Sunday, August 26, 2012

My introduction to the soccer mom world

It has been a few years since one of my boys played soccer. Four of the five of them have played soccer, but when they did play, it was in the 4 to 6 age group through the local park district. This year, my 10-year-old decided he wanted to start playing again after giving up on baseball. I signed him up for a soccer camp over the summer and then enrolled him in a soccer league where they play in a variety of places around Northwest Indiana.

Today was the first game and it was a home game. Yesterday, I had heard that rain was in the forecast. I shrugged it off, especially when the sun was shining brightly this morning. When it was time to head out for his game just before 1:00, it started raining. Not just drizzling, but really raining. As I left I grabbed some water bottles and my purse. I didn't bother with an umbrella (luckily I had one in the car) or chairs or a raincoat or hat. I figured I'd be getting a call on the way over there that the game was cancelled.

I showed up and it continued to rain. The coach was out on the field and a few players were out on the field. The coach made a comment about the timing of the rain, but still they warmed up. One of the other moms showed up and I mentioned that I was surprised the game wasn't cancelled. She laughed. "No, they play in the rain," she said. "They'll only cancel if there's lightning."

I guess it's not like baseball. For many years, I had kids playing little league and if it had been raining like that for a baseball game, we probably would have gotten a call before we even left saying that it was cancelled. Apparently, soccer is like football. It's just a little rain...why not play? How was I supposed to know? However, once you're already there, it is nice to go ahead and have a game, rather than having to deal with make-up games and all the schedule juggling that it causes. It's also nice to have games just on weekends and pretty much only once a week as compared to a baseball schedule, where they would often play two or three games a week, plus have practices in between.

I also made another snafu when I walked over to talk to a couple of the only parents I recognized, all the way across the soggy field. Once I got there, with soaked, muddy, grass-covered feet, I realized that I wasn't supposed to be on that side of the field. That's where the coaches go. Spectators are relegated to the opposite side of the field. Ooops...noted. Won't do that again.

One part I really liked was that the game time is about half of what a baseball game is. It seemed to be about  a half hour, then it was a short half-time break, another half hour and the game was over. got tied up just before the second half was over. But it still ended. In baseball, you never, ever end a game that is tied. Sometimes they go on for a long time. There was usually a 2-hour time limit in little league, but if it was the middle of an inning or the game was tied, it got extended. I could get used to this one-hour game stuff. And really with the constant running on the field, one hour of play is plenty. Baseball is much more idle.

I do need to brush up on the rules of the game and the positions, because I have to admit that I don't remember much at all...other than you can't touch the ball and that there are offense players, defense players and a goalie. But it will be fun to enter a new chapter. He seems to really like it and I'm thinking he may be playing it for a while. I'm looking forward to the season and to easing into soccer mom mode.

Life with my flame

Right now it is a quiet Sunday morning. Kids are rolling out of bed and hubby was off early this morning working an extra shift at the firehouse for a co-worker. For all of us parents, our lives - how we live, what our lives revolve around, our lifestyles - are dictated in part by what we do for a living. I'm married to a firefighter, which means our life is much different than a family where the head of the household might be a salesman or a stockbroker or an engineer or a teacher.

Our activities revolve around my husband's unusual schedule or we're forced to do things on our own with out him. Today is the first soccer game for one of our boys. Most dads have Sundays off and will be there to watch the game. My husband will be on duty. And if he manages to be in the area of the park and is able to take in part of it (it's a home game that's in town unlike the upcoming away games), people see him stopping there in uniform for a few minutes to see his son and complaints roll in that he is on the clock and should be working, not taking a little time to see his son at his soccer game. It has happened. Many times. I have had people say to my face, "They just sit around at the firehouse. They aren't really working." I usually respond with something along the lines of "No, they aren't working every minute of a 24 hour shift, but when they have to work they definitely earn it. Like tonight when you're in bed at 3 a.m. and he is out on an ambulance call."

