Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Spring Weekend: Same Song Different Verse

Once we find something we like or a restaurant we enjoy, we tend to go back over and over again. Call us traditionalists. Knowing that P's parents enjoy Mexican food and claim that you can't get any good Tex Mex in Chicagoland, we knew we'd have to take them to our new "fav" cantina!

The fact that the weather was fabulous and we had a few hours to kill before the big fundraiser at C's school, we decided we should go to the Art Museum Saturday morning and then go out for lunch on the patio again.  It was perfect.

While the art museum was crowded, we took in the outdoor exhibits and open space. Miss A played a game of chase with her father, Miss M strolled among the art taking in the beauty, and Mr C tried out his new cell phone ( his mother might have washed his previous one!) and we all couldn't believe it was still only March.

It was a perfect Saturday afternoon.  We had a fabulous lunch, enjoyed the conversation and just soaked up the rays on the patio.  I think that Mr C is trying to figure out how he could get a condo at the complex and see not only the sights of downtown from his bedroom, but order Catina takeout every night for dinner.  Maybe this will be our trump card to get our son to stay in our hometown after college.

Checking Items off the List

The girls' list for Spring Break was 10 items long and I'm happy to say that we completed 8 of the ideas listed. By Thursday night, it appeared that we would do all but one of the items on the list; the Flower Garden This was primarily because it's still too early to really look at any live flowers.  However, we decided to postpone Friday's trip to the Zoo and take a trip to Charming Charlies instead.

The mother needed some jewels to wear for the fancy fundraiser on Saturday night and that need trumped the trip to the Zoo. I don't think the girls minded the delay too much, as they both walked out of the store with new "bling" too.  Come to think of it their items cost more than mine did.  I'm not doing this right!

Of course, you can't really decide on the perfect piece of jewelry or fancy flip flops without first making a trip to Krispy Kreme for "Hot and Now" Donuts.  I know that the list only asked for donuts for breakfast and not a trip to the donut store, but we figured "go big or go home."  Miss A claims she's never been to a Krispy Kreme store before.  She might be right, we do deprive our children of these rites of "donut" passage.  Now, she can say she's not only been there, she's worn an awesome hat to celebrate all things donuts.

The rest of Friday was spent waiting for the arrival of the grands from Chicago. We called this week our grandparent bonus week.  First my parents returned from two months in the sunshine, and now P's parents were coming in to celebrate the boys birthdays!  Yeah.  The girls have really missed having these special people around to share secrets, give hugs, and enjoy the spoiling they give out freely.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Happy 15th Birthday Favorite Son

The joy of having only one son is that he quickly becomes your favorite son.  No jealousy involved.  I've said it before, but it bears repeating; "Mr C was such an easy baby and toddler and he made my entrance into motherhood such an joy!"

Mr C has brought us great blessings and we are so thankful that God saw fit to put him in our family!  It does not seem possible that we only have a few short years left when he'll be living in our home full time.  I'm not even going to think about that yet!!

Since C's birthday and my husbands fall within days of each other, we got to celebrate double over the weekend.  P's birthday is actually St Patrick's day and we enjoyed a fun day outside in the sunshine and then a nice dinner out.  I'd love to show you the pictures, but my "brand new camera" broke that morning and photos were dead to me the rest of the day! I was heartbroken. Even so it was a fun birthday and we had a chance to spoil our favorite father and husband. 
Mr C's love language is trying out new restaurants.  No kidding.  He would love to take a road trip to visit the Diners, Drive In, and Dives' in the Midwest. C really wanted us to take a road trip to Chicago for Taco Fresco, but we are not that nice. We finally decided to try Sunday Brunch at a hip cool Fresh Mexican Cantina and ate outside on the patio!  He was smiling the whole time.  Great salsa, queso and the Brisket Tacos that were worth every bite. 

We called this birthday his "Golfing Birthday" as he got a new driver, a wind jacket for the course, and some new golf polos.  Nothing like a theme to keep a boy happy.  On his actual birthday, March 20th, the first day of spring, I surprised him by bringing 75 fresh hot chocolate chip cookies to school for him to share with the entire freshman class.

One of his friends said he should hide them from the guys, but being the kind hearted boy that he is, he shared the entire box!  Happy Happy 15th Mr C.  I promise we might let you get your learners' permit this summer.

