Long Days of Summer

Remember when I did that spot on NBC 5?

Remember the bachelorette party I hosted that night?

Did I mention the 90 minutes of sleep I got in a 48 hour period?

Wrote a new post for Mom Renewal on the longest day I had this summer. You guessed it, that was the one. Check it out here.


"Don't Go To Work, Mama"

This morning as I was getting ready to head out to work the little guy grabbed my skirt, looked up at me with his big brown eyes and said: "Please don't go to work, mama."

It was the first time he had asked me to stay home. He even said please. And all I could do was tell him I was sorry, that I had to go. He didn’t cry or beg or tantrum over it, just accepted it, which made it so much worse. It was almost as if he knew I’d go, but gave it his best try.

I thought about this all day while I sat at my desk and worked. I like my job, it felt like I was in the right place, but seeing myself through his eyes made me wonder. I never questioned working out of the home, but it seems like he might be.

I knew separation issues would come and it was a minor version of what can be painful tantrums for most moms, but I don't want to forget what I saw in his eyes this morning. It's a good reminder to constantly evaluate if you're doing the right things for yourself and your family. I still think that I am, even if he can't see it right now.


William: Age 2

Today is my sweet little guy's 2nd birthday. I plan to do a recap of who my little guy is every year moving forward. Here is William: Age 2...

William is verbally light years ahead of where a 2 year old should be, his favorite sayings include:

-"You're the best ____ (insert word of choice: guy, lady, dad, mom) ever, ____ (insert person he's speaking to: Dada, Mama, Nana, Papa, etc.)

-"I like it!"

-"No, mama, no talking."

-"I need this!"

-"That sounds wonderful!"

-"I can do everything." (Formerly "I can't do anything!" thanks to Rosita from Sesame Street in the Guitar episode.)

-"No phone, no phone!"

-"Where's my paci?"

-"My teeth look good." (after having his teeth brushed)

-"Lightning McQueen is fast!"

-"What noise is that?"

While he verbally takes risks, he's thoughtful about physical stuff. He's fearless, but always pauses before climbing something or crossing a bridge, taking in the situation. He runs from one thing to another like he's drunk and still falls often.

His favorite things are: cars, trucks, cowboys, trains, dinos, Sesame Street, and anything farm-related. I never thought I would have a boy so into boy stuff.

William does not share well and has told me he "doesn't like to share." We're working on this one.

His favorite foods: guacamole, corn, ice cream, scones, yogurt, chicken dipped in anything, grilled cheese, pancakes, peanut butter and jelly, and Egg McRuckers (the breakfast sandwiches my dad makes for him). He likes spicy food like salsa and curry. Indian and Mexican are always a hit with him.

He hugs tightly, kisses with his mouth open and sometimes his tongue out, likes to be held while dancing, and asks to play and cuddle in mommy and daddy's bed during the day.

William would rather walk than be pushed in his stroller, prefers the umbrella stroller to the jogger, demands to have naked time after his baths, which includes naked dancing to hip hop with Matt in the bathroom. He isn't ready to let go of his pacifier or his diapers. I'm ok with it.

His favorite songs include: Happy Birthday to You, ABC's, Sing a Song, and anything by Dean Martin. He is obsessed with Dean Martin and we listen to it during every car ride. He can sing most of the words to Mambo Italiano.

William's tolerance for pain freaks me out. He got his first bee sting this week and we didn't figure it out until the next day. He rarely cries when he falls, instead jumps up and says, "I'm OK!"

My little guy has an intense ability to love and a capacity for joy that is unmatched. He is a very fortunate boy, surrounded by an army of people who love him fiercely. His sense of humor is beyond his years. He smiles bright and loves strangers. He continues to make our world a happier place every day.


Waking Up To Love

You're the first thing I hear in the morning, greeting me from across the hall. I listen for a bit, admiring the early morning noises you make, sometimes crying, often chattering, always waiting for me. Groggy, comfortable in my bed, I pull myself up and stumble into your room.

You throw yourself back down, peek at me from the corner of your eye, pull your blankie over your head. I pick you up and you wrap your arms around my neck. And I stand there for a moment breathing you in. The best moment of my day.

This post was inspired by the The Father 100 Project. Yup, I'm a mom blogger, but I think I can hang with the dads, right? Consider it a flash blog project, 100 words or less. The word that inspired it: Love.

Our Favorite Dinos

William LOVES dinosaurs. BIG FAN. So, you can imagine how excited I was to see that Dinosaurs On The Move by Cathy Diez-Luckie would be the next From Left to Write Book pick. Perfect, I thought. An interactive dinosaur book, he'll love it.

