Sunday, March 30, 2014

Happy 8th Birthday

Ah, another year passed, another year older. My baby is 8. On this day, eight years ago, he entered our lives kicking and screaming, yet we decided to keep him.

This year has definitely been a fun and exhausting one! It sure is different raising a boy than it is a girl. Whereas Riley would be content reading or coloring, Jeremy wants to be active. For Christmas, Santa brought him a hockey net, which has taken residence in our front room. So every morning, after Riley heads off to school, J and I play indoor hockey with our mini sticks. (Riley accidentally broke one of the sticks a few months ago, and you would have thought Jeremy broke a bone with how he screamed.)

Speaking of hockey, he enjoyed playing for an in-house team this fall/winter, and the entire family had so much fun. The highlight of his season was getting to play a scrimmage game at the Rockford Ice Hogs arena and slapping the hands of the players! He's really excelling in hockey and soccer--it will be a difficult time when we have to choose.

As for school, again, he's doing quite well. He's not so much into reading, but he's a strong reader and does very well in math. I've helped in his class several times this year, and his teacher only has the best things to say about him. I do laugh, though, because the class has nicknamed him "Bacon Boy" for his love of all things bacon. In fact, when he does his math and it asks for units for the problems, Jeremy usually writes "bacon." He has his first admirer in the class--McKenna is a big fan of Jeremy. We tease him about her, but he's asked us to not to that, so we try not to give him such a hard time.

Just like last year, Riley was trying to convince Jeremy that he wasn't officially 8 until the afternoon, since that's when he was born. I laughed when I realized she did the same thing last year. But she did write on her birthday card to him "From your loving sister, AKA Riley." You know, in case he didn't know which loving sister.

We celebrated with a birthday weekend with his party yesterday at Brunswick with 9 other friends (including his sister), and then today we went over to Papa and Nana's to celebrate with Uncle D and Jack. The weather cooperated, so we were able to enjoy some hockey outside. He received many Legos, the Mighty Ducks DVDs, money, and some bacon items. I believe it was a pretty good birthday weekend for him.

What else can I say about my baby boy? Each year that passes makes me happy and sad; I'm happy because I love seeing the person he's becoming, but I'm sad because it marks one more year that's passed. I love having a son and all that he represents--there's just a special bond between a boy and his mom. I cannot wait to see what great things will happen for him this next year.

I love you so much, my favorite little guy. Happy birthday, sunshine.

And now for Jeremy through the years:

At the hospital
3 months
6 months
9 months
1 year old
18 months
2 years old
2.5 years old
3 years old (and sick)
3.5 years old
4 years old


5 years old
6 years old

Photo: Wishing my crazy, loving, athletic, bacon-loving boy a happy 7th birthday today.
7 years old and wearing his birthday party crown 

Photo: Happy 8th birthday to my bacon-obsessed, hockey-loving son. We love you!
8 years old waiting for his birthday bacon

