Today I am thankful for…

A few bright spots on a gloomy fall day:

My Y membership so that when I wake up to 40s and rain, I still have a good workout option.

A warm cup of chai tea.

A night with no out-of-the house activities. Thinking a martini Friday is in order. Maybe some tunes and cards while dinner cooks. And since there’s no baseball tonight, I’m also looking forward to watching Justin Timberlake’s concert special on Netflix. I’m looking forward to a Friday night in this week.

Three things, just three things

It’s not quite 6:30am and it’s as dark as the middle of the night. I stayed up too late to watch the Cubs because even when they’re ahead by 8, it’s the NLCS so you watch to the very end. I suppose that’s as good a place as any to start today’s list of three things that I’m thankful for and looking forward to today:

1. Fall baseball: I do love playoff baseball and having my Cubs still playing is extra fun. Game 5 is tonight!

2. Yoga: I’m going to make time for yoga this morning and try my darndest to get back in this habit.

3. Soup season: I haven’t made a crock pot of homemade chicken noodle soup in months and I’m looking forward to a cozy fall dinner. (I’m not looking forward to leaving said cozy dinner to go to a two hour meeting at 6:30 but this list is supposed to be focused on good things so I will stop thinking about that.)

Three things to which I’ll turn my attention when I feel the grouchy grumblies start to kick in. Three things.

A shift to gratitude

I woke up this morning in the worst mood. Tired… tired of nagging people to help me and so very¬†tired of carrying a load that’s felt too big for too long. Stressed… stressed about getting stuff done around the house, stressed about getting on top of work, stressed about paying the bills. Frustrated… frustrated with an Achilles injury that I’m convinced is never going to get better, frustrated with feeling heavy and lumpy and not myself because I can’t workout the way I’d like.

It’s not a good way to start the day.

And I’ve been starting far too many days just like that. I took a short walk before I ate lunch (I had optimistically put on workout clothes this morning and I didn’t want to waste them for the second day in a row.) I tried to shake this ¬†funk. I shouldn’t be feeling like this just a few days out from a great vacation. But I do. All the time.

I used to have a habit of making a short mental list of things for which I was grateful when I prayed at night. I’m not sure when that habit waned but it has. So I’m going to try and start my day by making that list. Maybe if I focus on the good right at the beginning of my day – and I know there is plenty of good – the rest of it won’t weigh quite so heavily.

And so today…. today I am thankful for…

  1. A blue-skied, leaves-just-starting-to-change, 70-degree, beautiful day
  2. The Twix I bought last night when grocery shopping at 7pm – even though I shouldn’t have bought candy and I certainly shouldn’t have been shopping at 7pm
  3. Starting a new book to which I’ve been looking forward



A belated 11th birthday interview

{Editor’s note: My son’s birthday is this week and he asked to look at his interview from last year. That’s when I realized that I had written it but never posted it. I wanted to add pictures but at this point I want to get it out there more and thus it is published.}

My youngest, my only son asked me just yesterday if I remembered what he had for his birthday dinner. It took me nearly five minutes to pry those memories out of my overcrowded mind. And that’s when I realized… it’s time for me to make time for journaling (aka blogging). I seem to feel that because my children are not adorably silly preschoolers there is nothing to talk about. But there is. There certainly is. And it starts with a birthday interview that is more than four months overdue.

My baby boy… he’s a scant inch away from being as tall as me but I can still call him that right? My baby boy turned 11 last fall. That’s the age where a little part of me cringes because I know the hormonal roller coaster that awaits us for the next few years. But it’s also an age where I mourn a bit because his childhood is truly behind him. He’s making decisions now for different reasons than before. He is aware of things that he was blissfully unaware of before. There is heartache in store for him and I’m not talking about the girlfriend kind (though goodness knows that’s not too far in the future either).

You know what else is in store for him? New friends. New experiences. And – if I’m lucky – more than a few good morning hugs. He no longer piles himself in my lap each morning but more often than not, he stumbles up to me sleepy-eyed with arms open for a good morning hug.

What did my huggable boy do this year? He wrestled and played baseball and football (for the first time!) and basketball. He declared that his favorite sport was whatever was in season. He ran more than one 5K with his mom and he even smiled at the finish.

