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That Reese

I witnessed something remarkable the other day.

I took part of the day off of work so that I could chaperone Reese’s first field trip. We went to the pumpkin patch, but the field trip itself has nothing to do with this story.

Once we were back at the school, we had about 20 minutes to kill before the end of the school day. After the kiddos had the classroom cleaned up, and their week’s worth of papers stuffed in their backpacks, their teacher let them have free time.

At that point, she looked at me and said I was welcome to take Reese and get an early start on our weekend, but I had to wait for Rylee either way, so we hung out in the class. I stood off to the side and watched the classroom dynamic.

Somewhat off-topic: I’ve really been curious about the classroom dynamic and how Reese is adjusting to kindergarten. Often times she’s over-tired and very emotional when she gets home, so I can’t help but wonder if that’s how she is throughout the day, or if it’s saved up for when she’s at home. I was really thankful I had some time to just sit back and observe.

Immediately, all of the kids but one headed to the back of the classroom where there are books to look at and tubs of toys to play with. The one kid that didn’t go with the rest of the class? Mine.

Reese walked over to her teacher asking something I couldn’t quite hear, waited for the answer, smiled and quietly went up to the front of the room, where it’s clear they do their circle time, reading/letter practice, etc. She turned on the little karaoke machine, had the microphone in one hand, picked up the “pointer stick” with the other and started playing teacher. At this point she was “teaching” no one, but was reciting what I can only imagine is their typical daily routine.

All by herself, as content as can be.

After a few minutes of playing teacher by herself, one little girl went over at sat on the rug in front of Reese. Her eyes lit up. She was so excited to have a student. She called up her student to the front and together they practiced their sight words. Holding the microphone for her student, and pointing to each word. Within a few more minutes, there were five kids sitting there, letting Reese be their teacher.

A couple of the kids started arguing about who got to stand up and read the words into the microphone next. Teacher Reese diffused the situation quickly and the group continued playing happily until their real teacher said it was time to clean up and head home.

At home, I see the Reese that is often over-tired from school. I see the Reese that does everything in her power to push all of her sister’s buttons then gets mad when her sister retaliates. I see the Reese that hates brushing her teeth and hates going to bed. I see the Reese that doesn’t want to play what her siblings are playing but also doesn’t want to be left out. I see the Reese that’s loud and that likes to push boundaries.

The Reese that I saw that afternoon in her class? She’s independent. And content. And doesn’t do something just because everyone else is doing it. That Reese going to move mountains. Because when she talks? People listen.

I’m happy I got to see that Reese.

The universe is oh-so-funny.

So, last week I was lamenting about how busy we are. And that I’m sure my past self has felt the same way before.

Well, apparently right about this same time 6 years ago I was feeling the same way.

What’s hilarious to me is that was back when we had 1/3 of the children we do now. And Rylee wasn’t even in school or playing sports. Funny enough, I even say “I hate to think about what’s it’s going to be like when Rylee is in school or playing sports or she has a sibling.”

I really can’t help but laugh at myself.

I guess I take comfort in knowing that I’ve always felt like a hot mess? Actually what I really take comfort in, is the fact that looking back 6 years, I don’t remember feeling that way at all.

So, note to future self: You’re doing great! Keep on keeping on.

Busy.

You know what I hate? That when friends I haven’t seen for a while ask me how we’ve been the only answer I can ever come up with is, “busy.”

Or when someone asks me how my day was and I can’t think anything to say besides, “busy.”

At what point will I just accept that “busy” is just our new normal? Or maybe, I’m just not willing to accept it as our new normal. And also, what would I say then to those questions?

How was your day? … “normal.

How have you guys been? … “normal.

What kind of answer is that, even?

But, it’s true. Three kids is a lot of laundry, a lot of morning chaos, a lot of food to cook, a lot of dishes. Two of them are now in school so there are more lunches to make, more schedules to coordinate, more reading to be done. Two of them are playing sports so there are more practices to go to, more games to cheer on, more water bottles to fill, more team snacks to buy. Outside of the kids, there are careers that we love and aren’t going anywhere. The property that’s not going anywhere. Etc., etc. etc..

It’s just busy. But it’s our normal.

If I’m being completely honest? The constant dashboard of family stuff, work stuff, house stuff, that I have running in my head leaves me right on the verge of being completely overwhelmed. There’s always one.more.thing. that should/could/needs to be done before I can sit down and relax in the evening. That magical time of sitting down and relaxing seems to be getting later and later in the evening as time goes on.

It’s just busy. But it’s our normal.

So, I’m asking myself, why am I even here? In this space, I mean. Typing these words when there are so many other things that should be done right now. Why am I even contemplating the idea of adding yet another one.more.thing. to that dashboard in my head?

I’ve gone almost an entire year within nothing new here. So why now? It’s been so long, I even typed in the URL of my own blog wrong when I decided to log in and click “new post.”

The novelty and shiny-ness of the internet has long worn off. There’s just so much noise anymore. I actually kind of hate it lately. Social media in general, I mean. I took the twitter app off my phone. I’ve been clicking “unfollow” more and more. I’ve even said out loud on more than one occasion that if I didn’t have to have it for work I wouldn’t. And that realization actually kind of makes me sad. I miss the “good old days” of social media, ya know?

