Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Words of Wisdom for 2014

Among the holiday parties this past month was one where we had a grab bag exchange and in our gift we were to add some advice for the new year. So, just thought I'd share mine.

Words of wisdom for 2014:

Hug often.

Listen intently.

Eat sweets.

Be interested.

Never stop learning.

Have passion.

Accept compliments.

Be better.

Don’t diet.

Take chances.

Be jolly.

Embrace change.

Hold doors for old ladies.

Play with little kids.

Smile even if it seems like you don’t have anything to smile about.

Love those who are close like you might not see them tomorrow.

Do good when no one is watching.

Don’t waste a minute.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Pros and cons of tradition according to a 12-year-old

In my years of mothering I've come to realize how much our kids appreciate traditions - at least some of them. They like to see the same routines and customs year after year. My oldest is probably stuck on traditions more than any of them. Even as a teenager, he always requested to make our annual trip to the pumpkin farm or to go to the Santa House like we've done every year since he was a baby. He enjoys looking forward to things like this.

One of our family traditions has been taking a family drive every year for a real Christmas tree. Initially we would drive out to a lot in Alsip near where my husband and his dad worked and pick out a tree from the Wisconsin tree farmer that hauled his trees down here to the suburbs. After a while he moved to a different lot in Crestwood, and we followed, but when he abandoned that one and the only locations left were about an hour away, we decided to find a new place after probably 15 years. That year we decided to cut down out own tree. The next year we found a place on the Munster/Highland border and we followed up with dinner afterwards at Texas Corral, a favorite of the boys mostly because you get to dig into a big bucket of peanuts and drop your shells wherever you wish. That became our new tradition and we've kept it up year after year.

Today we decided we would go pick out a tree in the afternoon and follow up with dinner. Well, this afternoon I had to run an errand and drove past our normal spot and didn't see the usual sign. I pulled in and there were no trees anywhere.

My 12-year-old was with me. He's Mr. Rule Follower. Mr. Practical. Mr. Logical. He questions why we get a real tree. "Mom, do you know how much money you'd save if you got a fake tree?" he asked. "You spend 80 dollars on a tree. That's $800 you spend in 10 years. You could buy one tree and save yourself all that money!"

I tried to explain that it wasn't about the money, it was about preference and tradition. Then he gave all the other pros of owning an artificial tree. "The needles won't fall off. You won't have to water it. It won't dry out. You won't have to clean up needles." He was trying hard to prove his point. I told him that he was correct on all counts, but that we get a real tree because it's tradition, even if it is expensive and messy. But I told him that when he grows up and has his own house, he'll get to decide if he wants to carry them on or start his own. "Do you want to have a fake tree instead of a real tree and root for the Yankees instead of the Cubs when you are older?" I asked him. "Yeah, what's wrong with that?" he asked. "Nothing," I said. "Nothing at all. It will all be up to you. You're your own person and you'll be able to decide." And I really wasn't sad about the thought of him dissing our family traditions, I was excited at the idea of him coming up with his own.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Being too aware during cancer awareness month

My, my my...how time flies. I can't tell you how many little notes I scratched on to slips of paper with ideas for blog posts, but, you know...life gets in the way and things don't always get done. My last post was well over a month ago just after the kids were back in school. September was Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. This year I seem to be more aware of cancer than I ever have been after losing my father-in-law to cancer a few months ago and knowing a few others who have been battling the disease.

Not too long before that I had been to cover a camp for kids with cancer and among the kids I came across was one I recognized. I had no idea she had cancer. She's an adorable little girl I recognized from reading to classrooms over the past couple years. She's the same age as my youngest son - age 8. I thought perhaps it was her first time attending camp and she was recently diagnosed, but when I asked her, I think she said it was her fourth year there. I left and cried much of the way home thinking about this little girl and how fortunate I am that my kids are so healthy.

During September, I also learned that a little boy who had been in class with a couple of my boys who had cancer had been doing poorly. Last spring his former teacher held a fundraiser to send him and his family on a trip to Disney Land. And thanks to her help, his wish was granted to take a trip with his family. He lost his battle with cancer later that month.

