Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Picture Perfect

I'm not sure how it is that we have a four year old now, but here's one of my favorite things that we've done since Henry was born. I can't wait to keep it up!
Henry's 4 Year Old Picture Picture. By the truly lovely Leslie of Tiny Bubbles.
Rewind to Henry's 2 Year Old Picture Picture. By the fabulous Kayla of Full Bloom Photo. 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Parental Dichotomy

noun | di-chot-o-my
1. a difference between two opposite things: a division into two opposite group.

Perhaps I'm telling you something you already know, but it's worth saying: parenting is dichotomous.

Choose a word to describe what it's like to be a parent, and the opposite is equally true.

Example: Delightful.
Antonym: Terrifying.

Yes, both of those things. Let's try again. 

Example: Exhausting.
Antonym: Invigorating.

Yep, and those. 

Example: Full.
Antonym: Empty.

As in, your heart is full, but your energy level? Empty.

You see, it'll start when you're pregnant. You do and don't want them to come out. You'll say to your belly: please come out now. I can't even roll over. And I'm over this waddle. But then you'll realize, ohmigosh, he has to come out somehow. That should be fun. Maybe give me one more day to mentally prepare.

Children manage to keep you young, while simultaneously taking years off of your life.

You will and you won't want them to grow up.

You can't wait for bedtime, and then as soon as there is a moment of peace, you're able to reflect on the absolute awesomeness of your children and suddenly: you can't wait for them to wake up again.

You don't want to wish away the time that they are little, in fact you want it to last forever... but you definitely do want to wish away the diapers and the tantrums, and the times where you can't manage to find anyone's shoes and you have to be somewhere five minutes ago (or is that just me?)

You will and you won't know where the time has gone. You blinked and you're here. But there were also those incredibly long days, and impossibly long nights along the way.

It's messy, but there's an order to the chaos: breakfast, lunch and dinner, nap time and bedtime, bath time and book time.

There will be moments where you just can't stand another touch, or another whine, or another "up." Kids are so needy! And then, so independent. Five minutes later you'd give anything to be wrapped up in those little arms. Or for him to look back when you drop him off at camp. Just a quick glance and a wave.

Oh and don't forget your children, themselves! One happy, one sad. One asleep, one awake. One crazy, one well-behaved. It will change from moment to moment, and child to child, but the dichotomies and options are endless. Especially if there are more than two.

My theory? Life's greatest concepts are dichotomous. Enjoy the roller coaster, folks!

P.S. I don't say it enough but, you're doing a good job, Mama. (Dads-- you, too.) Let's pass that message on as often as possible. You're doing a good job.

Friday, July 17, 2015


Henry turned four this week. FOUR.

I do and I don't know where the time has gone. I blinked and here we are with four candles on a cake. 

I remember rocking him as a squishy little newborn, in complete wonder. How are you here? How did we make you? How are you possible?

And now my questions have turned to: When did you turn into your own person? How did develop this amazing personality? And still... Just how are you possible?

Every time someone compliments Henry, I say thank you. I made him after all, so I can take the credit, right? But this truth is, some of the very best parts of Henry, are things I can take no responsibility for. He's his own self. And that's amazing. 

He continues to blow me away: with his observations, his empathy, his vocabulary, his sense of humor.

It's so confusing because just like I do and I don't know where the time has gone, I also can and can't wait to watch him grow up. I want to hang on to this little boy with everything I have, but I equally can't wait to see the man he becomes.

Love you, Henry. To infinity and beyond.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015


There will be a few times in your life when all of your instincts will tell you to do something,
something that defies logic, upsets your plans, and may seem crazy to others. 
When that happens, you do it.
Listen to your instincts and ignore everything else.
Ignore logic, ignore the odds, ignore the complications, and just go for it.
-Judith McNaught

Monday, July 6, 2015

Laurealism Library: Volume 4

Here's what I've been reading lately...

For reference, my personal scale:
1- Couldn't get past the first chapter
2- Finished it, but not for me
3- A good, entertaining book
4-Worth reading in your liftime
5-All time favorite books
The Martian, Andy Weir
Pick this up if: You enjoy science-fiction, space or like to read the book before the movie comes out.

Notes: This was a page-turner for me... the first astronaut on Mars is accidentally stranded there, and trust me, you'll want to keep reading up until the end. Very entertaining.

My rating: 4/5
Goodreads rating: 4.36/5

Quotes: "Yes of course duct tape works in a near-vaccuum. Duct tape works anywhere. Duct tape is magic and should be worshipped." and "I guess you could call it a failure, but I prefer the term 'learning experience'."
The Second Empress: A Novel of Napoleon's Court, Michelle Moran
Pick this up if: You have a soft spot for historical fiction (like I do.)

Notes: If you like historical fiction, you'll like this one, and everything by Moran. While it's not life-changing, it is easy to read, entertaining, and you might even learn a thing or two.

My rating: 3/5
Goodreads rating: 3.8

Quotes: "That faith is to believe what we do not see, and the reward of that faith is to see what we believe." and "The heart has its reasons, which reason knows not of."

You might also like: Anything by Michelle Moran or Philippa Gregory, Girl with a Pearl Earring
Wild, From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
Pick this up if: You want to learn something about yourself, or you need inspiration for an upcoming hike.

Notes: This one struck a chord with me, primarily because it's about an every-day woman, who accomplishes an amazing thing and learns a lot about herself in the process. Also, I highlighted half of the book-- some great writing!

My rating: 4/5
Goodreads rating: 3.93/5

Quotes: "I was a terrible believer in things, but I was also a terrible non-believer in things." and "Tell me what is it you plan to do? With your one wild and precious life?"

You might also like: Middlesex, Veronika Decides to Die, The Goldfinch
The Stand, Stephen King
Pick this up if: You like post-apocolyptic, or you're looking for a giant book to dive into.

Notes: Oh, Mr. King. I'm attempting to read some big books a few times a year, and this did not disappoint. You can really read into this one, and get as much out of it as you'd like. And, multimedia alert! The mini-series is on Netflix.

My rating: 4/5
Goodreads rating: 4.32

Quotes: "The glory of a good tale is that it is limitless and fluid; a good tale belongs to each reader in its own particular way."and "Sixty-four has a way of forgetting what twenty-one was like."

You might also like: 11/22/63, The Pillars of the Earth
The Rosie Project, Graeme Simsion
Pick this up if: You love Big Bang Theory

Notes: Once I started reading this, I immediately pictured Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory, which makes for an entertaining character. Very cute and witty!

My rating: 3/5
Goodreads rating: 4/5

Quotes: "Then, in this vanishingly small moment in the history of the universe, she took my hand, and held it all the way to the subway." and "People can tell you the supposed characteristics of a Gemini or a Taurus and will spend five days watching a cricket match, but cannot find the interest or the time to learn the basics of what they, as humans, are made up of."

You may also like: Anything by Lianne Moriarty, The Vacationers

What have you recently added to your bookshelf? I'll have another couple of Laurealism Library Volumes out soon... but in the meantime, you can find the previous volumes here!

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.