Summer Memories

Dear Brady and Cate,

Boop Boop Hallo! Well, it’s here.  The day where schedules change, wake-ups are forced and earlier and I no longer get to spend my days with you.  I want to tell you some things while I remember them about this summer while it feels fresh and real in my head.

B&CPark

First of all, I want to thank you for letting me be your mama this summer. I had so much fun.  You two are the best of friends for the most part and it was humbling to watch you play, hug, love and occasionally fight.  I want to remember how slow the mornings were. Each morning I sat with coffee in my mug and stared as you watched Curious George together side by side on the couch until your bellies rumbled.  I want to remember how many parks we played at and how many days we ate ice cream before dinner.  I will remember the lazy days where we swam with friends, ate dinner outside and managed to stay up way to late.  I will be grateful for all the days I got to throw pitches for hours and the insane amount of times I was asked to put the baby’s diaper back on.

I may go back to work today as a high school teacher but it is no way shape of form what defines me any longer.  This summer I have done a lot of soul searching and I keep coming to the conclusion that I was meant to be your mama. You two are my purpose.  You are the tipping point on tough decisions and the easy answer when people ask me what drives me.

Brady this summer you went from baby to boy.  Inevitably it was going to happen and this summer you morphed in to a little boy who wants nothing more than to be outside playing baseball, or tennis or soccer or any other sport the boys on the block are playing.  You are athletic and tall and competitive.  You play with anyone and love to just be in the game.  You showed us that your energy has no end and one of my proudest moments was when  you didn’t want to leave a soccer game on the block where you were the youngest by years because you just wanted to score a goal.  You learned to ride a bike this summer and those training wheels may just be off before it gets cold.  You’re still timid, which you’ve always been, but you conquered your fear of the pole at the park and the slide at the pool.  You love to be at the beach and the pool even though the water is still not your favorite.  I will never forget the way you run the bases after you hit a ball and the smile you crack when you score a goal.

Cate you have taken a big turn for the better little girl.  You are growing faster in size than you ever have and yet your personality is what’s shining this summer. You will go anywhere, do anything and have no fear.  I will never forget the smile on your face as you rode a big kid ride at Northbrook Days or the way you swing like there is no other place you would rather be.  You love to ride your big wheel and fly down the hills with your feet up high in the air.  You are happy, hilarious and your memory is scary.  You idolize your brother more than ever having spent the summer with him.  You antagonize him and call him “Brade” with that devilish grin we have come to know as your look.

I keep telling people this summer was quiet, uneventful and yet still so perfect.  I will remember rocking out to Katie Perry in the car one minute and Cate shouting “drink a beer” whenever the song came on the next.  I will remember the quiet mornings at the beach and Brady your first road trip to stay with Mimi and PawPaw.  I will remember this being the first summer that I felt comfortable in my title as mom and our life in the suburbs.

Here’s to a great year and looking forward to the next one coming.  If this summer is any indication, it’s gonna be good.

I love monkeys,

Mama
BradyPark

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Currently

Happy Friday Friends! Sorry it’s been a bit quiet this week. Life just got in the way and we have been having way to much fun! I will be back with a list update next week and some other posts but today I am linking up with one of my favorite weekly link-ups.  Currently I am…

Smelling the sweet and salty smell of the Neutrogena sunscreen my kids wear on a daily basis. I think that this smell will forever remind me of my kids and the summer weather because whether we are at the park, the pool or they are at daycare that I can smell their sunscreen anywhere.

Wishing we could get to the bottom of Cate’s situation. I was going to post about her skin issues but then they even took a bigger turn for the worse and now we aren’t really sure what is going on so until I know more I am going to hold off.  What I can tell you is that my poor sweet girl is so itchy and uncomfortable in her own skin that it is almost hard to watch. Every day when we take her clothes off to either get her dressed or give her a bath, I pray in that moment that it has all gone away.  So far, that has not been the case.

Loving these last few glorious days before I return to work next week.  I am in squeeze all things in and get all things done mode but it is good and fun and my kids are so content right now.  Mother Nature has blessed us with mild weather in the past few weeks to the point that it has been plain cold some nights.  The sunny days, cooler temps and less humidity have allowed for our windows to be open.  It has also meant we can enjoy our time outdoors instead of being sweaty all the time.  With no routine, I find myself saying yes more and accepting that my kids just want to be kids. The park, the pool and the beach all made their way into our week this week and we had fun. This is honestly the first summer I can truly say I am not ready to go back to school.

