.,  About Me,  house reno,  motherhood,  Parenting

Progress report + some back to school reflections


Because “progress” is a generous term when home renovations are concerned. Especially the zero budget kind done in the presence of 4 helpers who still sleep in Pull Ups.

So be gentle with the following photographic evidence, eh?

Without further ado, I give you Uebbing house smash 2016, phase 1.

First off we have our entryway/living/dining room combo. We put all our bang and most of our bucks here, because a friend who has been through the reno wringer (hi, Rebecca!) convinced me of the wisdom of “finishing” one room first, so that you’d have somewhere to retreat to during the ensuing chaos. I chose the front room because we need a sizable space to entertain our minions, and because it’s the first thing we see upon entering the house. A few coats of paint and a lot of torn up carpet and we are well on our way from this:

great room

dining room before To this:



And a couple differing angles. The paneling, now with another coat of paint, (1 coat of oil-based Kilz original + 2 coats of Sherwin Williams Marshmallow. Opposite walls are Sherwin Williams Passive.) looks amazing, honestly. #verticalshiplap

20160819_161143 20160819_161302

Dave is currently laying down floors (we went with this engineered hardwood) and thinks he can do them in a single day, so I’m camped out at my mom and dad’s with the kids until I get the green light to return.

We packed pajamas. (Not that I don’t trust his estimation.)

Last night we had back to school night, which involved me rummaging through boxes like a drunk raccoon and showing up at school with a torn grocery bag stuffed with 58% of the supply list. Which means either I gave up halfway through my parental responsibilities or that I’ve already lost everything. I tried to justify it to myself when arranging poor Joey’s paltry spread on his kindergarten! (sob) desk! by mentally chanting “tax dollars, tax dollars” before remembering that it’s Catholic school and there are no tax dollars. So I’ll be returning to the store.

While I stood in the stuffy cafeteria shooting the breeze with one of our beloved preschool teachers who, incidentally, will have one of my children every year for the next 3-5 years, I found myself choking back unexpected tears over my kindie-to-be. The wise and experienced Miss D put her arm on my shoulder and said “it’s always hardest on the parents” at which point I made an ugly choking noise through my nose and started snotting on her. Just for a moment.

I feel torn between the exuberance of a new stage (remember, I’m a mother sea turtle) and the sorrow of passing definitively out of babydom, with my precious first born now in the charge of another adult for more waking hours than not. Granted, I love and trust our teachers, so that makes it a little easier, but I’m still kinda weepy about the whole deal. I just weaned him from his pacifier, and I just got him to start sleeping through the night, and suddenly he’s all long legs and skinny arms and a new crew cut and a Spiderman lunchbox.

Oh gosh.

I’m going to stop before the snorting/choking thing starts again.

Veteran back to school mamas, tell me, does it hurt this much at every stage? I often find myself caught between waves of melancholy over the loss of what was and impatience over the future not yet realized. I need to learn to dwell in the present, and to accept the hard days and the good days all as par for the parenting course. I guess I’m just not that well adjusted yet.

Well, happy hour is almost upon us. I’ll be drinking mediocre red wine on the patio in my parent’s woods, looking out at my still-little-but-not-as-little-as-before guys playing “deer and hunter” in the same stand of pine trees that I used to roam through.

It’s a pretty beautiful life.


  • Mona Olszewski

    It never becomes easier, kindergarten, middle school, high school, college, I’ve sobbed through all of them. Now that my oldest is 35 and my youngest 26, I still have a hard time every time they leave especially since only one still loves in the same state.

    • Jean

      Mona, I’m with you on that. Same situation with our family. As kids mature and grow into independence I’m convinced they miss us less than we miss them, in fact I think this is the way it’s meant to be.

      And, nice job with the painting, great idea on the flooring, Jenny.

