Sunday, August 24, 2014

Jesus Take the Wheel

I don't think this is what Carrie Underwood's song had in mind...

Saturday, August 23, 2014

First Day of School 2014

Michigan Ave with our 6th and 3rd graders!

BFF Weekend Part 3

I love watching The Rehab Addict with Nicole Curtis. We drove past a couple of homes Nicole rebuilt and one that is in the process of being rehabbed.

BFF Weekend Part 2

Day Two, we walked some more! We talked a LOT!!!

On Day Two, we had to deal with some issues surrounding other people who are so confused and suspicious of our friendship. How can a man and woman be best friends? They have to be sleeping together. Actually, we can be best friends and not lovers. We do love each other but we also respect ourselves, my husband, and our friendship enough to no cross that line. He's truly my brother from another mother.

BFF Weekend Part 1

I flew out of Chicago and headed to Minneapolis for a BFF Weekend. We walked and walked and walked. And talked the whole time. You would think that spending almost four days together would have resulted in talking downtime. Nope. Not us.

Theme Days

It was a fun summer in the office! We had two theme days: Black & White Day and Hawaiian Day. We tend to dress very casual - jeans, shorts, athletic wear, etc - when the students are not present.

State Meet

Motor Mouth wrapped up the Long Course season with a relay at the State Meet. I asked him to take these selfies while he waited for his race. That's his team State Meet shirt.

Angriest Boy in Chicago

Heehee! Motor Mouth was SO angry with me. I don't even remember what he wanted in the store that I said no to. He was NOT pleased at all. I just couldn't resist when I saw the name in that DVD!

Fire Pit

Love our little fire pit. Summer nights in our backyard with the moonlight and, yes, stars in the city sky, is just divine. I love sitting out there with the kids and J. Sometimes, just J and I hang out with with a glass of spirits and just chill.

Easy Summer Evening

Loving the family time at Millennium Park's Pritzker Pavilion. Weather was perfect for an evening of jazz music on the lawn followed by dinner at Park Grill.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Playing with iPad

Somehow these positions are more comfortable for iPad usage....

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Self-Portrait

Mini Me drew a self-portrait. Ummm...

Quiet Seat Winner!

And the quiet seat prize goes to....Mini Me! For not talking for over 20 minutes in the car (while awake).

This one is STUBBORN!!! If you say it can't be done, she will prove it can be done. That trait will get her very far in life. And in a whole heap of trouble. But I think it's a trait worth nurturing.

Monday, May 26, 2014

God Will Provide

Recently I was told by a Christ follower that "God would provide" for their financial situation. This was said while "blessing" me with services that had been completed and that I had agreed to pay for. In fact, I was chasing this person down to get the money to them because they had not responded to my repeated texts to arrange payment pick up. In fact, I had hired this person because I knew there was a financial need.

Do I believe that God provides basic necessities and opportunities for people? Yes. Do I believe that God blesses people? Yes. Do I think it is our responsibility to act on that provision and those blessings? Absolutely yes.

It drives me crazy that someone in dire financial need would turn down money because "God will provide." God IS TRYING to provide for you by me PAYING YOU for YOUR SERVICES!!!

It reminds me of the story of the person caught in a flood zone. This person is stranded at their house. Water is rising rapidly. An army truck rolls by and they offer a ride. "No, thanks. I'm good. God will provide." A little later the guy is on the roof of his porch. A boat rolls by and they offer a ride. "No, thanks. I'm good. God will provide." The guy is now on his roof. The water is at the roof line. He's got maybe 4 feet before the water hits him. A helicopter flys by they and drop a harness for the guy. "No, thanks. I'm good. God will provide." Guy drowns and gets to Heaven. Says to God: "Father God, Why did you not save me from the raging waters." God shakes his head, rolls his eyes and says: "I tried, you idiot! I sent the Army truck and the boat and the helicopter. You were too foolish and stubborn to accept my help because it did not come in the way you expected it to."

I think we all need to work our butts off to accomplish our goals in life. Sometimes, regardless of how much we work, how much success we have, we might need help. The key is to be open and receptive to the help, even if it's not what we think the help should look like.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

BFF in Da House!

I love it when my BFF comes to town!!! So much fun is had.

Friday, May 9, 2014

I Could Be An Alcoholic


I am amazed that I am not an alcoholic. By all rights, I should be. I don't even drink weekly. This little girl makes me want to run screaming to a bottle.

The first pic is my 8-yr old picking up papers that fell at a cafe.