Take this weekend for example. He came home yesterday exhausted after his 24 hour shift (he gets off at 6 a.m.) and said that their shift had 14 calls and that he had slept only 3 hours the night before. Yet, knowing that we had plans to go to the water park as a family that afternoon, he took a quick catnap (about 45-minutes) then drove us to a water park 45-minutes away so we could have some fun for a few hours. Last night as we gathered to watch a family movie together, he barely got half way though and he was asleep. Then he was up  at 5 a.m. this morning to work another shift. So, I'm here at home with the kids and heading off alone to a soccer game with my 10-year-old this afternoon. I spent a little time this morning online reading blogs and Facebook pages by other wives of firefighters. Firefighters have a brotherhood. We wives kind of have this sisterhood thing going. Even if you're reading something written by a complete stranger on the other side of the country, if she's a wife of a firefighter, she understand the life like no one else can.

So, it made me think back to this column I wrote for our local paper last Christmas. It kind of sums up our life - the craziness of it, the fear, the pride, the relief, the sacrifice. It originally ran here  as my Mom Moments column in the Times.

Every day he comes home is a gift

The presents have been unwrapped and stockings emptied. Another Christmas has passed and each year the material things mean less and the really important things are cherished more - the family and friends that you get to spend precious time with.
This year my kids spent Christmas without their father because he was at work at the firehouse with the others on his shift, ready to respond to any emergency that may arise on the holiday. It's just something that comes along with the job and that we've learned to adjust to.
I couldn't be prouder of my husband's career choice as a professional firefighter and paramedic. While it's a job that carries lots of risks, a lot of days are on the routine side (if you could call it that), with no fires to put out and patients to shuttle to the hospital for only minor ailments. So, for the families of firefighters, you can put your mind at ease, knowing that the dangers are not present every moment of every day. But then again, they can occur at any moment of any day.
You watch movies like "Backdraft" and "Ladder 49" and can kind of dismiss it as Hollywood drama, but in the back of your mind, you realize that there could be a day that someone you know could be in that position, falling through a burning roof or at the bottom of the collapse.
With the bleak state of the economy, the state government has put blame on public pensions, including those for firefighters. I've been reading more on why the system is set up the way it is - how the fire service aims to retire firefighters in their fifties rather than sixties as it can be done most effectively by a young workforce; and how it takes such a physical and mental toll on them over the years; and how firefighters are ineligible for social security that the general population receives. In a disaster, they are heroes, but when they collect a pension after 20-plus years of hard work, they become villains to taxpayers.
I've also been looking at statistics that I knew existed, but were easier to ignore, like the increased risks of cancer. With certain types of cancers, a firefighter has as much as a 102 percent higher risk than the general population of being diagnosed. Firefighters are also at higher risk for cardiac issues and other respiratory diseases.
There are more dangers to a firefighter than being in a fire. There are long-term effects that often rob them of the retirement that they've worked long and hard for. Many times they don't make it until retirement or don't last very long after they do. They do their work in all kinds of weather, on busy roadways, in the homes of strangers and in myriad situations that most would not want to be in. When people don't know who to call, they call the fire department.
Then there's the whole other side to it - the scars that you don't see. It affects you emotionally when you see a child dying in front of you despite your best efforts to save them or when you have to pick up the pieces of a teenager who ended his life by stepping in front of a train. Some have more of these moments in their careers than others, but they never forget them.
Firefighting isn't a job. It's a way of life for those who choose it. It is a brotherhood. No one can fully understand it, not even those they come home to.
And following the Christmas shift - as well as every other one - when he comes safely through the door, that's the best gift of all.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

First day of school: then and now

The last couple weeks have been pretty crazy. I always try to cram as much fun as I can into those last few days off. Then there's all the school shopping and preparing. Today they are off to school for their third day of school (the second full day.) And after they go off this morning, I'll finally breath a little sigh.

This year, I had four heading off to school - 8th grade, 5th grade, 4th grade and 2nd grade. My oldest, now a high school graduate started his first night at the fire academy this week and he'll continue his part time job at Subway and his other side job mowing lawns.

