Wednesday, July 31, 2013

"I love you more today..." Really?

"I love you more today than the day I married you."

We've all heard people say it.  But come on...


I mean it's a lovely sentiment and all, but really?


Most wedding days are magical and whimsical and produce love-induced comas and are basically pretty hard to top.

So, yeah, we get're still in in love and all, but "more today?"  


My own wedding day was nine years ago today, and it is full of moments I will never, ever forget.  

I woke up at 4:38am in my bed at my mom's house.  No alarm or anything.  And I could not, could not, go back to bed.  It was not for lack of trying.  I tossed.  I turned.  I tried to lay still and just drift back to sleep, but I couldn't.   I was so beyond excited for that day to start.  I got to marry my best friend and then have a party with our family and friends in a matter of hours.  The day simply couldn't  begin soon enough!  At 6:00am, when I figured out there was no way any type of sleep was in my future, I did hop out of bed and open a few wedding gifts that had been sent to my mom's house, and finally decided that 6:30am would be at least a reasonable time to be up and around, without making my mom wonder if I was crazy or something was wrong.

I remember seeing him for the very first time that day.  We took pictures before the ceremony began, so the very first time we saw each other on our wedding day, it was simply the two of us and the photographer in the sanctuary.  My groom was waiting at the altar, and I walked down the aisle to meet him.  When I was about 20 feet away, the photographer said, "Trevor, you may turn around and see your bride."  I will never forget the moment he turned around and our eyes met, or the butterflies I felt at that moment.  I was undeniably, without a doubt, the luckiest girl in the world.

Our day was absolutely perfect.  The ceremony was beautiful.  The reception was amazing.   That is not to say everything went off without a hitch...there were lots of 'hitches' along the way, but it didn't matter.  I was so head over heels in love, nothing could have phased me that day.  I remember telling everyone I loved them at the reception when I saw them throughout the night.  Because I did.  I truly did.  I was so overwhelmingly full of love, I felt like I needed to tell everyone how much I loved them and how thankful I was they were there to share in that special day with us.

There was a whole lot of love going on that day, and all the rainbows and butterflies and wedding business to make it almost a 'surreal' love.

"I love you more today than the day I married you."


We're nine years in.

A lot has happened.  A lot has changed.

We moved into a rental house, then out of a rental house.  We bought our own house.  

We began jobs that became careers.  And saw changes from one job to another.  We saw each other through finishing our masters' degrees.  

We went to Mexico.  And Ireland.  And Italy.  And learned how to completely lean on one another to figure things out and navigate our way in a foreign place.  

We traded in college cars for cars that actually worked.  And then cars that got better fuel mileage.  And then cars that would hold car seats.  

We became parents.  Together.  I could not imagine sharing that experience and that exact moment when our son was placed in our arms with anyone else.  Then we became parents again.  And again, I could not imagine walking that journey with anyone else.

Now when I wake up at 4:38am, it's because one of our children is having a night terror or wet the bed, and I long for the second I can fall back asleep.  Slightly different than nine years ago...

As parents, we've had to figure out this whole "marriage" thing all over again and how to parent together and how to make it all work.  Most days it does, some days it doesn't.  But we are learning.  Together.  

We lost your mom.  We experienced grief and mourning together.  I didn't always know the right words.  All I wanted to do was take your pain away.  Sometimes I still wish I could.  But we journeyed that difficult road together.

We've celebrated nine Christmases, nine Easters, nine birthdays, nine Valentine's Days and now nine anniversaries.  

A lot has happened in nine years.  A lot has changed in nine years.

But here's the weird thing about all that stuff...we've done it together.


It's part of our story.  

Of our family.  

All of that is now part of us, and who we are.


It hasn't always been easy, but what I look at what we've done together, what we've supported each other through, what we've built together, and I know our love is stronger because of it.  I know it is a love that can withstand hard times and challenges.  It was an amazing love nine years ago when I said "I do," but it has become a stronger, deeper, even more amazing love today.

So, yes, really.  

I love you more today than I did nine years ago, when on this very day I said "I do."  

I meant it then, and I mean it even more now.  I still do.  And I would say "I do" in a heartbeat if I had it all to do over again.  

We have grown together.  We have laughed together.  We have cried together.  We have made a life together.  We have talked, even when it was hard.  We have listened, even when it was harder.  We have had great joys and blessings beyond anything we could have hoped or dreamed for nine years ago.

