Ode to my Galentines

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A handful of my local gal pals

This past weekend I was fortunate enough to go on a mini getaway to Milwaukee with a handful of some of my favorite local gal pals. Since then, I’ve really been reflecting back, not necessarily about this trip specifically, but just how lucky I am to have so many amazing friends in my life. Some I might not necessarily see often. Some I don’t even talk to that often, while some I talk to everyday. On the flip side, some I’ve known my entire life. Others I’ve known since college. And some of my more local friends, I’ve only known for a few years. But regardless, each and every one of these women mean something to me and have impacted my life one way or another. And for that I’m blessed.

We had a lot of fun last weekend. We wore matching jammies, attempted way too many (unsuccessful) group selfies and had umpteen dance-offs. I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time, and it just felt good and so refreshing. These breaks away from family, responsibility and just everyday life are essential for the soul. One of the nights at dinner, one of the girls (shocker, she is a teacher) had this great idea for everyone to go around the table and say two good things about each other. Of course at first I laughed and thought this was such a teacher move. But damn, the things that were said not only about me, but about each of us, just rocked my world. It was incredibly eye-opening, empowering and just amazing to hear how we viewed each other. Because of course you never see yourself the way others do. You might feel inferior or not as talented or not as pretty, or not as much a million other things. Or maybe that’s just me and my ridiculous insecurities. But still. The things that were said around this table brought almost all of us to tears. And I promise it was not just from drinking the $100 bottle(s) of wine that we managed to score.

But true friendship isn’t always just about having fun. It’s also about having each other’s backs. A few weeks ago another friend (from another friendship group) suddenly lost her father. It was shocking and horrible. But what did this group of friends do? We dropped all our weekend plans and rallied. We changed schedules. And at the drop of a hat, we organized a five-hour road trip through the bitter cold so we could be with our friend for her father’s funeral. There was no questioning, only doing. And seeing the look of heartfelt gratitude on this friend’s face when we walked in was the epitome of what friendship means.

A good friend is someone you can always rely on – through both the good times and the bad. (I guess it’s kinda like a marriage?!) But also someone that you can count on to be honest with you. Someone who won’t be offended if you call you them out on some bullshit. Because in return, you expect nothing less. A good friend is someone who lets you go on irrational rants venting about this, that or the other. And does so without judging. A good friend is someone you feel comfortable going braless around. Someone who thinks you’re beautiful without makeup or fancy clothes because they’ve seen inside your soul. But most importantly, a good friend is someone who values you for you. There’s no pretending to be someone else or feeling the need to “fit in” around them. There’s only you. To me, that’s huge. The various woman I surround myself with are about as different from one another as you can get. But we all have the same heart. And that’s what matters.

So on this Valentine’s Day, after you’ve done all the spouse smooching and unwillingly given your kids a sugar high from all their special treats, I encourage everyone to give a little shout out to all their own Galentines. Because without them, life just might be a lot less fun.

The (Im)Perfect Skin I’m In

With the exception of college, where for some reason I had no problem hitting the bars in scantily clad tank tops, a mini skirt (or the staple black pants) and the iconic black sandals, for the most part I’ve always been pretty self conscious about my body. While I’ve certainly never been obese or even “big,” in my mind I’ve never been a “skinny” girl either. That said, seeing as I’m pretty much an “athleisure” and/or jeans and a t-shirt kinda gal I don’t really have much reason to ever give my body (good or bad) too much thought.

