Monday, May 27, 2013

Windy City Weekend

We had an awesome weekend.  Absolutely awesome.  Hope you did too.

We hopped in the car and headed to Chicago.  We visit the Windy City every couple of months.  If you've been hanging out here for a while you know, we used to live there.  I love that my kids are growing up with exposure to things outside of our little town in Michigan.  Myles made his first trip to Chicago when he was five months old and he has been visiting the city several times each year ever since.  In fact, we were laughing at his knowledge of the subway system.  Need a lift on the Red Line?  Myles is your man.  He can get you there.  Anyway, we had our fill of pizza, public transportation, and all of our old favorites to last us...until later this summer.  Here are a few iPhone pics of our good times.  Can't believe I never even pulled my camera out...

Pizza, Friday night.  A perfect way to start the weekend.  Yes, we ate on the couches.  Makes for an interesting meal with kids.  As a side note: Myles put away a small pizza.
The next morning, I was so excited...  You know, every time we go to Chicago, we do fun things for the kids.  Well, this time since we had an extra day, I thought they could "suffer" through heading down the Green Line in the hunt of the Randolph Street Market.   (If you know the Green Line - you know there was definitely some suffering there - but anywho.)  It was so fun.  We saw so many antiques, up cycled items, and gorgeous furniture.  What a way to spend a Saturday morning.
 The kids didn't have it all that bad after all.  Greeted at the door with pinwheels, bubbles, crayons, and coloring pages...they were set to stroll up and down the aisles of old refurbished awesomeness.  Oh - and if that wasn't enough...they got some Dinky Donuts.  Who wouldn't love them?
Shopping, Potbelly's, and dinner with great friends rounded up our Saturday.
 Just had to include these posing shots.  Loving their new hats.  I am being a nice mom...I am not including the video of Myles in front of the mirror at H&M.  Let's just say...he liked the way he looked in his new hat.
We spotted a bunny friend and her daughter (not pictured) in the Gold Coast.  She needed to find Lincoln Park!
My heart melts for city lights.  And that moon.  I also find it so interesting how few people care to close their drapes when they are indecently exposed.  I'll be honest, I didn't used to care either.  Somehow in my time back in Michigan, I found my high-rise modestly again.
Here is Myles and "The One and Only".  Myles was quite intrigued and had 100 questions about him long after he left.  I can say, he was pretty good at magic and earned his money.  Myles even gave him a quarter out of his own pocket.
Jillian at Lincoln Park Zoo.
 Her fave.  Giraffes.

 Jillian trying her hardest not to smile.  She failed.
 Myles.  In awe.
 He asked for his picture taken in this pose.  He thought he looked quite cool.  Don't ask me why, but I actually think his jacket tied around his waist was the reason.
 Sibling love.
A trip to Rainforest Cafe.  The ultimate in sacrifice for the kids.  We chose to forgo good food for the love of our children.  Even with all of the wonderful choices that Chicago has to offer.

We had a great time.  Another one for the memory books.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Can I Plan On Having It All?

I don’t have a hard time prioritizing.  I am a planner.  I live by my schedule and I facilitate the social calendars of two littles, coordinate my meeting schedule at work, and figure out when I will have a chance to make cupcakes for school.  Planning and prioritizing is my thing.  I’ll get my deliverable done, make the decision, or whatever I need to get done…and it will be on time.

So, I can’t believe my Type-A, over-planning self is having such a hard time with what I want.  What do I want?  Seriously, why can’t I answer this question?

Many evenings I sit and fret about what I am missing at home with Jillian.  I so dearly miss my two weekdays a week at home with her.  Dearly.  Working full-time, suddenly every change involves constantly finagling the schedule.  A doctor’s appointment?  What used to be no big deal is now a juggling act to work out.  Ben took Jillian to the doctor for the first time last week.  I skipped it entirely.  My meeting schedule just couldn’t be worked out.  Sure, it’s not that big of a deal.  He is more than capable.  But, you know, as with so many other things, I let it eat away at my mom confidence.

