Friday, July 3, 2015

Find yourself in the everyday



"I found myself again one morning when I opened the window
 and smelled the fresh daisies growing in my backyard. 
I ran outside and danced under the sunshine 
and nothing had felt that warm in a long time. 
The rays on my skin and the grass beneath my feet, 
nothing had been that normal in so long. 
I found myself in the novels I read 
and the country music I played while riding shotgun.
 I found myself while walking along the beach 
and witnessing the sun setting down. 
It was beautiful, and when the sun rose the next day,
 I found myself while trying to tie my curtains up. 
I made myself some hot tea and I thought to myself, 
"I'm going to be alright." 
Because I found myself while pacing down the open roads at midnight. 
And I laughed under the stars 
and I remember that the world is much bigger than I am 
and there is so much more out there than what we have. 
I found myself while tracing back my footprints along the sand 
and listening to the waters rush along the creeks. 
I found the warmth of living." 
-M.D. Liu

One of my yoga instructors shared this recently in a class (Simply Yoga in Lemont is awesome!) and it really resonated with me. And while I suspect this is about depression or the aftermath of a tragedy or something very serious, I still got a lot out of it. 

It's so easy to get caught up in the chaos that is this society... work... technology... keeping up with everyone around us... but when you really think about what makes you happy, I think you'll be able to find it all around you, no matter what your circumstances.

What are we if not the things that we enjoy?

Sunshine-goosebumps on my skin, a stack of books, a cup of tea, making my kids laugh, my husband's hugs, exploring nature, caring for my garden, hearing the ocean, swimming in a lake, being barefoot, yoga, a beautiful day, a morning rainstorm... these are the sorts of things that make me happy to be here.

And they are all so simple. We all need to slow down and appreciate the things that make us happy.

Where do you find your happiness in the everyday?

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Magic Kindgom Adventures

We had the chance to experience the MAGIC that is Disney last week. Work brought me to Orlando, so I thought it'd be a good opportunity to bring along Mark and the boys and meet THE Mouse at the very least.

It was a vacation of many firsts. A couple of examples:

First time on an airplane with kids where I wasn't like "Ohmygosh get me off of this airplane right now please, please, please."
On a plane! And I'm not even faking that smile.
(Note: Henry was being bribed with cookies for good behavior.)
First time seeing Disney through the eyes of my children.
Monkey see, Monkey do.
And Disney through the eyes of your kids? AWESOME. I will totally admit that I over-planned the one day we had for Magic Kingdom. But somehow my kids (nearly 4 and 1.5) managed to make it through every ride they were tall enough for, from 9AM-8:45PM. I was impressed, and thankful because I was being selfish and really, really wanted to be able to do it all in the one day we had.

Henry's favorite rides were Buzz Lightyear, It's a Small World and the Jungle Cruise.
Will cheesing and Henry copying Buzz-- his new obsession.
He didn't like the Seven Dwarves Mine ("that one is too crazy") The Barnstormer ("this one makes my tummy feel funny") or the Haunted Mansion ("can't they turn the lights on?" Though he did perfect his evil laugh on this one, so that's hilarious.)

William seemed to enjoy It's a Small World and The Winnie-the-Pooh Ride. At least those are the ones where he did the most pointing to characters.
Sing it with me! It's a Small World After All...
I personally liked Under the Sea, and appreciated all of the in-line distractions of Winnie-the-Pooh. My least favorite: The Motor Speedway. If real driving were that difficult I would never leave my house.

Mark liked the Jungle Cruise, the Haunted Mansion, Peter Pan's Flight and the Swiss Family Treehouse (which Henry is now expecting in the backyard.) And I think he was surprised at how much he actually enjoyed himself-- and I'd have to agree. I thought Disney was going to be a nightmare from the parental perspective, but it was SO GREAT. I can't wait to go back and do more!
Believe it or not, this was the last picture we took on our way out of the park.
If we still liked each other after a full day of Disney, we can make the long-haul, right?
So after a day at Disney, here are my tips:

1. Bring your own water bottle. Why spend money on something that you can get for free? 
Our go-to ride when William wasn't big enough to ride something that Henry was.
2. Download the Disney App. It lets you know up-to-date wait times and character locations. Utilize Fast-passes in the afternoon, when lines are at their longest. For those you don't have a fast-pass for, hit as much before noon as you can, then break for lunch before your fast-passes start. With a lot of planning, we were able to hit 18 attractions, plus meet Mickey!
This is the face Will makes now when I pull out my phone.
Waiting to see Mickey was the longest we waited all day! 35 minutes.
3. Don't feel like you have to stay at a Disney Resort. I'll admit I didn't fully research this yet, but we were staying at the Gaylord Palms (that's where my work-show was) and it had an amazing kids water park and water slides, kids ate free, free shuttles to and from Disney Parks, and there was enough to entertain them on the days we didn't get out of the hotel.
Disney Excitement
4. Check out Downtown Disney! There are some fun characters walking around, live music, a couple of kiddie-rides-- and many of the restaurants take reservations, so if you plan ahead, you can beat out the lines! We spent a whole evening there, and it was a good "warm-up" to Magic Kingdom. The T-Rex restaurant was definitely overpriced, but entertaining. (Those dinosaurs, can't walk... right Mom? If they could it would be a little bit scary.)
T-Rex Restaurant
5. Bring snacks to distract your kids in line. One dum-dum can go a long way. Also stock up on new toys at the dollar store before you leave. This came in handy on the plane and in lines to distract the boys with something new. And I wasn't concerned if something got lost or ruined because it was a dollar! I plan on remembering this trick for future long car rides.

6. Don't be afraid of a rainy day-- you are waterproof! There were a couple of sprinkly showers the morning we were at Disney (no down pours, just some light rain) but I feel like these showers made the park less crowded, and for the morning at least we weren't miserable in the hot-hot sun! All of the ride lines are covered and many will run in the rain, though so it's really a non-issue!
If you and your kids don't look like this after a Disney Park,
you're doing it wrong.
What are your Disney Tips? What's your favorite attraction? Your kid's favorite attractions?

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Awakening

As a child, I ran through life and all of it's seasons: sticky summer days of sweat and popsicles, crunchy autumn mornings and refreshingly cold snow angels.

As a child I never longed for Spring. Of course I was out running around barefoot and coatless the first chance I had, but Spring came when it came, and always arrived before I had a chance to miss it.

In fact, the first time I consciously remember longing for Spring was the winter after Mark and I married. We were living in the charming, Chardon, Ohio at the time. In an area called the snow belt. We'd had 151 inches of snow that year. (To compare, on average, Chicago gets just under 40 inches.) 

I was living in a snow globe. A snow globe that some toddler never tired of: one who shook and shook my world over and over again, covering it in snow.

There was a tree outside our kitchen window in that house, that I became slightly obsessed with. I looked at it every morning in April, looking for little green buds-- willing them to come to life. I watched that tree slowly awaken, at its mesmerizing, leisurely pace.

That was the first time I reveled in the awakening that is Spring. The tiny changes every day: the crocus, the daffodils, the buds on the trees... It taught me a special kind of patience.

Since then, I examine every day of the Spring. I find myself studying nature and looking for those tiny changes: listening for the birds and frogs, watching the grass get greener, noticing the color coming back into the rose bushes. 

The world is quite remarkable when you take the time to notice. And this year, as the world is awakening, it seems: and so am I.

--
The inspiration to this post came from a charming piece from a cousin (in law) of mine: Katie McMullen. In this post, she wisely points out, "My garden rituals remind me that waiting is good, and I can't control much." 

Which is exactly how I feel about Spring. Midwestern Spring certainly takes its sweet time, but the waiting and the anticipation can be a stunning experience.

What's your favorite sign of Springtime where you are located?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Monday, April 20, 2015

A Beautiful Day

I knew going into parenthood, that it would be my job to teach my children. Teach them their alphabet, teach them to share, teach them right from wrong, teach them compassion...

Teach them, teach them, teach them.

Everyday. Because there is so much to take in, and so much to learn in this world.

What I didn't realize going into parenthood, is just how THEY would teach ME. And I'm not just talking how to change a diaper. I'm talking about serious life lessons.

Every day when we walk outside, Henry declares its a beautiful day. But not every day is the same kind of beautiful.

Yesterday Henry declared. "What a beautiful, bright, sunny day!" I energetically agreed. 

But then, this morning I was putting on a sweatshirt, a little irritated that the weather was under fifty degrees. It's supposed to be SPRING. I want a sunny, sixty degree day, with blue skies and white fluffy clouds.

So when we walked outside and Henry declared, "What a beautiful, cool day! This rain will help your garden grow!" I laughed. Because he's SO right, isn't he? Every day is beautiful in it's own way. We need the rainy days, to enjoy the sunny days filled with flowers. We could look forward to that sunny day, or we can enjoy this day we have now. 

My children are just so very present in every moment. Something I am striving to be. I need to spend a little more time in their world. A world that's new and wondrous, every single day.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Oh, Henry.

I'm quite convinced that if Henry had a camera crew following him around, he would be an instant hit. Every day his wit surprises me, and most definitely makes me laugh.

The other night I went to play trivia with a friend. When I got home Henry was still awake so I played five minutes of trivia with him before he went to bed.

"How many fingers on one hand?"
"Five."
"What color is the sky?"
"Blue."
"What letter does Helicopter start with?"
"H. Like Henry."

