The Hart Home│And We’re Back…

I think it was Stephen King who either wrote about or talked about the importance of having your desk where the life of your house is. During virtual teaching last year, I shoved my desk in our spare room because all I could think about was having the ability to close a door and keep my loud kids out when I was working.

Only now, we are back in school and my desk has sat unused since I went on leave in May. Funny, how that works. I took a break from everything this summer and I am glad I did. I focused on my kids and my husband, having time together as a family enjoying those fluid summer days, staying up late, watching movies, getting ice cream and going on adventures. We even took the kids to Pennsylvania this summer to go camping. We made memories and that is exactly what I wanted to do.

Now, I am back at work in my physical classroom and I find myself struggling when it comes to using that office space for what I need it to be for. I am writing a new book that I am so excited about. I think this one will be one of the best ones I have written to date and I just want to edit it and publish it. However, I struggle to find the time to get up to that desk after working all day and then immediately coming home and wanting that time with my boys.

I told my husband I think it’s time I moved my stuff to the “adult living room.” We have two living spaces. Our “adult living room” is our main floor living space and we did not put a TV in there. It is a place where we play board games, sit around our fireplace with cocktails (sometimes) and read. Our kids are always in there which is funny because in our family room, we put all of their toys and the TV, but they too favor our adult room.

In my mind, I know moving down there will allow my kids to get into everything of mine I don’t want them to, but I am also hoping by doing so I will be able to finally finish writing this and get my work out there again. It has been five years since I published a novel and most of that time I was spending on growing our family and finishing my doctorate so I don’t really view it as “lost time,” but I do view the time as now if I want to get back into my own dreams for my life.

The Hart Home │It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Worst of Times…It Was the Stove-less Times

We went through the ringer in getting into our forever home during the insanity of this pandemic and for that, I say a prayer to God every night because it really was through divine intervention that everything fell into place and we got our house. We had crazy buyers for our beach house that just caused all kinds of drama and delays on top of everyone else being so overwhelmed in this market in trying to get our own new house to closing, that by the end I was surprised that I hadn’t drank more wine during the entire ordeal.

Ultimately, we closed on the sale of our house by the ocean on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and moved into our forever house on Black Friday and rented it until we closed the following Tuesday. The house needed work. I wouldn’t say it was anywhere near our beach house when we bought it– no heat or hot water, brown walls everywhere, dirty, gross– on and on I could go about that place, but our new house needs love more than total rehab like our first house did– it needs to be decorated, painted and updated. Unlike our little house by the ocean, I am taking my time with our forever house and picking things I really like and working hard not to take on debt while I do it. In this pandemic life, I fear debt because I saw how quickly our income was impacted by all of this. I lost out on some and my husband lost his job completely. It definitely was an eye-opener on how quickly life could change last March. I started with the kitchen because there were renters in here for awhile and renters don’t clean and care for a house the way an owner would, so I made sure we got a new microwave and refrigerator to start.

Then, on Christmas Day, as I was cooking my family our small feast, the stove decided that it too was ready to be replaced. It takes twice as long to cook anything in the oven and we are down to one burner that too does not heat up completely after the knobs starting popping off in my hand. Since it was a rather cheap electric stove, we have been pretty beat as we waited to get money together to buy a new one and then wait forever for it to be delivered.

This will be my last appliance that I ever buy from Home Depot. Our fridge delivery was stressful, the microwave had to be delivered twice and the guy that put in the one that stayed broke our cabinet. We had a plumber come out to tell us how it would be over $4,000 TO START, to pipe gas into our kitchen. We already have it in the house and I was floored by that because, I was thinking maybe $600? He gave us this elaborate story about how there is not ENOUGH gas to power all of our stuff and then the stove so they would have to re-do it with larger piping, but since we live in the Pine Barrens with very sandy soil, digging could start and then re-start as the trenches gave in. It was very believable.