Cancer is such an awful disease and to see how it affects adults is hard enough, but to see it affect kids is so heartbreaking. And it makes you hug your kids a little tighter and makes the small stuff seem so trivial.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Feeling needed even when you're not

After a few days out of town and way too much to catch up on, I wasn't feeling well. I decided to lay down in my dark bedroom and hope my dull headache would subside. About an hour later, I woke up with the headache almost gone and feeling a little more refreshed. I looked at the clock. It was past lunch time. I couldn't believe it had been quiet enough for me to sleep a little bit and that no one woke me up asking for something to eat.

I was still feeling groggy and tossed around in bed a little longer. Then my stomach was grumbling, too, and I figured I better get out of bed. I came down the stairs and there was my just-turned-10-year-old in front of the television with a plate. He'd made himself a salad and a quesadilla while I was napping. I felt better that he had eaten something and at the same time I felt guilty that I hadn't done it for him and even a little bad that he was able to pull off a good meal on his own without my help.

As moms, our ultimate goal is to raise children to be independent and self-sufficient who don't have to depend on us for every little thing. But, as moms, we also like to take care of our children and we like to do things for them. That transition period when they are moving into doing things on their own can be a hard one for moms. It makes us feel good when we see they can make a meal on their own, but it's still nice to get a request for a peanut butter and jelly with the crust cut off.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Granderson's book has a great message

I was at a book sale at the library today and spotted a copy of this, which I grabbed. It is honestly one of my favorite children's books. Most of my favorites are traditional bedtime stories with colorful artwork that involve animals and hugs and words that rhyme.

This book, All You Can Be: Dream It, Draw It, Become It by Curtis Granderson offers great advice to young kids and teens about being successful, handling peer pressure, hard work and priorities. Granderson is a professional athlete, who currently plays in the major leagues as an outfielder for the New York Yankees. He also happens to be a graduate of the high school here in my town. I've seen first hand how much he does to give back and he is quite an inspiration to young and old.

When I first got a copy of the book a couple years ago, I wanted the boys to all read it. Since I admit I have slacked on reading together since my youngest one learned to read, I decided we could read it at dinner time when everyone is at the table. Each night one of the boys would read a chapter out loud and we'd all listen. When it was finished, they liked the routine so much that we went through it a second time.

It's a short book that older kids can get through quickly, but I really enjoyed having all the kids read it together and reading it over several days. The book also contains drawings done by fourth-graders that the kids enjoyed looking at.

The hardcover book is available on Amazon - http://www.amazon.com/All-You-Can-Be-Become/dp/1600782477.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Freedom with a side of loneliness

I'm typing this up in an empty hotel room 150 miles from home. I have never, ever stayed in a hotel room all by myself. I've stayed in hotel rooms with my husband and my kids and my sisters and my parents. But this time it's all me.

I've been on many trips that were work related and this one is, too, but every other work trip has been taken with my husband and kids. This time, the kids are in bed at home getting some rest before school tomorrow. So, I decided to take the trip on my own.

I admit, it was freeing to do the drive by myself. I got to pick what was on the radio - the 80's station most of the way. I ate dinner without having to order any kid meals or cut someone else's meat and I washed my dinner down with a margarita. I checked into my hotel and didn't have to trip over suitcases and shoes or fight over which bed I'd get or have little ones bugging me to take them down to the pool. I watched the Video Music Awards on MTV, something I would never watch at home with the kids around. It was followed up with an R-rated profanity laced movie. Two big beds all to myself. I can stay up and eat potato chips in bed. It's something I haven't experienced before and I'm taking full advantage of it.

However, I can't help but feel a little lonely. There's no one here to kiss goodnight. No one to snuggle with. If I was at home, I'd be spending my evening packing lunches, going over homework and folding laundry before tucking them in. I keep thinking to myself, "Brandon would love this." or "Ian would have so much fun here." I stopped in a candy store and bought goodies to bring home for the little guys. I bought some bling for the bigger boys. And tomorrow it sure will be nice to see them all again.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Feeling Pinteresty

Ok, I am like the opposite of crafty. I think I used to be semi-crafty...back before I had kids and when I just had one little kid and a bit of patience left. Anyway...this was one of the gifts I gave my sister for her baby shower. It might even be worthy of posting on Pinterest. :)

So, my sis is an AVID reader. She was reading way before kindergarten and has been a big reader ever since. I even recall once in jr. high or high school that I had a test on a book the next day that I hadn't read and Becky stayed up all night to finish it and give me the Cliff's Notes version the next day. I don't recall if she offered or if I coerced her or bribed her. She reads all the time and reads books over and over again and probably her favorite author is J. K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series. The baby's nursery will have a Harry Potter and owl theme.

