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March 31, 2007

Let the Games Begin!

Baseball season is upon us.  Tomorrow is the home opener for some fans in this house, and then the Cubs start their season on the road Monday.  Next Monday the 9th is the Cubs home opener.  Yours truly will be in attendance.  Yep, all decked out in my Cubs gear with a cerveza in my hand sitting next to my good friend Hillary, who was nice enough to give me this opportunity.  I am as excited as a kid before Christmas.  I am growing weary of all of the Cubs jokes.  I am growing weary of all the Cardinals fans in my life giving me grief over my loyalty.  I cannot and will not change, and I'll just hope that my beloved team will do something bigger this year.  My dear son Caden has decided to support his mommy and root for the Cubs too.  Come on guys...let's do something this year!

The kids also start their baseball season.  Holy cow this next level of regular tee ball is a heck of a lot more intense than last year's "L'il Tees."  They have practice three times a week, they have games all over the place (not a set day and time), they have to slide into the bases...boy, it's a big commitment.  With Aaron's traveling, it will sure make my time management all the more interesting too.  But I'm sure it will also be fun.  We just have to work on understanding the rules and not getting upset.  Life with 3 5 year olds.

Their team this year is The White Sox.  They are purple though, not white.  The White Sox?  Great.  next year it will be the Cardinals or something.  Oh well.  If you are not from Chicago, there is only one thing you need to know: yes, we have two baseball teams, but you are either a Cubs fan or a Sox fan.  You cannot be both.

Well, regardless, baseball season has arrived, and we're all excited in this house, whatever team we support.  Let the games begin!!!!!!  :-)

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March 29, 2007

Noise Interference

I get a lot of raised eyebrows or looks of shock when people find out I stay home with my 4 kids and also work part time (from home) 20 hours a week.  People imagine themselves doing such a thing, and they usually decide that it's better me than them.  My husband travels for work quite frequently and for me, it's easier doing this than it was to deal with all the headaches that arose as a result of external daycare and going in to the office full time.  But that doesn't mean that I don't miss it at times.  Anymore, there are days that the most I leave the house is to get the kids to/from the school bus.  Other days I go to a grocery store to buy the mountainload of food it takes to nourish this family.  My problem isn't feeling isolated or bored.  My biggest problem is the noise interference.

Let me explain.  A 5 year old likes to talk.  A lot.  Combine it with 3 5 year olds always wanting your attention to show you something, to ask you something, or to tattle on a sibling.  And then a 1.5 year old thinking she's 5, and getting frustrated when there is something she can't do that her siblings can.  That's a lot of noise.  I don't know about you guys, but I would prefer NOT to talk 16 hours of every single day.  I think some days, all of the noise interference starts changing my normal brain wave activity and I get sensory overload.  I crave silence.  A padded white room perhaps?  Ok, no, not that extreme...I'd be happy with 10 minutes of quiet.

Don't get me wrong; I'm very thankful I have so much time with my kids and very thankful that we talk so much now.  I know one day they'll start becoming more independent, I'll be asking them to talk to me.  And many of their questions are a result of their curiosity and intense learning, so I know that's a good thing.  It's just...well...there are some days when it's overwhelming.  "Can I have a snack?"  "Can I have more milk?"  "How do you spell SpongeBob?"  "Can I have another piece of paper?"  "Why is cold water so cold?"  "How do airplanes fly?"  "Jordyn hit me!"  It's literally constant chatter.  Even worse on those days they wake up with their volume stuck on LOUD.

Ok, I think my brain waves are realigned enough to continue with the day.  Just wait until the day I tell you how much food we consume!

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March 26, 2007

How To Tell...

...that perhaps you've been watching too many cartoons with your kids:

Sponge Bob

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March 21, 2007

Entitlement

I am really bugged by those who feel they are entitled.  Entitled to receiving whatever it is they desire.  Entitled to a free ride.  Entitled to everyone else around them making them happy.  Have you ever noticed that the people happiest in life are NOT the people who have everything they want?  No, the ones who are truly happy are those who are happy with what they have.  Not the ones who feel they got the short end of the stick because someone else shorted them.  Not the ones who fault other people for their own shortcomings.

This is life, people.  You have control over one person in this world, and that is YOU.  If you are looking to others for your emotions, your path, your future...you might find something occasionally, but you are most certain to find a bunch of disappointment.  You need to take control over your own life and set your own destiny.  The people around you do not exist for your every whim.

