Wednesday, May 27, 2015

14 Years

Hubster and I celebrated 14 years of marriage yesterday, sitting on our family room couch, wearing sweat pants, watching Redbox rentals and eating take out that we hid from the kids until after their bedtime.

After 14 years, our idea of romance has changed a little.

We actually celebrated over the weekend, several days earlier, because it was easier with our work and school schedules. We had a fancy dinner downtown. I wore a little black dress. Hubster bought me roses.

We had reservations at 6:30 and were home by 8 pm.

After 14 years, our idea of a night out has also changed a little.

I'm completely happy with the changes. We've changed as a couple and as individuals. We don't have the same needs and interests that we did early on in our relationship.

At the beginning, I wanted a huge fancy wedding and for him to bring me flowers all the time. I didn't get that, but I'm much happier with great marriage and him watching the kids so I can go for a run.

I feel more loved when he does dishes and puts away laundry that any fancy gift could ever make me feel. Watching him play with our children makes my heart happier than night out could.

We've gotten so used to each other and the way things are, there are times it's easy to feel complacent about things. I've grown so accustomed to my marriage that I catch myself taking it for granted, forgetting how good it really it. 

I hear and read stories about other people's relationships and I thank my lucky stars that I have Hubster by my side.

After 14 years, there are still big changes on the horizon. And with Hubster next to me, I welcome them all.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Iconic Chicago

As we approach the end of our time in the Midwest, we are doing our best to enjoy all our favorite things about living here.

One of those things is occasional weekends in Chicago.  Until we took our children to Florida last summer, Chicago was their favorite place in the world. Even after experiencing Disney World, the Windy City still ranks quite high on their list.

There were still things we had not done during all our previous trips, things that felt so iconically Chicago that we could not forgive ourselves if we didn't experience them while we lived just hours away.

So last weekend, we loaded the boys up and made the drive one last time.

First stop was Giordano's for some deep-dish Chicago style pizza. We were so hungry by the time we got there, we devoured the entire thing before it even occurred to me to get a picture of the amazing, cheesy, 10,000 calorie goodness.

Early the next morning, breakfast consisted of doughnuts. Not just any doughnuts, but the amazing doughnuts at Firecakes.  

While the boys ate giant vanilla glazed doughnuts (Duck happily eating his cinnamon gluten free doughnut from Do-Rite Bakery), Hubster and I enjoyed more gourmet flavors. Pineapple-bacon-maple, Meyer lemon, peanut butter mousse. 

We munched happily on fluffy sugary deliciousness, enjoying early morning next to the Bean in Millennium Park.

After two meals of that proportion, it was time to walk all those carbs off.

So we headed over to The Art Institute of Chicago.

We had been debating about spending the morning here versus Navy Pier. However, our children may be the exception to most children and they are not huge fans of most rides and both Monkey and Bug were feeling a little too old for a children's museum. So when all the votes were in, the decision was made to spend the morning among Monet, Van Gogh, and Picasso. 

Watching Bug in an art museum reminds me of what an old soul he is. He carefully examined the art, often wandering off by himself to look at paintings. He became excited when he found ones he recognized.

Monkey, on the other hand, was difficult to impress. He claimed to have already seen the art and could not be convinced that there was any real difference between seeing it during class at school and now standing in front of the original. 

Both boys, however, were eager to stand in front of American Gothic and do their best re-enactment.

After wandering the expansive Art Institute, lunch consisted of Chicago dogs with all the fixings.

After that, it was time to catch the "L" up to Wrigley Field for a Cubs game.

The boys were very impressed by the train system. We road the Red Line, which has an underground portion and an elevated portion. They enjoyed their first subway experience (even with me anxiously hovering behind them to make sure they were well away from the tracks.)

After 6 years of living in the Midwest, we finally made it to Wrigley Field. 

The ball park was beautiful! The ivy covered walls and red sign were just as wonderful as I expected them to be. Even though our seats were near the top, we still had a beautiful view. 

Most of my experiences with pro sports events have not been positive, due to crowd behavior and such. Our afternoon at Wrigley Field was wonderful. All the fans were great, the stadium was beautiful, and the game was great. (Cubs won!)

After riding the L back downtown, we let the boys play in Crown Fountain in Millennium Park while we snacked on popcorn. Every time we go to Chicago, we never come prepared to play in the fountain, but every time we end up doing it anyways. And it starts the same way, with me telling them to not get their clothes wet.

That always works out well.

After walking miles over Chicago, everyone slept great that night.

The next day, we met some friends at our children's favorite museum, the Museum of Science and Industry. We have been to this museum several times over the years, and it never gets old. Each time there is more to explore, things we haven't seen. As the boys get older, they also are able to get more out of the exhibits. 

Although the Tesla coil scares them all, every single time.

It was a short trip, but we did so many things, things we had been meaning to do for years. I'm not sure when we will make it back to Chicago, but we will have enough good memories of the

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

I Might Be a Hoarder

I blame it on my mother.

