Sunday, June 17, 2012

31 Things :: Story 26 - Desire


In the fifth grade I had to write an essay about the year 2000. At the tender age of 10, I dreamed of what I would be doing twenty years in the future. I remember writing that I would be married and have five boys. I always dreamed I would have lots of kids.

I met Jeff in the year 2000, and we talked about having kids in the same breath as marriage. We both dreamed of our family together. We tried to conceive for five years before we got pregnant with Sean. My body and mind endured numerous pokes, prods, and tests. We tried innumerable intrauterine inseminations, and were successful only once. It ended in miscarriage. We then tried IVF a bunch of times as well as several frozen embryo transfers finally getting pregnant with Sean. Even then the pregnancy was not easy with bleeding throughout the first trimester, and he delivered five weeks early having to stay in the NICU for ten days. But he was perfect. Our dream of being parents had finally come true. Thank you, Lord!

We thought we had it all figured out, and assumed any future attempts to conceive would be a snap. But we were wrong. Four more frozen embryo attempts, all failed. A miraculous conception on our own ended as ectopic. We continue to learn about letting go of the control. You’re only the master of your own destiny for so long. If you really want to fly you need to let go and have faith.

After I found out that our last failed IVF attempt was not a success, Sean found me crying and asked “what’s wrong momma?” I told him I was sad, and he asked why.  I said, “because God hasn’t blessed us with a baby brother or sister for you yet.” He shrugged his shoulders and said,“It’s ok momma. Don’t worry. He’s working on it.” And that, my friends, was the answer. God’s plan is infinitely better than anything we can control.

We are now very excited about growing our family through domestic adoption. After much prayer we believe this is where God is leading us. We’re working with a local agency, and are officially home study approved and licensed to adopt. Sean talks about his baby brother or sister constantly. He desires a baby almost as much we do. Last weekend he climbed into our bed early one morning. Jeff and I were still half asleep and we heard him say, “God, can you bring me a baby brother or sister faster?” I told Jeff later that day that we better get a lawyer lined up quick because God takes children’s prayers seriously!

I want Sean to be the big brother he’s praying to be. I look forward to sleepless nights because I know they are but a few short months, and bring with them endless days of joy. I dream about and pray constantly for our next child’s birth mother, that the Lord brings her peace and joy.

Our deepest desire of growing our family through adoption is completely out of our control. We have no idea who will enter our lives or when that will happen (if at all). Normally we would be a nervous wreck, but we’re not. We have faith. And we have Sean who reminds us that God is working on it. That’s about as good as it gets.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

31 Things :: Story 25 - Outside


I like being outside. Notice I didn’t say “love” because I’m just as much a homebody. I love me a cozy blanket snuggled on the couch. I love my air conditioning. I love sleeping late huddled under my covers. I love my computer. Aaack! Did I just say that?
But I do like being outside. I remember playing ghost in the graveyard when I was a kid, and running through the sprinkler, pretending to play gas station with the water hose, and splashing around in the pool. Many of my fondest childhood memories were spent outdoors.

I remember fishing with my dad on our summer vacations. One time we got caught in a rainstorm, and he had a hard time getting the motor started. My sister and I huddled under his raincoat and worried we would sink before getting back to shore. We did finally reach shore and my dad made us all hot bouillon soup in coffee mugs as we wrapped ourselves in towels.
When I got older, my parents owned a summer home in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. It’s an amazing place where suddenly you feel as if you’ve been lifted into a different world. Fewer cars, rolling hills, tall pine trees, eagles soaring, loons calling, lakes as smooth as glass, endless starry nights. Amazing. If you don’t believe in God, you will after being here.

Jeff and I enjoy biking and hiking but haven’t done either I think since Sean was born. I’m not sure if it’s because we’re too busy, but something tells me it’s probably because we’re too lazy.  We have an incredible park down the street from our house with plenty of wooded & open plain trails. I used to walk there all the time before Sean was born. Now that he’s old enough to walk with us I think we’ll add it to our summer bucket list.
We have a great yard, but let’s be honest I don’t enjoy doing yardwork. I enjoy the fruits of the labor but, heck, I hate the labor. We’ve been lucky to have a great spring with plenty of sunny, cool days. I spent one day in the yard weeding and haven’t been out since. I really need to make a commitment to plant some annuals, and spend some time on the deck reading.

Yet, my blanket and the couch are calling my name.

