Project 365 {week 25}

I took pictures of the good stuff this week.

But behind the good, there was some very hard stuff.

June 15; Happy Father's Day to this guy!

June 15; Happy Father’s Day to this guy!

June 16: I like the age when they can go out and play without needing much from me. The week starts out Ok.

June 16: I like the age when they can go out and play without needing much from me. The week starts out Ok.

June 17: I have three for breakfast today since cousin Lilly is here. I also get the phone call telling me about my job transfer to 8th grade ELA. This day is hard.

June 17: I have three for breakfast today since cousin Lilly is here. I also get the phone call telling me about my job transfer to 8th grade ELA. This day is hard.

June 18: Happy anniversary to us! nine years strong!  (I also had a pre-cancerous spot frozen off my face).

June 18: Happy anniversary to us! nine years strong! (I also had a pre-cancerous spot frozen off my face).

June 19: Even though I have a very hard day, this one knows when I need a smile. He put on my glasses and said, "I Momma!!"

June 19: Even though I have a very hard day, this one knows when I need a smile. He put on my glasses and said, “I Momma!!”

June 20: It's birthday party prep day! Eddie is excited for cousins and friends to come play in the pool!

June 20: It’s birthday party prep day! Eddie is excited for cousins and friends to come play in the pool!

June 21: This guy is still 2 days away from turning five, but we celebrate with a FIESTA today.

June 21: This guy is still 2 days away from turning five, but we celebrate with a FIESTA today.

I’d like to say I am facing all of these challenges and emotions with remarkable aplomb.

I’d like to say I am proud of how I am handling it all.

But I am not.

So.

I’m not sure what to do other than just keep breathing.

This Store is Smarter Than I Am

We are a Verizon family. Always have been, always plan to be.

(Oh, this is not a commercial or sponsored post, by the way. Just wanted to clear that up.)

I got my first cell phone in…I think 2001 or 2002. It was a nice little brick. No one was texting yet and my phone was most decidedly NOT smart. In fact it was mostly utilized by my ex boyfriend to call me to tell me he was done bowling, drunk, and needed a ride home every single Friday night.

He was a winner.

Anyway, I loved my phone. I was the only one of my friends who ever had service pretty much anywhere I went. I live in West Michigan just a stone’s throw from Lake Michigan. Back in the early aughts–ok even now–service can be dicey by the lake and phones are likely to switch to central time randomly because of signals across the lake. It’s annoying.

I never had an issue. My friends were jealous.

There was a brief time after getting married that Cortney switched me to his Nextel plan.  Yes, we were those annoying people with our beeping in to each other. Walkie talkie anyone?

We got rid of it because the service BLEW and we like to try not to irritate the world.

Back to Verizon we went and since then we have gone from our tiny cute flip phones to those smart phone wanna-be’s (I had the slide out keyboard for texting, yo) to full fledged smart phones.

I can’t even imagine life without my smart phone now.  I mean, how in the world did I go to BlogHer in 2011 without a smart phone? No wonder I was depressed! (I kid, I kid)

So here we are a social media addicted enthusiast and her tech geek husband.  Then I get an invitation to a private tour of the new Verizon Smart Store that is opening in West Michigan.

I didn’t even have to think about it that RSVP answer.

Ahhh...so roomy!

Ahhh…so roomy!

The Verizon store we have in my city is…um…tiny. Don’t get me wrong, I love Verizon, but the store blows and I do everything I can to NOT go there. I mean when it’s time to upgrade our stuff, we get a sitter because no way in Hades are we taking our children in there.

The Smart Store is HUGE. There is no person accosting greeting you at the door and giving you a number. There is no counter of doom where you will wait forever. There are stations to touch and, yes, PLAY with the technology. There is a TON of stock and there is a learning center.