Pouring more water as I have gotten into a nice routine with exercise. I am a better person when I exercise and I feel better. Just happier, calmer and patient.    The more I exercise the more I feel myself wanting water instead of pop or lemonade.  I love adding fruit to my water just to give it a bit of flavor but to be honest there is nothing more refreshing to me than an ice cold glass of water.  A mason jar helps too right?

Talking to Cate before she goes to sleep.  Cate and I have this funny routine at night. She is a dictator about it.  She is our snuggle bed and will let you rock her all night if you want to and that part of the routine makes up for the other part.   It makes me think of that book “Love You Forever” because I honestly think I will be sneaking in to her room when she is older to rock her because she will let me and since she is my last baby I won’t say no to it.  However, when you rock her you have to sing to her. I don’t exactly have a singing voice and the only song she will stand for is the A-B-C song.  I swear if you recorded it you would laugh at my voice but the minute you start singing her breathing slows, her head settles in my shoulder and I usually tear up because I am full of  love that is greater than I thought capable.

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5 Things Update

Happy Friday friends! Dang, this week just flew by. Two weeks ago I posted about my List of Five Things- for me, my kids and my house.  It’s two-week later and I have accomplished some things…Let’s see how I did shall we?

5 Things for the Kids

  • Go to the zoo Brookfield or Lincoln Park– headed to the Brookfield Zoo tomorrow! That counts right? 
  • Go the beach  We have been twice actually to the Glencoe Beach! It has been hot and that has helped but we had such a good time both times we went!
  • Go to Ravinia Kids Music Festival or the Wednesday night Concert in the Park series– We went this past Wednesday the weather was amazing and we had fun but had to leave a little earlier than we hoped because our kids were kind of naughty! 
  • Ride the train and have lunch with daddy
  • Go to a water park

5 Things for the Home

  • Finish the wall art in the living room above the couch
  • Buy an accent piece for the entry way   It’s cute and from an antique market in my hometown. Totally my style which I need to show you more of soon promise!
  • Mark out and decide on dining room table we know what size we need now it is just a matter of going to have it custom-made.
  • Re-finish vintage buffet for dining room (Bradyism “Can I get a little help here?”)- halfway done. It is up to me to get it 100% done. More on this soon!
  • Get kitchen office area organized

5 Things for Me

  •  Get new running shoes
  •  Get a massage
  •  Buy a pair of black pants
  •  Take a huge bike ride in the Forest Preserve or one the lakefront
  •  Spend an afternoon at the pool alone with a book.

I will add that the past two weeks we went to Navy Pier and their Children’s Museum for a day and we took Brady to Legoland so we did a lot of really fun stuff that wasn’t even on my list.  On top of that the air conditioner for our upstairs zone went out on last Wednesday and the landscaping in our front yard just got completed. Not too shabby right? How were the past two weeks friends? Happy Weekend!

 

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A Day at the Pier (Almost Wordless Wednesday)

Waiting

B&C

( I love this picture above)

Sizing it Up

ferriswheel

Looking Up

Brady

And Now Down

B&C2

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Lists of Five Things

I looked at the calendar today and realized I go back to school in five weeks exactly.  Then I looked at my list of things I wanted to do with the kids, to the house and for myself and realized there is no chance most of those things will get done.  And if I am honest, it frustrates the heck out of me.  The balance being at home is really hard for me. When my kids are home I don’t want to drag them to Pottery Barn I want to play, and swim and bike and enjoy the weather.  I feel really funny about putting them at daycare in the summer when I am home because they deserve some time at home with their mama away from the grind we do 10 months out of the year.  I found myself spending my one day this week that was kid free shopping, working out, having lunch and reading at the pool for an hour and yet I am mad at myself that my walls are still bare and there are so many rooms that need attention in our house.