So, since she is such a reader, I wanted to start her off with a nice library. I had about 40 books for her - some Disney classics and Margaret Wise Brown and Richard Scarry, etc. - a combination of some new ones I'd bought and some I was passing on from my kids that were bedtime favorites. I have a hard time parting with books I remember reading to my kids, but in passing them on for my nephew I was okay with letting go of them.

So, I started with a cardboard box from Aldi that was open in the front giving you a view of what's inside. I needed to cover the product words on the box. So, this was one side:

The silver stars gave it the "wizard" look, I thought, to go with her Harry Potter theme.

Here's the front of the box with the words "Mugglette Inspiration" at the bottom.

And this was the other side. I had fun pulling quotes about reading from well-known authors off the Internet to put here. :)

And then I did my best at coming up with a poem - at 1:15 a.m. the night before the shower, LOL!!!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Having summer second thoughts

The last few summers I've been pleased with how I planned out activities for the kids to keep them occupied. They've done summer enrichment programs, sports camps, a mission trip for youth group, swimming lessons, reading programs. It did put a damper on things when I wanted to schedule a trip and then couldn't because much of the summer was scheduled, but overall I was glad there was some structure and a schedule and things planned to prevent them from becoming couch potatoes.

You see, I don't do structure and scheduling well when left on my own. In my head, I will think, "Maybe tomorrow we'll go to the pool or the park. Then I get busy cleaning a sock drawer or writing an article or surfing the Web and before I know it it's 5:30 in the afternoon. Having a set time to be at a summer school class makes it happen. I go into a lazy mode in the summer and that's what I'm trying to prevent in my kids. Although I want summer to be more relaxed, I don't want it to be a stay-up-til-2 a.m. playing Minecraft-lounge-on-the-sofa-all-day-live-the-life-of-a-vampire kind of summer.

As the school year ended, I was just a bit overwhelmed. My father-in-law's health was declining and he passed away at the end of May. His memorial was a couple weeks later. We were also getting a party together to celebrate my parents' 50th wedding anniversary. All of that going on, combined with the regular busy stuff of the end of the school year and work commitments just had me completely drained.   I wasn't in a peppy lets-plan-out-the-summer mode. We were all in a sad, droopy kind of mode at the beginning of summer that we're finally getting out of.

However, my worst fears were realized as soon as school was done. One of my teenagers slept 'til noon every day for the first couple weeks off. I was staying up late since I had no reason to be up early and because nighttime is the easiest time to get work done when the kids aren't in school and are now around 24/7, preventing you from getting into a zone of concentration. I spent about 2 weeks going to bed at 2 or 3 a.m. and sleeping until 10 a.m. It seemed we were all wandering with no direction. So, I'm going to buckle up and map out the rest of our summer as much as I can. I'll leave some lazy days here and there to do nothing. A little bit of nothing is a good thing, a lot of nothing - not so much.

I thought maybe it would be good for us all to just have some unscheduled time and chill. And it was. Well, I think we've had enough of it. Like five weeks of it.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Dear Sons: Don't forget

Dear Sons:

(Letter #20)

As you grow up, some things will stand out more than others. There are so many days in a year, I know not that many will make it into your mental bank. I just hope you'll pick out some of these good times and keep them with you.

Us baking together.

Going to pick berries together.

Saturday nights in front of the TV watching Dracula movies.

Going on vacations together.

Hanging out in the back yard together.

Going to the drive-in movies.

Going to Cubs games.

Snuggling at bedtime.

There are lots of mundane days where nothing particularly exciting happens. Not every day is Christmas or Halloween. But there are lots of special moments in those routine days. Don't forget them.

Going slow

Summer technically didn't begin until a couple weeks ago, but the kids were out of school by the end of May, so that means that summer break is about half over. It seems like more should be accomplished by now, but things are going slow. Just as the school year was ending, my father-in-law passed away after fighting cancer. Things just kind of seemed like they stopped then and it's been hard to get moving again.

