Tuesday, March 26, 2013

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

Love List...

  • Jillian told me I was a genius tonight. I knew that a piece of her candy bracelet was candy.  That made me a genius...
  • The excitement as we prepare to leave for Spring Break.  The kids are over the moon!  So are we!!
  • Myles had homework to decorate a cardboard egg.  It is due Thursday and I was trying to figure out when we would have time to sit down and make it totally awesome (sometime between packing, car repairs, taxes, you know...the normal stuff).  Anyway, Ben emailed me today and said, "Myles turned in his egg today.  He colored it.  Striped.  It is how he wanted it."  I was shocked.  At first I felt a panic that his "special egg" was simply a striped crayon design, instead of the fabric, noodle, and hot glue creation that we likely would have made together tonight.  But you know what?  It's fine.  It's how he wanted it and I'm cool with that.  Cross another thing off the list.
  • Interviewing.  Sure, it takes time out of my day, but whether it is a good interview or a terrible interview...I just think it is fun to try and analyze the candidates and decide if they are right for the job.
  • Yesterday we went to a restaurant that is supposedly haunted.  Of course, we didn't say a thing to the kids about it.  Why the heck would we?  Anyway, Jillian turned her placemat over and drew...a ghost in a bathtub.  Really?!?  I don't think she has EVER drawn a ghost...except maybe on Halloween.  Anyway, you should have seen Ben's face.
  • My SITS Day!  It was awesome and I made so many new friends!
  • Today we got Myles's report card.  As I opened it, he was standing next to me with his hands folded tightly.  The suspense was just too much for him.  He was begging to know if he is doing good in school.  It was adorable.  He is doing great.  I just loved how he was so concerned and overcome with suspense.
  • Yesterday, Jillian asked me if God put a new baby seed in my belly.  She added that she would hope it would be a girl seed, because she likes fancy shoes much more than cool shoes.  Sure, that is a good
  • Dresses.  I'm only taking one pair of shorts on vacation.  One.  
  • Somehow I squeaked this post in least it is still Tuesday!

I'm Better Off Without List...

  • Packing.  Couldn't all of the clothes just jump into my suitcase?  The best ones.  The ones I'll want when I get there.
  • Taxes.  Tax season.  Anything with the letters t-a-x in it.  Yippee.
  • Clothes that somehow shrunk hanging in the closet since last summer...  It appears all four of our closets have some sort of issue with this...

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Angel Mother

A year ago today, I wrote this post...commemorating one of the most wonderful women that ever walked this Earth.  My cousin, Petra.  She was amazing.  Actually, she still is amazing, as she continues to walk in the footsteps of her six children.  A whole year later, I just spent twenty minutes on the phone with her amazing sixteen year old daughter.  (She is number two of six - the only sister in the bunch).  We chatted about what is going on in her life, her plans, her dreams...her mother...and the life she lives without her.  It's been two years.  She asked me to write about her mother again.  Of course, I would love to.

You know, there are the big events in a teen girl's life that her mother play a big role in.  Getting ready for dances, shopping for the perfect dress, talking about her dates...her boyfriend...the whole bit.  I see the photos of Abbey all dressed up and looking beautiful for her school dances.  Of course, I think of her mother.  She would have loved to help her shop for the perfect dress, shoes, and jewelry to get ready for the night.  She would have absolutely loved it.  You know what else?  I see the sparkle in Abbey's eyes.  The same sparkle her mother had.
The thing is, the big stuff is tough.  The dances, graduation, her wedding day without her mother, knowing that her future husband will never meet her...all of it.  Yet, it is the everyday that really tugs at my heart.  The family dinners without the whole family.  Seeing her father without his best friend and other half.  Feeling sick without your mom.  I know that Petra and her caring, nurturing, and loving way to mother her children would want to take care of them through their childhood hold them when they are sick.  Accomplishing new things.  I know Petra would cherish and honor the accomplishments of each of her children.  I know she is proud of each and every one of them.  You know, it is all of the everyday things that mothers do.  I'm just so sorry that she doesn't have the opportunity to do them.  Baking for school.  Team dinners.  All of the fun.  You know, she was so good at all of it, too.

Someday Abbey will get married and have a family of her own.  I'm afraid that when that times comes she will recognize a whole new magnitude of missing her mother.  No one loved babies more than Petra (Hello!?!?  She had six of them!!)  She would want to hold her grandchildren.  Cuddle and spoil them.  Field phone calls from Abbey at 2am when she is worried about a fever for her first baby.  All of it.  

