Tuesday, April 28, 2015


This place is mostly a space of memory keeping for me.  I'm terrible at keeping up with my One Line a Day, and printing off photos in regular intervals, but something about writing and documenting on here has worked for me.

I've steered away from writing too many personal things on here, ok overly personal things.  I'm aware that when I hit publish anyone can see it and perhaps that's not always what I want or need.  Sometimes though I do just need to write it out, so here we are.

Ian and I have been married for almost 8 years, which means we've been in Oak Park almost as long.  Sometimes I drive past our first, or second apartments with the kids in tow and point out that old yellow brick building with the forest green door that used to be our home, or the fake brick shingled two flat on the quiet residential street where we brought Ainsley home from the hospital.  Just yesterday I took an after dinner walk with Ainsley and we walked up and around the pool house up the street.  She couldn't resist bounding up and down the loud metal ramp, just like she did as a tiny toddler, over and over again.
Here we are.

Bit by bit we're fixing up this old house.  First it was the kitchen and some plumbing, then the garage, now our rickety back deck.  Up next is the AC and the roof.  It never ends.  It's stressful.
It's home.

When we moved here almost 8 years ago I never ever thought we'd be here this long.  I just can't shake off that this is a temporary home for us, when in reality it's been our only home together.  I meet new people every day who have just recently moved here, already diving into this place way more than I have.  I never realized what an introvert I was until I moved here.  It's caught me off guard.

Recently I've been watching lots of the Great British Baking show.  I'd been craving a new show to carry me through the evening knitting hours I love and have found it.  On the first season one woman in particular caught my attention.  She was a stay at home "mum" to three small boys.  Baking was her girly escape she said.  In her little interview clips she was mostly confident in the beginning episodes, then through the end started to open up and would often tear up after a good review from the judges.  She could't believe the wonderful things they said about her, how professional her bakes were, how talented she was.  She came in 2nd overall.

I cried a bit at the finale.  She was a gracious runner up.  Her words about being swallowed up by the rigors of mothering have stuck with me, made me think.

When I was first pregnant with Ainsley I remember so many women in my life reminding me to take care of me.  Then Ainsley was, well, Ainsley and it was harder than I could ever imagine.  I'm so far into this mom thing now I can hardly remember who I used to be most days.  I find I have so many days of simple survival or days when the kids thrive so much but I'm so worn to the bone I can't even stay up with my husband to snuggle and chat like we used to.

This winter was the roughest yet.  I couldn't shake off that we were still here and I so longed for home that I couldn't get comfortable.  Ainsley going to kindergarten was incredibly traumatic for me. It dawned on me completely that my life revolves around my three little people, and my three little people aren't going to need me forever.

Then I talked to Ian and my mom lots.  My mom said one day "Becky, you'll always be their mom."  I've sat with that ever since.  It's so simple.  I don't know why I didn't realize it on my own.  They may not need my milk, or my hip, or the nape of my neck as much, but they will always need me, just like I still need my mom.

These past months I've finally been coming out of my fog.  I know it's going to be a process, trying to find who I am as a mom, not just a mom, but me too.  It's hard when my job is so time consuming and exhausting.  The reality is that I don't have time most days to do much for myself.  I'm already re learning how to prioritize.  I find I'm really enjoying the few activities the kids have and how that breaks up our afternoons and sometimes even gives me a break.  I get to knit for a whole 45 minutes while Ainsley is at aerial arts.  I look forward to it all week.

I know I could probably ask for more help.  We could find a babysitter and Ian's always willing to do whatever he can to give me a break.  But the reality is that I do love my job and I know that no one could do what I do with my kids as well.  Felix is off to preschool next year and two years after that he'll be in kindergarten too, starting his own big kid journey.  These years are so precious and I'm willing to sacrifice what I have to to be here and present, not just for them, for me too.

And as for my big(ger) kids?  I'm learning to really enjoy their growing.  We converse and share and create and do so many things that are pretty much impossible with a cantankerous toddler.  I'm thankful for it all.

So today for me?  I may not have had time to take a shower, paint a masterpiece, or change the world, but I ate warm lentils for lunch, knit in the backyard sun this morning watching Felix dig and play, and in about 7 minutes I'm going to do my daily yoga.  And tonight after Ainsley makes dinner (she asked!) and pottery class I get to tuck three little people in who I'd give up pretty much anything for.