Plus check out that comfy red chair thingy. It has chargers in it.

verizonsmartstoreIn no particular order, here are the highlights of the new Smart Store:

  • It’s spacious
  • They have more stock than a regular store. Rather than 3 ugly generic phone cases, there is a huge WALL of them. And not just limited to iphone things (although they have a ton of those too).
  • Knowledgeable, friendly staff. Ask for my man, Ken. He knows it all.
  • It’s all GREEN!  Right down to the paint!  Environmentally friendly is the new black. Or something.
  • There is an enormous number of items you can actually hold in your hands. Most stores don’t carry all the FUN stuff the Smart Store does.
  • Four areas to “play”: Audio, Home/Office, Fun, and Fitness. I would TOTALLY take the kids with me to this store. Eddie and Charlie would never walk away from the tablet accessories.
  • A learning center. See the middle picture up there with that horseshoe table thingy? That is a learning center to help beginners know how to turn ON their smart phones or help the tech geek learn more about the gadgets he/she can get to play with his/her phone.
  • Did I mention the stock of cool stuff?  Ok, just making sure.

I definitely had a fun time poking around at all the cool accessories and technology that is available and I know Cortney is hoping I take him there on a date. Heh.

So do you guys have these stores where you are? I had never heard of one before, but I love it!

Read more about the Verizon Smart Store on the Verizon website (and see my face!).

 

some kind of wonderful

Last night he held me while I shook with sobs.

He didn’t say it would be fine or that everything would be good in the end.

No.

He knows better.

After nine years of marriage, we both know better.

But he held me and told me I was wonderful.

This is why we are together…why nine years has flown by despite all the loss and struggle.

We hold each other.

And remind each other of our wonderfulness.

us

Happy anniversary, Cortney. I love you.

Thank you for being wonderful.

The Paris Wife

This summer I am all about reading. I say that every summer, but I let other things get in my way. This summer I have almost no other projects on tap which means if there is down time, I am reading!

The first book I read this summer is The Paris Wife by Paula McLain. I happened upon it when I was browsing the tables at Barnes and Noble. I’m sort of a nut for the 1920′s and the ex pat writers, so a fictional novel told from the point of view of Ernest Hemingway’s first wife, Hadley, about their time in Paris as ex pats when Hemingway was just getting his footing as a writer hooked me immediately.

Continue Reading…

Project 365 {week 24}

This week was the height of our transition.

There was a lot of push and pull.

And crying.

I was looking through my Instagram feed and I realized it looks like this week was SO MUCH FUN.

But that was just what I took pictures of.

In between there was a lot of frustration.

And questions (from the boys AND me) about when they can go back to daycare.

June 8: Charlie "helps" with yard work.

June 8: Charlie “helps” with yard work.

June 9: He calls this his "animal house". I think he needs a sweat shirt that says "college".

June 9: He calls this his “animal house”. I think he needs a sweat shirt that says “college”.

June 10: Reading over some note my aunt took so I can write my grandfather's military years in narrative form.

June 10: Reading over some note my aunt took so I can write my grandfather’s military years in narrative form.

June 11; Private tour of the new Verizon Smart Store in Grand Rapids, Mi.

June 11; Private tour of the new Verizon Smart Store in Grand Rapids, Mi.

June 12: All three boys quiet in one spot. I think this is the first time all week.

June 12: All three boys quiet in one spot. I think this is the first time all week.

June 13: Although the weather was chilly (mid 50's), we braved the park for an hour.

June 13: Although the weather was chilly (mid 50′s), we braved the park for an hour.

June 14: one of our favorite things to do all month: cards with great friends because it means family fun for all of us!

June 14: one of our favorite things to do all month: cards with great friends because it means family fun for all of us!

The truth of the photos is that we found fun.

The untruth of the pictures is that there was a lot of tension and stress and time outs around the fun.

That is parenthood, though, right?

We’ll get there.

How I Survive The Summer

For nine months of the year, my daily routine is pretty set. Since I teach high school, I would say it’s even more structured than most people since a bell drives my deadlines and tells me when I can npee each hour. But in the summer, I am suddenly thrown into the unstructured world of the Stay (and Work) at Home Mom.

While I don’t have grading and lesson plans during the summer, I still have writing deadlines, social media work, and various school-related items that need to be done. Lots of people like to say, “You must have so much more time now that school is out!”