Friday, June 15, 2012

31 Things :: Story 24 - Relationship



I’m a daughter. I’m a sister. I’m a friend. I’m a neighbor. I’m a wife. I’m a mother. I’m a child of God.
I have many relationships in my life. On the one hand I’m blessed. Oh so blessed to have all of these people to love and support me. But on the other hand, it is a lot of work to love and nurture all of these relationships. All of these people mean SO MUCH to me, and it can get overwhelming at times to think about whether I’m doing everything I can to serve them.

My mom was my first best friend. I was and still am her baby, and a spoiled brat because of it. Navigating our changing relationship as we grow older is tricky. After my dad passed away, she’s been working through grief and trying to find herself again. It’s been rough. Roles are reversing, and she seeks my advice and friendship often. I sometimes have a hard time balancing being her baby and being her friend.
My siblings and I have a great relationship. We love and respect each other, and know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and adjust accordingly. Growing up I didn’t have a close relationship with my sister, Kari, who is six years older than me. She was my big sister, and we were far enough apart in age to never have similar interests. That’s all changed now, and we’re very close friends. It makes me happy.

Friendships are important to me, and I’ve always surrounded myself with close friends. My best friend from when I was a kid, my best friend from high school, and my best friends from college. Most live in the area, but I don’t see them nearly enough. I really struggle with this because there doesn’t seem to be enough time to nurture these friendships. We get together for special occasions and holidays, but otherwise too much time passes without really connecting. A big part of me wishes this was a priority for me because I miss the friendships.
But I’m now married with a child and own a home in a suburban neighborhood. I count myself lucky to have such awesome neighbors. A few of which I call my friends. Part of me wishes I could nurture these relationships and find closer friends, but something is holding me back. I’m blaming it on time but I’m not sure if this is the real reason or not.

Without a doubt my best friend today is my husband, Jeff. I can share anything with him without judgment, and he’s gotten to be a pretty good listener and doesn’t always try to “fix” things for me. He is my rock, my strength, and my comfort. We can use more alone time in this busy world. But we often find ourselves many nights laying next to one another in the dark talking until the wee hours of the night.
I won’t hide the fact that I love being a mom. Sean is the most amazing kid ever. I know we prayed a long time for him, and clearly God was working his magic. It’s the hardest relationship for me to manage and nurture. But man, it’s worth it.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about my relationship with God. It’s one I think about and work towards every day. This wasn’t always the case, and some days still I fail miserably. But I’m working on it. I talk to Him throughout my day, and pray that my heart and my eyes are open to listen to His reply. I figure if I can get this relationship right, all the others will fall into place.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

31 Things :: Story 23 - Write


My friend Monica and I started writing a novel when we were about fourteen years old. I would write a chapter, then she would write a chapter, and then we’d talk about it into the wee hours of the night on the phone. It was a boy meets girl, girl falls in love with boy young adult novel. We were convinced we would be the youngest published authors ever. I have no idea what ever happened with that novel. But I knew I loved to write. I always have.
I remember taking English Comp freshman year in college, and waiting until the last possible moment to write an assignment.

My friend Ed was in my small group where we shared what we had written, and he looked at me with wide eyes asking, “You just wrote that this morning?” Writing has always come easily to me, and I really enjoy it. So much so that I minored in Creative Writing in college.
With that said, I’ve always struggled with keeping a journal. Even as a child I asked for a diary but only filled about one-quarter of it. When I studied overseas I did a decent job of keeping a journal and I’m so glad that I did so I can look back and read about all of the gory (and wonderful!) details my memory has since forgotten.

Since I’ve started digital scrapbooking I’ve gotten back to journaling, but that’s only in the layouts and albums I create. I started blogging a few years ago but I’m not consistent or diligent about that either.
Over the past year I have been keeping a prayer journal that I write in once a week when I go to Eucharistic Adoration. It’s the first time I’ve been consistent with writing, and I love the fact that I’m able to pour out my heart in both thanks and petition to the Lord. It’s time for me to work through all that I’m thinking and feeling – and not just with myself but with Jesus. Some weeks I’ll even work on a detailed schedule for my week during Adoration and work it though with God. I can’t think of a better way to spend my time writing. And I’m so thankful that He called me back to this art form that I love.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