(Sorry, Mom!)

My mother almost never threw anything away. Socks with holes were mended. Broken dishes were glued. Ripped books were taped. Bits of wire, ribbon ends, random buttons, wood scraps, and countless other things were all saved. 

Waste not, want not.

My mother was raised to be extremely frugal, to save, reuse, and repurpose as much as possible. This is wonderful in so many ways. But it also made it so that growing up, we had a ridiculous amount of stuff, because nothing was disposed of.

In preparing for our move, I may have not had to confront these same tendencies in myself.

Hubster and I spent the weekend packing up things in our basement. We sorted things into three categories.

There was the "definitely keeping" category, containing items that we know we will use again and are willing to pay to have moved across the country.

There was the "yard sale/donate" category, full of items that were perfectly good, but we didn't need anymore.

Last, there was the "trash" category, which should have been obvious.

Putting things in the keep pile was easy for me. Yes, I need my full frame back packing gear! Yes, I need to keep these winter boots! Yes, I need to keep all these books!

When it came time to put things in the other piles, it was a little bit harder...Fine! It was really hard.  And also embarrassing.

I realized that I hoard boxes. Piles and piles of boxes. Old shoe boxes, empty Amazon boxes, small little gift boxes. You never know when you'll need a box to ship something cross country or to wrap a Christmas present in.

All the boxes that couldn't be used to pack things into for the move went in the trash pile (actually, the recycle pile, because that's the right thing to do.)

I realize that I hoard glass bottles. Several boxes of empty glass bottles and jars. Old jam jars, sauce jars, pickle jars, all thoroughly washed and labels removed with their lids attached. I blame Pinterest for making me thing I was going to upcycle all these jars into darling storage solutions for Q-tips and  and crayons. 

All the jars also went to recycling.

Apparently, I also hoard bags. Several boxes of bags. The boys' old school back packs, work bags with hospital logos on them, diaper bags. I have no justification for this one. I can't think of a single reason I thought we might eventually need 30 plus old bags.

Most were still just fine and were cleaned in preparation for a yard sale. The others with broken zipper and ripped straps and shredded pockets were tossed.

Each time we found a box of more items that I had been hoarding away, I became more and more embarrassed. It was painful, sorting through all those things, trying to go back through the justifications I had to store them in the first place.

It was also very cathartic. Seeing our basement empty, letting go of so much stuff that we didn't need (or even want), was extremely rewarding. Almost freeing in a way.

My goal is that when we move into our next home, the only things we bring into the house are things we actually use. I don't need things sitting away in storage for the possibility of using them someday.

I might still be a hoarder, but I'm going to try to be a hoarder of good memories and clean rooms, instead of boxes and jars and bags.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Mother's Day Gifts

Each year for Mother's Day, I ask for the exact same thing.

Extra sleep, to not do any cooking, to not do any dishes/laundry, and a walk in my favorite park.

Between our often hectic schedules, it hasn't always been possible to accommodate all those things. My family is getting pretty good at it, though. Most years, I sleep in, Hubster takes care of meals and dishes.

And we always get our walk in.

While we wandered through the woods under gray skies, the air heavy with the promise of rain, I thought more about what I hoped I gave to my children, more than any gift I would get that day.

We hunted Jack-in-the-pulpits and named off different wild flowers, while I thought about what I hoped I would pass on to them. 

We ran thunderously across bridges and dropped sticks and rocks in the small creeks, and I thought about what they might remember me by.

I hope that I give my children a love of nature. I want them to enjoy wide open, empty spaces, the feel of wind and sun on their skins, and the sound of bird song, insect harmonies, and even silence. I want them to admire fragile, green growing things. I want them to feel awe under canopies of trees and breathlessness at views from mountain tops. I want them to feel protective of nature and what it has to offer.

I hope I give my children kindness. I want them to cheer for the underdog, advocate for the downtrodden, empathize with the battles others are fighting. I want them to hold doors and speak kindly.

I hope I give my children knowledge and the desire for education. I want them to lose themselves in books. I want them to realize that learning is life long, from our family's bird and plant identification books to our random Internet searches (that range from how tall was Napoleon and the origins of Mother's Day), there is always so much to learn. I want them to know that education can open nearly any door and pave nearly any path.

I hope I give my children a strong sense of family. I want them to know to much I love them, that I'm always in their corner. I want them to know how hard we've worked to make this family what it is. I want them to remember our little traditions and our big traditions. 

I hope that my children will remember me for those things, for my love of just getting out there, of always wanted to learn more, of how much I really loved them.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

A Random Act of Kindness

Less than a mile from our home is a large nature preserve that is crisscrossed with walking trails that weave through old hardwood forests and restored patches of prairie and across arched bridges that span shallow creeks.

We walk through there frequently as a family, birdwatching or looking for (but never picking) wildflowers, or usually just disturbing other people with our wild children.