Actually, I have less.  I don’t have in between classes, an hour-long planning period, a 30-minute duty-free lunch, or after school work time anymore. There are small kids with me all of the time–there is one hanging on my arm right at this second, actually–but I have a few things that makes working from home a little less anxiety-ridden.

Continue Reading this at Today’s Work at Home Mom…

front row support

Saturday I did something that I never thought I would: I stood up in front of a crowd in a bookstore and read a piece of my own published work.

When the other contributors were arranging the readings across the country, I volunteered to join the one in Goshen, Indiana. I figured I would drive the two hours alone, do the reading, grab some food, and come home just in time to help with bedtime.  As the date got closer, Cortney suggested we make it a family event. He knew I was sort of nervous and he wanted to be there for me.

So a couple days before the event, we decided to all go.

While Charlie acted like a typical two-year old who had been in the car for two hours and was now strapped in a stroller, Eddie was amazing for someone who is not yet five.

Apparently, Cortney took him aside that morning and talked to him about what we were going to be doing. He asked Eddie if he knew what it meant to “support” someone. He explained that mommy would be nervous and would do a better job if they were there to tell her she was going to be great, give her thumbs up, and listen to her. This entire conversation happened without my knowledge.

What I saw was a cranky two-year old, a husband who wanted to keep him quiet, but still see his wife, and an almost-five-year old sitting by himself, front and center waiting to hear his momma read her story. Charlie was being a bit beastly, so Cortney took him for a walk, but Eddie stayed with me. He told me that it was Ok if I messed up because I would still be his best mommy.

While Cortney pushed the stroller around outside and in the back of the book store, Eddie sat quietly through the first two readers. Every now and then he would make eye contact with me and flash me a huge smile, give me a thumbs up, or mouth “I love you” to me.

When it was my turn to read, he smiled and intently watched me. I introduced myself, my piece, and explained that after all the heartache of losing pregnancies, my biggest fan was born, and that he was in the front row. He beamed.

I read my piece (and Cortney was able to hear 3/4 of it regardless of Charlie’s antics), and Eddie clapped the loudest.

When all was said and done and we were driving home, I thought about my Eddie. He took the idea of supporting those we love to his heart and really applied it. He acted years older than his almost five years.

I wonder often what my children will remember when they are this young.

Will he remember sitting and listening to his mommy tell the story about losing her pregnancy? Did he understand any of the stories he heard that day? I saw him paying attention. I wonder what was going through his mind.

Is this just the first time he will listen to his mother tell her stories, or was it a one shot?

For all the questions and thoughts I have about Eddie being there on Saturday, I know that he learned an important lesson about being there for those you love. He learned that lifting them up helps them accomplish what they want to do.

When I think about Saturday, the thing I am most proud of is not my published writing, not that I stood up and read something that was hard to write, but that my boy stuck by me and loved me through it all.

2014-06-07 17.18.10

We are always talking about our marriage and family as being a team effort. I think Eddie is really starting to learn that he is a very important member of that team.

Go Out & Play!

If you follow me on Instagram, you know my kids love to play outside. Even if it means wearing winter coats during spring break.

2014-04-07 10.04.33

As soon as the snow was gone, they were chomping at the bit to get outdoors and run free, and I was not about to hold them back! We had a long winter with frigid temperatures and tons of snow. That meant lots of screen time and cabin fever, so when the wind shifted and our noses smelled the first hint of spring thaw? WE GOT OUT!

Because outdoor play is a staple in our summer schedule, I was beyond excited when I learned about Kaboom!, a national non-profit that is dedicated to ensuring that all children get the active play they need to grow up healthy.

Kaboom! currently has a Go Out and Play Collection available that is an assortment of active play products. Our favorite is the Backpack which is actually the center of the collection. It includes a Frisbee, two jump ropes, 2 boxes of sidewalk chalk, a rubber playground ball, and a book–by the same name–with tons of great outdoor games.