Recently, however, I was invited to a friend’s birthday party, and it just happens to be at a drag show in the city. Fun, right?! It’s actually where I had my bachelorette party so I’m rather looking forward to it. But as friends started conversing about “outfits” and included words like “short” and “sequins” I started to get a bit anxious. A) because obviously my wardrobe has nothing like that at all and B) because what kind of short, sequined number is going to work on my flat-chested, post-three babies, big-hipped body?! I knew I didn’t want to spend a lot on something that I’ll probably never wear again so a friend suggested I hit up Forever 21. Holy.Hell. I vaguely have memories shopping there when I was indeed 21, but when you’re 40 and you walk in, you see things in a completely different light. (As in my daughters are NEVER wearing these clothes!) Anyway, I did my best to try and find a few things (in the largest size possible) that had even the slightest possibility of working. If nothing else, this mini shopping adventure certainly provided some great entertainment for me – and for my friends as I was texting them hilarious pictures of me in ridiculous outfits. Because nothing looks hotter than trying on tiny outfits immediately after leaving the gym and you’re still dripping in sweat and sporting a 10-year-old sports bra. Magazine cover material right there.

Anyway after about 10 minutes of laughing at myself in the mirror, I figured if I didn’t just get something I’d be left to sit and stress about trying to find time and other possible options again. So I settled on a “lovely” $12 black dress with the idea that I would simply need to invest in some Spanx.

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This ancient Teddy Bear has no eyes, matted fur and its ear has been sewn back on. And yet to me, it’s beautiful – well, ok maybe “cute” is a more accurate, but you get my point.

Now as all this was going on, ironically I randomly came across a woman photographer who was advertising her boudoir special. And in this advertisement, she featured some women that she had previously photographed – a few of which were much larger than what society typically deems beautiful. At first after seeing these, I shamefully thought “oh my goodness who would want their picture taken like that?” Horrible thoughts, I know. I’m not proud. But I began looking through this photographer’s Facebook page and read her thoughts and ideas about her models and just her basic overall philosophy. And it dawned on me just how right this photographer was and how outrageously wrong I was. Because this photographer was out to prove that there absolutely is beauty in everyone – all shapes and sizes. You don’t need to be a size 2 with a 24-inch waist to be beautiful. And she’s right. These bigger women are obviously comfortable in their own skin. But not just comfortable, they are proud of who they are. You can see it in these pictures. And they should be. To them, the stereotypical definition of beauty doesn’t matter. They know they are beautiful, and that’s what matters.

After seeing these pictures, I almost became jealous. Because I’ve never felt that way. I’ve never been brave enough to “own” my body and not care how others looked at me. But these woman inspired me. I, too, want to be proud of how I look. (Ok, proud is probably a lofty goal, but I at least want to feel comfortable.) I can honestly say I don’t know if I ever will truly feel that way but I can at least have some goals and an overall purpose to work towards. For me, it’s not necessarily even about the number on the scale but more about making healthy(ier) decisions and being fit. I’m especially loving my gym‘s six-week challenge this year. I’m putting way more effort into it than I did last year and I can already feel a difference. Two months ago I was barely able to do two unassisted pull-ups; I’m currently up to four and a half. And don’t laugh at that “half” those things are hard as hell so I’m counting every additional inch. I’m also up to 36 chest-to-floor pushups. I feel like these small goals are what I need to inch closer to feeling good about how I look.

I know that I will never be a size 2. But I can, and will be, strong. I can, and will, set a good example for my daughters. Because part of being beautiful is simply loving yourself for who and what you are. For me, it’s not an easy task. But I’m hoping it’s just another one of those “fake it ’til you make it” kinda deals. Because it’s 2019, people; confidence is the new black. So wrap yourself up in it however best you can and [learn to] love the skin you’re in.

 

What’s Your “Purpose” This Year?

img_5648As we’re now officially one week into the new year, I’ve been racking my brain trying to think about some great revelation that 2018 taught me because as with every year, it seems a lot happened. I buried my last grandparent. My dad beat cancer. My middle challenge started kindergarten. So I’ve been remembering and reliving a lot of intense memories. I half-ass attempted to think of some resolutions. But then the more I thought about it I thought why do that to myself? I’ll dream up these nice, pretty goals, and then I won’t follow through which will only piss me off. Then I’ll start feeling anxious for failing, which will make me even more moody, and Lord knows I don’t need another reason to be moody. So I thought forget it. I feel like I already spend so much time in the past do I really need to purposely focus on it any more? Because in reality even if 2018 did teach me some valuable lessons, which of course it did because it’s impossible not to have learned anything in any given year, I also know myself. And I’m a creature of habit. So it doesn’t necessarily matter what I learned. What matters is if I’m able to use that knowledge moving forward. And judging by my past experiences, I figure I have about a 50/50 chance, which could be seen as phenomenal odds or more like a “why even bother.” Because like with everything else in life, it’s all about how you look at things. (And I know how I tend to look at things!)

