Project 52 Week 14

I did not take my fancy camera to AZ. So, you get a collage of Instagram pictures that I posted over the past week. az


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Friday Randoms V.11

In just one more week, we are going to be hours away from sunshine, some quality family time and a break from everyday life. I almost don’t feel like it is real right now even though it is happening. But in true form, any time we are getting a break, things just pile on and it feels like the to do list keeps growing.  I just keep telling myself that once I get back, 9 weeks of school until summer vacation. That’s totally doable. Right?

Around the Internet….

If you are a parent, this article in the NYT is so fantastic and on point about the college admissions world.  As a high school teacher, I just hope that my kids know how much truth is in this article.  Glenn and I found so much common ground when we talked about it.

And on a lighter, note this article is hilarious and so true about Lululemon. For me it’s 1, 2, 14, 18, 19 and mostly 5 and 6.  Every day it’s my lunch bag. No regrets people.

 What We Ate

Due to schedules and life, Glenn has become the primary cook in our house and I have to tell you it’s been really good for us.  He really is a better cook than me and I think he enjoys it more!

Monday- Burgers and Fries (It was 70 and sunny and my husband makes a MEAN burger)

Tuesday- Crockpot Chicken Tacos

Wednesday- Italian Sausages and Scalloped Potatoes

Thursday- Mini Meatloaves and Garlic Parmsean Potatoes

Friday- DATE NIGHT (I think)



36 Quetsions and Some Answers

Over the course of the three days our students take final exams, I find myself crazy productive.  Seriously, I am in my office all day and usually take care of the lingering things I have been meaning to do all semester and I’m able to get ahead for the first few weeks of second semester. And, I go a little stir crazy.  And truth be told, I also get a chance to do some reading in educational journals that I hoard, online at the WSJ and all those crazy things I have bookmarked along the way.

I read this article about “36 Questions to Bring You Closer Together”.  The article said if you ask and share the answers to these questions with your significant other it will bring you closer.  But, it even references that you could do this to be closer with your friends, co-workers, family or just a way to get to know someone better. I’m actually going to use it as an ice breaker in my classes I think this semester.

So, I thought why not? Why not think about big things, little things and everything in between.  Why not answer them and ask you? I’m going to try to answer six questions each week for the next six weeks.  I’m dying to know what your responses would be and I am going to see if I can get my best buddy (that’s you Glenn) to answer them as well.

  1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest? So, as you might know, I am not big in to history or politics. I am sentimental and traditions are something I hold in high esteem.  Family is huge to me and I think if I could I would put my both sets of my grandparents at the dinner table. My paternal grandfather died before I was born and I wish I could have known him just to say hello and see him with my grandma.  My paternal grandmother and maternal grandfather both died when I was college.  From junior high until they passed away, I was so self-absorbed in my own world that I now realized I missed out on a lot of memories and stories.  Like I wish my maternal grandma would have told me and taught me how to bake bread (Maybe she still can?).  The traditions, the history of our family.  That conversation would mean so much to me.  I would love for my maternal grandmother to cook a huge Italian feast and to be able to just sit and listen.
  2. Would you like to be famous? In what way? In all seriousness, I wouldn’t. Not for one single minute. If you know me IRL, you know that even though I am social, a teacher, and write this blog that at my core I am an introvert.  I tend to like to be in the mix but never the center of attention.  I like being at home.  I like my intimate circle of friends.   I think I would hate everyone trying to talk to me and knowing my doings.  I’d be  insecure about going anywhere about my physical appearance.  The biggest reason is that I don’t want to be famous is that I don’t have a thick skin and my feelings would be hurt constantly when you see the way celebrities are treated in the media…even the nicest ones.
  3. Before making a phone call, do you ever rehearse what you’re going to say? Why? Well, professionally yes. You have to remember that when I am on the phone with a parent it’s about THEIR kid and the last thing I want to do is upset them. So, yes, I rehearse what I am going to say to ensure my point gets across and I say it in a constructive manner.  Personally, no way.  No filter here folks.
  4. What would constitute a perfect day for you? Wow! We are going to pretend it is a kid free day. Mkay? A perfect day… well first it involves waking up at a decent time to sunshine pouring in the bedroom and the windows open. (This means after 7am).  First up, would be a great workout or an hour of yoga.  Next, it would be coffee while I read the paper.  Next, I would love to go to the spa.  For a long massage.  After that was over, I would love to take a quick shower and get dressed for the day. I would love to stroll Southport, Armitage or Michigan Avenue with no real purpose and eat some sushi outside somewhere before going for a bike ride on the lakefront or just a long walk. I would then shower and get dressed and head to dinner with my main squeeze and eat a perfect filet with a big glass of red wine.  Cap the night off with a rooftop drink somewhere and hit the pillow before midnight and I would consider near perfect.  (Not to specific right? Or solitary for that manner?)
  5. When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else? I sing to Cate most nights and Brady is obsessed with the “Star Spangled Banner”. And every single time he starts singing it, which is like 100 times a day, I find myself and singing along and finishing it even when he doesn’t.
  6. If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you choose? I actually don’t know if I can answer this one. The immediate response is my body. I was pregnant at thirty so I don’t necessarily want that exact body but being physically active is really important to me and doing physical activity takes a lot of time that I think would I enjoy still having that freedom when I am 90. So many elderly people are in poor physical shape that I have to believe I could work on the mental right? At 30, I think I was still so naive about life and love I’m not even sure I mentally was in a great place.