31 Things :: Story 22 - Spot


My favorite spot is…

In my husband’s arms… where I feel the most safe and loved. He has big, strong arms and the way he holds me I just know that he adores and loves me without limit.
Snuggling with my son… where my heart swells with joy. I knew I would love being a mom, but this is an amazing feeling.
In my bed, reading a good book… where my worries melt away. I love to snuggle under the covers and feel their weight comforting me.
On my computer... where I lose myself in creativity. I’m not talking about work here, but designing, scrapbooking, photo editing, writing. I’m not just creating art but memories, and that makes me happy.
At Walt Disney World… where I can be a kid again and again. When they say “welcome home” at check-in I get choked up. I love tha characters, the amazing attractions, and the attention to detail. We honeymooned here and Jeff and I talked endlessly aboutbringng our kids someday. The first time we took Sean, he was up on Jeff’s shoulders pointing and smiling at Mickey Mouse I knew my dreams were coming true.
Sitting on my deck in the summer… where I feel relaxed and alive. I love the feeling of the sun prickling my skin (with sunscreen on, of course). My whole body heats up and the tension releases.
In my kitchen during a party… where I laugh until it hurts. Surrounded by friends and family who know me better than I know myself, and yet still love me.
Cuddling on the couch, watching a movie… where the stress of the day leaves me.
At my church during adoration... where the silence and peace comforts me.
Behind a camera… where I can capture the beauty & love & laughter I’m experiencing.
Wherever my family is… there is no place like home. This is my favorite spot.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

31 Things :: Story 21 - Think



I’ve been thinking a lot about my dad lately. This upcoming Father’s Day will be my tenth Father’s Day without him since he died July 30, 2001. Somehow I thought it would get easier but it doesn’t. Yes, we now get to celebrate Jeff being a father and I love being with my in-laws and celebrating with them. But at the end of the day I wish my dad was here. I miss him.
Despite being forty-two years old, I wish my dad was here to give me a hug. He was a man of few words, but his hugs said I love you like nothing else. I want to be his little girl again. Recently we watched old family videos, and I heard his voice behind the camera. And my heart skipped a beat. His voice. Oh, how I miss it. A smile spread across my face, and then the tears rolled down my face. He loved taking videos, and perhaps his soul knew we would need these videos someday to hear his voice and to see what he saw.

I really wish he was here to know Sean. He would get such a kick out of him, I just know it. And I want to see the sparkle in my Dad’s eye that tells me he’s proud of me for raising such an amazing little boy. Sean asks about his Grandpa Gren a lot, and I’m more than happy to share stories. One day Sean was talking about something that was broken and he said, “I bet Grandpa Gren could fix this couldn’t he? He could fix anything. “ Tears sprang forth and I smiled, “He sure could, buddy. Anything.”
The weekend of his accident, Jeff and I were with my parents at their summer home. I was there when the sheriff came to the house. I was with my mom at the hospital when she told the doctor, “please don’t go to extreme measures to keep him alive.” I was able to hold his hand one last time. I count myself blessed and lucky to have spent his last weekend with him fishing, eating ice cream, and going to the casino. All things he loved.

Yet I don’t think I said “I love you dad” that weekend. And I’d give anything to be able to tell him that one more time. A few weeks ago we were cleaning and organizing in the basement and I found my name scribbled in my dad’s writing on an envelope. Inside he had written, “Amy, I love you. Dad” I don’t remember when he’d given this to me, and I couldn’t help but think he continues to reach out to me in tangible ways. Reminding me of his love... especially on Father’s Day.

Monday, June 11, 2012

31 Things :: Story 20 - Carry



I love bags. Doesn’t matter what kind… big or small, cheap or expensive, leather or cotton, tote or handbag. I have them all, and consider it my duty to find the perfect bag for the occasion. What occasion you ask? Doesn’t matter, and I’ll make one up if I have to.
Currently I’m a Vera Bradley fan. For years I was drawn to them in specialty stores. Their vibrant colors, and fun patterns were appealing to me. Something about their quirky preppiness spoke to my soul. But I never felt like I could live up to it. I'm not sure what it was -- did I feel they were for the upper-crust? mature women? Did I think people would look at me funny for carrying a bold flowered or paisley bag? I'm not sure. All I know is I never bought one. But the frugalista in me flipped when I received a $20 off $20 or more for my birthday few years ago. And lucky me, we have an outlet store here in Chicagoland. They are the perfect weight, perfect handle lengths, very roomy, and lots of slip pockets to organize everything. And the color and pattern. Yummy.

I currently have two totes – a red paisley print for fall/winter and a pink & green flower print for spring/summer. I also have two cross body bags that are the perfect size when traveling and/or shopping when you need your hands free. They are my go to bags for Disney World touring.