So in order to keep my eyes on the prize and focused ahead, I’ve decided to not give 2018 much more of my time. Because what’s done is done. Good or bad. Ugly or beautiful. And everything in between. That said, I’ve been seeing a lot of people on social media come up with a “word” to represent their new year. And being that I’m a “word girl” I decided that was a pretty good idea and I wanted to do the same thing. And at first I tried to think really hard about what I want my representative word to be. But then in the spirit of the new year, I said screw it, I’m going to actually NOT overthink something to death and go, instead, with the first thing that popped into my head – Purpose.

The more I think about this word, the more I like it. Because again, it can be looked at in so many different ways. For starters, I’m going to (attempt) to try this with my parenting. I feel like so often I don’t necessarily know why I do or don’t do something. I find myself saying “No” to my kids a lot. Now with a seven, five and three year old, that’s kinda, sorta normal. However at the same time I want my “no’s” to have a legit sense of purpose. Am I saying no just because I’m being lazy and I don’t want to have to clean up a bigger mess? Or am I saying no to wearing a certain piece of clothing because I’m embarrassed that my kids often look homeless (True.Story.) when we leave the house, when if I’m truly honest with myself, most of the time I look homeless when we leave the house. I hated when my dad used to tell me “Because I said so” or “Because I’m the dad” as a reason for wanting me to do or not do something. Yet I find myself doing the same thing. Why? Because it’s easy, and I don’t feel like trying to come up with a real explanation. And mainly because I know my kids won’t listen to me anyway. But still, I don’t really think that’s fair to my kids. So as we dive into the new year and my kids continue to bombard with me five thousand insane daily requests, here’s to hoping I actually pony up to the handful of them that are indeed “yes worthy.”

But besides just parenting, I feel like that word can (and should be) applied all throughout everything I do. Do I have a purpose of being mad at my husband or am I just being a moody bitch because my kids have driven me mad? Do I really need to buy this or that or am I trying too hard to keep up with the Jones’s? Do I really need to have another drink? YES. YES, I DO. Lord knows I’m not attempting to become a minimalist or anything because everyone that knows me, knows that I love “stuff.” But I do think I need to reign myself and my actions in a bit and just make sure that I have a legit purpose in doing and saying what I do. And maybe the purpose of doing or buying X, Y, or Z at the time is simply to bring in that ray of sunshine in my life. Then so be it. I should do it. I’m not saying my purpose will always be appropriate or even right. I’m just saying there should be one.

Without overthinking anything, I highly encourage everyone to come up with your own “word” for 2019. To me, it’s not stressful like resolutions are (because let’s face it, they’re only there to be broken), but it’s still offering some sort of direction that can help guide you into being the best you possible. A new year is always a fresh start. Use it. Cheers to new beginnings and Purpose.

The Warrior I Strive to Be

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My grandma and I on my 40th birthday

When my grandpa was diagnosed with cancer something like a million years ago, the twenty-something me was a tad different than the current 40-year-old me. And while obviously no one likes death or losing someone, witnessing the fast demise of my grandpa was just not something I was able to mentally handle. So instead I chose to write him a brief, but heart-felt letter so I knew for certain that he knew just how special he was to me. My aunt read it to him sometime before he died, and while I don’t believe he was communicating too much in the end, she assured me that he had indeed heard my words and understood.