Then, I have my work.  I have a work-mode and I frankly don’t understand how these two halves of myself are so vastly different.  While I am actually at work, I find myself thinking forward to the next potential position, how I can further my career, and what development activities I can complete to catapult me to the next level…

Exactly how does this fit together?  I don’t get it.  After losing the baby last February, I was devastated.  I wanted a third baby with all of my heart.  I still do.  Every month that passes I am more and more sad and frustrated that my “plan” didn’t work out.  Silly isn’t it?  That isn’t something you can plan.  I have absolutely no control.

You know what my plan was?  You want full disclosure?  My plan was to go back to work full time, have a baby, and go back to part-time.  That was it in a nutshell.  So as not to mislead my employer, I was completely up-front about my plan.  They were cool with it.  Full time for as long as it was possible was fine with them.

It didn’t work out how I wanted it to.  I set myself up.  Duh.  I can’t plan everything.  The big things in life...the important things...are never planned.  Not by us, anyway.  God has the Franklin planner on that one.  I don’t write the entries.  I made a Rookie mistake assuming that I had the decision-making ability to carry out my plan.  So, I get grumpy. I get frustrated that I am working full time, with no “plan” progression as intended.  Ask Ben, he hears it.

So...I wait.  And in my antsiness (I know this isn’t really a word – I made it up) to end this waiting period in my life…I wonder…  Do I try to put into motion the potential to further my career with the possibility of backing myself into a corner where returning to part time just isn’t an option?  Did we lose the baby because God doesn’t have that in the plan book for us?  What dreams do I want more?  The dream to be home with my babies?  Or, the career aspirations that I have worked towards for the last eleven years?  

I’ll be honest, I’m not sure that I am really capable of “having it all”.  What the hell does that really mean anyway?  Have it all?   Define “all” for me please.  Is it what I have now?  An awesome family?  A great job?  Does it mean making it to the end of the day with most things on the list accomplished?  Is it simply, happiness?  Does it mean you are always striving for the next job and have the happy family at home too?  What does it really mean?  For me, a higher position and a new baby?  I may be good, but I’m not so sure I’m that good.  Is it a one or the other option for me?  I likely could get both jobs done…just not the way I want to do them.  So does that mean I shouldn’t try and progress my career because someday I could be blessed with another baby? 

I love this family that I have already been given.  Our little family of four is quite amazing.  I’m not exactly sure why the little voice in my head keeps singing for another little set of ten fingers and ten toes.  I’m completely happy listening to that calling for that third potential miracle, but then why the heck does that other demanding and competitive voice drive me towards pushing for more responsibilities and a new challenge at work.  I can’t do it all.  So why can’t I prioritize? What do I want?

I don’t have all the answers and this rant that is hard to even follow doesn’t help.  Well, it does help to blow it all off and let the words fall, but it doesn’t get me any closer to knowing what to do.  What to aim for.  How to prioritize my dreams. 

My plan?  I think it is time to let someone else plan everything for me.  Something I should have had the intelligence to know from the start.  I don’t really have the control anyway.  Time to let go.  What will be…will be.  Time to let go.  If I keep saying that it will sink in, right?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

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

Love List...

  • Jillian calls somersaults...swirly whirls.  No explanation on why I love this is needed.  
  • The approaching long Chicago with the kids.  Can't wait.
  • Today was Jillian's last day of her first year of preschool.  She loved her school year and I love watching her grow and learn.
  • Tomorrow night Jillian has an end of the year preschool program.  They will be singing farm themed songs.  She has been telling me about her "singing test" for weeks.  We found a jean jumper.  Add in some pink flannel and you can imagine my girl's version of a farm girl.
  • Ben has been working on our new deck and it is just about done.  We have a new 500 square foot outdoor living space to enjoy each and every day.  I'll share some photos sometime soon.  We are currently working on our anti-mosquito plan.  They are not welcome in our new space.
  • Homemade popsicles.  We've been eating them as fast as I can make them.
  • My perennials are coming in heartier and bigger than ever before.  I love to see floral beauty with no work!  Ideal!  Not to mention, I have some annuals that returned again...for the third year!  I have no idea why.
  • Myles had a lengthy discussion with Ben tonight about wanting to work with him when he gets older.  He told Ben that he wants to work together so they can spend all of their time together.  Adorable.
  • You know that feeling when you find that perfect item that you have looked for for years...and it is on clearance?!?  Yeah, I had that happen last week.  Awesome.  My dining room thanks Pier One for this awesome happenstance.
  • It's Farmer's Market season.