 We are still trying to come to grips with the fact that you are no longer a five year old little boy playing with Rescue Heroes and Thomas the Tank Engine Trains.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Spring Break Take Two: I'm Gonna Need a Vacation Afterwards

It's spring break for the girls this week and let me tell you they were convinced that we needed to plan some "fun."  Miss M and Miss A put together a "Spring Break To Do List" of all the activities they hoped to accomplish in five short days.  I have no idea where they get this list making gene! Wink Wink.

On the list were plans for shopping trips, movie dates, pottery making, donut buying, zoo walking, and a few at home activities with crafts, AG dolls and the like. The consistent theme was that the mother would act as Cruise Director and take them to and from events and of course buy said tickets, items, and admissions.

I might need a part time job this summer if this week's escapade are any indication of the summer of fun they have planned.  I'm thinking we might move out to the lake for the summer.  It is further away from "distractions" like Hobby Lobby and the Mall/Movie Theater.

We've been having a great time and I'm pleased to say with two weekdays left, we have accomplished about half of the list.  My laundry and 40 Bags however have suffered. I'll be back on the chore wagon next week.  At least that's what I keep telling myself. These days of wanting to hang with mom and take in the sights as a crew of three are short while the laundry will always be there. 

A very successful week started with new hair do's for spring.  This was quickly followed by a trip to the Mall where we picked up flip flops and spring tops.  We've also gone to see the Lorax Movie and pretended to be "girls in the hood" cause we sported hoodies to protect our hair from whatever lurks in the movie theater seats.  Yesterday, we went to the Pottery Place to create works of art to display in our home and Nana even got to come along.  I opted to knit while they painted because paint and I are not friends.  The girls, however, got the artist gene and I love to watch them create! 

Today, it's cookie baking with Nana, visit to the Park, and then maybe a trip to Walmart (OK, that is for me, but I really need a few things).  We call this the low key day! Tomorrow, it is the Zoo!  Who says you have to leave town to have fun.  Spring Break "staycation" rocks.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Becoming All God Created You to Be: Inspired Gifts

I'm thrilled to be able to share with you a new line of fun home decor and gifts that Dayspring is showcasing this month to honor Holley Gerth's new book; You Are Already AmazingI'm nearly finished with the book and I've got to tell you it's life changing. In fact, the wisdom that Holley shares in her book makes you think that maybe there are little spy cameras up in your house capturing your personal conversations and hearing your quiet time heartcrys to God.  It is that real.  It is Spooky Good!

When Dayspring sent me the Strength Block and the Sticky Note Cards of Encouragement, I knew that these items would now give me the opportunity to share the message of You Are Already Amazing: Embracing Who You Are, Becoming All God Created You to Be with my friends and family.  I also felt that the Strength block would serve of as a little reminder of the things that God wants me to remember.

Subway Tile Messages are becoming all the rage and a bright red one looks perfect with my decor. As a woman, it's challenging to remember that I'm already all God wants or needs me to be.  I'm enough just as I am.  I have strengths that He's given to just me for a purpose, I have abilities that He's equipped me with for His kingdom, and the life He has prepared for me here on earth.

I know that in the group of women I hang with, I'm not the only one who feels that she's not all that. Many of us think that,  "I'm not good enough."  Heaven knows that when our Bible study group went through the book Grace for the Good Girl, a book with a similar message, that it hit a cord with most of us.

How refreshing that I can use the little sticky notes with the words: wonderfully made, delightful, strong, loved and blessed on them in my kids lunch box, my husbands' coffee mug, or my friends thank you notes/  By using them, I am sharing just a little bit of the message God has for us:  "We are already amazing, you and I.  Enough. Just in case we ever wonder."

The message of this great gift line from Dayspring and the book by Holley can be summed up in this great quote in the book: "So go for it, girl.  Dare to make that difference, take that step, follow that dream. God will go with you... and love will see you through."

I know that is a message I need to hear.  How about you?  Check out what others have to say about this months Inspired Deals too.

I'll be posting my review of the book later this week.  You need to go get it.  Today.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Prayers Answered: Golf Team Member

I'll admit that some things come very easily for Mr C.  He gets a lot of recognition for things that he barely tries to do such as great grades, academic success, high test scores, and other honors.  He's worthy of the praise he gets for those things, but the effort involved does not require much from him. Of course, we are very proud of him for these things, but we've come to expect them from him.