Several years ago, in early fall, I was walking through this park with my children, and we had done quite the walk. It started drizzling, with the threat of heavier rain to come. We were quite far from our car, so I hoisted then 5-year-old Monkey onto my shoulders, with 9-year-old Bug next to me, and we jogged  back to the parking lot. After I buckled my boys into their car seats and hopped in the car myself, I noticed that the small backpack I had, containing snacks and water bottles, had unzipped a little during our hasty retreat from the weather. I quickly did inventory to realize that the one thing that had fallen out was my camera.

At this point, it was raining steadily. I became very upset, thinking of my camera sitting along a trail somewhere, getting drenched. The memory drive in that camera had photos of preschool graduation and Monkey's first day of kindergarten and our summer memories on it. Even if the camera was ruined, I had to find it and save that memory card. I called Hubster and he drove over to the park. We waited for the rain to subside a little and then started combing the trail system.

We retraced my steps. We asked anyone who passed us. No one had seen my camera.  I shed tears, but as it became dark, we ultimately had to leave empty handed.

We didn't make it back to the park the rest of the fall.  I bought a new camera.  There was nothing else to do about it.

The following spring, as the days became longer, the warmer weather beckoned us outside and back to the trails of the nature preserve.

When we got to the parking lot, my boys slipped out of the car and ran all over the trail head, climbing up on the small walls of the information shelter at the park entrance, while I packed up water and fruit snacks in a small (more secure) backpack. As I was gathering things up, Monkey ran up to me.

"Mom!  There's a picture of us on the bulletin board! Come look!"

I followed him over to the small shelter, and there, next to the trail maps and posters warning of invasive plant species, was hanging a picture of my children.

Seeing that picture gave me the strangest, almost out of body experience. Why was there a picture of my children, smiling out at me from the deck in my backyard? What was it doing here? Who had been able to get this picture? 

I snatched the photo quickly off the bulletin board.

On the back of the photo, handwritten, was a small message.

"I found a camera along the trail. It was starting to rain, so I picked it up so it wouldn't get ruined. Pictures of these boys were on the memory card. If this is your camera, please call..."

I quickly called the number, knowing that it had been over 6 months since I had lost that camera, and who would keep a lost camera that long.

The person who answered told me that yes, they still had the camera! Also amazingly enough, they lived only one block away from me.  They had hoped that the only person who would take down the photo would be the family of the children; who else would remove it and look at the back?

We did our walk, and then stopped by the kind stranger's house to pick up my camera, still fully functional and still containing the previous summer's memories.

I was blown away by that individual's kindness. They could have easily just left the camera there to become soaked in the rain. They could have picked it up and left it in the shelter, with the hope that it would be found. But they went above and beyond to make sure that camera, along with all the sentimental photographs, made it's way home to me.

The Weekly Round-Up

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Currently: Spring Edition

Current Book

I'm trying to do a better job of actually reading. I completely book binged after I finished all of my board exams last year, but haven't read much for the last several months. 

I've taken some friends' recommendations and am reading Liane Moriarty. Big Little Lies was the only one available at the Library, but I want to read them all. I'm only a quarter of the way through the book, but so intrigued.

Current Drink

Water. I've started keeping track of how much water I'm drinking, and it is not nearly enough. So now, I'm pretty much exclusively a water drinker, with cucumber, lime, or lemon slices added. Except on weekend nights. Then I shake it up with a gin cocktail. I'm kind of obsessed with gin lately.

Current Song

"Shut Up and Dance" by Walk the Moon
"Black Sun" by Death Cab for Cutie

Also, I'm counting "Shake It Off" by Taylor Swift, because I sing this at my boys every time they get upset. Which may or may not help.

Current Wish List

I want to be done with this move. I want our movers settled. I want our home financing to go through. I want the packing to be done. I want to just get settled and be done with this.

Current Needs

Oh, a couple million dollars would be nice.

Current TV Shows

I have completely caught up on Game of Thrones and love it. And by love it, I mean get so anxious during each episode, I have a hard time watching.

We are also watching Outlander, which I just can't help but love.


Bug and I watch Doctor Who together. And we've started watching The Wonder Years as a family.

Current Movies

I have watched several movies lately, and been so disappointed. I don't have enough time to watch bad movies! I usually use Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB to screen out really awful ones, and try to only watch highly rated and well reviewed movies.  But Noah was terrible.  John Wick was awful. Elysium was too uncomfortable and upsetting. I just haven't been able to pick anything good lately.

Current Outfit

Hospital issued maroon scrubs. Compression stockings and New Balance shoes. I'm rocking fashion lately.

Current Indulgences

Time on Facebook. I've joined a couple medical groups and I'm just obsessed with reading about people's interesting cases and practices.

Current Excitement

I'm planning our summer road trip and am so excited to take my family to see brand new things.

Current Mood

Tired, slightly stressed, with a touch of apathy.