Rough weather today... The forecast called for rain and snow and highs in the 30s.
With my kids, we try not to worry too much about the forecast.
We set out with two friends along the trail at a local forest preserve. The older kids stopped at a flowing creek and decided to make a dam. They gathered the biggest rocks they could find and stacked them where the water flowed.
My middle child, the youngest one there at the time, started wandering down this creek. Next thing I knew she was waving her hat goodbye, watching it as it moved further away with the water.
I ran along the bank to retrieve it and shoved it into a pocket of my backpack.
I've learned a few things in the last couple of years being an "outdoorsy" mom.
My big suggestion is to bring a change of clothes in the car, and bring a big plastic tub for all of the wet, muddy, smelly, nasty things.
I stacked boots, rain suits, muddy gloves (somehow 4 pairs for my 2 children), wet socks, and soaked pants into the plastic tub. It doesn't make my car a mess, it is contained, and I can carry it straight to the laundry room when I get home.
I rinsed their boots- inside and out, in the utilility sink, and dumped the rest of the contents of the tub into the washing machine. Easy enough!
My next thought is towels. I wish I had some towels in the car, and a couple in my backpack to wipe and dry muddy hands and faces.
Today he woke from his nap too early.
Only 30 minutes instead of an hour and a half.
I'm so tired. This was my only "break" today.
He cried and I sighed.
I lumbered to his room and picked him up out of his crib.
Two days from one year old, he's tall and lean from walking since 9 months.
He's crabby today. More teeth coming, I'm sure.
I held him and decided to put on some music while we walked around the house.
"I didn't know I was looking for you. I didn't know there was something to find.
Tomorrow you won't fit in yesterday's shoes, and I'm trying so hard to rewind."
I put on the playlist I made a little over a year ago, called "Baby."
I was supposed to listen to it while in labor, but this kid came so fast and furious, I never had time.
I did listen to it in the few weeks before his arrival, and from time to time after.
"You came to me as an empty cup. I didn't know love could ever be real.
And everyday I try to fill you up with everything that I thought you would feel."
Today I listened to his playlist, while I held him, and rocked, and danced, and sang to him.
The songs I chose to welcome him into the world, now our serenade for a rainy afternoon.
"I was there when you took your first step into a world that was wide as the sky.
I held your belly there against my chest. I was there when you needed to cry."
The words I had sung to myself in the car, while rubbing my big belly. I projected the person he would be into existence.
"I never knew a friend could be so small and have a heart just as big as the moon.
You know I can't stop you from growing up, I just wish that it wasn't so soon."
I just held him, and I rocked, and I danced, and I sang.
Two days from one year old, he nuzzled his warm little head under my chin.
He reached up and put his hand on my cheek.
"Today, tomorrow, forever I'll follow your trail. Just call my name."
Song: "I'll Follow Your Trail" - Sean Rowe
I was recently told by a friend about Jewel's new app that includes a meal planner.
All you have to do is put in dietary restrictions, even check boxes of things your family doesn't like, choose how many servings you want, and then you have a ton of recipes available to choose from.
There are categories for breakfast, lunch, dinner, certain type of food like pasta, and desserts. When you choose a recipe you want, the ingredients are automatically loaded into your cart, you can change them as you choose, then click order, and pick them up.
I used to pay for an app that did only some of these things, but this is the Jewel app, and is free. And honestly, so far, the recipes are just as good. In fact, I feel like there are more to choose from.
I'm really excited about using this to simplify my life and make some new recipes with my family.
For my first day of spring break I went to the eye doctor. This is not exciting vacation stuff, but it is something I needed to do.
I realized a couple of weeks ago that I was putting in my last pair of contacts, so I made the appointment that day.
When I mentioned to my kids that I had to go to the eye doctor, my daughter looked at me confused.
"You hurt your eye?"
"No... I just need to make sure my eyes are healthy and that I can still see okay!"
"Your seeing is broken?"
To be honest, it kind of feels like it is. I've been wearing glasses since 6th grade, but really got my first pair in 2nd.
It wasn't until I was standing in the office of my optometrist at the time, my uncle Tim, wearing the mock glasses, staring across the street at the school, that I realized, "Wow, I do need these."
I remember staring at the chain link fence, the leaves on the trees, the texture of the grass- and realizing I really could see them.
My family was always up to date on eye exams, having my uncle as our optometrist. We would all load up once a year, even into my adulthood, until he retired, and make the hour drive to his office. Usually it was a day they weren't actually open. But he, seemingly gladly, would come in to take care of us, along with my aunt, and sometimes a receptionist.
As a kid I really didn't realize how good we had it.
I guess I assumed that all kids just jumped on a trampoline and played games with family while getting an eye exam.
I guess I figured everyone chatted with their eye doctor about what they were working on in school, and heard stories about fishing expeditions and camping trips at "the property."
I guess I thought everyone had a cheering squad while trying on glasses: cousins, aunt, siblings, and parents saying "Oh yeah! Those look great!"
As time went on, we would help clean up the office. At the time we thought we really were helping, but as a mom now, I'm thinking it was to keep us busy while the last of the family finished up.
We always made a day of it, too, going back to my aunt and uncle's house, having dinner and spending time together.
The last time I visited was for my uncle's celebration of life. A very different feeling surrounded the day. So many people who knew and loved him gathered, a year after we lost him, because at that time, the dangers of Covid were too high.
It was a party that Tim would have loved. He would have stood in the garage with a Michelob Golden Draft and cracked his famous one liners. He would call my sister "Right Eye Ramona" after her BB shooting skills. He'd tickle one of his grandkids as they walked by.
I remember my cousin saying to me, a while back, when I was probably no more than 20, and after she became a parent herself, "I get it. I get why sometimes he's just quiet."