That's not to say that you should be oblivious to the people around you by any means.  We all have boundaries, and there are rules.  When you are a kid, you have most importantly, your parents or guardians.  As you get older, you realize there are boundaries all around.  You meet people along the way that may help you on your journey, and there are those who are probably not the best personalities to be around.  But who is it there with you at all times?  You.  You ultimately make the choices that affect your life.  (I realize I could get into an entire tangent on religion right here, but I'll save that one for another day.)  You are the one responsible; the one accountable.

If there are obstacles to overcome, then take action and overcome them.  If there is something that you want (within reason, of course), then take steps to achieve that goal.  If there is something making you completely miserable in your life, then make a plan to change it.  The absolute worst thing you can do is blame it on someone or something else.  If you sit around and wait for someone else to fix it, it will never happen.  If your game is to blame everyone or everything else, then nothing is going to change for you, my friend.  Check back with me 1, 5, even 10 years from now and I'll bet that you are still crying the same tears.

My first harsh encounter with this sort of entitlement attitude was while away at college.  I was working full time between multiple jobs in addition to taking out the full amount of student loans available just to make ends meet.  College wasn't all fun and games for me by any means.  However, the particular college I went to, it was exactly that for many students.  That's not to belittle the school; I could have gone elsewhere and I'm sure I would have been in a different crowd.  But I will never forget how badly it hurt when I'd hear certain girls in the dorm hallway bragging to each other on how 'upset' their parents would be when they saw their phone bill that month.  Or when they'd giggle about what part of Mexico they would visit for spring break.  Or how their parents would have to send them more money.  When I would hear such comments, it took all my self control to not go over and knock them in the head.  I would be in tears of fatigue some days just from the sheer pressure of too much work, not enough sleep.  (an aside: this is not to say anything against my family.  They were helping in any way they could, they just had circumstances of their own at the time.)  It would just drive me batty in college that these people had no clue whatsoever how good they had it.  To them, it was mom and dad's responsibility, their obligation for pete's sakes, to send them off to college and pay their way, and they weren't the slighest bit appreciative or humbled by their good fortune.  And I still see this attitude today in adults!  People that are plenty old enough and should know better by now.

And now, I have four children of my own.  Like most parents, I do not want my kids to endure all of the hardships that I did.  However, I also do not want them to become "entitled brats."  My husband and I will try our best to find a way and instill this into them.  Teach them the value of everything in life, from the material things all the way to the simplest emotional ones.  Just another one on the long list of parental responsibilities I'll try to achieve.

Personally, I think this entitled attitude is a real shame.  Let's all try to be a little more accountable for our own actions.  A little more humble for our good fortunes.  A little less "what are you going to do for me next?"  Take responsibility and most of all, take notice of your own actions.  The world does not owe you...and if it does, it's not much more than a smack of reality upside your very entitled head.

Now go listen to this song and let it soak in.

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March 19, 2007

Spring Fever

Spring fever is in full bloom in this household.  We're itching to be outside more, and getting ready for baseball to start.  In fact:

3 weeks from today, I'll be enjoying opening day in the friendly confines.

Yes, that's right.  My friend Hillary invited me to share in the joy that opening day at Wrigley Field bestows.  I am so excited.

The first day of spring is this week.  Spring is arriving!  Pretty soon, flowers will be blooming and the world will become green once again - a great improvement from the strange color and bareness of the world at the moment...and baseball, baseball, baseball!

Could this be *the* year Cubs fans have been anxiously awaiting for years?  I'll do my best to cheer them on their first day in our most beloved baseball stadium.

Go Cubs Go!

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March 16, 2007

Growin' Some Green Stuff

Too bad I didn't know how to grow money, because I could most certainly use more of that green stuff.  The way we go through food around here could blow your mind.  However, I do now have my own garden of sorts right in my kitchen.  I told you about it back here.  I'd like to share some pictures to show you how it's coming along...

Day 1 (February 14)

1st Day

 

After 2 weeks:

2 weeks

 

And now today, after 1 month:

1 month

So, so yummy.  If you cook with a lot of fresh herbs as I do, you know how delicious this looks.  The kids have been completely fascinated with watching the growth as well, so it's also been educational.  In about another week or so, it's time to have our first taste.  I can't wait!