The last pic is of my child DURING her PE class at school. Mini Me forgot to pack her PE shoes (yes, I told her to) so she had to sit out and read. She is IN the black milk crates.....reading.

God help us!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Traffic Deaths in Illinois 2014

221 traffic deaths in Illinois as of May 2, 2014.

I see these numbers increase almost daily. It is very disturbing to me. It represents 221 caskets in 4 short months. It represents 221 families feeling a tremendous loss. 221 lives cut short.

If we "only" had 50 traffic deaths in Illinois each month, that would be 600 deaths by year end. SIX HUNDRED!!! 600 parents without children, 600 children without parents.

Sadly, each year in Illinois we lose approx. 1,000 people due to traffic accidents. People like 26-yr old Laura LaPlante who was one month away from graduating with her law degree from the University of Chicago and then returning to her native Boston. LaPlante had a job at a Boston law firm lined up already. But for a drunk driver going the wrong way. I saw an interview with a family spokesperson. Laura had her act together. She was a planner. Her life was planned out and on target. But for a drunk driver.

In 2013 there were 992 traffic deaths. Up from 956 in 2012. The lowest number of traffic deaths since 1921 occurred in 2009, with 911. With 992 deaths in 2013, that averages to 2.7 people dying each and every day.

Do you know what the number one cause of traffic deaths is? Speed. I'm as guilty of this as the next person. We ALL need to slow it down. Slow and steady gets there. Alive.

Number two? Alcohol. Come on, people, how many times do we have to be told not to drink and drive?????

I don't have proof but distracted driving has to be up there as well. That's texting or Facebooking while driving. Taking pics. Dealing with children, dogs, or other occupants in a vehicle. Eating. Driving is serious business. Pay attention the whole time!!!!!!!!! It's not just about you. It's about the Laura LaPlantes out there that have their entire lives ahead of them. It's about you and me and the people we love and love us.

If I could singlehandedly keep traffic deaths in Illinois to a max 600, I would. I don't want 600 families torn apart. Let's all do our part.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Perfect Imperfect Plan

Yesterday, an amazing thing happened.

We were driving down a busy street (Roosevelt & Canal in Chicago) when J noticed that two women got into a taxi cab and left their Home Depot cart at the street corner. It caught his attention. He was appalled. Then J noticed that the ladies' purse was in the cart.

J pulled over to the curb. I hopped out, grabbed the purse, and got back in our vehicle. J sped off in pursuit of the red taxi!!!

I looked down at what I was holding. It was a brown leather Coach purse with the woman's cell phone sticking out. It was an extremely full purse, bulging, really.

We zipped in and out of traffic on Roosevelt. Just before Clark, we caught up to the taxi! J pulled alongside, honked excessively, and held up the bag. Finally, the woman opened her door and retrieved the bag. She told him she was from out of town. How awesome was that?!!!

REALLY AWESOME
It was really awesome because of what it took for US to be the ones right there at the right time.

Yesterday morning, Motor Mouth had a swim meet in a south suburb that Mini Me and I took him to. J was out of town on a retreat. After the meet, around 11 am, I headed to Roosevelt and Canal to pick up my allergy prescription. Just past my hwy exit, I thought I should get the dog.

We stayed home cleaning longer than planned. Then the kids and I went to lunch. I had planned to grab my meds THEN head to the burbs to pick up J. But J asked me to pick him up early at about 3:30 pm. So I did.

Only we took back streets. J took the uber scenic route. We even went to the wrong Ikea afterwards, and the lines were crazy long.

ALL of these things transpired to bring us to THAT moment to be in THAT spot and for J to notice the purse in the cart.

We often think about ourselves and wonder if we are walking in the path God has designed for us. How often do we wonder if we are in God's plan for someone else....?

Thursday, May 1, 2014

My New Man

Our little dog, Wilson, loves to cuddle with me. This is him staring up at me!

Handicapped Swimmers

Motor Mouth presented his social studies fair exhibit on "Handicapped Swimmers." He did great! The kids had to choose a social issue, research it, write a paper on it, create a display board, and then present it. So proud of my boy!!!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Restroom Refuge

I read a blog post about a parent that found out her kindergarten aged son was having problems in school due to a newly diagnosed anxiety disorder. At some point in her story, she was locked in her bathroom with her laptop and wine when her daughter came racing in to tell her that the son was choking to death (under the father's supervision). For clarity, her bathroom has a vanity desk so she's not balancing her laptop on her lap while... And the boy was fine. So fine, he was able to clearly vocalize his fact.