Instead, Petra was called to Heaven.  She had a bigger job to do and God must have needed her.  Even on the worst days of her illness, she wasn't scared.  She knew her Faith and was confident that there was a plan for her.  I know that each and every one of her six children has a special Angel Mother.  She still takes care of them every day.  We may not see her actions in the food she bakes or feel the hugs of her arms, but she is there.  Everyday...watching, caring, and loving her family.  I know she is.  I love that she is there for you, Abbey.  She is always there.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

YaY! My SITS Day!

You know when you are waiting and waiting for months for something special?  Something so special that you start a little countdown in the corner of your planner you can see the big day s-l-o-w-l-y approaching?  Yeah, is THAT day for me!!  It is my SITS Day!

All of my fellow SITStahs visiting today...welcome!!  I'm so glad you stopped by.  Have a look around and I hope you make yourself cozy here in my little home on the web.

Pencil Skirts and Noodle Necklaces was created to share my adventures as I work my way through my daily attempt to have it all.  Between two kiddos, working full-time, and maintaining my marriage of ten's never a dull moment!

On my blog you can read about my adventures with my kids, Myles and Jillian, my work experiences and advice, and all the in between that comes with being a mom.

A few of my favorite posts...

About work...
10 Mommy Skills That Can Be Applied At Work
How Not To Get Promoted
Balance: Working Inside and Outside of the Home

Focus on the Victories
My New Level of Perfection

A few posts about Myles Jacob...
Mother - Son Dance
My Time...For Myles
Lessons In Friendship at Five
Insight into the Mind of a Five-Year Old

A few about Jillian Kate...
Coffee Date
Tiny Dancer
Tuesday's Love and I'm Better Off Without Lists: Jillian Kate Edition
What to Wear Wednesday (even though it was only once - who am I to give fashion advice!?!?)
Perspectives on Life...From a Two Year Old

Ten Years
Vow Renewal
Marriage Maintenance

Helping with Loss

Family Events...
My Favorite Kind of Weekend
A Wedding In Photos

And of course...My Tuesday's Love and I'm Better Off Without Lists.
The First One.
And all the rest.  46 of these!!  Gotta love Tuesdays!

For my regular readers, you might be wondering...what the heck is a SITS Day?  Well, I've been waiting...a long while... and it is finally my turn to be the featured blogger on the SITSgirls website!!  The SITSgirls is a community of 40,000 bloggers who support, educate, and read each other's blogs.  Check it out at the link included if you want to find some fantastic blogs!

Thank you friends, old and new, for stopping by!  I'm so happy to have you here!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

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

Love List...
  • Listening to Myles and Ben play Mario Cart on the Wii.  Or... "W-I-I" as Myles says (pronounced double you eye eye).  "Daaaad!!  Seriously!?!" Myles yells as Ben passes and rear ends him.  I love it even more that Myles can beat him now.
  • Pirate day at school today.  Letter "X" week...and X Marks the Spot.  We had a few leftover accessories from an old costume for Myles.  Add a black tulle skirt and some fun tights and there you have it!  Although, she was a bit disappointed pulling in to school because she felt something was missing from her costume.  A parrot.  Too bad they don't allow birds in school.
  • Today both of my kids ate all of their dinner.  Every last bite.  Myles asked for thirds.  Monumental business over here.
  • Crossing things off my long to do list at work.  I want to be able to leave for Spring Break without that panic feeling looming.
  • Lunch with a former employee and her baby.  Cuddling, cooing, crying, and chatting with an old friend.  The best.  You can figure out which was the baby and which was the adults, right?
  • Myles asked his teacher today if they could sing the National Anthem after the Pledge of Allegiance.  She obliged and found a recorded version to play in the classroom.  (Can you tell he watches quite a few sporting events?)
  • Somehow, despite the fact that he was adamant that we would NOT...we talked Ben into going to Disney while we are in Florida.  Hmmm...I wonder if it had anything to do with the fact that he bought tickets to the NCAA tournament the very next day....  Anyway, I know we are crazy and it will be super busy because of the timing...but it is so very...magical.
  • Jillian is officially a skirt / dress girl.  I set out jeans for tomorrow.  Her response?  "How can I play princesses tomorrow in jeans?"
  • Visiting my grandfather, we call him Opa (Grandpa in German), for his 82nd birthday.  He hasn't been feeling well after a surgery, but he still has the twinkle in his eye.
  • Sleep.  I have found it again...or maybe it has found me again.  Either way...I. love. sleeping.

I'm Better Off Without List...
  • Snowstorms in March.  Tomorrow is the first day of Spring...someone must have missed that memo.
  • One of our fish, Jack Sparrow...bit the dust.  You remember in this post I talked about how Ariel loved to hide in the castle?  Well, Jack Sparrow was a bit too big for that...

