Family Archives - Why I Left My Job

Creativity Jam: One of Many New Exhibits Opening at Minnesota Children’s Museum

The Minnesota Children’s Museum reopens this week in St. Paul after being closed for several months for a major remodel, and the kids and I are beyond excited! For real, my son was jumping up and down on the couch the other day when I shared the news with him. The museum has been a family-favorite destination ever since I left my desk job to be a stay-at-home mama four years ago. And after a long winter, we are in desperate need of our museum fix.

Photo Credit: Courtesy Minnesota Children’s Museum

{I received a family membership to the Minnesota Children’s Museum for sharing my family’s experiences at the museum with you. All opinions expressed in my posts are 100% my own.}

Why do we love MCM so much? Let me explain:

  1. Change of scenery. I think we can all agree that sometimes you just need to leave your house because the kids are going bonkers, and they are driving you bonkers. A trip to the museum gives us all a break from our normal routine and interactions, and it gives us an opportunity to explore new territory.
  2. Time to reconnect. I will admit that sometimes it is hard for me to play with my children. Dressing Barbie dolls in different outfits, and playing target practice with Nerf guns can get old real fast. I find myself making excuses like having laundry and dishes to do in order to get out of setting up Shopkins and studying how many points a Pokémon card is worth. When going to the museum, I am forced to play. And through play, I am able to relax and reconnect with my kids. There are no distractions of needing to get something done around the house, and there isn’t a Barbie in sight. It’s a win-win for mama and the kids.
  3. Space to learn. At the museum we have an amazing opportunity to play in an environment that is engaging, fun, and creative. The museum gives us access to many activities that we don’t have at home, and it gives us more space to enjoy playful activities together. What I love most about the Minnesota Children’s Museum is their emphasis on learning through play. Exhibits are thoughtfully designed to spark creativity, innovation, and critical thinking. Volunteers are stationed throughout exhibits to encourage children to explore ideas about how things work. And because there are many other families visiting the museum too, kids have a great opportunity to learn to communicate better and collaborate with each other as well.

The Minnesota Children’s Museum officially reopens on Wednesday, June 7th, but last week the baby and I got to take a sneak peek at some of the exhibits while the big kids were at school. The museum designed and built ten new amazing exhibits for kids of all ages, and one of the exhibits that I am especially looking forward to exploring often with my kiddos this summer is Creativity Jam.

Creativity Jam is an artistic space for families to create new projects and expand on projects that have been created by other museum-goers. The exhibit, which is like a giant canvas for the inner artist of each visitor, is located in the atrium near the new Sprouts exhibit and the cafe. It consists of a face-painting station (which has always been a favorite museum feature with my kiddos), a stop-motion video story station, a workspace for creating and building projects, and the big white room.

Play is such an important part of our children’s lives, and ours too as adults and parents. And part of play is allowing ourselves to create. Creativity Jam gives families opportunities to build with a variety of materials that the museum plans to change out here and there. The exhibit allows kids to put stickers and tape on walls and other objects (something they can’t do at home!). It gives children the freedom to use their imaginations and explore ideas with video storytelling. And kids and parents get a chance to loosen up with some fun face painting. The activities in Creativity Jam are engaging for kids, adults, and even toddlers. I didn’t think that my littlest one would be able to enjoy the activities, but she hopped up on a stool all by herself and started building with blocks and playing the piano. Creativity Jam is a great space for truly letting one’s imagination soar.

Do you need some inspiration to find more joy in playing with your kids? Are you looking for a new space you can escape to with your family when you are in need of an engaging experience? Be sure to add a visit to the museum on your summer bucket list. The museum also offers family memberships, which pay for themselves after only a few visits. There are so many new exhibits to explore and adventures to be had with your children at MCM. I know life gets busy, and there always seems to be something that needs to get done around the house or at work. However, play is important too. Play gives us the chance to connect, explore, learn, and create. It gives us the opportunity to feel free to be ourselves, and that’s an amazing feeling.

Please visit mcm.org for more information about the museum’s grand opening, the free block party later this month, family memberships, location, and hours. Let’s make play a priority in our community again!

A letter to my son before starting kindergarten.

Dear buddy,

I will start this letter off by telling you that I love you. I love you more than you love Star Wars, which is a lot considering that you own two lightsabers, dozens of Star Wars action figures, and you have watched the movies countless times. I love you to the farthest galaxy and back times infinity. I love you, buddy.

LukeSkywalker

In a few months, you will start a new, exciting and perhaps a little scary chapter in your life. You will start kindergarten. This is an especially big change for you since you do not go to preschool. Instead, we play school at home sometimes. I taught you how to write your name, you have been quietly writing your letters while your sister naps, and together we conduct our own science experiments in our pretend lab at the dining room table. In September, you will be surrounded by dozens of other children your age, and you will have a new teacher to learn from.