Okay, so now you know a little more about me.  How about you? Gonna answer one? Some?



Out with ’14 and In with ’15.

I find myself every year around this time thinking about the year in review and the new one in front of us and what I want from the next 365 days and myself.  I know the critics say that resolutions are dumb and no one follows through and this is not the time to change things up or refocus. I call bull shit to that.

Last year, I made this list of 14 things I wanted to accomplish before the year was over and I came up short- like really short.  And for a couple of months, specifically this fall, I was really upset that I wasn’t going to accomplish everything on that list.  I spent evenings beating myself up about it and whining to Glenn that I hadn’t done a lot of things.  Then, I looked again at the list and realized the trivial things that didn’t get done like learning Photoshop or reading the classics don’t really matter. I  thought about what we did accomplish and I felt pretty good. And added to that when I thought about the things we’ve done that I haven’t written about or things that have been accomplished as a family or by myself that I haven’t documented, I feel really pretty great.

We survived the Polar Vortex, got Cate some much needed glasses, made a trip to Florida that was so awesome, survived a kitchen renovation, taught Brady to ride a bike, spent a summer swimming at the beach, ate lots of ice cream, conquered the monkey bars, celebrated birthdays, cooked our first Thanksgiving and had a magical Christmas.  All in all, 2014 was pretty great.

As I think about 2015, I know this much.  I want to embrace the moments.  I want to be intentional with my time and my decisions.  I want to walk away from the things that force me to second guess myself and my choices.  I want to put my energy where it matters and in the people I love the most.  I want to document our life in a way that forces me to embrace the imperfections and take daily or weekly pictures. I want to nurture myself, my marriage and my kids. And, I hope that this space comes to be a place to remember it all.

Happy New Year friends! Make it the best one of them all!


The Ring

I remember like it was yesterday.  We were going to spend the day downtown eating at the Taste of Chicago and with the purpose of ring shopping at some point.  He was nonchalant about it.  Like it was no big deal.  I remember when he suggested it, I acted calm and cool but down deep I was thinking about what this meant.  Forever.  This guy. A guy who got me.  Humored me. Put up with me. And at his core, loved me. We knew that we saw a forever together.  And he knew that I needed to have a say in the ring that I would wear forever.  He knew that I would want to pick it out and that it was important to me to have a say in the style, the cut and all.   We laughed as we did it and talked about what I liked and didn’t as the jeweler slid ring after ring on my finger.  It felt weird on my finger.  Heavy.  Misplaced.

