Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Thank you for being born...

31 years ago today my husband was born as a healthy baby boy.
And I'm glad.
Because if he had never been born I would have never moved to Central Illinois...which means.
  - I would have never had the jobs I have.
  - I would not have met the friends I met.
  - I would not have lived in the house I live in.
And if he had not been born on that day, of that year....
  - I wouldn't have the children I have.
  - I wouldn't know what "Nana rolls" taste like.
  - I wouldn't get to take my family up to Lake Michigan every summer.
And if he hadn't surprised his parents with his arrival....
  - I wouldn't have anyone to tell me why a shirt made out of Bamboo is superior.
  - I wouldn't have a dog that I think is pretty neat.
  - I wouldn't know how to make an action in Photoshop.
And if he hadn't grown up to be a handsome funny man....
  - I wouldn't have fallen in love my sophomore year of college.
  - I wouldn't have woken up next to you this morning.
  - And I wouldn't have spent my afternoon making "cake pops" that look like complete crap (but taste amazing).

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Last Time

We are closet co-sleepers.  Or at least we were.  For more than a year a little 2-3 year old has shuffled over to our room every night somewhere between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m.  I could be sound asleep, but most nights I could hear him come over before he even crossed his doorway.  Or, on other nights I would wake up to "Mommy!" being whispered in my face. 
We knew it had to end eventually.  We were trying to strategize ways to transition that would be painless - for everyone involved.  I never thought I would have a child that slept with my husband and I 90% of the time.   But that was before I woke up next to this.....
Perhaps there was a part of me that resisted the transition because I still felt guilty about my indecision and strict no-co-sleeping policy when we first brought him home and he maybe needed that attachment with us.  Perhaps I was just being selfish because having a little guy curl up against you that smells like baby shampoo might be the best way to spend the night. 
It doesn't matter though.  Because it ended.  I didn't come up with a great strategy.  We didn't have nights of crying it out, or painful evenings of having to argue with him over which bed he was sleeping in. 
It just ended.  On his own he decided he didn't need to come over anymore.  And I didn't even realize it until last night.  Since I've been home from school, he hasn't come over once.
I should be thrilled that it was so easy.
I should be jumping up and down, high-fiving Dustin on our awesome strategy of no strategy at all.
Instead I'm trying to remember the last time Miles curled up next to me or whispered loudly in my face that he needed water.  Because it was the last time, and I didn't know it was the last time when it happened. 
And it just reminds me that there will be other "last times"....that I won't remember....because I won't know until it's too late.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Where to begin...

In exactly four weeks and four days I have to be out of my house.
In exactly eight weeks my former co-workers will be unlocking their classrooms and dusting off their computers.
In exactly two months and three weeks I will be on my way across the ocean.

And how have I been preparing?

(insert sound of crickets chirping here.)

To be honest this cavalier attitude is new for me.  I find myself slightly freaked out about not being freaked out.  I set a date for a garage sale, but my heart is only halfway in it.  Don't get me wrong...I'm not resisting the cleansing of my possessions, it's more that I wish I could afford to just give them all away, still make it over to N. Ireland, and still have a small savings for when we return. 
It's like that one time in Grey's Anatomy.....
(come on, don't act surprised that I went there.)
....when Christina went through post traumatic stress disorder (Season 7, Episodes 1-10) and she's just apathetic and distant. 
I don't think I'm apathetic about most things....but that look she has on her face.  That's the look I envision myself having when I think about leaving.
There are A LOT of things I'm going to miss.  A LOT of things I will yearn for when I'm gone.  But for some reason God has allowed me this gift of time.  There is this period of time when I don't have to dwell on these looming important things. 
When I can polish jewelry that may never get into a store to sell, buy bags of sugar that I may never get to eat, plant tomato plants that I'll never see swell up into beautiful tomatoes. 
I may be acting foolishly indifferent, but for right now, I'm allowed that.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

schedule schmedule

I have been having a really good summer.  I love the weather so far (I'm a total, 70-75 degree sort of gal), and most of all I love how this summer has been shaping up so far with my boys. 
I haven't been writing much lately because we've been busy going for walks, doing art projects, and learning our letters.  Who am I kidding?  I've also started Grey's Anatomy from season 1 and am now almost to season 7...I am a total sucker for shows that are out on season disks.  And since these are now available on Netflix "Watch it Now", the only thing holding me back from hours and hours of fictional emotional drama are two little people that sort of need my attention every once in awhile.
Note the precision and concentration....Miles reminds me of the painter Dali - paying so much attention to detail.