Each child reacted differently to losing Grandpa. He was a big part of our lives. There have been so many times in the past month and a half where he should have been there -- my son's 8th grade graduation, his birthday, his confirmation, our local annual parade, his grandson's soccer tournament, another grandson's little league games, a barbecue with his nephew who visited from Germany, planting seeds in the garden, our first back yard barbecue of the season, father's day, a trip to a UPick farm in Michigan we liked to go to, the Flag Day Parade, the 4th of July, my parent's anniversary party, a trip up to Michigan for lunch at his favorite place. We're really missing him and everything just seems to be moving at a different pace.

It's been hard on my husband losing his dad and now helping with the task of cleaning our his childhood home for his mother's eventual move to a different place. That's going slow, too. But I guess that's how it should be.

Summer is plugging along and there's a sense of urgency to get more things done since so many projects and obligations have been left undone or way behind. At the same time, it's time to slow down. It's time to enjoy those around you and savor their presence and give them your attention.

Monday, July 1, 2013

How did it get to be July already?

Wow. It's July. July! Really? JULY!!!!! That means the kids have been out of school for a full month. That means that in about 6 more weeks they'll be back in the classrooms. That means that this week the store shelves will already be filled with school supplies. Yet, it feels like summer has barely gotten underway.

Why do I always feel each summer like I'm racing to get so many things packed in. I don't enjoy it like I should. I wanted to spend this summer doing just that....not worry about getting so much packed in and relaxing more. Now that I look at my bucket list for the summer, I realize that I have packed a lot in so far.

We've already been to the beach several times, we did the drive in movies, had a picnic in the park, went to UPick farms twice, went to a couple ball games, tried out a new ice cream spot, went to the pool, went to a parade, went to a local fest, took some road trips, watched fireworks, went out to eat alone for our anniversary, flew kites, watched some sunsets and more. And it's not even the 4th of July. My summer bucket list has 42 items. Last year's goal was to get through half of it.

Right now we have accomplished more than half. I'm at 24 right now and some of the items have been repeated. So, now that I look at it that way, if I don't do a single thing the rest of the summer, the goal has already been met. I will definitely plan more, but now I'm not feeling the pressure as much.

My updated summer bucket list is below. Not that you care about what's on it...this is just how I keep track. :)

And here's what I'm putting down for this year (and I'm off to an okay start):

Visit at least one beach  XX
Visit a farm XX
Drive in movie X
Visit a new ice cream spot X
Find a new park to visit X
Go to a MLB baseball game  X
Go to a minor league game  X
Go to a farmer's market
Go to a cruise night
Camp overnight
Go to state or county fair
Visit a pool  X
Visit a carnival  X
Visit a water park
Visit an amusement park
Visit a zoo
Go to a parade  X
Watch fireworks  X
Go kite flying  X
See a new movie X
Berry picking X
Go to a concert
Have some festival food  X
Take a road trip  X
Have lunch at a new restaurant  X
Visit a local festival  X
Go fishing
Visit a nature center
Do a hike
Go to a UPick fruit or veggies/pick something new X
See a movie in the park
Do a family bike ride
Watch the sunset over the beach  X
Watch the sun set over a farm  X
Take a day trip into Chicago with family
Visit another state  XX
Go to a museum
Picnic in a park X
Make smores in the back yard
Backyard campout in a tent
Catch lightning bugs
One adults only outing (casino, nightclub or overnight getaway) X

Monday, June 24, 2013

Summer Bucket List

I'm getting the list together a little late, but I guess that's the theme this summer...go with the flow. I haven't planned much so far. School got out earlier than usual, but the start of the summer break was dampened by my father-in-law's passing. We had a memorial to plan and relatives visiting from Germany to see. Then my parents celebrated their 50th anniversary and there was planning for that. I'm looking back at last year's list and deciding that I don't want to make this year's list quite so specific. Here's what last year's looked like with some spots marked off mid-way through.

