17 in 2017 and a Year in Review

2017.  You kicked ass.  No seriously, you were awesome.  This year is at the top of the charts for me.  2018 has some serious impressing to do.  My most recent post (in February 2017 insert eye roll here) I made a list of 17 things I wanted to do this year and I nailed 11 of them.  I’m going to take that as a victory on the list and move on because 2017 was just so plain good.  So, I didn’t accomplish the entire list.  I’m choosing to give myself some grace because the past year has been great in some many ways.  Let’s recap so I don’t forget.

We spent President’s Weekend in Lake Geneva with friends- it was an unseasonably warm weekend and we had the best time with friends we see way too infrequently.  We got our kids up on skis and it’s safe to say they loved it.  We went to Florida over spring break with my family and had a literally picture perfect week at the beach.  We spent Easter Sunday at Wrigley, just the 4 of us and it was one of my favorite days of the year.  We watched Brady find a home on the baseball field in the spring as we happily found out he made a travel soccer team in May.  We took a truly magical trip to Disney World in June and watched Tom Petty at Wrigley Field in one of his last shows.   In July, we celebrated 10 years of marriage with an incredible trip to Wine Country a place that now has a piece of our hearts forever.  We witnessed the eclipse with our street.  In August, we made a trip to St. Louis and got to spend some sweet time with my grandma who is 96 and I missed daily.   We spent a week on the shores of Lake Michigan right after that with family and settled in this fall with two kids in same school which included Cate starting kindergarten.  We saw Zac Brown Band at Wrigley with great friends. As Brady started travel soccer, we learned he made a highly selective travel baseball team which was a shock but exciting to all of us. We have started to find our groove socially and in our community and at church.  We have dear friends that are like family to us. We have family that we love to spend our time with.  So, 2017, thanks.  For giving me a year where the worries were less and the love and laughter was more.

On to 2018.


17 in 2017

I’m a lover of lists and an even bigger lover of crossing things off the list. I make some type of list every day.  I love to use this pad to make my lists and it’s worth every penny to be pretty on my desk.  I have multiple lists and merge my lists and those lists get rewritten but the art of having a list is a way for me to hold myself accountable. Writing the list is theraputic.

I’m not about writing resolutions. I actually think they are silly. They set you up to fail. Like all those people at the gym in January who you never see again. Failed resolution.  Resolutions tend to be too big and too lofty and unattainable setting almost everyone up to fail me included so I stopped making them.

The one word thing doesn’t work either for me. How do you focus your year to a single word? I tried it. I tried it a couple of times actually and it just doesn’t work for me. I think every time I tried it, I forgot the word by February.

So, even though I am a month late, I am going to stick with what I know. I am going to make a list for 2017 with their status or reason.  The little things and the big things. I’m going to cross things off my list as I do them. I may not ­draw attention to them when I cross them off but I’m going to tackle them as my life list for 2017.


  1. Get Brady and Cate up on skis this winter.
  2. Get away with Glenn for our 10 year wedding anniversary.
  3. Take Brady on a mother son date.
  4. Take Cate on a mother daughter date.
  5. Try a new workout to me.
  6. Call my grandma, send her a package and send her a letter.
  7. Finish our living room instead of 75% complete.
  8. Make plans for drinks with an old friend.
  9. Organize, print and store pictures from 2009-2017.
  10. Pick up my camera again and just start shooting.
  11. Teach myself the basics of code.
  12. Do a huge purge of our basement.
  13. Simplify my closet and purge.
  14. Find a way for my family to volunteer.
  15. Come back to this blog.
  16. Be intentional with my time.
  17. Grow something.

So, the first step is creating the list right? Now it’s time to work on something. Anything.


16 to 17

“I…I did it all
I…I did it all
I owned every second that this world could give
I saw so many places
The things that I did
Yeah, with every broken bone
I swear I lived” – One Republic

Dear 2016,Let’s look back at you for a minute.  Let’s talk about all the crappy things that you sent my direction last year and remember something.  We survived.  I survived.  My dad survived.  We came out alive and are here to kick you out the door and not look back.

