Monday, November 18, 2013

Lists, day 1: 7 Things I Learned in Chicago

I don't know how it happened, but I suddenly find myself with a variety of lists on my mind--the "Top 5" this, the "Best 7" that. So this week is going to be a Week of Lists. Every day this week I'm going to post a list of something.

Let's start with my weekend. I was in Chicago!!! I had the opportunity to speak to the MOPS group in Aurora, IL, and had a blast doing it. And since they meet on Friday mornings, Mr. Fantastic and I decided to just make a weekend out of it. It was an amazing time of just being a couple--I am so thankful for the opportunity.

I think we all know that I am not great about carving time out to blog as often as I'd like, and if I gave you a play-by-play of our trip I would never get it done. Instead, I give you (in no particular order)...

(I left out one very important thing on my original list! I had to come back and add it in.)


7 8 Things I Learned from my Trip to Chicago

  1. I really do love sharing and connecting with women through speaking. Yes, I already knew that. But every time I get the opportunity... oh! It just makes my heart sing. I am so glad to have had the opportunity to be with those women. (Thank you, Penny, for setting it up!)
  2. My hubby and I love to spend time together. Whether we were eating dinner on the 95th floor of the Hancock Building or just riding together in the car, we relished our time together. Laughs were shared, dreams were discussed, plans were made.
  3. If you're going to take 5 pairs of shoes on a 3-day trip, probably at least one of them should be tennis shoes. Or at least comfortable walking shoes. Just sayin'. My poor tootsies.
  4. Parents should have some kind of re-entry program after being away from their children, like the astronauts do. Just a gradual reacclimation (and according to I just made that word up) to real life. Because when you have 72 hours of talking at a normal pace and volume paired with periods of silence, and then you go straight back into full exposure to 3 excited children... it is a stressful situation.
  5. Apparently our dog has issues with change. Not only did she pee and poop (in her crate!!!) while my mother-in-law kept her over the weekend, she came downstairs and peed on the floor right in front of me and Mr. Fantastic! And can I just add that I am already NOT a dog person? This animal is not helping her case.
  6. Chicago has some amazing architecture. We were blessed with unusually nice weather while we were there, and were able to take a beautiful river boat cruise that discussed the architecture of the buildings along the river. It was the highlight of our stay.
  7. Sometimes you get away to sitesee, and sometimes you get away to relax. This was definitely the latter. We enjoyed a stroll down Michigan Avenue, dinner at the Hancock Building, a horse-drawn carriage ride (Yep, my hubby is the BEST!), a river cruise, and a walk to Navy Pier... but we also took a 3-hour nap on Friday afternoon, and on Saturday we went to see a matinee ("Captain Philips", which I highly recommend), and then went back to our room when it was done... at 6:45! Yep, we ordered room service, watched a movie, Mr. Fantastic watched football, I played Candy Crush, and I think I was asleep by 9:30. It.was.HEAVEN.
  8. We are extremely blessed to have grandparents who live close by and who are willing & able to keep the kiddos for a weekend. We missed them terribly, but were very thankful to know that they were loved and cared for--and we were pretty darn thankful to have some time to ourselves, too.
That's our trip in a nutshell. Thanks for your prayers before and during my speaking engagement. They just get to be more and more fun every time. I can't wait for my "Joy" talk in December and back to "Created to be" in January! :-)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Crying in Target

Yesterday was our first real snow of the season. It arrived to mixed reviews according to my Facebook, but in my house it has been a welcome addition. Well, it did lead to some traffic woes yesterday (Come on, folks, we live in Ohio. We get snow EVERY YEAR.), but overall I am loving the feel of a winter wonderland. The ground is white, the trees are sparkling, Starbucks has red cups... It doesn't get much better.

And thanks to my friend Snow, I became stupid brave determined enough to head out for some shopping with Roo this morning. We actually had a few errands that we needed to run, but we ended up in Target, and I decided to peruse the Christmas decorations while I was there. And then I remembered that it will soon be time for our Elf to come (We don't do the "real" Elf on the Shelf, but we have a little gingerbread man that I use as our elf, and we have a beautiful advent calendar where he leaves a little treat--or a clue about where to find a treat--each day.), and it seemed like a good time to start gathering trinkets for him to pass along to our children. So I headed to the stocking stuffers.

And that is when it hit me.

I looked at rows of Hello, Kitty and Dora the Explorer and even Disney princess toys... and realized that my little girl isn't so little any more. We may have kept her away from many of the "teenagery" things I see little girls getting into these days, and she has developed a sudden and unexpected love of Sofia the first... but she is growing up. Princess wands and tiaras aren't her thing any more. A Dora headband is more likely to elicit an eye roll than a smile. For goodness sake, the girl doesn't even believe in Santa any more--she's going to know the elf isn't real!

And then I cried in Target. Just a little. Just a tear or two. I love my girl. I love her age, the conversations we can have, the concepts she grasps that she couldn't just a few years ago. I love the poems that she writes, I love that she finds and corrects grammar mistakes on magazines and worksheets that she receives. But I wish I would have cherished the princess phase a little more. I wish I could hold onto the magic of toddlerhood and the preschool years. Life with an 8-year-old is tons of fun, and in some ways I am much better with this age than the little ones... but already it is going much too fast.

My kids are growing up. Somebody hit the brakes, would you? This is flying by.

Then I looked down and saw that Roo's nose was runny and tried to wipe it off. "Magic of toddlerhood" my foot. 3-year-olds can be a real pain--and they can scream bloody murder at the site of a simple tissue. Who would miss this??? Not me. Nope, definitely not. Excuse me while I wipe my eyes... allergies, you know...

Maybe I should just avoid Target for a while.

Like that's going to happen.

Friday, November 1, 2013

And we wonder why moms are a little bit crazy...

Thursday afternoons are hectic.  Partly because I am the week at that point--swimming lessons after school on Tuesday, church Wednesday evening, and an after-school science program on Thursday. Our afternoons and evenings are NON-STOP, from the minute they get off the bus until the magical time when they are finally in bed for the night. For two days I have been pushing them, "Guys, we have to get going. PLEASE get that done. What else do you still need to finish?" As if a typical day wasn't cramped enough, on these days we have chunks of time stolen from us. And suddenly it's Thursday and I'm tired of it, and I know that I have to do it again.

And when I do go pick up the big kids from their after-school program, I have Roo with me. And he is excited to find his big brother and sister. Who are in two separate rooms. On the exact opposite end of the school from the parking lot. And I don't know if you have guessed this, but Roo can be a lot to handle.

As an added bonus, on this particular Thursday, it was raining. Strike that, it was POURING DOWN RAIN. So I didn't bother to pull the stroller out of the van and set it up, I just grabbed Roo and ran for the building.

I have to admit that it was comical to let him run through the building, partly because it is just plain hilarious to see the way he runs, with his arms flying and his feet still a little unsure. And also because he would stop at every open door and BELLOW his siblings' names, in language that only our family could understand. I did, however, get weary of having to run and grab him every time he turned down a wrong hall (on accident or on purpose!) or ran into a room where some poor teacher was trying to finish up for the day.

And then... the program ran over the regular time slot. So we finally got back to the appropriate place in the school... and we had to wait. And Roo doesn't wait well. (The previous week, by the way, I had arrived at the correct dismissal time, and my kids were the only ones left. And I had to answer questions like, "Why did you come so late, Mommy? Why weren't you here when we got done? Did you forget?")

It feels a little like an understatement to say that I was frazzled by the time that they got dismissed. I think you have probably done that math in your head already.

But what you don't know is that my kids LOVE the after-school science program. And that they come out with the energy one would expect of a person who has chased a Monster drink with a 5-Hour Energy.

They were a little amped up.

"Mommy, guesss what!"

"Mommy, I can't wait to tell you!"

"Mommy, look what we made today!"
"Mommy, my project is hanging in the hall!"

"Mommy, Blake said he'll come over sometime!" (I have never heard of this Blake person. When did we decide to invite him to our house?)




And as a grabbed Roo's hand for the 10th time in 5 steps, I finally said in as nice a voice as I could muster, "You know, guys, I'm having a hard time listening to you and chasing your brother. I can't talk to anyone until we get into the van."

Good job, Mommy. You handled that like a pro. That should solve all the world's problems.


"No. Did you hear what I just said? You have to wait until we get to the van."


"Mommy, guess what!"

"Not until we're in the van."


"Hey Mommy?"

"Nope. In the van."


"Oh, Mommy, I forgot to tell you--"

"NO. Not until we're IN.THE.VAN."



Look of death.

"Oh yeah."

Finally we reached the magical place where I could buckle Roo in, unload the bundle of things I was carrying, and plop my weary body into a comfy seat.


"OK, guys. We're in the van. I've had a minute to collect my thoughts. Now, what did you want to say?"

Blank stares.

"What do you mean?" (Lamb.)

"I told you guys that I couldn't talk until we were in the van. You wanted to say some things on the way and I told you to wait. Now we're here. What did you want to say?"

Pause. More blank stares.

"I don't think I needed anything. I think it was just Monkey." (Totally not the case.)

Monkey shrugs and says, "I don't know. Guess it wasn't that important."

Oh for the love.