Dinosaurs have been a big topic around here for the last few months. It started with a book and a stuffed t-rex puppet and escalated from there. Now he can name a few dinos by sight.

When I received the book I realized just how much work I would have to do and just how much I don't like doing crafts. But, I made one. And he loved it:

We'll make more one day. Just not until he can be a little more helpful. And as you can see his attention span wouldn't last long enough to put stegosaurus together, even if it is his favorite dinosaur.

(Clearly Lightning McQueen is never far from him mind. At the end of the video he was saying: "Can Dada be Lightning McQueen?" Cars and dinos have taken over my llife.)

This post was inspired by Dinosaurs On The Move by Cathy Diez-Luckie, which I received complimentary for the From Left to Write Book Club.

Out of the High Chair

It's official: The little guy's high chair days are over. Attempts to get the little guy into the chair often end in major struggles, which usually result in him sitting next to me on the bench at our table. It's a sad reminder of how fast he's growing.

Here are some final high chair photos (the only smiling photos I could find):

Clearly this kid is getting a little too big for the chair. But, thanks to Kim, a mom blogging friend whose boys have grown out of their booster, our transition will be inexpensive and quick!

Saying farewell to the high chair has made me realize how often photos are taken in this little seat. After all, it's the best place to keep them happy and in one place for a good photo op. Remember these days? Or his first taste of chicken? How about the teething biscuit revelation? And his love of yogurt? Man, he was so stinking cute, even messy!

For the record, I am a huge fan of the Fisher Price Space Saver High Chair. I bought this high chair on my own, it was not given to me for a review, nor do I have any relationship with Fisher Price. I just really dig this high chair for my little house.


Back to School for Some, Back to Schedule for Us

It's late August, which means back to school for most people. We're not there yet, but August does mark a major time of change at our house. Summer this year was so jam-packed with plans, parties, travel, work, and house stuff that we hardly got a chance to function as a family. You know, make lunches, sit down for dinner, or even hold any sort of regular schedule. None of that existed for us this summer.

Fall tends to be a turning point for us. Our social obligations lighten, travel is less, and the lack of yard work opens more time in our regular life. We also enter my crazy season at work for the Gala and Matt's workload increases with annual media buys coming in, which means that we have to plan for everything. We make lunches, try to do weekly meal planning, use our crock pot multiple times a week, do laundry on the weekends, grocery shop on Sundays... We just kind of get into a groove, which somehow makes us feel more like a family.

Regardless of whether we're going back to school or getting slammed at work, fall will always be our favorite time of year. There's something about it that makes me want to organize the house, make some good meals, and be a really good mom. Maybe I've been trained to feel like fall is a new phase since my mom always made a huge deal of our going back to school preparations. We took our lists to the store, begged for pens and accessories in our favorite colors, new outfits, shoes and soccer cleats... Fall meant the beginning of something. It still does. I get energized by the Fall, everything feels more crisp to me. It just feels good.

We're a couple years away from the first day of kindergarten, but it'll be here before we know it. I just hope that we find a happy medium with work and home so we can be there for our little guy on all his first days, hear about the details of his day, watch his first soccer practices, and ensure it's a special time for him, like it was for me.

This month Yahoo! Motherboard members reflect on the Back to School season. While I can't give you back to school tips, you can get some from Yahoo! here.

Bottle of Joy

Our dear friends have a new baby girl and with that came a new brew. You see, Anthony is the brewer behind Rockmont Brewing and had asked Matt to create a label for the special occasion, which he was thrilled to do.

Matt came up with a few options, but this was the winner! And, our friends Kari and Anthony are even bigger winners with their adorable baby Lyla Jean.

Welcome to the world, sweet girl. Cheers!


Lunch Budget: When Simple Math Makes Me Feel Like a Fool

This summer was a hectic one and grocery shopping and lunch making became somewhat impossible. When we got home from Wisconsin on Sunday afternoon, we took a quick walk over to our Treasure Island to grab something for dinner and I noticed a few choice Boar's Head meats and cheeses on sale for 1/2 price. This is the week we get back to making our lunches, I thought to myself.

I did the math while I waited at the counter: A lunch out is roughly $10. I work in the office three days a week, Matt is in the office five days a week. If we each eat lunch out on those days it's about $80/week. The math is like a slap in the face, especially when you factor in the yogurt parfaits I often grab in the morning along with my coffee, which is another $6 or so. All together I figure we're spending $100/week on coffee, grab and go breakfasts, and lunches. That quickly becomes $400 each month.

