Wednesday, May 28, 2014

It's All Good

Just reflecting on how fricking awesome my life is

Not because I have it all

Rather, because I appreciate what I have


It's not perfect or clean or neat

I don't have woodland animals traipsing behind me nor rainbows above me

It just is

And, it is good

The key, for me at least, is to slow down enough to be, just be

...and let go of expectations

...and accept life for what it is

Because, it's in the every day

And, it's fricking awesome



Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Chicago People - You Know, That Joke

So there is this joke that makes the rounds in the fall about Chicago People and the weather -

60 above - Floridians wear coats, gloves, and wooly hats. 
Chicago people sunbathe.

50 above - New Yorkers try to turn on the heat.
Chicago people plant gardens.

40 above - Italian cars won't start.
Chicago people drive with the windows down.

32 above - Distilled water freezes.
Lake Michigan's water gets thicker.

20 above - Californians shiver uncontrollably.
Chicago people have the last cookout before it gets cold.

15 above - New York landlords finally turn up the heat.
Chicago people throw on a sweatshirt.

0 degrees - Californians fly away to Mexico.
Chicago people lick the flagpole and throw on a light jacket over the
sweatshirt.

20 below - People in Miami cease to exist.
Chicago people get out their winter coats.

40 below - Hollywood disintegrates.
Chicago's Girl Scouts begin selling cookies door to door.

60 below - Polar bears begin to evacuate Antarctica.
Chicago's Boy Scouts postpone "Winter Survival" classes until it gets
cold enough.

80 below - Mount St. Helen's freezes.
Chicago people rent some videos.

100 below - Santa Claus abandons the North Pole.
Chicago people get frustrated when they can't thaw the keg.

297 below - Microbial life survives on dairy products.
Illinois cows complain of farmers with cold hands.

460 below - ALL atomic motion stops.
Chicago people start saying. . ."Cold 'nuff for ya??"

500 below - Hell freezes over.
The Chicago Cubs win the World Series OR the Bears win the SuperBowl

This past weekend, I kind of lived this joke.  Apparently we are hard core weather freaks...or something.  

We prepped the garden for planting



We went to the beach.  Let me just note that the water temperature was not above 50 degrees.  The air temperature was in the 70's and it was full sun...but, I mean, come on!  The water was freaking COLD!  But, that sound.  The sound of the water lapping against the shore....pure serenity and needed for my soul.  Apparently two of my boys needed {NEEDED} to be IN the water, so that happened.    


Can't wait to go back.  I need sun and sand and forest and fresh air.  It was wonderful.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

It Feels Like Nothing

{May is Postpartum Mood Disorder Awareness month.}


To this day I feel pangs of sadness and guilt over the current relationship that I have with my second son, who is 9 years old.

The effects associated with postpartum depression did not stop when my son turned 1 years old.

The effects associated with postpartum depression did not stop when my son started walking, or talking, or started kindergarten.

I felt nothing when he was born - nothing.

And, how sad is that?  To sit here, 9 years after his birth and admit to feeling nothing.

After being diagnosed with PPD at my 6 week check up I was prescribed an anti-depressant, which I took.  It decreased my milk supply and I was unable to continue nursing.  This event added to my extremely low self worth.  I mean, I felt nothing towards my son and now, now I couldn't even nurse him.

I wasn't his mother and I wasn't a woman.

I sought the help of a psychologist, I still see her.  Because that feeling of nothing, it still rattles around inside me.  It's not as all consuming.  It lingers, though.  I know that it is there because it shows itself sometimes.

And, well, my son had absolutely nothing to do with any of this.  He did not cause me to feel nothing towards him.  He was not the cause of the need for medication or professional help.

It was, and still is, me.

And I don't say that in a shaming way.  I own that, all of it.  Because it is up to me to make sure that I attempt to be the mother he deserves for these 24 hours.  All I have is this day.  Sometimes though, I need to break that down even smaller...hour by hour.

I have to take care of myself so that I can take care of him.

