Category Archives: matt

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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:ย “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? ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 theย team isn’t that great.

assembly hall with these crazies.

assembly hall with these crazies.

Fortunately, it wasย 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.

Fifteen.

A couple of months ago, I was looking at Instagram, and a popular blogger that I follow on IG had posted a picture of her sweet family…they’d been travelling in an RV for a number of weeks together. She seems like a fun mom, and I love watching what she does with her kids through pictures. However, what caught my attention was the couple of comments that were visible under the picture.

I’m paraphrasing, but the gist was this, from 2 different moms: “We do EVERYTHING with our kids. We have never ever gotten a babysitter, even to go out for dinner, because we never want to be without them. Why would we want to go on an adventure and not include them?”

I almost choked on my tea.

Because, you see, I love my kids. So much. My only serious childhood ambition was to be a mom someday (and a cashier and an Avon lady. Which hasn’t happened yet, really. Who knows what the future holds though, right?), and I am one. I love travelling with them and seeing new things for the first time with them.

But are you even kidding me? Never getting a babysitter? Never doing anything without them? I’m sorry, but to me, that’s just not healthy for you as an adult human, or for your marriage. I’ve blogged before about how I think couples have to be careful not to lose sight of each other while they’re in the messy throes of raising kids (12 in ’12 was all about this for us), because before you know it, those kids are on their own, and you’re married to a stranger. No one wants that, right?

So, all that to justify say: Matt and I ran away to the beach last week for 5 days to celebrate our 15th anniversary, and it was truly, truly one of the highlights of my life. And we have Matt’s parents to majorly thank for totally stepping in and taking over the household for us while we were gone…they even left me with a clean house and garage, and the laundry done. Doesn’t get much better than that!!

We joked that we didn’t even know if we would be good at going on a sit-your-butt-on-the-beach vacation, since we’re usually go-do-a-ton-of-stuff vacationers (Nashville, Nashville again, Bostonย – though one of my Boston highlights was our drive to the Cape Cod seashore…). However, as it turns out, we killed it at laying in beach chairs. Literally for 4 full days, our only responsibility was making sure that we reapplied sunscreen regularly. We read books (you guys, my non-reader husband read TWO WHOLE BOOKS while we were gone), listened to music and the ocean, walked the beach and collected shells, and made getting back to the beach (or, just staying there all day) for sunset our job. Oh, and plenty of eating, and drinking Lime-a-Ritas like they were nutritious.

I can’t go back to do-something vacations after this. I’m afraid it ruined me in the best way possible.

It’s not that I ever would’ve shunned a vacation at the beach. I mean, hello, parenting babies and toddlers is incredibly exhausting, too. But as we reflected on the trip, and the time of year that we took it, it made sense why this felt like perfect timing. For the past couple of years, and the foreseeable future, our March-September is c-r-a-z-y with baseball. And you all know we wouldn’t have it any other way! The rest of the year feels so much more regular-busy-family manageable.

October is the perfect time to go to the beach. I’m polishing up my persuasive speech skills to talk Matt into this again. ๐Ÿ™‚

I didn’t even mention where we went, did I? Siesta Key, Florida, right outside Sarasota. We visited a few neighboring beaches, too, to compare, and none of them even came close. I’d choose Siesta Key again in a heartbeat.

Sigh. So that’s it. Here are a few pictures, to make you want to go, too.

Next week, if I’m brave enough, I’ll blog about body image and what living in a bikini for a few days taught me. We’ll see.

What 12 in ’12 Taught Us

2 years ago, in 2012, I pre-planned one date a month for Matt and me…it ended up being 11 dates in 2012 due to kid sickness, but oh well. All of the details and the dates were chronicled on the blog, and you can read about them here (also, in perfect me form, I did not blog the last date of the year, which was a fun overnight for New Year’s Eve, but whatever).

We LOVED it. It seemed weird to start 2013 without a plan in place for date nights. However, we realized that it refocused our attention to something we already knew, but had kind of shelved: we need to make time for each other.

Frankly, I didn’t think we were doing poorly at making time for dates pre-12 in ’12…and probably, compared to most American marriages, we weren’t. But that isn’t the standard we should be measuring ourselves by, really, is it?