He was content to just watch. To enojy the moment and the family he created. Whether he was going into the office on a Saturday to take care of my family, or drinking a beer in the garage, it was always about family for him.
In the past few years, I've learned what a typical eye exam entails, and they will forever be subpar.
When we moved into the house we live in now, a little over 2.5 years ago, we had a neighbor on one side who had a not-so-friendly dog.
We were always a little on edge while our kids ran in the yard, especially when we could hear Penny just inside the screen door barking and growling.
At the end of last fall, the owners sold the house and a new family moved in. We have had minimal contact with the new neighbors, but we have said hello and do know that they do not speak much English. Another neighbor, who is bilingual, told us a little about the family and that they really only speak Polish.
While out with the kids today, I looked up to see, suddenly, running toward us, one of the tiniest dogs I've ever seen. Its legs could be no more than 2 inches long. It ran straight for the older kids who had just gotten out of their waggon with its curled tail frantically moving side to side and its little tongue hanging out of its mouth.
"A PUPPY!" my daughter yelled and squealed with delight.
"Be gentle!" I reminded her.
After only about a minute, the neighbor came running out in his slippers repeatedly apologizing. We had a very short, friendly exchange, though I doubted he understood much of what I said.
He scooped the dog into one palm and waved as he went back to his house.
Oh, the tears! Instantly my daughter wailed, "The puppy! I miss the puppy!"
I'm thinking we will be getting many visits this summer, if my daughter has any say.
Today I took my youngest for his 1 year old professional photos.
It feels like such a milestone. He still has one week until he turns 1, but of course, things are starting to get real sentimental around here.
Going through this for the 3rd time I am still just as heartbroken and torn about missing the infant that this occasion will leave behind, and looking forward to all of the amazing things he will learn and do as a toddler.
The pictures went well. He didn't cry, which is usually all it takes for my amazing photographer to get great pictures. I can't wait to see them...and cry to myself.
"I'll stick this thing right over here in case you need it!" My 4 year old explained while he cranked part of the curtain rod bracket around the rung of the chair I was standing on.
He climbed up and perched himself beside me as I stretched to reach the spot to drill in the next screw.
This now marks the third time I've had to install curtains in his room, and only somewhat because of his own antics pulling on them.
When we first moved in, this room was instantly his. It was the larger of the two bedrooms besides the main one, and he loved it as soon as he saw it.
There were curtains already hung that the former owner left, so we quickly removed them and hung the ones that we had brought with us, the ones that used to hang in his nursery at our old house.
Today he stood, hugging to my knees while I drilled holes, installed anchors, and installed the brackets. He hopped down to grab me the drill bit, play around with the extra drill battery, and to yell to the rest of the family.
"Daddy! Come see my new curtains!"
"Kiddo, there aren't any curtains yet, just screws."
Eventually he got tired of "helping" and wandered away, but while he was there with me I felt like the most important person in the world. He wanted to know everything I was doing and what everything was called.
It made me wonder if someday he'd look up to my skills in a fraction of the way I am in awe of my dad's vast knowledge.
I'm not going to lie, the curtains are crooked. And, if I had to guess, they'll probably fall down again. But it doesn't really matter. He can't tell the difference.
Today we had our 4th or 5th return of winter in the Chicagoland area.
It seems somehow that every Thursday (my recess supervision day) the weather turns. Today was wet and dark and cold.
Add that to the fact that there is only one more day until spring break, and that our students are on a forced break from organized sports, recess was not very fun today.
I am grateful I ran back inside this morning for my winter coat. One of the other supervisors had not thought to bring a coat, but at least had gloves!
I like to try to live by the old saying "There's no bad weather, only wrong gear."
But today definitely felt like bad weather.
"We have a big problem..."
I sat in silence.
"No one is injured or anything... but, apparently she pooped during nap...and then removed her diaper."
Someday I knew I'd get a call like this. I had high hopes it would be about a young baby, contained to a crib, so that the "damage" would be minimal.
That was not the case. My 2 and a half year old has finally driven me to the edge and yesterday, she made the choice to...let's say "decorate" her whole room.
The rug: trash.
The chair: trash.
Several books: trash.
A few toys: trash.
And many, many loads of laundry were needed.
Tomorrow we are getting all new carpet. It was the only choice that would allow me to sleep at night.
And speaking of sleeping at night- she moved into her brother's room while this is getting sorted out, and he has moved in with us.
Thank goodness for bleach...lots of bleach... and next day carpet installation.
We will never again forget to put her zipper pjs on backwards.
A few weeks ago I was on my way to my (already rescheduled) massage appointment when my husband called me to let me know that he had gotten into a car accident.
My husband has a 100% perfect, spotless driving record. Not a single ticket, no parking violations, nothing.
As he was passing the local high school, a student pulled out of the parking lot, unable to see him past a parked car, and even though he slammed on his breaks, he and my two oldest kids collided with the driver door of the other car.
Everyone was okay, by first appearances. A teacher and a few other students came running as witnesses.
The police came, the paramedics came, and I, honestly pretty unhappy to have to be cancelling my appointment, rushed to my screaming babies.
The paramedics checked on the kids and determined they were not injured. I was so relieved.
Fast forward to today when my husband had to use a rental car while his truck is getting a new bumper (thanks other people’s insurance).
So here I am, exhausted from a very long, stressful day, about to go install car seats in a rental car.
Sometimes I just don’t know or understand why the universe puts these events in our way, and boy are they unexpected and sometimes cause a lot of frustration. But I imagine how our situation could be far worse, and even though it’s the very last thing I want to do, I’ll go and install the car seats to continue keeping my babies as safe as I possibly can. Even though I can’t control much, this is one thing I can.