You are my perfect provision.  You are my own and only.  You are my best my friend.

I love you more today than the day I married you.

Really, really.

I feel so lucky to have a husband who believes in me as a wife, as a mother, as a person.  You're a Good Mom.  To my husband, thank you for reminding me of these words when I forget them myself, and for helping me to believe them.  


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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

TWS?T: My "Cheesy" Kids

They Said What? Tuesday:  Volume 13

My 3-year-old daughter...

"This is where all the pets need to sleep."

...she also laid out about 30 of the paper plates we had leftover from camping all over the living room for various stuffed animals.  

"Mom, can we get some more plain cheese, please?"

...her request at the grocery store for Kraft singles.  Of all the hundreds of cheeses in the world, that would most likely be the last one I would call "plain cheese."  Right there on the label it says:  "pasteurized prepared cheese product."  Cheese product.  But she loves it and will actually eat it, so in the cart it went.

My 5-year-old son...

"Do we have to mess this room back up now?", you actually don't.  But that question explains so much.  He asked me this as soon as I finished vacuuming his bedroom.  I had asked him to pick up his books and stuffed animals off the floor, so he was pretty sure that it was now his job to 'mess it back up.'  

"This keeps getting stuck in my tooth." [Pause]  "Oh wait...that's just another piece of tooth!"
...while eating his yogurt, strawberries and granola.  

"I hope you have a great meeting.  I hope you listen really well!"
...his advice to his dad on his way out the door to a meeting

"I just cut the cheese."
...while he was literally cutting his cheese at lunch.  And I laughed.  And yes, I have the mind of a 13-year-old.  So very mature over here.

No matter what they say, You Are a Good Mom.


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Sunday, July 28, 2013

"Parent"dox: Sometimes a Pair is Not Enough

Sunday Night "Parent"dox #17:  Sometimes a Pair is Not Enough

As a mom of two young children, I have become accustomed to getting things in pairs.

If I reach in the box to grab a package of fruit snacks, I better be grabbing two packages.  When I get down one bucket to play with during bath time, a second one is soon to follow.  As soon as one kiddo asks for their pillow and blanket while watching a movie, I know I'll be coming back downstairs with two pillows and two blankets.

It's pretty much just become part of life now.  

Like breathing.  

Because, like breathing, the consequences of it not happening are not pretty.

Not.  Pretty.

This is not to say I don't value teaching my kids about sharing, and teaching them you don't always get what you want.  Because I do.  There are many, many chances they have each day to learn these lessons and we talk about them a lot as a family when they come up.

But realistically?  In the trenches of parenthood?  Pairs are so much easier.  Like exponentially, inexplicably easier.  So our house does indeed have a lot of doubles.

With that said, I witnessed yet another "parent"dox today.  I had picked up water squirters for my kids while I was at Dollar Tree.  Fun, cheap, summer fun.  $2 versus $1 to not hear arguing and bickering over a toy?  Sounds like a small price to pay.

Or so I thought...

Within having them home for a half hour, there was already a disagreement at hand.  Mind you, it was a balmy 58 degrees today (yes, it is indeed July did not travel in a time machine to October) so they were not playing with the squirters in a pool or body of water of any sort.  They were simply playing with them in the living room.

"She has my squirter!  I want to play with it now!"
"But I want this one! I don't want the pink one!"
"I want to see it! Give it back!"

Wait a minute.  That dollar was supposed to prevent situations just like this one.  

But alas, it did not.  Even though each of my kids both had a new toy to play with, and they were identical -- minus the color of the handle -- there was already too much demand and not enough supply.   

The "parent"dox goes something like this:  I have something that is pretty much exactly the same as the something you have, and we should both be grateful for the something we have, but when it comes down to it, I really want the something that you have.  Like the exact something you have.  Meaning literally what you have in your hand, not a duplicate or replicate something.  

Sometimes a pair is not enough.

Here's the other kicker: as soon as one child loses interest in said item, the other child loses interest almost instantaneously.  

Wait, you don't it anymore?  Well that's funny, because neither do I. 

Let's both go want the same exact thing again, that we probably have two of anyway.

Pairs or not, You Are a Good Mom.  Just remember to keep breathing...


