Wednesday, December 17, 2014


When my hormones are even-keeled and I am in a place of stillness, I feel the contentment just at the edges of my mind again. Kind of waving and reminding me that it's there and it's possible to meet up again. And it feels good. It feels possible. I know the path towards a peaceful mind is one that requires patience and practice and, above all else, constant work.

And so I'm working. Constantly.

The irony about something that appears simple is that this is only the "appearance." The appearance of most beautiful things usually hides the sweat and dedication behind perfecting each detail. A professional ballerina makes it look effortless as she glides across the stage, sparkling in rhinestones and crinolines but anyone with half a brain KNOWS that there were years, probably DECADES, of muscle training, bruised limbs, twisted ankles, broken dreams, and countless days of gorgeous weather spent inside to achieve that seemingly effortless glide.

A peaceful mind is no less difficult.

It is so easy to allow doubts and heartache to clutter my mind. It is so easy to fall into the pattern of comparing myself to others, and the perceptions formed from their outward appearances.

It is so easy to be unhappy and depressed.

Being happy? That takes WORK. It requires a constant effort and struggle to find a balance between our wants and needs and the pressures of life.

I remind myself, once again, that life has no finish line. There aren't any prizes or awards for being the best "fill-in-the-blank" and the only person who will know if I feel regret or peace upon the moment of my death will be ME. Will I regret not having an organized house and life or will I regret missing moments spent laughing with those I love?

And so I take the time to play card games in my pajamas instead of wash laundry. And I take a long bath instead of mailing out Christmas cards. I say Yes to activities that make me happy and No to those that will not. Life is still hectic and faster-paced than I care for, but it's manageable and I am able to float within it and breathe.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Alive and Kicking

I've been so quiet online these past few months... Not for a lack of ideas, just a lack of fully formed paragraphs, fully formed thoughts, and actual energy to complete a sentence.

Do you know how long it took me to write the above?

My pledge to myself is to "just write" again. It's worked before, and I have faith that it will work again. I am committed to filling this blog with literary crap, photo ops, and family fluff.

On that note, look at what I made:

I made a human who can bend into a pretzel, do freaking cartwheels on 4 inches of wood, and throw herself into the air while making it look effortless.

I'm like a magician.

 Corinne is having a fantastic second season in competitive gymnastics, and continues to improve her scores, place high in her age bracket, and do it all with a positive attitude. I honestly don't know how we got so lucky to be her parents.

Speaking of being lucky, this year's visit to the tree farm in Leland, IL was everything I had hoped! All of us drove the 40 minutes to Indian Creek Tree Farm (including the teenager! Who was happy and enjoyed/moderately tolerated the family bonding!) and picked out the most gorgeous tree. People were happy, nobody cried, and it was just like Christmas Vacation, but without frozen hips or eyeballs and we remembered a saw (that the farm provides. But still).

It should be noted that, despite my convincing "lumberjack pose," no actual tree was cut by me. It was very muddy and I was wearing my nice jeans. Patrick and Corinne gracefully took one for the team.

Just mere moments before we slaughtered our fir tree. Awwww.... Memories.
Evan was with us, but kept doing a sneaky-secret agent-photo blur thing.
She still likes to put on the tree skirt and dance around...
Corinne in 2009, age 4. How is it going by so quickly?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Sky Zone for the Holidays!

We were so lucky to be able to review the new Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park in Elmhurst this fall! Being brand new, it was super clean and filled with dozens of high-energy activities. 

Sounds like an ideal gift to give a kid in Illinois in the wintertime, right?

 If you buy a $30 gift card before December 31, Sky Zone will include 30 minutes of free jump time and a pair of Sky Zone jump socks (super grippy and perfect for jumping off of the trampolines ON THE WALLS).*
 Physical activity, especially in the winter months, is key to maintaining your family's physical and mental health. I totally encourage you to give Sky Zone a call or check out their website for their deals, hours, and locations.
A small note to reference when going to any Sky Zone: going when the facility is practically empty isn't always awesome. There was a minimum of 6 kids for the dodge ball courts which really bummed my kids out as they were 2 out of 10 total kids in the facility. Ask your local rep what the high and low peaks are, to better suit your family's personal preferences.

*Be sure to check all of the rules and regulations, which may not be listed on this review. Offer is only good at the participating Sky Zone where pass is purchased.

*Disclaimer: though I received 3 passes for myself and my children to use, all opinions and statements are my own words and no compensation was received.

Friday, November 28, 2014

(Never) Been There, Done That

It's strange when your children have experiences without you that are completely outside of your frame of reference.

Go to camp by yourself for a week? I've done that! Isn't it fun?!? We can compare and share our stories!

Go to Paris for a week with your grandma?


Not only have I never gone to France, I've never been across the Atlantic. I have little travel experience outside of the continental U.S., Canada, Hawaii, and Jamaica. I've placed my feet upon one little section of the entire world. Meanwhile, my eldest has tacked on Europe to his travel log, complete with two stamps in his passport when they spend a day in Dublin on the way back!

I've never had a passport. When I last traveled out of country, it wasn't required. That gives you a little inkling as to the timeframe of extensive travel I've been involved in.

I'm thrilled for Justin. He is having all of the experiences that I've always wanted my kids to have. I am so grateful to his grandma for taking him on this amazing adventure. I hope all of my children are able to live lifes full of travel and activities that cause their heart beats to quicken.