    • Jenny Uebbing

      OOOoooohhhhhh, this makes me want to just crawl into bed and cosleep with them all. I met a lady at the doctor’s office this week who was telling me about all her kids and grandkids and where they all lived, and how little she saw them all, and she kept looking at my kids playing on the floor and getting teary eyed, and I was like NO NO NO, I can’t even imagine.

  • Beth (A Mom's Life)

    Nope. It doesn’t become easier. I have been a little melancholy this whole summer knowing that this is my son’s last year of middle school and he’ll be starting high school next year. So I too am trying to remind myself to live in the present and not focus on what’s coming. So easy to say but so hard to do.

  • Jessica P

    The house looks great!
    I’ m In the same stage as you…my eldest in going to Kinder and my middle preschool and my youngest is still home with me. One more child on the way this year. (Arriving in February) I too have mixed feeling about back to school.

  • Arlene Mango

    It never gets easier. There now you know. I am almost 71. My three now 48,45,and39. And the two grandsons 22 and a USMC and his brother who is 18. Every single first day of school I cry for a good part of the day. I also have two grandchildren who don’t live by me. I cry on their first day as well. I think for me it’s the watching them grow and knowing they are a year older, and so am I, ha! You are right it is melancholy, I think about the time I was the new kid in class in second grade, 9th grade, that was hard it was a junior high and I had just come out of 8th grade school. Etc. You just want them to have a good experience and to feel part of the group. I will say a prayer for you as I do for all mothers on the first day of school, especially the first time droppers off!

  • Melissa

    For three weeks before my oldest started kindergarten I listened to “landslide”on repeat. For.ever. And just cried. I cried for the breaking up of my (then) 3 Muskateers, cried for the realization that I wasn’t the sole dictator of our schedule anymore, and I cried because I just plain was going to miss this neat kid. But it got easier. And each kid going off got easier because they already had a sibling there. (Because really–never before had I ever just driven up somewhere, opened the van door and just told my 5 year old to get out and walk in a building all by herself!) let yourself be sad and soak in his littleness. And then when the big day comes put on a happy face for him and get some cookies ready while he’s gone and get ready to enjoy this next stage!

  • Kathleen

    Gah Jenny I’m all teary eyed reading this! My twins will be entering K too. Parenting is so bittersweet. I love to watch them grow & develop, but oh my heart. Your house looks great & I can’t wait to see more!

  • Sarah

    Jenny, I think it gets easier but it the missing the kids doesn’t seem to ever go away. My oldest is going to be 37 years old the end of this September. He has a wife and 3 children. I would love to have him for just a few hours, healthy and three years old. He was the sweetest child. Oh, yeah, his siblings were great little kids, too. My baby will be 30 years old in Feb. of ’17. I miss her daily and am getting weepy just thinking about her. She is happily married to a great guy and I don’t think she misses me much, but maybe she does. Maybe all 4 of them miss me some, sometimes. Mothering is a great vocation.

  • Leslie

    Jenny!! I am so happy you are in your new home and I pray your home renovations go quickly and easily. Did you know you can put away tax free dollars into a Coverdell for catholic school tuition and many of the related expenses?

  • Meagan

    Maybe it’s good that you’re experiencing this gradually. I’ll drop my homeschooled kids off at college and after a build up of 18 years have the ugliest of breakdowns.

  • Nancy

    My oldest is going into 3rd grade and I still get a little weepy on the first day of school. My youngest is going to preschool. I’ll be a wreck on the first day. I predict I’ll spend most of the day wandering around the house trying to figure out what to do for all those hours he’s gone…

  • Evelyn

    Jenny, hoping not to hit a sore spot here, but for us mothers who haven’t hit K yet, what are your feelings having put them into preK? Did you/do you regret (or less dramatically, think twice about it now that K is upon you) starting days without him earlier than what is required? Curious to hear how other mothers have felt as well. I am considering putting my oldest (3.5) in preK, but I fear i’ll regret it when full time K starts and I wish I kept him at home for as long as possible. He would love structured play/learning but he also has no idea what he is missing while at home with me now..

