Category Archives: Family

Flirty Forty

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The title of this blog post makes me laugh because flirty is not an adjective that I would use to describe Simon in any way – he is just not a flirt (thank goodness) but he is forty and who doesn’t love a little alliteration? I, for one, am a fan, just as I am a fan of my husband, no matter how OLD he is (I suspect, like my dad, he will forever be a child at heart).

Happy Birthday, Simon, so blessed to have known you since before your hair started to gray and your accent started to Americanize.
10672358_10152499477177955_2758441102351196946_nBut 40 is kind of a big deal so commemorate it, here are the top 40 things I appreciate about that hubby of mine…

1. He keeps the driveway clear of snow and ice (if you live in our neighborhood, you know his devotion to clearing the snow runs deep, making it appear like we have a heated driveway).

2. If he doesn’t know how to do something handy around the house, he will research it, find a YouTube video and learn how to do it; seldom do we have to call in outside help – even when it means he frustrates the heck out of himself (usually with a plumbing-related fix).

3. He is a man of his word – if he says he’s going to do it, he does it when he says he’s going to do it.

4. He is very literal (which can be foreign and sometimes maddening to his less-literal wife) but that makes him easy to understand and straightforward, no nuances or gray areas of confusion.

5. He loves entertaining as much as I do.

6. He is dedicated to coaching rugby and his team at Calvin.

7. He wears his CPAP mask even when he doesn’t always want to because it means I sleep better (and he does, too) without hearing his snoring.

8. He loves me no matter what I am doing, what I look like or what I am wearing.

9. He is unapologetic about his love for [bad] 80s and 90s rock.

10. He also loves Phil Collins.

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11. Looking at him, I can see what our kids will look like when they grown up.

12. He is open to suggestions and change – though it doesn’t come naturally – when it is something important to me, he makes the effort.

13. He opted to live here, in the snow and cold, with me rather than return to Oz.

14. He fits in well with my family – in fact, I think my brothers might like him more than me (no, I’m still their baby sister, but we could say equally).

15. He cleans.
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16. He almost always takes out the trash.

17. He has never once (since we met) worn his silk shirt or Tasmanian devil tie that he owned when I met him.

18. We share the same entertainment habits – we love live music, watching movies and playing board games.

19. When I cook the food, he does the dishes.

20. He makes Vegemite sandwiches for Jack’s lunch and leaves them for me to put in his lunchbox each morning.

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21. He asks my opinion about what he should wear to different events.

22. We have the same vision for the future of our family.

23. He happily signed up for the marriage course with me that our small group is doing all together. And he enjoys it.

24. He brings me coffee whenever he stops to get one for himself.

25. When we have a down weekend, he’ll encourage me to take a couple hours to myself and go to a coffee shop.

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26. The transition to first shift – while an adjustment to be sure – has gone much more smoothly for both of us than I thought it would.

27. He is extremely NOT judgmental, of anyone.

28. He gets super excited about trips and vacation plans.

29. He has never met a stranger.

30. He excels at small talk, which is a fine balance because it’s not my strong suit.

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31. He rarely wakes me up in the morning when he’s getting ready before the crack of dawn.

32. His favorite dessert is brownies with ice cream and chocolate sauce. While I love baking many things, knowing those simple things will make him happy is kind of nice.

33. He likes to share funny things with others.

34. He loves George as much as I do.

35. Church and having faith is important to him.

36. He values making memories and traditions with our family.

37. He makes pancakes for the boys (which Jack will rarely eat but still somehow enjoys the act of it) nearly every Saturday morning.

38. He’s supportive of my owning my own business.

39. He humors my seasonal decorating efforts.

40. He will always be older than me.

Golden Six

Another golden birthday to celebrate in our family – Jack is 6 on February 6! Six is pretty great – kids are just another thing that gets better with age (those of you waiting to tell me it also gets harder can just keep quiet). Six is also maddening – because stubbornness also seems to increase with age (now is the time the rest of you can tell me it gets easier). But, ups and downs as they are, I wouldn’t have Jack’s personality any other way.