You were a year of scary shit.  And I don’t use that term loosely.  You were a year in which we spent more than 2/3 of our days dealing with cancer and everything that comes with it.  There were days in the year that I honestly thought my heart couldn’t take anymore pain and my eyes had no more tears to cry.  Starting in January, we were fighting with my dad. In late May and early June, you tried to break my dad but he didn’t let it happen.  He got busy fighting harder for his life  and we rallied around him.  You dealt him a shit hand of cancer and he never once complained.  He checked in and out of the hospital for days at a time for chemotherapy.  He had to skip a dream trip to the Masters because of his treatment and only to be told after his final chemotherapy treatment a stem cell transplant was necessary if he wanted to live.

But guess what we’re here. He’s here.  He’s strong and busy living.  And yes, I will probably always remember you for the really crappy things you did to us but, you weren’t all bad 2016.

You gave my oldest a lot of firsts.  It was his first year of school- a kindergarten experience you dream of complete with a Disney princess as a teacher and a group of friends that are still “his people”. 2016 was the year that he conquered his fears.  It was the summer of diving boards and water slides and the year he tied his shoes and wore his first pair of high tops.  2016 was the year he learned to ride a bike and he’s never looked back. 2016 was the year he will always remember his beloved Cubs won the World Series.

2016 is when my youngest turned in to a little girl. 2016 is the year she learned to write all her letters and recognize sight words. The year she lost the shyness she’s always carried around unfamiliar faces and spread her wings. It’s the year she fell in love with American Girl dolls.  2016 was when we saw her score goals on the soccer field and swing a bat with strength like her brother.

2016 let us spend a week in the desert with just our little family of four. The lack of “noise”, the sun and spring training is good for us.  You also let us spend a week in Michigan with our families.  The memories from that week is what keeps us going each year. You actually let me even sneak away with two of my closest friends for a girls trip to Nashville. We saw concerts and Cubs games, high school and college football games and ate so much ice cream. In between it all, we lived.

2016  showed me the power of marriage. My husband carried us on his back for most of 2016.  He wrapped his arms around me without me having to ask when I collapsed, he let me cry and get mad without questioning it and was the steady force in convincing me to be “glass half full”.

The amazing thing about 2016 is that it was a year of new and old friendships. We met so many new people that mean so much to us and we continued to be supported and loved by our oldest friends.  We watched babies be born and couples get married.  We lived.  We did a lot.  We may not have done it well or the best, but we lived.

So, you see 2016, it’s time for you to go.  I’m ready for 2017.  I only get one chance to live and be with my little family who mean so much to me, so let’s move on and get going here. I got a lot of livin’ and lovin’ to do this year.



Currently and This Space {May2016}

When I originally started writing a blog, I think I was writing for one pure reason- that it felt really good. I was trying to remember things about having babies, buying houses and learning to navigate adulthood, what felt like an unfamiliar world. I used this space to record memories about my kids.  To write each of them letters that someday they can hopefully look back on and read when I’m not around or they just need to “feel me”.  I’m still adamant I’m going to get them on paper in a journal of some sort so they have them.

I didn’t care how good my pictures were as long as I had one of that exact moment I was trying to capture.  And I’m going back to that.  I no longer care who reads this as long as I have a space to write my heart on.

I find life going by at warp speed and suddenly I am trying to stop the train.  Hit the brakes with everything I have because I am afraid I am going to lose the memories of the little things that make this journey so incredibly worth it.

So, I am taking this space back to remember, to record and recount all those things.  Sure, I might tell you about some book I read or what we ate that was delicious (like the prepared fish taco mix from Whole Foods last night) but mostly this place is for my memories.


Reading Angela Duckworth’s new book “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance”.  It’s a really interesting read and as a teacher who believes in the comprehensive high school experience for a student it validates my belief that passion and hard work trump an “A” in an AP course.