Yes, it costs money. Just the babysitting, let alone the actual date, is expensive. I get it. But there are other things that get sacrificed to make this happen, and it’s worth it. And, a couple of times a year, we swap babysitting nights with my brother and his wife, which makes everyone happy: it’s free, there’s time with cousins, everyone wins. Also, we have some fantastic babysitters, and I love that the boys get excited to hear they’re coming over. It’s good for them, too.

We don’t get out monthly anymore, but we do get a sitter and go out for dinner, or meet friends out, when we can. Trying new restaurants is one of our favorites, so we do that whenever possible…which is slightly overwhelming in a city filled with amazing food where we already have so many favorite places to eat!

Several weeks ago, Matt took a half day on a Monday and let me sleep in while he got the boys ready and off to school (this is like winning the lottery to me). I slept late, he came with me to volunteer in Jack Henry’s classroom like I did every Monday (surprised JH, who loved it!), and we went out to brunch.

{Speaking of that: always a good idea to check if the place you’re wanting to have brunch is open on the day you’re going. Because for the record, Half and Half, the place I’d been dreaming of having breakfast since our cancelled Valentine’s breakfast date, is closed on Mondays. However, the cancelled V-Day date was to be on a Monday morning, too, so I would’ve been disappointed 2 months ago, too.

BUT: that place being closed led to an amazing breakfast at another place down the street from Half and Half that I’d never been, City Coffeehouse and Creperie. I ate so much that it was my only meal of the day…by late evening, I was hungry and had a small snack, but it was that good. And that worth the calories.}

I digress. I could talk about good food all the livelong day, and this was a place we ate weeks ago.

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We are in the thick of summer craziness right now…kid baseball nearly every night, and I’m not exaggerating. Getting a night at home is extremely rare, and when it happens, there’s SO much to do, and so many hours of sleep to catch up on, that a date night is not top priority. This isn’t a pity party; we signed up for this and for the most part, I love it. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t craving a quiet dinner with wine, at a table, with a server who isn’t in a t-shirt, since dinner recently is either some kind of sandwich I’ve made and brought with us or a pretzel with cheese at the ball diamonds.

So, we WILL celebrate Matt’s 39th birthday (which was yesterday) one of these days. It may be mid-July, but that’s okay, because then it can be my birthday celebration, too. ๐Ÿ™‚ And in the off-season, we’ll need some sitters. Regularly.

There is a Right and Wrong Way to Fold Towels.

AKA some things in your marriage are worth fighting for.

A long time ago in a land far away (er, 20 miles away in Maryland Heights), when I was just a child bride (seriously, the older I get, the more I realize just how young we were when we married) setting up a home with my new husband, we used to do the laundry together.

Awww. That’s cute, isn’t it?

Well, we did. We had to cart the baskets a couple of buildings over from ours to use the quarter machines that were always filled with someone else’s left-behind laundry (gag). We’d wash and dry and return to our cozy first-floor apartment to fold.

That’s where the trouble began.

Matt informed me that I was folding the towels wrong.

Ahem. What?

He showed me how he thought the towels should be folded. It became a lighthearted joke between the two of us, and just to be accommodating, I started folding towels his way. Start with the towel flat:

towel 1

Then you do these folds:

Towel 2

The way I always folded towels was like this:

towel 3

My way is one less step, and when you unfold it, it’s ready to put on the towel rack without having to refold it. However, his way folds up the towel more compactly, and it fits better on a bathroom shelf.

I just want to stop for a second and comment on how hilarious this is to me now, that he had an opinion about this. Read about his bachelor pad here for a bit of insight.

Anyway, over the years, Matt has helped less with the laundry. He still folds a load here and there, which I very much appreciate, but since I quit working, washing/drying/folding/sorting moved entirely into my jurisdiction, which seems fair. However, I was still folding towels “his” way.

Yesterday, as my hands were full of clean towels and I was trying one-handed to hang clean ones on the towel racks, they ended up like this:

towel 4

And it occurred to me: why in the world am I still folding towels his way? He rarely folds or puts away a towel; they just magically appear clean on his towel rack!

So now, nearly 15 years into our marriage, I’m taking it back. I can now one-handed put a towel on the rack like this, thanks to my revelation:

towel5

This is all kind of sad, but it’s real, and it makes me laugh a little.

Bennett+Stitches, Take 1

As this blog is my children’s baby book, it’s only appropriate that this whole story be told here. With Bennett’s blessing, of course.