And maybe that’s just me in general lately. I suppose that’s why I’m here right now. Reminiscent of the “good old days” of being less busy. At least, that’s what I’m telling myself now. I’m sure that whenever those generic “good old days” were, I also felt busy all the time. Maybe I just handled it all better?

I don’t even know. I’m just rambling on at this point.

It’s just busy. But it’s our normal.

It’s the last Fri-Yay of the year!

Ok, so it’s been a while since I’ve turned out a FriYay post, but I had a good run there for a while. Actually, we’ll go with good-ish. But when I logged into my dashboard this morning to mark some comments as spam, I realized today is Friday. And the last Friday of the year.

Awesome things from this week-ish…

1. I got to have lunch with a couple of old coworkers. One of which moved to California and was home just for the holiday break. It’s always fun to catch up with old friends!

2. Andy started framing part of the wall for my office! Yay!

3. I guess Christmas was technically earlier this week, wasn’t it. That was pretty awesome. Cooking Christmas morning brunch with my dad has definitely become a highlight for me.

4. When we lost power for 5 days, that was less than awesome, but what was so great was all of our friends and family that offered up their homes for showers and hot meals and even places to crash if we needed it. I ended up spending a lot of time at my Dad’s house during that time so I could shower and work.

Photos from the week…

Part of a wall! Operation convert part of the garage into an office/guest room is a go!

We ended up at my Dad’s house on Sunday, the week before Christmas. I snuck this sweet photo.

Julia and I ran a 5k race in 26 degree weather to kick off her birthday. We both ended up with 3rd place in our age brackets. HEYO!


My dad and I making brunch on Christmas morning.

Sweet niece snuggles on Christmas day! I had drool spots on my top the rest of the day, but it was worth it!

I really really love my new coffee mug.

Things I’m looking forward to next week…

1. Tomorrow night we are headed to some friends’ house for dinner. I doubt we’ll stay there to ring in the new year, but it’ll be fun to hang out with them for a while anyway!

2. I leave on Wednesday for a 5 day trip to Texas. It officially kicks of show season for me which means I’ll be gone a week at a time every other week for all of January and half of February. That’s less something I’m looking forward to, and more just something that’s happening.

3. Taking down the rest of the Christmas decorations.

4. Going hiking with my sister, cousin, best friend and her cousin tomorrow morning! We heard that the butte may be closed due to those ice storms we had recently so we need to check on that first. If it’s closed, we may just end up somewhere drinking mimosas. Either option sounds like a winner to me!

 

2016 Family Recap

It’s that time of year again! Christmas cards have been sent and now I’m sitting here (possibly procrastinating a work project) thinking, man I should have written a Christmas letter! Our little family really isn’t so little anymore. We seem to always be busy and running. 2016 was filled with extreme highs, some lows (like losing power for 5 days over the last week!), as well as adventure for our family of five and looking back, it was most definitely one of our best yet.
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Big picture-wise, a lot happened in 2016. In January we welcomed our first nephew on my side of the family! George stole my heart the minute I first held him. He’s growing and changing so much – I just wish I was able to make it up to Portland to see them more often. Then in May we welcomed twin nieces! Unfortunately they were born scary-early and spent a lot of time in NICU but now they’re home and healthy and growing more every day.

We had a lot of fun summer adventures that included our first camping trip as a family of 5! The kids had a great time… Andy and I needed a weekend from our weekend haha! It was so nice to get back out in the woods. We hadn’t been camping since Reese was a baby. We hiked 6 or so miles at Silver Falls with some friends. We road-tripped to Cheyenne, Wyoming in August and met up with some friends that live in Michigan – Cheyenne was the midpoint for both of us. It was a quick trip, but the kids did so great and it was so great visiting with our friends. We’ve already started planning our trip for next summer! We ended the summer with a long weekend at the Oregon Coast.

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Rylee turned 8 in May and started the third grade this school year. She continues to be involved with sports adding basketball and now even volleyball to the list. Between those, soccer and softball she’s playing some sport throughout the school year. Rylee works really hard at her school work and it really shows. Her teacher this year is really pushing her in all subjects and it’s so fun to watch her face new challenges head on. Her ability to understand math concepts blows my mind, and honestly intimidates me just a smidge. She will be better than me at math in no time. She also loves to read and devours books. Right now, she is reading 4 different books in preparation to compete in OBOB (Oregon Battle of the Books).  Most recently she was invited, as one of seven 3rd graders and only 14 kids in the whole school, to represent her school on a team for a national STEM competition called Destination Imagination. I am still learning what all that entails, but she is very excited about all she has on her plate right now. Outside of sports and academics, Rylee enjoys helping Andy build things/complete projects around the house and property. She is an amazing big sister and has such a big heart.