As a parent, I constantly question what I should teach you to best prepare you for the changes and transition of entering kindergarten. Did you know that there are even books full of hundreds of pages of information that parents are encouraged to teach their children before they enter kindergarten? I like to plan, and I have a deep desire to feel prepared before starting anything new, so I checked out one of those books at the library last summer and I renewed it twice before returning it. You won’t remember this book because I realized it wouldn’t have made kindergarten any easier for you, and it wouldn’t have prepared you any better than any other kid. At least, that’s what I believe as your mom.

You already know your ABCs and you can count. You do math equations with your fruit snacks and you build Lego sets that are geared for kids who are six or seven years old. You write your name and you know how to spell a few words. Your father and I are so proud of you. It’s amazing to see you do these things. Sure, there are millions of other things I could spend these next few months teaching you so you could be even more knowledgeable before starting school. I could teach you how to read more words and count higher. I could teach you how to solve more challenging math problems. I could spend more of our time together doing flashcards and learning your periodic table of elements. We could spend the next few months filling your brain with information upon information upon information to make us both feel like we have done enough to prepare—but I won’t.

It’s not that I don’t want you to succeed. It’s not that I don’t want kindergarten to be a smooth transition for you. I just want you to be prepared in a different way.

Don’t get me wrong, knowing letters, numbers, shapes, states, presidents, literary terms, and everything in between is helpful. I just don’t think knowing as much as you can possibly know for the sake of knowing it before someone is required to teach you all of these things is all that necessary. I didn’t know half of the things you know now when I was your age. Back in my day, we didn’t start spelling words until first grade. Now kids are taught how to spell in preschool. Sure, that’s super cool and amazing, and I have totally tried to teach you how to spell words like preposterous and Darth Vader. However, when I reflect on my life and what is going on around me and around the entire world, I see the importance of teaching you other things, too.

In your father’s eyes and mine, you are already smart. You are as smart as you need to be at your age. Yes, you will only get smarter, and one day you will probably be much smarter than me. Your daddy is very intelligent, and one day you two may have discussions about thermodynamics or how to invent something using your knowledge of quantum mechanics over a beer.  But for now, you are five. You have your whole life ahead of you to learn about the world and how it all works. What you don’t have is your whole life to figure out that life is meant to be lived well.

Yes, it takes some people longer than others to learn how to live a good life. Some people never learn. And even people with the best of intentions make mistakes from time to time. This is why our world is the way it is. This is why we need stories of superheroes. This is why we watch Star Wars over and over again. Even someone as dark as Darth Vader has some good left in his heart. And when enough good people come together to fight the dark side of the force, the light side will prevail. This is why we talk about how much God loves us in Sunday school, and how we are meant to live our lives loving others too. You are only five. You don’t need to know about everything that goes on in the world right now –I don’t want you to know– but I do want you to know that you have the power to make the world a better place. Starting now, buddy, your actions and words can make the world better. And when you walk into your classroom for the first time, you will have the power to make it a comfortable space for you and your classmates.

Oh, buddy. I love you so much. I am so proud of you already. You have a good heart. That is all that matters. Okay? I sense your anxiety about starting kindergarten in the fall. You get so excited every time we drive by the school that you will attend, but you also make comments sometimes about not feeling like you are ready. I want you to know that you are more than ready. Yes, starting kindergarten will change how your day is structured, but you will figure it out on your own. If you feel lost, or scared, or confused about what you should do or how you should act, just remember that you have a good heart. Kind actions and kind words will guide you. If you get frustrated, just take a deep breath and find your focus. This is your adventure to experience all on your own. You will be just fine. And if you make a mistake, which many of us do, ask for forgiveness. Did you know that mistakes help guide us to make better decisions in the future? Mistakes help us to better understand how our actions and words affect others and ourselves. So be mindful and learn from your mistakes. You will learn a lot from your teacher, but you will learn a lot from yourself too.

I want you to thrive in the classroom. I want you to make new friends. I want you to feel comfortable and safe being you. It’s hard for me to let go. I won’t lie about that. Ever since the first day I held you, I’ve just wanted to hold you tighter and longer. I spent my entire pregnancy eagerly waiting for the moment when I could finally hold you in my arms. And the moment I first held you, I understood that one day I would have to let you go. As you learned to do more on your own, I began to understand that I would have to let go a lot sooner than I anticipated. And here we are today. You are five, you are months away from starting school, and you are almost too heavy to pick up. I am letting go, and although it hurts my heart, I am also filled with joy to see you thrive more and more each day.

