Sunday, April 29, 2012

Helping with Loss.

I have thought about writing a post like this for a while.  Today just seemed like the right day.  So, I am just going to pour through it. 

Loss is hard.  There is no prescription for how to deal with losing a close friend, relative, or significant other.  If I had the right solution for how to heal hearts, it would be amazing.  Unfortunately, I have no idea how to mend the hole that can be left in a broken heart.  I’m told that time is the best healer, and it can at least dull the pain of the afflicted. 

Last year was rough for our family.  I’ve had a number of people say things like, “I wish I knew what to do to help.”  “I don’t even know what to say.”  It seems to be a common theme and it makes sense.  We don’t like seeing each other in pain.  We want to help make things better…but sometimes things can’t be a quick fix.  Death is uncomfortable and we don’t know what to say…no words can fix things anyway, right?

What I thought I could maybe offer in this post is solely based on my experience.  My experience going through loss and witnessing my close family members cope as well.  Take it for what it is…one person’s viewpoint on how to help a friend who is experiencing a painful loss.

What to say.

Anything.  You are right, there are no words you can say that can bring back loved ones.  Yet, talking about the wonderful person that is no longer with us helps.  It shows that you have not forgotten about him / her.  I have heard people say things like, “I didn’t want to bring it up because you might not have been thinking about him right at that moment.”  That made perfect sense to me, prior to what I have learned in the last year.  Now I would say, there is always a portion of your mind thinking about him.  Say what you want to say.  Any words are better than no words.  It shows you care.

What to do.

Immediately following, the generosity of friends with food, cards, and presence at services is touching and wonderful.  I thank everyone who provided us with so much support.  It is amazing how seeing someone at the visitation that you didn’t expect to see can move you to tears for a whole other reason.  People are wonderful and caring.  It is so touching to see the outreach of our community.  If you think that you should attend visitation or a funeral, do it.  Close family notices and it is so very appreciated that you care.

I have been astounded at the influence of Facebook in the support of family and friends during a time of loss.  I used to think that the immediate family is always so busy and dealing with all sorts of things.  While this is true, I was surprised to experience how much down time there is to just sit and think.  Facebook helped fill that time.  How awesome to log in and see an out-pouring of support.  At any given moment, your comment that took you two minutes to write could show that you are thinking of them.

In the months that follow, include the person that is in pain.  They are working through the loss in their own way.  Knowing that they have your support as a friend today, tomorrow, and forever is so very wonderful.  Don’t know what to say?  That’s okay.  Just be there.  Be there to listen.  Be there to offer a hug, a hand, or even a laugh.  It’s okay to cry.  It is hard for everyone.  If you cry, it doesn’t hurt the person in pain any more than they were already hurting.  Once again, it just shows you care and you loved him too.  What a comforting feeling, actually.  We are not alone and yet another person thought he/she was wonderful too.

Moving forward.

Coping is such an individualized process.  No two people experience the same thing.  Be patient.  The pain is real.  People are learning to live life in a different way.  Learning to live life without a son, a mother, a brother…someone important.  There is a permanent line in time for that person.  Before death.  After death.  Sometimes life has been completely been redefined.  It is a coping process and a learning process.  Learning to live life without someone.  It can take a long time.  It may never be the same.  But, the world around us keeps moving, happening, and going forward.  As time passes, don’t forget the “what to say” and the “what to do”.  It still matters.  There is no time limit on those first two areas.  If you think of a wonderful memory of the person, say it.  It is appreciated.  Be there and don’t give up.  They will be so thankful for your friendship that has been brought to new levels with the amazing support you have offered.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Does the house make the home?

Let’s be honestwe’ve moved around.  We purchased our first house a year after we got married.  We were 22.  We left that first house for a condo in Chicago.  Next, we moved home to Kalamazoo to the house we planned to call homeforever.  It was everything we thought we wanted in a house.  We were both working and didn’t want to wish for bigger laterso we bought big.  As a married couple with no kids, the house begged for kids to fill a few bedrooms.  Sowe did just that.