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Friday, July 26, 2013

Good Moms are Everywhere

This is a guest post (how much fun was that to write?!) written by my dear, dear friend Trish Lopucki.  

I'm not kidding when I tell you that very soon, you'll be reading the young adult books she's written with your kids or talking about them with your kids or just reading them yourself because you love them so much and can't put them down.  She is an incredible writer, with incredible books on the way to share with the world.  (If anyone out there knows an agent, send them her way...)  You'll have this little flashback that goes something like "Trish Lopucki...where have I heard that name before?" and it will have been here.  On this blog post.  

I love her.  I love this piece she wrote.  I love that she was willing to share it with me.  I hope you love it, too.


There are three circumstances in life where your level of patience must test near saintly.

Gridlock traffic. The DMV.  And any minute experienced at an airport.

I’m sitting on a plane, about to leave New York City.  Lucky me – I arrived at the airport, made it through security, and found my seat on the aircraft with zeroproblems. (If you ever find yourself thinking these samethoughts, redirect immediately.  It’s undoubtedly at this point that all goes wrong.)
It has now been two hours since I boarded. It was our turn to go next, and we had to pull over for a “quick” maintenance check, putting us at the back of the line.
None of this explanation is for you to feel bad for me. Air travel insanity is par for the course these days. If you walk into an airport feeling cranky, do everyone a favor and change your ticket. No one wants to deal with you.  We’re all in the same boat.

At any rate… Do you know who the most incredible person is on this flight? The adorable mother behind me in the last row of the plane with her two young boys, (I’m guessing twin three year olds.)  This saint has read them stories about dragons, rationed snacks, counted planes, and created almost every game possible to pacify two unhappy children.

I applaud the fact that she pulled out the iPad after two hours of made-up games to let them watch a show.  There is only so much you can do to entertain a restless child.  At that point, all airline technology rules are out the window, if you ask me.

Did I mention that the air spewing from the overhead jets is at least 85 degrees? I’m about to break down and cry! How is this incredible woman keeping them quiet??? Looking out my window, I thought…

She’s a good mom.

I’m about three minutes away from asking if she’ll share some fruit snacks with me so I don’t lose it.

She’s a good mom.

Her “mom voice” only broke out maybe twice in this two-hour swelter of confined boredom.  Any longer, andmy mom voice is going to take it out on air traffic control.

She’s a good mom.

And someone should tell her.

So I’m going to.
A business card ad fell out of the Skymall magazine I’d leafed through for the third time as I was thinking about this wonderful mom sitting behind me. So I entertained myself by drawing this and handing it to her.

Someone looked at Carrie in the grocery store and told her, “You’re a good mom,” and it inspired her to write this blog.  For me, her writing is a reminder of how often moms actually need to hear this.  So, thank you Carrie... I’m paying it forward.

And to the lady behind me on the plane – I’m genuinely impressed.


I'm not gonna lie.  I actually teared up when I read this piece when Trish emailed it to me out of the blue.  I know part of it is because she is such a dear friend.  And part of it is because I love reading anything she writes.  But a big part of it was knowing how she reacted in that situation, and how she "paid it forward" to another Mom.

Would you be willing to pay it forward?  

The next time you see a Mom being present with her kids, playing with her kids, laughing with her kids, would you be willing to pass those four little words on to her?  You're a Good Mom.  She may need to hear them more than you know.  

The next time you see a Mom whose kids are pushing every button imaginable or who is digging into her patience reserves or who just simply needs to be lifted up, would you be willing to pass on those four little words on to her?  You're a Good Mom.  She may need to hear them more than you know.

The next time you see a Mom who is beaming proudly as she talks about her grandchildren, or is getting ready to send her 'baby' off to college or is delighting in the young adults her kids are growing up to be, would you be willing to pass on those four little words on to her?  You're a Good Mom.  She may need to hear them more than you know.

The next time you see a Mom who is brand new to motherhood and is second-guessing every decision she makes and hasn't slept more than 3 hours at a time, would you be willing to pass on those four little words on to her?  You're a Good Mom.  She may need to hear them more than you know.

Maybe it's simply forwarding this post to a Mom who needs a little encouragement today, or sharing it with a Mom you know that you've always thought the world of, but never put it into words and told her.

Four little words.  But they can make all the difference in the world.  They did for me.