I'm off to fill out my bracket!  Happy Tuesday!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

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

Love List...
  • Listening to Myles reading books to Jillian.  Amazes me.  He is so proud...and Jillian loves it too. 
  • My new kitchen bar stools.  Yup, finally ordered them.  They might be a bit big for the space...but I don't care.  I love that my family can sit and hang out while I cook.  It makes the kitchen a meeting place...where we can sit...instead of standing around.
  • We are pretending it is spring over here.  Never mind the snow still falling...Think Spring!  (See our Love sign above - all decked out for Spring!  Actually, it's been that way since February.)
  • Last minute fun weekend plans with great friends.
  • Our vacation countdown.  The kids love to lower the number each too!!
  • Along a similar for games, activities, and ideas to pass the time on our long road-trip to Florida.  Call us crazy, but Ben and I are actually looking forward to it.
  • Argo.  Not sure which list that this actually belongs on - because I was shaking like a leaf through the entire movie, but the bottom line is a great movie.
  • Myles's "no 3DS" weekend.  It was completely off limits.  He said, "Mom, I can really see how great this is not to play my DS this weekend."  Yes, he was brown-nosing.  Ben said, "Great, we can give it away to another kid who would like it!"  Myles wasn't too keen on that idea.
  • If you go to Bing and start typing "Bing S", you know how it auto-populates words?  The seventh one down..."Bing Sucks Take Me To Google."  Hilarious.  If they only knew what they were auto-populating.  It is so true though...
  • House Hunters tonight...the realtor shows them a "shub".  What is a shub, you ask?  It's part shower, part tub.  A tub the size of a shower floor.  What the??  Would you sit cross-legged?  How long did it take her to make up that word?  Warning...don't look up the word "shub" on Urban's nasty.

I'm Better Off Without List...

  • Last night I hit a glass of water on my bed stand...pouring the entire glass out onto a power-strip.  Awesome.  Fried that one.
  • Friday, after being out of the office for several days, I walked in late afternoon.  What did I find at my desk?  A few guys on my office floor fiddling with my chair.  Welcome to Junior High School, friends.  They were attaching a Fart Machine to the bottom of the chair.  I caught them red-handed.  I may have dropped a swear word or two (like one that begins with an F....) as I inquired about what they were doing...  I may have over-reacted...but I will never admit it. 
  • Time changes...never been a big fan.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Focus on the Victories.

I ran outside tonight.

I ran in 40 degree rain.  It felt good.  I was freezing, but it felt good...and such a nice change from the boring treadmill.  I saw the frozen over lake, the rain in the puddles on the ground, melted snow rushing the drains, my feet hitting the pavement with each step, and my mind immersed in thought.

I needed the time.  Time to sort through the jumble of things in my head.  I suppose that would take a lot longer than a run, but it's a start.

I have talked to a few moms lately with a recurring conversation theme...

It is so hard to raise a family, work full-time, nurture a marriage, and succeed at all of it.  

It is so easy to feel like...
I suck at raising a family, working full-time, and nurturing a marriage. 

When you are juggling (which I can't), I would assume that the more items you have in the air...the harder it is.  We are all juggling a number of things going on in life...from a project at work, a sink full of dishes, or an emotional hardship.  They all add up.  They all take mind-space.  (Sidebar Warning...when jugging a lot of things like this...DO NOT STEP ON A SCALE.  It will only make things worse.)

I feel so sad to hear from these wonderful women that they feel like they are failing.  Yet, I know exactly how they feel.  As I listen to the conversation, I can understand exactly where each and every word shared it coming from.  I feel that.  I understand that.  I find myself telling the other women that they are not at all failing and that they are exactly what they need to be for their family...because you are you.  You are their mom.  You are his wife.  You are what they need.  I can say the words.  Internalizing them is much harder.

Tonight when I put the kids in bed, we went through our usual routine.  Baths, brushing teeth, books (usually one, but tonight we read two), prayers, and songs.  Afterwards, I retreated to the living room to clean up one of the largest forts that they have ever built.  Tent city is a more accurate description.  For whatever reason, I went back up to talk to Myles.  His little (toothless) smile over the edge of the bed, knobby knees tucked tight into his covers, and his damp hair tousled around his face just warmed my heart.  I told him how much I loved him.  He already knew.  Victory.

Next, I headed into Jillian's room.  In her own bossy (read: special) little way, she quizzed me on if I had put her Teddy Bear, snow pants, and boots in her backpack.  I had.  Passed another kid test with an A.

