November 29, 2011
Although I have this strange secret love of airports, I really do not enjoy spending time in the air or in the car. Yet, I travel quite a bit. And it is exhausting.
This next month is shaping up to be a doozy. With a work trip to Atlanta, and car trips currently planned for Pennsylvania for 1) my college girlfriends’ Christmas gathering, 2) my High School girlfriends Christmas gathering, 3) our Neff Christmas, 4) the Siegrist gathering and 5) the Good family gathering, that means numerous back and forths. Yes, we’re used to it, but is that really the best way to relax and soak in the Season with my kids and Rob?
I’m caught trying to be the good daughter, the good niece (who makes it to every reunion), the good employee, and, oh yeah, the good wife and mother who’s not completely crazed and crabby because of all the packing and unpacking she’s doing.
With aging aunties and uncles, there is a level of importance to these functions that is often unspoken. Yet I also know it takes a toll on the time that my little clan has together, just us.
Frankly, I don’t yet know what will come off the plate…..or will I again try to do it all?!
October 4, 2011
The little wake ups start around 4 AM….This morning’s went like this…
– schedule electrician
— call Mitchie with kids and sing Happy Birthday
— set up Wisconsin Public Radio interview
— finish monthly scorecard
— find babysitter for the 15th
— research Peru weather
— ask Nonni to alter Mia’s costume
Yes, the List. My list, swirling around in my head. I’m sure mine are not unlike many working moms’ lists. But that is why “I Don’t know How She Does It” was such a true-to-life movie. It captured the subtleties of the daily trade offs, the crazy schedules, the no-time-for-a-hair-appointment feeling (and look!), the joy (pure joy!) of time with my children, the fear of the teacher’s scowl when we’re late for drop off, the mommy guilt, the momsters who gloat that they have no mommy guilt, and that strange sense that amidst all this, I wouldn’t change my situation.
Sarah Jessica Parker — in her portrayal of Kate Reddy — captured a woman excelling at her job, adoring her kids, supporting at equally talented husband, and just plain trying to figure it all out without thinking she has to entirely give up any portion of the equation.
The movie does not sugar coat how important it is for her to be at the TOP of her game at work. Period. Full stop. No requests for special breaks because she’s a mom. She had to earn every inch of respect and reward.
And it doesn’t let her off at home either. She has an honest husband who watches her with amazement and pride, yet who knows when to holler “Uncle” as things spiral out of control. And let’s be honest. Sometimes they do.
Life is messy. Job stress ebbs and flows. Kids will need Rob and me more — not less - as they grow up. By no means can anyone tie things up in a perfect bow. But on Sunday night, the eve of my 13th wedding Anniversary, sitting in that dark theatre with my husband, watching what seemed like our own life unfold on that screen, we agreed that we wouldn’t want it any other way.
September 27, 2011
It was October 2002 when I first became a working mom. Full time job. Four month old baby at home. Someone — other than my husband and me – who was helping with the care of our first child.
Fortunately, ever since that day, I have had the benefit of employers who champion flexibility in the workplace and the ability to work from home several days a week if I choose. Now, that doesn’t mean I didn’t utilize day care, babysitters, and currently, after-care at my children’s school. I have and I do. And I’m actually a pretty big believer in the benefits of GOOD, group daycare, especially when the child care support system reinforces our Christian faith.
I know however, that as fortunate as I have been to take advantage of these benefits and have the money to pay for them, and am able to leave work to ensure I’m there for important milestones with my children…. there are many many women (and men!) in the working world who are ball and chained to desks, living the 9 to 5 grind with employers who neither take advantage of today’s technology to provide flexibility or (in my mind) worse, don’t trust their employees with the freedom to manage between work and home in creative ways.
I’m not sure where she’s going with this but I’m glad to know that the First Lady is helping to shine a light on the issue (as noted in this Politico story) by championing flexible work.. recognizing that in this Century, we need solutions that can accommodate the rigors of family life and thriving careers, both. I hope she gives her staff the flexibility that she touts. Because hers is a powerful voice….and with the “I Don’t Know How She Does It” movie in theatres, the timing is good!