Would you be willing to make a difference for another Mom?  


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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Grin and BEAR it at John Ball Zoo

If you've read any of my posts from the last month or so, first of all THANK YOU!  Second of all, you know we've been in and out of town and have taken part in many adventures, big and small, this summer. Of everywhere we've been and everything we've done, one of my kids' (and my) very favorite things we've done was an absolutely amazing visit we had at the zoo.

The zoo?

YES! The zoo!  John Ball Zoo, to be more specific.  

This is technically the same zoo I went to when I was a kid, but that statement feels like I'm stretching it a bit because so very much has changed and been added, especially in the last couple of years.  I loved it then, and my kids love it even more now.  

I knew it was going to be a great day when I parked the minivan, we all unloaded, and my son started screaming with delight, "Look, Mom! A SQUIRREL!  There's a squirrel right there!"  His trip was made complete within 23 seconds of being there, and we hadn't even left the parking lot.  A squirrel.  Behold the wonders of the zoo.  I was a little worried he might actually pass out upon walking through the gate, but we threw caution to the wind and went for it anyway.

I know it's hard to follow up with anything more exciting besides that squirrel, but stay with me for a minute.

Our absolute highlight of the day was the very first thing we did that morning.  My kids got to feed the grizzly bears.

Yes, you read that correctly.  

No, I did not feed my children to the grizzly bears.  


When I told my sister we were going to do this, she started laughing.  "Wait a minute.  You are going to let your kids feed the bears?  Like real bears?  You are terrified to let your children feed the ducks at the pond by my house.  How on earth are you going to let them feed grizzly bears?"  

(Unfortunately, I must confess this is a true statement.  I tend to get a little freaked out by animals from time to time, and may have made my kids throw half a slice of bread at the ducks coming toward us and high tail it back to my sister's house when we were there last.  I'm not exactly what you'd call an animal lover.  Which makes me loving the day at the zoo even more bizarre.  But I digress...back to the bears...)

Just so everyone can breathe a little easier, the bears were indeed locked up in a separate room (but you knew that, right?) when the kids went in to feed them.  All the kids listened intently about the new exhibit, and exactly what they'd have to do when they got inside.  I don't think I've ever seen my kids this focused.  I may start telling them they are getting ready to feed bears when I need them to clean their rooms or put their shoes on or brush their teeth.  I'm willing to try just about anything...

They got to go in and scatter the food around their habitat, and were even encouraged to throw some of it up higher on some of the rocks.  Does it get much better than being told to throw food around where bears live?!  I found out that the bears' diet is made up of a lot of fruit and veggies, and not as much meat.  The kids got to put out carrots, apples, sweet potatoes and 'bear popsicles' - frozen oatmeal, fruit and yogurt.  

Once all the food was tossed around and hidden for the bears to forage for, we got to stand at the windows and watch them look for it.  

 What is incredible about the new bear exhibit (it just opened in May) is how CLOSE you are to the bears!  They are RIGHT THERE!  So cool.  (And yet somehow that is so much safer to me than ducks.  I mean, come on, there's glass protecting me from that big huge grizzly bear.)

Our day continued with checking out lots and lots of amazing animals and checking out all the cool spots to play and relax for a little bit.

We rode the Funicular and had fun watching the trees go by as we rode down.

My kids fed the budgies, and yes, I did bite the bullet and actually went in with them so I could take some pictures.  (Am I impressing you with my sheer acts of bravery yet?)  They were in their glory, as birds landed on their feeding sticks, one after another.

They had fun petting sting rays, too.  They were both a little unsure at first, but then giggled and told me how cool they felt.

The petting zoo is always a hit.  Of course, we had to stop and wash our hands at Petticoat Station before moving on to the next adventure.

We spent some time at the top of the boardwalk, where there are a couple of different spots for kids to play.  There is a Treetop Outpost "playground" area, and also a play camping area, a place for kids to build their own shelter out of small logs, and a place for kids to try balancing on some bigger logs.  After looking at animals all day, it's a great spot to let them run and burn some energy.  It's also shaded and a good spot to get out of the sun on a hot day!

The schedule for the day is posted on this handy dandy board when you get into the zoo.  (There's also an app for that.  Yup.  Really.)