Pool visit (maybe get passes)
X                     Sand Ridge Nature Center
Zig E’s Funland
Albanese Candy Co.
Deep River Water Park
X X X               Library visit
Chelberg Farm
Wicker Park Splash Pad
Calumet City Fun Center
X                     Indiana Dunes
X                     Frozen Yogurt Express in Munster
X                     Free Movie at Lansing 8
                        Zoo (Broofield or Washington Park)
                        Picnic at a local Park
X X                  Kite flying
X X                  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                        Wihala Beach
X                     49-er Drive In
                        Berry Picking (blueberries)
X                       Green Lake Aquatic Center
                        Zoa Island
X                     Cubs game
                        Splash Pad (either Homewood or Valpo – one we haven’t been to)
                        Tyler’s Tender (take report cards – 5 tokens for each A)
                        Hollywood Park
                        Car Show
X X                  Out for a family breakfast/lunch
X                      Boat ride      
X                      Find a new park to visit
                        County fair
X                        Minor league baseball game
                        Try Dairy Belle in Hammond
                        Hoosier Theatre
                        Movie in the Park
X                      Attend a parade
                        Overnight at a campground
X                      Farmer’s Market
                        Summer Concert
X                      Dairyville
                        Vintage Base Ball Game
                        Navy Pier
                        Cruise Night

And here's what I'm putting down for this year (and I'm off to an okay start):

Visit at least one beach  X
Visit a farm
Drive in movie
Visit a new ice cream spot
Find a new park to visit
Go to a MLB baseball game  X
Go to a minor league game  X
Go to a farmer's market
Go to a cruise night
Camp overnight
Go to state or county fair
Visit a pool  X
Visit a carnival  X
Visit a water park
Visit an amusement park
Visit a zoo
Go to an arcade
Go to a parade  X
Watch fireworks  X
Go kite flying  X
See a new movie
Berry picking X
Go to a concert
Have some festival food  X
Take a road trip  X
Have lunch at a new restaurant  X
Visit a local festival  X
Go fishing
Visit a nature center
Do a hike
Go to a UPick fruit or veggies/pick something new
See a movie in the park
Do a family bike ride
Watch the sunset over the beach  X
Watch the sun set over a farm  X
Take a day trip into Chicago with family
Visit another state  XX
Go to a museum
Picnic in a park
Make smores in the back yard
Backyard campout in a tent
Catch lightning bugs
One adults only outing (casino, nightclub or overnight getaway)

What's on your summer bucket list?

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Mom & Dad celebrate 50 years

I was so happy that my parents celebrated 50 years of marriage this month. We celebrated with a nice party. All six kids were there and most of the grandkids and my aunt and some longtime family friends. It was a wonderful time. Here's a peek at the day.

Mom and Dad's friend Nola checking out photos.

Mom and her sister, who came from the Springfield area for the party.

Mom & Dad and all 6 kids

Most of the gang (minus a son-in-law, four grandkids (and a spouse of a granddaughter) and two great grandkids.

Dad and his youngest grandson. Another grandson is due in November. The oldest of the grandchildren turns 35 next month.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Marking one item off the summer bucket list

Well, it's now been two full weeks since the kids have been out of school. I haven't really felt like it has started. Things were busy as we planned my father-in-law's memorial visitation, visited with relatives from Germany and planned my parents' 50th wedding anniversary. My poor son who graduated 8th grade has yet to have a party...I can't seem to find a date that works out for us or any of the family and I've been so busy with other things that I've kind of dropped the ball. I have work piled up that I HAVE to get done. I've yet to even complete my summer bucket list, although I have a few things floating in my head that I'd like to do. I still have to sign up the kids for the summer camps. I got our pool passes purchased, but we've only been there once for less than 2 hours. Still, we've had a few fun days so far that have helped get us into the lazy summer mood.

One was yesterday as we celebrated Father's Day. One thing I want to do this summer is spend more time at the beach. I've finally gotten over my phobia of sand. :) Seriously, there's just no way to go to the beach and not end up with sand all over your vehicle and covering every inch of the kids. I've finally been able to let go of it and just enjoy a day at the beach and let the sand fall where it may. One thing I wanted to do this year was watch the sun set while we were at the beach and we accomplished that yesterday.

After a full day that included a drive up to Michigan, pancake breakfast at the firehouse, shopping in downtown Three Oaks, a walk through their community gardens, watching the 61st Annual Flag Day Parade, dinner at Nelson's Saloon, hanging out at the park, walking the downtown area and stopping for ice cream, I told my husband that parking is free after 8 p.m. at the New Buffalo Beach, so we decided we'd visit the beach before heading home. So, here's a look at our visit, from when we arrived to just before we left.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Goodbye to Grandpa

It's been 6 days now since my father-in-law left this world. I was at my son's little league game last weekend when my husband called me on my cell phone. "He's gone," he told me. 75 years on this earth and he was gone just like that.