I picked up a 1/2 pound each of chicken, ham, and cheddar cheese, which cost me about $8 total. Not too shabby considering you usually have to pay $10/pound for Boar's Head. I bought yogurt to bring to the office for $3. A loaf of bread and other lunch snacks added about $10 and I dusted off my travel mug for home brewed coffee. So, we're looking at about $21/week. No more than $100 a month, even with a cup of coffee here and there.

My goal is to stay on top of lunches and get back to my meal planning as fall approaches. If you need a good exercise to give you and your budget a swift kick in the butt, I suggest you start with your lunch.


Toddler Talk: Some Recent Goodies

The little guy is almost two, but talks like a teenager these days. Seriously, the stuff he comes up with is crazy, so I thought I would share some of his finest comments.


Scene: Playing with a purple car and a Lightning McQueen car.
Purple Car: "You're the best car ever, Lightning McQueen!"
Lightning McQueen: "Yeah, I get around."


Scene: Riding in the car. A few hours after Matt and I discussed using his ring bearer tuxedo for Halloween, unaware that he was listening.
William: "I don't want a tuxedo!"
Me: "You already have a tuxedo."
William: "I don't want to have a tuxedo!"


Scene: Leaving the Farmer's Market, a lot of cash was used.
William: "I have money."
Me: "You do? How much?"
William: "Ten moneys."
Me: "Ten moneys. That's a lot."
William: "No, two moneys."
Me: "Where did you get your money?"
William: "I don't like money. I like helicopters."


Scene: Grandma drops off William at the end of the day.
William: "Bye bye, honey bunny, bugaboo boogaloo!"


Scene: Sitting at the dinner table. I take a sip of Matt's beer.
William: "No!"
Me: "What?"
William: "Mama doesn't drink beer!"
Me: "I don't?"
William: "Mama drinks wine!"


(Almost) Wordless Wednesday

Guess what I threw together last night? I have a husband who really likes roasted chicken, which I'm really not very good at, but I winged it anyway. Plus, fall is my busy season at work and, since summer seems to be on its way out, I'm trying to get myself back into the swing of things.

Here we have a rub I threw together, an organic chicken that's been taking up too much room in the freezer, and every vegetable I could squeeze in here. Feel free to come over to our house this evening for a free smell.

I'm expecting my Wife of the Year award to come in any minute.


We've Been Vandalized!

We woke up this morning to vandalism. In the suburbs. Some jerk decided to ride through our landscaping in the dark hours of night while we peacefully slept. I assumed it was some dumb kid who might have had too many beers, Matt hoped it was an adult who happened to look down a little too long and veered off the sidewalk. I think I'm right. (What else is new?)

Whatever it was, I feel violated. It's hard to complain about something that seems so minor given what we used to deal when we lived in the city, which included gang tagging, drug dealers next door throwing tiny plastic bags into our lawn, and a bike stolen from our patio. But, seriously, I've been suburbanized. And this just won't fly.

Below is a photo of the offense. (Please don't judge the lack of weeding, which in itself is an offense.)

Luckily, the crushed plants were perennials and will be back next spring. All is not lost. Dumb kids. Go for the annuals next time if you really want to do some damage.

When Parents Lose Their Cool

During our week-long getaway in Michigan, we spent a great afternoon in St. Joseph. You'll hear all the details of our awesome trip soon, but in the meantime you can check out my post on The Chicago Moms site.

I saw a guy spank his two year-old four or five times for a pretty minor offense. I immediately decided this dad was too quick to spank, probably not a good dad, and possibly a little angry. But, seriously, what do I know?

I do know that when parents have their "moments" in public, you better believe someone is watching.


My NBC Chicago Spot

After a few mentions and an unfulfilled promise that I would post the video, I finally have the ability to share my few minutes of on-air exposure. I had a lot of fun that morning. The people at NBC 5 are the best and made me feel really comfortable. And they thought I did a solid job, which made me happy.

So, here you go... I give you my tv spot. Not the best quality, but you get the idea. I was totally unprepared for how much screen time my hands were going to get. Notice I made the good decision to get a manicure the day before this! (Please let me know if you'd like to book me for a hand modeling job.)

And, may I remind you, this was only the first activity of a long day that included hosting a bachelorette party... on a bus... at a Jimmy Buffett concert. Man, it was a long day.

For the record, Nesita Kwan is one of the smallest women ever, which might explain my giant appearance. (I even wore very low wedges and offered to take my shoes off, but she was cool with it.)

For more information on the items I reviewed, check out the post I did on them.

Disclaimer: I received all of these items complimentary and am not a paid commentator for NBC 5 (yet!).


