Friday, October 17, 2014

Snowballs and Australia

It was one of those days.  The kind of day when things go from bad to worse and you haven't even left the bed?  Yep, that kind of bad....

My 2nd alarm didn't go off.  My "2nd" alarm is the reminder to make sure that Nathalie is up and running off to the bus on time.  By the time the 3rd alarm had gone off she should have already had her lunch made and been walking out the door to catch the bus.  I fell back asleep after shooing Mark out the door and Nathalie was still fast asleep when I realized we had overslept.  I'm embarrassed to say that I drove her to school in a pair of high heels and a bathrobe.  (while praying to God the whole time that I didn't commit a traffic offense!)

It was a Thursday, and since we are at church on Wednesday nights and don't have time for homework, it means we spend the morning catching up.  Except that I was still trying to catch up from sleeping in and it just wasn't pretty from this point on.

The details that complete the rest of the day are funny, but since you're probably a mom, we're both tight on time.  I'll spare you the details and cut to the chase:

To quote Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day... "Some days are like that.  Even in Australia"

This book has been Jason's favorite book from the beginning.  We are on our 3rd worn and tattered copy.  I used to think that Alexander was just a brat and that he was just a miserable kid wallowing in his own misery. Jason has a thing for "bad boys".  (I finally had to delete and block all of hte DVR'd copies of the movies Problem Child and Problem Child 2 from the recorder).  I started to hate reading it because in my head I could have slapped all of Alexander's problems with a health dose of perspective, and sent him on his way... but one day I got aggravated with reading the book for the 1,000th time and decided to put on my kid goggles and try to see the story from a different point of view.

The cure for a "Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day" is either an angelic and hopelessly impossible dose of optimism... or as my mom likes to call them: MENTAL HEALTH DAYS!  (God bless you Mom!  You're the best!)

"My mom says some days are like that. Even in Australia."

This is a classic tale of "the grass is always greener" mixed with a mean old shot of "what you think about you bring about".  He could have turned his whole day around with one positive thought, but instead he brought fuel to the fire he set when he got out of bed.

Alexander started the day off on the wrong foot, but instead of making the best of it, he let every little bad thing that happened to him snowball into one ugly mess of negativity. 

We all have our snowballs.  They start out small, and before we know it they become too big to carry.  We add to them without noticing the weight until they are too heavy to move.  Our burdens and obligations pile up until we are beyond the tangle of dates and times it would take to peel them back down to size.

Even the most perfect, "put together" moms make snowballs. 

It's true!

Sometimes we get angry and throw them at the closest most undeserving warm body, sometimes we sit in a quite room and hold them until they melt, and sometimes we put them in the freezer to deal with for another day.  We all make them, but we don't all display them on the front yard with a corn cob pipe and a button nose, and two eyes made out of coal.

Let's face it... "Australia" is just a metaphor for perfect in this instance.  It's an imaginary place we dump all of our "if only's".  The conditions that we secretly hope to fall in place,  just so we can land on a "get out of jail free" space because we've already done everything you can possibly do, wrong.  We just want to skate under the radar from one more "I want" before our heads hit the pillow so we tiptoe to bed without waking anyone up.... because we are just a one second shy of completely losing it..

Motherhood is not for the selfish.  Being a mom means melting the snowballs and unpacking for Australia. (even if you don't want to!)

The next time you are having a Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day, just remember:  "Some days are like that... Even in Australia!"



Friday, September 19, 2014

My girls...

No, not Nathalie and Eliza...  Nathalie and Annie!

These two remind me SO much of my childhood best friend... like, by SO much it's scary.  

I can see their world views on two completely separate planes, and their interests crossing the great divide... but still they find each other after every storm. They are not identical, they are complimentary: 

They are shelter, they are our peace.
They are the voice of un-reason... if that's what we seek. 
They have our back, they have sides...
they watch over us in between tides.

They wash us off, they pick us up. 
They help us out, when we are stuck.
When we are lost, they help us be found
And when they need us they are always around.

Best friends... know us inside and out!

 





They do not have to think alike, or BE alike. They don't have to be like each other in any way to enjoy the gifts that the other person brings to the table.

I love Annie like a daughter... I can only imagine how  the lessons being friends with Annie will come in to play in Nathalie's life in the coming years!  These two will figure it out, and no matter what, I rest assured they will be each other's "midnight call" or reason.  She will be the voice that talks her off the ledge in the years to come.




Saturday, September 6, 2014

Today was perfect

Last week I went shopping and found two great pairs of jeans that I had planned on stashing in my closet until some cooler weather rolled back in to town.  After the storms ripped through late in the  afternoon yesterday, I was shouldn't have been so surprised to wake up to a cool and crisp morning. 