When it's come to athletics, things don't come as easily for Mr C.  He's a kid who is very coachable and loves the rules of the game, understands the nuances, but physically he does not dominate the sport or the team. Give him an opportunity to play and he's a great team player.  He's just not the star.  That's why we were so proud of him for playing Freshman Football this fall.  He trained all summer in the weight room, he learned to hit and block and run, and he gave it his all in scrimmage and games. 

For the spring, Mr C has had it as his dream to be on the Golf Team.  Because you are required as a freshman to play a spring sport at his school, most teams are non-cut sports.  You can play baseball or soccer or run track and be guaranteed a spot on the team.  Not so with golf. There are only 13 spots on the team for Freshmen thru Senior for both the JV and Varsity teams.

We discovered that this means you have to be pretty good. Not great, but good enough to contribute to the squad in tournaments and show potential to get better at golf.  Mr C has been playing golf since he was about six.  He spent about six years playing in a summer golf league and he and his grandfather have spent many days on the course.  He loves the game and knows the rules and the etiquette required to play on the best courses.

The only thing going against him this spring was that he's grown nearly six inches since last summer meaning his clubs he's played with for the past three years are now to small and it's still winter in the Midwest meaning he's barely touched his clubs for about six months.  To overcome the first obstacle without spending a fortune, we've "borrowed" clubs from both dads and great grandpa's bag (maybe Moms' favorite 7 wood too).  The second issue of little practice time has been overcome in the last three weeks because the weather has been stellar so Mr C has gone to the driving range almost daily and played about six rounds of golf. Answered Prayers.

Amazingly, the only glitch in the past few weeks was the fact that Mr C broke his Driver four days before tryouts.  In half. Destroyed.  Thankfully, when we went to the golf shop to see what could be done with our broken Driver (nothing), the lady who was helping  us look at clubs showed us a used driver and offered that we could borrow it for the next week so we wouldn't have to stress over tryouts.  Answered Prayers.

Last Monday was tryouts and Mr C came home a little defeated.  He didn't have his best round of golf. The driver was causing him problems and he was nervous and striking the ball too hard. At this point, he was a little discouraged figuring he was cut.  We told Mr C that we were so proud of the effort he'd put into making the team and to not count himself out.  We were sure that the coach would take the whole situation into consideration including the two weeks of practice, the practice round, and the tryout round.  Mr C had given his best. 

It was the longest evening of Mr C's life spent waiting for the email from the coach with the team roster.  He tried to distract himself with homework, television, anything that would get him off the computer and the email that never seemed to come.

Finally at 10:00 p.m,. we convinced him to look one more time to just get it over with before bed and then not think about it again until morning. Thankfully, there was an email from the coach and Mr C's name was on the list.  He made the JV Squad.  He was only one of only three freshman to make the team. When he saw his name on the roster, he jumped up and yelled "thank you Jesus."  You know what:  he really meant it and so did my husband and I as we uttered silent prayers of thanksgiving for giving C this opportunity.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

When Momma is Sick Why Doesn't the World Stop

You know that saying that you don't realize how good you have it until you don't.  That's me last week. After a long weekend in Chicago, I came home and crashed. Literally. I was sick.  In fact, except for the Asian Flu I had over Christmas break my freshman year of college, I can't ever remember being as sick as I was last week.

Walking Pneumonia.

Monday night we got home about ten o'clock and by midnight I was up with a fever of 101 and a throat that was on fire.  Of course, the difference with being sick as a 43 year old mother and a 18 year old college student; I still had a house and family to run.  Poor Mr C was on spring break and had big plans every day with friends and on the golf course.  I had big plans to nap.

In reality, I did very little.  My poor husband who had just covered for me for five days now had a wife who slept and coughed and hacked up a lung all night long while he drove car pool and fixed dinner.  Doing the laundry on Tuesday exhausted me enough that I finally had the strength to put the clothes away on Thursday.  Thankfully, the family is use to digging through clean laundry baskets to find socks and underwear.  At least, the girls and I came home with clean clothes I just needed to empty the suitcases to find them.  I did that on Friday!

Of course, to add a little fun to the week it was Teacher Appreciation week at school and while I was just a helper bee, I felt bad not pitching in.  I even cancelled my volunteer shot at the Book Fair knowing no one would want to buy books from a girl who was shivering with fever and coughing up a lung.  Thankfully, Mr C is self sufficient and you can buy his love with Sonic lunch and trips to the driving range. When Miss A joined us (of course she had two days off this week too), she's content to bring mom some ice water and watch TV. 