SYTYCD Best Dance of Season 7

So, you know my favorite show is So You Think You Can Dance and I like to share all of my thoughts on its greatness, but this season has been tough since I spent so much of July out of town. It became the last thing I had time for, so I'm playing catch up...

Wanted to share the best dance I have seen in a long time, by far the best of the season. Travis Wall is a GENIUS. I've rewatched it too many times to count and there may have even been some tears... I don't think it's because I'm a mom and it's about a son taking care of his mother through a medical crisis. You'd have to be a stone not to react to this amazing dance.

Check it out.


The Stuff That I'll Never Post

For the From Left to Write Book Club we read "The Stuff That Never Happened" by Maddie Dawson, a novel about a woman who runs into the man who has held "the one who stole her heart" title, their sordid history, and her relationship with her husband.

The point of this book club is to read a book and then write a post inspired by that book, which is the thing that I love the most about it. But, for a book that deals with relationships out of a marriage, the "one who got away," and the reminders and memories of former relationships and our partner's reactions to them. Well, it's tough to write about what it really inspires... Right?

Of course, you want to honor the person you're with and not get all gushy and romanticize those of your past. But, if a book like this didn't make you think about them, then you're lying.

That's the thing with blogging: It's a fine line between determining what you want to put out there and being honest. I always promised honesty, but nothing that would get me fired or create problems in my relationship or make DCFS come knocking.

In the spirit of these guidelines, I won't post about the one person Matt asked me to cut communication off with or about my version of "the one who got away." Those aren't things that I need to go into here. It's just not appropriate for me to post the details. But, of course they were thoughts when I read this book.

Instead, I decided to talk to Matt about it and tell him the concerns it created when posting as a "mom blogger." He said it very well: "I'm glad you had relationships before me. It gave you practice on having an adult relationship. Maybe you should have had more of them."

He's probably right. I was in a relationship from my senior year of high school until a year out of college (with a few "breaks") and learned some really bad habits. The worst being that I could do pretty much whatever I wanted and would still have a boyfriend. I took advantage of that one, knowing all the time it was a relationship of convenience and he deserved better. I'm not proud of the version of me who was in that relationship and I don't blame him for not speaking with me anymore. After that, I jumped into another relationship with someone seven years older and totally unwilling to deal with my bulls**t. Good for him. Smart man. It forced me to take a step back.

I learned that I just needed to spend some time by myself and "saw" people without a commitment. It was easy to meet people as someone in my early 20's, living in the city, working in advertising and bar tending for extra cash. When I met Matt I was "talking" to a few different people. Nothing serious. And the first day we hung out to watch an Iowa game I ran into four guys that I had some sort of current situation or recent history with, from the "one date and I'm out" to the "I don't like you that way" to the "I kinda like you, let's meet up on the weekends." It was hilarious. And it was relationship karma's way of giving me a big old middle finger for the way I treated my ex-boyfriends.

But, despite karma's personal attack, Matt liked me anyway, and, of the guys we ran into, I realized I liked him best of all. The others fell somewhere into the history of my life and then Matt quickly became the future.

It's not that I don't think of some of them every now and then. We all think about people from our past everyday, because they shaped who we are today. We just don't have to divulge details on our blogs. And, trust me, the details aren't nearly as romantic or exciting as the relationships in this book.

This post was inspired by The Stuff That Never Happened by Maddie Dawson, which I received complimentary as a part of From Left to Write Book Club. See how other bloggers were inspired by this book here.


Congrats, Windtravelers!

I interrupt my "disconnect vacation" (more on this later...) to mark the almost two week anniversary of Brittany and Scott, two of my most favorite people in the world and the dynamic duo behind Windtraveler.

I have been lucky enough to know this little lady for roughly 25 years and over the years we've been our own version of codependent. We have a very special friendship and to call her my best friend wouldn't really cover it, so it made me nervous to think what might happen when the two of us settle down... It would take a particular kind of guy to roll with the punches and know that I may be on the phone during some of their fights, know way too much about their relationship, and call for no reason whatsoever. Enter Scott, who is right on in every way. These two are so stinkin' cute, it makes me sick. I mean, seriously. And for the record: I usually defend him in their few and far between tiffs, anyway.

While I am incredibly happy for these two crazies, I'm heartbroken that this marks the beginning of their journey to wedded bliss living on the sea. Yeah, that's what I said. Check out their blog here for all the details. Warning: You may become really jealous or think they're totally insane. (I go back and forth.)

Congrats to two of my favorite people and thank you for letting me be the matron of honor in a monumental wedding. Love you, guys. And, man, I'll miss you like crazy.