I'm putting my bets on the weather staying this way for a while, and giving all the credit to the 3-wick Heirloom Pumpkin candle from Bath & BodyWorks that I burned all day on Friday.  While I'm sure it's purely coincidental, I may turn to this kind of voodoo again if I see another 85'+ day again in the future.

I showed homes to a set of adorable new clients this morning.  Soon to be newly weds are my favorite buyers!  I picked a sleeveless shell dress in a turquoise print to show houses in this morning, but  realized pretty quickly that I wasn't exactly dressed for the weather.  This a.m. surely called for a sweater... and at least a pair of closed toed flats.  I was so excited when the sun stayed hot but the air stayed cool  this afternoon... and I was able to wear my new jeans to a family party early tonight.  It was a double blessing because the mosquito's didn't bother me a bit!

I could smell the hint of dried up leaves in the air as I noticed the patches of gold starting to form high in the treetops.  The bees were abundant and acting erratic all week, which is just another sure sign that full blown fall is just around the corner!

I saw signs that the Halloween SPIRIT stores will be opening up soon.  That means the pumpkin farms will be too!  I don't know if I love the fall so much because I'm an October born baby... but I still get little giddy when September hits. 

I'm savoring the early signs of fall, but don't want to jump the gun... I'm saving my first trip to Starbucks for my first Pumpkin Spice Frappe until later this month!  (gotta keep is special, ya know!)

Today was pretty much perfect, and I love this change in the weather!

What is your favorite season?  What are some of your favorite memories of fall?

Friday, August 29, 2014

Days like these...


Some days I feel like I'm seriously just going to lose my mind.  I hope Eric had a great birthday, but even with the grandest of gestures things, sometimes things still just go wrong. 

I ran out of wrapping paper last night after having already been to Walmart TWICE yesterday. (and don't ask me what happened to the stockpile I created 2 months ago for Leo's birthday for emergencies such as this!  I swear there is a black hole hidden somewhere in this house.)

When your kids already have every single thing they could possibly want, it makes picking out gifts for two birthday boys (Jason and Eric) born 3 years and 2 days apart, extremely difficult.  Hence, returning to the store for a second attempt to even find something to wrap for them.  I'm not going to say they don't have a lot because that would be a lie, but boys (unlike girls) like what they like.  It comes down to a handful of things: Legos, electronics, super hero's, sports equipment, comics, and DVD's... and because I'm such a girly girl, I'm no expert in any of those subjects.

On my way home, I was alerted to the fact that Mark had left the interior light on in his Jeep and his battery was dead.  It was so dead it couldn't even been jumped so since it was already 9:00 and WAY past everyone's bedtime, we left the Jeep for the night and vowed to deal with it tomorrow, only to realize that my AAA membership had expired in June.  Womp... womp.

Then, our picnic birthday lunch at school today was interrupted by multiple giant daddy long legs and swarms of buzzing bees... and ended with me picking up Leo from school to make a run for the M.I.A wrapping paper stash.  He had a major tantrum in the car because he was T-H-I-R-S-T-Y-Y-Y-Y-yyyyyy.  I wouldn't stop on our 5 minute car ride home to buy him a drink to quell his tormenting thirst.  I made the mistake of trying to video tape it on my phone to show him how ridiculous he was acting, but that only made him angrier ( don't worry we were suddenly stopped by a train.)  I know it didn't put me in the A+ mom bracket, but sometimes I have to get creative with these kids.  I'm not going to post it, but I know I got my point across.

It's at this point that I just have to mention that Mark also had to work tonight.  He just started his new job as a cashier at Walmart.  (ironic, I know... right?!)  He needed to take another vehicle to work since his was parked in a lot and out of commission, so I rushed home from wrapping paper shopping, after the bee and daddy long leg infested lunch, and handed him my keys so he could take Tony's old car to work, not knowing that he had also taken HIS set of keys for the Jeep to work with him... leaving us with NO keys.  Thankfully AAA (upon renewing today for $85 online) also unlock's doors as part of their services... picked our lock AND installed the new battery for an additional $130.  I spent $215 on invisible luxuries today and I didn't even need to leave my neighborhood! 

Fortunately for me, Nathalie was home to bake Eric's birthday cake while I was running all over town pulling my eyebrows out.  Yet still, I managed to overlook one minor detail... frosting.

In a house that is stocked with enough pantry staples to feed a small army for a week... there wasn't a single container of frosting to be found. We were holding off on the birthday cake until Mark was home to celebrate with us so I ran up to Walgreens and paid almost $4.00 for the convenience of obtaining a $0.97 tub of flavored lard at almost 9:00 at night.  They can charge those prices too, because when you need birthday cake frosting pronto... well?  You just need it pronto. No amount of quarters or dollars will separate you from your glory of delivering on a terrible family rendition of "Happy Birthday" that your newly 11 year old son has been looking forward to all day, and I'd be gosh darned if we were going to sing it over a naked cake!  (Can you even deny my black hole theory at this point?!)