What I don’t think either of us anticipated was my desire to stay home with the kids, at least part-time.  I was so set on my career; there was no way I thought I would ever want to stay home.  I had planned to continue my cruise up the corporate ladder.  I wasn’t sure how, but I was confident that I would find a way.  (You can read more about my decision here.)  SoI went part-time.  AND yes, we were living in a Nicole needs to work full-time house.  Yet, our priorities had changed.  We put the house on the market.  I’m sure you are thinking – in the crappy market that we have had the last few years after purchasing in the height of the housing bubble!?!?  The answer is yes.  Our priorities had changed and we were willing to lose some money if it meant we could fulfill this master plan of my working part-time.

It took a long time to sell.  Honestly, it sucked.  It took So. Many. Showings.  We were the masters of showing.  We lived with most pictures in boxes, every closet clean, and the constant phone calls to leave the house yet again because this couple who has already seen 100 houses from Mattawan, Michigan to Gull Lake, wants to see your houseTODAY.  The kids and I were regulars walking the aisles at Target.  Wasting time.  Then, we would get the report back from our realtor that they loved the house, but our dog bowl wasn’t filled with water, or there was one weed in the yard.  I’m kiddingsort of.

When you want to sell a house, the faults and things you don’t like about it become more obvious every day.  In fact, they glare at you.  They rub it in your face that you have not sold the house yet.  What was once a gorgeous great room with 25 foot ceilings and a fireplace expanding the whole height of the house becomes a central hub where the TV is too loud for the kids sleeping on the half-story above and heating 25 foot ceilingsis just a waste.  The Brazilian cherry floors that I loved when we bought the housebecame a falling hazard since our master suite was on the main floor and I would have to venture upstairs at night to check on the sleeping kids (let’s be totally honest here – I fell down the stairs in this house several times. Many of which can’t be blamed on the late night hours.)  The drive for Ben to work (45 minutes) was a frustration as he would get home so close to the kiddos’ bedtimes.  At least finding fault in our former dream house was a great way to prepared us for a move. 

Eventually our house did sell.  Finally.  We packed up and were out in less than a month.  We were free!  We could search for a house in an area more centrally located between our work, in a school district we preferred, and franklycheaper.

We did find a house.  No, check that.  We found a home.  Our home.  A home that was so much homier than our old house could ever aspire to be.  It had everything I could have ever asked for our family.  In fact, despite spending a lot less on this house, we even gained some features in the move. (Hello! Two walk-in closets in the master bedroom means never having to see Ben’s clothes on the floor in my closet again!)  Certainly, there was some dated wallpaper, lovely pink countertops and blue backsplash in the kitchen, and awesome blue carpet in the entire second floor.  All of that could be fixed (and has been – eventually I will get to posting before and after pics of the kitchen!).  We had the opportunity to make this house our own.  Everything wasn’t already perfect when we moved inwe could make it better.  Room by room, we have stripped wallpaper, painted, and given the house the look that we want with our own love and sweat.  Most importantly, we gained the solid option for me to continue to work part-time.  

The house feels right.  You just know it when you know it.  Tucked into a wooded neighborhood, I can see Gull Lake from my kitchen window.  We share our property with deer, fox, rabbits, and other animals that eat my plants.  There is a tree out front planted in memory of my Grandma.  The unfinished basement has become a place for bike riding, pop-a-shot, hopscotch, and any other activity the kids want to dream up.  The basketball hoop in the driveway has the tiny handprints in the concrete of both kids from last summer.  My running routes include gorgeous views of the lake.  Somehow, with all of the same furniture from our last house, our house feels like it was made for us in a way that our last house just never did.

The bottom line iswe found a house that fits our family and our life well.  It makes us happy.  Sure, we don’t live in the house that I brought both babies home from the hospital and that is a little sad.  The kids don’t go to bed in the hand-painted nurseries that we made for them before birth.  I’m okay with it.  I love this house and my time home with them is worth more than any bedroom.  Both kids love their new rooms, anyway.  They got to pick the décor and that makes it special to them. 