Now, if anyone has any leads on how to grow money, please let me know.  What could bring a better educational experience than watching our past presidents' faces bloom on our kitchen counter (Jackson, Grant and Franklin preferred)?  ;-)

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March 12, 2007

A Breath of Fresh Air

We've smelled fresh air!  Yes, people, even after the near-blizzard which just spit on my birthday, barely a week later, we were out riding our bikes.  Taking a walk with the stroller.  Smelling air and feeling wind that DID NOT HURT!  It almost makes you believe that yes, just next week is the official start of spring.  To us Chicagoans, this doesn't always mean much since we can get snow in April or even May in those tough years.  But also to those of us of the northern climates, we embrace that air with the enthusiam of a freshly emerged periodical cicada, for it feels like air we haven't experienced in some 17 years or so (some winters feel that way, trust me).

Today while waiting for the school bus and enjoying all of that fresh air, the kids were kicking at the final few spots of snow (for now, anyway...it's not over, I guarantee it).  There were some nice, big piles just last week, and since these spots are hidden from the sun at the hottest part of the day, they are the last to melt.  I think the kids noticed the irony in kicking snow piles while dressed in their light jackets enjoying the warmth.  They started telling me their (sudden) dislike for winter, and how they can't wait for spring (they don't dislike winter either, it was just the moment).

I admit, spring is my favorite time of year.  There is just something about enduring winter weather that makes you appreciate spring that much more.  The first time you open your windows and let in all that fresh air is the absolute pivotal moment of them all.  It's like you can feel your soul rejuvinate, it's so awesome!  We're not quite there just yet, but it's getting close enough to taste.

Truth be told, I don't hate winter at all.  I actually enjoy snow, and I've even shoveled more this year than I have in a long, long time (since living on Columbia) and still maintain that attitude.  Snow has its place.  But days like today (and tomorrow, too!) make me excited to think about springtime - all the buds on the trees, flowers blooming, baby animals everywhere, fresh air, the different smells, being outside more...the list goes on.  To me, it always seems like a fresh start.  New beginnings.  The change of seasons is so fun to watch.  I might have been complaining about the cold for a bit there, but you know what?  I don't think I could honestly live somewhere that DIDN'T have 4 seasons.  There is just something...almost poetic...about going through a cold, snowy winter that makes springtime that much sweeter.  And probably the fact that the sentence I just wrote can be applied to so many other things in life is what makes it all the more fitting.

Happy-almost-springtime to you.  Enjoy the fresh air when, and while, you can.

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March 08, 2007

A Year and a Half

My baby turned a year and a half the first of the month.  My baby is really not even a baby anymore, but I don't care about that technicality.  She is my youngest so that makes it right to call her that.  It's really amazing how fast time goes by.  The days, the weeks, the months...all 18 of them in her life.  My other "babies" are quickly approaching 6.  How did that happen? 

When the trio was born, I had to sadly return to work a way-too-short 8 weeks afterwards.  They were still so tiny, so fragile.  I had to find a way to balance working full-time and being a mom full-time.  It was a tough time for me.  I always believed that I wanted to work to support my family in that capacity.  It all stems from my upbringing.  I knew I had to be responsible because that was how life worked.  I never anticipated marrying a man so perfect for me and having such a good relationship with him.  I never anticipated how all-consuming the love for your children would be.  I never thought that spending so much time doing nothing more than hanging out with my husband and children would bring me more happiness than I've ever known.  And I never, ever thought that my dream 'career' in life would be motherhood.

The last year and a half in my life have been more different than any other 18 month timeframe.  That's saying a lot if you know me well enough.  There have been some pretty rough spells through the years.  The changes brought about by a birth that happened some 18 months ago have been life altering.  Daycare for 4 children would have exceeded my salary, so something drastic was going to have to happen, like it or not.  I am so incredibly fortunate to work for a company that was able to accommodate me.  I switched my job role a bit and went down to part time working from home.  That meant I had full responsiblity of all four younglings in my house, but also didn't have to worry about the juggle of daycare, commuting, all that other stuff.  To some, this sounds more frightening than my previous arrangement.  For me, it's been heaven.  Challenging to balance everything of course, but my life is more in balance right now than ever before.  Doesn't mean there aren't things that are hard, but it's in perspective because I know it could be worse.  I have missed NOT ONE of my baby's firsts.  Not a single, solitary one.  And my relationship with my other "babies" is better as well.  More time to spend with them...especially important now that formal education has begun.