It posts what is going on daily in terms of feedings or animal trainings or anything else "special."  There are a LOT of interactive experiences all throughout the zoo, too, that we just stumbled across as we were walking around.  My inquisitive 5-year-old especially liked getting the extra information from the zoo employees posted around the zoo, and he loved being able to ask any questions he wanted.  

So yes, all in all, we had a fantastic day, jam-packed with amazing memories and tons of hands-on experiences.  Here's the best part...YOU can do all that amazing stuff, too!! Even the whole bear gig.  Yes, I am serious.  You just need to be at the zoo at opening time (9:00am) and then make a bee line for the bear exhibit.  If you make it in time, and there aren't too many kids there already, your kids just might get a chance to head on in and throw food.  In a bear habitat.  For real.

And if you're feeling even more adventurous than bears, my sister has some crazy ducks by her house if you'd like to go check those out, too.

When you can grin and bear it, You Are a Good Mom.  


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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

To My Son on His Birthday

To My Son...

In five short years, you have blessed me beyond my wildest dreams and filled our house with much love and laughter.  You forever changed my life in ways I couldn't have imagined before you arrived.  You have brought unspeakable joy to my life.  What I am most thankful for, however, is all you have been teaching me, each and every day, for the past five years.

You have taught me to be true to my word, and how important it is to follow through on what I say.  

You have taught me to ask questions about everything; to wonder, to inquire, to be curious.

You have taught me all about dinosaurs and cars and bugs and sea creatures (as you like to call them) and frogs.

You have taught me to be thoughtful with my words and my actions, as little ears are always listening and little eyes are always watching.

You have taught me to never underestimate you.  From the time you were an infant, you have constantly surprised me with things you could learn and do if simply given the chance.  (You amazed us all when you even knew what a 'parallelogram' was before your second birthday rolled around.)

You have taught me what "unconditional love" truly means.

You have taught me that it's OK to just be still and be quiet for a little while.  That it's OK to just hang out in my room if I need to when the world can get just a little bit overwhelming, as you like to do sometimes.

You taught me how to be a Mom.  You gave me that title five years ago.  I know I'm still learning every step of the way.  Thanks for being patient with me.

You have taught me that a good, solid belly laugh can fix just about anything.

Even this very blog post is a testament to all you are teaching me.  

It is an entire month late, and I wouldn't have it any other way.  

Today, you are actually five years and ONE MONTH old.  

And I am delighted that this blog post is coming a month late.  

Your detail-oriented, deadline-driven Mom is delighted that this blog post is coming a month late.  

And I have you -- and all you are teaching me -- to thank for that.

The day of your birthday we were in the middle of a week-long vacation at the beach.  We started the day with birthday doughnuts at the cottage, followed by opening your presents from your Mom and Dad and your sister.  We went on a bike ride downtown, where you picked out a special kite, as you'd been asking for one for a few weeks leading up to your birthday.  We ate Pronto Pups by the channel at lunch per your request, and you picked a restaurant where you could have a hamburger for dinner.  You chose ice cream at your favorite ice cream spot for dessert, and we finished the day playing at the beach as the sun set and the waves rolled on the shore.  It truly was an incredible day, and I felt so blessed to spend every second of it with you.

I wouldn't have traded a single second of that day to sit down at my computer and write a blog post, even if it was about my favorite boy in the entire universe.

In the month since your birthday, we have been here, there and everywhere.  It has been a jam-packed month, full of love, laughter, family and friends.  There have been birthday parties, graduations, camping trips, cottage vacations, visits to lakes and beaches, parades, fireworks, cookouts, and more ice cream cones than I care to admit.  I wouldn't have traded any of those busy days with you to sit down at my computer.

And that, my son, is the very most important thing you are teaching me.  You are teaching me how important it is to be present, to be there with you; really with you, every chance I get.  You are teaching me how precious these moments are, and just how fast five years can truly go.

A blog post can wait.  An email can wait.  A phone call can wait.  Because you won't wait.  You can't wait.  Your only job right now is to keep growing and learning and becoming the amazing kid you ARE.  I get the chance to be your Mom at age five, and age five and one month, and age five and two months once -- ONCE -- that's it.  So all that other stuff?  It can wait.  You are more important.  You are more delightful.  You are more incredible.  

Thank you for teaching me that.  