No matter where we are, as long as we are together, we are a family.  Yet, I honestly think, this house just brings us the home that we needed.  We are happier here.  I look forward to hosting Myles and Jillian’s graduation open houses here.  I really can envision us staying here forever.  I like that feeling.  It’s like putting on a pair of sweatpants after a long day.  It feels like home.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Tuesday's Love and I'm Better Off Without Lists...

Jillian Kate Edition: Three Years Old Today!

Love List…

  • Jillian’s loving and caring heart.  She never gives me a hug without rubbing my back or kisses without smiles.
  • Jillian’s hair.  Perfect ringlets without the frizz.  How come my curls take work?  This girl is wash and wear.
  • Jillian’s confidence.  She can walk into a room full of adults and hold a conversation on her own.  She came into my work last Halloween.  Before she left, I think everyone knew her life story…and why her princess dress was so gorgeous.
  • Jillian tells me daily something that I do that is “The BEST!”  “This is THE BEST pizza you ever made.”  “You are THE BEST pancake maker.”  Today was simply, “Mommy, you are THE BEST!”
  • Jillian’s wittiness.  A birthday party quote from this weekend…”Mom, I am eating this party up!”   She wasn’t referring to food. 
  • At birth, Jillian was 9lbs. 15.5oz.  Had she not pooped in utero, this petite girl probably would have been TEN pounds!  This is something I love about her now, but not necessarily during labor…without drugs.
  • When Jillian is really pumped about something, she will give a little fist pump and give a gritty, raspy “YES!” that only she can do.
  • Jillian is the most independent little girl I have ever met.  She handles everything on her own first, only asking for help when she has exhausted all of her efforts trying to do it herself.  She would probably cook her own dinner if I let her.  I’m glad she still needs me once in a while.
  • Jillian loves her brother…a lot.  In fact, they are hugging…right…now.
  • Jillian’s belly laugh.  You know that laugh that babies have when they really get going?  The one that comes from the very bottom of their tummies?  She hasn’t lost that carefree laugh.
  • Despite the fact that Jillian knows the word fart (how could she not with a five year old brother)...she prefers to say her butt burped.
  • Jillian’s silliness.  She can joke with the best of them.
  • Jillian’s ability to pick things up so quickly.  She can remember the darndest things and learns so quickly.
  • Jillian is a clean freak.  I love it.  Another example why she is a tiny version of…me.  One less room to clean for mom!  Everything is always in place in her bedroom.  She knows where each toy belongs and will correct you if you put things in the wrong bin.
  •  Jillian is great at showing her emotion and calling it like it is.  Remember this post?  You can see her opinion written all over her face.  She owns it.
  • Jillian let me rock her like a baby tonight, her last night as a two-year old.  We sang her lullabies...together.

Better Off Without List…

  • Jillian is three going on twenty.  You know there would have to be few items for this list…  Since it is her birthday, I won’t mention her occasional sassy attitude or strong opinions...oops.

Jillian Kate,

You are the sweetest little girl I could have ever asked for.  I’m so glad you are my daughter.  I have enjoyed every minute (well, almost every minute – every minute minus stomach flus, and foot stomping episodes) of our three years (plus nine months) together.  From quieting your baby cry bouncing on an exercise ball to dressing up for our tea parties… it has all been wonderful.  I look forward to every minute together that we have ahead of us.  Please take your time growing up.  You are becoming such a confident, independent little girl.  I look forward to seeing the woman you will become.  I have every confidence that you will be amazing (because you already are!) and accomplish many things in your life.  I love every hug, kiss, and smile you share.  You brighten every day.  I love you so much.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Pinkalicious Pinktastic Third Birthday Party!

A pink party explosion landed at our house this weekend.  Complete with pink cupcakes, cake, cookies, lemonade, and anything else pink I could possibly think of.  The day was a success.  Not because the cupcakes turned out...but because Jillian felt the love of her family and friends.  Since a picture says a thousand words, here is a whole bunch of pictures from party prep to the crash landing after the party...

Pinkalicious cupcakes just like in the books.  Wondering who the heck Pinkalicious is?  Click here.

Not all of the cupcakes were perfect...  These made it to the trash before the party.  Cupcake hint: never pour the batter into the cups while the others are baking.  The result?  See above.