Watching as Brady continues to gain a sense of independence that I am still wishing was a few years away.  He is choosing to play with friends anytime over us and all of the sudden he is starting to do his own thing.

“Brady- what do you want for breakfast?”

“Don’t worry about it mom. I’ll figure it out.”


Listening to Cate as she lays on the couch with an iPad. The poor girl just falls apart the last week of school every single spring. Two years ago, she caught the stomach flu.  Last year she got Hand, Foot and Mouth and this year she has strep.  I smelled it on her the minute I got near when I picked her up sick from school.  The bright side, is this one can be fixed with meds. And fast.

Eating anything we can put on the grill at this point.  The reality of living in the Midwest is that we have to use our crock pot and our stove a lot in the winter when it is just too damn cold to cook but since the temperatures have finally gotten in to the 50’s we are using our grill for a change. Those fish tacos last night were awesome by the way.

Wearing almost a uniform these days. I live anything that is denim, stripes, gray and or black. I find myself wanting to buy other things but I have finally realized what does and doesn’t look good on me as I get older and the trends don’t seem to be as important. I am ready to live in workout clothes as summer approaches and the gym is in my daily plan.

Wanting to purge and organize and decorate and clean and redo spaces in our house.  I feel like 4 years later, our home could use some sprucing and updating. We have rooms that still haven’t been touched and walls that need love.  So, I am on a mission this summer to make decisions, pull the trigger and get things moving. I know I say this every year, but it’s time. I might even do a little DIY work in our mudroom. Anyone want to help?

Looking Forward To the end of the school year which is early next week. We have paid a heavy price for our school being under construction. We have had a 5 day week each week which is not typical for schools. But, the payoff is here because we are getting an extended summer that put us out in mid-May and not returning until late August. I need this break. My family needs this break so I can be a mom.  And I’m ready.

Thinking about the weeks to come and the anticipation of big life things. I have discovered my ability to cope is stronger than I thought yet it doesn’t dull the pain that comes with hard things. I wake up each day with a stronger sense of priorities than I ever have.  Maybe that comes with age and the not so easy things but I know that right now my family matters and past that I’m indifferent.  I go to bed thankful even on the hard days because I have learned we are living a lot of life right now and it’s the good stuff.  The stuff you remember on hard days and stuff that make you stronger.

Hopefully, I’m back in this space.  Kindergarten is coming to a close for Brady and our first year of JK is ending for Cate.  There is so much to remember and celebrate.






Friday Rambling {March 2016}

There is no real post today. This is just a random number of thoughts I was thinking about today as we try to finish the week off before spring break.

I was texting one of my besties two nights ago and it went something like this….

“Why is it that at the end of every day, I feel beat up? Like I am seriously beat up? I literally keep asking myself each night if I am getting the flu. ” (Which is my biggest fear right now after watching G get it.)

Her response was perfect.

“Because you work out, run two kids around, work full time and manage a house, etc… I feel that way every day too.”

After that response I found myself oddly at peace with the way that I feel right now and her explanation and just sat with it.  Instead of being cranky about it or feeling sorry for myself or even trying to rationalize it, I just sat with that response and accepted that’s life right now and it’s okay.


I heard a line in an interview yesterday from a candidate that I keep repeating in my head.  It’s a woman I have an indescribable amount of respect for as an educator.  She was talking about balance. She said…

“We need to do a little less, do it better and enjoy it more.”

I feel like I need to adopt this mantra going forward.  Such a simple statement and simple goal to have in mind.


My little family is so ready for a week in the warm weather and the desert.  I think it’s fair to say all of four of us are ready for a break.  I keep reminding myself that we get to move a little slower, be a little sillier, stay up a little later and take a breath from life as we know it.  I can almost feel the sunshine on my face, smell the sunscreen on my kids and my shoulders start to release from the load it’s carrying just thinking about it.