The following comment was made: "I dunno, I'm not a parent, but if you're locking yourself in the bathroom with wine, for any reason, for any length of time, while a member of your family has just nearly choked, I'd say that in lay person's terms your family dynamic is just a bit stuffed. No wonder the kid is anxious."

To which I commented: "Trust me, as a parent, sometimes the only sanity we can get is to lock ourselves in our bathrooms with wine and let our families sort themselves out through natural selection or some other means by which we are able to have just a few moments of rational, adult, non-child, family or partner directed thought."

There are times when I literally lock myself in one of our three bathrooms and, well, hideout from my kids and husband. I'm sure when my kids get older they will laugh and make fun of how long Mom used to sit on the toilet!!! I'll be the first to admit that my legs have gone numb, revived and gone numb again. I have asked the kids: "Do I harass you when you are trying to poop?" Sometimes, I didn't even poop. I was just in the need of a quiet room in which to sit where interruptions were frowned upon. Often with the light off. Usually with my iPhone. It's my only chance at sanity before the kids' bedtime.

So, single people with no children, don't judge us parents. We do the best we can at the moment. Not every parenting moment is a shining star moment but it is what we can manage. Don't judge us for needing to slip away from our children for 10, 20, or 60 minutes. Some days we need a few minutes to recharge and get a fresh perspective. Or at the very least, a better attitude.

(Photo credit: www.beforeitsnews.com)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Affairs Are Good For A Marriage

I have been married for fifteen years. Most of that, happily so. I've seen my share of marriages flourish as well as crash and burn. I've seen marriages recover from affairs and not. For the record, I am not advocating or encouraging people to run out and cheat on their spouses. I'm not. But do you ever wonder why one marriage survives an affair but another does not?

The reveal of a marital affair(s) causes the couple to take action. Questions are asked of each other and of themselves. The marriage relationship is brought into question. Either way, there is a change. Change is a painful process that requires work from both spouses.

Every marriage has it's own economy. An affair might drain the marital bank but it's not enough to bankrupt the marriage on it's own. If someone leaves a marriage after an affair, you can bet that there was more to it than just an affair. The affair(s) may have just been the final straw. Unless you're married to a sex addict, chances are, the affair is a symptom of a marriage that is ailing. Happily married people in fulfilling and emotionally and physically safe relationships do not cheat. (Read my post on The Economy of Marriage)

I know of countless marriages that have weathered the storm of an affair. You would be surprised at how many people are (or were) running around on their spouses. It's not the act of the affair that is the deciding factor as it is what the couple does AFTER the affair.

Self-Introspection
Let's be honest, we can all be difficult to live with at times. Each of us (men and women) have room to improve and be a better person. If we change ourselves then OUR lives are better. And it makes it easier for our spouse to be willing to change also. If you tweak you be sure your motives are right - to be your best self. Not to illicit change from someone else. We can only control our own words, our own actions, our own thoughts. Changing you is always a good thing.

A friend of mine found out that her husband was cheating on her with multiple women who looked just like her!!! She realized that it was her personality that he couldn't live with. She didn't change to keep her husband. She improved herself and worked at being her best self.

Counseling
Often couples will go to counseling. Good counseling will cause soul searching and self introspection. A good counselor will deal with the underlying marital issues and not the symptom (affair). If a couple survives counseling, the marriage relationship usually sees improvement. Or at least a better understanding of why they do what they do. Friends of mine went through counseling at our church after he had affairs. They ended up with a stronger marriage and even became some of the best marriage counselors our church had. Personally, I am more apt to trust the advice of someone with experience over book knowledge. (Here are a few Tips on How to Keep Love Alive)

Better Sex
Affairs are not necessarily about sex. But you know what? It kinda is sometimes. Marriage and kids and bills and jobs can kill your relationship. You start to forget who you are to each other. Forget who you married. And why.

One friend said he found emails between his wife and her lover. At first, he was angry. Then he really read what she wrote. It made him see his wife as a sexual being again and not just a mother or wife. He started to separate the mother she was (whose parenting style he disagreed with) from the sensual woman he married. It rekindled their marriage relationship.

Let's be honest. Married people sex can be boring. Also, some people don't know what they are doing in bed. I know of far too many people who say sex with their spouse was a major disappointment - the entire 20 years. Far too many women have never had a real orgasm. You never forget your first and you never forget your first orgasm. Men, don't blame the woman until you are sure it's not your technique that's the problem.

