Monday, September 3, 2012

BIG Changes

This blog post is a bit unlike any other. I've had BIG CHANGES happening in my life recently and wanted a place to get some of my thoughts out. 

Last month: Preschool
Neven started preschool. The first day couldn't have been more un-eventful for him or me (however, that afternoon/evening, filled with hyper-active excitement, was a very different story!). He goes three mornings a week. He loves it, is thriving just as we suspected he would, and is learning SO much about life. Still- a BIG change for me not to have him around 24/7... 
Name Change
Matt and I got married in June 2006. 
I didn't change my name then for a few different reasons: (1) We didn't legally get married at that time... it was more about the celebration and commitment to one another (we visited the courthouse later that year), (2) I was just starting in my career, and any accomplishments I had were connected to Jennifer SMITH, and (3) I was attached to SMITH - My grandma (dad's mom) had three kids: two girls and a boy. My dad had two girls. Which meant... I was the last SMITH in this immediate line (maybe the world isn't hurting for SMITHs?). 
What changed? KIDS. I got to the point where I just wanted to have the same name as my kids. 
A few weeks ago, I finally got around to visiting the social security office to have my name legally changed to Jennifer LynnSmith Sherer, which set off a whole chain of other to-do's (change name with MVD, banks, credit cards... what else do I not yet know I have to change?). I'm not at all used to answering "Jennifer Sherer" when someone asks me my name (in fact, I started that "Jennifer Sm..." before I had to hit the backspace key!), and I feel like I'm lying to them when I do! Will that feeling ever go away?

Wheeler Peak (highest point in NM, elevation 13,161 ft)
What an AMAZING weekend this was! 
Matt and I hiked Wheeler in 2002 with a good friend. We hiked in October, and so our memories of the trail were windy (60 mph!), snow, COLD (I've never been so cold in my life!), and physically exhausting. 
As we planned to hike again, I was unsure of what to expect - I haven't been in what I consider good aerobic shape since 2008 and we haven't been hiking for any significant length since 2007, and so I doubted myself being able to make it to the top without being completely exhausted. But hiking Wheeler had become SO important to me - for the first time since 2008 (notice the pattern?) I had the chance to do something for ME, to accomplish something for ME. And not because I haven't been able to, but because I haven't been ready to put ME first in a long while (I'm VERY ok with that decision, and wouldn't change it for the world!). 
We woke up at 5:00 am, silently got ready while the kids slept on, then traded places with our sweet friends Diane and Pete, who had made this hike possible for us. We drove to the trailhead, prepped our small packs, and put on jackets in the darkness. Then Matt read this passage to me: 
"Mountains should be climbed with as little effort as possible and without desire. The reality of your own nature should determine the speed. If you become restless, speed up. If you become winded, slow down. You climb the mountain in an equilibrium between restlessness and exhaustion. Then, when you're no longer thinking ahead, each footstep isn't just a means to an end but a unique event in itself. This leaf has jagged edges. This rock looks loose. From this place the snow is less visible, even though closer. These are things you should notice anyway. To live only for some future goal is shallow. It's the sides of the mountain which sustain life, not the top. Here's where things grow." 
From Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, by Robert M. Pirsig
We started hiking before dawn. The hike was truly SPECTACULAR! With the above passage in mind, I tried my best to stay in the moment, both with MY being and hiking, and just BEING with Matt. We had a slow, steady pace for the entire 4-hour, 8-mile hike to the peak (stopping only once to sit down and rest). 
The climb of switchbacks Matt and I both had remembered as so grueling the first time around was marked this time by the breathtaking panoramic views and fat, fearless marmots alongside the trail. 
We stumbled upon a pack of a dozen or so longhorn sheep (including one tiny, fuzzy baby!), and were able to observe them without disturbing them for a good while before leaving them to continue their morning snack. 
Literally way before I thought it was time, there it was - Wheeler! - only about half an hour away. And still, we hadn't seen another human soul since we left our room that morning. 
We made it to the top by 10:00 am. We spent about half an hour there, (me) in bliss, watching the storm clouds tumble in (there wasn't more than a single cloud in the sky when we first arrived), drinking water, and smiling at our accomplishment. 

Starting in October, I'll no longer be a full-time stay-at-home mom: I got a job. 
Since quitting when Neven was just a few months old, I knew this day would come. But I couldn't help to wonder... Does "that part" (the scientific part) of my brain still work, or is my most valuable skill now growing and nurturing little people? Will anyone want to hire me after taking a three year leave? How will I manage to convey my skills in an interview, not having talked about hydrology in years? For the past few months, I've been putting a few feelers out there in case an ideal opportunity came along. And it did -- in the form of a friend who works remotely from his home office in Santa Fe, who also happens to be a hydrogeologist and dad of an 18-month-old. 
This is very bittersweet for me - I will MISS my one-on-one time with Daria (although this just started when Neven started preschool, and I will still have one morning with just her), the chunks of free time I've been able to find to be creative through crafting, and the freedom of no schedule (although that went away with Neven starting preschool). 
I am GRATEFUL (and this is the part I'm trying to focus on) to have had the past 3+ years as a FT SAHM, to have found something in my field, to have somewhat stumbled upon a great opportunity, and to have the luxury to start back part-time with the option to work remotely. 

Next up: California
Soon, we're headed to California to house-/dog-sit for close friends of ours while they galavant around Europe. I'm really looking forward to the ocean, beach, farmer's market produce, and more beach time. We'll be there for three weeks! 
We're driving, in our Impreza. Maijer is coming along (which pretty much means nothing besides the dog fits in the hatchback space, thank goodness for our roof rack!). Driving in an Impreza with a dog, two kids, Matt's two work computers, clothes for four, toys... means some planning ahead of time. I'm on top of packing and prepping, there's even a spreadsheet (who's surprised?). But until I get those last-minute things (like the kids) into the car, I won't feel "ready." 

Stay tuned... 


  1. wow, Jen. Very interesting. Who took your photo at the top of your climb? Was there actually someone else up there not associated with the two of you? Congrats and keep the blog coming. Anxious to hear about your time in CA and the beach...oh, did I say the beach?


  2. Thanks Glenn. 'Twas just us and a carefully balanced cheap camera with a timer at the top - can you imagine how spectacular the photo would have been with some skill added?! ;)
    I think you forgot to mention the beach, we definitely plan on doing that when we're in CA. Oh, and we might even see those sweet grandkids of yours...