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View More: http://witnesseverymoment.pass.us/rice_haag_families

Reese turned 4 in July. This girl likes to live out loud. Emphasis on the loud. Ha! She is full of spunk and always has a twinkle in her eye. She’s in the Pre-K class at her daycare/pre school and it’s very fun to see her put together letters and sounds and begin writing. The other night Rylee was teaching her basic addition – go figure. Reese has essentially spent her whole life watching her sister play organized sports and between Tball last spring and soccer in the fall, it’s clear that she cannot wait to get out on the field! She will be playing soccer when she starts kindergarten next fall and she is so excited about that idea. I often joke that if there’s a fight in our house, Reese is in the middle of it. Her and Lincoln get along great 99% of the time. Rylee and her however, well, there’s just something about sisters, I suppose because I remember doing the same things to my sisters. In general, Reese is very independent and strong-willed and will do things in her own time and feel her own feelings and most definitely does not care for her big sister telling her otherwise. She loves to play “home” and cart her baby dolls around the house. She is obsessed with all things baby mainly because of all of her new cousins! She loves to hold them and tells me “I am their best cousin, Mom.” … it doesn’t matter which cousin she is referring to.  She has even named one of her babies Éliane, after one of her cousins.

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View More: http://witnesseverymoment.pass.us/rice_haag_families

Lincoln turned 2 this year. If you’re around him for more than 5 minutes, his shyness will wear off and you’ll hear him talking a lot. It’s fun to hear him stringing sentences together and it’s downright funny hearing him reprimand his sisters… “Calm down, Rylee!” “Reese! Be quiet, Reese!” No idea where he hears those phrases! He is running all over the place – mostly chasing after his sisters. He also loves having sword fights, pretending to vacuum (with those same swords), or building/fixing things “like Daddy” with his toy tools. We offically had our very first trip to urgent care for an injury thanks to him. He jumped off the bottom step at my sister’s house and slipped on the hardwood floors. We thought he bit clear through his bottom lip. Turns out he didn’t and other than a fat lip, he was completely fine. FUN TIMES! He also loves trains and helping Andy build fires in the wood stove. He’s most happy when his sisters are including him with their play and will happily play the pretend husband or “babe” and carry around the baby dolls. Lincoln has a great relationship with both of the girls.

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View More: http://witnesseverymoment.pass.us/rice_haag_families

Andy started his 13th year of teaching in September. His schedule this year includes P.E., shop, and construction math. He has worked really hard on building a shop program out there and has made some fantastic industry partners in the community. He is also team teaching a STEM class and has his “head teacher” position helping with transcripts, counseling, and basically running everything behind the scenes. New kid shows up? Mr. Rice can help. Kid can’t get into his locker? Mr. Rice can help. A parent needs a grade report status for another class? Email Mr. Rice, he can help. Anyone know how to set up the PA system in the gym? Mr. Rice can help. Kid needs a bandaid? You guessed it… Mr. Rice can help. He has even been voted by the senior class two years in a row to give the commencement speech at graduation. Because, why not? He truly loves what he does. While his work keeps him plenty busy with long hours, he has managed to help coach Rylee’s T-ball team last spring and it sounds like he will be helping with basketball next month too. Outside of all that, it seems like he’s always scheming, planning, or executing a major project around the property and the latest one is a home office for me. We are converting part of the garage into an office/guest room. No no, we will not be getting rid of Andy’s beloved Cruiser. There will most definitely still be room in the garage for that! One of these days, maybe his priority will shift to something for himelf and he will get those brakes replaced and install a steering conversion kit like he’s wanted to for the last 4-5 years. Maybe.

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In February I left my job at the IT training company to take a position at a tech company based out of Portland. Working from home offered a lot of flexibility with family stuff and traveling to Portland once a week for work meant seeing my sister and nephew on a regular basis and that was amazing. But after not quite 3 months with that company – basically out of the blue and thanks to facebook – I was offered a position as Director of Marketing for a hunting company. The company is based in Texas so I continue to work from home. DREAM JOB STATS: Achievement UNLOCKED I am so, so happy to be back in an industry I love. It’s been fun reconnecting with old colleagues. I have traveled to Texas a few times since I started in June and even had the chance to hunt whitetail in South Texas. 2017 kicks off with quite a bit of travel for me… I will be in Dallas, Vegas, and Harrisburg, PA for shows in the first 6 weeks alone. I am looking forward to sticking with this company for a long, long while with many more adventures. Hopefully a caribou hunt will be on the docket in coming years! Aside from work, I continue to really enjoy cooking and have also taken a liking to running. I certainly wouldn’t call myself a runner, but Julia (my best friend of 32 years) convinced me to run a 5K race with her back in May and we’ve done two others since then! Most recently was a holiday run on her birthday where we both took 3rd place for our age divisions! Next year we’re going to bump it up to a 10k!

Andy and I celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary in August. Last March marked 10 years living on our property. We have three amazing, healthy kiddos. It’s hard not to look at this life we’ve built and smile. We are looking forward many more adventures in 2017!

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Now looking back at this letter, I realize why I could never write one to include with a Christmas card… I may as well bind and publish this bad boy as a short novel! If you made it all the way to the end, BLESS IT! Gold star for you. xoxo

*Photos by Elizabeth Crow Media