Donating the Dress

5 years ago, I unsealed my wedding gown box so that I could try on my dress. I was thrilled it zipped, even if it didn’t quite fit like it had on my wedding day.

I mentioned in that post that I was thinking of getting rid of the dress, because I am just not terribly sentimental about things. Everyone in the comments (and there are a TON of them!) freaked out and insisted I keep the dress. Go read it…lots of great ideas about what I could do with it.

So I kept it.

And then we moved across town, and 5 more years went by, and during that time I lost 30+ pounds (I’m still so happy about this!). I got the gown out again in January to try it on while going through some things in the basement. Obviously, it’s way too big now.

And 5 years later, I’ve found that I am still not sentimental about keeping it. So really. Why is it still here?

The decision has officially been made: I am donating the dress…like it’s literally boxed up and going to the post office today. And I’m donating it while I still can: there is only one wedding gown charity that will take it because, you know, it’s ancient in terms of wedding fashion. (For the record: I still think it’s really pretty.)

I’m sending it to Adorned in Grace in Portland, where the proceeds will go towards eliminating sex trafficking in their city. I love that my dress will make another bride happy AND do good.

Here’s a list of several wedding gown charities, in case you might be ready to let your dress go do some good for someone else, too. If your dress is 5 years old or less, there are lots of different options for you to choose from!

I put it on one last time last week and had Matt take a picture…

um, once upon a time i, uh, filled out this dress a little better :/  it’s sad that we can’t choose WHICH part of our bodies to lose weight from.

Ten.

You guys. As of {1:50, but who’s counting} this morning, I have two kids in double digits. Yep. Bennett is 10!

aww…dimples instead of knuckles…my favorite toddler feature!

I went back to last year’s birthday post to see what I’d written, and this stood out, because it’s just so true.

Birthdays now bring about a sense of urgency in me…there’s still so much I want him to know, and the years to learn those things are just flying by. And when I get reflective about Bennett and who he is and what it’s like to parent him, I get kinda weepy…I don’t know, I just love him so much, and parenting him has been challenging beyond what I envisioned and made me grow and stretch and I’m thankful for that…

Truly, I am frequently at a loss when it comes to understanding this kid. Part of me knows that when we butt heads it’s because we are so alike…he is me in so many ways, and not all of them are my favorite. The other part of me just flat out doesn’t get him and his intensity. Or maybe I’m jealous of it?

Bennett knows what he wants, and he is willing to do the work to get there. Whether it’s with his schoolwork (he’s had an incredible year, after my fears over the summer) or doing push-ups every day or baseball, he commits himself to getting the job done. With baseball I already feel like I have to walk this fine line between being supportive of his dream and making sure he understands the reality of how hard it is to become a MLB player.

He announced this evening that he plans to go to college for two years, then “have a career in baseball, ” and then return to college to finish after his playing days are over. Jack Henry did not mince words, letting him know that his plan was not the smartest and that he should just finish school first. :)

i mean i know i’m his mom and all, but he was a really, really cute baby :)

All I know is this: as his mom, I get a front-row seat in watching who he becomes (and yes, clearly, lots of guidance), and while I absolutely do not want the years to move any quicker, I kinda can’t wait to see what he does with his life.

Love you, B.

They’re Back. 

Muddy, grass-stained baseball pants, that is.

Last weekend kicked off our season, with Jack Henry playing in a tournament. Bennett’s team played in a tournament this past week – Saturday, and Luke’s is next week. regular-season games begin next week, too.

I’ve missed it. I love watching the boys play. I haven’t missed supper on the run, or the whole “we need a fourth meal because we ate before the game, and we’re hungry again at 8:30pm” thing, but that’s just part of the deal.

I have not, however, missed the rush to get the uniform clean again. I used to FREAK OUT over removing the stains from the white pants, but no more. A quick spray of Shout, a little scrub of detergent if there’s a grass stain, and that’s it. No soaking, no painstaking scrubbing and multiple steps. If it doesn’t come out after what I do to them, it wasn’t meant to. That means that their pants look hideous by early May, but oh well.

Obviously, if you need me, I’ll be sitting in the bleachers.

They’re worth it :)

Happy Easter from my cleaned-up crew!