I picked out that ring almost 8 years ago today.  I knew the minute I saw it I wanted it to be mine.  Mine because I loved the solitaire stone and the band with diamonds on every single surface of it.  I knew one band and at some point two would complete the most beautiful piece of jewelry I would ever wear.  The piece of jewelry that would be with me for the rest of my life.  I knew that because of my attachment to things with tradition and history that I would be sentimentally attached to that ring the minute I got it.  And I was.  And still am.  It represents the beginning of a life with a man I am madly in love with and the life we have created together since I got that piece of jewelry.  I wore that ring to buy houses, have babies, teach and coach kids and everything else that comes with life.

Today my finger feels empty. Missing something.  The symbol of our beginning.   Thursday it broke and so did I.  I was lifting a weight plate over my head laying on a bench while I working my abs and my hand wrapped around the weight it hit the floor harder than I anticipated.   The finger smashed between the plate and the floo. I heard a pop, felt an instant sensation of pain and saw blood. I walked out of Body Pump unsure of what happened.  I was shaking and scared.  I thought my finger was broken.  Never did I imagine my ring would shatter, diamonds would fall out and my finger bloodied as I maneuvered it off.  It hurt but my heart hurt more.


That ring that has been on my finger for more than 8 years in an instant was broken.  I called him before I even got out of the gym.

“My finger. My ring just snapped in half”.

“Are you okay?”

“I don’t care. My ring. It’s broken and it’s ruined. I am just so sorry”

“I don’t care about your ring. We can replace it. It’s insured. I’m worried about you.  Calm down. I can come home”

This man, my man is such a good soul.  I was so sad about my ring and he was only worried about me.  I sobbed knowing that the ring he bought with so many promises that were attached will never be on my hand again.  That the ring I wore in to the hospital to have babies won’t be on my hand as I raise them. That ring that has been a constatn accessory to my outfit whether it’s workout clothes or a black dress will never be on my hand again.

Yes, we will get it fixed and most likely get a new one.  The damage appears to dictate that.  And while a joke about an upgrade sounds fun, it’s that ring that I want.  The ring that started it all.



Hello Monday

Hello Monday! Last week was not one of my finest.  I could rattle off why and who I blame but it doesn’t do a lot of good so I have decided to embrace this week and be better.  So, I am starting to with some hellos to this week to get me off on the right track.

Hello five day school week which should allow me to get ahead and be present and maybe even play some catch up from last week. 

Hello Take Your Kid to Work Day. Teachers open up their classrooms and plan things that are kid friendly.  I am so excited to have Brady come to school with me.  He finally gets it and we are going to have a blast!

Brady 4.5

Hello getting a physical for the first time in forever this week and taking charge and care of my health.  I have yet to find a doctor since I moved up here almost 11 years ago that which has been a big reason why I haven’t done these things.  I am trying a new doctor and hoping this is the switch that I need.

Hello a kitchen that can at least be walked in. We have a ways to go and the little decisions seem to be the hardest for me to make but I can almost smell food being cooked and see the bright color of fresh fruit on the counter.

Hello to finding the grace to parent with patience this week.  I am struggling to be calm and cool when I need to be the most and I think I need to make daily and weekly goals towards being the mother I want to be.

Cate 2.5

Hello getting back on to my yoga mat after this past week of colds and allergies not allowing me to get there.

Hello Monday. Let’s do this.



Newborns, Memories and Contentment

Since having kids, my memory tends to be pretty sharp but there are those small moments that tend to stick out that you remember no matter how much time passes.  The ones that are vivid and you can instantly go back there regardless of the time that has passed.  Snuggling them when they are a newborn has to be something that you just never forget. It’s a rite of passage in parenthood to have your child sleep on you at least once and it is those moments that forge the bond between parent and child so early.  And there are others.



I remember Brady sleeping on our chest, his breathing changing rhythms as quickly as the minutes passed but the slumber was heavy and his belly was always so warm against mine.  And I remember the chill the minute he left my chest, his warmth and my warmth keeping us both so comfortable.  I will never forget the way he would lay on Glenn’s lap facing us, staring at the three flowered pictures on the wall and content to be there with us.