The other night as I was scrambling to get supplies together, I thought back on the first day of school for my first son. Although he had been in preschool for two years, it seemed so much harder dropping him off for kindergarten. Preschool, after all, is optional. Kindergarten is mandatory and permanent and every day of the week and symbolizes over a decade of the same to come.

I recall bringing him to classroom and doing a puzzle with him and exploring the classroom. I knew it was time to go when the last of the other moms disappeared and it was just me. He was in a small, private school with the kindergarten class separate from the rest of the upper grades and with a separate entrance in the preschool wing. So, out the door I went to the tiny parking lot on the quiet street. I pulled up in front of the school to take a picture for my scrapbook and I remember that I couldn't focus. I was sobbing and my eyes were filled with tears and I couldn't see through the viewfinder. I had just left my baby in the care of someone else - something that so rarely happened when he was that age - and I was so apprehensive. It was an afternoon half-day class that lasted about 2 1/2 hours. Of course, he did fine and went on to have a wonderful year with his teacher (a male kindergarten teacher!) and his classmates.

Fast forward about 13 years and I'm sending all his brothers off for their first day of school. It's not quite as hard as it used to be. In fact, I was always a mom who's heart sank when I heard others moms talk about how they couldn't wait to send their kids back to school and couldn't wait for summer to be over. To me, I cherished that time when they were all home during the summer and there were long carefree days together. The past couple years, though, I started to get it. While I still would never say I couldn't stand having them at home, like I've heard some moms say, I can understand the anticipation in getting back into a routine and after weeks of hearing them bicker over silly stuff, I have even come to enjoy that quiet time when the house is empty.

My last one going off to his first day of kindergarten two years ago was so much different. At the school he attends, parents aren't even permitted to be in the school on the first day of school. It's a policy I am still very opposed to and I'm not afraid to say so. To me, it gives a feeling of distrust and a need for control and it offends me to be shut out of an important day in my child's life -- and in some cases I think it toughens the transition for everyone. It makes it feel like an inner city school that is run like a juvenile detention center, not a suburban school. But, that's a topic for another day.

So, on his first day, I packed up his supplies and took a picture. His dad was off work that morning, so we all went to take them for the first day of school. My little guy looked so little with so many older kids wandering around. We found his line and he got in the back behind kids he had never met, going into a place that was unfamiliar. It was hard to watch him walk away from me, following the line into the building, but I held it together.

This year, he was off to second grade. I still can't wrap my head around it. It feels like I should still be walking him into his preschool class and doing finger paints and dress up with him on the first day. But, it's not that way anymore. The night before, I was scrounging up school supplies and sloppily marking names on boxes. I used to neatly print names on every pencil. The next morning, I didn't even go to school drop off. I let dad do the deed on his own. I waved to them as they got into the car and then headed off. Unlike when I sent them off to school in previous years, there was no Oprah to tune in to and I had a job outside of the home to get off to.

It all goes by so quickly and so much of their childhood is a blur, but those first days stick with me...and I'm sure they stick with them as well.

Friday, August 24, 2012

How long does it take you to use a box of crayons?

I know I'm going to sound like a nagging complainer. It's just that the last few days before school starts turn me into a crazy woman and someone even I don't want to be around as I am scouring stores for obscure or high demand items on supply lists. And at the end of the year a lot of the stuff comes back unused. I don't want this to come across as anti-teacher, because I am not at all. I love all the caring educators who have taken care of my little ones over the years. I appreciate them. I value their expertise. I sympathize with them. And the last thing I want is for them to have to dig into their pockets to provide materials for my children. Yet, I still shake my heads when I look at some of the lists of supplies.