I operate off of a list.  I LOVE checking things off the list.  You know you do too.  Don't try and deny it.

A cake that looks like a cupcake.  My plan for cupcakes was trumped by a little girl with gorgeous brown eyes saying, "What about my cake?  How about cookies too?"  Thus, I baked all three all weekend!

Who says you can't have a cupcake for breakfast?

Best idea ever.  Pre-scoop the ice cream into cupcake cups before the party.  It always sucks scooping ice cream in the middle of the party when you would rather be having fun.  Never again!  Although, if you are at my house anytime in the next week, I will force you to eat some of the leftovers.

This is a random picture, but I loved the spring mix I cut from my yard before the party! 

What I love even more?  My new sink.  I've wanted a farmhouse sink for a LONG time.  I finally have one.  Isn't this strainer that is made for my sink awesome? I have a cutting board that fits right on it too!

Before party pictures.  She sported this dress for the two hours prior to the party.  Then, she had a wardrobe change to another pink dress her Great Nana gave her for her party!

Pink lemonade anyone?

Pink attire was in the dress code for the day.  No pink?  No worries.  Just borrow something from the basket.

The table of sugar. I couldn't avoid it.  Glad I'm not checking my blood sugar tomorrow!  It was worth it.

Wardrobe change complete.  Can you see her excitement?  

Even baby Brendan was sporting pink.  Quite confusing for Jillian since she calls him the "blue one."  His twin sister is the "pink one".

Blowing out her candle...with a mouth full of cookie.

The cookies.


Present time.  Her necklace count kept growing throughout the night.  Taking them off at night was like de-jeweling Mr. T.

Mommy's favorite present every year.  Jillian's Aunt Brooke makes her a DVD of all of the pictures from the last year set to music.  Jillian's favorite music.  The gift of memories.  Can't get any better than that!

Pooped...Not really.  The sugar had her going for hours after this picture!

There's my girl!

I love you Jillian Kate.  So does someone else.  Love the kiss on her check.  

You are my sunshine.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Lessons in Friendship at Five

Myles including his little sis.
Today was the last field trip for Myles as a preschooler.  With kindergarten nearing, it will be on to new adventures next year.  We went to the Kalamazoo Nature Center and had a great time hiking through the woods with his classmates.  Jillian was lucky enough to come on this field trip – her first time ever!  She had so much fun and it was evident she is ready for preschool.  She preferred to stay with the teachers, guide, or class members.  I guess she is already too cool for mom.

I was so happy and proud to watch Myles with his little friends.  One by one, he visited with each of his classmates along the trail.  If it had been me, I probably would have stuck with my tried and true girlfriends as we skipped hand in hand down the trail.  Myles on the other hand, made sure he had his time with each of the kids in his class.  Holding hands, they encountered the trail together.  With lots of kids and parents trekking through the forest, I had two sets of feet to keep up with.  It was always easy to spot Myles, though.  He had a friend on each hand, walking in at least set of three down the path.

The ladies man.
I’m not sure if it is a personality trait, or if it is his age, but he wanted to include everyone (even his sister!) in the conversations and fun.  Whatever it is…it is working for him.  I was so happy to see the kids calling for him, asking him to hold their hand, and laughing, having a great time.  I was so proud that he was even nice to the class “bully”.  A few months back, Myles came home everyday so upset.  The boy was never mean to Myles directly, but he was mean to his other little friends.  Myles always felt so bad when he would hurt their feelings.  He wanted to protect them from him.  Things have gotten a little better and although they didn’t hold hands down the path (the “bully” didn’t hold any hands actually), Myles still had nice things to say about him on the way home.  “Mom, he was soooo funny when he was telling jokes today!!”
Myles trying to impress...

I was sure to tell Myles how happy it made me to watch him having fun and playing nicely with his friends.  He was so proud of himself.  Perfect example of positive reinforcement, I guess!  I also asked him if he had any advice on how to make friends.  Thought I would share his thoughts…

First, I tell them my name and they tell me their name and then I will start holding hands and playing with them.  Everyday when we see each other again and again we become more and more friends.