My other favorite handbag is Tignanello when it comes to leather. I love their styles, and have three of their bags. Admittedly I haven’t used them lately since I’m loving the lightweight and roomy Vera Bradley bags.
I love my wallet – it’s a black quilted Vera Bradely zippered clutch – love how it closes up nice and tidy.

Inside my purse you would find my cell phone, sunglasses, a few pens, Softlips lip balm, lip liner, lip gloss, Purell hand sanitizer, Boogie Wipes (remember 4 year old with allergies), video camera, and all sorts of receipts, old grocery lists, coupons, coloring books & a Ziploc full of crayons.
Right now I’m using a mickey mouse tote to carry exercise gear to the YMCA. In it you would find my heart rate monitor, lock, headphones, running shoes, headband, and water bottle. I throw my Kindle Fire in as we’re heading out the door.

We have a gazillion reusable shopping totes that I always seem to forget when I go to the grocery store. Please tell me I’m not the only one.
I’m currently pining for a LILL Studio bag – the Lexie cross body. But the frugalista in me can’t bear to spend $165 on a bag that I don’t really need. Yet it’s calling my name! I must find an occasion to buy it.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

31 Things :: Story 19 - Listen



It’s Thursday morning. I listen to two little boys whisper quietly. Sean had his first sleepover with his friend Drake. They were both excited, and from the sounds of their conspiratorial whispers the fun will continue today. Summer has arrived.

I listen to my alarm buzz noisily in my ear, and I quickly remember I have office hours I need to log into on the computer.

I listen to little feet scampering down the stairs, and their voices rise in volume once they realize I’m awake.

I listen to birds chirping a little too gaily as I water the flowers on the front porch. I’m so not a morning person. 

I listen to the pancakes bubble and two little boys asking if they can help. I can’t resist, and let them stir the already well mixed batter. Who cares if the pancakes are tough.

I listen to Alvin & the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked in the background. The boys are now watching it for the second time since yesterday.

I listen to Sean whine about going potty before we leave. I roll my eyes and take a deep breath while I lead him to the bathroom not saying a word.

I listen to 105.5 on the radio while we drive to the children’s museum. It’s an hour’s drive and I’m looking forward to listening to music. I have to change the channel a few times because I begin to question the lyrics of some of the songs.

I listen to not enough music. When I do it’s usually like this in the car or on my Kindle Fire while exercising at the Y. Black Eyed Peas… Coldplay… Jack Johnson… Owl City.

I listen to Pink sing Don’t Let Me Get Me and actually hear the lyrics this time. “I’m my own worst enemy.” Ain’t that the truth? I listen to God inside my head tell me to focus on the road… and to love myself.

I listen to hammers & saws (real ones!) inside the museum, and wonder why the heck they allow small children to use these things. I wince as I actually cut my own finger. “Let’s go boys, let’s go see what else they have here.”

I listen as Sean tells Drake, “I’d like a ticket for the 7 o’clock train”. They’re both dressed up as if they’re going to work, and both serious as all get out. I chuckle and feel my headache start to release. I ask Sean what he’s doing, “I’m going to work, Mommy” he replies as he gets on the pretend train. I ask him what his job is, “I work on the pirate ship.” Of course! all pirates go to work on the train with a blazer and briefcase. How silly of me.

I listen to Jeff say “Love you” as we part from lunch. It was nice being able to see him during the day.

I listen to the Black Eyed Peas sing I’ve Gotta Feeling and I turn it up on the way home. I look in the rearview mirror and see two little boys singing and dancing in their seats. Yep, I’ve gotta feeling that everything’s going to be all right.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

31 Things :: Story 18 - Shoes


I love my Crocs. Yes, they’re ugly. Yes, they look stupid. But man, they’re comfortable. And easy. And they don’t stink. I remember when they started to become trendy, and I would stare at people wearing bright red, clown looking Crocs with a furrowed brow. I thought, “I don’t care how comfortable those things are, I’m never going to wear them.” And here I am today, a Croc lover. Eating my words.
  
I do love me shoes. But they must be comfy. I think I’ve owned maybe five pairs of heels in my life, and only one black pair of short heels are in my closet right now. I’ve always been a big, tall girl and felt very conscious of that fact when I was a teenager and young adult. I always felt that heels made me look like a giant. And man, they hurt. Being a giant with painful feet has never made me feel beautiful.
  
Surprisingly my feet are not big for being five feet ten inches tall.

