Thursday, August 30, 2012

Just no gray hairs, please

A little more than a week ago, a 7-foot dead tree limb fell and hit my brother-in-law in the face. It broke a bone around his eye and left him and my sister with unanswered questions about his sight. They had numerous doctor's appointments and tests.

This week, his sight is blessedly restored and things are looking better (pun intended). The situation's not perfect just yet but he's healthy and strong, and he's healing, for which we're thankful. I happened upon a Bible verse today from this powerful blog. I would have shared it a week ago with him when he was in the hospital if I had it; it envelopes you like a warm blanket: I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4: 8

I traveled to Cleveland to help out my sister and her family last Monday. As I deplaned, I felt like an honest-to-goodness grown-up. I was where I could be of most help at that particular moment, knowing my kids, my home and my work were in a good place in Chicago.

Wearing the big-girl pants feels good to me. I'm learning that things are complicated. I'm learning to be patient and tolerant - there's always a story behind the story. I'm learning perspective.

This week at work in particular has been character-building. On Tuesday, I got a phone call from the hotel we've been working with for the past eight years to let me know they had double-booked their ballroom and would be booting my 700-person luncheon, to be held in October. After that phone call, I folded my arms and put my head down on my desk. A minute or two later, I stood up to tell my boss the news.

Luckily, this low moment quickly passed, and I celebrated my great colleagues who stepped into action and great fundraising friends I could call to get advice and hash out next steps. As of tonight, we have a new location.

Work has thrown my co-workers and me a few other zingers this week. Again, the big-girl pants are coming in handy. A good dose of perspective is keeping me grounded - obstacles are overcome and - after all - no one's gotten hit in the face this week.

Jossie has done two amazing things this week. She has started to give her own version of kisses. Jeremy is totally smitten with his little girl's affection, and I'm pretty sure he's going to buy her pony tomorrow. And, second, she has not fussed - not a cry, even - when I've put her to bed at night. She holds onto her baby doll tightly and looks at me calmly as I wish her good night and leave her side. She's peaceful and secure.

So here's a nod to growth, knowledge and being secure. We can't practice it every moment of every day but here's to trying our best.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Unleash your inner artist! GapKids Shine On Saturdays

This post is sponsored by GapKids. Check out all the fun Shine On activities at your nearest Gap store. For event dates and locations, visit Gap’s Facebook page and join the conversation on Twitter with hashtag #ShineOn.

It is no secret that I love fall. I just love it. Apples, pumpkins, leaves changing colors, you name it.

As summer is winding down, I feel the pace already quickening at our home - preparing for school time, weekend football games, and soccer and music classes for the kids. We're replacing our worn sandals with new sneakers and updating our fall wardrobes.

If you are doing back-to-school shopping this weekend, join select GapKids stores this Saturday for their Shine On Saturdays events. Your kids can participate in a series of special art projects.  From creating geometric masterpieces on canvas using paint and tape to making colorful, custom journals to get kids ready for back-to-school, the projects will help your little ones express their creativity. Designed by Merrilee Liddiard of Mer Mag, the projects were inspired by the GapKids and babyGap fall collection, including the best new 1969 denim - Jewel Box Skinnies for girls (the new skinny jean updated in bright stretchy denim) and Action Stretch Denim for boys (designed for play all day- it’s denim that’s made to move). This video explains it all:

For those in the Chicago region, make an animal character badge this Saturday:

August 25, 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.
GapKids, Oakbrook Shopping Center, 533 Oakbrook Center, Oak Brook, IL 60523

If you are not in Chicago, please check out Gap's Facebook page for other participating cities. Happy crafting!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective, and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Read all about it

Jeremy and I both had exciting stories to pitch to the media yesterday. His was slightly bigger. Have you ever heard of Walmart and Target? But I was still geeked out on my  green story to tell too - the U.S. Secretary of the Interior authorized the Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge. I love the quote from my Openlands' colleague - the idea for the refuge started at the "kitchen table." The reality that something big can start with something small is reaffirming and inspiring.

I literally ran to work this morning to continue to work with awesome colleagues on this project and spread the love to our supporters. Okay, to be honest, my running was part-excitement and part-dodging the rain and lightning.

The project excites me to because it's the first for the Chicago metropolitan region - third largest in the country, mind you - and it also highlights private and public partnerships - not merely a government hand-out.

This is where work and personal life beautifully collide for me - knowing that the place I earn a paycheck is making a difference in people's lives is the most I could ask for. (I just learned recently it's okay to end sentences with prepositions.)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Golden memories

When I was in high school, my family was invited to a family friends' lakeside cabin in Canada. I have fond memories of this trip - swimming in the lake, picking blueberries, and attempting to fish and water ski. There were good dinners and a cozy hammock to hide away in to do my summer required reading. We slept in the room above the boat house, lulled to sleep at night by the water gently lapping the lake shore.

I only have nice memories from the trip but I vaguely remember my parents having car trouble with our mini-van; I'm sure my sisters and I fought; and there were probably a few teenage angst moments of being on vacation with my parents. It's nice to know that the good stuff has withstood the test of time.

I'm hoping we're making some golden memories for Jack and Jossie today. We just returned from a week's vacation out east with Jeremy's family. It was time spent in the pool and at the beach. There were ice cream cones in town, a ferry ride at sunset, and Jack triumphantly getting the ring on the carousel.


And, yes, there were the not-so-awesome moments of both kids melting at a children's concert; Jossie waking up six out of the eight nights we were there, screaming and crying; and the overall chaos that two small kids bring to a house.  But there was also time spent together and with Jeremy's family. There was Jack loving life as he rode in the back of Papa's convertible (in his booster seat, of course). There were visits to the duck pond. There were dinners full of local vegetables and fruits.

The kids fell asleep every night as soon as their heads hit the pillow. Jeremy and I had some time alone, enjoying a bottle of wine and smelling the salty air at Beacon, as well as wine tasting at Channing Daughters Winery.

It was a wonderful time, restorative and relaxing. The good memories will be the memories that last.

We're home now, savoring the last few weeks of summer and readying ourselves for fall.