I really like my friends and sometimes, even when I dont talk or play with a friend for a while, they are still my friends.

As much as I love my friends, I love my mom and dad the most.

Hanging with the boys.
I think he hit on some pretty valuable lessons, right?  Of course, I am partial to his third statement about loving his mom and dad.  Yet, how cool is it that he thought about the friends that he doesn’t see very often.  Friendship sometimes seems to come in waves in periods throughout life.  Miles and responsibilities can come in between friends, but this notion of still being friends even when not in constant contact is so important.  I have many good friends that I can’t walk across the street to visit, but I would call them my friend every day of the week.  At 31, I get it.  I was just impressed that at five, Myles does too.

Thanks to all of you, my reader friends.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

It will be clean...

This weekend is party weekend for Jillian.  The big three.  Our house is about to turn into a pink party poof.  She is so excited and I am thrilled for her.  Pinkalicious will be in full effect, not that I have prepared much yet…  I’m stressing a little about it right about NOW.  Although, I’m typing a blog post instead of working on the party...

Don’t you just hate how having a big party gives you that feeling that despite the fact that my house is already clean (because I hate clutter and junk on my counters)…I just NEED to vacuum, dust, mop, clean toilets, sinks, and whatever else has been lurking in the back corner of my mind (or living room).  Think about it…  I am going to clean my house for bunches of people to come in and mess it up.  Something is just not smart about this.  Then…I’ll have to clean it up AGAIN after everyone leaves.  There must be a smarter system.  I’ll let you know if I figure it out.  In the meantime, I’ll be doing the above list.  I’m supposed to.  It won’t be perfect, though.  People come to my house everyday and it always seems just fine.  I think they are here to see us, rather than to inspect my toilet rim.  I hope so anyway.

Then, I have to get to the whole party planning business.  Yes, I have found tons of fun ideas for a fantastic Pinkalicious party.  Wonderful displays of mothers who have put a hundred hours in making the perfect hanging party décor and themed food.  I’m sure their daughters had an amazing party and all of the guests were thoroughly impressed with the details that were refined to perfection.  I’ll take a crack at doing the best I can.  We’ll see how it goes.  This week happens to be an extra crazy week.  I’m looking forward to buying the rest of her birthday present…so I may not get to that pink ice sculpture.  I think she will be okay with it. 

Jillian’s priorities for the day include surprises, her little friends, our family, and hopefully a few presents.  Yes, she picked the Pinkalicious theme, but if you ask her she would easily sway to Curious George, Star Wars (thanks to Myles) or any other party theme.  The bottom line for her…it is a birthday party.  People are going to sing to her.  She will get some presents.  Most importantly…she will get pink cupcakes, pink ice cream, pink lemonade, pink cookies, and anything else that is pink that I can pick up between now and then.  This girl loves food.  Really, she loves treats.

I’m guessing Jillian won’t notice if I don’t get the napkins folded just right or the frosting perfect on the cupcakes.  So… I will make a valiant effort.  I might just try my hand at some of the fun themed items I saw on Pinterest…  If they don’t turn out, it will be just fine.  My tiny little girl who is going to be another year closer to not being so tiny anymore will love it no matter what.  People that love her will be here.  For that very reason she will have an awesome day. 

Oh – and it you are coming here for the big hoorah…don’t look in the corners or inspect my toilet rim, please.  I’m sure you would rather give Jillian a big hug, right?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Awesome Surprise Birthday Weekend In Chicago...Photo Dump

Great surprises.  Lincoln Park Zoo.  Wonderful food.  Awesome family time.  Enough said.

Here are some photo highlights of the fun.

This monkey at the Lincoln Park Zoo loved my kids.  Maybe he knew how similar they are...

Jillian the photographer.  She wanted to take pictures of us all weekend.  I love this picture of them under the Chicago Bean.  It captures them.  Myles isn't paying attention to the photo...and posing.  A cheerleader pose.  Where did she learn this?  I have no idea!  Hands on hips, knees bent, smile, and snap the picture!