Currently {February 2016}


Reading- I haven’t been reading a lot if isn’t for school.  I am hoping that as spring shows up and we head off to spring break, I might get a chance to dive into a novel.  For work, I am reading “Originals” by Adam Grant. It’s super interesting and totally different than his first book called, “Give and Take”.  I just started “The Ramblers’ for pleasure but I am struggling to keep my attention on it.

Watching- Billions and we finished Narcos.  I love me some “Brody” from Homeland.  I don’t find him attractive per se but I think he is so good on both shows. Some days I wonder if we need cable because we are starting to watch so much Netflix and premium channels like Showtime. I’m excited the Amazing Race is back on and Grey’s Anatomy is the show I just can’t quit.

Listening- to anything country right now especially playlists on Pandora. We have the Amazon Alexa and she works so well with Pandora.  Luke Bryan is coming to Wrigley this summer so I have been listening to his station for most of this month.  I need to get tickets to this show.

Eating- healthy healthy stuff like Plentifuls. My husband has really gone to eating super healthy and so our dinners are looking different and I honestly feel better than ever.  I am starting to believe that food is fuel. I still love salty chips and was introduced to Plentifuls. They are lentils turned in to chips. They are awesome and the perfect “fix” for my salty cravings.

Wearing- I haven’t gotten to a capsule wardrobe but the month of February I have pretty much stuck to grays and black.  Something about wearing the same colors takes the pressure off…I keep changing shoes and jewelry but it makes it so much easier. Also, I am planning clothes for the week on Sunday night and that makes the mornings so much easier.

Wanting- Some new spring stuff including a new swimsuit.  Every single summer, I vow I am going to get a new swimsuit. This is the year. I feel like I owe it to myself to have a suit I feel good in and love to wear. I look everywhere but can’t decide if I want a one piece or a tankini. Wondering if I can accomplish this before we leave.

Looking Forward To- I am  counting down to spring break. We are headed back to the desert and I’m ready to soak up some time with my favorite people and some sun.  We really need this right now… we need a break for the pressures of life and while I am worried about being gone, I know that my little family needs this week together. Maybe we will bring spring back with us.


Daring Greatly

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
~ Theodore Roosevelt

Brene Brown references this quote time and time again in her second Ted Talk, her book which I am currently reading which was a #1 New York Times Bestseller and in almost every speaking engagement she makes.   She spoke at my school two years ago and now she’s back again.

Everywhere I look I hear this quote.

And tonight, as simply as I wander downstairs staring at the pile of magazines I haven’t sat down and read, look at my counter cluttered with homework and mail that needs to be packed and addressed I am struck that today, on this day I am daring greatly.  A day that started at 4:40 in the morning for a one hour workout that is as much for my mental health as it is my physical health. A day that included teaching, meetings, drop offs, appointment scheduling, feeding, bath herding and reading, I am struck that this is what is means to be daring greatly.  Trying to do something, everything, and so often coming up short and erring in some way.

I am in the arena.

I am daring to be a change maker in education who refuses to believe anything but that every single day it is my job to change one students experience for the better.   I am daring to be the mom that I had growing up who loved me and gave me her full attention regardless of what else was going on in her life.  I am daring to be a wife that gives her husband the attention he deserves and the support he needs for us to parent together.  I’m covered in sweat, dust and blood and just trying to hang on.

I am the woman in the arena trying to have it all. And you know what, I still don’t.   And it’s not for lack of effort.  It’s not because I don’t try and want to do better or be more.  Some days I come up short as a mom.  Hell, most days I go bed telling myself I will be better as a mother than I was the day before.  Other days, I walk away wondering if my husband deserves better.  A better partner and bigger cheerleader.   And every day, I walk out of school thinking how I could inspire more, lead better and teach with more passion. And I feel like I failed.