And, neither of those are really easy things for me to do most days.  But, I'm learning (quite slowly I feel) to let go of things that really aren't that important in order to allow time to take care of myself so that I can be the mother that my son deserves.  The mother he needs.  Because he really is a good kid, he's pretty fricking awesome, actually.  I just really want to be able to feel something towards him.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Cabela's {Store Tour}

We visited Cabela's in Hammond, IN recently as part of of homeschool field trip.


We were led on a store tour, which included the Aquariums (including a fish feeding), Conservation Mountain (including a trout feeding), Deer Country and African Safari.  We learned about the different fresh water fish in the area as well as the different types of animals you would see in the different geographic regions of the United States.  Which was quite interesting given that we are planning a trip out West this summer.  Chris was able to see a grizzle bear, elk, bobcat, coyote, and big horn sheep.
Jillian, the Retail Marketing Manager, led us on our hour long tour through the store.  She was kind enough to answer all of our questions and engaged the boys in conversation about the different fish, mammals and birds in the area, which helped to make it personal.
Once our tour was over we got to sample fudge from the General Store.  We then headed up to the Grill for lunch (which is very reasonably priced and the food is good!), went to the Shooting Gallery to test our marksmanship and set out on a store scavenger hunt.
This was one of the most interesting and engaging store tours that I've been on.

Cantigny Park {Museum Adventure Pass}

We took advantage of the Museum Adventure Pass and some really great weather to visit Cantigny Park recently.  Being the Mama of boys, I am always looking for fun and engaging activities that really allow my boys to be boys.  Cantigny allows that to happen!  And, by checking out the Museum Adventure Pass from my local library I was able to gain admittance into the park for free.  This is an awesome resource that all homeschooling families should take advantage of if it's available to them.

Climbing tanks is an obvious thing to do while there.



We only had to contend with a few school groups while there.  I noticed that they were all going into the First Division Museum and decided that on this visit we would not be partaking in that experience.  One of these days I'll be able to get up there by myself to enjoy the museum at my own leisure.  It is an absolutely amazing experience.  My favorite part is D-Day.  So, so cool!

The grounds at the park are beautiful as well.


Being only a fast one hour drive for us, we will be going back here again and again.  It's a bonus if we are able to check out the Museum Adventure Pass.

Congruent Truth

What is your truth?

What do you believe in?

Does it all line up?

Does any of it negate each other?

I choose to live my life with the soul barometer measurement that "all truth is congruent".

When I'm not feeling right about something, it usually means that it's not lining up with what I hold true, what I believe in, my truth.




Today, I'm at peace.

Today, I have chosen simplicity and gratitude.

Because, it's by being grateful for the small things that I learn that my life is good.

Life is good.  Life happens on life's terms and it is what it is ... there is something to be grateful about.



Monday, May 12, 2014

Farmer's Market

We are quite fortunate that a few blocks from our home there is a Farmer's Market that happens every Sunday starting in late April and runs through the end of October.


Right now it's referred to as a Country Market.  It's mostly garden starters and early crops like asparagus. You will also find food vendors like Short & Sweet with fresh dipped candy apples and other homemade treats, in addition to homemade items like soaps that look like slices of cake.

Our Farmer's Market rocks!!  Quite literally some times.  They have events for kids and music.  It's more than just a place to go and get food.  It's a place to come together as a community.  Moving to a town with deep agricultural roots I can see the importance that this market has.  It's doesn't have that "swap meet" like atmosphere that some Farmer's Markets have.  They are pretty strict as to what types of items they will allow vendors to sell.


It's growing, which is nice.  I can't wait until the crops start coming in.  I'm always excited about that time of year.


Though, I'm sure that my kids would say that the best part of the market is the fresh donuts.  They do smell amazing!

Does your town have a Farmer's Market?  Or do you have to travel to enjoy one?  Do you feel like it's encouraging you on your quest for a more sustainable lifestyle?  Are you encouraged by the crops you see for sale, like you too could grow that...whatever that may be?