I'm gonna pack these two victories in the win column.'s on to another day.  I've decided that focusing on the victories is the best thing I can do.  Feeling like the balls are all falling around me won't help.  It will just lessen my patience and weaken me.  Time to focus on the victories.  One day at a time.  One win at a time.  Bring on Tuesday.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Tiny Dancer

Tonight I snuck a peek...Okay, I flat out watched Jillian through the tiny window at dance (despite the fact that we really aren't supposed to).  The frame of the window seemed to frame her tiny, graceful body perfectly.  In fact, by chance, she was the only girl I could even see at the angle of the window.  I guess I was meant to watch her.

I was in awe.  Don't worry, I promise this won't turn into a bragging mom post about how great of a dancer my daughter is...  That is not the point at all.  Frankly, I don't even know if she is the best, the worst, or average.  I was just watching my Jillian Kate.  I watched her carefully point her toes.  She deliberately moved into each position her teacher called out.  She moved with a grace about her that I could never imagine (and would never have myself).  I couldn't believe my eyes.  I couldn't believe that my little girl knew what to do as the teacher yelled, "Plie´! Releve´!"  As they continued to practice, her arms gracefully extend out with her toes pointed and outstretched in the opposite direction.  She was concentrating.  She was working to do everything she was told.  (Aside from the habitual swipe of her bangs that kept falling into her face).

Watching her, I saw a young lady.  A girl who has grace, patience, composure, and maturity, with the spring in her step that only a three-year-old ballerina has.  How did this happen?  Who is this tiny person?  She is growing into her own.  She is discovering her likes, dislikes, talents, and...who she is.  Who she will become.  And this whole dance thing?  It is completely independent from us.  Sure, we take her there, pay for it, etc.  Yet, once she is there, she is on her own.  She is a dancer.  She doesn't have a mom who danced for 12 years and knows everything about what she is learning.  This is her thing.  She knows more than I do.  (I've even been know to Google ballet terms that she mentions and shows me - so I can see if she is doing it right.)  This really is her thing, not mine.  I love that.  I love that she can feel proud...independent.  And...for whatever reason, I feel like tonight I had a glimpse into the future.  It wasn't the dancing, per se.  I don't know if she will even continue to dance in the future. It was the concentration and sincere intent and desire to do well.  It is a quality that I know that we will continue to see as she tries to conquer her challenges.  Witnessing it through that little skinny window...was beautiful to me.

Then...the music stopped.  Stickers and suckers were awarded to the girls that did an exceptional job during practice and the door burst open.  My little Jillian came running to me, talking a mile a minute...bubbling over with energy.  The glimpse of the future snapped back to the present.  My fun-loving, joyful preschooler had to tell me all about her day.

I will love every minute of this energetic little girl time.  A glimpse into the future makes the present even more endearing.

She talked our whole way home until dinner time.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

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

Love List...

  • Our new fish tank has brought tons of excitement to our house. Two cheers for two fish that are still alive after five days.  Looks like we are in the least for a while.  Jillian named her fish Ariel.  It is hilarious - the fish squeezes through the tiny hole in the back of the sandcastle and hangs out.  We figured it was stuck the first time and rescued it, but it continues to go in there and loves it.  Maybe it really is like Ariel...hanging in the castle.
  • This past weekend, Myles, Jillian, and Ben were wrestling around in the family room.  Myles was cheering Jillian on and yelled, "Jillian!!!  Use your BEST weapon!!!!  Your SCREAM!!!!"  He's right, it is her best weapon.
  • Tonight, I spent a few hours playing school with Jillian.  She read me books, patted my back at nap time, and taught me everything that the few hours could teach.  I love watching her little mind working so fast.  One-on-one time is priceless.
  • Myles's last basketball practice was Saturday.  He didn't want to it would not be over for the season. 
  • At a friend's house this weekend, Myles gave me a little backtalk.  When we got home, he and Ben disappeared in to Myles's bedroom.  After a few minutes, I received a sincere apology and a hug and a kiss from Myles.   I love that Ben saw the struggle and talked to him about respecting his mom...and of course I loved the little guy realizing his mistakes.

I'm Better Off Without List...

  • At Myles's basketball practice, Jillian started fishing through my purse without my noticing.  She proceeded to pull out a pantyliner and said loudly, "Mom!  What is this thing?!?"  Awesome.
  • Yesterday I wore a dress...that I will never wear least not to work.  I found a picture of it on the web to show you.  It's the one on the left.  The stripes are not red, they are more of a dark coral color.  Anyway, I had too many comments to count, and they continued this morning (a whole day later!!).  Terrible.  Fourth of July, patriotic in March, a flag, Where's Waldo, Miss America, and even a comment about how my hips looked.  Again, I will. never. wear. this. again.  I must have a sign on that says please give me your opinion on my fashion.  Never mind that many of the men commenting wear pleated front dress pants, sweaters from the late 90s, and white athletic socks with their business attire.  Find a mirror, guys.