Some of you will tell me I am just lucky I get some me time.  Some of you will tell me, including my ma, that I need to have days like these.   I get it. I know that as a teacher I need some down time. Some time to be me, relax, decompress and just be.  But I also know how precious time is when I am kid free and can actually work on a project.

So, today I am making a 5 Things List. 5 things I want to do with the kids before I return to work, 5 things I want to get done in my house and 5 things I want to do for me.  Sure, it could be 500 in some categories but I am trying to keep it attainable and doable and then we or I will make another list.

5 Things for the Kids

  • Go to the zoo- Brookfield or Lincoln Park
  • Go the beach
  • Go to Ravinia Kids Music Festival or the Wednesday night Concert in the Park series
  • Ride the train and have lunch with daddy
  • Go to a waterpark

5 Things for the Home

  • Finish the wall art in the living room above the couch
  • Buy an accent piece for the entry way
  • Mark out and decide on dining room table
  • Re-finish vintage buffet for dining room (Bradyism “Can I get a little help here?”)
  • Get kitchen office area organized

5 Things for Me

  •  Get new running shoes
  •  Get a massage
  •  Buy a pair of black pants
  •  Take a huge bike ride in the Forest Preserve or one the lakefront
  •  Spend an afternoon at the pool alone with a book.

Totally doable right? Right. So, I am going to hold myself to it and check in weekly with you before I go back to school to show you what I have done. Hmmm… where should I start?

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‘merica (4th of July)

We returned to my parents’ home for the Fourth of July weekend.  The weather was almost perfect. I say almost because towards the end of our stay it was just too hot for small kids or at least my kids if you weren’t near water.  We spent a lot of time doing very little which is really nice if you read my last post. There is a fine line that I feel like we tread daily… too little activity and we have behavior issues but less structure usually results in some equally good memories.

Cate Lashes

Her lashes kill me…

The in ground sprinklers provided a good start.

brady1

And the sprinkler helped continue the fun.

Brady2

Pure joy

Cate

Just not sure about the water

It is amazing to relieve your childhood thru your child. I wanted him to know and experience some of my best memories. Popcorn in a paper bag, a cooler of drinks, blankets and bug spray set the scene for a night I won’t ever forget as a mom. As we were waiting, there were walks to the pond, glow sticks to play with and time to just be in the moment. We watched as a dad and his daughter played catch as the sun started to set. I remember being more excited to play catch somewhere other than our front sidewalk on the 4th. I sat their wondering how soon before Brady asks to bring a mitt or stick or a football. And, I wondered if this is what it means to come full circle. To be so grateful for your past and so excited to think about what lies ahead. There were a lot of wows, oh wow and I love those being uttered in those minutes immediately after the sun set for the evening and I caught myself watching him more than I watched the show.

fireworks

Waiting patiently

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Slowing Down in June

For nine, almost ten months of the year it is go go go. And we go. And we do. And we survive. And we even manage to have some fun. And our kids for the most part are cooperative and agreeable to the grind that comes with two working parents.

Then the middle of June comes around and BAM we come to screeching halt. Every spring I build up in my head how amazing the summer will be and then when it gets here, my expectations are so high, I fail within the first week.  I don’t handle change well and this is a big one- for all of us. Same thing this summer- beginning of last week sucked. It was plain bad. There were tears from everyone the first Tuesday I was off except from Glenn. Go figure.

So, I hit the reset button. I went home to my parents’ house for a few days and I came back ready to be a mama who is home this summer with her kids. I adjusted my expectations for just about everything.  That includes how nice I look, to how many things I will check off of my to-do list daily to how often we are actually on time somewhere.  And I promised myself that every single morning I will go get a cup a coffee to do something to start the morning off right for me.

BradyJune

And these past two weeks were good. I was calmer, my voice didn’t raise as frequently and I found myself content to not have my phone next to me and to just enjoy my kids. We did the park, the splash park, lunch dates, the pool and we played a lot. And in between that, we organized some things in the house, moved some toys around, I got a couple of good runs in and I actually felt like I got some “me” time during nap time.

Cate

And now July is here and I am already feeling like school is just around the corner. So, I am promising myself I will say yes more, go on adventures and soak up every moment I get.

PS- How the heck is it already July?