It's not like we didn't see it coming. He had cancer. Things don't end well when the word cancer is involved. About 4 years ago during a routine check-up, a doctor discovered that he had an aortic aneurism, but before he could repair that a quadruple bypass was needed. That surgery came first. In the process of pre-surgery tests, a spot was noticed on his lung. Part of his lung was removed and it seemed that they'd gotten rid of the cancer. Finally, he had surgery to repair the aortic aneurism...it sure was a long route to get there...three major operations in about a year-and-a-half.

None of the operations seemed to slow him down. He was still doing everything he always did. Last summer, we were noticing a change in his voice. He also seemed to be getting winded more easily and more often. Our worst fears were confirmed last fall. The cancer was there again.

He started chemo and with that same invincible attitude he'd had all along, he bragged that he wasn't having side effects, even though we could see he was losing weight and energy. Within a week of his final chemo and radiation treatments, he was in the hospital with an infection. We weren't sure he'd ever leave the hospital, but he did. And even after he was home, we doubted he'd ever get out of the bed again, but he did. We didn't think he'd be able to leave the house again, but he did. Then over the past few weeks he declined. And we knew the end was inevitable. He had stage four cancer. We knew he wouldn't be recovering, but we'd seen him bounce back before and thought perhaps he'd do it again.

It's strange how each child reacts so differently to the same news. One doesn't hesitate to let the tears flow. Another is full of questions. Another shows no hint of emotion. Another retreats to another room. Another is in complete shock.

Just since he's been gone, there have been things this week I know he wouldn't have wanted to miss. He passed away the day before my oldest son's birthday. Three days later, his younger brother graduated from junior high and then today was his 14th birthday. We won't be gardening with him or watching parades or having barbecues. Those are the times we're going to really feel his absence because right now it's so fresh, it still feels like he's going to call on the phone or walk in the door.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Find your pink umbrella

Years into the mothering thing, something happens. You kind of lose yourself. You lose who you once were. That doesn't necessarily mean it's a bad thing. Sometimes you need to grow up and being responsible for little ones gives you direction. And sometimes you dive in so intensely that the world is wrapped up in feeding and clothing and taking care of little people that you forget to come up for air.

I'm mothering five sons. Sometimes, honestly I forget that I'm a girl. I really do. Cars, wrestling, bugs, dirt, soccer, muddy shoes, zombie invasions, skateboards, action movies, camouflage, tools, off-road excursions, aliens, dirty socks in balls under furniture, gigantic carnivorous appetites, baseball caps, Guitar Hero, pocket knives, toads found in the backyard. Not that girls can't be into any of the above, but they are the kinds of things that have become the norm.

And when you're a mom, it's pretty much a given that nothing is your own anymore, until the one day I discovered that some things can be. After three -- count them, THREE -- umbrellas had disappeared from my vehicle or the coat hook (all navy or dark colored), I scanned the rack at Walgreen's for a replacement. All they had were flowery and feminine ones. "Well, I can't get one of those," I thought to myself. "No one will be able to use it except for me."

That's when it happened. One of those "Ah-hah" moments that Oprah talks about. What's wrong with having something that is just for me? It had been a long time since such a thought entered my mind. Everything would still be ok in the world if I bought an umbrella that was hot pink and if no one else could use it except for me. I bought it. Sure enough, the boys were happy to get soaked if it meant not using a pink umbrella.

The pink umbrella was kind of a wake up for me. The guilt of getting something or doing something for myself lessened. Back when I was working full-time outside of the home, I had no trouble justifying going to get a massage or buying a new outfit to wear to the office. Now that I'm a working mom who happens to have my office in the corner of my dining room and who wears sweatpants more often than business suits, it just felt like I wasn't as deserving of such little extras as when I was the primary breadwinner. I got into the trap of thinking that I wasn't working as hard as other moms because I happen to have the luxury of working from home. And because I wasn't working full-time and bringing in a full-time income, I didn't feel I should splurge on things because there never seemed to be the spare cash to do so.

But when I put that pink umbrella in my hand, my attitude shifted. It's okay if I spend a morning and $25 on a pedicure. Why shouldn't it be? It's alright if I meet friends for lunch twice in one week. A lunch out isn't going to break the bank and I do enough cooking for others in the house - why shouldn't someone cook for me, too? If I see a cute top while running through Target to stock up on underwear and socks for the boys, why shouldn't I buy it?