These years are so very precious, and are passing by way too fast already.  I feel like I blinked and you are already five.  FIVE!  When did that happen?  It could not have possibly been five years since we got to meet your sweet face just minutes before midnight.  Since you needed me to do absolutely everything for you.  Since you could rest in my arm and fit between my elbow and my fingertips.

Somehow, though, the calendar says it has indeed been five years.  

And in these five years you have been teaching me these lessons of being present, of being truly with you, just by be being you. 

You have taught me to stop and look when you say "Mommy, watch this!"  You have taught me to slow down and inspect the ants with you when we go on a walk together.  You have taught me to get out of my chair and chase you around the yard, and to get off the couch and wrestle you on the floor.  You had no idea you were giving these lessons each and every day, but you have been the absolute best teacher I could ask for.  I know I'll need to be reminded of these lessons when the "stuff" of life can creep in and take start to take over.  Please be patient with me, and just keep reminding me, to be present, to be there, to truly be with you, every chance I get.

You are growing up so very fast, but also so very well.  I could not possibly love you any more or be more proud of you.  You are becoming such a funny, smart, thoughtful, inquisitive boy.  You have an incredibly kind and giving heart, and you already have great intuition about other people's feelings.  You have a strong sense of right and wrong, and love to seek order in all things.  You have a love for learning, and are constantly asking questions about the world around you.  Dad and I are continually amazed at your memory, too.  You have an infectious laugh, and you are willing to jump in and meet new people without hesitation.  You love to play and run and wrestle and just soak up all that life has to offer.  You are an amazing big brother to your sister.  You look out for her, you stick up for her and you comfort her in a way no one else can.  

My wish for you is that you may remain true to you -- to who you are -- as you continue to grow and develop into the child, teenager and man God created you to be.  May you remain as comfortable and confident in your own skin as you are now.  May you continue to follow your passions and your dreams, and may you always have the courage to do what is right in your heart.  May you always know how much Dad and I love you, and that we are always here for you, no matter what.

I love you so much!

You are my son.  My sweet, precious gift.  For you, everyday, I strive to live up to those words "You Are a Good Mom."  I hope every now and then, I hit the mark!  I love you to the moon and back!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

TSW?T: Apparently It's Alligator Week Around Here

They Said What? Tuesday:  Volume 12

My 3-year-old daughter...

"Mom, can I have some of your alligator juice?"
...she asked me this as we were sitting out on the dock at a cottage, as I was drinking what, you ask?  Yup, you guessed it...Gatorade.

M:  "I love you, my brother."
P:   "Wait...was she thinking about that in the bathroom?"
...her first words upon returning to the lunch table from the bathroom.  And her brother's response.  Priceless.  And yes, she does call him "my brother" from time to time.  Don't know where she picked that up, but it always makes me smile.

My 5-year-old son...

"Mom, does getting stung by a bee feel just like getting your head chomped off by an alligator?!"
...well, son, having never had my head chomped off by an alligator I am unable to accurately answer that question.  However, in my opinion, I think the alligator thing would be worse than the bee thing.  I will also say they are called "stings" for a reason.  Ouch.

P:  "Can we see God?"
Me:  "No, we can't see him like we would see another person.  But he is always with us and we can talk to him whenever we want."
P:  "Oh.  He must blend in really, really good!"
...these questions just keep getting tougher and tougher!  I need an answer key, please.

"Which game do you want, sweetie?"
...what I overheard him saying to his sister as he was helping her play a game on the computer.  Every now and then, he'll call her 'honey' or 'sweetie,' no doubt because I do.  I always wish I could freeze time for just that moment when I'm lucky enough to hear it.  

No matter what they say, You Are a Good Mom.


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Sunday, July 21, 2013

How I Love Vacation


So this is what I've been looking at the past 10 days.  Needless to say, it beat out my computer. 

Every.  Single.  Day.  

Ok, I shouldn't say that.  My poor computer never even had a shot, as I left it back home.  Because I knew it would be up against that all week.  And ice cream.  And camp fires.  And reading real live books.  

And most of all, my family.  

Many family traditions were carried on, including camp fires on the beach at night, listening to my husband, his brother and his dad have "jam sessions" at the campground, and trips into town for ice cream.  Lots and lots and lots of ice cream.  

New ones were made, like my own children zipping around the campground on their bikes and playing on the beach with their headlamps well past sunset. 