I'm sure my kids would be trilled if I could harvest fresh donuts off a tree, but I'm more encouraged by the grassroots, down-home and local growers who come to the market to sell.  I look for the vendor who bikes all her produce in and uses a chalk board to advertise her selections and pricing.  I want to support her and other people like her, because they are then supporting me in my quest for good, healthy food to help me maintain my sustainable lifestyle.  I can't grow it all, and when I can't I seek out those who can and do.
It's a lovely thing.  

Sunday, May 11, 2014

What I'm Not & Thank You

I'm not Super Mom, though I hear that I am a lot

I'm not Crunchy, enough

I'm not Perfect, but perfectly imperfect

I'm not Patient, at all

I'm not a lot of things

I am a Mama

I am a Mama who is evolving constantly and striving for better.  Not, unattainable, just better.

Thank you Cody - you completely changed me and I have learned so much from you.  It has been because of you that I have become fierce (an not Beyonce fierce), and protective.  It is because of you that I learned that most of the time, the things that I think are best for you, aren't.  It is because of you that I have learned it isn't enough to say that I am sorry, I have to show that I am sorry.
You are an amazing young man.  Your quick wit and intelligence leaves me with an all-knowing smirk on my face.  Do not stop questioning.  Do not stop striving for your authentic self.  I am so proud to be your Mama.

Thank you Christian - you have taught me so many hard things.  Like, postpartum depression doesn't end when a certain milestone has been met or when you reach a certain age.  I realize that this has robbed you.  I want you to know that I am sorry about this and that every day I sit in solitude and think about the type of Mama you deserve and strive to be that Mama for you.  It's hard, but it is not you.  Not one piece of the difficulty that I have has anything to do with you.  You're an awesome son.  Your imagination and creativity amazes me constantly.  I am so happy that you are my son!  Your smile is electrifying and your eyes are deep with wonder and possibilities.  The journey that you have me on as your Mama is like walking through the dresser into Narnia.  You amaze me constantly.  I am so proud to be your Mama.

Thank you William - you ...oh, you.  You have taught me to be okay with being me.  You have taught me to believe in things that I never thought would be possible.  You have taught me to slow down and enjoy time and the now.  You are the first one that I have been with since day one and that terrifies me some times.  You have taught me that everyone has the right to their own thought, choice, decision - that just because mine don't align doesn't mean it's wrong or bad.  You have taught me to be authentic.  I am so proud to be your Mama.

Thank you Dave - you have trusted me with a whole lot of responsibility in raising our boys.  Thank you for believing in me.  Thank you for realizing that I am not perfect.  Thank you for understanding that I am in process.  That every day I am striving for better.  Thank you for choosing me to do this all with.  I have learned from you that it is never too late to do anything.

Thank you all for understanding that the "perfect" Mother's Day for me is doing what I normally do any other day.  That I don't want a fancy breakfast or fancy gifts.  That I want to be able to sit back and soak it all in.  Because our life is pretty fricking amazing.  I am thankful for that.  

Friday, May 9, 2014

Over, for now

Today we attended our last homeschool activity day with one of the two co-ops that we belong to.  It's always a monthly internal struggle that goes on within me regarding this co-op in particular.
You see, we are secular homeschoolers.  I do not follow a Christian format, though we are a Christian family (Methodist, specifically).
This co-op, though, is a Christian group.  Like, A CHRISTIAN GROUP.
Here's my dilemma (and it's all me, I totally understand that), I have to sign a statement of faith to be a part of this group.  It's very generic and it aligns with the other congruent truths that we surround ourselves with, but...BUT...
I have to sign a statement of faith
I feel like such a fraud and I truly do not feel like a part of this group
Again, it's me - there are some really lovely people there, and some are quite nice.  I tend to gravitate towards them.  The others, well, whatever.
But, every month I need to prepare myself.  I need to sit in quiet and focus on what's important - my child.
And, once again, I have to sign a statement of faith in order to re-join the group for the upcoming school year.
And, again, I signed it because I do not contest anything that is on that sheet of paper.
The group meets 10 minutes from my home
The group has over 75 children that participate in it


The group is well organized - insanely well organized
And, the group is Christian based.
And, I am a secular homeschooler who does not teach from a Christian view who feels like a fraud for being in their presence.
This one group, this is the one place where I do not feel like I am one among many.  And, again, I know it's me.  Because I am not on their page.  Yet again, square peg in round hole.
My child though, he loves it there.  He looks forward to it every month.