To finding oneself no matter where you happen to be.  Over and over again.

Monday, April 27, 2015

End of April

And so starts another week.  It felt like a 3 day weekend what with all of the celebrating and fullness and excitement that a tiny toddler birthday brings.  Ainsley slept until 8am on Sunday.  Now that's saying something!

Just before the festivities began we were rounding out a pretty awesome week.  I know most were bummed by the clouds and rain and cool, but I'm a hermit at heart and big rain boots and dashing in downpours and hearing Felix shout "res waining!" over and over are kind of my happy place.

Plus Louise loves her raincoat so much she wears it ALL the time.

I've found a new favorite craft.  Rope bowls!  These are all made from one 200 ft. skein of cotton clothesline rope.  They are totally wonky and I resorted to using lots of colored thread because I'm too cheap and lazy to go all the way to the store when I ran out of plain.  I am seriously addicted to making these.

And our first bowl!  Two more weeks of pottery and I should have all of our stuff to share and use.  This bowl is so appropriately wonky, but it works beautifully for late night cereal and clusters of grapes at lunch.  I love that I'll have lots of tactile memories from this time with Ainsley.

Last but not least my new fingerless mitts.  I've made about four pairs now and these are my favorite. Made from a free revelry pattern  and leftover yarn.  In't that the way it goes.

Ian took all of the good photos from Felix's birthday, but here are a few I had on my camera.

We spent the day playing outside and at parks, going to Felix's open house for preschool for next year, napping, grilling giant hot dogs and enjoying being together.  It was such a great great day. (I'm hoping to write a whole separate post about my two year old little guy, hence the brevity)

Saturday we had our friend party in the morning with bakery goodies and kite decorating.  We spent the better part of Saturday night and Sunday morning crashing.  Ian took Louise and Felix to the arboretum while I watched The Great British Bake Off with Ainsley and knit like a madwoman (I'm so close to finishing Louise's cardigan!)

Sunday afternoon my mommy daughter time with Ainsley continued while we went to get Felix a big boy mattress.  Rather than waste more money on an IKEA mattress (oh how I regret getting the girls theirs there, you live and you learn!) we opted to get a nice mattress that should last him indefinitely.  We found a local shop with surprisingly great prices and just like that an awesome mattress for tiny man was shoved in our van along with three new pillows and an industrial mattress protector (again, you live and you learn).  Then we did a little shopping.  Felix needed some new duds for a wedding we have this weekend and Ainsley talked me into two new outfits from Old Navy.  I'll admit it was so fun shopping with her, seeing what she likes.  She's obsessed with this new belt she got and her printed chino shorts.  She's wearing them to school today with tights underneath!  We rounded out our outing with a giant canister of Chicago mix popcorn and Ainsey's first slushie.  I'd call that a major success.

Photos below curtesy of Ainsley.

Our bird feeder which is currently housing 5 baby chickadees! Their chirps are the cutest.

Felix's new big boy bed.  I'm simple amazed that we actually found the hardware to put this thing back together after 3+ year in storage.

I'm still feeling a bit zonked today from it all.  I'm excited this week to make some new recipes from More with Less, an old favorite cookbook of mine.  I'm also very excited that spring activities are winding down.  This is the last week for Ainsley's aerial arts class, pottery ends next week, Louise sports camp soon after that.  Everything is winding down, even Ainsley's kindergarten is counting down the last 26 days of school starting on Thursday.  While I find myself a bit apprehensive about summer and how that looks for us I know we'll be together and really at the end of the day that's all that matters.

Hope you all are enjoying these last days of April.  We're enjoying our May flowers early here this year, hope you all are too!

Sunday, April 19, 2015


It's been a wonderful weekend.
Yesterday we went to the Botanic Gardens.  It was 10 whole blustery degrees colder up north by the lake, but it was beautiful.  I think the Botanic Gardens and the Arborteum have kept me sane all these years living in this city.  Ah how I need nature in my life.