I'm Better Off Without List...
  • This super annoying dripping noise outside my window after a huge thunderstorm last night.  Drip, drop, Rat, Tat, Tat.  So. Annoying.  I never went back to sleep.  
  • Tonight we received a letter asking if we would ever want to sell our house...because they would want to buy it.  I suppose it a bit harsh to put this on this list, but we have never even thought of selling our "forever home" that we have put so much work into (and continue to).  I kinda just wish we had never received the letter, so I would not even have the idea of moving cross my mind...

Monday, May 20, 2013

Thoughts From My Six Year Old...

You may remember this post if you've been around my little internet corner for a while.  Well, I'm a little late, but I have finally completed this year's interview with my Myles Jacob.

What do you love about school?
Recess!!  My teacher.  She is so nice.

What do you like the least about school?
Nothing.  I like everything.

What is the hardest thing you do at school?
Calling up people when I am the teacher's helper because they are always quiet.  I just can't pick because everyone is quiet.  {The quietest gets picked.}
What are you looking forward to in first grade?
Ohhhh.  That's tricky.  Getting to pick even harder books from library.  I got a good chapter book from library today!

What are you looking forward to the most this summer?
Fourth of July, because of the fireworks.
Who is in charge of our house?
Mom and Dad.
What is mom’s job?
To take care of me.  Oh, do you mean your work job?  You put together parts of stuff, right? {Not even close, buddy.  I decided not to approach the definition of market development to my kindergartner, for the sake of the interview.}
What do you wish Mommy would do differently?
Nothing, I like everything that Mama does.  {I see he has now learned to suck up somewhere between ages five and six.}

What do you want to be when you grow up?
I want to be a police officer....and a doctor...and in the army...and uhhh...a taxi driver...that's it.  Oh, I also want to work at my Daddy's office.
Where will you go to college?
Western.  Cause it is close to home so I can come home and visit.
Why are you going to go to college?
To learn what I want to be.
Describe the girl you think you will marry.
Uhhhh.....  Blonde hair...a dress with flowers...a girl that has a good voice for singing.
Where are you going to live when you are older?
I want to live where we live still, because I want to live with my parents.

How many kids will you have?
Five.  Three boys and two girls.

What will you name them?
Jayden, Kevin, Emily, Mia, and Antonio {All Power Rangers.}

What kind of car will you drive when you are older?
A Toyota Camry.  {I'll take this desire to drive a similar car as a form of flattery.  Ben questioned if he might want a Jeep or a truck.  Nope.  He wanted to be like his Mom.}
What do you think you will do for homework in high school?
I don't know.  Studying.  

What are your talents?
Playing tag, hide-and-seek, reading, math, and baseball.

What is an interview?
I'm doing an interview right now, right?  It's something where a parent asks you a question and you answer.

What famous person would you like to meet?
Miguel Cabrera.  He plays baseball for the Tigers.

What is a blog?
A blog is something that you post on for people to see.  Am I right Mama?  Did you put "Am I right Mama??!"
What age are people considered mature?
32.  Because it's a good age to be grown up. {And, his parents age.  We must have been immature in his early years...}
What is your favorite thing about your sister?
That she is playful.  
What do you like to play with her?
Tag and hide-and-go-seek.

What is your favorite color?
Blue and Red.

What is your favorite song?
Power Rangers Song.  I'm in love with it.

Who is the smartest person you know?
Mama.  Because she is a grown up.  {He wanted to go back later and add...} Miss Stiemsma.  She is REAL smart. {His teacher, of course.}

What is your favorite memory?
Going to Disney World two times! {Some of his Mommy's favorite memories too.  Such a magical place.}

What is your worst memory?
The last time I scraped my knees on the pavement. {Unfortunately, it was not long ago.}
What is your favorite thing to do?
Jillian: Is it to be with your Sissy??  Myles: Playing outside with Jillian.

