{Goodbye School Year}

Goodbye school year. Hello summer.

The end of a school year is filled with so many emotions. The last few summers have really stopped me in my tracks and made me think about how quickly the years pass. I find myself reflecting on my teaching of course, but on everything else too.

My kids have grown so much. Moved on to new milestones and phases. Their baby faces growing more big kid each month. I feel so sad for moments to be done already, but so hopeful for the years to come. I always am reminded I only have 18 summers that they are mine. I need to make the most of them. Memorable. Quality. Present. Filled with love. Connections. Sticky fingers. Ice cream. Sandy feet. Lake water. Summer strolls. Swimsuits. New adventures.

The end of the school year challenges me to think about if I’m living my life in the way that makes me happy and fulfilled. If I’m being honest, I’m not. I’ve got some things to work on. How can I make mornings less rushed? Playtime more connected and make the most of family time during the school year? How can we make more moments to connect as a family and not just follow the routine of what has to be done? How do I fill up their cups and still meet the demands of life? How do I fill up my own cup?

The end of the school year is a chance to try new things. Slow down some. I look forward to new adventures, travels and places this summer.

The end of a school year is also a chance to see how far we’ve come. How much we’ve grown, and how much life can throw the unexpected our way, but that despite the challenges you somehow end up ok. A new normal takes over.

And grown we have. A year ago we had just received a preliminary food allergy diagnosis for my daughter and we were waiting to see our new allergist. A week later our lives changed forever. No grains or bananas of any kind for our daughter until at the earliest she’s 2-3 years old. Worse case scenario-ever. It didn’t seem so horrible at first until you start reading food labels. Corn is in everything.

This end of school year I celebrate how far we’ve come. What once seemed so overwhelming, challenging and impossible has become our norm. Our sweet Aria girl is growing and thriving without an entire food group. As a family we’ve learned so much and changed so much too. You can’t unlearn and unread what you’ve seen. It has changed us for the better and made us stronger. I know that whatever challenges we are given we can overcome them.

We’ve learned how to meal prep like a boss. We know that wherever we go that might occur over meal time or where food is offered we must bring our own. We know that when we go to restaurants, we must still bring our daughter’s food. We know every eating surface must be washed before she sits to eat. We know to watch other toddler’s hands for snacks she can’t have. Our love for Starbucks is just so big because mama loves coffee, but also because they actually have snack foods our daughter can eat.

This school year I cut, prepared, packed, dated, labeled and carried 180some breakfasts, lunches, containers of almond milk and breast milk, and days worth of snacks every work day for her to eat each day at daycare. Every night we washed those containers and repacked them for the next day. Despite it feeling more normal it was never easy.

We are embracing the world of a young toddler who wants what others have, but doesn’t understand why she is the only one who can’t. Mama and Aria twin at eating a lot to make her feel more a part of the group. If I eat what she eats she doesn’t seem to mind so much.

We are constantly looking for grain alternatives and reading food labels in hopes we might find a new food for her to eat. We have the opposite problem of most toddler parents in that she often will only eat fruits and vegetables. She’s never had candy, juice, fast food, processed anything, or sweets other than fruit sweetened or honey sweetened on a rare occasion. Lara Bars are her treat.

She can’t eat the birthday cake at the party. She can’t have the doughnut on the family stop. She can’t have the candy when trick or treating. She can’t have the treat at daycare. She can’t enjoy the family tradition desserts on holidays. We try to find alternatives to make her feel included but its not always possible. It’s a hard lesson she just has to learn.

Her brother has learned many of the things Aria can’t have saying, “Aria can’t have that. She’s allergic.” When he’s not sure, he asks if she can have it. He’s learned to eat almond flour crackers and pancakes because they really are pretty good and we aren’t always getting two kinds of things. It’s also safer that way. He knows to pick up food she can’t have in case she might get it. As parents we are expert scanners of our surroundings at all times. Think of how often someone accidentally leaves something out unintentionally where a curious toddler is just waiting to find it.

As a family we’ve had to change how we budget. We’ve given up haircuts and colors and nights out to spend significantly more on food each month. We know it’s healthier for all of us so it’s not the sacrifice it seems. Plus many people don’t get Aria’s allergy and mistake what foods she can have so leaving her with others is still scary for us.

Having a ten month old at the end of last summer eating virtually no solids due to her previous violent reactions to food before will do that to you. Seeing your child’s growth slow on the growth charts will scare you like that. Thankfully we always had breastfeeding to carry us through until a few months ago.

This school year we’ve grown, celebrated, struggled, faced challenges and overcame. Here’s to looking ahead to the next year. Looking to the unknown. The fun filled days of sweet summer. Those slow down and smile moments with kids. Reflecting on what we have, where we are headed and how far we’ve come.

I’m ready for this summer thing!

Sarah

{Don’t Act Your Age-30 Things During My 30th Year}

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My little sister and I way before “30” had any meaning or expectations.

This post has been sitting in my drafts since October.  Since I’ve already started in on this list, it is definitely time to share it.  I’m not getting any younger after all.  For some reason I was a little afraid to share it as these thoughts are so personal and often seem so different from others.  This post is simply my thoughts and not based on any person, event, or conversation I might have had with anyone.  You might totally disagree with my thoughts, and that is fine.  We all get to make our own choices in life, and this post shares a glimpse into how I want to live my life.  In the spirit of this post and not acting my age-here goes.

