A blog post about clothes, reunions and other random stuff

A blog post about clothes, reunions and other random stuff

So, this time last week, I was standing out on my front porch waiting on my two boys to get home from high school.

Before they could even get out of the car, I greeted them with a warm and friendly cry of: “NONE of the clothes are right! ALL OF THE CLOTHES ARE WRONG!”

They looked at me with that look of, “Our mom has gone crazy, and we have no idea what to do right now.”

I broke out into a hysterical fit of laugh-crying and couldn’t stop for several minutes. I pulled myself together and begged them to please, please, please just watch their sister so I could go to the mall. I had been trying to find something to wear to our 30th high school reunion, and apparently, every single item of clothing in my overstuffed closet was completely wrong.

Why, oh why, are these jeans adding 30 years to my face? Why does this shirt seem to be reflecting light onto all of my wrinkles?! What is going on with all of these clothes?!?

Obviously, the clothes weren’t really the source of my nervous meltdown at that moment. It’s actually been a very crazy couple of months around here. I’ve been working a lot more than usual, and just trying to hold things together with the usual stress of getting into a new fall routine with four very active kids.

I had been half dreading, half excited about our high school reunion for… oh, about 19 years and 364 days since I went to our 10-year reunion. (JUST KIDDING!) I was very excited to see some friends I haven’t seen for a long time. At the same time, I was scared silly that it might kind of feel like… you know… HIGH SCHOOL!

I also seem to get very anxious these days any time I have to leave the comfort of my home-cooked food for more than a day. Two weeks ago, we went to Des Moines to celebrate my brother’s 50th birthday. It was super fun to be with my siblings, parents, nieces and nephews for the weekend. But I also got pretty sick from eating on the road, and then that makes me discouraged that my life has taken this turn that makes it so stinkin’ hard to just … EAT!

Anyway, the high school reunion turned out really great. I found a cute shirt and a pair of jeans to wear, and quite frankly, no one cared in the slightest about the clothes. I was afraid I wouldn’t recognize anyone or they wouldn’t recognize me. Instead, most people looked pretty much the same, and it was so fun to see how warm, friendly and nice everyone was. I was worried I wouldn’t know what to say to people I hadn’t seen in 30 years, but it actually felt very natural to just pick up right where we were.

Since my husband and I both grew up in the same small town in southern Illinois, we also got to drive by our old homes, the high school and some of our favorite hang out spots. (We weren’t actually friends in high school, so we have separate, but overlapping memories.) Everything was much smaller than how we remembered it to be, but it was super fun to see. Anyway, confronting all of my fears of returning to high school turned out to be quite therapeutic. I pretty much felt like I could run a marathon or climb a mountain or something after that.

As soon as we returned from our five-hour drive home, I had about 10 minutes to spare before I needed to go shoot some family photos for a friend. A few years ago, I started taking photos for people, and it kind of got out of control. I decided it would be better for my stress level to just say “no” when people asked me to shoot photos. But several people have asked me lately if I could take photos for them, and I just decided to say “yes” to a few people. It was really fun to get out with my camera for an hour.

The weather was absolutely perfect. The park we chose was gorgeous. The lighting was amazing. And my subjects could not have been any more beautiful.

On Monday, we went on our annual #forcedfamilyfun trip to the corn maze for Columbus Day. A few of the kids brought friends along, and it was really nice to just spend time together.

Now, I have one more really intense, crazy week at work to finish a bunch of stuff that has to happen by next weekend. After that, I’m finally going to clean my house and catch up on about 30 loads of laundry.

Thankfully, I have several new outfits to wear because I bought a few “spare” outfits, just in case I got to the reunion and whatever I brought to wear made me look too fat, or too thin, or too old, or too high school-ish. You know. It’s always best to pack five outfits for a one-night trip. Just in case.

Have a great weekend!

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What I’ve learned in 10 years of blogging

What I’ve learned in 10 years of blogging

A few weeks ago, I had this realization that I have been writing on this blog for a long time. I’m talking about before I discovered Facebook kind of long. Instagram wasn’t invented kind of long. One of my children wasn’t born kind of long.

I looked at my archives and found out I had overlooked my own 10-year blogging anniversary. Apparently, time flies when you are having fun!

During the last decade of sharing my life here on this blog, so many things have happened. People sometimes ask me why I even want to write about my life in this way. While I’ve had my moments of asking myself that same question, I also love to look back and see how much life has changed. I’m so thankful that I took the time to record our stories, my thoughts and my ideas in this way.

I love that some of my readers have been with me since the beginning and still read my blog!

I read all the time about what I should be doing to have a successful blog. I should develop a niche. I need to write about one particular topic and stay hyper focused to attract an audience. I have learned through the years that just isn’t for me. I love writing about the real stuff that happens in our life, and it’s crazy how those topics have changed dramatically the last 10 years.