    • Jenny Uebbing

      Oh not too sore, I really loved our most recent pre-K experience. It was 2 full days a week in a Montessori atrium, so it was very gentle and play/exploration oriented. He was 5 for the entire year, and it was still a bit overwhelming for him some days. We started him in morning preschool at age 3.5 and it was too much for him, but we didn’t really figure that out for the better part of a semester. We then took a semester off and started him again at 4.5 and it went a little better, but still not great. I think a lot depends on the kid! This year I’ll have a 4.5 in preK and a soon-to-be 6 in K, and they’re both wary about the new school year. The 2.5 year old sister they’re leaving at home, however, tells me every day that she is leaving me to go to school. (Soon and very soon, my little cupcake. But not that soon.)

      Bottom line: if your kid loves it and you love it, great! And if he or she doesn’t, or you don’t, do not be afraid to pull the plug! We dropped out of 2 separate preschool programs and even dabbled in homeschooling (I use the term dabble with extreme generosity) before finding the right fit for this kid, so, power to the parent!

      • Kate Rhodes

        It’s so good for me to read about the bumbling around you guys did. I have a new five year old that still hasn’t had any formal schooling and we won’t start him in kindergarten until he’s a new six year old. I haven’t found any affordable preK programs that would work for us in our area. Some I like but won’t take him because he’s too old. A lot of the good private schooling in Houston is off the hook expensive. Even parish schools seem pretty steep. I mean is $8k+ expensive? Tell me I’m not the only one trembling at these kind of numbers?

  • Lorna

    Our schooling in Scotland is a little different with my now 5 year old boy starting school having been in Nursery 5 mornings a week. He started last week with not so much as a backward glance – it’s the best for him – he needs structure and routine and a place to be himself which he finds so difficult at home (I have only been a parent since March 2015) Already when I see him in school (which I did today when I had to take the 3 year old in to have lunch with him) he is more confident and more able, the things he has resisted from me for a long time – he accepts with excitement from his beloved teacher. On Monday he goes full days – with a cafeteria lunch, it hit me today that he won’t be here in the afternoon (I’m not sure I like the way it feels) My baby boy starts afternoon nursery the same day – he is excited and ready to learn and play, but he’s my baby and I need him too! They didn’t come out of me, and I can’t get another one, but maybe I can eventually meet with the Priest! I’m gonna cry, I know I am, but I hope I can wait till I’m out of sight. They need to go, they will enjoy it and grow from it. So I hear ya! I hope it’s not awful every year, but I think it sort of might be, but it’s mostly worth it!

    Oh, and I love the before and after house shots – I can kind of see a face in your fireplace though – maybe just me! I see stuff everywhere!

  • Kathryn

    The good news is it doesn’t get easier. I say good, because when you love big, it hurts big. And that’s the way I prefer to live. You learn to recognize the ugly cry when it’s coming and seek out the friends whose shoulder’s you can wipe your nose on. I’m no longer surprised by how hard it is and I often wonder how I’m going to do the “next thing.” But, thankfully, God keeps giving me graces and I keep plowing forward. It’s a beautiful thing to see your children grow up. It’s what we were born to do, so there’s solace in that. Next time you need a Kleenex, holler. I buy stock in them.

  • Rosa Robinson

    Oh gosh, I must be horrible! When I dropped my latest kindergartener off at his classroom this year, I literally started humming “Another One Bites the Dust” to myself as I herded the 3 and 2 yr olds back to the car while juggling the 5 month old! I mean, I DID call the school a half hour later to check on him, but . . . 5 out of 8 in school. I have one in 6th grade at the intermediate school, and I have one each in fourth, third, first and Kindergarten. They love school, love the break from each other, and frankly, mommy loves being able to put all the groceries AND kids in one cart! It does get easier, I think, but there are still some days, and I think that’s how it’s supposed to be.

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