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Home

I am sitting on the front porch of my parent’s home writing this listening to the faint sound of cars on one of the main streets in their town. There are insects buzzing, leaves rustling but other than that it is pretty quiet at their home, in my hometown. 

Home is a funny word if you think about it. Some people talk about it literally as the place where they dwell, that they drive to at the end of the day or a place to keep things they buy.  Others say it abstractly and define home as if it is synonymous with family.  Me, well I sit somewhere in the middle I guess.

Home is where I can take my shoes off and stay awhile.  Home is where I can be myself not worried about others’ opinions or to do lists that always seem to be a mile long.  Home is just simply that place where I am a mama, wife and daughter. Home is with my family regardless of town and I am happy to be home. 

This girl gives the best hugs and when she does you don’t want to ever let go. 
We are settling in for the week at my parent’s home.  It is not the home that I grew up in, where the memories are deep in the walls, the basketball hoop on the uphill driveway has rust from one to many games of horse and my old room was covered in cork boards with pictures but it is home simply because it’s where my parents live, they welcome us with open arms and that is enough.  Every time I leave my home and to go to their home, this anxiety creeps in my body making me wonder if I am capable of making the trip, doing the majority of the parenting while I am gone and if I should even leave my own home where routines are familiar, there is a second parent and I am completely comfortable. 

Then I get here, I settle in and so do my kids.  We fall back in to routines that are similar to home, paw paw and mimi become their favorite playmates and I remember why I miss this home.  
Life stops or at least slows down dramatically.  And I finally feel like summer vacation has begun.  Maybe it’s escaping the fast pace of the city that wears you on you eventually or the fact that I can hear crickets chirp when I go to bed.  Either way, I am relaxed, reflecting and content at this moment. 

The biggest dilemmas each day surround how we will get to Starbucks, where to swim and eat ice cream and who is going to push Cate or water the flowers. 
My kids sleep better, my mind is more at ease and I am better at reflecting and being grateful for all the things I have instead of what I want.  I miss my husband when I am home remembering why he is my partner but know knowing he deserves a break and that he misses us.  I also appreciate my parents.  I appreciate them as parents knowing they fought the same battles I do- “No do not throw the blocks.  It is nap time. We have read two books and now it is nigh-nigh time.  We do not spit out our food after we jam twenty crackers in our tiny mouth.” And I appreciated them as grandparents.  Seeing them with my kids is fierce reminder why our kids need their grandparents in their lives. 

 They are best buddies. 

We are crossing things off that summer bucket list while we are down here  including the pool, the farm, the splash pad, the museum and fire station,  But we are also just slowing down and I need it. It’s good to be home. 
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The Beach {Brady Bucket List}

The summer fun continues and Chicago weather has not disappointed us.  It has been in the 90’s every day this week; brilliant sunshine has given all of our skin a glow, and the wind. Goodness, the windy city it living up to its reputation this week.

I grew up around the water. I am not sure I know why or how, but I know that I was in the water my entire childhood- swimming lessons, lazy afternoons with my parents at our public pool, parties at the waterpark and then working as a lifeguard for almost my entire teen years and early twenties.  Vacations in our household always revolved around water whether it was in Florida, Lake of the Ozarks or the Caribbean.   And for whatever reason, I still love the water.  When we lived on Lake Shore Drive, the best thing about our building was the amazing pool we had on our second floor and having Lake Michigan in our front yard.  Fortunately for me my kids love it too. Taking a bath is a favorite activity in our house daily.   
Notice Cate being her typical busy self trying to grab at Brady. Brady usually cares but was cooperating for this shot. 
Sibling love 

Brady has been talking about the beach for months. I am not sure how it even started. Maybe from watching Mickey Mouse but honestly one day he just kept telling me he wanted to go to the beach.  That is where his trucks go when he runs them across our kitchen floor.  He asks me daily if we are “going to beach to play in the sand”? The proof that he loves the beach is in his shoes when he comes home for school. Sand in every crevice of his socks and shoes from the playground at his daycare.  He plays in it at any opportunity. If we go to a park that has a sand pit, he finds it.    

We ventured to Foster Avenue Beach. We had to take a lot of stuff since it was in the high 90’s.  A cooler full of water, fruit and snacks, a beach bag full of toys, towels, sheets, a stroller to get the stuff and him there and sunscreen.  The toughest part of the day was getting to and from the beach. 