September 6, 2011
Hard to believe that today is that iconic day…the First Day of School. Which also means another thing… Summer is over. Here in the Klause household, we find ourselves somewhere between denial and anticipation of what’s to come this fall. Even Graham, who is very excited to see his friends at school, when asked how this summer was for him on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being the worst, 10 the best), answered without skipping a beat, “10 million.”
It is hard to let go. So before I do, allow me to shine a visual light on some of our very best memories of Summer 2011.
First….the May bookend of Summer… Memorial Day on the Wolftrap Lawn waiting for the fireworks!
Another Memorial Day tradition.. planting our Summer Annuals!
We always celebrate Rob and Robin’s birthdays at the front end of Summer.
Once school was out it was Baseball and Swimming all the time! Who would have guessed that Graham would love baseball so much and Mia would be the only swimmer on her team to make All Star times in two strokes – back and freestyle!
Not without a little bit of “learning” Graham and Mia jumped right into Science and Cooking class. And they had a phenomenal babysitter Melissa, who reinforced creativity in the kitchen…
July brought the Neff vacation to the Outer Banks…we hadn’t been there since Graham was a baby, so having all the kids together with Mom and Dad at a place where Tim and I grew up vacationing was very special.
Ah, the beloved Lake…for the third year we celebrated Graham’s birthday here (with his second cake this summer)… we fished, swam, ate, relaxed, had lots of cousin time…. Pure Heaven.
And what would summer be without day trips…the National Zoo and Dutch Wonderland with Nana (where my Grandma used to take me each summer!)…..
Mia and I even squeeked in the DC Idol concert (she loves her Scotty!) and a visit to the National History Museum in the same day…
All good things may come to an end in one sense, but this Summer was, as Toby Keith likes to say “A big ‘en”.
July 30, 2011
I posted on Facebook recently that this is our third consecutive year celebrating Graham’s birthdays at Smith Mountain Lake – which mostly includes fishing, boating, and a cake from Nonni! He loves it, we love it. I’m not sure if the fish love it, though. He’s about a tenth of the way through his goal of catching 1000 fish, but that’s 100 bluegill/carp/catfish touched by Graham.
He’s growing up… It’s the third year in which he’s asked for LEGOs for his birthday, the second year where StarWars is a big deal in his world. Physically, I just see subtle changes, mostly in height, over these last 3 birthdays…Yet nothing dims those big blue eyes! And he’s still a Mama’s boy!
July 4, 2011
Just like Katy Perry (and the Beach Boys before her) made everyone long to live on the Gold Coast, anyone with a little girl who steps inside the new Washington, D.C. American doll store in Tysons could go off the deep end of pure American consumerism in the name of their little darling.
Confession! I am not immune to this. From our NYC visit of the chain’s flagship store to the purchase of the 2008 “Mia” Doll-of-the-Year to our recent pre-opening lunch at the Tysons store, I can get swooned into the American Girl culture. Wholesome, yes. Affordable? That’s debatable (and that’s why we are buying no more.)
But it was fun to experience the new store. Thanks to my friend Carrie, who knows the store café’s new chef, we got the royal treatment. He must have fed us one of everything on the menu. From special high chairs for one’s own doll, loaners dolls if you forgot yours (because no one wants to be without an 18 inch companion), to doll holders on the walls in the bathroom stalls, they thought of nearly everything for the 10-and-under set. The café is light and airy – almost like a flowery Silver Diner — and the store is warm and welcoming.
It’s a fun destination trip. But my advice is: Visit sparingly…oh, and set expectations ahead of time with your American Girl. Something like this: “Honey, I will absolutely NOT be buying that $125 bed for the doll. ”
On a related note….Want to be a grown up American Girl (Woman, actually) and you have some dead presidents to blow this Fourth of July? Great! You can always invest in this Balmain jacket…for a mere $21,555. Now that’s Patriotism, compliments of the Zoe report!