 
And, we will go to their park days over the summer
And, we will attend their back to school picnic
And, in September, we will return to their activity days.  My son will continue to enjoy it and hopefully I'll be in a better place and more secure with myself for being a secular homeschooler who belongs to a Christian homeschool co-op.  Actually, just being more secure with myself and my beliefs in general.  

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Moms Go Medieval

What better way to celebrate Mother's Day than by letting the Mom in your life go Medieval?  And, not on you. Medieval Times, Dinner & Tournament wants you to celebrate Mother's Day with them!  Looking for an exciting and unique way to celebrate your Mom, this is it.



Mom's ticket is free when you buy one full-priced adult ticket using the code MOMWeb through May 11, 2014.  You can click here for more information about this special promotion.  

A combination of medieval banquet and thrilling show awaits you and the Mom in your life.  

An evening of chivalry and competition.  

A fine meal.

Come ready to cheer on your knight and for an evening of excitement and fun.

Honor your Mom by showing her the fine noble personal qualities that she has instilled in you.  Bring her to Medieval Times, Dinner & Tournament to celebrate Mother's Day.  Make this Mother's Day a memorable one.  One that will start the tradition of going to Medieval Times, Dinner & Tournament every year for Mother's Day.

You can learn more about Medieval Times, Dinner & Tournament by finding them at the following sites
- Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/medievaltimes/  


*the opinions are mine alone and I was compensated for this post with 2 free tickets to Medieval Times, Dinner & Tournament*.    


Pausing

Just taking a moment to breath in the beauty around me this week as Spring explodes around here.  Letting my creative eye run wild and remembering to always bring my camera with me, because you never know.  You know?









Monday, May 5, 2014

Gratitude

Yesterday, for the second year in a row, I got to sit in the audience of the Athenaeum Theater in Chicago and watch women share their experience, strength and hope about motherhood.

 

It was amazing!  I laughed, I cried, I laughed some more and I could relate.  I want the cast to know that I heard you.  And, also, welcome to the LTYM Chicago Family!

In 2014, Listen to Your Mother will have shows in 32 cities!

"The mission of each LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER production is to take the audience on a well-crafted journey that celebrates and validates mothering through giving voice to motherhood–in all of its complexity, diversity, and humor–in the form of original readings performed live on-stage by their authors."

Three years ago I was on the stage of the Biograph Theater sharing my story.  Three years ago I was heard, my words were validated and the entire experience has been instrumental in propelling me forward creatively.  I am forever grateful to have had such an opportunity.

If you are interested in finding out more about Listen to Your Mother in general, click here.
If you are interested in finding out more about Listen to Your Mother Chicago, click here.
To view past performances via the Listen to Your Mother YouTube Channel, click here.

Though the 2014 shows are coming to a close, the process for submission will be opening up for the 2015 show season later this year.

You need not be a mother to submit a piece for consideration.  Though you can write about your own experience as a mother, you could also write about your mother, a mother figure in your life, or your wife.

You do have a story to tell!




Friday, May 2, 2014

Howl!

On Monday I received a "token of appreciation" from the Chicago Wolves for participating in their 2013/2014 Read to Succeed program.  As a homeschooling family in Illinois, there are a few organizations that extend the perks that they offer to brick & mortar schools to homeschooling families as well.  The Chicago Wolves are such an organization.
 