In fact, they are relatively short and fat. My mom calls them my Fred Flintstone feet.  My personal trainer shakes her head and wonders how I don’t topple over. I wear a nine wide. Technically I could fit in an eight and a half extra wide width, but it’s hard to find cute shoes in that size. Nine wide will do, thank you.
Shoes are scattered all around the house. I try to contain them in closets and baskets in the mud room and the back door. But they tend to land wherever my weary feet decide to shed them. This means I’m often found searching frantically all over the house for whatever shoes I’m wanting to wear at the time.
I have a mish-mash of all sorts of casual shoes. Lots of flip flops, toeless sandals, a couple pairs of running shoes, a few pairs of Crocs, hiking boots I never wear, one pair of short black heels, several leather slip-ons in black and brown, and snow boots...
Crocs of course.

Friday, June 8, 2012

31 Things :: Story 17 - Technology


I’m a gadget girl. I love new technology, and my heart flutters when something new hits the stores. Our family is techno geeky here at home.

I have a Dell laptop.
Jeff has a work laptop.
Sean has a Lenovo laptop Uncle Johnny gave him.
I have a Kindle Fire tablet computer that everyone fights over.
We have an HP desktop computer.
We have an old HP desktop computer upstairs.
We have several external hard drives.
The TV is linked into the hard drives.
We have a Wii gaming system, and a PS2 gaming system.
Everything is connected via wireless router.

I have a blog.
I'm on Facebook.
I'm on LinkedIn.
I'm on Pinterest.
I email daily.

I work from home, and my job is 100% online. My students connect with me via email, instant message, and live chat lectures. I’ve never met my boss or anyone else for that matter face-to-face. I’ve talked to just a few people on the phone over the past nine years. This is in stark contrast to when I went to college with a typewriter, and we needed a RAM disk to start the computers in the Mac lab. And the internet was just becoming a reality, and email didn’t exist. My first job out of college I had my own computer but it was DOS-based. We didn’t even have voice mail.

I’m also a realist, and really don’t like spending a lot of money on something I don’t think will add value to my life. Jeff and I both have “dumb phones” that are simply for phone calls. We don’t have internet or text on our cell phones. Oh, don’t get me wrong – my inner gadget girl would LOVE a smart phone, but my inner realist says I don’t need to spend the money on a monthly data plan. And I worry about being so connected that we no longer connect in a real and substantive way. I don’t want my relationships to be just status updates, tweets and texts.
Then  again I met Jeff online twelve years ago, well before it was trendy. We courted each other via email before we ever met. The most important relationship in my life started with email. Then we got married. You can’t get any more connected than that.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

31 Things :: Story 16 - Uniform


There’s this awesome TV commercial for Tide Sport laundry detergent. A woman is sitting with a friend at an outdoor cafĂ©, telling us about why she loves to use the laundry detergent, “I use Tide Sport because it helps to get odors out of athletic clothes. I mean I wear my yoga pants for everything – hiking, biking, yoga, pilates.” Her friend stops her with a questioning look. She rolls her eyes, “OK, I wear yoga pants because I’m too lazy for real pants.”

Hilarious. That’s so me.

Being a work at home mom I don’t have to get dressed up every day. Some days I might even stay in my PJs although I do start to feel a little grungy in the afternoon, and find myself taking a shower and getting dressed. My daily uniform is my black yoga pants from Lands End. Love them. I have two long length pants, and four capri length pants. All black except one pair of capris is dark brown. Most days I have the intention of working out at the YMCA, so I have a valid excuse to wear said yoga pants… yet lately I seem to find equally valid excuses NOT to exercise. Ugh.

If I’m not wearing yoga pants I’m usually wearing jeans. And they must have some sort of stretch to them. I have one pair that doesn’t and I curse them every time – my chub prefers a little breathing room, thank you. My tops are varied but almost always cotton fabric as I lean more towards comfort than anything else. I have a few blousy polyester type tops too that I like for parties. I like to wear jewel colors – blues, pinks, greens – and find I’m drawn to patterned tops but solids are a favorite as well.
Now that spring has arrived and summer is around the corner I’m excited to pull out my capris and short sleeved tops. And since I’ve lost about 20 pounds my wardrobe has expanded to include my “skinny” clothes. You know those pants and tops you outgrew because your waistline somehow expanded from eating those Girl Scout cookies, but you swear you’re going to lose the weight and fit in them again. Yep, everyone does it. Except this time it paid off and I can wear them again. Woohoo.
Yet I still find myself often staring blankly in my closet when I need to look presentable (aka, not wear yoga pants). I’m completely bored with my wardrobe. I have no real style to call my own unless you call casual lazy a style. I rarely have the desire to buy new clothes because I’m not thrilled with my size. I’ve made a deal with my husband that if I lose 100 pounds I’m spending $5000 on a new wardrobe.
Meanwhile my yoga pants fit me just fine.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