So, I ordered an electric stove and was really bummed out about it. I love cooking and I love to bake so an electric stove just sucks, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to afford thousands of dollars to redo gas piping plus lose all of our landscaping only to eventually replace that as well. Home Depot then pushes our delivery out for another three weeks. In the middle of the wait, I was telling one of our friends about our gas saga and he’s looking at me like, that guy was just trying to swindle you out of a lot of money because none of this makes sense and he clearly saw you as a woman who just bought a new house and would go for it. Which annoyed me greatly because he seemed very trustworthy and we had already been through it with moving companies trying to get us to pay thousands of dollars to move, because they all were trying to make money on this crazy housing market too. Can’t anyone just be honest anymore?

He looks at it. We don’t need to re-pipe a gas line and surprise! There was already gas to the kitchen, but it was nubbed off because they moved the stove to the other wall. Awesome. Easy fix! I cancel the electric stove and order the gas stove that I had really wanted. Only that too took two weeks to get my money back for before I could get my order through on the gas stove because “it needed to be sent back to the warehouse.” In the age of Amazon Prime when things are delivered in hours if you order it at the right time, where the hell is that warehouse that it will take that long to get back to? I digress…

We are now 3 months out from the start of all of this. I had to get up an hour early today, excited for the delivery of my new stove. I was working and waiting for the arrival of it between 7AM and 11AM, checking every so often to see where I was in line. It started off with only three ahead of me, then we got to two and we stopped moving. At 11:15, I called to check and was told they were still coming but delayed. 11:30 they call me and tell me some BS story about the truck breaking down which by that point had to be hours ago, so glad I was kept up and waiting around for a stove for four and a half hours. They can’t deliver it until next week.

So somewhere in this fine state, my stove was jostled around to be put on a truck. Left on a broken down truck. Jostled around back to a warehouse to only be pulled out again next week. To add to my petty frustrations, our couches did not fit in our family room so I had to buy a new set. We have not been able to watch TV since we moved in because we have no place to sit other than kid chairs and we did do that on NYE with the kids because we wanted to watch the ball drop on the weirdest ball drop ever. I ordered a set back in December. When are they coming? Mid-April, because there is a furniture shortage.

I am tired, couch-less and stove-less. In the grand scheme of everything we all have lived through, it is also a petty inconvenience, but compiled with everything this year brought from a pregnancy that my husband was shut out of midway through because he couldn’t come to appointments anymore, to laboring in a hospital with a dumb nurse that was more worried about a mask than me, to selling and buying and having people trying to rip you off as you go…it’s just been enough big and petty stuff to last me years.

I don’t know about you all, but I am tired and I would just like to cook a meal for my family in a timely manner on multiple burners while they get to watch TV in our family room on comfortable couches.

Don’t mind me…today, I am just frustrated with petty inconveniences and needed to vent. This year has been hard and we have survived it, but I just miss life when it was easier to get things done and didn’t require masks, and wait times and so much red tape for something as simple as buying a couch or a stove.

Thank you for coming to my TED talk.

The Hart Home │The One That Ends in A Lot of Dog Shit

Picture it.

It’s 7:30 PM, both kids are in bed snoring. My husband puts on Call the Midwife.

We settle in, tucked underneath our feather quilt and my favorite cat blanket. I am half watching the show and half reading the Reddit I am currently addicted to: WattsOffTopic.

My husband falls asleep. The house is blissfully quiet. I decide to sneak out of bed for some of that alone time I never get. I am envisioning writing, maybe reading a little, perhaps even taking a deep dive off into Reddit. The sky is the limit.

Only, Logan wakes up and it’s 10:00 PM so that means he has to nurse right away and go back to sleep or he’s going to be up.

I am not fast enough. He is up. So, I make him a peanut butter and then a peanut butter and jelly. I fill his water bottle with a little grape juice, he takes his tablet, puts on his songs and we go back upstairs.

Rory has also started baby led weaning, which is important to a later part of this story. Molly, our cane corso, has always enjoyed this age with our kids because it means she gets snack droplets rained upon her if she’s sitting by the high chair. Molly also has a sensitive stomach.

Logan eats most of his food, drinks his juice, wants more boob. He’s settling again. My husband wakes up, and sits playing on his phone. Then…

“Do you smell shit,” he asks, taking the phone away from his face.