Jack is:
1. spirited
2. witty
3. unapologetic
4. smart
5. tenacious
6. always surprising

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From day one, my sweet baby, you have never lacked for personality or gumption. The side-trip to the NICU was hardly a blip on the screen, as was the return three weeks later when you had RSV – where the nurse noted you were quite chatty (still makes me laugh because you and your brother are both such talkers I think that’s one of the main reasons you get on each others’ nerves – both of you wants to be the one talking). Your fighting spirit is truly one of your defining characteristics… much to my joy and chagrin because tenacity cannot be turned on and off and often you direct that spirit at your dad or I and Lord help us, you will wear us down.

And you are so very smart. Always wondering about things, never letting us give a fluff answer to one of your inquiries and forever remembering what we have told you in the past. We had your conference yesterday and the teacher was laughing because she had just sent me an email giving you a glowing review after a visit from a gymnastics place, telling me how you were worried about your little hand and not being able to do things but then you were even able to swing on the bar and you were SO PROUD and realized yet again that you can do things you thought were too hard; but the teacher was laughing because literally seconds after she sent me that email, you were sent inside from recess for punching a female classmate (who also happens to be our neighbor). So that’s awesome. I asked her not to tell me any more good things until the end of the year, but she shared that you were also doing so much better with controlling your bad behaviors and were making excellent social choices (recess punching aside). Your father and I suspect that you – while definitely always instigating things – are also a little bored with kindergarten and would like more challenges (unlike your brother who would like everything to be easy, thank you very much).

You make me so proud, amazed, crazed and happy – I cannot imagine life without you in it – so glad you joined us six golden years ago! Now go eat a slice of cheese, a banana and a pancake – you promised you would start eating those foods now that you are six and I’m going to hold you to it (or not – we’ll see who has enough fight in them). Love you mucho!
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A case of the Mondays

ememby_todayisgoingtobeawesomePoor Jack has been feeling out of sorts lately, fighting a bug I think, so today we are hanging out together at home while he gets to experience the joy of a sick day. Though I think that joy is lost on him… he’s not one to just lay around and do nothing for long periods of time (and in this house we apparently define long periods of time as anything over 10 minutes; which is as unfortunate as all three of my boys defining wake up time as any time before 7 a.m., including on weekends). Hopefully getting to stay home for the day will fix whatever is ailing him… starting kindergarten has been a big adjustment for him and though he doesn’t complain (about that), I think he needs a break from real life like any other person – yes, my five-year-old needs a mental health day.

Of course it is only 9:30 in the morning and we have many hours in front of us… someone might want to send us chocolate. And if this continues tomorrow, well, I tag Simon for staying home… that or tough love mom who sends her kid to school in the face of phantom, non-descript illness.

 

Motherhood

Motherhood….

  • it ain’t for the faint of heart
  • it is often thankless
  • it is beautiful (and it is a mess)
  • is not the same for everyone – it comes dressed up in different clothes, is achieved through many different methods and definitely doesn’t fit into some mold or come from a cookie cutter
  • it is the hardest and best job you’ll ever have (unless your job is giving away someone else’s money to help worthy causes and then it might be a tie)
  • it is so many things and is so simple all at once

The list could go on and no doubt, having just passed Mother’s Day, your own ideas and feelings about motherhood are fresh in your mind. Here’s what I’ve been thinking.

a) I don’t always know what I’m doing. It sucks that there is not a how-to manual or a choose-your-own-adventure style manual (e.g., “If your child does XYZ… do ABC if you want them to develop good self-esteem… do CBA if you want them to learn from their mistakes… or do QRS if you would like them to go to therapy as an adult.)

Here’s a secret: no one else knows what they are doing, either. We’re all just taking it on with a wish and a prayer.

b) “Good” parenting is kind of a crap shoot. I have two sons but when I just had one son, I really thought I knew the secret to “good” parenting. He napped when he was supposed to, for as long as he was supposed to; most nights he even fell asleep nursing or taking a bottle, seldom stirring when I placed him carefully in his crib. He ate a fairly well-balanced diet. He didn’t try and get into things and was content not trying to cause trouble. Then we had a second child and we did all the same things with Jack as we did with Liam. Guess what? Jack never once fell asleep BEFORE being placed in his crib. Despite an early showing of a broad palate, he now is one of the pickiest eaters I know. And that kid was born with an insatiable curiosity and ability to figure things out that made all child-proofing efforts laughable (he could lock and unlock the fridge lock for us just days after we put it in place to keep him from stealing food).