31 Things :: Story 15 - 9:15am



It’s Sunday morning. I’m still in bed. I certainly didn’t plan to sleep late but I’m secretly relishing the fact that it’s quiet and I’m alone to stretch out in bed. My head aches a dull pain reminding me I stayed up too late reading a new book. Oh yes, and Sean woke up at 1:30am crying that his toe hurt badly (oh so badly, mommy!). He hurt his baby toe playing on the trampoline next door during Emily’s graduation party last night. Nothing says a good party like a sprained toe.
The ceiling fan is humming overhead, and I tuck the covers under my chin and snuggle in for a little longer.

I’m wearing my blue Lands End PJs. I changed the sheets a few days ago and they still feel fresh. I silently thank Jeff for buying the 600 thread count sheets that I thought were a waste of money. Heaven knows I’m not going to admit it to him, but I love the indulgent, soft feel.
I hear Jeff cuddling with Sean in his room. They’re talking about his toe. I’d love to sneak down there to see them and maybe snap a photo, but I know the magic would be lost. These two need the time to connect on their own.

I feel the gnawing, grumbling of my tummy. I want to eat breakfast, and I remember we have a few donuts leftover from Country Donuts from yesterday. So much for getting back to eating healthy.
I check my email on my Kindle Fire, and I’m excited to hear from my friend Kelly. She & her family moved to Iowa last year. I miss her.

I’m about to check on my Facebook, but Sean & Jeff climb into bed with me. Ah, I love these boys. I roll over to put my Kindle down on the nightstand and my headache pounds in my sinuses, reminding me I need to take some Advil before tackling the day. But first, a smile & hug from my little man. Now that’s some good medicine.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

31 Things :: Story 14 - View


The view from here is peaceful. It’s Saturday night. I’m at Eucharistic Adoration in our church, St Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church. I come here every Saturday from 9:30-10:30 to spend an hour with Jesus  who is present in the most holy Eucharist. The church is silent except for the hum of the ceiling fans.

I see Jesus ensconced in a beautiful golden monstrance on the altar. The lights above shine directly on it making it glitter. It’s so bright I can barely even see the Blessed Sacrament exposed within it. I believe this is a glimpse of what heaven will be like when I see Jesus there – rock your world dazzling!

I see the altar surrounded by spring flowers and greenery. It’s definitely a time for new growth, and I’m inspired.

I see Mary to the right of the altar (not literally, but I do believe her spirit is there) adoring Jesus as well. She often looks at me briefly with sadness or joy depending on my prayers and meditations. Today she is content and focused on her Son. As am I.

I see a women crying during her meditation and I wonder if they are tears of sadness or joy. I pray it’s the latter, and comforted to know God is listening and caring for her the same He is for me.

I see a man reading his Bible and I wonder if his mind wanders sometimes like mine does when reading Scripture. I pray he hears God’s message tonight.

I see prayer candles lit behind the altar in the chapel area. I am humbled to think of all the prayers offered. This week especially. We traveled to downtown Chicago two times this week to visit the aquarium and planetarium. Both days I was acutely aware of so many different types of people… my heart was so happy! God loves each and every one. I may find someone odd or different or creepy even. But not God. He loves everyone no matter what. How cool is that?

I see the stained glass windows and marvel at their beauty. I imagine this must be how God see us. Each a unique color and shape, beautiful on its own. But together – OH MY! – what perfection and beauty and meaning.

I see all of my prayers written in my prayer journal. Prayers of thanks, prayers of petition and prayers seeking answers and truths to the worries of my days.

The view from here is peaceful. Thank you, Jesus.

Monday, June 4, 2012

31 Things :: Story 13 - Chores


I struggle with household chores big time. I like things neat, clean and orderly, and I crave organization and simplicity. But I’m a messy person at heart and unfortunately so is Jeff so we often live in chaotic mess. Our only saving grace is we have Maggie our cleaning lady come once a month to do the deep cleaning. Therefore we are forced to clean up for the cleaning lady, which always makes me chuckle (and groan at the same time).
When I was a kid my mom affectionately called me her Messy #2 (my brother, Mike, was Messy #1), and I was regularly called home from my friend’s house because I didn’t make my bed. My room was always a nightmare. However when I moved out on my own into my condo, I was proud to say my place was generally well kept. My mom taught us well about cleaning & keeping house, and we each had daily chores in the summertime.