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013 Year in Review

1. What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before? We went on a family vacation and took the kids to Canada. It was such a wonderful experience and I know it will be one the kids will never forget.
2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? Like I said last year, I don't really keep them. I'm not really sure what to aim for during the upcoming year either.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Nope. It was pretty baby-free.
4. Did anyone close to you die? Yes, one of my parents' good friends passed in November.
5. What places did you visit? As mentioned earlier, we took the family to Buffalo, Niagara Falls, and Toronto for a couple of days in August.
6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012? I would love for the husband to have full-time employment again.
7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? Nothing really stands out.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? I landed 2 freelancing gigs when I became proactive and found online postings about jobs. I had been without any freelancing jobs in almost a year, so it was hard to get back in the swing of things and balance life and work again.
9. What was your biggest failure? Not sticking with my goal of getting myself better organized and purging the house. I had high hopes and lasted a couple of weeks, but then the freelancing jobs took over, and I found that I didn't have a lot of extra time, and unfortunately the clutter piled up.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury? The entire family got sick one day after the next right after Thanksgiving. Other than that, we were good.
11. What was the best thing you bought? Our vacation, hands down.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration? My husband. He was let go from two jobs this year, and I know it was a kick to his ego, but he's prevailed and found another contracting job that he loves. Unfortunately the contract is up in February, so we're keeping our fingers crossed that 2014 is the year of landing a secure job.And Riley's picture of the State of Liberty was in the Highlights magazine for its June 2013 issue. She received a lot of recognition and was even in the local newspaper and given an award through the village.
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? Nobody in particular, but I still get passionate about our children's education and cannot understand why people don't do more for the schools.
14. Where did most of your money go? Vacation.
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? On our vacation, we were able to see Dave Bolland with the players' Stanley Cup and his parade through downtown Toronto, and then the following day we saw the second Stanley Cup. Definitely a highlight that we won't soon forget.
16. What song will always remind you of 2010? Safe and Sound by Capital Cities because the Hawks played it at their rally over the summer.
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? Happier.My family means the world to me, and they make me so happy.
b) thinner or fatter? The same. I did still run when it was warm out and ran another 5K, this time in June, and I did it faster than my previous one. I'm hoping to get the husband to run another one with me this year.
c) richer or poorer? Poorer. Mainly because the husband was unemployed for several months.
18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Making more of an effort in doing things that are important to my family.
19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Worrying that we cannot afford certain things.
20. How did you spend Christmas in 2013? We celebrated the weekend before Christmas with my brother and his family at their new house, on Christmas day it was the four of us and my parents, and the weekend after Christmas we were up in Green Bay celebrating with the husband's family.
21. Did you fall in love in 2013? I'm still madly in love with the husband.
22. What was your favorite TV programChicago Fire and The New Girl. And I like mindless entertainment on Bravo..
23. What did you do for your birthday in 2013? I can't remember what I did two days ago, let alone what happened almost eight months ago.
24. What was the best book you read? I surpassed my goal, and I read more than 100 books this year. I've really enjoyed the new adult market, and love pretty much anything by Colleen Hoover. I also loved Sarah Jio's two books she published this year, The Last Camellia and Morning Glory.
25. What did you want and get? I wanted to attend a hockey game, and my dad won tickets at one of the blood drives, so my brother and I went the day before my birthday.
26. What did you want and not get? Phil to land a full-time job.
27. What was your favorite film of this year? I have a hard time sitting through movies, but I did go with the kids to see Despicable Me 2, which was hilarious. Monsters University was pretty good, too. Ten Years was another good one, but anything with Channing Tatum works for me.
28. Did you make some new friends this year? Yes, through Jeremy's hockey I've gotten to know some really nice families.
29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Having a maid
30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013? Casually comfortable.
31. What kept you sane? Gatherings with good friends and hockey. Not necessarily together.
32. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Duncan Keith. I kept asking to have him for my birthday, but maybe next year!
33. What political issue stirred you the most? Gay marriage. I'm glad that the Illinois government finally got their act together to allow marriage rights for them.
34. Who did you miss? I miss spending quality time with the husband. Even though we're under the same roof, I tend to work in the evenings after the kids go to bed, which doesn't allow for a lot of quality time. It's hard to balance everything sometimes, and I miss connecting with him.
35. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013. It's important to not be complacent and to want a better life. Striving for more can be challenging, but you'll come out a better person in the end.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Happy 10th Birthday, Sweetheart!

10 whole years ago we welcomed our first child into this world. I cannot believe it has been that long, honestly. I've been a mom for an entire decade. It's been thrilling, exciting, challenging, and I really can't wait to see what the next decade holds.

Riley has had an exciting year, and perhaps the highlight was having her drawing published in the June Highlights. She was so excited to receive an official letter saying her drawing of the Statue of Liberty would be printed. The local newspaper even did a story on her, and the village honored her with a plaque. (I really should update the blog more often to highlight this.)

She had a great school year, and she's already excelling in fourth grade. Her teacher loves her, and Riley is definitely thriving. Soccer is going well, for the most part. She tried out and made the travel team, and there have been some growing pains. She's currently playing indoor soccer with her coach from last year, and it's nice to see her have the fire back.

Riley cannot get enough of her youngest cousin, Jack. She is going to make a great babysitter in a couple of years. Whenever we get together with friends who have younger kids, most of the time she doesn't complain about not having anyone to play with. Instead, she gravitates toward the younger kids and plays with them. And of course she's beyond excited that she will have another little cousin to play with in May (and she's desperately hoping it's a girl!).