I remember Cate being so much smaller, fitting so much easier in the crook of my elbow as I slept next her for those first few weeks.  She didn’t want to sleep on our chests; she really wanted to be nuzzled up on our shoulder or next to us.  I remember sniffing her head and inhaling her scent because I could.  I remember the screaming, the continuous change in sleep and her general unhappiness.   I can remember the days that I would bring her in the bathroom with me because I just needed to shower to feel like I was human. She would cry in that brown bouncy chair and fuss and the shower usually drowned the sound out but I knew she was there crying for me.

As new babies have emerged in our family and our friends, I can’t help but crave the newborns again. Wanting something so small and so dependent on you again.  Wanting to smell that aroma one more time.  Snuggling with someone that doesn’t know better again.    Newborns are addicting, consuming, comforting and damn tempting.

But I have these two, who I am going to give every ounce of my energy to and hopefully raise them to be good humans.  And that is enough for me.  Forever.

{I wrote this post this fall and just never hit published.  And now here I am finally getting to it.  And, yes I still feel the same way.}


2013 A Year in Review

Around this time of the year I instinctively start looking forward at a new year.  I think about goals and lists and even dreams for the 365 days that lie ahead.  And I have a post ready to go about our year to come.  But rarely do I spend time reflecting on the year that has passed and all that comes with it.  So, I spent some time tonight after using flipgram thinking about this year as it wraps up.

This 15 second clip was only a small sampling of my Instagram pics for the year.

(Are we following each other btw?)

I vowed in 2013 that we would settle in and down for the long haul.  Every month I can remember things that happened so I thought it would be cool to see the year recapped in my memory.

January- The flu hit me hard.  We joined Lifetime and I felt like I was back at it from a fitness perspective.

February- Medical stuff in our families made this month tough.

March- Spring break in Florida. I flew alone with two kids and survived and we had an awesome week in the south soaking up some sun even though it was unusally chilly!

April- We were hit with record rains and we found out the meaning of community when it comes to our block. It caused us to remove a massive tree that was a huge liability in our front yard.

May-  The month was a blur trying to get to the end of the year.  Cate started daycare again for her second time and did remarkably well.

June-  Poor Cate got so sick after her return to daycare that she ended up in the emergency room.  Brady started a sports camp and loved it.  The weather was erratic causing power outages and trees down.

July- Brady experienced his first Fourth of July fireworks show and loved it.  We spent some awesome days at the beach and pool.  We took the kids to Navy Pier on what seemed to be the hottest day of the year when our air conditioning also went out.

August- Daycare, back to school and end of the summer stuff kept us busy! The  beach and Oz Park were highlghts!

September- Cate turned 2.  We went apple picking for the first time ever and had a blast and made it Rader Farm.

October- Brady turned 4.  A trip to Virginia to meet my niece.

November- Thanksgiving.  A quick trip to California that showed exactly why so many people love it out there.

December-  We did Santa and cookie decorating parties. And holiday happy hours and silent auctions for work.  The zoo lights and more. We got our share of sickness. We did dinner with friends and spent the entire month celebrating by eating and drinking.

Looking back I feel lucky to live the life I do. And 2013 was so good to us.  So, now its time to look at 2014. And prepare. And dream. And wish.  Until next year…


Yours and Mine

This is our life

These are our days

This is us trying to find our way

Tthis is the love

This is the dream

This is us learning how to be who we are, who we are

Cause this is our life

I am currently flying at 35,000 feet after a series of delays on my return flight to Chicago.  The air is choppy and we are bouncing all over the place.  The sun is out which I haven’t seen since I left my home Thursday night.  The frustration of not leaving D.C. on time today has made me twitchy because I am impatient and there is nothing I want more than to tuck my babies in to bed tonight.  I know my husband’s tank is empty because every time before this trip, I have been the one home by myself.  It is exhausting and rewarding but it makes you appreciate marriage and co-parenting so much more.