Today was a day of settling back into reality, as we packed up the campsite, drove back home, and spent most of the afternoon unpacking, doing laundry, and then doing more laundry. 

(Remember when you were a kid and you just went on vacation?  And then you just came home from vacation?  I had no idea the lengths that were went to leading up to and coming home from such adventures...)

So all that to say it was an amazing week and a half spent with amazing people, including my brother-in-laws who now live out of state, watching amazing memories be made.  It's been awhile since I've had any new posts here, but I'm looking forward to getting back in the swing of things now that we're back home.  

Although if I miss a post here or there, you can just assume I'm still buried under a pile of camping laundry somewhere...

When you take a break from your normal routine, You Are a Good Mom.  


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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

TSW?T: Mr. Rooster and Grand Valley

They Said What? Tuesday:  Volume 11

My 3-year-old daughter...

"Don't give up, Mom.  You can do it!"
...her encouragement to me while playing Cootie.  Alas, I finished with ONLY my Cootie body, not even a head, while both my kids totally waxed me.

My now 5-year-old son...
"Look!  It's the Grand Valley!"
...while watching fireworks on the 4th of July.  In some circles, this may also be known as the "grand finale," but apparently not in ours.

"When I grow up, I wanna be a Daddy so I can help take care of kids."
...while my husband was helping my daughter get ready for bed.  Per my husband's request, I am not typing the sentence that came directly after that.  Unless enough of you are curious enough and comment about it on this post.  Then I may just have to let it slip...

"It's a whirling pool!"
...while stirring the water in his sand bucket with his water blaster.  Personally, I kinda like whirling pool better than the traditional "whirl pool" it sounds somehow much more fun.

"Mom, my skin is getting tan.  It's tan just like yours!"
...maybe the sweetest thing he's ever said to me.  Or anyone has ever said to me.  Those of you who know me can stop laughing right now.  Those of you who don't me, you should know the only thing close to a "tan" I get is when my millions of freckles decide to join sides.  

"My hair is sticking up.  I look like a rooster!"
...upon looking at himself in the mirror and seeing his cowlick before church on Sunday.  He proceeded to tell the greeter at church to call him "Mr. Rooster."  

No matter what they say, You Are a Good Mom.


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Sunday, July 7, 2013

"Parent"dox: When a Place is More than a "Place"

Sunday Night "Parent"dox #16:  When a Place is More than a "Place"

Have you ever been to a Place that became more than just a "place" to you?  

Maybe it was the beauty of the Place itself.  Maybe it was the way you felt when you were in that Place.  Maybe it was the people that filled that Place.  Maybe it was the memories made in that Place.

Whatever the reason, the Place somehow transformed and became more than just a "place" for you.

So Many places, So Few Places
There are literally millions upon millions of places in the world.  

Houses.  Parks.  Streets.  Hiking Trails.  Swing sets.  Restaurants.  Malls.  Beaches.  High School Gymnasiums.  Campgrounds.  Apartments.  Hospitals.  Churches.  Backyards.  Benches.  Treehouses.  Coffee shops.  Libraries.  

There are, however, very few of these places that become Places.  The beauty of Places is they are completely unknown, unseen by the common passerby.  It is hidden in plain sight.  A Place is known only to the person who holds that Place dear; only to the person who has experienced, lived, and breathed that place in such a way that it became a Place to them.  To only them and them alone.  

For me, I've been lucky enough to have just returned from one my Places.  (Oh yes, you can have more than one Place...)  It is a Place I've visited countless times.  It has become a Place to me because of it's beauty, because of the way it makes me feel when I am there, because of the people that have filled it, and most of all, because of the memories that have been made there.

It is the beach cottage my Mom has rented for the past 11 years.  At first glance, it is nothing special, nothing fancy.  It is probably close to 100 years old.  The walls and floors are pretty bare; the furniture is no doubt older than I am.  No one else would know what a treasure it is, that it has become a part of me and I a part of it, in a way I can't really explain.    

It has become my Place.

It has become my Place simply by being there, year after year.  As I think back over the days and nights spent there, I realize that this Place has somehow found a way to capture so many of the important events from the past 11 years of my life.  It has seen me through most of the milestones of my adult life.  