Hope you had a great weekend too!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Sweet Home Chicago…Surprise!

This weekend is going to be such an exciting, sneaky, and fun time!  We are in Chicago to surprise my Mom for her birthday.  Such a wonderful Mom deserves a sweet surprise!  Currently, we are hiding out in the Hilton Suites, waiting for our surprise breakfast tomorrow morning…a table for six, rather than just two for my parents.  I won’t be posting this post tonight…better wait until the surprise has been revealed!  Tonight as I am typing, we are working through our first try with the kiddos sleeping in the same bed.  So far…Jillian is trying her best to keep Myles awake.  I’m glad we have our own room.

I love Chicago.  I have loved it here as long as I can remember.  Back in high school, Ben and I used to dream about living here someday.  Each year, as our anniversary would approach, we would plan a day trip to Chicago.  We would hop on a quick train ride and enjoy a day of sightseeing and shopping.  What more can a girl ask for on an anniversary?  Wonderful memories. 

We lived here for a while a few years back.  When you live in the city of your dreams, every single day is an adventure to discover.  We enjoyed awesome restaurants, neighborhood exploring, bars, shopping (of course 1154 Lill Studio), and just living city life.  We could not have asked for more.

Now, we bring our kids back to Chicago 4-5 times a year to enjoy the culture and the fun the city has to offer.  They tend to want the same attractions (not always our first choices) each time.  The Lincoln Park Zoo, Aquarium, Disney Store, Navy Pier, American Girl, Lego Store, riding on the El, and looking up at the John Hancock building in awe are a few of their favorites.  Oh – we can’t forget to mention, “the best noodles we have ever, ever had Mom!” at Osteria Via Stato, our favorite restaurant.  

Every year we come back the weekend before Thanksgiving.  It is one of the best times for a child to be in Chicago.  The Disney lighting parade where Mickey waves his wand and lights all of the trees lining Michigan Avenue is just magical.  Want a super secret insider scoop on the parade?  Watch it from Oak Street.  There are hardly any people and since it is the beginning of the parade route headed for Michigan, there are eager “give-away” people waiting to hand your tiny tots parade prizes.  Guess it is not super secret anymore…is it…  Typically, we stay at the condo that we used to live in (my parents are staying there this weekend).  Our kids have come to know some of the doormen and they can’t wait to see Conrad, their favorite gentleman on door guard.  I hope that these trips bring a perspective of city life to our kids, as they grow older. 

I’m looking forward to sharing my Mom’s special day in our favorite city tomorrow.  She loves Chicago and we love her…so it is fit to be a perfect day in the city.

Happy 29th Birthday to the best Mom I could ever ask for.  
Hope you like your surprise (us)! Love you so much!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tuesday's Love and I’m Better Off Without Lists...

Love List…

·      Flying kites.  Amazing how a $1.99 kite can bring so much joy and beauty to a windy afternoon.
·      My husband.  He got me my new Mac computer as a wonderful surprise!  I’ve never been so glad to see my outdated laptop crash and burn.  Two words explain it all…Microsoft Vista.  (This is of course not the only reason Ben would be on my love list.)
·      Emerald Cocoa Roast Almonds.  Chocolately nutty goodness…and they are low carb. Amazing.
·      The excitement in Jillian’s eyes as her birthday nears.
·      Myles was tall enough to ride bumper cars last week at Craig’s Cruisers…by himself.  Even better than that…the fact that he kept pausing to wink at us watching along the railing.
·      Fun dress shopping trips with the girls.  Talking, sharing, and trying on pretty dresses...awesome.
·      Myles and Jillian spending much of their time at church this last Sunday hugging.  Just picture this: Both kiddos kneeling next to each other with their arms around each other’s backs.  Adorable.

Better Off Without…

·      That freak out feeling when your computer crashes.  Luckily, relief followed when I located my picture backup files.  We lost other files, but what is worth more (digitally) than pictures?
·      My favorite bra breaking while shopping this weekend.  At least I was at a mall…  You should have seen the sales clerk’s face when I went to the counter, ripped the tag off my shoulder, and paid.
·      Snow on April 10th.  Especially when I wore flats with no socks today. Where did our early spring go?  I want it back!

