased capacity indoor and outdoor, curfew extended), better work/life balance (wrapped up some large projects in February), vaccines (yay for family time) and more!
So YAY for March!
Alright, on to an assortment of updates and snippets of our life from the past few weeks…
Back To School, Kind Of
After a series of weeks of both kids being home due to school closures (water pipe breaks, power outage, teacher work days, etc.) we finally received some good news — CMS has allowed students to return to the school building two days per week, on a rotation. Students in Rotation A go in person on Mondays & Tuesdays. Everyone is remote on Wednesday so the school can be deep cleaned. Then students in Rotation B go in person on Thursdays & Fridays. Caroline is actually out of the house 3 days a week now because the After School Enrichment Program is back open on Wednesdays! And Wednesday happens to be the shortest school day of the week (only 90 minutes) so she gets to play the entire rest of the day with her friends instead of sitting at home watching TV and eating all my snacks. So this new schedule has been so good for all of us. Caroline has missed her friends and teacher deeply and she is elated to be riding the bus to and from school again! And I could not be more grateful for a few days of QUIET to work uninterrupted each week!
Circle Room Office
I did it. I converted the Circle Room to my office. It was a sad transition as we love and used the Circle Room so much but I have really enjoyed the new office setup. And it’s made a huge difference to be able to shut the doors for calls or at the end of the workday to physically check out. To make room for my super fancy massive folding table, we said goodbye to some chairs in the family room then replaced them with furniture from the Circle Room.
Powder Room Refresh
When the walls feel like they are starting to close in…change the paper! Kidding. Kind of. Being home 24/7 has brought to my attention all of the things that need to be cleaned, organized, repaired or decorated. I’ve slowly been tackling projects (I mentioned a few we’ve accomplished in a recent Five on Friday post) and most recently we refreshed the powder room!!! Was this project necessary? No. Was Matt tired of hearing me complain about that room? Yes. And so he agreed to the project.
One of the biggest mistakes we made when we moved in to our home was wallpapering the powder room. It was my first wallpaper project and I learned a lot from it…like maybe hire a professional wallpaper installer if you want it hung correctly (and make sure to request that the pattern matches up)…and maybe opt for a paper that you can easily wipe mud, marker, toothpaste and lots of mystery foods off of. Lessons I have learned.
Anyway, as soon as I got the green light, I called Crystal. She did such an amazing job designing our back porch that I knew she would knock this project out of the park too. And she did!! We told her we wanted a bold, fun and wipeable wallpaper so she brought over some VINYL paper samples that hung in our bathroom for 2 months before we finally selected a print. Actually, Matt selected this palm frond paper from the options! The best part? The wallpaper is vinyl, so we can easily clean it (hallelujah!) and the texture of the paper is gorgeous in person. The palm fronds remind me of my Florida roots every time I see it which makes me super happy.
This month we have been super grateful for the vaccine to be able spend time with both sides of families. We recently made a quick visit to Winston-Salem to celebrate Matt’s dad’s birthday! Matt’s sister came down too and it was so nice to all be together.
Mom recently came up from Florida and stayed with us for 4 nights!!! It was so such a treat to have her here and she spoiled us ALL with toy store visits, cooking for us, doing all the laundry and she even kept the kids so Matt and I could get away to Asheville for the weekend. I was also excited to treat her to one of our new favorite Mexican restaurants (sans kids) so she and I could have a fun taco and tequila dinner together.
On the day that she arrived, we had a beautiful birds of paradise arrangement waiting for her that was made by Ashley of Pretty Things Charlotte (highly recommend) to honor her wedding anniversary which happened to fall during her visit. Birds of Paradise are a special flower in our family and the surprise really meant a lot to her.
Health & Wellness
If you read the intro paragraph, you know I’ve been struggling a bit. I don’t know if it’s the adrenaline of the holidays wearing off, the anniversary of dad’s entrance to heaven, our healthy w30 habits going to trash, work/life imbalance, cabin fever due to weather or what — likely some combination of all those things. The mental load is especially overwhelming for me right now too. Tiny things like remembering to pull chicken out of the freezer for dinner, purchasing raffle tickets for the school fundraiser, planning fun weekend activities for our family, noticing when it’s time to refill the soap dispensers, charging the ipad for school and setting all the zoom meeting alarms, and more — it all adds up and my brain feels like it’s at capacity. One morning last week, Matt was frazzled and running late for Thomas’s weekly appointment. Per usual, Thomas’s shoes were nowhere to be found which led Matt to comment on how the kids just need more shoes…and I ABSOLUTELY LOST IT. As the buyer of all the things, it feels impossible to keep up and the shoes were just one more thing I felt I had dropped the ball on.
I also feel stuck in a negative thought cycle right now with my brain constantly searching for evidence to support the thoughts that I’m not doing a good job. So I decided to return to therapy. It’s been a few years since I’ve gone to therapy (which I’ve always loved, loved, loved and am a huge fan) and I’ve found a therapist who is an excellent fit for me. We’re just getting started but I am already feeling really good about the work ahead.