“Uh, no. I smell bleach though from cleaning the bathroom.”

“I definitely…I definitely smell shit.” He gets up to investigate, shaking his phone to get the flashlight on. “I smell it to the point of almost tasting it that’s how— OH GOD.”

And there before him lie the beautiful, brown mound. Molly was kind enough to relieve herself on my husband’s sweatpants and then hide under the bed.

“SHE SHIT IN MY SWEATPANTS. IT’S NOWHERE ELSE BUT IN MY SWEATPANTS!!!”

I can now smell it too, and it is overbearing. I start laughing so hard I am crying. Logan, now distracted from his tablet starts coughing and shaking his head. It STINKS! And just when you think it can not get much worse, my husband takes his pants into the bathroom to shower them off before he washes them. The smell only permeates more as the hot water and steam infuse with the l’eau de dog shit. We are all now gagging.

Rory wakes up in the middle of the chaos. My husband is now yelling about the nose burning scent of dog poop and his frustration that the baby is up.

“There is just going to be so much shit,” he’s fuming as he scrubs. “When she gets sick like this it goes on for DAYS.”

I am trying to quiet down both kids and get them back into bed. “Her old cage is in the garage. We can just put her in there until she’s feeling better.”

My husband scoffs, irritated, like I said the dumbest thing. “We CAN’T put her in the garage! SHE WILL DIE!”

Trying to be a better wife and not roll my eyes, I take a slow breath before I explain: “No. I meant the cage is in there and we can get it and put her in the house in the cage so if she goes again it’s a simple hose down of a kennel and not shampooing new carpeting.”

He mumbles and eventually disappears to get the cage. I get the kids settled and take out both dogs.

“If you EVER BRING A DOG HOME AGAIN…”I hear him griping as I let the dogs in.

Fans are all full blast. Both kids have yet to fall back to sleep. Molly is in her kennel. And then I remember that I didn’t put Behr back into his belly band and he has had 20 minutes of bandless free reign as I sat to write this.

And then I hear, “BEHR!!”

He comes back into the office with his belly band several minutes later…

Welcome to the chaos and the night that ended with 5lbs of dog poop in one pair of sweat pants.

The Hart Home │The Fastest Winter of My Life

As our family was sitting down to dinner today, my husband lamented about just jacking the heat up because he was tired of being cold. We bought this gorgeous house with two beautiful fireplaces thinking they would get us through winter, only by the time the chimney sweep came to clean them, we found out both need work before we can use them and gas for heating, is expensive. We have been drafty this winter, but next winter, we have a new game plan and I reminded him that March was already next Monday and we wouldn’t be using the heat that much longer anyway. So, stick on your sweater and your fuzzy socks because spring is almost here!

“Seriously? Wow. This was the fastest winter of my life,” he exclaimed.

And of mine too. We moved into our new house over Thanksgiving weekend and then it was suddenly Christmas, even though that really didn’t feel like Christmas either, I blinked again and here we are.

View of one of the lakes in our town. Courtesy of Google Images.

I am still virtually teaching and being a mom at the same time. I view this year at home as a blessing in that I got a whole year home with Logan and I have been home with Rory since he was born. I wouldn’t trade this time for anything, even on the difficult days where Logan is losing his mind and Rory is too. It’s hard to only ever be home with two little boys that want to explore and run and play.

I enrolled Logan in a toddler gymnastics class which he seems to just love, I wish we were able to go more than once a week. He loves getting to run around and play with other kids. Rory has entered the all about mom stage. He has to be with me at all times or the world is ending. It is the most flattering “I love you so much,” but also can be hard when I just want 20 minutes to myself to shower, or to read or blog or even just change the cat box.

I am supposed to be going back to in-person teaching in May and the thought actually makes me sick. I can not imagine the stress and the tears of having to adjust 8th graders, who are graduating in a month at that point, to being in school with masks on all day in a building with no AC after having been out of the physical building for more than a year. Oooof…is all I got. Compile that all with the thought of leaving my babies for the first time in over a year too, I don’t know. Part of me wishes I could just teach online until my kids are in school so I don’t miss anything, but I know that’s wishful thinking.