What do you like to do with your friends?
We like to play Power Rangers, Hide and Seek, and Tag.  Also, chase girls on the playground.  Jillian:  Oh Yay!  I'm a girl!!

What is your favorite food?
Tacos and hamburgers.

What food do you not like very much?
PICKLES!  Mustard, too.  Yuck.

What question do you want me to ask you?
Ask me my favorite Power Ranger!
Okay, what is your favorite Power Ranger?
What do you think?  The leader.  Red Ranger.  Jayden.

Anything else you want to say to anyone that reads my blog?
Hi.  I'll say hi.  Thanks for reading my blog interview.

Jillian:  Myles will you marry me?
Myles: I am not going to marry you.  Brothers and sisters can not get married.
Jillian:  But I am a good singer. {She begins to do singing scales reminiscent to Ariel in The Little Mermaid.}
Myles: Oh, Jillian.  Just stop.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

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

Love List...

  •  Myles is student of the week this week!  As the first in his class to receive the honor, he has come into instantaneous rockstar status.  As his name was announced on Friday, his whole class cheered.  The love has continued..."Mom, when I walked into class (on Monday), these girls (which I won't name by name) just kept hugging and hugging me...They are just so excited that I am student of the week."  The little family their teacher has created for their class is just too cute.
  • Date night on Friday night.  First a tee ball game, dinner with friends, and then just the two of us for chocolate fondue and blues music.  We didn't even stop at a grocery store on the way home.
  • Not sure which list this belongs on...but I am officially registered with Michigan State for my first course towards my Master's Certificate in Strategic Organizational Leadership & Management.  Yup, pretty much...scared.  You know, when you are working full time and running around like crazy with two amazing kiddos, you might as well fill your evenings with classwork.  Right?  Right.
  • Tonight we ate our first dinner outside on our new deck.  Construction isn't quite complete, but enough of it is done to set up our new table and Ben completed his fourth assembly of the chairs from hell last night, so we were good to go!
  • Shopping for fun accessories for our new outdoor eating and lounging area.  It may not be done, but I have already put a dent in my shopping responsibilities.  I like those responsibilities much more than Ben's role in this whole thing...the building part.
  • We made a quick trip the the library tonight after work.  We found all of the best books the library had to offer...except one that Myles was after.  Nothing a little Inter-library loan can't fix!  He'll have it by next week!
I'm Better Off Without List...

  • Myles's allergies are at an all time worst.  We have an appointment with a specialist next week, but my childhood pediatrician's warning when Ben and I got married is ringing true... "You two are the worst allergy cases I have.  Your kids are doomed."  Not funny.  I feel so bad to see him so miserable.
  • The zipper on my favorite jeans broke this weekend.  Maybe the zipper was a bit too stressed lately?  Ugh.  The repair will be complete by Wednesday.  Thanks goodness for seamstresses.
  • I have a zit on my face that resembles Texas.  In shape...and size.  Lovely.  I admit, I look like a complete idiot right now.  I searched blogs and came up with a honey and cinnamon concoction that is now dripping from my chin.  It better work.  My husband is laughing.  AND honey is sticky.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Writer's Block and a Day for Mothers.

I've been a terrible blogger lately.  A non-blogger is more like it.  Not exactly sure what the reasoning is for my lack of posts.  I've missed all of you, and this little corner of joy for me, so it's not that.  I guess I really don't have a good reason...but the thing is...the longer I go without writing a post...the rustier I get.  The harder it gets to open the computer and type.  You know it's bad when I had Craigslist open before I started typing tonight...not ideal.  Instead of writing, I've been watching TV, eating things I shouldn't, watching my husband assemble our new patio set that came in 1,000 pieces...and laughing...because each chair built gets at least one F*word before completion.  (Maybe I should have helped instead of laughed??!!?)  Normal things, I guess.  Nothing too out of the ordinary.  I guess this is officially what they call writers block?  I don't really like it.  Here's my attempt to brush it away...