Then Louise's dance recital.  It was so sweet and adorable and cute etc etc.  Ainsley was so nervous for her, asking over and over but what if you get up there and you're just so scared! or you forget your steps! There are going to be so many people watching, aren't you scared! My even keeled Louise shrugged it off I don't feel nervous at all Ainsley.  I'm just so excited!

Afterwards we went out to dinner.  I'd promised her ice cream for dinner but Ian decided ice cream AND dinner was a better plan.  Before leaving the recital Louise and I went to the bathroom to change her out of her costume.  First words out of her mouth ballet tights are the worst.  I'm still laughing about that one.
We went out for italian and gelato, remarkably a local place we'd never been.  It was great and the kids did so well.  It's nice when a treat actually feels like a treat.

After the kids went to bed Ian and I watched some more Daredevil.  I'm half totally grossed out by it and half ENgrossed.  Either way I guess I'm hooked.

Today has been much more low key.  Ian's been primarily watching the kids, playing at the park, in our backyard, watching baseball, while I was able to get a run in as well as some continued spring organizing/clearing out (now spring cleaning is a whole different story, soon I hope!)

I'm starting to get my feet back under me with cooking.  Tonight we're having frittata and banana bread.  The bread is in the oven as we speak and the smell is just glorious.
This week I'm hoping to make all of the things I'd planned on last week, a crock pot coconut curry, tuna noodle casserole (with homemade mushroom sauce, my new favorite).  I'm thinking of some ground beef, rice, tomato, cheese concoction, and perhaps one other thing to get us through until Felix's birthday.  I cannot believe my baby turns 2 on Friday.

Presents have all been bought, and with a last minute batman toy purchase online last night I think we're finally set. (Ian had to have something batman for his boy on his second birthday, I get that)  We've been making a few decorations just for fun and thinking about the festivities.  I bought the giant 1/4 pound hot dogs from costco to grill for his actual birthday.  Hot dogs are his absolute favorite.  Everything else is still a bit up in the air.  Homemade macaroni?  Bakery treats for breakfast?  Most likely all of the above and anything else we can think of.  We sure do love celebrating.

I'm gearing up for some late spring knitting.  The girls wear two too small white cardigans all the time with sleeveless dresses and short sleeves so I've decided to make them some sumer cardigans.  I am so very excited.  Of course this lead to me deciding on new sweaters for Felix.  I am over the moon about the yarn and colors I chose.  The girls actually chose their colors for their sweaters and out of almost 20 choices chose the same!  I'm excited for robins egg blue, cornflower, warm grey, and a skein of lavender thrown in there for something fun for me.  Perhaps more fingerless mitts?  Or a shawlette?

The rain is pitter pattering outside, my kiddos are snoozing.  It's been a good good weekend.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Delicious Day

It's been a long bizarre week.
Monday was great, normal and great.
Tuesday morning I woke up with raging stomach flu.  Lovely.  Thankfully Ian was able to stay home and take care of the kids.  Then they starting falling like dominos.  Felix threw up in the car around 11, Ainsley was sent home from school at 2 with a fever.  The next day Ian went back to work and Ainsley began the stomach bug.  Louise was on the couch all day with aches.  Poor Felix is still not 100%, Ainsley either.
I still have no appetite and don't want to cook.  Our amazing next door neighbor made us a pot of chicken and rice soup and it's all I want to eat.  I've put Ian on food patrol for the time being.  Way too hard to cook when you have no appetite.
Still, between the sickness and yuck we've had a lot of great moments this week.  Ainsley had space day today at school which has pretty much made her life.  They've been studying space for weeks and it's all culminated in the classroom fun today and a trip to the planetarium Monday.  We get to eat pudding out of bag!  And take a bus around the planetarium! I love Ainsley's excitement more than just about anything.
Louise had her dress rehearsal for her dance recital on Thursday.  I just have no words for how adorable and excited and amazing it all was.

One caption worthy moment...
Louise, how did it feel to be up on the stage?
"It felt THIS much!" (insert giant outstretched hands and the biggest Louise smile to date, and if you know Louise that's one tremendously major smile)

Oh, and moment after the first run through when Felix bolted up to the stage screaming "I try too! I try it too!".