Same Place,  A Million Different Memories
I remember the first year out there, when I went with my Mom that first day of her week there and we looked around to try to figure out how to get into the place.  And then wandered around inside checking out the kitchen and the porch and the bedrooms, not knowing what was around each corner or behind each door.  

I remember a year when I went out and stayed for as many days or nights as I felt like, pretty much making up my mind as I went each day.  I would stay up late, sleep in until noon, and eat whatever I wanted, whenever it sounded good, including ice cream for dinner or breakfast at our favorite local breakfast spot at 1:00pm.

I remember a year when I would schedule the days I would head to the cottage around the days my boyfriend had to work or could come out to visit.  I would try to convince him to head out to the beach as soon as he was done with work, or stay an extra night, even if it meant he had to leave at 5:00am the next morning.  (Yes, that same "boyfriend" later became my fiance, then my husband, then the father of my children...and is still putting up with me all these years later!)

I remember the year I spent many hours on the porch with papers and sticky notes and notecards spread everywhere, as I put the finishing touches on things that needed to be finished for my wedding, which was only a month away.  I searched through family-owned shops downtown for the perfect stationary to write thank you notes to my bridesmaids and spent an afternoon shopping for clothes for myself and my husband-to-be for our honeymoon.

I remember a time when I planned my days at the cottage based on my graduate class schedule.  I would finish a class, drive out to the beach, then spend the afternoon reading and highlighting books for class under a beach umbrella.  I'd squeeze out as many minutes as I could there with family and friends, sometimes even driving back to class still wearing my bathing suit with a pair of running shorts and a T-shirt thrown over it.

I remember the only year out of all 11 years that I didn't stay a single night at the cottage.  I walked up and down the boardwalk and the beach, and saw my sister come to my defense as we waited over an hour to be sat at a restaurant.  I was expecting the arrival of my first child literally any I was past my due date...and my son decided to come the Tuesday of the week that my Mom was at her cottage that year.  We now celebrate his birthday each year we're out there.

I remember the year we made a very unplanned, middle-of-the-night trip to the ER with my 2-year-old son and his 6-week-old old sister in tow.  My mom came to the rescue, as my husband wasn't there because he was working.  I was scared and unsure, especially in a town and a hospital not my own, but we were taken such good care of that I knew we were in good hands.  I will forever appreciate everyone who helped make everything OK that night.

I remember the first year we decided to stay for an entire week, because it was easier to pack up everything we needed for a family of 4, including 2 small children, and just stay put, than to come and go a few nights here and there.  [Although this year, for the first time in 5 years, this Mom didn't have to pack diapers or baby food.  And we still stayed for the entire week.  Two words for you:  Ah.  Mazing.]

I remember my children playing on the porch swing, walking the pier, eating ice cream, serving "food" through the porch window, staying up way too late, laughing until it made me laugh out loud with their friends and cousins, putting together puzzles, swimming until their teeth chattered and yet still refusing they were cold, digging in the sand.  They have come to love the cottage just as much as I have.  

Someday, it may become their Place, too.  

Or maybe they'll find a Place all their own.

Either way, my wish for them is simply that they have at least one place that becomes a Place for them, for reasons that are entirely their own.

I wonder how many more years of memories will accumulate in this Place.  I try to forecast what other life events will be tied to this place.  I think about the friends and family that will continue to be linked to this Place, as they are part of the reason it is so much more than just a "place" now, too

I am thankful this Place has welcomed me and stayed with me for so long.  I know now, it will never, ever leave me.

Your Place
Where is your Place?  Have you found it?  Are you still seeking it?

Maybe it's a place you visit everyday, or maybe it's a place you can never go back to again.  Is it a place you love to be by yourself and enjoy solitude, or a place filled with the beautifully chaotic soundtrack that is lots of family and friends?  Maybe it is a place that holds memories or stories or music or love.  Maybe it is a place that holds possibility or opportunity.  Is it a place from a certain period in your life or a time in your life you felt truly alive?  Maybe it is a place that causes to you to think, to reflect, to dream.  Maybe it is a place that just feels like it's a part of you; that it's always been a part of you, no matter what else has changed.  

If you're willing to share, I'd love to hear about your Place...

Whether you are able to travel there in person or simply through precious memories; whether it is a Place all your own or a Place shared with many; whether you have been there countless times or are still seeking it...
You Are a Good Mom when you are in a Good Place.


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