Monday, April 9, 2012

How Many Different Women Am I?

Seriously.  How can I be such a different person at work and at home?  Really?  This is an honest question that I don’t know the answer to…

Today at work I was excited.  Things were rolling my way.  Great meetings, great conversations about work issues, an exciting glimpse towards the future, and even a new laptop and huge new monitor installed at my desk today.  (How amazing is it to get TWO new computers in the course of three days!  My new work Dell can’t even compare to my new MacBook Pro at home, but New is NEW people!!)  So… I was on a roll.  The day flew by and when it was time to leave I wasn’t ready to go.  There were a few more things I wanted to get done for the day.  I was in full work mode.

Rewind the day to 6:45 am.  Jillian woke up WAY earlier than she usually does.   I’m thinking that Myles and Jillian were having a BFF role reversal, since he is always up at 6:30 and he was still sawing logs when I left for work.  Anyway, it was time for me to leave.  After almost a whole week home with the kids, she wasn’t ready to get back into the swing of our normal routine.  She was balling.  Crocodile tears, snot bubbles, and clingy hugs were all included in the mix of mom guilt and she was laying it on thick.  It was so hard to turn and leave.  I wanted to stay home and cuddle with her on the couch.  It would have been wonderful to make tents, read books, and play with Easter toys all day.  BUT – I had to work.  So…I took a deep breath, suggested something for her to do as I left, and walked out the door.  I knew she was in good care and she would have fun throughout the day.  As I drove into work, I just kept telling myself that.  (I talked to her later – and yes, she was fine.)

So how, after an exit like that, could I get so wrapped up into work that I didn’t even want to leave when the time came?  Sure, I knew she was happy and safe, but should I have been counting down the hours until I was able to leave?  How can I leave for the day wishing I could stay home and then leave work for the day wishing I had a few more hours?  Am I really so different at work that I have priority shifts from day to day (maybe hour to hour is more like it)?

Moms certainly all wear many different hats each day.  I play mommy, employee, teacher, maid, blogger, chef, and I could never forget to add princess to the list.  So, I guess today my hat transitions were a little rough.  Glad they aren’t everyday.  Guess that is when my 20-minute drive to work is to my advantage. Smoother transitions…hat-swapping transitions.  In fact, if I’m not on the phone with home or work (prepping for my next hat or finishing up with my previous hat), I can actually just jam out for 20 minutes.  Singing, speeding, and thinking about how happy I am to have both a job and a family that I love so much.

When I walked in the door, I was so glad to be home.  The kids were jamming out to music in the basement…hiding…waiting for me to find them.  Love.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Grown Up