Since no two people are the same, guess what, no two children are the same… even when they come from the same two parents and are raised pretty much the same. You can do all the “right” things and still end up with a little hellion child and you can pretty much suck and still end up with a fairly well-adjusted child (not that I recommend the sucking approach – the odds are a little more in your favor if you do put in some effort). So do your job as a parent, the best you can, but remember, worrying over every decision and moment of parenting will not at all ensure success (it will, however, make you an anxious wreck).

c) God made ME my kids’ parent. I have a confession, Trace Adkins made me tear up this weekend. I’m as shocked as you might be, because Trace Adkins isn’t really known for his heart-string pulling characteristics. But I went to see Mom’s Night Out (thanks to my friend, Melody, at grkids.com) and I cannot recommend the movie more to any parent out there that is currently in the trenches – I have not genuinely laughed to much at a movie in AGES, plus it had the best message delivered by the cute star and, yes, Trace Adkins, that made me get choked up. The main character is at the end of her line and her wits, feeling like she screws everything up and that she is an unfit parent and Trace Adkin’s character, a tattoo-artist biker, basically tells her that she is the perfect parent for her children because God made her their mom and that she is enough. Truth.

I am my kids’ mom for a reason – God made it so. If ever I question what I am doing, how I am doing or how in the freaking world I am going to make it through, I need to remember that I am enough. I have it in me to make the right choices for myself and for my family.

When it comes to motherhood… or pretty much when it comes to life in general, if we set our sights on God first, the rest will line up. Again, it doesn’t make it easy, but it should lighten the load. We’ve got this because He’s got this.

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Vacation: Done

Hello there! You are very welcome for leaving that post up there for the last three weeks. I just wanted to make sure you had enough time to think about it. And then I went on vacation for two weeks. And now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

In all seriousness, I so appreciated the comments here and on Facebook – they really meant a lot and make me so glad I shared my story/struggles here. I hope that someone else will be inspired or at least feel not so alone with their own “things.” We need each other – we all do – to talk to, to do life with and to be real with. I hope you have those people in your life and if you don’t, find them, they are out there.

In other news, my post, Working Girl, has gotten over 400 hits in the last week which made me curious as to why that would be so I took a look at my referrers/stats and found out that a Buzzfeed quiz wondering how 90s you are uses my image of Skidz pants. Thankfully it wasn’t an influx of traffic due to people looking for a “working” girl named Michelle or a sudden rebirth of hypercolor clothing. And in case you were wondering, I am a 90s expert.


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So, how about a little funny for your day?

For our vacation, like last year, we road-tripped to Texas to visit my parents and my brother and sister-in-law (with a side trip to Columbia, Missouri to visit my nephew at college). That is many, many hours in the car. Many. Here are some of the things my kids found funny during that trip:

  • Hitting each other in the face with their pillow pets, which I would totally put up with except the decided to start doing it as we were entering Houston – land of the 4+ lane expressway. They were laughing, drunk on french fries, jelly beans and twizzlers, and we (Simon and I) were not.
  • Any mention of the words fart, butt, bottom, nuts, balls (or, as Jack says, his “bulbs”), penis, wee wee, poop and the like.
  • Signs for Jack In The Box
  • Minecraft You Tube videos
  • Singing along, dramatically, to “Let It Go” from Frozen
  • Jack peeing on the side of the highway in rural Texas and again in less rural Illinois
  • Jack growling fiercely and totally ruining his voice
  • Me offering to pay them $2 if they fell asleep (for the record, in the 40+ hours we spent in the car at various hours – the only time they slept was the 15 minutes before we got to Corpus Christi at the very end of our second day of driving – my kids suck at napping)
  • Our having to use the “butt wipes” (a.k.a., Cottonelle Moist Wipes) on their hands and faces after they snacked (also, moist = worst word ever)
  • Monsters University, Scooby Doo + Batman and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Things the grown ups laughed at:

  • Jack gleefully exclaiming after a successful round of Yahtzee: “I freaking won! See ya suckas!”
  • That was pretty much it. 🙂

Really, a good time was (mostly) had by all during the driving portions of our trip. You expect it to be long and tiring, you expect the kids to bug each other and you expect to question your own sanity for attempting it. But in the end, two weeks of togetherness and warm weather (not to mention good food and better company), make it all worth it. We are probably taking next year off but we’ll do it again – we’re a road tripping family. Hopefully I will have a vacation recap for you sometime soon… but in the meantime, assume we had a blast (because we did) and assume you would be jealous (because we’re awesome).