And that Take 1 is in the title because I’m certain this won’t be my last ER trip for stitches with this one. As it stood until Friday night, he was the only Diehl kid to require an ER visit for anything other than breathing problems, and that time (at age 2), the doctors were able to glue his little wound back together.

Not this time.

In true mom-blogger fashion, let me tell the story. This all went down Friday night. Luke and I were attending the Kids Night Out fundraiser (proceeds benefit the 5th grade end-of-year party) at school…of course, he was there to hang out with friends, and I was there to work the event. Matt was to have the other 2 boys with him for the evening, which included Bennett’s baseball practice.

5:25: Matt’s not home from work yet, but I need to be up at school. I send the boys to the van, and one of them, who shall remain nameless, thought it would be funny to fake drive the van and crank the steering wheel. When I go to start the van, I can’t get the key to turn in the ignition. I knew that I was supposed to turn the wheel while trying to turn the key, but I absolutely could not get it to turn. Guilty child feels VERY bad, is crying and apologizing profusely, and I am cursing under my breath and repeatedly trying to start the van. Finally, literally 8 minutes later, I’m able to get it started. Lesson learned for the child.

5:33: Matt pulls in the garage. B and JH exit the van, and stay home with Matt.

5:35: L and I arrive at school, and enjoy Kids Night Out until…

8:40: Matt calls me, and though he’s speaking calmly, I can hear the panic in his voice. “Bennett’s had a little accident, and he probably needs stitches.” I tell him that I’ll round up Luke, and wait for him to call me and let me know where he wants me to meet him: home or the hospital.

8:45: I’ve gathered my things, I’m searching the school for Luke, and I get a text that simply says, “Yes, stitches.” I find Luke, Matt calls me and tells me to meet him at home, and we head out of school.

8:50: Matt, the bleeding-from-the-head kid and Jack Henry arrive a couple of minutes after we do. Bennett gets out of the car and removes the ice pack/rag combo from his head, and I blurt out, “Yes, that needs stitches. Get in the van, Bennett.” At this, he starts to cry…Matt hadn’t told him yet that he needed to go the ER. I can’t say I blame him, since we both knew that Bennett would panic at this news.

8:55-9:15: Longest drive to Mercy Hospital ever, save the time I was in labor and it was freezing raining outside. Bennett has calmed down, and tells me the story of what happened. His practice is at a local elementary school, and after they finished practicing, the boys raced out of the gym to play a little tag. B looked behind him while he was running, and when he turned back to the front, ran headlong into a metal handrail. His teammates said he cried out and that they saw a lot of blood. Turns out, really, for a head injury especially, it didn’t bleed that much, and I heard from so many parents who were there that Bennett just stayed totally calm. Probably helped that he didn’t look in the mirror at all.

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telling the triage nurse his story.

9:35: B is seen by a triage nurse, asked the story of what happened the first of 5 times. It occurs to me at this point that it might be helpful to have each boy’s medical history in my phone; as she asked about his surgical/medical history, I stumbled over what was him and what was L or JH in my memory. And that kinda makes me feel like a bad mom.

9:45: brought to our room in the ER; B is given a new ice pack. Bleeding has slowed to a very slow seep.

10:45: We’ve watched a full hour of Ice Age when I decide to step outside the room and ask when we might be seen, since we’ve literally had no one even step in our room this whole time. Magically, they tell me his case has just been “claimed”, and lo and behold, less than 2 minutes later, the NP appears to assess. He tells us that he definitely needs stitches, both above and below the eye. This is very upsetting news to Bennett :(. I fall back on my training as a Child Life Specialist to talk him through what’s about to happen. *Outside of this wait, care here was exceptional, and I would totally use this children’s ER again.*

10:50: Nurse comes in to apply numbing gel (no shots needed – yeah!). We wait.

11:25: Nurse applies second round of numbing gel. We start watching Elf…distractions are good.

11:40: NP and nurse come in to start the procedure. Bennett has to lay flat on his back and has a towel draped around his injured eye, so he can’t really see the TV anymore, but he can hear it…and we know Elf by heart, so he continues to laugh while they get to work. 2 stitches in the tiny cut below the eye. 2 stitches inside and 7 outside in his eyebrow. NP apologizes for the stitches taking so long, as he said that stitching along the eyebrow is tricky due to trying to keep the hairs on the outside of the wound. Me: no apology needed. He’s doing a fantastic job.

12:25: Discharge notes and we’re out the door, on our way to picking up a late-night cheeseburger and fries for my little champ.

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this was sunday morning…definitely the day it looked the worst.

By Saturday morning, Bennett was pretty proud of the whole thing, and though I worried a little that he’d be self-conscious about how he looked, I shouldn’t have. This is a badge of honor. When I asked him if I could blog about this, he said, “Of course!”

—–

Slowing down is not something Bennett does on purpose, ever. Saturday he definitely took it easy, and Sunday, too. By Monday, though, I noticed that he was back to full speed, and that made me nervous with him at school by Tuesday (Monday was a snow day). The tape came off last night, and his stitches look good, so recovery is going well so far!

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tuesday night, after the tape came off

Spelling Bee: Prep.

Luke and Bennett took their district’s written spelling bee test on Monday. Luke found out today that he made it into the school-wide oral spelling bee, held next week (Bennett didn’t do too shabby on the pre-test, either; 17 of 25 words, which were the same for 3rd-5th graders. He needed a 21 to move on.).

Needless to say, Luke’s pretty excited!

He brought home the study guide, a list of 450 words of varying difficulty to study. We spent some time this afternoon going over part of the list, and when Matt got home, Luke asked him to quiz him on a row of words, too.

When I quizzed Luke earlier, on one of the words, he asked me for a definition. The word was “ailment.” I answered, “Illness.” He said ok, and spelled it correctly, telling me that he wanted to be sure it wasn’t something to do with beer, and therefore starting with “ale.”

1. It totally reminded me of a real spelling bee.
2. Our kid knows that ale is a type of beer, and that’s what his first thought was. Is this normal?

So when Matt started quizzing him, I retold the story of Luke asking for a definition. Which made Matt chuckle and say, “Yeah, do you want me to use that in a sentence?”

The word was “nigh.”

Matt’s sentence: “See if you can spell the word ‘nigh.'”

Clearly, he’s going to be really helpful with this process.

We’re working from the middle area of the sheet…here are some others as they get harder:
verdure
epizootic
dirndl
elegiac
revanche
importunate

So…yeah. I’m going to take this as seriously as Luke wants to, and wish him the best on Wednesday next week as he competes!

blogworthy.

I ran a quick errand to the mall this evening. Honestly, the awkwardness I witnessed at Aerie made me look around for a camera, and could be the focus of a blog post all by itself.

As it stands, in light of what happened after that, the story about how I saw a young 20-something-year-old man bra shopping for his girlfriend (who was not present) WITH HIS GRANDMOTHER will have to suffice as the opener. Seriously. People are so.weird.

As I was walking out of the mall, I got a text from Matt. It was a picture of our closet, with all of the belongings from the long side of the closet on the floor, and the brackets dangling from the wall.

So yes. While my children slept, and my husband minded his own business, our 22-year-old shelf in our closet decided it had had enough, and dumped all of my clothes and the few remaining Christmas gifts stored up high to the floor.

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this is a first world problem. fully aware. still a major pain in the butt.

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previously, this bracket was the opposite direction. this is not very helpful for holding up a shelf.

I’ll cop to having said a pretty bad word in my head when I looked at the picture a second time, and realized that the kids’ one and only Santa gift had just tumbled to the floor.

Sidenote: this is the last year for Santa in our house, and he’s going out big: the kids are getting an iPad! They have NO idea. It will be such a fun surprise. If it works after the 7-foot drop it took, of course. (I did open the packaging…the screen did not shatter.)

The following is Matt’s and my text convo before I got home:

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The wine was waiting when I walked in.

And then Matt said the words I hoped he’d say: “Let’s just redo the closet.”

HOORAY!

The timing is horrible, but it’s something we’ve wanted to do for a long time. It’s ok-sized for a walk-in, but so poorly configured that the space is not nearly maximized. From the moment we laid eyes on this house, we’ve wanted it changed, but just haven’t wanted to spend the money on it.

With the brackets all busted and my belongings scattered about on the floor, this seems like as good a time as any.

So…have any of you used a custom closet company? Would you recommend them? We are not handy people, so installing this ourselves is likely out of the question, but I’ve already found a couple of online design tools that I’ll at least give a try. Fill me in on your experience!