But you know what?.  So what if other mom’s judge me because my kids go to daycare.   Or I don’t get a perfect meal on the table every night.  Or that I still have a couple pounds to lose. I am here. In the arena.  And I am daring greatly.  I’m daring to be in the arena “marred by dust and sweat and blood” to be here.  To live in the today.  To love hard. And be me.

{This post has sat in my drafts folder for 1.5 years.  It’s funny how much and how little things change in 1.5 years.}



This Space

I haven’t written in this space since early November.  That actually sounds about right to me.  I’ve written a lot of things in my head since then.  A couple of time I have actually put some things on paper.  I have never hit publish.  I guess in some ways I am a fraud.  I have always hated the people on social media, whether it’s Instagram or Facebook, who only show you perfect.  Their house perfectly in place all neat and tidy, their kids perfectly dressed and smiling at the camera and their perfectly crafted meals that are always organic and balanced.  I’ve always promised myself that I would show every side. The good, the pretty, the bad and the ugly.  And since November, I have not done that.  I’m actually not going to either.  Because while, I haven’t written here I have also realized that there are some things that are so personal, so close to your heart that they aren’t meant for this space.  Maybe that makes me a sell out or phony. Or maybe I won’t be back in this space for some time.  Because honestly, real life right now is really messy and emotional and complicated.  And I’m keeping that close. That’s all I have at the moment.  And I am going to be okay with it.

1.28 Quote


Currently {November 2015}


enjoying: the indian summer temperatures we have been blessed with this past week.  70’s in November is just gorgeous and perfect. The color of the leaves and trees, the crisp breeze and warm temperatures make the Chicago winter a faraway thought even though we know it could show up tomorrow. Seriously, this fall has been just awesome and this weekend was the perfect fall weather.  Even this week, we have been lucky to have the sun shining and temperatures totally enjoyable.

dreaming: of having a series of days where I have no schedule and responsibilities.  Seriously, I dream of reading when I want, organizing and purging our house, exericising when the sun is actually up for the day, shopping in stores without feeling rushed and preparing food and actually enjoying it while I do it. Does this exist?

loving: I am still loving Orangetheory.  I am a junkie to the place.  I miss it on the mornings I don’t go and feel like for the first time ever I have found a workout that works for me.  The last of the baby weight is finally gone and I finally have some confidence that I am on the right track. I find myself making better food choices as a result and even drinking more water. But most of all, I actually feel better than I ever have since having kids.

watching: my sweet buddy lose every ounce of baby and become a kid.  He ran off with friends on Halloween, would rather play with neighbors than us when we get home from school and seems so big to me all of a sudden.  He’s emotional, opinionated and funny.  I found him unprompted reading to Cate the other morning and playing a game with her after dinner.  He’s growing up faster than I care to admit and I think this is just the beginning.

reading: anything and everything.  I just finished The Kitchen House and started The Japanese Lover.  At school, I haveThe Warmth of Other Suns” by Isabel Wilkerson.  I have stacks of magazines including Food and Wine and Cooking Light at home that I am itching to read  but for now they are staying put until I get some time to read.

quoting: the past president of Illinois Wesleyan Minor Myers who said, “ Go into the world and do well.  But more importantly, go into the world and do good.”  So true and so simple.  We met the family our senior class will build a home for through Habitat for Humanity and I found my eyes with tears.  Some days, I just feel like I or we don’t do enough for the people that need help.  Some days, I feel so fortunate for what I have realizing how easy it is to take for granted.  This family has adults who are employed, willing to do sweat equity to build their house and are humble enough to ask for help.  So we do and it is some of the best work I do as a teacher and the most gratifying.  My hope is that I teach my own kids about what it means to help others. It’s not Calculus but so important.

thinking: about my sweet girl Cate and what is going on in her brain.  School is not her favorite and I don’t blame her.  Lots of boys and one other girl makes the day hard.  But keeping it together all day, means all the emotion comes out in full force at night. The tears, the screaming and the fear of us leaving paralyze her.  She’s waking at night, scared to go to bed and is really taking a toll on all of us.  We are baffled as to what is really going on.  Is it the chicken or the egg or something different all together? What I know, is that I’m tired of the tears but sadder about her fears and willing to do anything to fix this.