For example, some of the topics covered here have included:

Our decision to home school and then our decision to stop home schooling

The story of how my husband and I started dating

The surprise announcement that I was pregnant at the age of 40 and my struggles with “advanced maternal age

Lots of interesting anecdotes about different types of shoes

My obsession with the TV show, LOST

My quest to become an organized person and my many organization projects

And my recent health journey and effort to eat real food

I thought about writing about the top five things I’ve learned after 10 years of blogging. But I realized that it all really boils down to just one thing.

You can’t worry about what other people think.

The hard thing about blogging for someone who is a perfectionist (like me) is that it’s so easy to overanalyze things. You can check your stats to see how many people read a blog post. You can fixate on your Facebook or Instagram likes and you can worry about how many people follow you by e-mail or through Bloglovin’. You can write what you perceive as an amazing blog post and then the reality hits that it is getting zero traffic.

If I followed all of the blogging rules, I would write more posts with five tips to do this or five tips to do that. But the thing is, I really blog for me. I love chronicling our lives here so I can look back at these memories later. I love the good feeling I get when someone tells me she was inspired, motivated or helped by something I wrote. I love connecting with people, and I get overly excited when I write something that others can relate to.

One of the biggest changes to my blog during the past 10 years is that I really don’t write that much about being a mom anymore. Once your kids get to a certain age, you really can’t infringe upon their privacy by exposing the details of what happens within a family. It’s kind of crazy that just when parenting reaches its most difficult stage, you also have to stop talking about what’s going on.

Because of this, I’ve been thinking about changing the name of my blog. But everydayMOM has become a part of who I am, so I’m not sure if I can bring myself to do it!

Whether you have been reading for the past 10 years or whether you are brand new here, I just wanted to say, “Thank you” for reading! I really do appreciate having you along on this journey.

**

In honor of my 10 years of blogging, I would love to hear from you! Leave me a comment and let me know how long you have been reading my blog and how you found out about it. Thanks in advance!

 

 

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16 years of aWeSoMe

16 years of aWeSoMe

On Thursday evening, I was walking out of my boys’ basketball games when a friend texted me. I quickly typed my reply and hit send. As I looked down, I noticed my phone connection had suddenly died. “No service,” the phone said.

That was odd.

I drove home, assuming my service would be back in a few minutes. But hours later, it was still disconnected. I turned off the phone for the night and hoped that it would miraculously cure itself by morning.

I woke up on Friday around 5 a.m. to the sound of my husband leaving for work. I tried to will myself to life to at least tell him good-bye before he headed out into the cold darkness to catch his train to the city. I was able to wake myself enough to remember it was our anniversary, but not enough to put my feet on the cold floor.

An hour later, I went downstairs and saw a funny little gift sitting in the middle of the kitchen table. It was a small rectangle box wrapped in pink construction paper. Three pieces of pink yarn connected the box to the light fixture overhead. I know it was my husband’s attempt to be crafty (or something!) but it made me laugh because it looked like a booby trap. Would the box explode if I cut the wrong strand of yarn?

I wondered how he managed to find construction paper and yarn, both of which are pretty well hidden in bins my office, buy he couldn’t find wrapping paper, which is stored in a pretty noticeable spot in plain sight!

In my opinion, one should not open a gift unless in the presence of the giver. And since I have the curiosity of a 3-year-old, I knew this was going to be torture to walk past that gift all day, wondering what was inside. “It must be chocolate,” I told myself. What other gift would he leave for me to open when he wasn’t around?

I went back upstairs and distracted myself by turning on the phone. Still no service. I was playing with all of my settings and turning the thing back off and on when my sweet 11-year-old son came in the room.

“I think you should really open that gift on the table, Mom,” he instructed.

Well, if he insisted, then I would do it. The curiosity was going to kill me anyway. It HAD to be chocolate, I reasoned, because the only thing that would make me feel better about my phone not working is chocolate. It was only 6 a.m., but I already needed some chocolate!

The pink construction paper was wrapped tightly in tape so I had to get a knife to start cutting my way through. The box was so dense and heavy that I was thinking about what type of chocolate it could possibly be. Did he stack candy bars on top of each other to make it a perfect rectangle?

Once I cut through enough to see the white box inside, I had another funny thought. “My husband really has a lot of nerve wrapping chocolate in his old iPhone box. That might make a girl a little disappointed.”

Finally, my brain stopped thinking about chocolate for two seconds, and I figured out that this wasn’t his old iPhone box. This was a NEW iPhone box holding a NEW iPhone.

I immediately felt so overwhelmed by how wonderful my husband is. He knows that buying me a gift from the Apple store is the equivalent to how many women feel about getting something from the jewelry store. But it hadn’t even occurred to me to WANT a new iPhone.