See that action?  Liam is definitely more of a Jackson Pollock.

All kidding aside, I am having a lot of fun in this new role I play in their lives.  We're down to a system.  A beautiful system.  A system built around a schedule with timers and activities.  When we first brought Miles home I was foolish and thought parents who followed tight schedules were just missing out on all of the exciting things.  I didn't want my life ruled by the schedule of a little person that didn't seem to have an opinion on the matter.  Unfortunately I mistook the lack of vocabulary for not having an opinion.  In his own way, Miles very much has an opinion.  He just showed it by throwing temper tantrums in Kroger, and refusing to take naps on most days.
Since I've made the conscious decision to create a schedule, my job has gotten so much easier.  Gone are the days of taking 1.5 hours to fall asleep for a nap that only lasted about 45 minutes.  So long to the multiple visits to the "naughty chair."  Bubye to my short fuse laced on trying to multi-task at every moment of the day. 
I was so foolish before.  I thought that my kids functioned well without a set schedule.  I thought they were well-rested and easy enough to manage.  Why didn't someone write a book about this so that I could have read it and saved myself all sorts of trouble? 
Oh wait...someone did.  I just thought I knew better.  I was so much smarter before I had kids.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday

Ten things I say almost everyday that I never would have dreamed of saying out loud three years ago.

1.  "Go inside and put some underwear on."
2.  "Don't pee on your brother."
3.  "You can't stand on the windowsill naked."
4.  "We don't pick our nose."
5.  "Or eat it."
6.  "Where did your clothes go?"
7.  "Who went to the bathroom on the floor?"
8.  "We don't run over our brother with the bicycle."
9.  "Please don't put fruit snacks in your ear...or your nose."
10.  "Mmmmmm...I LOVE carrots, carrots are DEL.IS.CIOUS.  Daddy, don't you love carrots?  I know that Bob the Builder loves carrots.  I think Cece would be happy if you loved carrots too.  Carrots are just soooooo good."

Sunday, June 19, 2011

In honor of father's day...

The top ten things my Dad taught me without saying anything...

1.  Fanny packs can be cool.  When I was a freshman in high school we took a trip out West.  My parents saved and planned and we all knew it was a once-in-a-lifetime trip.  We rode on a plane, saw the Grand Canyon and Mexico.  There are a handful of things that I remember about that trip that had nothing to do with the sites.  One of which was that my dad wore a fanny pack for the trip.  And.ROCKED.It.  My mom tried to talk him out of it, and we all made fun of him, but my dad is way more about sensibility.  In all fairness, men do have a disadvantage in the purse department.  And no one was laughing when he agreed to carry our personal belongings.  I also remember that we all got along incredibly well, that I experienced so many new things that I've held close to my heart, and that it is one memory from my childhood that has stayed with me for a very long time.  When I think of a time when everything was perfect - I think of that trip.

2.  Being formally educated doesn't make you smart.  My dad is smart.  Like really smart.  Useful smart.  He doesn't have a degree, but he is an engineer for a major company.  He problem-solves and calculates.  He opens factories in other countries.  People listen to my dad.  How did he get there?  That is a really long story...but a good one.  Maybe someday I'll tell you.  In short, it had a lot more to do with working hard, being disappointed, working hard some more, being kind and fair, and then working hard some more.  I think he regrets not getting a degree, but I personally think that what he has is much better.

3.  When playing Rook with undecided partners, reveal yo'self.  I only remember my dad yelling at me one time....when we were playing Rook.  I thought I was being clever by keeping my identity as his secret partner a secret.  Turns out I was wrong.