I'd like to say that the night ended with a sweet, well versed rendition of Eric's "night you were born" story, but just before he blew out his candles, Jason pulled his infamous trick of trying to blow out all of the candles before the birthday kid could, that ultimately ended in a 20 minute power struggle between me and Tony Vs. Jason... and a pretty teary eyed Eric, who might have just been egged into misery by a set of itchy watery eyes.

Eric suffered a pretty bad allergy attack throughout the day.  I think he might be allergic to freshly cut grass because ALL of the neighbors tonight (and the neighborhood landscapers) were out cutting our lawns before the rain  while trying to beat garbage day to the curb... and he was simply miserable.  His gorgeous blue eyes were just red and swollen beyond recognition.

My "night you were born" story took a little twist tonight and strayed from all of the specific details that I would have normally included in the past leading up to their birth, even omitting how the breaded chicken parmesan sandwich that my mom and Tony had brought back for me after going out to dinner, was the final inspiration for pushing through a difficult "sunny side up" birth.   I was hungry, and I wasn't going to eat that sandwich cold!

Tonight I told Eric about the actual first night we spent alone in that hospital room over Labor Day weekend in 2003.

I told him that I must have kissed him a million times that night when it was just us in that overly air conditioned hospital room on a late August afternoon, just like today.  I told him how I held him quietly in my arms, and how he fit so perfectly cradled inside of my elbow all through the night.  I told him how I cried over him, because he was the first baby born without my dad waiting in line to hold his new little grandson.

We both shed some tears, but it's only because growing up isn't easy.  Especially when you realize you're in the heat of it, and your constantly looking back through the rear view mirror of days gone by.

Sometimes things don't go the way we plan, so you just have to learn to roll with the punches.  Deviate from the plan and release yourself from your own expectations so you can enjoy all of the twists and turns in the road, because God only knows... there's going to be a lot of them!

Happy birthday Rice.  Love you forever!








Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Camaro

Let me just first start off saying that this post is not meant to be a brag... in any way.  This is part of a story that started a long time ago and was 12 years in the making.  I'm not posting this to take credit as an awesome wife either... I'm posting this to tell you about what an awesome husband I have.

Tony worked at Jewel (a local grocery store chain) all through high school.  He saved, he was careful, and he was thrifty when it came to spending money all along. 

When I was in beauty school, just after we had started dating, he called me one day to tell me that he was about to buy his dream car.  We hadn't been dating long, but he had saved for a long time to pay cash for his '96 Silver Camaro RS with t-tops.

A year later I found out we were expecting our first baby...

Oh, and let me tell you, we tried to make the car seat thing work in the back of that hot looking Camaro.  We tried for about 4 years to make this sports car fit our growing family, but it just didn't work, especially after Nathalie was born.  We were young, and couldn't afford 3 cars (you CANNOT drive a Camaro in the snowy Chicago weather).  It was expensive to renew license plate tags on 3 cars, pay for insurance on 3 cars, and after a while... it just didn't make sense as we worked hard to make ends meet in our very early 20's.  We didn't have the extra income to make it work and it became more of a burden than it was a blessing.

We sold the Camaro and paid off some bills with the profit.  I kind of found some peace that the kid we sold it to was a young teen who had also paid cash for it, and was going to love it as much as Tony did.

... but I never got over the guilt. Tony was still that kid.

Being a dad makes you grow up in all kinds of ways, but I never got over feeling like I was the mean dream crushing boss of our finances.

I promised myself that one day ONE DAY I was going to make up for having him think that I didn't know how much that car meant to him, and not as a status symbol either, but because I know how hard he had worked all of those years as a stock boy in a local grocery store to earn it.

I encouraged him to sell the Camaro 12 years ago for the greater good of our family, and even though he loved that car, he didn't bat an eye.  He knew it's what we had to do, and because of it, we were able to achieve more.

This October 2nd is our 15th wedding anniversary, and despite a handful of doosey's along the way, we have made it to this milestone pretty easily.  For all of the things Tony has given the opportunity to do in our 15 years of marriage, such as; being a stay at home mom to our six kids, allowing me to stop working in the salon and create a space in our home to take clients, to start my own photography business, to study to become a Realtor... I have only been able to become what I am of this because of him.

He's our rock.  He's our stability.  He's the foundation of our family. 

I know our 15th wedding anniversary is a few weeks off, but I wanted him to enjoy the rest of summer with the top rolled down.  I love this man with all my heart. 