Sex can be beautiful in marriage. Read Song of Solomon. They had some good times!!! Sex can also be rough and raunchy in marriage. Guess what? You're married! It's okay to have amazing sexual experiences. It's okay to touch "that" with your fingers or lips. It's okay to put your mouth on "that." If you cannot say you have touched every inch of your spouse's body with your fingers and mouth, you are doing it wrong and you have plenty of room for improvement to become a good lover. Don't even try to argue with me on this one.

My apologies if I offend you in this next section. It needs to be said. Go buy the Kama Sutra (Anne Hooper has great books with pics, easy to read), massage oil, candles (for ambient lighting, save hot wax play for when you reach expert level) and sexy time music. Go watch some porn (it's research so it's okay - promise, but just don't make it a habit). Go Google how to do that stuff you don't really like to do because you think God won't let you into Heaven if you do but guess what? Their lover did it so maybe you should try it because your spouse actually does like it and good Christians really can do it. Okay, just cut and paste this: how to give good head, or this: how to give good cunnilingus. Relax. Relax. Relax. And have fun!!!!!!

Divorce
Hey, sometimes divorce is not such a bad thing. I've seen couples divorce and move on to happier, healthier relationships with other people. Two happy divorced parents are better than two angry, bitter married parents. Several of my friends left their spouses, dealt with all of the negative criticism from their friends and family, and set out on their own. They each told me that no one knew what went on behind closed doors. Now, they are free. They are working, co-parenting, living full lives and their kids are in healthier environments, free from fear, anger, abuse, bad relationship models, etc. (Read my blog on How to Be Friends With Your Ex if you do divorce.)

Better Marriage
Sometimes an affair bonds a couple to each other. It can be a much-needed wake up call. When dealt with maturely and well, an affair can draw a couple closer than ever before. Have you ever seen a famous couple come forward after an affair allegation, holding hands, usually raised together in victory? As if to say: "Us against the world! United we stand! We are in this together!" Never underestimate the power of a marital relationship and the economy of marriage.

An affair does not have to be the death sentence it feels like initially. I don't want to make it sound like an affair is the best thing for an ailing marriage. I do want to make it clear that what happens after an affair has ended can make a marriage better. It's all in how the couple chooses to proceed.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Blow Dry

I cut my hair cut the other day. I had her blow dry it. Seems I caused quite a stir everywhere I went as most people have not seen me with straight hair in years. Sigh.

How To Be Friends With Your Ex

As soon as couples break up, one of them always says: "Can we still be friends?" And the other person thinks: "Hell no." But says: "Yeah. Sure."

It IS possible to have a long-lasting, mutually enjoyable relationship with your ex. I am happy to say that I have managed to remain friends with almost all of my exes.

One of the main keys to remaining friends with your ex is to:

END THE RELATIONSHIP WELL.

Don't think that you can cuss someone out and tell them all about how horrible they are, show up at their job, call their friends or family, toss their stuff, act all crazy, and then turnaround and be besties next week. Be gracious during a break up, whether you do the breaking or not.

What SHOULD you do after a break up? Here's a few pointers...

1. Calm Your Inner Crazy
That means you don't act crazy and mean and hateful during or after the breakup. Don't rip up or toss their stuff don't withhold their stuff. Dont tear up or burn your pics together. Don't stalk them. Don't stalk their social media. Basically, do NOT go Lifetime movie on them.

2. Go Silent
Give each other time and space. That means that you don't text, email, write letters, or call your ex a bunch of times after the breakup. Stop finding excuses to connect.

3. Grieve
There are five stages of grief:
- denial and isolation
- anger
- bargaining
- depression
- anger
I think there is one more stage not included in this list: Forgiveness. You might be going through all stages in one day. Or it could take months. Give yourself and your ex time.

4. Get Busy
Women, this is your time to reconnect with your friends you didn't have time for when you were consumed in love with your man. It's also a great time to take a class or join a gym like you've been wanting to but never had time to.

When women break up, they cry in their Ben & Jerry's for a month. When guys break up, they call their guy friends and are out looking for women the next day! Whether you are crying in your Ben and Jerry's or hooking up with Ben and Jerry or Karen and Kelly, get out there and live your best life!!! And use protection.

5. We Have Children
If you have children together you will be in each other's lives for the rest of your lives. For the best interest of your children, you MUST develop a civil, open, honest relationship with your co-parent. I'm not saying you have to be their friend. I'm saying that you must get to a point where you can talk to your co-parent without yelling, without getting emotional, without jumping right back into old communication patterns. I'm saying that you have to stop referring to your ex by a derogatory name/term with your friends and family. Trust me, your kids are hearing that. Lay the ground work with your new partners immediately - they are not permitted to bash your ex. That's your prerogative only. Also, tell your new partners that your ex is YOUR ex and that because you have a child(ren) with this person, it is important for you to treat your ex with RESPECT and that your new partner should not confuse respect for love or a desire to rekindle anything. Keep ALL communication with your ex about your child(ren). You have nothing to talk about other than your child(ren)'s medical, educational, emotional, educational, spiritual needs. Not the leaky roof, not the car, not your mutual friends, not the past.

WHEN DO WE GET TO THE FRIENDS PART?

In maybe six months or a year or more, touch base and see how they are doing. Regardless of who breaks up with whom, the end of a relationship is a loss. There is a grieving process. One party may have started that process before the relationship officially ended. Either way, time is needed to heal the wounds from that relationship and to MOVE ON. This is not a "how to get my ex back" post. This is how to MOVE ON and start a NEW friendship with a former love.

Respect
You also need to respect that some people do not ever want a friendship with an ex. And be honest. Was your relationship based on sex? If so, there may have never actually been a relationship in the first place. In that case, move on because there wasn't a base of friendship to start.

Motives
Examine your motives for a friendship. Are you trying to get back together? Keep tabs on them? Are you trying to make sure those months or years together were not wasted or get answers? You may never get closure or the answers you want to hear. Are you trying to get a booty call?

What to Say
When you do touch base, keep it light. Don't walk down memory lane or rehash old wounds at first, if ever. Talk about the current. Take it slow. Talk about the things you like in common. Be genuinely happy for the other person if they are in a relationship. Respect that relationship and back off if necessary.

Move Forward
The key to being friends with your ex is to move forward. Don't live in the past. Don't expect to rekindle old love. Respect each other's new life. Remember that remaining friends is a bonus.

Booty Calls
A final word about booty calls. If you truly want to be friends with your ex then the booty calls cannot happen. Just don't go there. Keep the conversation clean. Stay away from any comments, touching, locations that might cause intimacy. Booty calls plus friends are just a recipe for disaster. And by disaster, I mean pain for one or both of you. It will not end well. 

The Economy of Marriage

Each marriage has it's own economy and no one outside that marriage fully understands what that economy is. It is an economy unique to that specific relationship. It is an economy that works only for that couple.

When I refer to no one outside the marriage fully understanding, I refer to parents, best friends, children, siblings, co-workers, lovers, etc. Only the couple understands the nuances of the marriage economy and how it is structured.

Ever wonder how it is that so many people cheat but never leave their spouse? It's the economy of marriage. The cheater is in that marriage for a solid reason that is working for them. The cheater is going to stay in that marriage as long the economies of that marriage are still functional. Doesn't matter how sweet the cash on the side is. The economy of that marriage often prevails.

Ever wonder why someone stays in a marriage that is not working from the outside looking in? The economy of that marriage is still working internally for that couple. Bill and Hilary. Why hasn't she left him? The economy of their marriage is working for them. Wolf of Wall Street. DiCaprio's second wife could manipulate him because she knew the power she had over him.

It's like any economy. It could be robust and lush with cash. Side deals may be going on. Some marriages are like savings accounts where you keep putting in but never take out. Or you have that goodwill saved up so when the rainy day hits, you have reserves to pull you through.

Most marriages start out with a big cash inflow into the economy. That's the joys of dating and new love. Then the icky life stuff happens. It leaves some marriages living paycheck to paycheck (week to week), some marriages are overdrawn but they keep plugging at it.

Some marriages do go bankrupt. Sometimes, like a financial bankruptcy, it could give the couple a fresh, new start. Or, it could ruin the marriage completely. An affair or crisis, like infertility, can either make or break the bank. If it makes it, there was probably some shuffling and reorganization of assets going on.

And there are those marriages that run on credit with HIGH interest. You know the ones. One spouse seems to be running the show and you have no idea why. Perhaps the one spouse has something on the other and uses it for control.

Whatever the economy of a marriage, outsiders are seldom, if ever privy to the source of the economy. Every relationship has an economy. What are some of the sources marriage economies?

Secrets.
Children.
Affairs.
Finances.
Innocence.
Kindness.
Emotional.
Guilt.
Fear.

I could go on and on but you get it. In each marriage there is some sort of economy that keeps that couple together. Or tears them apart eventually.

Think about it. What is the economy of your relationship?


Photo credit: http://m.csmonitor.com/The-Culture/Family/2008/1117/p17s01-lifp.html

Sunday, April 6, 2014

He Likes Me!

Wilson snuggled in on me. I think he likes me......!