4.  How to change my oil.  I actually had to ask my dad to show me.  I think that if it were up to him he would have changed my oil for me until I was married, and then he would have expected me to marry someone who knew enough about cars to change my oil.  (Which I did.)  However, my dad's a really good teacher, and when I told him I wanted to learn he got super excited and showed me.  I remember that day and I remember that I loved spending it with my dad.

5.  That I can build almost anything out of wood.  I really can.  If there is something I dad's favorite phrase is..."You could build that."  And thanks to my dad, I can.

6.  Bootleg jeans never really went out of style.  Do you remember the 80's?  Everyone does.  Everyone was wearing stirrup pants and tight rolling their jeans, this girl's dad was still sporting the bootleg jeans.  I thought he was crazy - until I bought my first pair of bootleg jeans. 

7.  Hug your children and tell them how proud you are.

8.  Take your boots off before you walk through the house.  This was a combination lesson from my mom and dad.  My mom would clean the house and my dad would walk through it with his boots on....his muddy boots.  Until he learned.  Then it was the simplest thing he could do to show my mom he appreciated what she did.  And he did it.

9.  Before making macaroni and cheese - make sure there's cheese.  In other words, plan ahead.  Our favorite story about my dad is when my mom went back to school and my dad had to suddenly become a domestic god in the evenings (I used that phrase VERY loosely). 

10.  Don't be afraid of change and being brave is pretty awesome.  My mom and dad moved out of the country two times.  They left everything behind for the adventure.  I think that's pretty brave.  and awesome.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Week at Grandpa and Cece's

Dinner Al Fresco.

Liam's first haircut.
Milkshake Making with Cece.

Big league chew.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday...

The Ten Things I Love About Summer Break This Week.
1.  Naptime and all that this entails.
2.  How insanely productive and unproductive I've been - at the same time.
3.  Spending the week with my parents...which includes, but is not limited to the following: Tiny's Dairy Barn, dinner outside, lots of free time while others watch my kids, sleeping in, getting taken care of, and delicious food.
4.  Only getting out of my pajamas when I feel like it...which is usually spurred only by a need to leave the house.
5.  This awesome weather in which I don't sweat buckets, nor must I send silent deathrays to the hot hot sun.
6.  A weekend with good friends - full of giggles, pedicures, and Amish bonnets.
7.  The Real Housewives of (fill in the blank). (Guys - my parents have cable and let me just tell you that the Bravo channel is shameful and GLORIOUS all at the same time.)
8.  Going for walks.
9.  Staying up late.
10.  Selling my house. :)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

another chapter.

Yesterday I shut down my computer, turned in my last gradebook, and handed over the keys that have been dangling from my keyring for the last seven years. 
I had been dreading that moment for weeks now - the finality of it. 
My department bought the entire faculty cake, and me a sweet little gift.  I received cards with notes from the people I've called my coworkers and friends. It was all understated....and exactly how I wanted it.
As I picked up my last box to carry out to my car I didn't say goodbye to anyone.  I looked back at my bare-walled room and considered taking a picture.  But I didn't.
My classroom door closed and locked behind me and I had a brief moment of panic.  What if I needed to get in there next week because I forgot something? I realized that this was ridiculous.  (Until today, when I realized that I really do need back in there.)

Here's the surprising thing.  I didn't cry.  I'm a crier that didn't cry on her last day of work at a job she loved.  I got in my car, went out to lunch with dear friends, and then took off for my parents' house. 
I haven't been able to talk to anyone, but I feel surprisingly at peace.
Did I mention that we accepted an offer on the house the night before?

I feel this incredible amount of peace over closing some major chapters in my life this week and it's freaking me out.  Where are the tears and the overreactions?  How am I holding it together?
Just another indication that this is exactly what I'm supposed to be doing.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Everything you need to know about N. Ireland....

....that is, if you just need to know the very surface-level information because your friends are moving there for a few years and you might want to know what you're talking about.
This is confusing, especially for us Americans that are used to our nice tidy country-state-county-city system that makes up the United States.  But to a foreigner, that could even be a bit confusing.  I mean, I'm from America, but so are Canadians.  Did you ever think about that?  The technicality of it all?