Thankfully, by Friday, when I dropped Miss A off at birthday party and Mr C off at the course to play nine holes, I could manage a trip to Target to pick up essentials. My family I think was wishing I could pick up a little energy pill too. Who knew that Mom could fall asleep on the couch before Dad!

It's so nice to be back among the living this week; I'm not quite ready for the life of afternoon naps.  I've got too much to do and a family that needs me.  I'm told that this pneumonia thing could take a few weeks before I get my energy level back.  I think that's a good excuse for afternoons of Hallmark movies and knitting.  I'd hate to get a recurrence! At least that's the story I'm sticking with.

Monday, March 12, 2012

When the Girls are Away the Boys will Eat Suishi

While Miss A, Miss M, and I were living the life in Chicago, the boys were holding down the fort and having a little fun too.  I was so sad that, while I was gone, a Red Cross Blood Drive was happening at our elementary school that I was helping to organize for close friends.  I love to see people come out and give life saving blood.  It is a gift that really requires only about an hour of time and a little bit of courage.

Saturday, March 3rd's event was honoring our family friend Cole who is fighting Leukemia.  We challenged people to be Courageous Like Cole and give blood.  Boy did they.  The event brought in 66 people who donated over 54 units of blood. Wow!  Thankfully, Mr C and P were able to go up to the event and volunteer.  P gave blood and C helped with the Canteen.

There is just something about community and how these people in our school and city support those around us!  The boys said that there were a number of people who came to give blood for the first time ever.  That's courage.  I loved getting updates via text throughout the day and the pictures that P took brought me great joy.

Of course, it couldn't be all work for the boys while we were away.  Since Mr C was on spring break, he and P had lunch out on Monday (while we were standing outside in cold Chicago, I'm just saying) at an All You Can Eat Sushi restaurant.  Mr C has been begging to go for months and, since the girls would just "die" eating raw fish, they took this opportunity to indulge.  According to both father and son, the sushi was fabulous and for $30 they were full the rest of the day!  Now that's a bargain if you can feed Mr C for just $15 a day.

Mr C is already thinking that this should become a monthly trip for the boys; some serious male bonding.  I wonder if a mother will ever be allowed to tag along?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Bus to Train and Back Again : It's All Good

I would say that our formal introduction to public transportation went rather well.  The MegaBus trip to Chicago was really the perfect way to travel for two girls and a mom who is used to be the passenger rather than the driver on long trips.  You see, my husband and I have this deal: he drives and I entertain him and keep all other passengers happy.  I'm good at that role.  In fact, I can "travel" throughout our minivan while it's moving. 

The Mega Bus allowed the girls and I to stretch out, watch movies, play computer games, and of course, the on board "faculties" meant we could travel without stopping for potty breaks.  The seats were ubercomfortable with plenty of room to stretch out and for most of the trip to Chicago were each had our own row.  Miss A had the upper level front seat which meant she had a huge window to watch the world go by and her "friend" Rose even had a special spot.  Once we got a few more passengers in Iowa City, the two girls shared the front row and got a great seat for Chicago traffic viewing.

I was a little nervous about our arrival in Chicago; finding the train station, grabbing something to eat, and carrying all our luggage and keeping my eyes on the girls.  Thankfully, a kind family on board adopted us and made sure we found the train station (which of course was right across the street from our bus stop) and helped us get going in the right direction.  People really are nice!

After buying the train tickets out to the Suburbs, we had time to grab some dinner and just watch the hustle and bustle of Union Station on a work night.  Getting on board the commuter train was a little disappointing for Miss A; she did not think it looked like a train and the inside of the train was not what she expected.  Thankfully, the conductor who took our tickets was "dressed" appropriately so she finally believed me that were traveling by rail. 

Our trip back home from Chicago went well too except for the fact that the Bus Driver decided to quit minutes before our scheduled departure from Chicago's Union Station meaning that we waited outside in the cold for an hour and a half waiting for a new bus and driver!!  Thankfully, Miss A had already eaten her Chicago Dog minus anything actually Chicago about it at 10:30 that morning in Union Station.  Otherwise, it would have been a chilly dog!