Today has been almost back to normal. If normal is a 76 degree day in mid April.  I took Louise and Felix to the park, ran into friends, hung out until Felix asked to go home (see? still not up to par :o( Louise BEGGED me not to go to Costco. She was very excited to play with her minnie mouse doll in the bow boutique she'd set up for her, I obliged.  It doesn't take much to convince me to not go to Costco.  
We spent the rest of the morning windows down record playing.  The kids played, colored on paper on the floor, play dough, blocks, Louise worked on her phonics book she loves,  I organized our entire upstairs art supply cabinets.  Yesterday I tackled our buffet and the holiday boxes in the basement.  One bit at a time our house is getting the spring organizing it needs.
Now naps have been had and we're lounging more, waiting to pick Ainsley up from school.  
I'm sad I didn't get a photo of her before she headed out.  She was SO excited about her star pants and minion (alien to her) shirt, and astronaut all business ponytail.  I'm excited for a weekend with that girl, I'm missing her right now.

Louise's pre naptime routine with Felix, she reads him at least two books all on her own, usually singing books or Pop's books he's made them because she knows those are his favorites.

Our morning.

Louise colored her entire pinky toe blue.

Tonight Ian's grilling burgers and I'll probably munch on the sweet potato fries I'm going to bake.  I hope Felix gets his appetite back soon!  I'm excited about new knitting for the girls, finishing up a way overdue wedding gift, Louise's dance recital tomorrow!!!!! and a weekend with my four favorite people.
I hope you all are enjoying this delicious midwest day.  We're soaking it up!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Spring! and Stress

I think I'm officially off my groove of photo taking and writing about life.  I'm sad about it, but it's reality.
This past winter, this whole school year, has just felt insane.   I feel like it's been forever and a blink of an eye at the same time.

Those 24 inches of snow we got in February are finally melting.  We're all out of our winter cocoons enjoying the sun and slush. I almost cried when I saw that there was NO snow on the passenger side of the car so I could actually get Felix out on his side and not have to crawl through the car and get him out on the busy street side for the first tim in over a month.  It was glorious.

With the coming of the warm up and the sun I've felt so much better, but not as good as I'd hoped.  There is still so much stress in life.  The kids have all been sick, one after the other.  I'm still not 100% after my sinus horrible cold last week and caring for so many needy little people is just so so hard.
Poor Ainsley had a reaction to her antibiotic for her ear infection and was covered in a head to toe horrible rash.  She was home for two days while we tried to figure out what was going on and to help her rash subside enough.
It has been such a tough two days. With the measles scare so many parents worried eyes shot at me when they saw me with her at school drop off for Louise.  I kept saying loudly "poor thing has an allergy to penicillin!" and everyone I told was only sympathetic.  Still it's hard to feel like those parents I couldn't talk to perhaps judged a bit.  We're all just doing our best.
Now my girl is well enough for school and gets to bring a friend home today.  She is so excited for a lava lamp experiment, playing outside at the park, and sharing her favorite things.  We love having friends over.  It's fun as the girls grow to have parent-less playdates where the kids just play.  It reminds me how big and independent they're getting.
I'm feeling stressed about this old house.  Spring always brings to light so many things that need attention.  Simple things like a toilet not filling properly become gigantic when you factor in 100 year old house plumbing problems.  Ugh.  I don't deal with these things well.
So as usual I'm trying to focus on the fact that these problems can all be fixed and we are lucky for that.  Now I'm just hoping for full health for all of the kids (poor Felix seems to have caught the girls' coughs just this morning and then proceeded to face plant on the cement while picking Louise up from school.
The thing I'm realizing over and over again with these kids is that there is always going to be something. It can get overwhelming so fast, but just as easily the panic can be quelled and order and calm restored.
Today I am so thankful for blowing bubbles outside in the sun with my boy while we waited to pick up Louise, clear sidewalks, fun plans for the afternoon, and a glass of wine with my name on it tonight (or an early bedtime, or most likely both).  Goodness gracious.  What are your stress relieving go to's?  I need some help with that today.

Almost Spring Break!

Family has left.  It was a fun a very full 5 days.  I think we'll all nap well this afternoon!

We're in the final countdown for Florida.  It feels like we've been counting down forever!  February was pretty hard this year, now that we're all thawed out we're not quite as desperate, but just as excited.