It's just odd to be on this side of the BeenThereDoneThat, you know? I know that we are only on the precipice of hearing about experiences instead of comparing experiences. It's nearly the final territory of parenthood, and it's a little bit scary.

A week without a 6 foot tall teenager in the house is quite noticeable. I keep looking around for my purse or phone and have to pause to figure out what it is I'm forgetting as I rush out the door.

And then I remember.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Feeling March in November...

It's scary to feel in early November the way that I usually feel in mid-March.* Knowing how much colder and darker it will get in the encroaching months of bleakness kind of makes my stomach churn.

Being able to pinpoint the impetus behind a fluctuating mood helps...a bit. It only helps a "bit" because the factors that are in power of my mind's balance aren't really negotiable. It's a non-negotiable fact that I have 3 kids that are very active, which require me to spend a majority of my waking hours just driving and waiting. It's a fact that I have a husband whose job tends to pull him away from our house for lengthy business trips. He's my best friend and best source of support and life just doesn't feel balanced when he's gone. It's a fact that I am having issues with a few of my own character and body flaws, none of which are really things that I can "do" anything about. I can't become younger, or less gray-haired, or ever look much better than I do today.

All of these facts are clear-cut and easy for me to diagnose as half of my problem with my current state of mind. The other half is the lack of motivation that is a side effect of being mildly depressed. Having a lack of motivation in March is something I'm used to and something I can handle. I know how to make things work and meditate and delclutter my life in March so that I can be whole again in April and May.

But it's only November.

I'm not so sure how I'm going to make it through the winter if I'm feeling like March when it's only November.

*If I'm being perfectly honest, I've been feeling like March since August, but the sunshine and air and dirt of this summer was medicine enough to alleviate the gloom and doom. It's harder to be cheerful when the sky is dark before supper.

**Not a danger to myself. Don't worry. I'm just really, really empty.

Friday, October 31, 2014

I Believe I Can Fly

Ever since I was a little kid, I wondered what it would be like to jump out of an airplane. 

When I was 10, I KNEW I would do it someday.

When I was 13, I was pretty sure I would do it.

When I was 18, I thought it might not be such a great idea, no matter how awesome it looked.

When I was 22, I laughed at the idea of leaping to my certain death from a fully functional airplane.

Obviously, I've never skydived before.

But I did get to experience the sensation of skydiving!

I was invited to check out the iFly Indoor skydiving facility in Naperville, Il (along with the other very awesome and attractive fellow blogging friends you see above. Aren't we smoking hot in our jumpsuits?). Without a moment's hesitation, I jumped (ha) at the chance!

Honestly, the sensation of flying was so amazing, I could have spent hours in that wind tunnel. HOURS.

It might not look like it, but that position right there requires some serious ab work out. If I could spend 30 minutes of flight in a wind tunnel every day, I would have abs of steel and a stress level of negative 43.
I mean come on! Look at that! LOOK AT ME FLYING LIKE A BIRD! With just a few more minutes in that tunnel, I could have figured out how to curve my hands and feet to bend that wind to my will. This is certain (in my mind).

You can fly at iFly, too! There are locations all across the US, but the most local ones in Chicagoland (Rosemont and Naperville, IL) are offering a fantastic deal at Costco. Check it out:

Thank you SO much to iFly, for providing this unique experience! My kids are anxious to fly for themselves, and I am eager to once again fly like the Eagle I know I am.

*Disclaimer: I was provided with a complimentary pass to iFly in exchange for an honest review. These words and opinions are all my own, and no monetary compensation was received.

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Final Single Digit

I'm writing this birthday post a few days in advance, because I know myself too well to think that I will be able to write a meaningful letter to you on the day of your birthday. I'll be too busy cleaning the house, baking a cake, and pulling out baby pictures for "just one minute" to write. So, instead, I'm writing this on Wednesday, sitting by the window while you and Evan sleep in and my coffee grows as cold as my feet.

You're turning 9 on Friday. The last of the single digit birthdays, it doesn't seem to make people gasp and sigh over the loss of the baby years quite as much as the dreaded "10," but I have been through "9" twice before, and I know what it means.

9 means that you, my youngest, my baby, my only daughter, are almost a pre-teen.

(Typing that hypenated word made me gasp, then make that breathy laugh that means I'm trying not to cry. For what it's worth, I'm losing that battle.)

9 means you can take the dog for a walk by yourself, and ride your bike to friends' houses, and I only worry a smidge.

9 has you reading chapter books, studying complex science theories, diving into math problems that take more than 1 step, and asking questions that require me to answer with "let's look it up to be sure." You are leaping ahead academically and it is all I can do to keep up with you.

At 9, you are kind and respectful (most of the time), outgoing and funny, and an absolute light of my life. You are more than your age and you reinforce what I firmly believe: childhood is not a preparation for your adult life. Childhood IS life, and you, my child, are living yours well.

My hopes for you are that you always live as you do at 9: full of excitement and wonder, dedicated to the work in front of you, eager to help those who are lost or hurt, first to jump off that cliff while encouraging your friends to follow, and always happy to return to our arms and tell us all about your adventures.

I love you more than salted caramel ice cream and raspberry cream Fannie May candies.

Happy 9th Birthday, Corinne!

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