Spring Break 2015

I can’t believe it, but we’re on the other side of spring break already, which means the countdown to the end of the school year is on…39 days! 

The first several days of spring break were here in STL, and we stayed busy hanging out with friends, going to a St. Patrick’s Day celebration (we are the absolute least Irish people ever, but this was so fun), and enjoying a few 70 degree days outside all day long. 

The end of the week was spent in Chicago and the burbs. The boys couldn’t remember being at the Shedd Aquarium (I don’t even remember how long ago we took them), so that was the activity for Thursday when we got to the city. The entire family’s opinion post-visit is this: we’re pretty much over aquariums. I mean, it was cool, we saw some fun stuff, but meh. 

 Now, I LOVE downtown Chicago. I love the hustle and bustle, the crowd, the hotels and restaurants. Since the boys hadn’t ever stayed right on Michigan Ave, we decided that’s what we would do, and stayed at the Hard Rock. Love its location, and it’s a nice place. 

Overall, though, the boys weren’t all that impressed. I mean, they liked the hotel, they thought Michigan Ave was OK but not that big of a deal [mostly they were like, “we have to walk everywhere?” Suburban kids (shakes head)]. Millennium Park and the food were probably the highlights of our 24 hours in the city. I can’t say I blame them on the food: they had Garrett’s popcorn, Giordano’s pizza for supper, and Wildberry for breakfast. Plus Starbucks hot chocolate in the morning with their dad while I snuck in a workout at the hotel (see above list of food to know why this was necessary).

 We headed out to Wheaton Friday late morning for the next part of our trip: seeing Matt’s sister Heidi and her family in their new house! This was just so much fun for all of us…the boys all left in the afternoon to play baseball, and Heidi and I stayed home while her two little girls napped, which gave us a great chance to talk for a while. It was just so good to catch up! 

The rest of our time was spent with the boys playing with their little cousins and Rockit the dog, eating more amazing food, and the adults just enjoying each others’ company and a few good drinks, and a trip to a great museum on Saturday morning. 

On the way back to STL on Saturday afternoon (our Sunday was full of baseball practices and team pictures and the like, so we needed to get back), Matt asked the boys for their highlight of the trip, and all three said Aunt Heidi and Uncle Jeff’s! :) 

   

                 

 Here’s to the next few weeks flying by. The pool is calling my name…

On Running.

I am about to say words that I literally never, ever in a million years thought would come out of my mouth.

I like running.

Crazy, right? I know. There are probably ten blog posts in existence where I tell you how much I hate it (I don’t currently have the energy or desire to track that down, but trust me…it’s there). But I really don’t hate it anymore.

Two springs ago, after I was a few months into healthier living/eating, I started walking and eventually added a little jogging just to get my heart rate up. Well, as we all know, jogging burns more calories than walking, so I started doing a little more of it, JUST for the calorie burn.

For the next year and some change, that was my approach to running: I didn’t like it, but it torched calories, and I was a fan of that. So I did it.

Last June, my foot started hurting, and eventually, I had to stop running altogether, and then stop all high-impact exercise, and then, have surgery when it was evident this wasn’t going to clear up on its own. Throughout that time, I kept thinking about how much I wanted to be able to jog again.

It took several months of taking it easy to let my foot heal most of the way, but I’ve been out running on the few warm days we’ve had, and I.LOVE.IT. All the months of heavier weight training at home (in place of as much cardio/circuit training as I used to do) have totally made a difference in my endurance, and I can already run 3/4 of my usual 3.6 mile route. The times I’ve been out, I’ve run faster than I ever have as an adult.

(I still have some foot pain, generally for a day or two post-run. I’m not sure what to think of this…I think I could still see some improvement in the months to come, but I may just have to deal with a small amount of heel pain. Whatever. I can deal.)

I had to share…because this something I never, ever thought could happen. Additionally, I’ve started drinking coffee (with a ton of milk) or lattes, which previously grossed me out.

So apparently, you can teach an old dog new tricks :)

Illini. Forever.

For Christmas, the boys all got new Illini pullovers and tickets to the basketball game against Northwestern. Saturday was finally the day we got to go to Champaign-Urbana!