Additionally, I just started experimenting with meditation. We’re reading Untamed in Community Group right now and one of the big takeaways for me has been slowing down, sinking below the noise and learning to be still through meditation. While it feels very unnatural for me to sit on the floor of my closet for 10 minutes a day and not think about re-organizing my shoes, worrying about what the kids are getting into or making my grocery list, I have already begun to experience small improvements in mindfulness. I am using the book Matt got me, Practical Meditation for Beginners, which is a 10 day guide with step-by-step instructions for practicing different meditation techniques. Once you finish the program (which so far it’s taken me 3+ weeks to complete the 10 days), you should be able to identify the meditation technique that works best for you.
Routine & Traditions
Right now Caroline’s school routine is different every day depending on if she’s home or entering the school building. Some days she starts school at 8:30. Some days it’s 9:15. Some days she only has 90 minutes of school and other days she isn’t done until 4 pm. Our kids really thrive on routine and structure so we’ve been doing our best to focus on the good things and implement more routines and traditions. Here are a few things that our kids really enjoy or look forward to. (I’d love for you to share in the comments things that help your family during this crazy time too!)
- Taco Tuesdays: We have been eating dinner as a family every night since last fall and have had success sticking to a meal plan routine, which includes tacos on Tuesdays. The kids look forward to pulling their dinosaur taco holders out and making their own tacos. And it’s one of the few dinners each week where I don’t have to hear any complaints about what I made. Win-win.
- After School Play Dates: On the days it isn’t raining, the neighborhood kids have been getting together to play in the evenings. This has been HUGE for Caroline especially and I love how all the kids usually end up in our backyard together playing where I can keep an eye on them while I prep dinner. And all the kids know when they hear the dinner bell that it’s time to go home/come inside for dinner.
- Game Nights: We’ve been cutting down on TV during the week (Caroline is on a screen ALL DAY LONG) and we have been playing more games together after dinner instead. Right now we’re pretty stuck on Uno but also really love Charades for Kids.
- Good Things Only Jar: To help combat the Sunday scaries, on Sundays over dinner we write down standout moments from the previous week/weekend on paper and add them to our “Good Things Jar.” It’s a fun way to reflect on the good things in our life (ex: Grandma came to visit, Caroline received an award at school, Thomas hosted a fun sleepover, etc.). We plan to collect our good things all year long and then read them together on New Years Eve.
Alright March, let’s do this!
I found myself nodding to many points in this post! Thank you for sharing the not so fun moments in life. I’m also the buyer of things and my husband has also made these types of comments! I read somewhere that moms have a mental list so long of different things we have to do/buy/see etc! It can be draining. Re meditation my hubby has been doing it (and martial arts) for years and says meditating consistently can add three years to your life. Got to get on that! Lol
3 YEARS!?! That is wild!! Off to meditate!!! 🙂
I hear ya about struggling! March is the anniversary of my Dads death (17 years this year) and it has now been a year since I have been working from home and we are still pretty much in lockdown so it has been tough. Last week I mentioned to my husband that I find it so hard to keep on top of things especially when he is away (he works away 3 weeks at a time) and he said “Oh you just have to tidy up as you go along” and I just lost it at him telling him he has absolutely no idea how much I do. So basically I let him do everything for a week and I just looked after myself. He will not be making that mistake again! Sending love and I hope your therapy helps you a lot. You can only look after everyone else when you make yourself a priority. I throwed everyone out of the house on Sunday and sat and watched 5 hours of television to myself whilst drinking red wine. Im not sure how much it really helped me but at least there was no one in the house annoying me! Take care xx
Tidy up as you go along….HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. That made my day. Thank you for sharing!!! And I’m thinking about you this month on the anniversary of your dad’s death. I know how grief hits at different times and anniversaries are especially hard. Hugs to you. xo
Thanks for thinking of me. I just remembered 2 card games that we play that you might enjoy (if you don’t already have them). The first is Dobble which seems to be called Spot It. My daughter got it for Christmas a few years ago and we all love it. My husband and I will even take it to the pub to play a few games by ourselves. https://www.amazon.com/s?k=dobble&ref=nb_sb_noss_1
The other game is Blink, it might be a bit fast paced but the premise of it is really simple and we all enjoy it. https://www.amazon.com/Mattel-Games-Blink-Worlds-Fastest/dp/B0037W5Y2W/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=blink+card+game&qid=1614849191&sr=8-1
Thoroughly recommend both of them. 🙂
Lindsay @ Lindsay's Sweet World says
Try to stick with the meditation!! I started seeing a therapist about a year and a half ago and she highly recommended that I start meditating. I was SO skeptical because I’m just like you – Type A, perfectionist, always planning something, trying to stay organized to the max, two small kids keeping me busy, so my brain never rests. I thought there was no way possible I could ever like meditation or benefit from it, but after watching a quick YouTube video on the science behind it, I was convinced. So, I’ve been doing it for over a year now, 10 minutes a day, every single day without fail, and it has done WONDERS for my anxiety and my mood in general. That said, we are in a pandemic that has turned our lives completely upside down, so I’m still obviously struggling like most everyone else, but I can’t even imagine what kind of state I’d be in without my meditation. Good luck to you, lady! I hope you find some mental relief soon! And please go easy on yourself… this past year has been REALLY hard.