Maybe it's because I think back on my own childhood. I don't think there was a specific list of items you had. It was just assumed that you bring the basics - notebook paper, #2 pencils, pens, crayons, glue. If you didn't have something you needed or you ran out, you went down to the bookstore and bought an extra pencil for a dime or a notebook for a quarter. No one else took care of it for you. Teachers weren't expected to provide supplies for their students. Other students or parents weren't expected to provide extra supplies so that there was enough to go around. If you didn't have notebook paper and didn't have a quarter to go buy more in the bookstore, you bummed a piece of paper from a friend and made sure to bring a quarter the next day. It was a pretty good system, in my opinion. It taught kids to be accountable, not entitled.

I know it's a different age. There's more required for learning than a pencil, paper, a textbook and a chalkboard. But how much more is really required? At home, I have a box of crayons that the kids use when they want to color. Sure, some get broken or worn down over time, but I can guarantee that I have crayons in that box that are older than my younger kids. Yes, you want to provide them each year with new stuff. But then at the end of the year, it gets discarded - or the old crayons come back home and go into my crayon box at home. This year I bought 10 boxes of crayons for three kids. One kid needing four boxes to last less than 10 months seems a little questionable, but it's on the list, so I buy it.

Dry erase markers are used often in classes for smart boards these days, but one of my kids' list required that they provide 16. And those - on sale - average about a dollar each. I just don't get it. Even using it every day, a marker should last you a month - easily. Are they just being over-prepared? Are they anticipating half the kids not having the needed supplies, so the ones that are buying them are covering the surplus? I'm not sure.

It seriously caused a hardship this year getting into the hundreds of dollars just to send them off on the first day with a new outfit, a new lunchbox and a backpack full of supplies. Seventeen spiral notebooks at $1.19 each. 3 boxes of ziplock bags at $2.49 each. 22 folders at 49 cents each. It adds up. Some of the items I snagged on sale - a box of erasers for a penny, a pack of notebook paper for 49 cents. But the total was insane. I guess I should be thankful that they aren't using laptops and tablets that would cost hundreds more. And at least I don't have to worry about paying tuition anymore. For many years, I had one in private school or had kids in private preschool with hefty tuition payments. Ok, my rant is done. I'm going to go make out my to-do list in a notebook my son brought home at the end of last school year with only four pages used and with a pen that is probably five years old.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

For all the chameleon moms out there

I really wanted to share the info in this post and couldn't find a link to it anywhere to share on my Facebook or Twitter pages. It showed up in my inbox and so I'm pasting it below. It is the original work of Jill Fleener Savage from Hearts at Home.

My sister and I attended the Hearts at Home conference this past spring in Bloomington, Illinois. It was a refreshing weekend full of information (much of it Christ-centered) for mothers to help encourage them in their important roles.

This newsletter article by Jill is titled "Are You a Chameleon Mom?" I can certainly relate. Like her, I am a mom of five. And in raising multiple children, you realize how each child is different and how you need to adapt to the needs, personalities and interests of each one. In my batch, I have a couple who are quiet and sensitive, one who is outgoing. I have one who gets completely engaged watching documentaries and taking in new information on obscure subject and another who would be totally bored doing the same. I have one dramatic one who has no problem being on stage and then another one who likes theater from behind the scenes and likes to do lighting and sounds and stage work, but would be scared to death to act or sing in front of someone.

I know I've written blogs and columns along the same lines. Each child is different. Each one will be interested in different things and I've always had the attitude that when you love someone, their dreams become yours as well. Even if it's not something I would be particularly interested in, I delight in their enjoyment and accomplishments. Sometimes I learn that I like things I never thought I would, like watching skateboarding or riding an ATV or camping. Moms have to be a lot of things and the term "chameleon mom" fits many of us I'm sure. So, this is Jill's take on the subject. Find her on Facebook at "Jill Fleener Savage" or  "Hearts at  Home" or visit

From the monthly Hearts at Home newsletter:

Every child is unique and as moms, we have to learn to embrace their uniqueness.