Myles asked me yesterday, “Momma, what do you want to be when you grow up?”  Without really thinking about it I answered, “Well buddy, I am kinda already a grown up.”
Weird.  Yes, of course I’m a grown up.  I have a husband, two kids, a job, and bills.  Responsibilities are proof of my grown up status, right?  Looking back, it’s hard to pinpoint when it actually happened.  I’m sure as I experience life, I become more of a grown up each day.  I really do think that in the last year, I have literally grown older with my experiences (and wiser? I doubt it).
Pondering his question really got me thinking though…  All through my life there was always the next step to look forward to.  When I was a preschooler like Myles, I am sure kindergarten was the exciting next step.  Grade school to middle school to high school to college...  Holding hands to first kisses to an engagement ring.  Engaged in college; just thinking about being married as the next step was the ultimate excitement.  Actually living together…everyday together on our own…amazing.  It wasn’t even six months after marriage that we were onto the next milestone.  Watching House Hunters every night, we set out on our quest for our first home.  At 22, we were so excited. 
With our first house under our belt and not nearly ready for kids, it was time to focus on work, work, work.  A corporate relocation to Chicago was our dream come true.  We had talked about living in Chicago since we were in high school.  Somehow, we had managed to make it happen.  It was in Chicago that we got that next step in mind.  Baby fever.  We waited until we moved back to Michigan, but we were definitely looking forward to the next step.  Myles came and we were never happier.  A similar feeling crept up again 18 months later and yes, we were pregnant again, this time with Jillian.
I have told you about my feeling for a third baby that creeps up from time to time (you can read about it here).  Yet, overall, we are really happy as our little family of four.  During a typical day, I don’t miss diapers, feedings, and crying.  It is so fun to head to places like the Butterfly Garden this last weekend with no stroller and diaper bag.  So, if another baby is not on the docket for us (no guarantees here – don’t call me a liar if I end up pregnant again) what is the next step for us to look forward to?
Crazy how one little question can get me thinking, but I’m glad to have reflected on this notion of next steps.  Certainly, retirement and grandkids can’t be considered our next steps.  We are 31 years old!  I think our next steps must be to fully enjoy where all of our previous milestones have brought us.  All of the little joys each day with our children…that is where our next step must take us.  Witnessing all of our children’s accomplishments…those are milestones for us as well.  Preschool, kindergarten, school sports, middle school, high school... Their milestones are our milestones too.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to be those parents pushing their kids and attempting to live the dreams they never accomplished through their resistant children.  That’s just not cool.  But, I look forward to being there for them as they go through their own journey, finding who they are along the way.
We don’t live fully for our children. (Anymore - I’m so glad I am out of the phase in life where I thought I needed to be with my kids every moment.  Never leaving Myles alone for a night until 19 months old probably just wasn’t healthy.)  We have to have accomplishments we complete on our own as adults to carry us through as well.  Running more half marathons (maybe a full – nah, I doubt it), writing a blog (with more readers that I could have ever imagined – thank you!), striving for excellence and respect in the workplace,  maintaining a wonderful marriage of ten years this summer, and raising two awesome kids will do for me.  My husband, Benjamin, is working as I type to see a dream materialize.  He will be opening an insurance office next month, with one of his best friends from elementary school.
Goals and accomplishments will come and go over these next “middle years” of our life.  I’m okay with the fact that I can check off many items of the typical to do list of life.
ü  College
ü  Marriage
ü  Home
ü  Kids

I’m so glad I am ready to simply enjoy the checkmarks we have accomplished.  I think it’s just called living life and enjoying the small things.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Tuesday’s Love and I’m Better Off Without Lists…

You’ve been missing this, haven’t you?

Love List…
·         Checking on the progress of my perennials each day.  Spring has sprung!  Perennials will forever be on my love list.  A one-time planting commitment for long-term, continually increasing rewards.  Yes, please.
·         Jillian asking me this evening, “So, how was your day today?”  She has also been referring to me as “Mother” since I got home today.  Actually, it sounds more like “Motder”.
·         Myles and Jillian copying us anytime we hold hands in the car.
·         Easter basket shopping. 
·         Jillian’s final box of diapers from last summer is being used to ensure dry naps for each of her babies…and Minnie Mouse.  She discovered the baby care goldmine in the back of her closet last week.
·         My new granite countertops.  I have a busy husband who plans to install the backsplash in a few weeks.  You can see pics of the final result when it is done!
·         Baseball practice starts tomorrow!
·         The projecting nightlights in our kiddos’ room.  Now they demand that there is NOT a hall light on, so they can see their princess or solar system better.
·         My beautiful sister Sarah honoring my wonderful Grandma by naming her daughter Josephine.  She is due in August with my first niece and I can’t wait!  Isn't she so cute?

I’m Better Off Without List…
·         My new found weekday (non long-run) running procrastination tactics.  Oh, the phone rang and I’m already in my running clothes with water bottle in tow?  Well, I better answer it and spend the next 60 minutes on the phone instead of the treadmill.
·         The Computer God Law that states that anytime you are sending an email to more than 400 people at work, the file will have a glitch.
·         Carbs.  It hurts to put them on this list because sometimes I still want and love them, but I don’t love how I feel after I eat more than normal.  It seems I am already conditioned to not have many of them.  (You can read more about this here.)
·         Coming home to a dog that has had a sick tummy all day.  Not a big fan of puke or poop patrol…on my favorite rug…or in my dining room.