Friday, September 26, 2014

11 Years---quite a wild ride

“Our life isn’t exactly how you pictured it, is it?” –You asked me that a couple weeks ago.

We had been living in a hotel for three months. We were both frustrated, tired and worried. We were stressed about selling our house and anxious about moving into a new house.

I think I just smiled wearily and nodded.

But, you were so right. This life of ours isn’t anything like the life I imagined on that crisp September evening 11 years ago. 
We were young, a bit plump, in love and dancing to “Fools Rush in.” We didn’t have a lot of money, but we had plenty of dreams. Back then, I just assumed we’d live in our little Baltimore townhouse forever. Raise two kids. Work hard. Maybe travel a bit.
My, how wrong I was.
As we settle into our fourth home and prepare for the birth of our third child, I can barely recognize those two 20-somethings. They had all the time in the world, and not too many worries. They went on long walks and bike rides. They held hands constantly, shamelessly made out in public,  played Scrabble and snuggled on the couch every night slurping homemade smoothies.
A lot can happen in 11 years.
Three moves. 2 ¾ kids. A dog.
Our life is noisy. Busy. Stressful. There are two kids and a dog who rarely let us snuggle anymore, and kissing grosses everyone out. There’s whining and tantrums and attitudes and bad moods and sometimes complete chaos. Add to that a new baby and our life is bound to become even more hectic.
But it’s our life. It’s tickle fights and fondue nights. It’s marshmallows and wine around the firepit. It’s karaoke and ping pong and becoming obsessed with the latest Netflix drama. It’s ice cream and adventures.  Sushi and Pho. Football and lots of Mexican food. It’s our crazy, imperfect life.
While everything hasn’t gone exactly as planned and we are bound to face more struggles, we are in this together. You’re perfect for me and I can't imagine doing life with anyone else.
Happy 11th Anniversary!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Happy 9th Birthday to Our Dreamer

Dear Julie,

For your 9th birthday you requested "lots" of paper, a shrink ray gun and a magic wand from Las Vegas.

You are my writer, my dreamer and my stubborn little girl with her head in the clouds. You think unlike anyone I've ever known, and I want you to know how special that makes you.

Today you are 9. A few years ago I read a blog written by a mom when her daughter turned 9. She lamented that they were "half way there." In just 9 more years, her little girl would be gone.

I can't bear to think of it like that. Nine years seems like a lifetime...and yet it wasn't.

It's wasn't so long ago when you were my 3-year-old who bragged about her 11 imaginary princess friends all named after colors. Every day after preschool you concocted elaborate tales about your princess friends.

I know you don't love princesses anymore but you are still my little girl with a wild imagination.

Your stories are filled with strange little creatures like Xzeedo the blue dot and you love writing letters to the Tooth Fairy inquiring about the existence of water and garden fairies.

You are my believer. You don't care what people think and I so want to keep you like that.

Every year I fear this is the year the magic will be lost. One day, will you just forget to use your wonderful imagination? Will you become realistic and jaded and give up those big dreams?

I hope not.

Your wonderment of the world is what makes you so beautiful. (I know how much you hate being called pretty. But, before you protest, I'm talking about inner beauty.)

You believe anything is possible and that is a gift.

So, I'm sorry there won't be magic wands or shrink ray guns to open today. But the paper we can handle.

Happy Birthday to my little 9 year-old dreamer. We aren't just halfway there. We have a lifetime to go.


Friday, September 19, 2014

Friday Field Trip: Helen, Georgia

So, here were are in Georgia.
Our official residency starts today (the start of our lease), but we've been exploring our new state for about three months.

While the city of Chicago stole my heart---I'm falling in love with the country and outskirts of Georgia. We have not once set foot in downtown Atlanta in our three months here. Instead, we have been taking little day trips to the outlying areas. Because of the amazing weather, there are so many outdoor activities here.

One of our favorite little trips was to the town of Helen. We ventured to Helen for a tubing adventure on the Chattahoochee River. Outfitters provide tubes and transportation to a safe spot to access the river. Though I won't say it was a relaxing ride down the river (a little nerve-wracking trying to keep track of two kids who were determined to be independent), it was a great experience.

Though we went to Helen for a tube ride, we didn't realize what the adorable town had to offer. Helen is like a miniature Alpine village with plenty of quaint shops, cafes and restaurants. We will definitely be back to explore some more.

Before our trip down the river. You definitely won't stay dry!

Monday, September 15, 2014

So, this is third grade....

Armpit hair.
Apparently third graders have it.
To be more accurate, one third grade girl has sprouted two armpit hairs, according to Julie.
I don't think it ever occurred to Julie before that girls grow armpit hair.
But, she was intrigued as she relayed the story of a girl in her class who is "smaller than Johnny" and has exactly two hairs on her left armpit. She wondered when she might get some.