Now I’d like to blame our general sense of busyness that keeps us from having an organized home. Sean and his inordinate amount of toys makes it one hundred times harder to keep up. Being a work at home mom has its perks, but it also means that Sean keeps himself busy all day while I’m working and isn’t very keen about putting things away when he’s done. Right now Sean knows he needs to have all of his toys picked up and put away by dinnertime. If not, Mommy picks everything up and it gets put in the basement where he’ll have to earn them back by doing extra chores. A lot of toys are in the basement, but he’s doing much better.

Our kitchen is the worst, particularly the island. We come in from the garage, and drop whatever’s in our hands on the island and that’s where it sits. Dishes can also be a nightmare, piling up in the sink. Right now it’s my job to empty the dishwasher and put everything away. It’s Jeff’s job to load. If one of us forgets, everything piles up literally and the kitchen is an absolute mess.
I tried Flylady.net (an online cleaning coach) which is a success for about two weeks at which time I felt like my mom was calling me home from my friend’s house. I just didn’t want to do the work. And still don’t.

Part of me says screw it, the mess doesn’t define me. Yet when the house is clean and organized I breathe easier – literally – so I know it would be a really good thing if I could get into a regular habit with chores.  It’s one of my goals for 2012, but I have yet to work on it. Have I mentioned I’m a procrastinator?

Sunday, June 3, 2012

31 things :: Story 12 - Watch



It’s funny how as your life changes, so do your TV watching habits. Then again I should know this teaching marketing & advertising – life cycle stages can have a huge impact on buying behavior -- but it still amazes me when I stop and think of how it applies to me. Before Sean was born, I would watch a lot of TV and knew where to find all of my favorite channels on the digital cable lineup. TLC, HGTV, Food Network, VH-1, Discovery, etc. And my favorite TV shows were Grey’s Anatomy, LOST, Trading Spaces.
Now Channel 11 is the only one I need to find. PBS Kids featuring Curious George, Dr. Suess, Dinosaur Train, Sesame Street. You get the idea.

Years ago we dropped the big cable package tired of spending so much money for a gazillion channels we don’t have any interest in ever watching. Jeff installed a Window Media Extender, and learned how to rip our DVD movies to the computer that we could access and watch on our TV. We can also record TV shows through the extender, and we will watch our favorite shows when we can. Right now my favorites are Parenthood (a comedy-drama about three generations of the Braverman family) and Glee (a musical comedy-drama about a high school glee club). Admittedly often these shows will rack up in my queue, and I go through spurts of watching several at a time. At this time in my life I’m not really interested in watching TV regularly. I find I would rather unwind and relax by reading or doing something creative. We have thousands of movies on our extender, and this is our go to form of entertainment. We watch movies regularly, much more often than TV.
Netflix is also a big part of our family’s watching habits. They are an online company that offers a flat rate DVD rental by mail and also video streaming over digital devices. We can stream videos over our Wii gaming system, and it’s so easy that Sean knows how to navigate to a ton of kids shows. This is how he found and fell in love with super heroes.

I can also watch streaming videos on my Kindle Fire (both through Netflix & Amazon), and I’ve gone through phases where I’d rather watch movies or TV shows on my Kindle rather than read. A few months ago I was obsessed with watching the Showtime series, The Tudors (a historical fiction TV series about King Henry VIII).
In the summertime, my guilty pleasure is watching Big Brother which is a reality TV series where a group of people live together isolated from the outside world. Don’t judge me (LOL).