Now this time last year my grandmother took a turn for the worse and none of us believed she would make it to see Christmas. We all got in our extra visits, and she was given her last Rites. And yet miraculously somehow she rallied. For an entire year. She struggled with dementia, her body was failing her and yet she continued to fight. That is until last week. My aunt called me last Sunday and suggested I go visit her as she wasn’t doing so well. Thankfully we had no plans that day so I was able to go and spend a few hours with her. But I never in a million years thought it was going to be my last visit. So when my aunt called me Wednesday suggesting I come again, while I was concerned over her urgency I still thought to myself, we’ve been here before, she’s struggling but she’ll work her way out of it. She always does. I finished up my errands. and Evelyn and I headed over. But I got there five minutes too late.

I don’t know why I never wrote my grandma a letter like I had my grandpa. I always told her I loved her, and she of course knew it but did she know everything? While it’s too late for her to ever hear my words aloud, I have to think she’s somewhere still listening. So Wednesday evening as I was in emotional turmoil filled with uncontrollable grief, confusion, and disbelief, my only solution was to put my thoughts on paper (well, a computer). It’s my therapy after all. It didn’t, nor will it ever, end my grief, but it did give me some sense of momentary peace.

Dear grandma,

Just two days ago we were bonding over Suze Orman, admiring her stilettos and discussing how she could take a man out with them. And you were telling me your plans of wanting to get a dog. You know, one that could just go in and out the back door so it wouldn’t be much trouble, you said. And now you’re gone. But a funny thing is as I was typing this the auto correct said you were “home” not gone. Maybe that’s you giving me my sign. Because right now I feel like you’re the only one in the world who can truly comfort me. I wish I had been brave enough to talk to you about the “end” when it was actually significant and ask your feelings about it. I know you weren’t afraid because I used to make you talk about death all the time. We used to always joke that you were too healthy and while it was silly, I still took comfort in it. Because I don’t think I ever accepted the truth that you wouldn’t actually be here forever. But I can only assume and imagine that Grandpa and my mom were waiting for you with open arms and the biggest box of wine you ever did see. So maybe you are indeed home.

My cousins have always teased me that I was the Golden Child. And that’s ok because obviously I am. Duh. But truthfully you were the Golden Grandma. I know you took pity on me for not having a mother and I was your only grandchild for a long time, but circumstances aside, we had a bond that I will cherish forever. You and Grandpa did everything for me. Endless supplies of donuts, homemade fried shrimp, trips to the city, New year’s Eve (virgin) pink squirrels, letting me drive (on the highway!!) well before I had my license. These are the memories that I’ll never forget. And yes even those long road trips to Kansas where you and Grandpa hot boxed me with your horrific cigarette smoke for hours on end. Even those memories I’ll always look back on and smile.

You were such an influential and special person in my life. You helped fill a void that I didn’t even understand. You mesmerized me with your stories of faith and you were always 100 percent honest with every question I threw at you. I appreciate that more than I ever told you. My aunt told me today that you were the strongest person she ever knew. And aside from my stepmom I would completely agree with that. You were a role model to us all even when you didn’t mean to be. You showed us just what unwavering strength and faith truly is. And you always said exactly how you felt, no bull shit. Your life wasn’t easy. You didn’t grow up with much, but you had a loving family. You outlived a daughter, a grandson and a husband. You showed us all just what it looks like not to quit when times are hard, but more importantly what it looks like to preserver.  And end up stronger because of it. You were the epitome of a true fighter, grandma.

I’ll miss your spunk, our crazy conversations (even if we had the same ones over and over the past few years), but most of all I’ll miss our laughs because you made me laugh like no other. I don’t think most grandmas are nearly as funny as you were. Just one of the many reasons why I was so lucky to have had you for as long as I did.

I’m sorry I missed you at the end. But I know that was just you simply looking out for me as you always have. Because now I won’t remember you in death. Instead I’ll chuckle about our last moments together with Suze and your soon-to-be dog. I love you with all my heart, grandma. I hope to someday see you again.

Love, The Golden Child

We laid my grandma to rest this weekend, and while it was such a sad day, I think we all did a pretty good job of celebrating her life. We came together as the strong family that she taught us to be. We cried. We laughed. We drank (way too much). We sang. We danced. And we lived. And in doing so, I know that her spirit lives on in each of us. Rest in peace, Grandma.