I'm really thankful for the last year and a half of my life.  I hope most of all, my children have been, too!

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March 06, 2007

Breathe in, breathe out....

The longer I live, the more I come to understand.  Life isn't a given.  Life isn't owed to you.  You might be a great person, live a long and prosperous life and die happy.  Then again, you might be a real dick, treat everyone around you horribly, and die alone.  Sometimes bad things happen to good, young people.  And also, sometimes good things happen to bad, nasty people!  You are probably somewhere in the middle, and some days, you think you are stuck.  The time or age of your death does not equal your worth in life. 

That grand philosophy was free, courtesy of, yeah, me - it's MY blog, right?!?!  Want more?  I believe FIRMLY that you should take advantage of every, single, rotten, sweet, yummy, yuckky moment of your life.  Even in those times when you think you would rather die than take another breath...do it.  Those moments when it feels like there is nothing to live for...you would be surprised.  I hate to use, as Aaron would call it, 'another fortune cookie sign,' but I do like this one very much: "To the world, you might just be one person...but to one person, you just might be the world."

Sometimes life gets hard.  Some times life gets really, really, f'in hard.  But, seriously in the grand scheme of things, that's just life.  You can't really appreciate the joys unless you know the sorrows.  Those are just the way of things.  In the way of life, you meet those who have AND haven't traveled the same paths, and don't share the same experiences.  That's fine.  We can all learn from each other and maybe even spare some of the pain knowing that someone else has been there, too.  We should all learn to lend that ear, whether or not we know the pain.  And most importantly, whether or not we (or they) think we need it.  We're all in this together, people.  You have no idea how sometimes a fleeting conversation in the strangest of places might change your life forever.

Happiness, that's just so easy to share.  But there needs to be more of that, too.  Laughter is the best medicine...when appropriate.  Most often it's hardest to see the humor in a situation than it is to see the inconvenience.  Trying to feed four kids 5 and under, yeah, there is a TON of this kind of thing in my life.  But what kind of memories do we want?  Perfect example: having fun assembling your own tacos (spilling cheese and what-not on the floor in the process) and loving every single, messy, cheese-and-lettuce-on-the-floor-bite...then, asking for seconds.  Life is messy, but still pretty g-d'd good most of time, especially when your perspective is right (on days they aren't, serve something else for dinner).

To get serious for the moment, my grandpa's brother John passed away.  One of the very few surviving elder relatives I have anymore.  My best wishes go out to his family.  If you want more details, let me know.  It makes me miss all of my loved ones who have gone all the more.  For more reasons than I could ever type out tonight.  All I can say is, the longer I live, the more I come to understand that life sucks for people a lot of the time.  You can't change that fact.  There is always something that sucks, and always days that make you wonder way too hard.  But life is also a lot of what you make of it.  Life is too short.  Waaaayyy tooo short. 

Breathe in, breathe out.....move on!!!!!!!!! (I'm totally cheating, it's just such a great song with wonderful lyrics by my favorite singer!)

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March 02, 2007

Happy Birthday!

Today is my birthday.  It's very sweet how many people have remembered and either sent me a Card (electronic or paper), or called.  My mom got me exactly what I asked for: additional exercise clothes.  And then Aaron got me an MP3 player to use while exercising.  Gosh, am I easy to please, or what?  ;-)  It's nice...you know, as parents, our birthdays aren't as important as those of the little ones.  So it's been a great birthday thus far. 

It's also Dr. Seuss's birthday, too (among others, like my friend Scott!  Happy Birthday, Scott).  In honor of the birthdays along with the crappy weather, here is a little story.

It's March 2, whoo hoo, whoo hoo!
There are lots of fun things to do.
Go outside and have a big wahoo.
But wait, now look outside, you!
This is safe to play in for who?

The cold, the wind, see it blow!
How long it will blow, we do not know.
To make it worse, now there is snow.
It is a lot of snow that blows.
Snow blows, snow blows.
That much I do know.

Oh sigh, it is very cold here.
It is windy, cold and snowing, dear.
Even dressed in the warmest gear
It is too, too yuckky; too yuckky, I fear.

So Happy Birthday to you this day.
I'm sorry I will not come out to play.
In the house you all should stay.
Until it is the first of May!

Have a great weekend everyone, and stay warm (IF it applies to you!).

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