When my daughter Erica was 15 she loved to go to the mall.  She loved to shop, but even more she wanted to see how outfits were put together or how clothing was constructed.  She dreamed of becoming a fashion designer someday.  My daughter loved shopping. I hate shopping.  
When my two youngest sons were 9 and 12, they loved sports.  Between the two of them, there were dozens of baseball, soccer, and basketball games to attend.     They both loved the competition and action of sports.   I barely knew what the words "offense" and "defense" meant.

Our two older kids loved music.  They were involved in choir, school musicals, and theatre.  As a music teacher myself, I loved being a part of their activities throughout grade school, junior high, and high school.  It was a natural fit to be involved in what they were involved in.  I could support their interests because they were my interests too!

My three younger children taught me some new mothering lessons.  Just like a chameleon changes colors to blend in with its environment, I learned to adapt to my surroundings and blend in with my environment.  I learned to be a chameleon mom.

What is a chameleon mom?  She's a mom who realizes her child's interests are different than her interests.  Rather than discouraging their interests, she chooses to adapt and take on the colors around her.  What that meant for me was that I went to the mall more often-not because I to love to shop, but because I was committed to learning a new way to love my daughter.  I wanted to step into her world.  I wanted to be her primary influence.  I wanted to spend time with her. 

For my boys, I've learned the language of sports.  There are positions, strategies, and rules to understand.  I mastered the sign language of referees and umpires.  I worked to step into their world and share in their interests. 

Do any of your children have different interests than you have as a parent? If so, you might need to become a chameleon parent.  Here are some tips I found helpful in my effort to embrace my children's unique interests: 
  • Resist the urge to try to change your child's interests.  Celebrate their differences and launch into learning about their world.
  • Tame your fears about the future. One mom confided to me that she had been discouraging her daughter's interest in the fashion industry because of her own fears about the environment her daughter might work in someday.  Set your own fears aside and let your child explore.
  • Ask questions. Children feel valued when mom and dad show interest in what they are doing.  What was your favorite part of the game?  What does this term mean?  What interests you most about this?
  • Acquire knowledge. Go to the library or surf the Internet to find more information and educate yourself.
  • Connect them to learning opportunities. Watch for community education classes.  Arrange for them to shadow someone working in their area of interest.  Let them explore their interests freely under your guidance and encouragement.   
Children need a mom who is involved and invested in their life.  They need to know that we're willing to step into their world. 

It's interesting to note that chameleons change their color as a form of protection from their predators.   You and I have to do the same.  Our predators are busyness, work and volunteer responsibilities, fatigue, and general disinterest in things our children might be interested in.  We need to adapt to our environment to protect and prioritize the relationships that matter the most. 

Here's some good news: sometimes their environment doesn't last very long.  Children's interests change over time.  Even if their interests stay steady, they grow up and leave home in the blink of an eye. You only need to change colors for a short season of time.  Before you know it, you can go back to the color that matches your interests and environment...until, of course, you become chameleon grandparents!

Joining you in the journey,

Jill Savage

Mom to Anne, Evan, Erica, Kolya, and Austin
Nana to Rilyn and Landon

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

I see so many blogs doing Worldess Wednesday posts and thought I'd join in. So, no words this time, just a peaceful picture. :)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Conquering the summer bucket list

So, at the start of the summer I made a list of activities I wanted to do with the kids. Not an all-inclusive list. There are things not on this list that we did. Some were planned. Some were spur of the moment. There were things on this list we did more than once. I just made the list to record some places I wanted to visit that we may not have visited before and I thought it would help me get them done to check them off the list. Today, I re-evaluated the list, which originally had 50+ items. My goal was to do at least half. When I looked at it today, I eliminated a few things. For instance, I had three splash pads listed, but I realized that my kids are really getting too old to enjoy splash pads. We may still visit the closest one if we have an idle day that's warm. I also deleted Wihala Beach because we've visited three other beaches. So, after today, the list has 44 places. We've visited 26. That's more than half! Goal met. And there's still a couple more weeks before school starts, so we may cross off a couple more. I still would really like to camp overnight and hit the county fair. Here's what the list looks like as of today and here's some pictures of some of our summer activities:

X                      Pool visit (maybe get passes)
X                      Sand Ridge Nature Center
X                      Zig E’s Funland
Albanese Candy Co.
Deep River Water Park
          XXXXX               Library visit
Chelberg Farm
Wicker Park Splash Pad
X                     Indiana Dunes
X                     Frozen Yogurt Express in Munster
X                     Free Movie at Lansing 8
                       Zoo (Broofield or Washington Park)
X                     Picnic at a local Park
XXX                Kite flying
XX                  Berry Picking (strawberries and blueberries)
                       Downtown day via Metra train
                       Roller Skating (free passes from school)
X                    Tyler’s Tender (free kid meal from birthday club)
                       Mini Golf
X                     49-er Drive In
X                     Berry Picking (blueberries)
X                     Green Lake Aquatic Center
                        Hollywood Park
XXXX              Cubs game
X                      Tyler’s Tender (take report cards – 5 tokens for each A)
X X                  Out for a family breakfast/lunch
X                      Boat ride      
X                      Find a new park to visit
                        County fair
                        Minor league baseball game
 X                    Chinatown
                        Try Dairy Belle in Hammond
                        Hoosier Theatre
X                      Try a new restaurant
                        Movie in the Park
XX                   Attend a parade
                        Overnight at a campground
X                      Farmer’s Market
X                      Summer Concert
XXX                 Dairyville
                        Vintage Base Ball Game
                        Navy Pier
X                     Cruise Night

This guy was our pet for the week. Until we couldn't find anymore live crickets or grasshoppers to feed it and we let it go in the garden.

Archery at Bristol Renaissance Faire

Ice cream at Taste of Wisconsin

Chillin' by the Pierhead Lighthouse in Kenosha

Taking a tour at Jelly Belly Center

Kenosha Public Museum

Riding the streetcar along the lake in Kenosha

In the water at Eichelman Park in Kenosha

Dinosaur Discovery Museum

Russell Military Museum

Pizza at Beggar's Pizza on Tuesday night for the organ player

Preschool reunion at Centennial Park

Wine tasting with Svengoolie in Munster

LCPL Philip J. Martini Memorial Foundation Fundraiser


Going for a bike ride

Indiana Dunes

Munster July 4th Parade

Lan Oak Park for the Grand Ole Fourth

4th of July Fireworks in Lansing

Farmer's Market

Russell Military Museum

Monday, August 6, 2012

Blue Nothing

Last month was a busy one and I didn't post a lot on here. But, it's now August. Things are slowing down a bit. School registration is this week. I'm starting to gather the school supplies and getting things organized for the kids return to school in just two weeks. So, it's time to fill you in on some of what I've been doing this summer. Last week we took a brief trip up over the border to Kenosha, Wisconsin. We spent three days there, visiting some museums, the Bristol Renaissance Faire, the Jelly Belly Center and I spent as much time by the water as I could. All three days we spent some time by the Lake Michigan. 

The first day, we visited the Taste of Wisconsin and walked along the lake. On the third day before heading out of town we stopped at Eichelman Park for a picnic and some swimming. These pictures are from our second day. We visited Jelly Belly in the morning and took a drive through the historic district, where, at the conclusion of our drive, we stumbled upon Eichelman Park and stopped to eat the lunch we planned on eating at the beach that afternoon. Then we went to the Kenosha Public Museum and took a ride on the electric streetcar. Then we spent the rest of the afternoon a public beach on Simmon's Island. 

It's so relaxing to sit on the beach and look at out and see nothing but blue. Blue sky and blue water and that's it. Well, maybe a boat or a gull or a straggling beach-goer here or there, but for the most's nothing but blue water and blue sky. I even catnapped for a short time and that was soooo nice! Is there anything better than a nap on the beach?

I love the playground equipment at the beach.

And yeah, the only thing more peaceful than being out on a beach and looking at nothing is looking out at a lighthouse.

 And I'm not a big fan of sand (moms know what I'm talking gets EVERYWHERE!), but this sure is lovely isn't it?