I see the compassion in your heart when you notice that others are feeling sad or hurt. I see the kindness in your heart when you offer to let your sister play with your toys. I see the good in your heart when you realize you have done something that you should not have done and try to make it right again. You are curious. So very curious about the world, and that’s good. Your good heart and curious nature will allow you to step into your classroom feeling proud to be you. And when things get hard, buddy, just remember that your heart will guide you, just like the light side of the force guides Luke Skywalker when he faces challenges and temptation. You are a Jedi. Use your powers for your good and the good of others. See, you know you got this. You will do well in school. You will make friends. You will feel safe and comfortable being you. And if you do face struggles, which is completely normal for many kids, know that your family will always be here for you. We love you for all that you are. We love you because you are you. And remember, you are never alone.

There are so many things I want to teach you, buddy. But you are five. You already know what you need to know. You are ready for kindergarten. You are more than ready, kiddo.

So for now, let’s build towers with Legos. Let’s go to the park and chase each other around until we are both out of breath. Let’s watch Star Wars for the millionth time. Let’s have another tea party with your sister. Let’s plan our garden for this summer. Let’s draw whatever comes to our imagination. Let’s read another Dr. Seuss book. Let’s bake some chocolate chip cookies and eat them for breakfast. Let’s be kind to ourselves and others in all that we do. Let’s be our own superheroes today.

I love you, buddy. Thank you for making the world a better place already. Now, what kind of backpack do you want for kindergarten?

Love,

Mom

Our home: A tale about going all in.

moving boxes

A crazy thing happened last month. My husband looked at a house while I was at a baby shower, and he loved it so much that I agreed to buy it. We didn’t put in an offer until I had a chance to walk through the house too, but the decision was made. I went all in.

For over a year I have been making excuses for why we couldn’t or shouldn’t move. For over a year my husband has been showing me houses online and expressing his desire to move. For over a year we have been weighing the benefits of staying right where we are at and moving closer to my husband’s work. Although the benefits of moving were tempting, I wasn’t ready to leave our home. Change is difficult for me. Once I am comfortable, I like to stay put. Our home has provided so much comfort for me, but ever since my husband changed jobs last summer, I have watched him become weary and frustrated by his long commute. He went all in when I had quit my job. So I’m going all in, too. We’re in this together. There’s no turning back now; we’re moving!

I am excited to embark on this new journey with my husband and kiddos. My husband’s commute will be cut in half. We will still be within minutes of downtown St. Paul. We will be closer to church, so I will get to sleep in a little later on Sundays. We will be within walking distance of an elementary school, which is awesome since my son will be starting kindergarten next fall. Our yard is humongous, so I’m planning on planting everything next year. We will still live close to our families. The neighborhood we are moving to is beautiful. And the house we are moving into fits our personalities. It will require some work, but we have done it all before. We are ready for this move, and we are going all in.

But this move is bittersweet, too. Moving day is getting closer, and I’m starting to get a little emotional. In just a few weeks this house will no longer be our home. We have changed and grown so much since my husband and I bought this house together seven years ago. We were just four months fresh out of college and engaged. We spent nearly seven months pulling out carpet, destroying a bathroom, painting, tiling, refinishing hardwood floors, and remodeling a bathroom before moving into this home together the day after our wedding. We brought both of our babies from the hospital to this home. We have raised them in this home, and our family has been nourished in this home. We’ve made this home our own. And in just a few weeks, this home will no longer belong to us.

How do we pack up the last seven years of our lives and never look back? How does one say goodbye to a place where so many special memories have been created? This is the only home we have known as a married couple and as a mother and father. This home is where we began. How do we leave this home behind when it has been such an important part of our marriage and family? We’ve put so much energy, sweat and time into making this house our own. How do we leave all of our hard work behind? My heart has belonged here for so long. I have belonged here for so long. How do I leave this home? How do we unsettle everything that has settled here over the past seven years? How do I find the comfort I have now in this home in our next home, which is completely foreign to me? This is my home now. But in a few weeks this home will be empty, and a different house will be full of boxes to unpack. Nothing will be in its place, and everything will need to be placed somewhere else. This home will be empty, and another house will be disheveled. And that will be our new home?

Yes. We are moving and that will be our new home. I will look forward. We will look forward together. We will make new memories and hold old memories of our first home in our hearts and souls. We will always have our memories to hold onto, and our home will move with us in our hearts. Our home is where our family is. We will always be at home with each other. And wherever we go, we will be home. Our memories of our first home will move with us always. We will not need to look back because we will not be leaving anything behind.

Scary Mommy
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