I spent the past almost 48 hours snuggling a newborn and the quiet time with her gave me a lot of time to just be and talk with my sister in law instead of the chaos that I call my life right now.  I swear there is some secret society you join when you have a kid.  My SIL and I laughed until I cried about things, talked about tough stuff and spent the day just being together.   I even bought a rug.    I can honestly say I love her ,more than before and the mother she has become.  And she and my brother are pros at parenting.

This is our life

These are our friends

This is our family that grows and dance

This is our chance

This is our time

This is us making things to somehow leave behind

Wwhat will we leave behind to show

That this is our life

I kept laughing at my brother as he talked to his daughter about her body parts in the bath, told her sarcastically bad jokes when she was fussy and brushed her hair with the smallest brush I have ever seen before bedtime. But honestly, he is good. Damn good at being a dad and that makes me smile.  I knew he would be.  He has always had this ease with babies and a quiet calm that is soothing to anyone around him.

My SIL is a mom now. She’s in the club. And there is a softness to her that I don’t think was as obvious before.  Her voice instantly calms her daughter and she is gentle and loving and so easily a mom.

It’s really easy when you are holding a newborn to send a text and tell your husband you want another one.  (Not that I did that…okay maybe I did.)  But, as I am flying high in the sky and looking down I am thinking about how blessed I already I am and content I am in our life.  My family and the life we are creating and living.  I have two kids that I am totally completely in love with.  And a husband that I love more every single day.  I am looking forward to what the future holds.  Disney. Sports. Friends. School.   As our extended family grows, I am acutely aware at the immediate family that is mine.  And I feel so lucky.

Cause i am so thankful

For each moment that we share

Right here is everything i need

I love our life and I love you so much honey

Thank you for loving me

Oh, this is our life

Straight or a mess

These are our memories in progress

This is our work

This is our hope

This is us learning how to cope

And laugh and cry

Cause it’s all yours and mine

This is our life

Lyrics by Mary Beth Maziarz “This Our Life” whcih was our wedding song.


A Day

Growing up in Bloomington-Normal, I keenly remember going out Market Street and getting on I-55S to head to southern Illinois to visit my grandparents when I was a kid. I remember our big blue and silver conversion van and how my brother and I would lay on the bed in the way back seat. We would read books, play Uno and sometimes nap.  We traveled frequently to see my grandparents since both sets lived within a couple miles of one another.  I remember feeling so old when my parents would let me walk to the Corn Barn across the alley from grandma’s house by myself.  I remember walking with my grandpa in his garden that he methodically weeded, watered and cared for daily. And I remember sitting at my grandparents bar watching the Cardinals on tv while my grandpa sat in his chair.


And now my kids are getting these experiences.  They are old enough now that traveling is not a burden and car rides don’t make me shutter.  They are willing travel and adjust with ease when we exit off of I-55S at Towanda.  We come late and go straight to bed- sometimes with a popcorn as a quick snack.  Pancakes the first morning we are there that everyone helps to make.  And milkshakes are a must before we leave.


We spent Saturday at Rader Farms having clean, simple, easy fun.  Towards the end of the afternoon, I sat down with my mom on two Adirondack chairs near the huge gymnastics mat where Brady was landing after jumping from hay bales and we both looked at each other and said, “These looked pretty good. What an awesome day.”  The weather, being with my parents who are so amazing with my kids and my hometown are the perfect ingredients for a fall day.


Earlier that morning when Cate woke up a little too early with a yucky nose and a little bit disoriented, Brady and I made
the trek up from my parents’ basement to their second floor. I picked her up realizing that all she needed was me.  The three of lay on a king bed in the room and fell asleep. Both kids slept within two inches of my face so instead of sleeping I listened to them breathe.   I was keenly aware of how lucky I am and tucked this small moment deep in my vault of memories.


Having an almost 4 year and an almost 2 year old is not exactly a cakewalk.  But they are portable and flexible and little and just need to be loved.  They want to ride in wagons, swing on tire horses, touch every single pumpkin in the bunch, take tractor rides, jump like wild men, and be little. So, this weekend I let them be little.