Chris participated in their Read to Succeed program and successfully completed the requirements that we agreed to (40 hours of reading) in order to receive this discount voucher for a Wolves ticket.  Unfortunately, it was not financially feasible for us, as a family of four, to attend a Chicago Wolves game this season.  I was a little bummed.  Dave had taken Chris and Cody to a game in February through our Cub Scout Pack (they bought in bulk, and got all the tickets discounted) and all three came home raving about the pregame fireworks, the game, and how family friendly the who experience was, and that we NEEDED to all go to a game.    

Fast forward to this past Monday.  I received a lovely e-mail offering me a voucher for two complimentary tickets to one of their first round playoff games as a coordinator for their Read to Succeed program.  

Wait..what?

I double checked our calendar - OPEN

I checked to see how much parking was - $13

I checked to see if there were restaurants nearby to eat dinner at.  Given the fact that we would have to leave at 3:30pm in order to make the 7pm game on Thursday we would need to eat up there - there are no less than 5 restaurants all within walking distance of The Allstate Arena.  

By the way, the IHOP near there only has Kids Eat Free on Mondays and Tuesdays - (PSA) *wink, nod*

I checked to see if there would be a pregame show - YES!!


So...$30 to account for parking and a sit down meal at IHOP and we have two tickets for a game.

Heck YES!

We did leave at 3:30pm for the one hour commute to Rosemont.  I'm a realist.  Rush hour starts at 3pm in Chicago, people.  I also needed to go to the box office prior to the game to get our tickets.  The person who took care of us was so friendly and accommodated my request for aisle seats.  Again, I'm a realist.  I have a 1 year old with me who has never been to a hockey game and will be missing his evening nap to attend.  I did not want to ruin the game for those around us and needed a quick get away, just in case.  

Our seats ROCKED!

After we secured our tickets and I staked out a parking entrance and verified that it was in fact $13, we headed to IHOP.  Which is right across the street from the arena.  Can this get any freaking easier? 
Did I mention that I'm known for getting lost?  No?  Well, I am.  I just want to take a moment to mention here how easy it was to get off of I90 at Lee Street (off of I294) and then turn at the first street to access the box office and parking.  Like ridiculously easy!  And I say this only because I DIDN'T GET LOST!

So, Chris and I enjoyed a nice sit down meal at IHOP and at 5:20pm loaded back up into the van and headed back across the street to the area to park.  I had accounted this extra time because I didn't know how far we would have to walk to get to the doors, which opened at 6pm.  Again, realist here - I have a 1 year old with me.  Parking, by the way, was a non-issue.  I got the first spot by the south entrance doors.


Chris is my Super Fan child.  He was so excited he was buzzing!  

BZZZZZ-ING!!!

We were given thunder sticks as we entered and ran into Skates, the mascot, in the hall.  The arena was easy to navigate to find where we needed to sit.  The only thing that I wished that I had done was locate the nearest doors to where our seats where, but it really was a non-issue.  Just something to keep in mind for the next time.


And, having a child who is a Super Fan, I don't think that I could have scored enough Awesome Mom Points than I did last night with the seats that we were able to get.


 And, the pregame show...



Yes

Please

And Thank You!!

We had a blast at the game.  It was mine and Will's first time attending a Wolves game.  Though we were only able to stay until 8pm (*waving* realist), IT WAS SO COOL!!  The Chicago Wolves were able to score two goals in the first period prior to us leaving.  The fans who sat around us were so nice too.  Many gave Chris their thunder sticks and the gentleman in front of us play fought with Will, thunder stick to thunder stick during non-action on the ice.

So, here is my standing on a soap box advice:
1) what programs do the schools around you offer their students?  can you take advantage of them too, contact the organizations directly and find out.  
2) a Chicago Wolves game really is a family friendly experience.  I'm sad that we didn't get to stay for the whole thing, but the time spent was most enjoyed!  I can't wait to go back, and I know that my Super Fan of a child is excited to return as well.  


*the opinions are mine alone and I was not compensated for this post in any way.  I appreciate that the Chicago Wolves allow Illinois homeschooling families to participate in their Read to Succeed program and wanted to give them a shout-out for that and for making a Chicago Wolves game such a family friendly time.