I'm so not ready for this.

This summer, it was still Barbie dolls and stuffed animals, and she dreamed about owning a magic wand.

Then third grade happened.

Before the armpit incident, Julie came home and informed me that there was another reason she really didn't like One Direction.

"They have tattoos on their privates!" she practically spit out with disgust. "They are just gross."

What do you even say to that?

And it's not even all this puberty stuff that has me rankled about third grade.
It's just the loss of innocence in general.

Our little girl is so beautifully naïve and imaginative. It hurts thinking that might all go away sometime very soon.

"Mommy do you believe in leprechauns?" Julie asked me last week. A girl in her class had presented an "All about Me" collage to the class, and pasted on the collage were pictures of her favorite things, including Santa, mermaids and leprechauns.
Let me preface this by saying, we believe in EVERYTHING in our house. I mean EVERYTHING. There's of course Santa and the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. But, there's also our Elf on the Shelf, a Christmas Angel and our mischievous leprechaun.

"I know we have a Leprechaun, but Taylor doesn't believe in leprechauns or SANTA!!" Julie told me about one of her third grade buddies. "I definitely believe in Santa, but I'm not sure about leprechauns, and I know there aren't any mermaids."

So, here's the dilemma. If all the sudden I spill the beans about the leprechaun, and tell her it's really Mommy and Daddy who make a mess and leave Lucky Charms outside their bedrooms---that would just blow the whole thing. If there aren't leprechauns, how can there be fairies or elves or Santa?

I realize our days our numbered. It's probably not healthy to enter middle school believing in pixie dust and she needs to understand life's realities sooner or later.

But, can't it be later? Can I please have one more innocent, magical year?
Third grade--Please take it easy on me.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The American Dream?

This is our house in Chicago. Four bedrooms. Lots of space. Great neighborhood. Within walking distance to our town's little lake.

We lived here less than two years, but we felt more at home here than anywhere else we lived. The kids rode their bikes up and down the sidewalks. The neighbors gathered around fire pits on cool nights. And on hot summer days we headed to the swimming beach out our little lake.

It was really a great place to live and we made some great memories. Living the American Dream right??

Well, two years later we're selling our house we love for much less than we bought it. It breaks our heart and makes us bitter---even though we don't want to be that way.

Once upon a time, buying a house was the American investment.....something everyone did. Growing up my dad stressed how important it was to stay out of debt and never waste money on rent. That mantra stuck.

Unfortunately times have changed. And, if you move as much as we have, buying and selling a house is more like an American Nightmare. Sounds dramatic, I know. But, it's true. It's stressful and you're never guaranteed to come out on top. In our situation, this is the second time, we  have lost money---a grand total of close to $50,000 on two different houses. Houses that we loved and took care of, and improved, and didn't want to leave.

So, for now, we are boycotting the real estate market. Instead, we're renting a modest four-bedroom here in the Atlanta area in a nice neighborhood. No frills. Less space. Not much of a yard. But, it's NOT ours and thank goodness for that.

We can't have our hearts (and our budgets) broken anymore.

Friday, September 5, 2014

It's a.....

When I found out I was pregnant with Julie, I could only dream of a baby girl. I couldn't imagine having anything but a little girl. Growing up, it was just my sister and me... and we definitely weren't tomboys. So, I was terrified of raising a little boy and I was so happy to have my little girl.

Three years later, I found myself wishing for a little boy. I loved having my girly girl who loved princesses and the color pink. But Scott so desperately wanted a boy, and I too, thought I might be missing out if I never had a son. I was so right. Johnny is such a cuddly, lovable little guy.

We can't imagine life without either of them.

With number 3, Scott and I could honestly say we didn't care whether it was a boy or a girl. I know everyone says that with every pregnancy. "Oh. We just want a healthy baby." Of course that's always true, but I believe everyone has a little inkling on which they would prefer. For this baby, I can say I really couldn't decide which I wanted more. I love having a little boy who loves his mommy more than anyone in the world. But, having a baby girl again would be so fun, and maybe this little girl will love American Girl dolls as much as I do. The one reason I was leaning slightly more to girl was Julie. She was adamant that she wanted a sister. "I already have a brother!!" she says.  Of all of us, I have to say, she's the most excited about this new baby, and she's the one who's been begging us for a baby sister for the past three years.  And, seeing her with our new nephew Matthew (Todd and Melinda's four-month-old son), was amazing. She held him, rocked him, and loved him to pieces. She's so ready to be a big sister again.

So, when we found out GIRL, we were pretty psyched.

Check out the kids' reactions: