Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Real Life

I haven't posted in a long time, so might as well get back in the saddle with a straight up mom fail story.

This summer.  
I have an upcoming 8th grader on my hands.  Acting his age in most every way, displaying every bit of the 13 years that he is.

I'll spare you the customary…. "I blinked, and summer is over, " and "wasn't he just a baby, like last week?  "big feels" that whirl around my head this time of year.  Alright, really most any time of the year they catch me off guard.

Amidst the sun, pools, zoo's, beaches, friends, potlucks, tubing, camping, family, unlimited "Good Luck Charlie" and Minecraft we've immersed ourselves in the last few months….I do have a "to do" list, and 8th pictures are near the top.

Confession:  In his 13 years of life, Austin had yet to visit a "real" barber.  I have cut his hair every. single. time….which really isn't that often, because the shaggy look does him well, and he is pretty laid back.

Well, with these milestone pictures looming, a clean up was in due order. 

And I thought I would use this momentous occasion as the perfect time to take him to a professional. A rite of passage if you will.

I decided I would take him for a cut during Dylan's football practice.  And to make it even more special I'd take him to a real barber.  Like a man's barber… not my hairdresser who massages my scalp and pampers me.

However, I  didn't want to risk taking him to a stranger having a bad day at SuperCuts before his pictures either.  We'd already had to postpone them after he was stung by a bee in the mouth and his cheek swelled up for a week.

I remember hearing commercials for Jude's Barber Shop on the radio.  You know, the barbershop for men.  And there is one located fairly close to football practice.  Perfect.  A quick haircut at a fluff there.

We dropped Dylan off and drove over on one of the hottest evenings of the teenage son and 3 little girls on my heels as we walked through the glass door of Jude's.

And in one very surreal moment, as I grabbed the door handle to shuffle the kids in, the doorbell dinging announcing our arrivial, all eyes in the place instantly locked on heart sank.

In that very instant... a moment too late… it clicked in my brain why they call it the barbershop for men.  Just once I would like to learn something the easy way.

As Stella stared incredulously at all the pictures or scantily dressed women on the wall, her eyes so big I thought they'd pop right out of their sockets, Austin and Sydney looking up and down, clearly not knowing what to do with themselves or their eyes, embarrassed … I  quickly stammered  "I'm sorry, I didn't realize this wasn't a place for kids"  to the receptionist who was already preparing for our hair cut.

I quickly looked around and surveyed only men in the chairs, to which she shrugged…"Oh sure, people bring their kids here all the time.  Now who's getting their hair cut?"

Amidst my processing, shock, and rising bile,  Austin half shrugged and nodded, and was already being directed to a chair to begin his cut.  And just like that, I was committed.  Gah! It still makes my stomach knot up.

I sat down with the girls and promptly took out my phone to watch a show, hoping it would completely distract them from the walls and the "weird pictures".

Here's the thing.  I'm a fairly over-protective person when it comes to what my kids see.  I take my role as their advocate pretty seriously.  I do my research, read reviews, take ratings seriously, and hover over their shoulders while on the computer in an annoying mom way.

I am probably a little too controlling to say the least…and I willingly marched them straight into a store where my 7 year old daughter asked  "Mom, why are the pictures so weird here, and why is that lady taking her underwear off in that picture?"

I could cry.

Well I got more and more antsy as we sat,  beating myself up for my ignorance. I had to at least get my girls out of there!

I saw a parking spot open up right outside the glass storefront, so I quickly ran outside...doorbell dinging behind me... and moved my van closer, so I could see it from the waiting area.

I came in (doorbell ding),  and sent the girls out (doorbell ding... again)  to the van.  Doors locked, all windows down in the sultry heat, in the back seat I left them my phone to watch a show, where they wouldn't draw so much attention to themselves.

And there I sat.  My head darting back and forth so fast, i looked like a chicken...praying in my head that I hadn't ruined them all with my ignorance.

My eyes trained on my van, making sure the girls were safe, certain someone was going to report me for having them out there alone and unattended on such a hot night…. darting back to Austin, because as soon as his cut was finished I planned to whisk him out to the van while I paid, in hopes he wouldn't even have a chance to look up.

As I sat there like a nervous, anxiety- ridden, lunatic,  I could almost see my mug on the 10 o' clock news.  "Weary mom locks kids in van on the hottest night of the summer, while teenage son get's questionable haircut". Gah!

As the cut wore on…which in reality was all of 10 minutes…I'd jump up and head to the van to check on the girls (doorbell ding), and then train my eyes on the back of Austin's head, willing her to cut faster,  silently apologizing to the back of his neck.

I'm pretty sure I made everyone in the store uncomfortable with all my nervous energy.  I was a hovering, frantic, loon.

Well, when it was finally over, I plastered a smile on my face, said thank you, and promptly shooed Austin outside while i paid.

No sooner had I handed the receptionist my credit card, I heard the familiar sound of my van alarm going off.   As if to alert the whole world of my epic fail.

Naturally in my haste, I didn't remember the van was locked.  I once again darted through that dinging door,  but it was actually the comic relief I/we needed to end our little situation.

As we pulled away, we had a good talk about my ignorance, I apologized to them over and over and over again, and I promised the little girls I wouldn't take them to that place with the "weird pictures" again.

And I've forgiven myself,  because I just can't keep my kids in a bubble after all....tho I'm not sure the girls will ever look at Bat Girl through the same eyes again.

My 8th grader…

Tuesday, May 26, 2015


Our vacation time is precious, so it must make the memory books.  Better late than never :)

Spring Break 2015.
After much conversation, and even more research, we followed a different trail south this year.
I'm fairly certain I missed my calling in life as a travel agent/ geography teacher.  I could dink around on google maps searching for places to visit.

Upon sitting in stopped traffic, trying to exit Florida with half of America last spring, we decided that we might need a wee little break from Orlando.  We were ready for something different, and were pretty set on visiting the Smoky Mountains again...especially since all of our children can climb with their own 2 feet now.  But after the long cold winter,  decided it might be in our best interest to head just a bit further south...lest I be disappointed.

Well, we researched and discussed many a location til we were crazy, and finally decided upon Galveston, TX.  I've always wanted to visit Texas, and since going to St. Louis with the kids has always been on my bucket list, it worked out well that it was on the way.

Join me on our Spring Break journey...

We left at the crack of dawn Saturday morning, and drove 7 hours to St. Louis.  We arrived around lunch, and hit our first destination on my carefully currated Spring Break bucket list....the Budweiser factory. . 
We enjoyed our free tour, seeing the clydsdales, and sipping our free samples. 
Next stop, we had 3 pm tickets to the top of  Gateway Arch.
We waited a loooong time to get in, as you first have to stand in line and go through a Homeland Security check just to get in the main door.
We enjoy history, so it was fascinating to learn more about westward expansion, and the history of the Gateway to the West.  Tim especially enjoyed the video that showed how the arch was built. 

Going to the top. A 5 seater car...sure we can squeeze in 7!  I may have hyperventilated a bit  from the sheer clausterphobia, lack of air, and my ears popping when we were nearing the curve at the top.

View from the top, Mississippi River side.

The photo I didn't buy...

I so badly wanted to get a pic of the kids with the whole arch, but alas, it just wouldn't all fit.

We walked to a pizza joint for dinner and caught the MSU basketball game before heading to our hotel and the pool.
In the morning, after our free breakfast buffet, we drove a little further west and hit Six Flags Great America for the day.
Finally tall enough that we can all ride together!  


When all of our adrenalin junkies myself included, had their fill, we hopped in the van to continue the 14 hour drive south. And I will just say, that after 2 long days under our belt, we didn't really have the same motivation to drive the 14 hours through the night as we usually have when we first leave on vacation. 
It was a long. boring, tiring, crazy- cycle kind of night through Oklahoma.  
Well, somewhere along the way, facebook alerted me that Tim's brother Casey was in Houston for Easter.
Turns out we were literally driving right past him, so we stopped and hung out for a few hours.
We finally made it to Galveston late afternoon Monday.
Just in time to breathe in the ocean, grab dinner, and sit and watch the championship basketball game.
The next day we were still tired, so we explored a bit, and went to the beach and got fried.

We visited Galveston Island State Park to fish and explore...
The kids had themselves a hermit crab race...
We rented a bike and managed to squeeze our whole family on it.
 We tooled around town enjoying listening to the girls scream as Tim pretended to run into things.
We drove over to Pelican Island, and visited Seawolf Park.  We watched people fish, the boats come in, and  toured a WW2 submarine and destroyer ship that were stationed there..


Pleasure Pier was closed the whole time, so I could only get a picture :)

Fishing in the ocean...before Tim fell in :)


We enjoyed riding the ducks, learning about Hurricane Ike, and the history of the island over the years...

We swam in the pool a ton, probably the most we ever have on vacation...

We visted Moody Gardens on our last day because it was raining.
Ellery deffered to her map the entire time.

All in all it was a good trip.  A slower pace than what we are used to, but really a good time together.  On the way home we swung through Chicago to visit my parents :)

Saturday, March 7, 2015


My sisters mother in law passed away very suddenly last month.
Unexpectedly, and without the chance to say "goodbye for now" one last time.

A lady that I have known since I was a child.

After much internal debate based upon weather reports and kid arrangements, I  made a whirlwind trip to Chicago to attend her funeral on a Thursday morning.

I  was kind of a headcase about it, because I really don't like to drive far if the weather could be sketchy, or worry that the kids will get to where they need to be.

But, I really wanted to see my sister, my niece and nephews, my family…so I went.  Case closed.

The drive was a bit white knuckled for a stretch along the lake heading south, as is usually the case, and I was in constant conversation with God.   I passed red and blue swirling lights on the side of the road, and I again questioned whether I made the right decision.

As I approached the section of highway that always makes me tense up a bit in the winter, after going in the ditch there Christmas Eve 1995 while driving home from college in a snow storm...the sun came out.

I know it's just natural, as there are certain areas where there are always squals along the lake, but to me when those clouds parted and the sun popped out, it was as if God was telling me everything was going to be ok.

And in that moment, I knew I made the right decision to come.

Sitting in a pew near the front of the church that I grew up in, listening to stories of the past, funny memories, testimonies of her impact on former students, memories of the person she was ...her legacy....I was once again convicted to my core to be intentional with my life, my time, my relationships.

Life is short.

I spent a bit of time after lunch peering through all the posterboards of smiling faces, marking wonderful life moments.  The births of babies, family trips to so many great places,  cheesy grins while baking cookies, staged birthday party pics, sporting niece and nephews aging a little bit in each pic.

It was evident by the picture display that they spent alot of time together, enjoying a variety of things and places.  But posterboards only capture the kodak moment events of life.  While those pics showcase some amazing memories,  there is so much more.  All the simple, sweet, "real" moments, void of a clicking camera, are tucked away in their memories now, and those moments are what will carry them forward.

Funerals have a way of making you realize how blessed you are.  
How precious life is.
How important it is to make the most of every encounter, opportunity... moment.
Because you may not get another chance.

Tho our eyes are fixed on spring over here, I always cherish winter, and what it means for our family.

Winter is the gift of time.

And it has been pretty fantastic so far... filled with intentional moments, meaningful conversations, getting house projects and some business checked off the list, watching sports, playing so, so, so many board games, trying new things, spending time with family and old friends, and plenty of the adventure that I'm accepting we crave.

As the kids get older and are turning into real people, my van still seems to drive west most days and nights to pick  someone up from somewhere, but it's been good. Just the right amount of everything, it seems.

I've been on more dates with Tim in the last 2 months than all of 2008-2010 combined!

We are an adventurous bunch, so moving forward,  I want to continue to try new things and explore new places together, make new traditions and hold dear to our established ones, continue to challenge and push ourselves and the kids to make each moment count.

Spend our family time well, and be intentional even when life gets crazy, because it will.

Ok, ok, less sappy nat and more "that time Dylan asked what a g-string was"  stories coming soon :)

A few pics from our winter for the memory books…

In January, Tim went  to Arkansas with the boys  to hunt for a long weekend.  They had a great time together, tho I understand there could have been more ducks.

While the boys were away, the girls kept me busy. We went to Taco Bell and the mall, naturally ….

We ski'd for the first time of the season...


We went to see Annie on Broadway.  Sydney and I secretly followed the score of the Packers football game on my phone during the performance. And it was in that moment that I realized that I have become one of them.

We ski'd a whole bunch this winter, actually!
Poor Dylan started puking as soon as we walked into the ski lodge and bought our lift tickets on our second trip, and spent the night in the truck with one of us.  Third times a charm...

Sydney played basketball…

And volleyball…

We celebrated Opa and Oma's 63rd wedding anniversary! Such a blessing...

We thoroughly enjoyed the SuperBowl this year. Lots of noise coming from our house when the Patriots won it in those final seconds.  Dyl took home the cash....

We celebrated Dylan's 10th birthday!!

Ten, the "year of the iPod"

The little girls mastered the chairlift...

I went to CaberFe for the day with the big 3 to ski with friends.  It.was.COLD.  "Mom! You have a booger icicle again!!"
But yeah for a 4 person chair lift and no broken bones...

Oh, just two 38 year olds conquering Black Diamonds...yeah, I fell.

Stella turned 7!

She got her ears pierced!

We went to a Griffins game, and they tied it up in the last 0.4 seconds and went on to win!  A win, free t-shirts, free tickets to the next game, and a pic with the bird makes for a pretty fantastic night.

So we went again....

Dylan's lighthouse…

We drove out to explore frozen Lake Michigan on a Saturday afternoon...

Budgeting and beers is always a good combo on a Friday night :)

Sydney turned 12!
The year of horseback riding lessons...

Happy weekend, friends.