Recently, I have been focused on fixing up our new house. I started with the kitchen. As I get money together, I have been upgrading appliances, painted the cabinets and updated the knobs and have been slowly pealing off the popcorn ceiling. And for the record, we have it in EVERY. SINGLE. ROOM. Why was this such a fad? Now it’s old, crumbly and tacky looking in every room. It’s easy enough to get off, but I am limited to only working when both kids are napping so what would have taken me an afternoon when it was just Phil and I can now take me up to a week to get done, but I will get it done! I am determined to finish the kitchen this year. This summer, I know I will have to paint the outside of our house and if I have any energy left, maybe I will be able to scrape the popcorn off in our dining room and living room and paint in there. It would be cool to have an entirely spruced up outside and downstairs by next fall. Hopefully, the kids cooperate.

Other things I am looking forward to with the warmer weather: taking the kids down to the lake, taking the kids to the zoo, having dirty martinis on out screened porch with my husband, watching Logan getting to play with his favorite sprinkler in his backyard, planning our kids’ birthdays, enjoying Easter and spending more time with friends and family

The Hart Home│9 Days…

Where we began…our little house by the ocean.

One of my goals for myself when I was in college was that I wanted to own my own home by the time I was 30. I also wanted to live at least a year completely by myself before I got married. Ultimately, both things came to be in my life. I lived a life as a single girl in my apartment in Bordentown, NJ for a year before I bought my first house at the shore a year later and made a huge commitment to my husband who at that time was only my boyfriend by moving in together.

Our engagement photos.Asbury Park, NJ 11/2016

Our home here always felt transitory for me. It is an hour away from my job, from my side of the family and from most of my friends. We bought it as a foreclosure with the idea that we would live here and build a life together before ultimately selling it. I was ready to sell it once we got engaged, but ultimately, we wound up staying three years into our marriage and two kids later.

Our Wedding Day. 11/2017

It worked out in the end for us though and I am so incredibly excited to be moving into our forever home in just 9 days. However, I am sad that we are leaving our little house by the ocean. We moved in here just as a boyfriend and a girlfriend when I was just starting my first PhD classes and from that, we got our first dog, then another dog, and then we got engaged. Then, we were married, and before we knew it Logan was here, I was graduating with my PhD and then, we had Rory. This is the home of our beginnings and as eager as I have been to leave it for our much nicer home in South Jersey, there is part of me that will miss this little house that we fixed up from the ground up.

Welcome Logan! Summer 2018

We’re leaving it now as a family of four with our tiny zoo. I am sad to see this chapter of our lives ending because in so many ways it felt like it just started. However, we’re trading in our life here to start a new one with a much easier commute for me and much more room for our boys…and who knows what kinds of surprises our new home will bring us. It is also exciting.

Hello Rory! Summer 2020.

The next 9 days will be bittersweet.

Our forever home.

The Hart Home│Life in Pandemic Filled NJ

None of us were expecting for us to come home from Florida at the beginning of March to the world pretty much shutting down. We had taken our son to Disney World and attended my doctoral graduation. It was our first real family trip. We had also finally listed our starter home and were about to get out of attorney review on our new house. I was completely relieved because our house at the shore was most likely going to sell quickly and while our new home needed extensive renovation, it was a single family home with a lot of land and we would be able to be in there well before our second son was due in the summertime.

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Then we got back and the world fell apart. I had several days to plan online learning. Our new home fell through. No one wanted to look at our home. And then I was suddenly being a full-time mom while trying to teach both middle school and college from home.

I was absolutely exhausted. Online school was 24/7 and it required so much of me–chasing kids down, actually teaching, grading in creative ways, making sure kids had food and internet and also listening to them because so many were just as lost as I felt.

I was very happy to see school end in June.

I also moved into using my real estate license while taking care of Logan. He loves that I am home so much more and truthfully, I am much happier too. This has definitely become a time of recovery and re-figuring out what I want my life to look like. I have worked in an under-funded high poverty school for almost 10 years already. And I don’t think you realize how much of a toll it really does take on you until you’re away from it.