Yeah… I mean my old one had a ton of problems. The volume would mysteriously turn itself all the way up at random times, blasting my eardrums. My notifications didn’t work. It would rarely beep or make any sound when I got a phone call, text or any other message. I guess I didn’t really have time to think about getting a new one. So, I wouldn’t allow myself to go on the Apple web site to learn about the latest products or their features. Way too tempting for me.

I wanted to scream. I was so happy!

How could he know what gift I wanted before I even knew how much I wanted it?

I guess that’s what 16 years together does. My joy at that moment wasn’t just about the phone. I couldn’t believe I could be so blessed to be married to someone so thoughtful, kind, caring and observant. (Oh, not to mention, handsome, talented, funny and just generally wonderful!)

He is the one person in this world who really knows me. Sometimes, I think he knows me better than I know myself. I can’t even imagine what my life would have been like if I hadn’t found him. I’m so thankful for the amazing gift of my husband. Happy anniversary, babe!

**

kentandem_628

Oh, so… want to read our story? It’s always fun to remember how this whole thing started: The beginning of us.

 

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The beginning of us… the end (with photos!)

There are so many other things I could write about that happened during the next two years. We would go to extremes to see each other. At least once a month, he would call me on a Friday and tell me he was headed my way. He could drive the 590 miles in about 10 hours.
(This photo was taken in Kent’s apartment in Mississippi. You can almost see that he is wearing The Ugly Shoes. Now I’m noticing that my shoes weren’t exactly pretty!)
I would visit him as often as I could. I would convince my dad to give me a plane ticket. Or I would pack up my red Sunfire and make the long trek myself. It took me about 12 hours to drive all that way, past St. Louis, through the tip of Missouri and part of Arkansas, through Memphis and finally across Mississippi.
I bought a CD player “boom box,” and I would check out audio books from the library. The books only came on cassette tape at the time, so I couldn’t play them in the CD player in my car. I filled the front seat with D batteries so I could keep my boom box going as I listened to book after book on that long drive.

I have always loved to ride my bike. Once we started dating we started riding mountain bike trails. Kent would leave Mississippi around 4 p.m. on Friday and get to Springfield around 2 a.m. Somehow, we had enough energy to ride the mountain bike trails on Saturday.

(Here we are after a ride in Springfield. Our bikes were always covered with mud. This photo was taken in front of the garage to my apartment, “The Berkeley.”)

We would enjoy every second of that day together, but the whole time we had this sense of impending doom that Sunday was on its way. Usually around noon, he would say good-bye and begin that long drive down south.

We also liked to play tennis. Several times, I would leave Springfield on a chilly day in early spring and we would play tennis all weekend in shorts in Mississippi.
We loved the warm weather in the south. But neither of us ever adjusted to the culture in Mississippi or the heat and humidity in the summer. The first time I went to visit him, we walked into a restaurant for lunch and saw his co-workers sitting together at a table.
“Look at that!” one of the guys announced. “Kent’s got himself a woman.”
I was so embarrassed.

(This photo was taken in Jackson, Mississippi. I thought it would be hilarious to take a photo in front of that big monument to “The Confederate Dead of Mississippi.”)

After about a year making the Mississippi commute, he had the opportunity to take a job in the Chicago area. While we would still be about four hours apart, it seemed like next-door neighbors compared to Mississippi.
From that very first weekend when he made the unexpected trip to Springfield, we both knew we were meant to be together. We just knew. We had barely started dating, and yet we had known each other nearly all of our lives. I knew his family and he knew mine, so that alone gave us a jumpstart in our relationship.

He moved to the suburbs in October and that next June we got engaged. On Nov. 15, 1997, we were married. We had dated just over two years and had lived in separate towns the entire time.

**
I can’t imagine my life without my husband. He is my rock.
I’m the one who is always out there, pushing the limits and trying new things. I’m not afraid to learn something or try something new. But I always seem to doubt myself or need reassurance.
He always puts me at peace. When he’s out of town for a long period of time, I start to go crazy without his calming presence. He keeps me grounded. He helps me see the good in me. Sometimes, he seems to understand me in a way that I don’t even understand myself.
We’ve been married and been parents for long enough that sometimes it’s hard to remember that life was ever different. But once in a while, I glance at him and remember seeing him ride his BMX bike in sixth grade or walking across the field in high school in his football uniform.
I remember sitting in the back of his dad’s car shouting out directions or The Ugly Shoes or the drive to Mississippi. I think about the Thai restaurant or The Berkeley or riding our mountain bikes around Springfield.
It’s hard to believe that those two people are parents with four children. It’s hard to believe we’re even responsible enough to keep things going sometimes.
It’s fun to remember those days.
It’s good to remember when life was so much less.

