Monday, February 25, 2013

In place

After much complaining and chocolate, I am making my final ascent of Mt. Junk.

For the past few weeks, Jeremy and I have been slowly and painfully clearing out our 1,300-square-foot condo to prepare it for listing. Having two small children makes things that much more difficult. For example, after I pulled out the Easter baskets from my closet, then I had a bazillion plastic Easter eggs all over the house. Some even made their way into the car. I have tried to surround myself with a lot of patience.

And chocolate.

We are so close to being show-ready. I can see the summit. I am so grateful to my parents and to two of my best friends for storing an embarrassingly amount of our stuff in their closets and basements. We have made three trips to the Salvation Army; I promise we didn't donate Jossie.

I cannot begin to describe how happy I feel in my walk-in closet. Seriously. The clothes - that we actually wear - hang neatly. The floors are not covered in shoes and toys. Jack and Jossie have a greatly reduced number of toys in their toy bins - toys they actually play with. It amazes me at how much "extra" we allow in our lives and once you weed through, how much easier things become.

Though as we clean and plan and think about moving, I just smile. We all think we can make a plan but we know life doesn't always follow accordingly. So here I am - trying to muster what control I can over my life - donating five dozen plastic hangers and packing box after box. Waiting for and wondering about the next chapter. More to come, my friends.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Legos and love

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day. I love the day for showing appreciation for our friends, family, teachers and colleagues. It's not really a day of red-hot love (sorry, Jer) and, anyways, I'm thankful for a husband who shows his love in thoughtful ways here and there throughout the year, rather than saving it for February 14. (Though I never mind a nice bit of chocolate or some bubbles...)

My blog is a little bit of everything as I chronicle life with two small children, a loving husband and one fat cat, living, working and playing in Chicago.  So that said, I present to you: Jack's valentines project.

After Jossie's birthday bash, Maria offered to help Jack with his valentines. I was grateful for the break from being crafty. And then I pushed myself into the scene in typical me style.

Maria made Lego-themed valentines with Jack, and God bless her patience for gluing all of those itty-bitty hearts onto the cards. We found creative sayings online.

(Gratuitous Pinterest moment.) Then I threw in the Lego-shaped crayons idea. I have five years' worth of crayons from restaurants, and I bought a Lego mold. A silicon mold is key to this project.

Before we go any further, I might suggest you step away from the crayons and call me, and let's get a drink instead. I'll go grab my purse.

You're still here? Okay onward to the project.

After the painful task of peeling the wrappers off of the crayons and chopping them up into uniform sizes (no one ever tells you what a pain this task is and how you're probably going to ruin your cutting board), we filled up our molds. Jossie loved helping with this, with her chubby little fingers. I adore those chubby little fingers.

Put the mold on a baking sheet and bake at 275 degrees for 15 minutes or so. Let stand for a few hours and then peel the silicon mold away from the crayon. I found little treat bags for the crayons and used my new love - paper (or washi) tape - to affix them to the little red envelopes. And voila! Jack's classmates can now give me the stink eye for giving them crayons instead of candy this Valentine's Day...


Monday, February 11, 2013

Getting my act together

We are going to list our condo in a few weeks. I have been lacking the motivation and the focus to get our condo show-worthy. Part of me doesn't want to pull our stuff out, looking at everything we have that we don’t use. Part of me doesn't want to run my hands over my chipped dinner dishes or look over my old wrinkled clothes, feeling like I should replace them and feeling wasteful at the same time. But mostly, I don’t want to add more work to my plate – more work that doesn't involve the kids. I want to push the moving boxes aside, grab Jack’s and Jossie’s little hands and head straight to a museum. I don’t want to worry about packing, finding the right house and, frankly, reorienting my life.

I like my city mama life. I have a well-worn path between my condo and my workplace. We have a trusted and loved daily caregiver for the kids. And I love the kids’ schools, pediatricians and classes. I have my grocery stores. I have my shortcuts and my ways. Life is working.


Sunday afternoon, our family attended a brunch/art project for current families in the Prentice NICU. We've thanked the nurses and doctors and celebrated with NICU grad families, but this was my and Jeremy's first experience with direct services with current families.

Given my hesitancy for change, this was a good reminder for me. The biggest change of my little life so far has been motherhood, and in the case of being a preemie mom, you’re thrown into the deep end before you even expect it.

Granted – the group who attended the brunch were self-selected – but I was impressed with the handful of mothers I spoke with and their willingness to work through the change they have been given. They were ready to learn, to share with others about their experiences and make Valentine’s Day artwork for their little ones’ pods. One new mom just had her baby the day before! I was only with them for an hour but was reminded of my own changes in my life and how they weren't solved overnight – there was a period of transition and hard work.  In respect to the NICU, each day Jossie was there felt like an eternity. And besides the whole leaving my newborn there every day for 22 days, there were also the grody tasks of dealing with insurance, figuring out what to do with work (since I left early) and childcare for Jack. And now it is but a brief memory.

Jossie and Jack are my beautiful rewards of Jeremy's and my hard work. One current NICU mom kindly squeezed my hand and told me that seeing a healthy, lively Jossie “made her day.” (This was on our way out the door – if I had known that sooner, I would have asked Jossie to count to 10 and run backwards to show off her skills.) The NICU receptionists sang the kids’ praises. Two years ago, I couldn't envision today – and I wish I could have.

And so back to that darn stuff in my condo. It will get organized and packed. The toys that stay will be stored in clever ways to hide during showings but to also remain accessible to the kids’ whims. And getting my act together at home and making hard decisions about our move with Jeremy will be part of something bigger. It will allow us to move to a bigger space. To join a new community. To host more family and friends. To create a home for our family. Thinking about the bigger goals of tomorrow makes the finite tasks of today much more manageable.

And that, I suppose, can apply to all levels of our lives. Happy week ahead, my friends.

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