And the boys are definitely fans of sand!

An evening of music under the stars

I love music and try to expose my kids to all kinds of music. I love attending concerts with my kids and with my father, who always had classical music on the car radio or the home record player when we were kids. Last weekend, I took my youngest son and my dad to a concert in Crown Point that was part of the free concert series by the Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra. What a wonderful evening. Wish I would have thought of it and planned ahead -- some people had some big spreads set up with tables with tableclothes and candles and lots of good food. I bought a couple candy bars at intermission and we sat in our lawn chairs and listened to the music as it got dark.

My little guy had brought his Nintendo DS for the half hour ride and played on it for part of the performance. It was cute to see him perk up, though, when he recognized some of the music - like the music from Star Wars!

We sat pretty far back - there was a BIG crowd, but it sounded wonderful from where we were sitting.

And my son loved these dogs! He kept going over to pet them.:)

It was a nice night. Reminds me that I need to play a little more Mozart and Bach around the house!

I've been nominated for the Liebster Award

A comment was left for me on my blog this week, telling me I was nominated for the Liebster Award! How nice! The Award is bestowed on bloggers by other bloggers. It is for up and coming bloggers with less than 200 followers and when you're nominated, you do the same for others...setting off a chain reaction of introducing less visible blogs to others who read blogs. I was nominated by Thanks, Jessika!

"Liebster" is German and means sweetest, kindest, dearest, beloved. 

Here is how the Liebster Award works: 

1. Each nominee must post 11 things about themselves.

2. Answer the questions that the tagger set for you and create 11 questions for bloggers you've tagged.

3. Choose up to 11 bloggers and link them in your post.

4. Go to their page and tell them. 

5. No tag backs. 

Eleven Things About Me
1.  I am a mom of five boys.
2.  I also write a food blog (with my sister, Becky) called Chicago Foodie Sisters.
3.  I love to travel and also do a lot of travel writing.
4.  I have a dog.
5.  I am an author of four books.
6.  I am one of six kids.
7.  I work as a newborn baby photographer in a hospital.
8.  I make yummy soups!
9.  I'm not big on chic flicks - I like comedies. Anything with Rowan Atkinson, Dana Carvey, Kevin James, Adam Sandler.
10. I saw Paul McCartney live last year - best concert ever.
11. I am a gleek.

And the for the 11 questions from Jessika...

1. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go? England

2. What is your go-to, when all else fails comfort food? anything chocolate

3.  What do you do to pay the bills? Freelance writer, photographer and hubby's salary. :)

4. What is your favorite food? cheese

5. What is your favorite quote/saying? "We've got both kinds of music - country and western."

6. What is the best piece of advice someone has given you, and did you follow it? If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all - from my mom. I try to follow it.

7. What is the craziest thing you ever did growing up? I guess I wasn't a crazy kid because I can't think of anything crazy enough to list.

8) What is one thing that makes you smile no matter what? My kids

9) Who do you miss more than anything? My brother-in-law who died of cancer at age 42

10) Do you have a favorite hobby? cooking and blogging

11) Why do you blog? I do three blogs - Adventures in Motherhood ( to vent on parenting issues and share the moments of motherhood, Chicago Foodie Sisters ( to share my love of everything food and Midwest Family Traveler (to share the fun fun things to do in the Midwest that I enjoy.)

And now for the people I am nominating for the Liebster award!!!

1. One Chic Mom -
2. Building on Joy -
3. Homesteadin' in the Burbs -
4. World Class Cookin' -
5. My Bizarre Family -

And here are my questions for you:

1. What's your favorite food?
2. What's your favorite holiday?
3. Your biggest regret in life?
4. How many kids do you have?
5. If you could travel anywhere, where would it be?
6. Who is your favorite celebrity?
7. Favorite song of all time?
8. Chocolate or vanilla?
9. Best bit of advice you've gotten?
10. Most recent book you've read?
11. Who's the most famous person you've met?