He joined the school orchestra and learned how to play the bass. An instrument his orchestra teacher says his perfect for him because he’s tall and has strong hands. We learned how to play Jingle Bells and Good King Wenceslas over Christmas and forced our family to listen to our piano/bass duet.

He saw his first big shows this year – Blue Man Group in the spring and Lion King in the winter. He partook in fancy dinners in downtown Chicago. He went on dunes hikes and baked a coconut cream pie from scratch. He managed to slice his leg open while playing at a friend’s house and 15 stitches later had a scar that he’ll be able to brag about for the rest of his life.

He learned how to play gin, how to make a breakfast souffle and how to survive summer camp (aka how to live away from home for a week). He dressed up as Anthony Rizzo from the Chicago Cubs for Halloween.

These are a few of his favorite things from the past year:

color: red – because it’s the color for CPHS and IU
food: chicken curry over coconut rice
dessert: mint chocolate chip milkshake
part of school: Math – I don’t really know why but I don’t have to write a lot so that’s good.
sport: wrestling because it’s a team sport but at the same time it’s more about your self improving
thing to do: watch Dude Perfect
game: Ticket to Ride
tv show: I don’t really have one… but I did rediscover Teen Titans Go and that’s pretty fun
movie: Hoosiers
song: Twist and Shout by the Beatles. I’ve been into the Beatles lately, they are really upbeat. I set up a Beatles channel on Spotify.
book: A Night Divided
restaurant: Bartlett’s – I really liked the brunch poutine (editor’s note: it’s his mom’s favorite too!)
time of year: Fall because it’s like 65 and sunny almost all the time and the leaves turn pretty colors.
animal: A sloth because they are so ugly that they are cute.

What did you request for your birthday dinner?
On my birthday I had blue-cheese stuffed burgers with a homemade jalapeno popper on top. We had ice cream cake for dessert. But I got a birthday brunch too and then I had buffalo chicken dip and baked ham sandwiches.

What is something that can always make you smile?

What do you want to be when you grow up?
There’s so many things… maybe an Olympic wrestler… maybe an astronaut

If you could go anywhere on vacation, where would you go?
Glacier National Park in the summer and I would hike and maybe eat some bison.

What do you love about your family?
That we can all go on road trips together. That we play board games together. That we can all be really funny sometimes.

What were some of your best memories from this past year?
Getting a really good grade during Spell Bowl. Seeing Blue Man Group… going to camp for the first time and playing football for the first time!

What are some of your wishes for this year?
To make the Science Olympiad team. To be able to get first in the end of year wrestling tournament. I’d like to do another triathlon this summer.

Each year I interview my children on their birthdays and write a post about their year. My hope is that someday these musings will spark special memories. Search for ‘birthday interview’ over there on the right to read previous posts.

A parent of older kids

I’ve really felt a shift in parenting in recent months. I’m no longer the parent of young kids. I don’t do crafts, plan elaborate activities for a rainy afternoon, or take my kids to see children’s plays. I don’t go on popsicle walks or puddle walks or to story time at the library. I don’t pick up legos and doll clothes at night. My kids don’t need to hold my hand and sometimes they even go on adventures without me.

I am the parent of older kids. We go to the library and each wander our own way until we come together to show each other our selections. We go out to eat more often. We go on dunes hikes and long bike rides. I stay up late at night waiting for everyone to get home.

It’s different. Not bad mind you, just different. Part of me misses all the little kid action but more of me is enjoying all the new adventures I can now do with my kids.

For Mother’s Day we went on a short trail walk and out to lunch in a nearby Lake Michigan beach town. At lunch there was a table next to us with a younger family – three little kids. It made me smile to watch them all clamor for mom’s attention – both because those days are golden and because they are so tiring. I smiled because I was sitting at my table with a beer and older kids who can cut their own food and don’t need to announce something to me every 30 seconds. It’s a good phase of parenting for sure. Still… I knew that mom was going to have kids crawl into her lap later that day and ask to read a book. And I miss that.

So after lunch when we walked down to the beach and this immediately happened…. well, it made my heart happy to see that my older kids are still kids at heart. (even if they don’t ask me to read aloud to them anymore)