I love this time of year when we ease into the new spring groove.  Our afternoons are mostly outside now, bikes and strollers and wagons and ride ons line the side of our house, our backyard looks like a tiny preschool circus.  Everything just feels a bit easier without the layers and struggle to get out the door.  Now we just need to remember the rules of the road for those confident bikers I have.

Each spring it's so apparent how much my kids have grown and changed.  Felix is zooming around on his ride on and scooting on his sisters' scooter all around the cul de sac.  Louise is too big for her training wheel bike, we're figuring out what that next step is.  Ainsley finally fits well on her big girl two wheeler and is as fast and confident as ever. She REALLY wants roller blades.  We're deciding still on that one.

Our schedules have exploded this spring and for once I think I'm ok with that.  I've been so unsure about this new having big kids thing that I've decided jumping in with both feet is the answer...I can't fight it forever!  We now have something every single day after school which feels insane, but in reality is awesome.
Ainsley's school has after school activities you can sign up for so she's doing a textile/art/sewing class on Mondays, meaning I don't have to pick her up until 4:15 and she gets some extra art time each week.  Double win.  She's also taking aerial arts (first class last night was awesome!) and our mommy daughter pottery class, and we've decided to conintue her acting class because it's her favorite.  Wow!  Last night after her aerial class I picked her up and looked into her big brown eyes and told her how proud I was of her.  I told her I remembered how hard it was for her for so long to leave me and overcome her fears to try new things and here we are trying new stuff left and right and my big girl is soaring.  I'm so so happy.
Louise is all done with gymnastics.  Because of her birthday she was grouped with much younger kids and was getting bored.  She wanted to take her sports camp class again and an art class and thankfully we have an awesome park district with lots of options so we're booked for her for the spring.
Felix and I are still enjoying musikgarten.  He's still pretty chill and calm there.  I love our special activity once a week.  Now that the snow has melted our other weekday mornings are spent at parks and playing in the yard.  I love it so much.

I'm mostly excited to keep things moving along this spring.  Most of our activities were ending and I wanted to make sure we keep the groove up through the end of school.  I've signed the girls both up for summer camp at Louise's preschool for June but other than that our summer is wide open.  It's crazy to already be thinking about all of that, but that's life with kids, always planning, enjoying now, looking ahead, remembering. I'm finally getting used to it all.

We've also officially made the decision to send Louise to kindergarten next fall.  It's been so incredibly agonizing for me, mainly because I don't want her to go.  I selfishly want her home with me.  But that girl, she's ready.  Her preschool teacher flat out told us she thought she'd be bored with another year of preschool.  I guess that's all I needed to hear to confirm what I knew.  So we gave her spot up for next year and are going full steam ahead.  It's going to be so great having the girls back to back in school.  It'll keep it all fresh in my mind.  And they've always been so close.  It feels right.
Man parenting is hard!!!

I'm hoping Florida will get me back in the groove of taking photos and posting etc.  It's so hard to find the time these days.

Have a wonderful spring break!


Weekends are awesome.  I know I'm not alone here.

The weekends this winter were not so much.  It got so hard to find things to do out of the house.  We're calling this the Costco winter because Ian took the kids to Costco almost every weekend just to get out and for all those samples.

But Spring weekends?  Ah.  Just what we were hoping for.

Every once in a while I love big plans.  A whole day outing or a bigger event.  For the most part though I'm happy as a clam hanging out around home.

I have no photos from today.  Ian took a few of his morning with Felix.  Still I don't want to forget so here it is.

The  kids were up early (of course) so coffee at 6:30 it was.  Then French Toast.  Then Ian headed out to coffee with friends and the kids and I headed out with bikes.  Ainsley found her tree and climbed.  Felix and Louise climbed too.  "Even when I was in Florida I thought of my tree"  Ainsley explained. That girl has a climbing heart.

Home to dig in the backyard.  Digging in fresh spring soil is one of the best things the season has to offer.  Ian home from coffee.  Me out the door in neon running shoes in 3 minutes flat.  3.5 mile glorious spring run.  Shower on the flip side.  New Majamas maxi skirt, still feels new birthday earrings from my mama.  Downtown Oak Park with my girls for present shopping for Felix.  Louise knew she wanted a stuffed doggie.  Found the cutest one I can imagine.  Ainsley wanted 17 things for him, typical.  Honed in on a bright sensory soccer ball.  I encouraged and we purchased.  On to the bookshop.  SO MANY BOOKS I WANT TO OWN!!!!  Settled on this and this for my boy.  I let the girls each choose a paper back.  A new Usborne Sticker Book for Ainsley, a kids maze book for Louise (no clue she was such a rockstar at mazes).

