Friday, July 29, 2011


Summer has been fast and furious in this neck of the woods.  The long days that summer bring have been filled to the brim with swimming, riding bikes and many adventures.

One of our many adventures took us to Chicago. 

The last time we were Chi-town as a family, Gibson was a toddler and my belly was bulging.  It was winter, and due to our circumstances our options were limited. 

For this adventure, we had a much different set of circumstances. Now, we were hitting the city with a six and four year old in tow, and the possibilities were endless.  Armed with our three day bus passes the boys and I took to the city.

As the boys learned how to read bus routes, we took in Lincoln Park Zoo, Shedd Aquarium, Adler's Planetarium, the City Beach, John Hancock's Observatory, the Lego Store, the Cheesecake Factory and many more experiences that Chicago has to offer.

At the end of our stay, I realized just how smooth of a trip it had been.  The boys were at a great age.  They had the stamina to keep going and going and going, and they took in each and every experience. 

I then realized just how valuable those experiences were when on the last day, as we were on our way to the park, {to enjoy our two pieces of cheesecake and a rice bowl to die for} we happened to miss our stairway back to our bus stop.  Instantly, Elliott stopped us and said, Momma, that's the way we need to go.

Amazed by his awareness amidst the streets upon streets that seem to blend together, I told him how impressed I was.

To which he replied....

Chicago's my city.

And with this statement I knew we accomplished our mission.  We attacked the city taking away more than money could buy. 

Tips for Navigating Chicago Solo:
1. If you are going to visit any of the museums in Chicago, I highly recommend buying the CityPass. I made the decision to buy one after standing in line for the aquarium, by myself with two squirrely boys, for 30 minutes. {with an additional 40 minutes still looming ahead}  With this pass you have 9 days to visit several Chicago Museums and it serves as a fast pass, which means you don't have to wait in line.  If you visit two of the listed sites you essentially pay $10 to skip the lines.  If you visit three you save money.  It's a bit pricey, but lets face it, what in Chicago isn't?

2. Buy a bus pass.  For $14 I had a three day, all access, bus pass that could take us anywhere in the city.  Added Bonus: kids ride free.

3. Just Ask.  When in doubt just ask.  There were several times that I was unsure of what bus to take, and each time the drivers were more than happy to tell me which bus I needed for each destination.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Summer Salsa

Cooking has never been my forte.  I have learned over time that it is most often a set up for disappointment. 

So many ingredients.  So many variables. So many messes, and in the end I have at least one child that doesn't like it, and it never tastes as good as if someone else has made it.

However, every now and then I surprise myself and find a recipe that is a no fail recipe.  A recipe that turns out great each time I make it and for one small moment makes me feel like a younger version of Paula Deen. 

As of late my favorite recipe is my cousin's Summer Salsa.  It's fresh.  It's easy. It's a winner every time.

1 cantaloupe
1 yellow pepper
1 orange pepper
1 bunch of cilantro
1 16 oz. can crushed pineapple with juice
1 chopped red onion
2 jalapeno peppers {seeded}*
1 lime juiced


1. Chop ingredients
2. Add pineapple with juice
3. Top with juice of lime
4. Enjoy!

*Public Service Announcement: Never...ever...touch the seeds of a jalepeno'  If touched they will cause intense burning of human skin for hours after incident. 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Back to the Basics: Update 1

According to the calendar, nearly a month has passed since we started our journey Back to the Basics. As we began, I longed to slow down and take a step back from the hustle and bustle of life, but could not have predicted all that it would envelop.

Now, a month later, here is an update of how we are embracing all that is basic.

1. Cable Cutback. Now, we did not cut it entirely because I don't think I ready to be that basic yet and have to admit I love my network stations.  We did however, scale back to basic cable getting rid of our On Demand feature and several channels that were serving as a time trap. As we told the boys that we could no longer watch any cartoon at anytime we realized just how dependent they had become.  Elliott shed tears over losing his all access pass to Jake and the Neverland Pirates for quite sometime, reassuring us all the more of this decision.

2. Hashing our Home Phone. This was a big one for me, as I am a bit old fashioned and did not know if I was ready for this big of a commitment.  However, in all reality my Mom and telemarketers were the only people to call on this line and with the 1:100 respective call ratio, my mom can call our cell phones.

3. Eating Natural Foods. Costco has become our new best friend.  Each Sunday after church we restock our supply of fresh fruits and veggies. We and have successfully finished our first bag of quinoa and are well on our way to polishing off a 10lb bag of organic brown rice.  It tastes better. We feel better, and it just seems right.

4. Cooling Au Naturale.  Instead of turning on the Air, we are opening the windows.  Ground rules have been established as to when enough it enough and we can flip the switch, but for the most part we have managed without.  It was made even more manageable when we compared our $153.88 bill from last June to our $66.88 dollar bill from this June.  The significant saving is satisfying and gives the little extra sweat some value.

5. Going Sans Microwave. The idea was sparked by a friend, and at first mention, I thought it a ridiculous notion.  However, after pondering the thought for more than a moment, we decided to try it.  One week later, I would like to report that we have survived without it, and the only time I cursed my decision was when making cheese roll-ups for the boys.  

All in all, it has been a rewarding experience all around.  Not only are we saving money, we are freeing our days of unnecessary clutter, allowing us more time to focus on what is important. 

Gibson summed it up best as he was trying to console Elliott in his mourning the loss of his favorite cartoon.  In a very calm, rational voice he reasoned with his brother by saying, Elliott, Is Jake a Need or a Want?

Leave it to a 6 year old remind us of how simple it really is.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Thoughts of a Recovering Perfectionist

I used to have it all together, or at least I pretended to have it all together.  I was a perfectionist who agonized over every little detail.  I would spend hours upon hours in my classroom. If we had guest coming to our house, I would clean every nook and cranny until it was spotless.  When people asked me how I was doing, Great, how are you, would be my go to response. 

In all reality, however, I was light years away from having it all together.  I would beat myself up because in my skewed perception, I thought  everyone  else  did  have it all together.  Other's classrooms were perfect, their homes were always immaculate, and they were always great.

How did they do it?  How were they so perfect?

Fast forward six years.  Now in my thirties, having two spirited boys, and being much more wise than that naive young woman I once was, I realize that nobody has it all together. 

Who was I kidding?

On most days I am lucky if  I can keep the kitchen clean for a straight 4 hours, put mascara on, and actually shower in the morning.

As a matter of fact, just yesterday I showed up at a park play date with two different shoes on.  Yes, that is correct.  The mom with a 6 and a 4 year old, who dress, buckle,  and pretty much take care of themselves, walked out the door, drove all the way to the park and realized several minutes after arriving that she had two different shoes on.  Seriously?

All this to say, I wish I would have known then what I know now.

Lessons learned on my journey?  Nobody is perfect. There is not one person who has it all together.  People find comfort in your transpareny, and when you show up at a park with two different shoes on, laugh at yourself and own it.  You've earned it.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...