I not sure what it is about turning 30 that has me wanting to be adventurous and try new things. When I was a kid I thought turning thirty meant you were old. It has always marked in my head when one really became an adult. I imagined I’d be married with children and acting a whole lot older than I do. The reality is that I don’t feel any older than I did ten years ago. I don’t have children because I’m having too much fun with my freedom and independence…except my cat who I do consider to be my first son.
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I still love new experiences, being adventurous, and doing stupid things I should have learned not to do in the last ten years. I would rather spend money on an experience than save it for 35 years later when I might be dead. I still have the ignorant “it won’t happen to me” mindset far too often. I don’t always eat my vegetables. Sometimes I have too many drinks when I know it won’t feel good the next day. Just the other night after a couple of drinks with friends I put a giant temporary tattoo on my arm that took up my entire forearm just for fun. Sometimes I eat popcorn for dinner. How can I be turning 30?

Turning the big 3-0 doesn’t really scare me or freak me out; it is just a number after all. I’ve always believed you are only as old as you decide to be. There are no ages to do things at or not do them at. Yet at times I feel societies pressure to follow these often unwritten age rules. But why?? Why must this, this, and that happen by this age. Why should I be slowing down instead of speeding up? Who decides these things? Why are we supposed to start acting old?
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Maybe it is more of that ignorance is bliss thing combined with the fact I don’t have kids, but I refuse to get old. I want to be young. By young, I mean alive, curious, full of wonder and wanderlust, and desire to fill my life with rich and rewarding experiences. I want to be a life-long learner and goal setter. I want to fight for my right to PaRtY!
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As I get older in a numerical sense, I feel there are fewer and fewer people around me who don’t act their age. People sacrifice so many things in exchange for what they are supposed to have and for who they are supposed to be. I slowly see people give up on dreams, goals, or hopes because they say they are too old. Too this. Too that. But what we are is too afraid. Too worried about our age and how it looks to others. Too fearful of bad things that have held us back previously. Too set in our ways to do something differently.  Too stuck on a path or plan to ever diverge.  Now I ‘m not talking quit your job and move across the country (although if my husband ever said he would I would be tempted-but he NEVER would).  I’m referring to letting adventure find me and not being so afraid of it when it does.  To do the things I’ve said I want to do, but never have.  To stop waiting for those experiences to find me, and instead create those moments for myself.  To do more following of the Holstee Manifesto below.
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I credit running for the most part for giving me a younger spirit that doesn’t want to think old. It has taught me in the past few years about how much I want to see the world, how unhappy I am with the mundane and average, how working hard rewards you in so many ways you can’t even begin to imagine. Running has shown me how age is just a number not a sentence, statement, or dictation of how to think, act, or feel. Seeing people in their 70’s and 80’s still running and living active lives inspires me everyday to do the same. And I’m talking LIVING people! These young souls are not home-bound and plagued by health ailments. Can I guarantee this won’t be me-obviously no. Can I guarantee you I won’t wait to find out-an astounding YES!
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As I enter my 30th year on Earth, I want to remind myself that we only have this one life to make our own rules and follow our own dreams. In the end it doesn’t matter what society says. It’s your life! So many runners, moms, dads, and individuals out there DO inspire me because I see them going for it. Readers of this blog inspire me with their goals and dreams. They work hard to balance family, responsibility, and their dreams.
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Besides being a list person, setting smaller dreams and goals gives us a sense of accomplishment while lighting that motivational fire under our arses. This year I want a list of 30 things to go for leading up to my birthday and in my 30th year, and I need your help. What are some ideas to add to my list in my journey to and during 30 years young? What cool experience did you make, see, do, explore, etc.  I want a balance between the adventurous and the it’s-ok-to-have-a-calm-life.

Goals for 30th year
1) Race 30ish mile race (50k)
2) Skydive
3) get a tattoo
4) improve blog
5) become a trail runner
6) read 30 books (This will be hard for me as I usually read like 8 books a year…on a good year.  Any suggestions?)
7) hike in natures beauty (Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Glacier National Park)
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8) visit Portland, Oregon
9) take a(nother) road trip
10) become a yogi or at least get committed to yoga/take classes
11) become a Marathon Maniac
12) go scuba diving
13) visit another country (plan to travel to Mexico with family)
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14) visit ten (minimum) new state parks
15) cross at least two more states off my 50 in 50 list
16) try new foods (new ethnic eats)
17) Try 30 new to me beers
18) complete a century ride on trails (Perrot State Park to 400 Trail in Reedsburg)
19) get a massage-truth, I’ve never had one
20) go downhill skiing again-it’s been 7 years
21) complete a monthly photo challenge-I’ve got a ton saved, but have never done one
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22) go ice skating again-it’s been 16 years
23) ride on a train
24) visit another baseball stadium
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I still need six more ideas. I’m open to suggestions! Keep in mind these events will happen in the next 16 months, so I can’t fly to Mykonos, Greece or visit the Australian outback as much as I’d like to-unless your paying ;)! I want to make the next year about adventure, fun, and living life…not about a number!

Suggestions…Go!