The Skill of a Lifetime

img_5277So a thing has started happening at my house and I could not be any more excited. My middle daughter is just starting to read. In my opinion, this is a huge milestone for all kids and as everyone knows, reading is especially near and dear to my heart. And the other week, for the first time ever, Spawn #2 picked up Green Eggs and Ham and read the majority of the book – on her very own. I think that child got a year’s quota of high fives and shouts of joy from me in that moment. Now I remember being super excited when Jaycob first learned to read too but I just don’t think I fully appreciated the greatness of it as much mainly because I had a newborn attached to me 24/7 as well as a needy three year old. So unfortunately for the first born, he might not have gotten quite as much attention. Or maybe he did, and I just simply forgot because, well, Mom Brain.

But a few weeks ago as I sat and watched Addy furrow her little brows as she concentrated on sounding each and every word out, I just kept thinking to myself: girlfriend, your world is about to open up in ways you never dreamed it could. It’s hard for me to even vocalize how proud I was/am of her. Granted I know reading is nothing “special” or unique – obviously everybody learns this skill. But regardless, it’s just so gosh darn important. I want to relish the pride and jubilation I’m feeling so I thought I’d write her a brief note so that maybe someday she’ll never forget just how momentous this time is for both of us.

To My Favorite Middle Challenge,

Learning to read is one of the most detailed first memories I have. I’ll never forget the day the letters just “clicked” in my own mind, and they went from being merely letters thrown together on a page to actual words jumping out at me. And while I don’t remember my first book’s title, I do remember it was a “thicker” book (well, thick for first grade) with complete sentences. I remember rushing to my dad when I got home from school and insisting he listen to me read. I was so excited and proud. It was one of the greatest feelings of my life and even today it still ranks pretty high up on the list. I hope you feel the same when you’re older because while you might not realize it now, your world is about to change. And not just because I can no longer spell out words to your father with you having no idea what I’m talking about. (Although I am slightly sad about that.) But because with each page you read and each new word you learn, you are gaining the knowledge and know how needed to change the world. Reading gives you power. It is THE tool needed to ultimately do and become whatever you dream. It can take you places you’ve never dreamed of all the while providing you with new ideas and insight that you might never come up with on your own. It can offer you new perspectives and transport you to another world in the blink of an eye. With reading the possibilities are endless, and I hope you never underestimate the power in this milestone.

Love Always,
Your voracious reading Mother

There’s a lot of things that I do wrong as a parent. I’m crazy. I yell a lot. I love to say no. (Dad, that’s ALL your fault!) But if there’s one thing I do well, it’s modeling my love for reading. Any spare chance I get, my kids see me with a book (even if it’s an e-book) in my hand. They see me reading the history section of our local Barrington magazine (really, the only section I can handle!) They see me reading my weekly Mt. Carroll newspaper. And most often when everyone else is glued to the television, they see me go find a quiet spot on the couch and curl up with a book. I grew up watching my own dad constantly read, and I think that really shaped my own love for it. I certainly hope that among all the negative traits I’m ultimately passing down, my love for reading is one of the positive ones.

There’s been a few times when I’ve caught my second grader still reading with his flashlight in bed at 10:00 at night. Now granted, I’m not happy the next day when he’s overtired and throwing fits, but secretly my heart is swelled with pride because that’s what I used to do. Give me a Christopher Pike book any day during my adolescent years, and I too would stay up way too late reading. Hell, that’s me every night now still. It’s my me time. My time away from reality where I can zone out and forget about all the things I need to do or how many times the kids sent me over the edge that day. Without that time, I couldn’t function.

So while ultimately I want my kids to grow up to be happy, healthy and kind – you know, the staple things that every other parent on the planet wants for their kids – I also can’t help but wish they turn into the biggest book-loving nerds that ever could be. Because someday, whether they like or not, I too will make them plow through Atlas Shrugged over their summer vacation. Isn’t that every kids’ dream?! Hashtag sorry not sorry.