drinking: one to many Moscow Mules on Saturday night.  I hate hard alcohol but I sure love that cocktail.  We were out until 2am and I can’t tell you the last time that happened.  The SoHo House is one of the coolest places I’ve been to and a night with my husband with zero responsibilities was totally worth it.  It was fun to a be a couple not mom and dad for the night.  Marriage can be hard and so easy to put to side in the grind of life, but every time I make it a priority I remember why it’s so important.

listening to: the new Adele song that I just can’t stop singing.  I really truly love her music and something about it just speaks to me.    I play it in my car and hum in my office constantly but it’s beautiful and she is one crazy talented lady.  Also, can we talk about the new Meghan Trainor and John Legend song? How catchy is that one too?



Brady {Six}


BradyDear B,

Every year when your birthday rolls around I think that this letter will get easier to write and the truth is that every single year, before I type one word, my mind gets fuzzy and my eyes well with tears because I am truly praying for time to slow down.  Not to mention that life with you is so fun, so all consuming and so dang busy that I am two weeks late on publishing this letter.

Where to start….six years ago you rocked our world and taught us what it means to love with our whole hearts and souls.  Six years later, you have still stolen my heart.  There is this piece of me that is forever holding on to you- my first born, my gentle giant and my bubba.  You are still as easy going as you were in the early days.

You are still my snuggle buddy, the one who needs a hug each night after you take a shower and get ready for bed and the one I sleep with when your daddy is gone.  You are the one who still responds with “and back” each night when I say “I love you to the moon”.

For as naturally athletic as you are, we are seeing just how much you love sports.  From soccer, to baseball, to football and basketball, you are almost always found with a ball in you­­­r hand.  You rarely if ever stop moving.  Even bone tired, you will continue to toss a football in our family room (yes, it will need to stop at some point) with your dad.  You are competitive, wanting to win and spirited when you play.  You don’t get why peers don’t try as hard, run as fast or care as much as you do.  You love your football tracker helmets, football stickers, baseball cards and Rush Zone.  You literally eat, sleep and breathe sports.

You are toothless in the front right now, and your grin literally lights up a room.  Your smile can take away any sadness I carry.  You are genuinely kind, sweet and gentle.  For as big as you are, you are still so gently. You are accommodating to others rarely putting yourself before your friends. You let kids tackle you for no reason even though I know you hate it.  You let your sister go first even though it kills you. You are just good…at your core, you are a good kid.

Kindergarten has been a pretty easy transition. From thriving in the classroom to new friends, you have shown us how adaptable you are.  You hate homework, especially the challenge work, but you know what, you do it.   You love riding the bus.  You love field trips that your enrichment class takes.  You love morning care and the chocolate milk and tolerate after care.

Here’s the tough stuff though…you tend to be a magnet Brady socially. Kids like to play with you and you will play with just about anyone.  You aren’t picky and if you have a preference you rarely make it known.  Maybe it’s because you are big and athletic, silly and the oldest.  Being the oldest also means you can be the leader and other kids will follow. That comes with some huge responsibility.  It’s hard to be you.  Just you. And do what you want to do and think you should do.  To make good choices, the right choice even if it’s the unpopular choice.   It’s hard to choose friends that you like, that you want to play with, and that you think are nice and fun to play with.  It’s hard to say no to ones you don’t want to play with because they aren’t nice to you.   I ask you every morning before part ways,  “What’s the hardest thing to do?” and you always respond, “Be nice to everyone”.  Be a good friend.  Be kind. Be accepting.  Don’t intentionally hurt other people’s feelings.  Love others the way you want to be loved.  Most of all though buddy, remember that we love you.  You. For who you are and what you love. Be Brady.  And I promise, you will be happy.

brady2I love you,