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?



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. 

Window to Our World

He told me he found it.

He said it wouldn’t last.

He said it was a deal.

He said it had everything we wanted.

He said it was right for us.

We turned off Belmont Avenue on to a one-way street headed south. The street was foreign to me and I wouldn’t have known it was there if I was the one driving. Nestled against the train tracks it was a narrow street and cars lined the left side of it. One stop sign. Then a second stop sign. And then we turned right on another one-way street headed west. Not exactly convenient but quiet. Cars lined both sides of the street. Were we still in the city? Where was the noise? Then we heard it. The Metra train whizzing by carrying commuters home to the suburbs heading north reminding me that yes, we were still in the city.

The street was lined with beautiful houses. Most of them were new, all brick, two stories with new windows, beautiful fences, and manicured city lawns.

We pulled up. I took in a deep breath and took another deep breath out. It was damp and rainy. I shivered as I got out of the car. The sky was gray, dark charcoal gray and the wind blew and the cool wind reminded me that spring was still not here. My brain kept saying, the gray of the sky matches the gray of the siding.

Not brick, no new windows, a rickety wrought iron fence that didn’t shut, and lawn full of water from gutters neglected all winter and that refused to drain.

We walked up the steps, my stomach ever so slightly showing the bump I that had hid for 20 weeks, and he pushed open the front door. There was wood, dark, ornate wood. Crown molding thick with detail and baseboards aged so deeply that you knew it had never been replaced. There were hardwood floors and the sunlight streamed through the dirty blinds. There was dust on every surface; so thick you could see the particles floating in the light.

We approached the bathroom. It was maroon. Completely maroon. From the sink to the toilet to the tub the only color I saw was maroon. As we moved past it, he reminded me to keep an open mind and that we will renovate.

I shuffled in to the kitchen where the white ceramic tile overwhelmed the space. Grease so thick only a razor we get it off where it had settled on every maple cabinet. The appliances were old, white and looked worn out and tired from years of use and clear neglect.

Out the back window, I saw a structure. Gray peeling paint with a hint of wood underneath. Three hanging flower pots all uneven on their stands, all ready to fall to the ground and shatter underneath the two old windows that once were opened daily in the carriage house.

The tree consumed the back yard. Large, overgrown branches towered over the cable lines and hung into the neighbor’s yard on both sides of the lot.

He asks me what I think. Without hesitating I say it is not perfect but this it.

It’s our home.


Where babies were born, demolition was done and love is the constant emotion. It’s our home. Ugly to the original eye yet now beautifully understated amongst the towering homes on our street but loved and ours. Home.