April 29, 2011
This morning was the morning! I really am not a huge Royal Watcher. Unlike my SIL Robin, over at Big Red Kitchen, I don’t know all the names of the Queen’s children and grandchildren (e.g. Crazy Hat Beatrice). But when I was little, I woke up early to watch Diana walk down the aisle. I remember it vividly, snuggled in bed with my mom, watching it unfold on the TV. And so it was decreed that my daughter would have the same experience as Kate Middleton wed Prince William. Hence, a SLEEPOVER at Auntie Robin’s with cousin Daelyn. Because there is something about catching it LIVE.
Like I did with my children as our President took the oath of office, we stuck the girls in front of the TV as Catherine walked the aisle.
There will be a thousand photos etched in everyone’s memories of today’s event. Mine will be of William and Catherine, yes, but more importantly will be of sharing the moments with my…wait for it…. princess.
March 31, 2011
Even Florida gets cold. That’s why they have Espresso stands all over Disney World! No, Disney, unlike my beloved Morning Joe and my beloved Target, has not struck a deal with Starbucks.
They know how to grab you on the way in, with the small of espresso wafting by the entrance. It actually never takes much to “grab” me when it comes to coffee.
When in doubt, get an Americano. Almost always better than the drip. And for kids, the Hot Chocolate is nearly like the ‘BUX.
December 29, 2010
He’s here! Sweet little Eli. He joins big sisters Olivia Quinn and Elizabeth Grace and big brother Mitchell Elijah.
Of course, Tim and Kim did not go with any of my suggested names — shocker! Even my latest suggestion of Landon (as in Donovan!) of soccer fame (thought Tim would surely go for that one) fell flat….. But alas, I’ve already forgiven them because this little Eli is so darn precious.
My first reaction when Tim told me “Eli Joseph Neff” was –”Wow that sounds Amish!” He said” Yeah, well Eli Jacob Neff would have been worse!”
So here we are with a tremendously meaningful name. According to “Behind the Names” Eli means ”ascension” in Hebrew. In the Old Testament he was the high priest of Israel and Samuel’s teacher. The name Joseph of course, refers to the favorite son of Jacob who ended up placed in charge of Egypt by Pharoah, which led to his reunion with his brothers during the great famine.
On a lighter note…. in the photo of (my dad holding) Eli, the Labor Pain chart on the door behind them just completely cracks me up. It brings back particularly “severe” painful memories for me on this eve of Mia’s birthday…. where she came a) earlier in the day than anyone thought would happen (let’s just say her head broke through with no doctor in sight, b) while the anesthesiologist was “busy” with someone else and c) before her Mama could even get a hint of any pain medicine. Yeah, good times.
But yes, they are worth it all.
November 25, 2010
In December, actually the day after I turn the big 4-0, I will become Auntie again to another beautiful nephew. I have 3 wonderful ones already…but I cannot wait to get my hands on this baby.
In the spirit of 1) Thanksgiving (because I adore my nieces and nephews), 2) reality (as I will likely not give birth to any more boys myself!) and 3) given my knack for butting in when uninvited, I’ve decided to take a load off of Tim and Kim by offering a few suggestions…
”Auntie Tonya’s favorite boy names”
– Jonathan (before Mia came out with girl equipment she was going to be Jonathan (and called Jono))
– Judah (strong biblical name)
– Jacob (this is my vote for middle name, because Tim has two grandfathers with this name)
– Wesley (as in Charles Wesley the great hymnwriter)
– Anderson (not sure why but it sounds cool)
– Jude (despite the fact that I think of Jude Law)
- Hershey (family name!)
– Lucas (because we know he will grow up loving StarWars)
– Caleb (another strong biblical name)
– Micah (this one might actually be my favorite! and his older brother is Michell. two M’s is just fun)
Of course, the fact that I am recommending these names is probably the very reason Kim won’t go for them (because that’s how she rolls)…oh well. Worth a try!
Now if you ask Rob, he’ll suggest..
– Rubens Barrichello Neff (because he beat The Stig on Top Gear)