We had lunch out at our favorite thai noodle shop.  We ordered the perfect amount of food.

Headed home to enjoy the books in the backyard.  Ian and Felix joined us shortly after (they enjoyed a morning downtown while us girls were out).  Ran into neighbors and spent the whole afternoon playing in the backyard.  Kids dug and bubbled and sifted through shells and lounged.  I'd forgotten how much I love the spontaneity and ease of an outdoor afternoon.

Faces pink we move inside.  Run slabs of carrot cake to neighbors because goodness I made too much yesterday.  Ian grills the most perfect pork tenderloin.  We devour and melt into nighttime.

It's the next morning and I'm still wonderfully relaxed.  My whole body hurts from all the fun.
Today it's a morning trip to the arboretum, laundry amundo, dinner at friends.
So thankful for this weekend.

Friday, April 10, 2015

I Love Fridays

I love waking up an not having anywhere to be. Once Ainsley's off to school it's my two little kiddos and me, doing whatever we want.
Today it's Costco, quite the treat outing for us.  Louise loves making lists for the store.  It's a good way to use up these early morning hours before the store opens.
Then we've decided to make a carrot cake.  We have so many carrots in the house, clearly that's the only reasonable way to use them up.
I really want to paint our master bedroom.  I may motivate to go get paint with the kids.  Though I really really dislike extraneous errands with children.  I may wait until I can go on my own and truly peruse.  I'm thinking almost white light grey.  That room needs some major brightening.
Tomorrow I plan to take the girls shopping for Felix's 2nd birthday.  How he is turning two in two weeks I have no idea.  I haven't told them about the outing yet because they'll be too excited.  We'll do a bit of shopping, grab lunch out.  It will be quite the big girl day.
The Twins come to Chicago this weekend.  Ian's excited to go, perhaps taking a girl or two with him.
I'm hoping for a fun garden this year and planning with the kids.  We switched out sand for soil in our water table out back.  The sand was ruining our already ruined lawn.  Last year we didn't grow much so i'm hoping for a few more successes.  Our yard has become so shady though, it's tricky!
I am so looking forward to this weekend.  Family time, lounging, warm spring weather.
I hope you all have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Start of Spring

Getting a post up has become one of the hardest things in my life.  I'm realizing a lot of it is that I've not been taking photos as regularly as I used to.  I want to get better about that.  I really think it helps me reflect on our days.  Thankfully Ian's been taking lots of photos.  Now I just need to get on that scary big techie computer of his to figure out how to get some on here.

Seriously, these are all the photos I have from about the past month.  Whoops!

I'm doing my best to shake of the winter blues, but this rainy dark weather isn't helping much.  I'm still having a love hate relationship with our busy big kid schedule. I do like having places to go most days but I really miss the free unstructured time that's defined my early years of parenting.  I'm finding I really love my mornings with Felix, relatively quite and easy, my rest time with Louise, playing games and watching a show or two snuggled on the couch. I'm really striving to find some good one on one time with Ainsley after school.  Our ceramics class is still so great, reading time at night too.  I just keep trying to focus on the good.

Yesterday was a particularly great day.  I took the kids on an impromptu fun errand after we picked Ainsley up from school.  We went to the Buzz for drinks and snacks then I ran into Majamas for their moving sale :o( and got TONS of amazing things for almost no money (I ran back again once Ian got home to get more for gifts, you're welcome in advance all you girls in my family).  Yay retail therapy.

Today is super rainy and we're supposed to get bad thunderstorms this afternoon, of course just in time for school pick up and all of our after school run around.  I'm really hoping it's not too bad.  Ainsley gets so anxious about the weather, me too if I'm honest.  I don't like driving around in lightning storms!
At least there's dinner in the crock pot (chicken tacos) and a safe warm house.
I hope you all are enjoying the start of spring!