Life as a 10-year-old girl I"m sure will have plenty of challenges. There are already instances where she lets her emotions get the best of her, and I know this is just the beginning. She's struggling to find her place and deal with harder life-related problems. It's not going to be easy for any of us, that's for sure. I know this is part of life with her growing up, but I admit that it's hard. I miss the days of her never-ending laughter, but at the same time she's so helpful when she wants to be. 

I hope she knows how much we love her and are proud of the child she's become. She is so smart, doing her fifth-grade level math. She's constantly reading whenever she has down time and she still loves to just sit and color. She's a people-pleaser who is always thinking of others. For her birthday this year she wanted to donate items to the local animal shelter. That was all her idea. She's our beautiful, loving, compassionate child, and we love her so very much. Happy double-digit birthday, Riley. We love you!

10 years ago yesterday. I had no idea my water
would break just a few hours after this was taken.
Man, I was all belly!

10 years ago today. Poor girl had to get an IV after she was born, so she
had a splint on her left arm. Look at all that hair!

9 years ago at daycare.
8 years ago today.

7 years ago today.

6 years ago today.

5 years ago today.

4 years ago today.
3 years ago.
2 years ago.     


Last year.
 Photo: 10 years ago today this beautiful girl entered our lives. Happy birthday to my smart, sassy, talented daughter. We love you, Riley!
 This year.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Happy 7th Birthday

My little guy turned 7 today. He's so far from being a little boy anymore, but he'll always be my baby. I asked him this morning how 7 felt, and he replied, "Awkward." Yes, he uttered those exact words. Then he said that he can spell encyclopedia, which I said he could do when he was 6. But he said that now that he's 7, he can spell it much faster.

What can I say about this precious boy? Within the past year, he's tried his attempt at basketball, which he loved, but the poor kid was by far the shortest on his team. He actually had a 2nd grader who was a full head taller than him. He also played soccer in the fall, and scored many goals. We put him in a hockey skills class just to get him on the ice, and he skated circles around the other kids. We're so proud of him.

As for school, he is an unbelievable reader. I volunteered a week ago for his class, and his classmates came out in the hall to read to me. He was flying through the pages, whereas some of his other classmates had problems. I really don't remember Riley reading as well at this age. But he doesn't share her passion for reading, at least not yet. He'd rather do it and get it over with.

He's a very loving boy, and he and Riley actively fight over their cousin, Jack. It's times like that which make me regret not making him a big brother. But at the same time, he has a temper, so maybe it's for the best! :)

He lost his top two teeth within the last week, and he looks so much older. It's hard to believe that 7 years ago he entered our family. I knew very early on that we were having a boy--I just felt it. And at 1:20 pm he entered the world (and of course Riley pointed out that Jeremy wouldn't be 7 today until 1:20...says the girl who was born at 12:44 am!). We went out to our favorite breakfast place this morning to have "birthday bacon," and he even received a piece of chocolate cake. 

Riley drew him a birthday card, in which she wrote that he's the best brother ever. So sweet.

I love this little guy more than I could ever imagine. There will always be a soft spot in my heart for him. I will cherish the times he wants me to play goalie for him out in the driveway. I will let him twirl my hair when he feels shy. I will do my best to make him the best boy he can be in whatever capacity that may be. I love you, Jeremy. Happy birthday, buddy. 

And now for Jeremy through the years:

At the hospital
3 months
6 months
9 months
1 year old
18 months
2 years old
2.5 years old
3 years old (and sick)
3.5 years old
4 years old


5 years old
6 years old

Photo: Wishing my crazy, loving, athletic, bacon-loving boy a happy 7th birthday today.
7 years old and wearing his birthday party crown

Friday, March 1, 2013


Most everyone who knows me knows that I'm a huge sports fan. Huge. And again, that's something I owe to my dad. And perhaps the two biggest Chicago sports personalities who had an impact on my life were Harry Caray and Pat Foley.