Well, it's similar over there.  We aren't going to Ireland.  We going to Northern Ireland.  And there is a difference.  For all of you that are like me and need it explained.....
(and trust me, I don't know it all....I lived in N. Ireland for a semester in college and still had to look up the following information on the internet.)  (Have I mentioned that I couldn't point out New Hampshire on a map of the US?)

Anyways,  Northern Ireland is separate from Ireland.  It's an entirely different country.  The major city that you may have heard of is Belfast - which is its capital and where the Titanic was built.
Northern Ireland is part of the UK (short for United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland), but is not part of Great Britain.  Great Britain is only made up of the countries on the island.  (See images below.)
This is the British Isles.  It includes Wales, Scotland, England, Ireland, and Northern Ireland
This is Northern Ireland (in the red).  It is separate from Ireland.  It has a different government and flag.

Here is the flag of Northern Ireland.  I used to know what everything meant...but I will have to get back to you on that one.  I've had a few other things fill my brain in the last 11 years, so there are things I forget....back off.

Okay, now here is where it gets complicated.....

The orange is Great Britain.  It's made up of England, Scotland, and Wales - the three countries that include all of the land on the island itself. 

Here's a break-down for you......

Now.....what Northern Ireland is actually a part of is the UK, which technically includes everything in the British Isles except for The Republic of Ireland (most commonly known simply as "Ireland")....
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
 So there you go.  We got the basic Geography down.  If anything, I needed this as a refresher course, but I also don't want anyone to get confused about where we're going.  We're going to a country that is still under rule by the monarchy.  According to Wikipedia (I know, I know, not a real source - don't tell my students) it is in and of itself a country made up of countries.  
Hmmmm....I think that's enough Geography for today, wouldn't you say?   
I need to go nurse my coffee while my brain takes a chill pill.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Miles' birthday celebration in St. Louis.

I had big plans to post all of these pictures a week ago - considering we took this trip way back over Memorial Day weekend, but I've been busy spending my week  wrapping up the career I thought I would have for the next 20 years.  But that is beside the point. 

We went to St. Louis last weekend to celebrate Miles' and his cousin Wyatt's birthdays with Dustin's family.  I've never been inside the city (which is lame, considering I've only lived about 2.5 hours from it for the last 8 years).  We started out at the City Museum and then spent the next day at the St. Louis zoo.

It should be noted here that I just noticed that Wyatt's parents posted many more interesting and extensive shots of the weekend, which put my few pictures to shame.  However, it should also be noted (and my parents can attest to this) that I don't function well under high temperatures, which bodes well for Northern Ireland but not so much for the St. Louis zoo on a crowded 90 degree day in May.

This guy always misses out on the good stuff.

We spent about 90% of our day at this little wooden ramp.  Miles and Liam both loved it (when Liam finally woke up that is).

Liam and Miles are super lucky to have older cousins that actually want to play with them.

Insert all of the sweet zoo shots I didn't capture here because I was too much of a wimp to get out my camera.

And then we'll end with this picture of Liam in his new shades that I took on the way home.  What a hipster.  
"Anyone have any newly emerging, independent music they want to put on for me while I read this riveting rendition of Llama Llama Mad at Mama?"

Friday, June 3, 2011

The ignored memo.

Today was my last day of teaching.  Sure, we have finals Monday and Tuesday, but this was my last day as a classroom teacher - my last chance to formally teach in a classroom....with students....that listen to what I say. 
This week has been bittersweet.  I've gotten notes from students and coworkers that make me want to curl into a ball and cry the night away.  Sweet notes.  Notes that make life worth living.
From this day on I am no longer a high school teacher.  I am now a volunteer.  I am a stay-at-home mom.  I get to raise my kids. 

I've got birthday pictures to post and wordless Wednesdays to show off.  I've got clever tidbits stored away in my head with witty titles.  But I am paralyzed with emotional paralysis. 
My emotions are all out of whack.  You see, no one got my memo that their lives needed to stay exactly the same while we went through this giant change.  Understandably people's lives are moving forward.  No one remembered that I have to have everything else exactly the same until I get back.  No one should be interviewing for my job, and my parking spot shouldn't be raffled off for next year.  I told you I was terrible with change.  I wasn't kidding.