Once we got there, he was in heaven. Seriously, in sand heaven.  He immediately started digging and throwing sand.  
He filled his buckets, patted the sand, he dumped the buckets, and did this cycle all over again. He even ventured in to the water.  He realized it was shallow and got daring enough to sit in it since I did.  The water was pleasantly warm and the beach was packed.  We used buckets and dump trucks and shovels and cups.  We poured water in to holes that we dug, we stepped in the holes, we buried our feet and  just enjoyed the morning.  He would “plop” sand on my legs as I sat at the water’s edge and every time he did it, he smiled. 

Look at his monster feet at 2.5  
We had sand in every crevice and found some on the kitchen floor and his bedroom floor when I was putting him to bed last night. I think that is just what I needed to know that our beach day was a success.  

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Brady Bucket List- Navy Pier

This summer is about Brady. 

Without getting too defensive…yes, I know I have a sweet nine month old named Cate but honestly, the best advice I got from someone when our family expanded was to “meet Brady’s needs first”.  I think we have done that pretty well but I can always do more.  Cate is with a nanny she loves and we have to pay her regardless of how often we use her in the summer.  Not to mention, Cate needs routine and structure and sleep and attention and all of those things are really hard when you have an almost three year old who has boundless energy.  So, I am committed to making good use of time she is well taken care of and I am trying to enjoy Brady and make as many memories as possible.  
  
I wanted to create a Brady Bucket List for this summer…a way to hold me accountable for getting out and about and exploring the city with him.  Things beside the park, Costco and a daily trip to Starbucks.  Something to list all of the things I want to experience with him.  If you remember last summer, we spent a good portion of it in a big blue cast and me obscenely pregnant,  so this summer he we are ready to do it all. 


My parents came in to town on Wednesday night and Thursday we decided Nave Pier was calling our name. The weather was perfect.  They have a wonderful Children’s Museum which is free if you have a membership to any other Children’s Museum in Illinois.  That was the purpose of going but there was more, so much more.  



He was in awe the entire morning. 

We started walking along the water looking at the boats, the water, the people on the boats and anything else that made noise.  He just kept saying “big boats” and “mama look” and I honestly just kept clicking on my camera.


We kept talking to him about the ferris wheel, confident he would refuse to ride it. But as we approached it, he kept saying “ I want to ride that eeris wheel” and “I want to go high”.  So we stood in line, got our tickets and were the first group placed in Car 1. 





He kept looking around like he didn’t know where to focus. His eyes darting from Lake Michigan, to the skyline, to the boats below. And for one second, he said he wanted to get off and I think we all panicked.  In his defense, we stopped and we were swaying. Even my tummy felt a bit funny. 


But rest assure, he loved it. All of it.  He even asked to ride again. 

We made it to the museum and I can honestly tell you I wasn’t sure what to expect. But it was better than I imagined and huge.  
There was a fire station complete with coats, a truck, hoses  and even a fire truck.  



There was a construction zone complete with a digger, tools and hard hats.  

 There were bowling pins and dominoes.  Have you ever seen a 2.5 year old be so precise before knocking something down? 


There were city buses, cars that needed gas,  new license plates and tires.  



And of course there was a water tables that had him in his own little euphoria.  


He was so busy and had so much fun that as we were walking out I thought he might fall asleep standing up and then when he asked me to carry him and his head was on my shoulder I realized that this is life the way it should be lived.  Doing things, exploring things, enjoying things.  




There were rides on shoulders, snuggles, silliness and most importantly memories made. 


We grabbed lunch in the food court and his eyes were so heavy. His lids blinking with every bite. 


And the way home was a struggle to keep him awake- each of us pulling out our own tricks to keep his eyes open.  Chicago Lake Shore Drive traffic did us no favors thanks to a Cubs game and construction.  


When we got home we were rewarded with a 2.5 hour nap that would have gone longer if I would have let it. 

I remind myself that not everything has to cost money and there are going to be days that we do go to the park and Costco but when I can, I am going to take advantage. I want the memories and pictures to remind me what a special age this is and what a special little boy I have. 


Next up, the beach!


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