I'd definitely travel by Mega Bus again with the kids.  It's a perfect way to travel on short distances by myself.  I'm thinking that if we have a long week this summer, we might hop on it again to Chicago to catch a Cubs Game.  With relatives in Chicago, we would have a place to stay and all the transportation we would need to and from trains and buses.  However, there is something to be said for having a car to drive plus you can bring whatever you want along and not worry about having to drag it through the station.  My husband is pretty good company too and normally he allows us at least one stop to stretch our legs and use the restroom.  That's one more than he usually stops for himself.

Public transportation is not a bad way to commute.  I'm just glad I live where it's still a "treat" instead of a necessity.  I think I'd get awfully bored riding the train every day!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Chicago: My Kinda Town

We had a fabulous long weekend in Chicago. Miss A said it was like a little adventure. From the bus trip to Chicago to the Train trip out to the suburbs to see the in-laws, we were girls on a mission.  Part of the mission was just to get all three of us and all our luggage to arrive in one piece! Not an easy task with two tired kids and two huge bags.  Thankfully, there are some kind folks willing to help a poor mom out.

Friday was shopping day!  The girls and I went to an outlet mall and, while we didn't leave with huge bags of things, we did make a little dent in our pockets.  Later, we went to our favorite destination: IKEA.  The girls loved trying out the little rooms and small spaces they had set up with furniture and pretend that they were at their super hip studio apartments in Chicago.  Miss A even sat at a desk and said to leave her alone as she had a writing deadline later that day! 

Of course, still on my "40 bags" kick, I kept salivating over the organizational systems, storage baskets, and jars for stuff.  Thankfully, we were already piled high in our suitcases or I'm sure I would have come home with tons.  IKEA does a great job of making ordinary things looks so perfect that you want to just drop one of their "rooms" right into the middle of your house. No wonder the girls were loving playing "house" in their mock ups!

The real reason we were in Chicago, of course, was for M to compete in dance and take a weekend of classes from teachers from all over the country.  Miss M's team won a silver medal for their tap routine and, while I again had to divert my eyes due to some of the costuming an choreography, I was so happy with our own studios' performance and costumes.  No compromising on our part. Miss M was in seventh heaven taking nearly 10 hours of dances classes Saturday and Sunday.  That girl loves to dance.

It was so fun to have Uncle S and Aunt C join us Saturday night for the performance along with B & B. Normally, this side of the family doesn't get to see the dance recitals so it was a treat for Miss M to have them all in the crowd cheering away.  We even got to sneak M away from the hotel for a nice dinner out to celebrate.  Poor M was so tired that she could barely stay awake! 

It was a fun but quick trip to Chicago and, by Sunday night, we were all a little tired.  Of course, we still had a long day ahead of us; Monday, travel day!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Traveling Internet Style across the Prairie

You really can't ever escape it all.  I'm sitting on a double-decker bus traveling across the state of Iowa while surfing the web, checking email, and writing on my blog. Woosa.  It's strange for me.  You know, I am the girl with a cell phone that just calls and texts (and I only learned to text last year) to have instant access to the world. It's as if I never left home.

Now, I'll admit it comes in handy.  I need to "do" a few things today to get ready for a big blood drive I'm helping to organize for some dear friends.  Be Courageous Like Cole and Give Blood!  But it's still a little odd for me.  I don't really understand how electricity works and the thought that I can connect to my corner of the from anywhere is still a little odd.

The girls and I are headed to Chicago for a Dance Competition for Miss M.  We are thrilled that we'll also get some grandparent time (and celebrate some March birthdays) while we are there. For an experience, we are traveling on the Mega Bus which according to my husband is not your grandmother's greyhound. It's really nice with WiFi, Reclining Seats, a Bathroom, and it's super clean. 

Miss A is sitting in the very first row of the bus, top level and taking in the sights, and talking to a nice older gentleman.  Miss M is sitting in the second row watching a movie and drawing. That's me in the third row typing away.  Soon I'll be knitting away while watching Downtown Abbey on the laptop.  I downloaded season one to my itunes account!

Wow. Just reading what I techno geek I'm becoming is scaring me! 

While we are only an hour or so into the trip, I can already say this is the way to travel!  Who knows maybe this summer the girls/Mr C and I will take a quick trip to Chicago to catch the Cubs and the family.  Rumor has it if you buy tickets the day of the trip you can go for as little as $5.  With the price of gas, I can't even get to the kids ballfields for that price!