While we were on the trivia kick I thought I might gain some insight into the world of Henry by throwing in a few opinion questions.

"What's your favorite sport?"
"Being naked!"
--
Today I was threatening Henry with a time-out because he wasn't doing so well in the listening department. Lately he'll say "Shhh... don't talk!" when I'm scolding him or telling him not to do something. Since I continued with my threat he yelled, 

"I don't like you!"

Which is the first time I've heard those words from him. (Surprisingly, this didn't hurt my feelings quite as much as I thought it would.) I took the opportunity to say we shouldn't talk like that to anyone, it can really hurt someone's feelings and we can't take words back. He looked me straight in the eye when he said:

"When I don't like you, I still love you, Mama." I should note that he says "wike" for like and "wove" for love. Which only makes this 3 year old's piece of wisdom cuter.

[I laughed but I surely hope he remembers this wisdom when he's a rowdy teenager.]
--
Easter really resonated with Henry yesterday. He hasn't stopped talking about that bunny which he calls the "Oyster" Bunny thanks to a Bubble Guppies Episode. Today while I was finishing up lunch with William, Henry snuck away with a bag full of Reese's Pieces. I'd promised him candy after lunch, so I pretended to look the other way. He then snuck by me again (hand shielding his eyes-- the classic if he can't see me, I can't see him toddler logic) to get a basket full of empty eggs.

He was being awfully quiet in the play room (which is the first sign of trouble) so I peeked in to check on him and he immediately screamed, "You can't look at me! I'm the Oyster Bunny with a special treat for you! But you can't see my hide the eggs!" So I went back into the kitchen (I can see him from there, he just doesn't know that. He proceeded to hide the eggs and then hop out of the room. And if you know Henry at all you'll know what a hugely sweet gesture sharing something with sugar is, as opposed to just eating it all himself.

"Otay, Mommy! The Oyster Bunny is done! Go find the eggs!"

I literally couldn't find the eggs, so I loudly proclaimed, "Wow, this Easter Bunny did a great job! I can't find the eggs anywhere!"

"Maybe you should look in the toy box!"

Moral of the story is I really need to clean out the toy box because I still can't find the eggs.
--
"Henry, do you know what Daddy's real name is?"
"Yes, Mark!"
"Good job! Do you know what Mommy's real name is?"
"Yes, Babe!"
--
As my first child, experiencing Henry grow up has been nothing short of wonderful. When they are babies it's magical to see all of the firsts and have that cuddly little bundle need you so much. Then they hit one and two, and you're amazed by how much they learn and take in every day. They start walking and talking... and talking... 

And now we are well into three and I'm beginning to glimpse the person Henry will be. His big personality shining out of that little body. 

Sometimes these little things accumulate and hit me all at once in a heart-bursting moment of profound happiness. 

And I think They are only three and one. Think of all the adventures that await 
us!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Guest House



The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows, 
who violently sweep your house
empty of it's furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out 
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
Meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
Because each has been sent 
as a guide from beyond.

-Jelaluddin Rumi, translation by Coleman Barks


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Lovely


I read this today and it resonated with me:

Always leave people better than you found them.
Hug the hurt.
Kiss the broken.
Befriend the lost.
Love the lonely.

We can all make a difference: one small, kind gesture at a time.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Frosty the Snowman

It's no secret that I learn more every day in regards to what it takes to be a boy mom. In most cases, I still don't "get it," but rather go along with it.

For example: a little boy's need to build things just to knock them over.

We'll spend a half hour building a beautiful "house" (I prefer to pretend it's a castle.) And as soon as the final block is in place, Henry's happy to make it come crashing down.

And the same goes for William. If anything gets to be half his height or above within his line of vision, he turns into Babyzilla. He'll come crashing into whatever it is, roars included.

And trust me I didn't teach them this. If I spend my morning creating something in the play room, ideally it would last at least until dinner.

Take today for example. Henry and Mark went out to play in the snow. And created this little cutie:

I mean he is adorable, right?? Henry named him Frosty, and I was already excited for him to hang out on our property for a few weeks. I loved this snowman. (I remember when I was young building snowmen with my brothers and going inside to ask my mom for the carrot, and something for the eyes. So it was so sweet when Henry came into today asking for a "carrot nose, eyes, mouth and hat, pwease. For Frosty.") So about three seconds after Frosty is complete I hear:

"Otay. Now let's knock him over!"

Which turned out to be more difficult than Henry thought.

That's about as "full speed" as Henry gets with that much gear on, and giant boots in a foot of snow. And so instead? We'll just eat his carrot nose.


And take a bite of his... ribs?


And leave the hard work to Daddy. I keep forgetting that dads are still 50% little boy on the inside. And  Mark totally gets my boys when I  clearly do not.

 
RIP Frosty.