We left early Saturday morning from STL, so that we could have several hours on campus for shopping and sightseeing before gametime, and also to ensure that we could eat two meals at our favorite Green Street locations. Priorities.

On our way out of town, my friend Kelli texted to see if we’d seen the latest forecast. I hadn’t, but it had changed from the 1″ of snow that I was expecting to 5-7″, on its way midday into the night. Great. But at this point…whatever. We were on the road, so not much we could do about it now.

We got to C-U, and I swear, I smiled all day long. I love being on campus so so much! We had lunch at Zorba’s, followed by shopping at the local bookstores for some new Illini gear.

zorba's entryway, full of 2004-5 newspaper clippings of final four team.

zorba’s entryway, full of 2004-5 newspaper clippings of final four team.

snowy quad + foellinger in the background. feels like yesterday that we were meeting up on the quad between classes :)

snowy quad + foellinger in the background. feels like yesterday that we were meeting up on the quad between classes :)

instilling a love for this beautiful campus early.

instilling a love for this beautiful campus early. #goodparenting #ftw

I posted this picture to Instagram/Facebook kind of early in the day.

me and alma. still annoyed that i didn't wait in line in my cap and gown for a pic here in '99.

me and alma. still annoyed that i didn’t wait in line in my cap and gown for a pic here in ’99.

My roommate Karen commented on that picture: “Um, not trying to be mean, but are you wearing orange? It looks like something cute and trendy, but it better be orange!”

Hilarious! Because every good Illini fan knows: YOU WEAR ORANGE TO ASSEMBLY HALL. I didn’t have anything to wear (my Illini gear was all old and too big), so part of the plan was for me to find a new tee while shopping and change clothes in the van in a parking garage. Which is exactly what I did (my kids: “Are you serious?” Me: “Totally. There is nothing weird about this.”).

We took the boys by all of our old res halls and apartments, which just made me grin even more…Wardall 6 and 502 w Green #205 were home to three of the greatest years of my life, and just getting to see them made me happy. (Matt did not feel the need to be photographed outside where he lived. Weird, right? ;) )

because you needed to know which rooms were mine.

because you needed to know which rooms were mine. and…there’s my orange!

oh hey, people who live here now. i almost knocked on the door so i could get a glimpse inside.

oh hey, people who live here now. i almost knocked on the door so i could get a glimpse inside.

And THEN, we got to spend some time with my other roommate, Kim, her husband Rich, and their daughter Zoe at our other favorite Green Street spot, Murphy’s Pub. Our boys love going there and scratching their names into the tables and benches, and, of course, the food is great. Loved catching up with our friends, and making big plans for a fall reunion!

kim and me. never enough time to get all of our words in on these visits :)

kim and me. never enough time to get all of our words in on these visits :)

yes, we take our kids to a pub every year.

yes, we take our kids to a pub every year.

By the time we left Murphy’s, snow had started falling on campus. Oh well. We got to the game about 30 minutes before tip-off, and the boys were so pumped. They just wholeheartedly love Illini basketball, even when the team isn’t that great.

assembly hall with these crazies.

assembly hall with these crazies.

Fortunately, it was an awesome game that saw the Illini hit 14 of 28 three-pointers and result in a 26-point victory. Less fortunately, it had really started snowing by the time the game was over, and our drive towards home got more treacherous the further south we got.

So, we made a decision about 15 miles outside of Effingham that we would take Matt’s parents up on their offer to let us stay there overnight instead of continuing on with horrible visibility and road conditions. They graciously took us in, and the boys crashed immediately.

We woke to a full foot of snow on the ground there, but were happy to hear that STL had only gotten about 4″. And by late morning when we headed out, roads were clear and the snow had nearly stopped, making travel much, much easier.

I think it’s safe to say that none of us will forget this trip soon.

Cowboy

Sharing this because he said I could, and because I know these weird, funny things won’t be coming home much longer. 



So that’s the big orange-framed mirror I have in my bedroom, and Jack Henry as a cowboy. Eating a hot dog. (Seriously? In my room? What the heck?)

Obviously, I don’t get it. The only info I got from him was that he doesn’t like to ride horses (not sure he’s ever ridden one but whatever). So this is logically what you do instead then, right?

I love first graders.