You should check out the netflix documentary on meditation — it is fascinating!!! I think it’s called Headspace. And YES to staying busy, over-scheduled, over-committed, never stop to sit down…it’s apparently how I avoid feelings and emotions. So meditating has definitely been eye opening!! I would love to hear more about how you do it — same time every day? Do you use a guided app or a certain meditation style? I really loved the body scan meditation at nighttime! And I did a mindful eating meditation earlier this week that was so interesting — slowing down to actually taste/appreciate food (mind blowing). haha.
Lindsay @ Lindsay's Sweet World says
I will definitely check out that documentary, thank you! And yes, I *try* to meditate at the same time every day. Most days I do it first thing in the morning, but every now and then, something will happen and I can’t, but I ALWAYS make sure to find 10 minutes in the afternoon or evening to do it so I never miss a day. I used the free version of the Calm app and loved it so much that I ended up buying the lifetime subscription to it. It’s expensive, but I was able to buy it 40 or 50% off (can’t remember which) when they put it on sale just before Christmastime. Their app is soooo good. They have guided meditations for lots of different things – stress, anxiety, sleep, work, self-care, inner peace, focus, emotions, relationships, personal growth, kids, etc. Some days I’ll do a specific meditation in whichever of those categories I’m wanting, but most days, I just do the daily guided meditation as they have a new one every single day. I’ve learned SO MUCH from those daily meditations! They’re all about 10 minutes each, and each day there’s a different topic. The first 6-7 minutes is just you focusing on your breath, and then the last 3-4 minutes is the guide talking about the topic for that day… I always feel so inspired when it’s done! So anyway, I HIGHLY recommend the Calm app… it has truly been heaven sent!!
Things just feel so heavy to me as we are approaching the one year anniversary of all things COVID 19. To think that we all hoped this would only change our world for 2 weeks at most?!? We were so naive! As hard as this last year has been with my job (I work in higher ed, but work very closely with high schools–so balancing both worlds has been a doozy), I am fortunate that COVID hasn’t impacted my immediate family. Thinking about all of the lives lost and all of the people who are still struggling with lingering symptoms…..it just feels heavy and sad. All of that to say–I totally get where you are mentally. While I’m not a parent, I just feel distracted and I think it’s just the weight of the last year. It’s been a lot!
Omg. YES TO THE WHOLE paragraph on the mental list and the buyer of all things. My husbands great but man he does not have a clue on all the things he doesn’t have to do 😂
Christina, thanks as always for being so candid. And it is really nice to know that I’m not alone, because January and February were incredibly tough mentally for me too. LIke you, I am someone who is generally pretty good at making myself happy, but the heaviness of how much we are missing in life and how it just feels like Groundhog Day because you can hardly separate the week days from the weekends. I will say as an observer, I am always beyond impressed at the sheer amount that you accomplish both personally and professionally in a week, so I think you are doing an amazing job! But, I know from experience how impossible it is to focus on work when you have to keep jumping out to help your kids, AND I know the deep guilt when you finally get to focus because they are rolling through multiple hours of screen time and multiple packets of gummy products. You clearly hold yourself to very high standards so when you meditate, concentrate on giving yourself grace! And know that you are an inspiration to many of us out here struggling with many of the same challenges.
Amy G says
I love all of this! Seriously, I’m right there with you—this year has been a doozy. Way to go getting back into counseling!! I did it for a year + and LOVED it but then we moved. I really want to get back into it but finding the right professional feels a little daunting. Your bathroom looks AMAZING! Seriously so gorgeous!!!
Thank you for such an honest and candid post!!! It is so refreshing to see another mom be open about the struggles throughout the past year. I just want you to know as a loyal reader to your blog, I am often amazed at how much you are able to juggle and still maintain a positive attitude. I know you are in the trenches right now with pandemic life, but I just want you to know you are doing an INCREDIBLE job as a working mom! Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to share with us, and for being a bright light in the blogging world!
P.S. Your powder room refresh is major goals!!!!!
Pandemic fatigue has been hitting badly lately. February was a really tough month for me too. I live in Virginia and it was colder/snowier than normal, which meant it was pretty much impossible to socialize safely with people outside. I am so thankful it’s March and the weather seems to be turning around! I have loved all of your honest and heartfelt posts like this over the past year… you highlight so many things that I think all of us are feeling.