I was in awe yesterday when I heard it was 15 years ago that Harry Caray passed away. I remember I was at college, and that night I had a column due at the school newspaper. I decided to dedicate my column to Harry. (Side note: I Googled myself and the article I wrote and found it here. On another side note, did I ever think that picture I had taken looked like something that should be in a newspaper?!)

Anyway, like I wrote in my article, he was the true epitome of what a Chicagoan is. He was a hard worker, yet he made time for his friends and knew how to have a good time. And he reminded me of my childhood. The times I spent with my grandmother listening to him tell tales and lament about his poor Cubbies. (Side note: I have since changed allegiances and am now a Sox fan. I'm not quite sure how my grandmother would take that news now.)

I've attended my fair share of Cubs games. Probably five times more than Sox games, because Cubs games were easier to get to (the Blue line to the Addison bus), and tickets were cheap. Plus, who actually paid attention to the games? Well, I did when I was younger.

I also read that if alive, Caray would have been 99 today. Wow.

And then Pat Foley, the announcer for the Blackhawks, is by far my favorite announcer in any capacity. The Hawks announced tonight that next month the team would honor him for his 30 years of service. To me, he is hockey. He makes it entertaining, he provides facts, and he has such a distinct voice that makes you want to pay attention. Plus the repoire he has with Eddie Olczyk is phenomenal. 

I remember listening to Pat and Dale Tallon on the radio while I was at college. See, back then, Hawks home games weren't televised, so us die-hard fans were forced to listen to the games via radio (the Internet wasn't even that prevalent back in my day...). 

I think my dad turned me in to listening to both men, although I can't pinpoint the exact times. My dad is very particular about announcers--there have been times when he's muted games because he would rather listen to nothing than the announcer (ahem, Marv Albert). It's cute to see the kids already recognizing when Pat and Eddie are announcing games. They get upset when Hawks games are on NBC and we don't get to hear those two. 

They are/were Chicagoans at their best.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Growing Older

I read something the other day that made me pause and think about things. As parents, we spend a lot of lives focusing on how quickly our children are growing without thinking about how it affects everyone else. We forget that we, too, are aging. But perhaps what's more startling is that our parents are aging as well.

A girl I went to high school with lost her father last week, and I looked at the obituary online. Her dad was only 69. It scares me to think that I'm getting to an age where I might not have a parent around.

Recently my dad pondered retirement. My first reaction was that he's not old enough to do that! He decided not to for now, but it still made me pause and think about life.

Early last month, my dad had a minor procedure done at the hospital. Nothing major, but he had asked me if I would take him to the hospital and back home afterward. No problem. It occurred during winter break for the kids, but Phil graciously offered to keep an eye on the kids while he worked during the day. I arrived to take my dad to the hospital, and off we went.

While he went to check in, I sat down in one of the chairs. Once the woman emerged from the registration room, she said, "I hear your husband say you've been working here for 40 years!" Yeah, insert foot in mouth there. I felt horrible--first that I looked like my father's wife and second that I looked like I could have worked for 40 years! I'm not even 40!

I digress. The procedure went well, despite the fact that my dad was put under. He woke up and was so out of it. He was very pale, and it took him awhile to get the color back in his face. He kept saying how glad he was that I was there and how much he loved me and our entire family. He had me in tears, and I told him that of course I would be there for him and that there's no place else I'd rather be.

My dad was so vulnerable. I saw another side of him. A side that made me so eternally grateful that I live so close to them. A side that makes me scared to think about life without either one of them. My own grandfather passed away when I was 4, and my dad was about my age. That terrifies me.

Me and my dad and grandpa. I think I was about 3.
My parents made an appearance out at our house today, and while my mom was out entertaining the kids, my dad and I were able to sit and chat for a bit. It's those little things that I take for granted. I wish I didn't, but I do. And I hope they realize just how grateful am for everything about them. And I hope they'll be around for many more years to come.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Hold Your Children a Little Closer

On the side of my blog, I have a blog roll. One of those blogs is from a brother-in-law of a friend of mine who went to high school with me. The brother--in-law suddenly lost his 2-year-old boy exactly 2 years ago today.

Take a minute and read his blog post for today. And make sure you have a couple of tissues close by. And then go hug and kiss your children and feel blessed and thankful for your life.