We’ve also been going to the movies lately both as a family and just Jeff & I. We all love the experience of the big screen, popcorn, and getting immersed in the story. The last few movies we’ve seen include the Muppets, the Lorax, the Vow and Hunger Games.
Sean’s TV Favs: Curious George, Avengers, Spiderman

Jeff’s TV Favs: Person of Interest,
Amy’s TV Favs: Parenthood, Glee, Big Brother

Saturday, June 2, 2012

31 Things :: Story 11 - Nourish



I’m an emotional eater. The thought of food never even entered my mind when I heard the word “nourish”, because I don’t equate food with nourishing my body. Well, my head does but not my heart. My heart wants chocolate around the middle of the day to soothe my stress. My heart wants PB&J for lunch with Doritos because that’s what I had every day for lunch when I was a kid, and it makes me feel good. My heart wants Oreos & milk after I finish grading finals as a reward for a job well done. My days are constant battle thinking about food and internal debates and negotiations with myself.
At the beginning of this year I made the decision to start a 31 day no sugar, no carb, no dairy diet plan in order to help me curb my sugar addiction. And I did AWESOME! Honestly, it was the grace of God that I found it so easy. For the first time ever I had changed my diet drastically with the intent of losing weight but also to change my lifestyle… and I didn’t want to gnaw off my left arm! I lost 8 pounds in the first week, and 20 pounds by week 6. Woohoo. I was on a roll and felt I finally found something that could work for me.

Then unexpectedly we got pregnant, and just as quickly we found out it wasn’t viable. It was ectopic, and we miscarried. I was able to hold myself together for the most part, and stuck to the new diet. Until I started to cramp & bleed, and the emotional floodgates opened wide. My comfort foods were back.
I’ve been slowly trying to get back to what I was doing – no sugar, no carbs – but it’s been hard, and I can’t pinpoint why. I pray for the strength and wisdom and grace to learn that food is for nourishing my body, not my heart.

Breakfast: Scrambled eggs and sausage or a protein smoothie. A banana is usually in the mix. If the blender isn’t clean, and we are out of eggs, I resort to cereal or toast but it’s not often.
Lunch: Leftovers from dinner the night before <or> Salad – romaine lettuce, celery, green pepper, cucumber, avocado, and turkey or chicken topped with either homemade mayo or store bought Italian dressing <or> PB&J with Doritos if it’s “one of those kinds of days”

Dinner: I try to stick to a protein dish plus a veggie. It all depends on the day, and what we have in the house. Chicken, beef, or pork are pretty standard fare. We rarely eat fish unless it’s tuna salad. Unfortunately takeout sneaks into our diet more than I would like.

Friday, June 1, 2012

31 Things :: Story 10 - Evening



5:00pm  ::  Start cooking dinner. But more than likely I’m looking to see what/if I had planned, and if I remembered to take the meat out of the freezer. Probably not.
5:10pm  ::  Call Jeff to see what time he will be home from work. Ideally he’s left already, and should be home by 6:30pm. But more than likely, he doesn’t answer his phone because he’s in a meeting.

5:30pm :: Sean has started to pick up his toys without being asked. Oh, who am I kidding? He’s whining and crying about having to pick up his toys, and I’m giving him the choice to leave them for me to pick up but then they get put into the basement. He cries more. I grit my teeth.
5:45pm :: Ideally dinner is in the oven cooking. But honestly right about now is when Jeff calls me back to say he’ll be home by 7pm. Worst case scenario I forgot to take meat out of the freezer, and we debate where to get takeout.

6:00pm :: Sean still whining about picking up his toys
7:00pm ::  Say grace. Eat dinner. Talk about our day. It’s one of my favorite times. I can unwind and enjoy talking with the two people I love the most in the whole world.

7:30pm :: At the beginning of the week, I go back to work and Jeff spends time with Sean and puts him to bed. At the end of the week, that’s my duty. Bedtime is unfortunately not at a regular time. It can be as early as 7:30 if Sean is particularly cranky and tired. Or it can be as late as 9pm if he took an unexpected nap. The good news is once he goes to bed, he stays in bed. We’re lucky not to have to deal with bedtime battles.
Bedtime routine ::  Potty, wash hands, brush teeth, bedtime story or two, prayers (Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be + daily thanks/praise and petitions),  goodnight kisses, turn on musical lullabies, “Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite.” Sean replies, “Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the Tyrannosaurus bite.”

8:00pm ::  By now I usually feel exhausted and want to go to bed, but I always have something I want to do which usually equates to “me” time. Catching up on emails & facebook, watching a TV show I recorded, downloading and editing photos, digital scrapbooking, etc. Whatever it is I get energized by it, and my exhaustion fades away.
10:25pm :: I tell myself only a little bit more of {insert whatever I’m working on}…  I’m giving myself until 11:00pm, and then I’m calling it a day.

11:15pm  ::  I convince myself I’m not even tired, and that midnight is more reasonable.
Midnight :: I drag my butt into bed, and start reading to calm my mind. I tell myself I’m only going to read until 12:15pm… but we know how that goes!

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