2014-06-06 12.38.46

We have both the purple AND the orange back pack because each boy needed one, of course. They are nice a big and super durable. In fact, Eddie has given his a few test runs to school.

2014-06-06 10.23.26

The playground gear gets a decent work out around here too. Both boys are crazy about the balls. In fact, Eddie claimed he had “amazing bouncing skills” last week.

2014-06-06 10.23.59

He totally does.

I love Kaboom! and their vision for getting kids up from their sedentary lifestyle to a more physically active and FUN life.  Active play can help kids develop motor skills, coordination, and increase cognitive capacity. Active kids tend to do better in school and are better problem-solvers.

As a mom and an educator, that is important to me.

2014-06-06 10.37.25

Now that the days are longer, we are outside for HOURS if the weather allows.

The best part for them is the fun and healthy aspects, but the best part for me is how fast they fall asleep at night.

Summer is rad, yo.

2014-06-06 10.39.08-2

Another amazing thing about Kaboom!? Along with Imagine Toys, they are sending me to BlogHer ’14 in San Jose next month as an Ambassador for their products and message about active, healthy play.  In the coming weeks I’ll tell you more about ways you can get involved with Kaboom! and spreading their message of getting outside and PLAYING!

In the meantime, go out & play!!

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own. Kaboom! sent us backpacks full of goodies so we could try them out, but I was under no contract to talk about them here. I just believe in the toys and the positive message for kids.

Project 365 {week 23}

It is JUNE and it is SUMMER.

OFFICIALLY.

June 1: Open house for a very special graduate.

June 1: Open house for a very special graduate.

June 2: The boys are still in daycare, so I whip up some marscapone. No big deal.

June 2: The boys are still in daycare, so I whip up some marscapone. No big deal.

June 3: The homemade cheesecake ice cream with raspberry sauce I made with yesterday's marscapone.

June 3: The homemade cheesecake ice cream with raspberry sauce I made with yesterday’s marscapone.

June 4: Date Day! This guy was my date for pedicures, lunch, and some shopping.

June 4: Date Day! This guy was my date for pedicures, lunch, and some shopping.

June 5: I get to go as a guest to the Make A Wish Michigan The Fault in Our Stars Premier event. It was amazing.

June 5: I get to go as a guest to the Make A Wish Michigan The Fault in Our Stars Premier event. It was amazing.

June 6: Home with these two goobers trying to figure out our new summer groove.

June 6: Home with these two goobers trying to figure out our new summer groove.

June 7: The boys come to Indiana with me for a reading Three Minus One.  I was super nervous to read my piece, but Eddie told me he would like me even if I messed up, so I was good.

June 7: The boys come to Indiana with me for a reading Three Minus One. I was super nervous to read my piece, but Eddie told me he would like me even if I messed up, so I was good.

I will admit that there were parts of the week that felt stressful and I definitely battled with some anxiety.

The boys and I have NOT found our groove yet, but we will.

Cortney reminded me that this is just the transition. It will be Ok.

And it will.

I mean, we have perfect weather this week, and this is just transition?

I’ll take it.

Feels Like the First Time

When we found out that Charlie was a boy, my very first thought was, Oh thank you, God! 

My very next thought was, Aw jeah. A boy. Not my first rodeo. I can DO this I can be a boy mom!

Side note: I’ve heard wonderful things about raising daughters. I am not knocking daughters. Shoot, I AM a daughter. But, as someone who thrives on predictability and knowing what to expect, hearing the word “boy” was like God saying, “See? No more surprises.”

No more surprises.

I had my fair share of surprises before Charlie, didn’t I? My first pregnancy was a surprise. Two miscarriages were a surprise. Everything about my labor and delivery with Eddie was a surprise. Shoot, that was such a surprise it left me with a lovely case of PTSD.

Eddie is a dang surprise every day–both in all the good ways and some of the side-eye ways.

So another boy. I can do this. No surprises.

And then God fell off his chair laughing at me.  For the millionth time in my life, probably.