Happy Mother's Day to all of the mommas that read my blog from near and far.  Hugs to each and every one of you.  I hope your day was as wonderful as my own.  I was treated like a queen, complete with gifts for summertime in Michigan (including new popsicle sailboat molds that "you can make us popsicles in Mom!!"), a lazy morning, a wonderful family brunch, and even a relaxing evening being "mothered" by a four-year-old who was happy that her "baby" was taking a nap.  Perfect.

This weekend I was able to spend time with so many of my favorite mothers.  Friday night was perfect, hanging with one of my favorite friends, who mothers three boys with fun as the focus.  I love that our kids are growing up together and even had their own table at dinner.  The kids loved it...and so did the parents.  Not sure about the wait staff...

Myles and his Aunt Brooke.
Last night my parents came over for a low key dinner.  My mom "grandparents" (a verb) my children every Monday while I am at work, but I love to spend time with them all together.  Witnessing the awesome relationship that my kids have with my parents just warms my heart.

Today we had a wonderful brunch with more food than you could ever imagine at my mother-in-law's house.  At this point in our relationship, it's time to drop that "in-law" status.  She has been in my life for sixteen years and has superseded that "in-law" tag long ago.  Anyway, we had a wonderful time with aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and even great-grandparents.  Awesome.  How could you possibly celebrate Mother's Day without a fun round of Disney Hedbanz? The kids were in Heaven.  I loved it too - I could watch and enjoy...without even having to wear a pair of silly ears.

You can't peek when you get your card.
We take this very seriously.
Of course, there were several wonderful women that I was missing today.  Some too far to visit, like my baby sister celebrating her very first Mother's Day.  Others, gone from this Earth and on to a better place.  A special hug to all of you mothers missing your own mother today.  I hope that wonderful memories filled your day with a smile.

Hope to see you back on Tuesday at the latest...I better write a list...before you all give up on me!  

Thursday, May 2, 2013


I love my hometown.

Absolutely love it.  It's a small town centered around a lake, and it is perfect.  It has a charming downtown park just outside the library steps.  Walk a half a block from the park and you are at the Pub.  Cold beer, great beer fries, and even my tree-hugger salad.  There is another big park and playground where all the Little League teams spend their time.  Kids running around, laughing, parents talking, helping other children, runners running, and baseball fans cheering.  Of course, I'm biased, but I love the community school, with teachers that care and challenge each child to succeed.  What else could you ask for?  Maybe I can only see the town through rose-colored glasses, but I wouldn't want to live anywhere else at this point in my life.

Aside from the cuteness of the little town, my whole family loves the sense of community here.  From dance to preschool, tee-ball, Kindergarten, to a visit to the library....we know people here now.  We have established relationships all around us.  We belong.

When we were first married, we lived in Chicago for a while.  We loved it.  We still make frequent visits and my children are growing up knowing the city and all it has to offer.  Anyway, I remember when we lived there that I was perfectly content leaving the house knowing that I would likely not be seeing anyone I knew.  We could spend all day shopping downtown and we quite possibly would not talk to anyone other than each other.  That was totally fine - we were young, in love, and ready to conquer the big city on our own.

With kids, our hometown desires changed.  I love it that I can walk into the grocery store and run into a friend.  When we walk into the library...the children's librarian greets Myles and Jillian by name.  She asks them how school is going and knows who they are.  I exchange emails with Myles's teacher often.  She cares about my child and I love that she realizes how special he is...just like we do.  In the two years that we have been here, we have made so many great friends.  Friends with children that are growing up alongside our own.   You know, we teach our kids everyday, but so does the community around them.  Tonight, I'm in love with the outside influences on my kids here in this town.  It's awesome.  It's home.  It's where I want my children to grow up.


In other news...

I'm thrilled to announce that Lisa M. has won the Memories on Movies video!  It is a gift that will last a lifetime and I'm so happy for you!

If you weren't the lucky winner, but still want to preserve the awesome memories of a special event or your kiddos cute photos, be sure to visit Memories on Movies!  You won't be disappointed!

Oh - and T.G.I.Th.  Can't wait to get this weekend started!