I’m so thankful for today that life is so much more.

aug2011emily

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The beginning of us, part 6

The plane ride from Columbus, Mississippi, to Springfield, Illinois, took less than two hours. But it was plenty of time to replay that scene hundreds of times in my mind. What had happened?

After all of the anticipation of those weeks and months of e-mails, followed by endless phone conversations, finally resulting in that fun first date, how could it end with me telling him he was a jerk?

I already knew that this guy had an extremely dry sense of humor. I have always had a sarcastic sense of humor, so I totally got it. One of the things we liked about each other was that we made each other laugh. But I had such a hard time deciding when he was serious that I had asked him to use a code (the symbol ~) to indicate when he was being sarcastic in his e-mail.

I assumed those parting comments were his dry sense of humor, covering up the nervousness of saying good-bye. But I would have preferred honesty at that moment.

By the time I got home, I already had an e-mail with the subject line, “the jerk.”

He said he liked the fact that I was strong enough to say what was on my mind. He deserved to be put in his place, and he was glad I had done it.
OK.

I really didn’t expect that response.

At the end of that week, I got a Fed-Ex package. It was April 14, and he had paid for an overnight delivery of my birthday card. That really wasn’t necessary.
No seriously, it wasn’t.
My birthday wasn’t until the following week, April 21. He had gotten the dates mixed up and was so afraid he would miss my birthday that he sent the card Fed Ex. I hardly had the heart to tell him that he was a week early.

**

A couple of weeks after that I got a call saying he was in Chicago. He had gone on a business trip and left his car in southern Illinois where he and his co-workers all grabbed a train up to Chicago. He thought maybe he would drive a few hours out of his way and come by and see me on his way home.
It was the worst possible time he could come to visit me. It was during the final days of the legislative session, and it was assumed that, like all of the other reporters, I needed to work pretty much around the clock to cover whatever happened.

I was always functioning in “survival mode” that time of year. I would eat on the run, sleep very little and work until late in the evening. I was stressed enough just trying to get through my life, at that point. But there was no way I was going to delay this visit. I was surprised and excited that he was actually coming to town.

I scrambled furiously to clean up my apartment. Springfield is a town with so much history, and it still has streets lined with historic homes. I lived in a four-flat apartment building that was probably built around 1940. My apartment had gold patterned wallpaper and thick shag carpeting. The kitchen had the original stove and refrigerator. I held my breath every time I used a match to light up that gas stove, hoping the whole apartment didn’t go up in flames.

I could look past all of that though because of the thick solid wood molding, the built in bookshelves and the sunroom on the front. Instead of a shower, I had a clawfoot tub, and the place used radiator heat. Above the front door was a plaque that said, “The Berkeley.”

To this day, we still talk about The Berkeley. That place had so much character. It instantly brings back great memories of our early days of dating.

**

I was working when he got into town.

I remember standing outside the Pressroom on the mezzanine level of the Capitol, waiting for him to walk up the steps. I worked in an office with a group of men who were going to have a lot to say if I came walking in with this visitor.

Instead, I showed him to the gallery of the Illinois House of Representatives and helped him find a seat. He would have to hang out there until the session ended for the evening, and I could go home.

I told a few of my other female reporter friends that this guy had come to visit me and was sitting up in the gallery. I tried to point him out from where we sat in the press box on the House floor.

I came back a few hours later to find him mesmerized. He had made a few friends who had kept him company while he got a first-hand view of how laws are made in the state of Illinois. Much to my surprise, he wasn’t bored or anxious to go home. He was loving it.

**

I took him to a Thai restaurant that was a popular hang-out with and all my friends. The restaurant was a total hole in the wall. The waitresses were mean and would yell at you if you didn’t order fast enough. But the place was always packed. The food was amazing.
Unless, of course, you are someone like my husband. Someone who loves meat and potatoes. Someone who really doesn’t like Chinese food or Japanese food or Thai. I had no idea at the time how much that restaurant must have been outside his comfort zone.
The only thing I actually remember about that meal was that I was trying to get to the bottom of why he had traveled all the way from Mississippi to Chicago and then went out of his way to visit me in Springfield. Why was he there?
His answer was simple and straightforward.
“I had to see you.”
Little by little, he was taking his chisel and hammering away at the bricks and mortar I hid behind. He was chipping away at a little hole to my emotions.
I was learning that he was a guy who didn’t mess around. He didn’t play games. He was exactly who he was. He didn’t care what anyone thought about him, but that didn’t come across in an arrogant way. He was just completely OK with who he was.
He wasn’t interested in mind games or playing with my emotions. I asked a question. He would answer.
“You had to see me?” I repeated.
Chip. Chip. Chip…. Clunk. One brick down.
**
This story is almost done…

aug2011emily

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