Yes, Charlie is a boy. Other than that, almost nothing has been the same as his older brother. From his birth, I kept waiting for Charlie to become colicky, have digestive issues, not sleep, but that never happened. He was–dare I say it–easy as a baby. He ate and slept and pooped. If he cried it was because he was hungry, tired, or poopy.  Ok, he didn’t even cry when he was poopy. He was even content to sit in his own dump.

Charlie was a laid back baby and trouble-maker toddler.

I haz it dat bowl peez?

I haz it dat bowl peez?

He is a charmer and knows that his big blue eyes and tiny polite voice can twist many a person around his little finger.

“peez I have it dat juice?”

“peez I have it dat cookie?

“peez I have it dessert?”

The last one he said through big crocodile tears just the other night after we told him no, because he didn’t even try his pork. Cortney was sitting next time him and set the ONE bite he needed to take in front of him and said, “If you want dessert, you need to take this one bite.” Charlie proceeded to yell, “NO!” in his tantrumy two-year old voice, cry and then look at me with two tears strategically placed under each eye, just about to drop. He turned his little mouth into a sad pouty frown, made his eyes huge, put his little hand out to me and whimpered, “I haz it peez, dessert?”

I so badly wanted to give him the damn dessert.

But Cortney held firm.

Eddie is my rule follower. You bet he ate the required dinner for the elusive, not-every-day dessert treat (not without massive whining, but he’s almost five, so you know). Charlie threw that tantrum just as far as it would go until he realized his daddy was NOT going to budge.

In fact, Charlie can be so stubborn, the very next night he ate zero dinner other than a couple raspberries and when asked if he wanted dessert he said, “NO!”

While his fits are loud and tearful, they are quick. If you just avoid saying, “no” to him, you can avoid the major meltdowns.

Yeah, about that.

“No” tends to be a dare for Charlie.

“Charlie, no no. Don’t stand on the couch.”

He will look at me as if I am making the world’s silliest request and say, “yes, mommy.”  As in, “duh, you stupid lady.”

He will fling himself off furniture. He will tumble down cement steps. He will fall backward off toys. He will jump…on and off anything. And then he will laugh his deep chuckly belly laugh.

He will see Eddie sitting nicely watching TV and tackle him. He will spy Eddie watching something on the tablet and stick his face in front of him. He will see Eddie playing with something and snatch it.

He is the button pusher, and Eddie is the button.

But he is a ball of love. He likes to sit on laps and hold hands and rub my arm and snuggle into my neck. He likes me to sing to him and rock him at bedtime. He likes to hold my face and push his to mine: nose to nose. He likes to whisper, “I yuv you, momma.”

His fine motor skills are ridiculous for a kid of his age.

I watch a lot of kids play with toys however they want, but Charlie likes to figure out how to play with them the way they are made to be played with, if that makes sense. He can manipulate twisting small parts and fitting puzzles together.

And he wants to be helpful. If I need him to come in the house, just saying “it’s time to come in,” will result in a meltdown. If I say, “Charlie, I need your help!” He will come RUNNING.

always fixing things for mommy.

always fixing things for mommy.

 

He says all the words and just 2 years and 3 month.

“I yuv you, mommy, daddy, Eddie,” unprompted, is probably my favorite. He listens and repeats absolutely everything and Cortney and I find ourselves cracking up and not at all keeping up with all his new words and phrases each day.

I want to find a way to bottle his tiny voice and keep it forever. I want to hear “bye bye mommy. I yuv you. have gate day!” every day for as long as I live.

I love the way he sees Cortney’s car in the garage as we pull in after daycare and announces, “YAY! Daddy home! Yay!”

I even love the way he laughs at me when I ask him if he is my boy, “nooo! Nae’s boy!” (Renae, his daycare mom. He might have her wrapped tightly around his finger. He truly is her boy.)

Every day he pulls another stunt, defies us in a new way, and laughs with abandon at something I didn’t know he was paying attention to, I think, “Man. This is NOTHING like the first time around. In many ways, THIS feels like the first time too!”

Because of course it does.

This is the first time I am Charlie’s mom.

always mommy's boy.

always mommy’s boy.

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