My advice on Mother's Day is to find that pink umbrella in your life - something to remind you of who you are and that you need to be good to yourself. You're worth it!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Little life lessons

There probably isn't anything in this post you haven't heard before in one form or another. But sometimes even though you hear things, you don't really hear them. Sometimes you have to live them and experience them or see how someone else is affected before you really hear them and understand them. So, just a few little random lessons that I have picked up along the way.

You can't make other people do the right thing.
You can't make everyone happy, but you can make yourself miserable trying.
There's a consequence to everything you do, so choose wisely how you live your life.
Time waits for no one.
Make the most important people in your life the biggest priority.
You never know what a huge difference a few kind words can make.
The grass is greener where you water it.
Never hesitate to give a compliment.
Never turn down chocolate.
Sometimes the youngest people are the wisest.
Appreciate the little things - the meal you can enjoy, that you can take a walk, that you can bend and tie your shoes, that you can read, that you can hear, that you can see all the beautiful things in life.

Friday, April 12, 2013

It's not easy

If I had a nickel for every time someone told me how much easier boys are to raise than girls, I'd have a big ol' bag of change. I'm told often that I'm lucky to have all boys and how they are so easy compared to girls. Less worrying is what I'm told. Less stress they say. No drama. No hassles over clothes.

I beg to differ. Boys aren't easy or easier. They're different. There are different challenges. I have 5 boys. Some are easier than others in different areas. One gives me a hard time about doing homework. One never has to be told. One is really into clothes and very particular about what he wears. One could care less and hates to enter a store with me to pick something out. One gets an attitude quite often when he's told what to do. One never argues and simply says "Okay" to any request. One is really lazy about chores and always tries to get out of doing them. One simply knows what his are and does them without complaining. One irritates his brother every chance he gets. One is very tolerant of anything his brother throws at him. One likes things organized. One is a pack rat. They are simply different. Each one of them.

While there are challenges that parents of girls face, there are also challenges that parents of boys face. When I was a kid I remember that I always wanted to have girls. Boys simply seemed to trouble makers. It was rare for a girl to get in trouble at school. Most of the boys were reprimanded at some point and some on a regular basis. I didn't get boys.

I get them more now. They are very hands on. If they are bored, they're more likely to cause trouble. They're physical. Wrestling and doing things to show strength is normal. They're inquisitive. They don't display a lot of emotion. They just aren't wired the same as girls. But, boy there can be drama. As a mom of boys I have done lots and lots of lots of worrying. That's not limited to moms of daughters. And clothing can be a big source of tension -- one refuses to wear long sleeved shirts, one suddenly decides to ditch his whole wardrobe in favor of skinny jeans and then complains about his body image, one won't wear sweatpants, one won't wear shirts with collars, one has 15 pairs of pants in his drawer and claims that they are all either too small or too big, one will only wear boxer shorts, one only will wear ankle socks. Clothing is still a hassle with boys. Maybe not to the extent of most girls, but it's not a non-issue, that is for sure.

I may not have girls, but I was one once. Easy doesn't exist, whether you're talking about boys or girls.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Eight years

Wow. It's been eight years. Eight! Years! My youngest baby was born eight years ago and it doesn't seem possible. And at the same time it seems so long ago. Moms, you know what I mean, don't you?

I remember the big details - the date, the time you were born, the look of you as a baby. Other details have faded over the years - the specifics of labor, the name of the fill-in doctor who delivered you, the outfit you wore home from the hospital. I wish I could say I remember the way your tiny body felt in my arm, but it's been so long and all I know now is how heavy your head feels against my arm on the occasions that you scoot in that close, which have gotten fewer and farther between as the years go by.

I've watched you roll over and sit up and walk and talk and run and learn to read and ride a bike, knowing you were the last of my children and it was the last time I'd experience such things as mother. There are still things ahead.

I'm still waiting for you to loose your first tooth. I'm not all that eager. I remember worriedly asking the dentist when my oldest son was this age when his adult teeth would come in. He expressed concern and even mentioned pulling out baby teeth if they didn't come out on their own soon. This time I'm not rushing to the dentist. They'll come out when they're ready.

Happy birthday, you'll forever be my baby!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

It's that time!

I'm a wee bit excited about something. Something that happens every year this time of year. Scan through the pictures below and see if you can figure out what it is!