We weren't married when our oldest son was born, and just like so many have done, could have run.  He could have sent me a check every month, and I could have sent him pictures... but he chose to be a husband and an amazing dad. 

He has given me 6 beautiful children, so... I surprised him with a Camaro to replace the one, I kind of made him sell.  They didn't have a silver RS on the lot with t-tops... but they did have this sweet black convertible that I thought he'd like.

I think he likes it ;o)




I told the sales guy that I wouldn't take it home unless they had a BOW for me to put on it.  They found one!  LOL!

I still get a tear in my eye when I watch his response....  you deserve this Tony!  I LOVE YOU! 







Thursday, August 7, 2014

Just us.

I am just about as "social" as you can get.  I love a good party, I love a "catch up" phone call, I LOVE meeting up with friends.  I'd probably be classified as addicted to Facebook due to my social nature... but sometimes things just need to be quiet. 

Just us.

We went the zoo this afternoon.  With less than 4 days left on the "official" school calendar, the clock is ticking.

I told all 6 of them that we were going to the zoo.  I didn't ask for opinions, and I did argue with them against suggested invitations with friends that I adore...

BUT, I didn't cave.  We needed this.  Just us. 

Even Mark came with! (and it kind of made my heart kind of do a happy dance)  Since he officially has me in the height and weight category, demanding that he attends family events are now seen as more of an enticement than a demand. I'm so happy that he chose us too. 
There were no phones.  No electronics.  Just conversation....

I think today was one of my favorite days.



They were waiting for the dolphin show to start... Jason was very "mad/concerned" about sitting in the "splash" section.  He decided the dolphins were jerks for purposely getting him wet during the show...

I feel like I need to publicly apologize to the dolphins for sitting here.  They aren't jerks.  It was totally my idea.


Leo wasn't happy about our long wait to sit in the "splash section".  I'm beginning to feel like the jerk all of the sudden...


But they had a lot of fun watering all of the plants in the play zoo area...


Nathalie painted a butterfly on Eliza's face.


And a curly mustache and pair of eyeglasses on Leo...


Mark and Eric went bonkers for the $.25 foot massage (that tickled) at the end of the day....



And when your 16 year old gives your 2 year old a ride on their shoulders?  Oh, you just stop right there and say... AMEN!  Thank you God for this great day!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The top 5 reasons why older adoptee sisters are the best...

I met my oldest sister 11 years ago.  I found out she existed 23 year ago... and I vowed to never stop searching until I found her!

I got the call just 6 weeks after my dad died in June of 2002.  He was not her biological father, but he was such an amazing dad... he would have been if he had the chance, but fate (or God's plan) was strong, and things worked out another way.  It made me sad that he never got the chance to meet her, but her presence surely made the days the followed our loss, a gift.

I was raised in the Chicago suburbs.  She is 13 years older than me, and was born in Columbus Ohio. She now lives in Virginia Beach.  When we met, my second oldest was just a year old. Nathalie was a just a baby and I thought it was just a little bit crazy when we talked on the phone for the first time and she told me she had FIVE boys!  I never imagined it for myself, but it could have subconsciously become the narrative for my own life that I later fulfilled with 6 of my own?

Her youngest was just 4 months older than Nathalie.  AND she has naturally occurring fraternal twins, and I honestly always imagined having them myself. Josh and Chris are great young men. I almost said "kids", but they are way bigger than me, so I'm going with gentlemen!

So here is the top 5 reasons why ADOPTEE sisters are the best:

1.  You NEVER fought with each other as kids.  Not over toys, not over clothes, not over anything!  She's a clean slate, and you can love her for it, right off the bat.

2.  There's baggage.  It's a given.  You know it.  She knows it.  Yet, still you "get" the family dynamic without ever uttering a single word.

3.  You admire her.  You've thought about her all your life... and POOF!  One day, there she is!  I've read some awful horror stories about adoption reunion stories, but for me they couldn't be further from the truth.  She's an accomplished mother, and she's calm and collected.  Her motto "It's fine" runs through your head on all of your worst days...

4.  You'll never love a stranger more than you love her on the day that you first met. 
Aside from kissing your newborn baby's face a millions times on their birthday... the over 5,500 days that passed without knowing my oldest sister melted in that airport terminal, like a stick of butter on a hot summer day. 

5.  You're friends.  Time can pass and days will fade, but you always pick up exactly where you left off.  No matter what, they're always there.  Sometimes it's hard to manage the line between friends and sisters without infringing on the lives we've lived without each other... but it's worth every mile we've walked together over the last 10 years. 

I'm not going to add this to the list... but she's my secret WILD card.  She changed my birth order from "middle" sister to SECOND "middle sister", lol!  When you mess with birth order, look out!  Maybe I'm not the crazy MIDDLE SISTER after all :o)

I love you Andrea!