Don’t Let the “Buts” Override the Joys

“Talking About Our Problems is Our Greatest Addiction. Break the Habit. Talk about Your Joys.”

A few weeks ago an old high school classmate of mine shared this on her Facebook page. It immediately struck a cord with me, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. Mainly because It’s.Just.So.True. Rarely do I call my dad up with something “good” or send one of my fellow mom pals a text with something great that my kids did. Most of the time it’s simply me bitching. Me bitching about my kids. Bitching about my husband. Bitching about the weather. Just me bitching about anything and everything. Yet over the past few weeks as I’ve been ruminating on this idea, every time I try to think about something I’m grateful for, there always seems to be a giant BUT at the end. I’m grateful for my health…BUT I hate the feeling of getting old. I’m grateful for my kids…BUT boy do they drive me crazy. I’m grateful for my hardworking husband…BUT why won’t he do X, Y or Z? And it just keeps going on and on. I know I’m a Negative Nelly. I’ve been that way for as long as I can remember. But geez, even for me sometimes I think enough is enough. So I decided to write a post (mainly to prove to myself that I CAN remain positive for once) about my JOYS. The things that make me happy. And there will be no BUTS. The buts are my addiction and it’s true, I do need to break the habit. So here’s my first attempt.

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One of my greatest Joys over the past few weeks has simply been the generosity and kindness of my gal pals. Recently I had a minor procedure done and was laid up for a few days. Now everyone knows I hate asking for help of any kind. I don’t know why I do, I just don’t ever want to be a “burden” on someone else. Yet these ladies simply took charge. I had homemade dinners delivered, goodies for the kids, milkshakes for me. I had numerous additional offers and daily text messages checking up on me as well. Even the women I work out with got together and all signed a card for me. Now these woman will all tell you this was “no big deal” for them, but I beg to differ. Some of these woman work. They’re all raising families, being chauffeurs, cleaners, chefs. Yet they went out of their way to help me. And they did it on their own. That is some good people right there. No buts needed for this Joy.

Now it would be wrong of me to write about my Joys and not mention family. However seeing as I feel this is just a “given,” I’ll keep it short and sweet. My family has each other’s backs. We’ve been around the block a few times in the Village of Hell and we’re are all sorts of crazy, weird and impossible, but that’s what I’m most thankful for. Because given a choice between The Cleavers or The Conners, I’d take the Conners any day. They’re a lot more fun. So even when my phone calls and texts are about 95 percent me talking about my problems, I can always count on my dad to remind me that “this too shall pass” or my faithful cousin, who’s a few years ahead of the parenting/life game than me, to talk me off that ledge. They’re my forever Joys. The lemonade to my lemons. (Sorry, sometimes, I like a good ol’ cliche!)

About a year ago, in my forever hunt for cool vintage items, I met a local woman who has a sweet little antique business that she runs out of her home. Recently she asked if I’d help her with the online portion of her business. Um, hello?! I get to look at and fondle beautiful, one-of-a-kind treasures AND get paid for it?! YES! This woman is grateful for my help, and I’m beyond grateful for simply having the opportunity to “do what I love.” I don’t necessarily believe in all the “you meet everyone for a reason” garbage that people like to say, but I certainly could not be any happier for having met this woman…despite having spent way too much money on all the pretty things that she sells. At least now however, my guilt is justifiably a tad less.

Now obviously there’s a million and one other things that bring Joy in my life. It’s candy corn season. The trees look freaking amazing. My kids are doing well in school. And my husband recently discovered what is currently my new favorite beer. Overall life is good. But it’s just so damn easy to spend so much time focusing on the buts and the negative side of things. (Candy corn makes me fat. Falling leaves means snow is coming. My son writes like he’s in preschool. Beer makes me fat. – See how easy that is??) But here I am, attempting to work on Amy 2.0 and trying just a tad harder to consider that my glass might just be half full instead of half empty. And on those days that I simply can’t do it – a 6-pack and a bag of candy corn make a damn fine way to end the day.