I’m a better mom with a lot more patience. I enjoy doing things for my family that previously I was just too tired to do like cooking dinner and baking. I also realized how much I have missed reading and writing.

I am down to weeks left in my pregnancy. Unlike with Logan, I am not fearing my maternity leave but rather really looking forward to the time I will have with both of my boys and hopefully finding just a little time for myself. I mean, I wrote a dissertation when I was out with Logan…maybe now I can get caught up with my book reviews and maybe even finally start sending in some of my research to educational journals. That’s my goal at least.

It’s a weird time to be alive. It was also a very weird time to be pregnant. And don’t even get me started on what it’s been like to try and sell a house during all of this either…I am hoping the end of summer and the fall brings us what we need.

Sponsored: The Hart Home│With Christmas Came Big News

Shortly after my grandmother passed away in November, we got the surprise of the year. I had been feeling off, tired and I was eating everything I could get my hands on. For someone who doesn’t eat a lot, even my husband thought it was weird and looked me dead in the face and told me I was pregnant. And I laughed and then proceeded to take a pregnancy test wherein, I was in total shock to see two pink lines staring back at me.

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The day before Christmas Eve, I had my first ultrasound and our little life puff was growing and had a strong heartbeat. We were so incredibly excited! Our Logan might wind up sharing a birthday, but I know that he is going to love being a big brother and having someone to grow up with. I still can’t believe that by this summer I will be a mom of two. I have a strong feeling that I am having another boy, but we won’t know for sure until February and it’s only slightly killing me because I can’t wait to shop for a newborn again. In honor of our big news, and because I can’t buy anything yet, I am hosting the following sponsorship. Goumi Kids is one of my favorites stores to order cute clothes from and with the code and link below you will be able to snag yourself some free shipping with your order:

Goumi Kids

Has New Jersey Become a Nazi State?

The following is the e-mail that I sent off to my district senator and assemblymen on Friday. I am just so disgusted. I urge you to do the same between now and Monday which is when they will be voting on this bill and these disgusting amendments:

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Dear Senators and Assemblymen,
I am a resident of [the Jersey shore] as well as a mother and a public school teacher. I hold a doctorate in education. I am writing to you today because I am absolutely disgusted by what is going on in Trenton concerning S2173. Many years ago, my family came to this country to escape the tyranny, but yet, here were are in 2020 being told that I will have to comply with outdated science and allow the government to dictate to me what goes into my child’s body so that he may attend a public school that I help fund through my property taxes. This is insane to me. Are we Nazis? As an educator am I going to be expected to follow the ways of the Gestapo and single out unvaccinated and vaccinated children in my school? This amendment is beyond ridiculous– posting on a school building the number of unvaccinated children? What is next? Also sharing how many kids with Hepatitis and HIV we educate? This is a gross violation of student and family privacy and has no place in public education.
This bill in its entirety is a gross example of government overreach. It is taking away rights of our citizens and of parents to make the best decisions for their children and their families. To allow this to pass will be a gross miscarriage of justice and will result in many families pulling their children out of schools all together. This will be large enough where school funding will be hit hard.
As Americans, we are entitled to practice our religion freely and our kids are entitled to a FREE PUBLIC EDUCATION that is FREE OF DISCRIMMINATION– all this bill will do is create an “US” and a “THEM.” Hitler rose to power in a very similar way– he was welcomed by the masses who slowly began to believe in the “US” and “THEM.” By removing children from public education that is funded by their parent’s property taxes and forcing them to pay for private school is just modern day segregation and also not a reality for most New Jersey families. Further, black males are the population who have shown the highest risk of vaccine injury and are often highly represented in high poverty communities. They will be forced to vaccinate because there is no way that students living in high poverty will ever be able to afford a private education. How is this not modern day segregation and enslavement??
I implore you Senator, to do the right thing and stand with the people of NJ and their God-given rights to practice their religion and their approaches to parenting in how they see fit.
Sincerely,
Dr. Katherine Kuzma-Beck Hart

The Hart Home│For My Little Boy

A year ago, I was heavily pregnant with you and struggling to get through each day. I was so exhausted and you were already on your way to being 10 pounds. I was running out of room in my body and you just wanted to stay inside me. I made it too comfortable for you.

I found it hard to breathe or eat or really function outside of the recliner we have. I also was so excited to meet you. In a week from now, I would have labor that would start and stop. We had one full false alarm and then finally when we were well past our due date, they finally induced me, but you still wanted to stay inside.

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An emergency c-section and several complications later and my beautiful baby boy that I had dreamed and prayed for was at last in my arms with his haunting almost black eyes and my face staring back at me.

We had a crazy first year together with me writing my doctoral dissertation and my going back to work way too soon. I have enjoyed every day that I am home with you this summer getting to see you turn from that little baby I brought home to the charismatic, brave and funny little boy you are so quickly becoming.

Getting to know you now as a little boy are the best ways I spend my days. You think so many things are funny and you love cuddling with me. You also love to tell me stories and yell at the TV. You’re walking everywhere and if you can figure out how to climb something, you will.

I find myself falling more in love with you every day, but also, I find myself getting a little sad at the end of each because I know by morning you’re going to be even more of a little boy and less of the baby that I have held and cradled, soothed and rocked, wore and breastfed for the last year. You’re finding your independence and as a mother that makes me very proud because it means I have loved you well, but at the same time, it makes me sad because you won’t need me like you did when I first brought you home.

I catch myself watching you sleep more and cuddling close to you, wanting to get in every last minute of who you are now, smelling your little head and holding your little hands. It amazes me how in another year, you will be so much more like a little boy and again I will feel this bittersweet sadness over your growing up.

No matter how old you are though, you will always be my little prince.

The Hart Home│What They Don’t Tell You is That There Will Be No Time and So Much Poop

I took a little step back from blogging as much as I was to enjoy the first few weeks of summer vacation with my son. I have had such anxiety every day this year since I came back from maternity leave when I would leave him to go to work and it turns out, Logan was feeling the same way. We have been inseparable since I have been home. He just wants his mom and I just want my baby. I am sure I will write more about this in a future post.

Today, I wanted to share the story where I felt like I really became a mother. Outside of my anxiety of leaving my son every day, I also struggled with my identity as well. I have been working sometimes up to 7 days a week and doing a doctoral degree full time up until I had Logan. My interests and hobbies and friendships all took a back seat because I was working on paying for a wedding and then, finishing school. As I approached the end of that journey, I realized how far from myself I had come.

poop

While I know that my weekends at concerts and trips to music festivals and art shows are not going to dominate my life like they used to, I do know that I can have some of that back as I navigate my life as Logan’s mom. Time is just stretched so thin and it’s really of the essence more so than we get a lazy day of not doing much of anything. Time has sped up 1000% since Logan came home. I have to consciously make time for friendships or time doing other things outside of being a mom and a teacher. It took me several days to find the time to text one of my good friends that I haven’t spoken to in over a year. Just as we were catching up and updating each other about everything that we have going on, Logan went into the kitchen for a brief moment.

Now, I have been letting him toddle into the very baby proofed room and giving him a minute before I go after him. Well, in that minute my son pooped on the floor, peed on top of it and came back into the living room with a hand full of poop outstretched with the biggest smile on his face as if he were so proud to finally have figured out where his stinky diapers come from.

I immediately grabbed him and picked him up, holding his hand out away from me as the stink permeated the living room. I run to the kitchen and find the carnage. He smashed most of it and then the true horror came into view…we fed him corn last night with dinner. I wanted to puke.

I quickly get him up into a bath and changed into a fresh diaper and clothes. I run downstairs and throw the baby gate up to keep him out while I scrub the kitchen floor and made sure to find all of his corn kernels, gagging the entire time. He happily sat watching his cartoons like all was right with the world.

Kids man, why didn’t anyone warn me about the poop???

By the time I got back to my phone, my friend was off doing her thing and the conversation died. And there I sat in my living room with my de-pooped kid watching Simple Songs on YouTube until my husband came home laughing because I had texted him the entire poop saga.

I don’ think I can ever look at corn or my kid the same way again.