Sink or Swim in the Sea of Schedules

I’ve been a parent for just over seven years. And while sometimes that seems like an eternity, I know it’s not really long at all. However I’ve definitely discovered that there’s a lot of things that I just never was prepared for in terms of this whole parenting gig. I remember being pregnant with my first and maybe kinda attempting to half-ass read a few parenting books in the hopes of “learning the ropes.” (HA! Boy, do I look back at myself and all my glorified, parenting bliss pipe dreams and laugh!) Anyway, at the time I was commuting to the city and working fairly long hours, and honestly who the hell wants to spend their free time reading parenting books?! Besides, what works for one or even a million kids probably isn’t even going to work for yours.

But here I am, seven years into this gig, and my kids are finally getting old enough to get legitimate schedules. And holy shit I thought the newborn sleep deprivation was hard, but this, my friends, is some serious uncharted territory for me. I don’t think anyone ever warned me about the dreaded schedules. Although even if they did I probably would have just shrugged them off and thought to myself, “yeah right, now hard can it be to remember a few activities?” Well let me tell you, my brain is filled with pretty much nothing but awful song lyrics and the kids’ schedule,s and I’m basically maxed out at about 93 percent capacity. That does not leave room for much else. Working moms: I applaud the shit out of you that you’re able to function, use your brain and do all the mom things. Most days I find it difficult walking from one room to another and actually remembering what I was going to do. My daily goal in life is to shower and keep everyone alive. And I call it a win if I only manage the latter.

So yeah, it’s now the end of September and the school year is officially underway and with it comes All. The. Things. Things like dance, Cub scouts, fall baseball, Catechism, swimming lessons, doctor visits, in addition to normal ongoing events like weekly therapy, gymnastics, and all the other random appointments that seem to pop up way more often than one might think. And then there’s that other thing called homework, which praise the Lord we’ve barely scratched the surface in that department. Because amidst the other activities, dinner and like five minutes of free time, when are the kids supposed to do it? Because the thing about young kids is that even if one kid has an activity it really means everyone does, because obviously I can’t leave any of my littles at home alone. And I’m definitely not one of these fancy moms that has an Au pair, nanny or even on-the-call relative to come watch any or all of my kids anytime I need. A girl can definitely dream though.

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My current hot mess “Command Center”

So how do parents do it? Well like any other delusional parent, I turned to Pinterest to  look up “command centers.” Because currently my command center consists of one drawer in the kitchen that is stuffed to the gill with junk. That junk includes homework, school books, important papers, things that need signing, etc. It’s a complete shit show. Oh and of course it’s the favorite spot for my littlest to get into and find paper to “draw on.” So that’s fun and disastrous. But after wasting a month of my life looking at other people’s perfect organization and styled-to-the-max photos, I finally came back to reality and remembered there’s no way in hell I have the time, skill or energy to make these beautiful reclaimed wood-framed calendars and crafty compartments that I had pinned and dreamed up in my head. And I know where my husband would tell me to go if I asked him to add yet one more thing to his ever-growing “wife to do list.” So I looked around at a few local stores and finally decided upon this whiteboard calendar and the accompanying 3-tier letter bin so each kid can have their own bin for homework etc. Of course I realized I can’t even get these hung until I get the mudroom walls prepped and painted, but I’ll get there eventually.

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The current state of my slow-moving organization process.

I’m hoping that having this daily visual of the month’s schedule will better help me compartmentalize (and remember) each person’s activities. I’m currently living out of my iPhone calendar, but it doesn’t allow me to see the entire month’s events at once, something that I’ve come to learn I need. And I know that from this point on, there is no slowing down. Life as a family of five is only going to get busier, but I realize that now is the crucial time for all of us to figure out and establish efficient routines. Without it, I think my brain might eventually just combust. I can’t promise we’ll ever be on time for anything, but dammit I’m determined to at least make all scheduled events. So here’s to planning, organization and big-ass visible calendars!