the peanuts gang

Summer 2016 – June

The summer already seems to be flying by and we are soaking it all in! Every so often, I’ll aim to share those with you – just snippets of our day, but also as a scrapbook of sorts for our crew.

Bought this shirt for him at Target. Love this shirt. Love him in it. ‘Merica

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The Coach Pitch season is coming to a close and these two cuties have really grown! Charlie is hitting pretty consistently now and Jack is learning!

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I went with a friend to see Mackelmore and I’m basically obsessed. OBSESSED. It was SO good and he even brought his daughter on stage at the end.

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We also saw this Beauty take the stage – she was stunning and in several numbers! I think my favorite was when she wore my favorite leggings…

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Dad’s Day with these goons – a fun day outdoors, swimming, eating, playing tennis and just ENJOYING the day and being together (and I also really love Jim in this shirt. Yes, those are birds. Yes, he’s rocking it.)

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How’s your summer shaping up?

Parenting in Public

When we first ventured into starting a family, we experienced the difficulty of miscarriage and for a time, I was convinced that this was as difficult as this whole parenting thing would be. It seemed only fair that after trying so hard to have a family that the years that followed would be rainbows and sunshine, but we all know that’s how parenthood and mothering is – the ebbs and flows of this precious job are what keeps us up at night, causes us to cry throughout the day, but also reminds us just how deeply loved we are and how much responsibility is on us to raise good citizens and loving human beings.

So what happens when that responsibility shifts to the public eye? In the past few weeks, we have seen countless examples of parenting in public and just how detrimental that can be – to us, to our sanity, and to our commitment to raising these little ones. Because when you step outside of the confines of your own home,  not only do you need to be prepared to face the world, you need to be ready for the court of public opinion to hold trial at any time with you as the main culprit. Actions, inactions, words, could have, should have, would have, are suddenly tossed at you like a grenade because you should have known better. You should have DONE better.

Your kids DESERVED better.

And we wonder why the world battles self-esteem issues, anxiety, depression, and a lack of confidence. Because we’ve told people for far too long that they are not good enough.

What if you’re going about your day and your baby is hungry in the middle of Target? Better not “expose” yourself in public because a stranger might find you disgusting, tell you so, and proceed to verbally assault you. Oh, but if you don’t feed the baby, please keep him or her quiet at a respectable volume so that we might not be disturbed while we carry on with our day. So keep yourself covered, but don’t bring a bottle. Because breast is best.

What a load of mixed messages just because you decided to take a trip to the DollarSpot.

What if you decide to take a trip to the zoo and for a moment, your child escapes your eye, your attention, and finds himself into a precarious situation with a gorilla? Did you have too many kids with you? Were you looking at your phone? Why didn’t you climb into the enclosure with him? Don’t you have one of those leash thingies? “I” would never have lost my child in the gorilla pit had I been there. Surely you could not have been REALLY watching him.

But for a brief moment, your child faced the real possibility of harm and death. And instead of squeezing you close and reassuring you that he was fine, the world scoffed at your apparent lack of ability to multi-task because you obviously should have been able to do all the things with all the people at all the times.

What if you venture to the Happiest Place on Earth to make memories with your family and you will now be replaying the same hour of that day when an alligator came and tore your child away from you right in front of you? And the world questioned how. The internet said you should have obeyed no swimming signs. The world wondered just what you were doing when your child was being dragged away.

There is no grace. There is no mercy. There is no understanding for the living hell you will continue to endure – probably for the rest of your life. How you will put your own parenting on trial each and every day because in an instant, you were entirely and completely helpless to do the one basic thing that everyone is convinced you should be able to do – keep your child alive.

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And with each example, we learn more and more that when it comes to parenting in public – nowhere is safe. You are verbally assaulted if you do, lambasted if you don’t. From the time they are small, our children see reminders from strangers on the internet to the court of public opinion that their parents are not good enough.

And we wonder why we now battle a culture that lacks empathy, sympathy, and understanding.

The shooting at a Pulse nightclub brought out its share of stories, including one about a two-time cancer survivor and mother of eleven who sacrificed her life for one of her children and because of her, he is alive. She is a hero and deserves to be celebrated for her bravery and courage.

And the general public had to be quiet because the mother gave her literal life for her child.

And in her death, the world finally decided that she was good enough.

Fake It ’til You Make It

I could sit here and preach body confidence, right? I could write down the recipe for all the things you can do to make sure that you at least give the appearance that you are full of confidence in yourself and love yourself, just as you are, in this moment, right now. Heck, scroll through Instagram and you see enough body positive activists that you probably don’t need another.

But I’m not sure it’s that easy. In fact, I know it’s not. I’m a bigger fan of the old adage…

Fake it ’til You Make It

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I mean…

Honestly. Each day, it’s a conscious decision to put my best self forward and figure out the rest along the way. Want to know why I take a zillion pictures of my self and share selfies? Not because I think I’m the bee’s knees or because I’m actually self-obsessed or a duck faced sweetie pie.

Because I’m positive that we could all use a healthy dose of sass to go about our day. A little pep in our step, a little OOMPH to our life’s journey. And that all starts with giving it to yourself. 

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Even if you start by pretending that you love yourself. And eventually, over time, that pretending becomes a reality – even if you are still a work in progress (and you always will be).

And sometimes, you stand in front of a scratched-up mirror and wear a bathing suit because you can (insert standard blog post about OMGOSH, MOMS JUST PUT ON YOUR BATHIN SUIT ALREADY). And so I did. And I took a picture of it. (And yes, that’s my boys’ room because it’s the only one with a mirror and yes, the mirror is clean I promise).

Because I’m convinced that you can do it too. It all starts with YOU.

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And with a healthy dose of the right perspective? You start to believe that you are just as HAWT as you really are.

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So gosh darnit. Wear a bathing suit. Take a picture of it. And share it wherever you want.

Because sometimes, it’s not about who likes your picture, but about the fact that you liked yourself enough to share it.

Life as Kimmy Schmidt {aka Being a Remote Worker}

I was asked to be part of the Netflix #StreamTeam and share posts each month based on my experience. We are longtime Netflix users and cannot wait to share our experiences with you! All opinions are of course are own!

October || November || FRIENDS || Stream Team Finds || Lifetime on Netflix || Kimmy Schmidt || Friday Night “Liars” || Netflix “Families| || Stop & Watch || All in the Family || SummerTime || On the First Day of Netflix || Rewind Time || Netflix Viewing Party || Sharing the Netflix Remote || Let’s Get Political || May-ny New Hours of Netflix ||  Memorial Day Viewing

In January, I shared how I transitioned full time to working remotely from home. My office is a yellow-pebbled linoleum floor and my officemates are usually always sticky, needy, and seem fairly naive when it comes to the ways of the world. I do not often escape from my drab garb and instead, you can usually find me in the same clothing day in and day out. And then yesterday, it dawned on me.

Being a remote worker is basically being a mole woman a la Kimmy Schmidt.

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Photo Credit: Netflix

I try often to find ways to escape this underground lair I call my home and while I don’t have a crazy reverend, it sometimes feels like my Macbook is calling the shots.

My theory on being a mole woman was confirmed yesterday during a trip to the city to visit the office. And then I was all like…

CHICAGO!!!!

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Photo credit: Netflix

I drove myself in, but if I had taken a taxi, you can bet your bottom dollar I would have stuck my head out the window, just so.

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Photo credit: Netflix

I did things that I haven’t done in what felt like years. I coordinated my clothing, put on make-up, and actually straightened my hair so that it looked like the hair stylist had sort of done it.

I felt out of place, but also oddly in my element.

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Photo credit: Netflix

And this view!

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Just a wee bit different from my daily experience.

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We ate lunch along the river and I felt like I was on top of the world. I didn’t quite find my Titus Andromedon, but I’m sure he’s waiting in the basement level of an apartment for me when I finally work up the courage to dump all my worldly possessions and move into the city for real.

For now, it’s back to The Bunker for me and a life in my drab rags, but at least I know there’s a great big city out there. Somewhere.*

*Please note: This post is meant to be funny and light. Please do not comment or email me that I should love my life in my Bunker. I DO! But I also love the city, wearing coordinating clothes, and seeing Lake Michigan aka Chicago’s ocean.

Charlie’s Cone Critiques: Diane’s Place in Palos Heights

Happy Monday!

If you hang around on my Facebook page, you will know that our BRAND NEW venture this summer is adding Charlie as an ice cream critic on our family blog! Each week, we’ll feature a different local ice cream place, film a quick review, and Charlie will share how many cones he’s awarding each place – ranging from 1 to 5 cones (1 being meh, 5 being EAT ALL THE THINGS!) We’ll follow up with a quick review here and some additional commentary.

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Our first stop was Diane’s Place formerly Tastee Freez in Palos Heights. Located off Harlem a bit down from the Firehouse, this little ice cream shoppe is the perfect place to snag some soft serve and easy eats. Jim snagged a flame-broiled cheeseburger and I picked up a little chicken wrap. You can’t beat the price and the food was pretty good!

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On to the good stuff! Charlie awarded this place five cones – he thought the ice cream was creamy and delicious. The chocolate and sprinkle cone really made it for him, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s stars got a bit stingier in the coming weeks.

Menu selections:

Charlie – Twist cone in a chocolate and sprinkle cone

Jack – Chocolate in a chocolate and sprinkle cone

Daddy – Double cheeseburger

Mommy – Chicken wrap

Family – Bosco sticks (DELICIOUS breadsticks with cheese inside – MUST SNAG)

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Their ice cream menu offers a nice variety – think sundaes, cones, and swirls (think candy and topping mix-ins). The food menu is simple, but definitely has something for everyone. We went on a Thursday early evening and were able to find a table to sit at – they also offer a few tables for outdoor seating.

Let us know if you try out Diane’s Place! We highly recommend!

On the Last Day of First Grade

It seems like only yesterday I was reminiscing about time flying by. First grade has come and gone in a flash and somehow, here we are again ready to face our first full summer enjoying the sunshine before we head back to a full day of school.

Charlie in First Grade

That baby face is getting more grown up and you seem to be transforming before my eyes.

This year brought new friends, new experiences, and our first foray into the public school system. Our morning walks were sometimes sprints, sometimes swaggers, and occasionally seemed to need a little extra push.

Lunches have come to a close with a few reminders to me about how you “don’t really like that” or “put more of those in,” but sweet notes here and there were a reminder that I was thinking of you.

Gym class, art sessions, and musical play made their way into your heart and you found a rhythm – both in your school day and in your own little life. You march to the beat of your own drum, but you follow the rules to a T – including reminding me that “Mrs. Hughes doesn’t want us to bring that.”

This year brought another trip to Disney World, a bathroom renovation, and learning how to spend “all day long” at school. You participated in your first art show and your first science fair – first grade has been special and full and so you.

And there goes that little nudge again. That reminder as we walk off to school that while this is the last day of school this year, it is also so much more.

You trotted on your way, heart full, backpack empty, and ready to end this year’s adventure.

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Not before one more hug and snuggle – the gentle push to start his day! {And I’ve never been so thankful for that one last look}

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And then he’s off. This last day of school business is hard. It is so freeing and full and promising, but it is also a simple reminder that time marches on. That he will never have another last day of first grade again. He will never spend another day in his first grade classroom.

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It is the one day of the year where he enters the building as a first grader and departs as a second grader – growing up in an instant.

May I always remember the moments right before he seems to grow up before my very eyes.

All Tangled Up

A while back, Target caused quite the uproar when they decided to remove genders from the toy section. At the time, I didn’t think much of the decision despite the rampant disagreements that I saw on Facebook with this decision. But in the months that followed, I became keenly aware of the differences in marketing and strategy as it pertains girls versus boys and just how much companies think about who they market to and why. Consider the recent Star Wars uproar with Rey’s exclusion from toys and available merchandise to purchase.

Disney has worked to fix this and the option to buy any number of bright pink and purple Rey paraphernalia can be found firmly planted in the “boy’s” section of the Disney Store. A pair of moms have even gone so far as to create a line of science and stem-themed clothing for their daughters because they were unhappy with the options available.

But as a mom of boys, what do we do with sons who also like princesses?  Where are the “masculine” versions of my boys’ favorite movies, such as Tangled and Frozen, nestled between the princess dresses, tiaras, and skirts?

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As women, we have spent years (and still are) working hard to build equality and find our place in this “man-made” world. But sometimes when I hear people talk about girls having an interest in all things “boy,” she is seen as powerful, strong, making her own way, and ready to attack the world. She’s the Queen of all Trades and breaks gender barriers with something as simple as rocking a Rey shirt and a light saber.

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But when a boy likes a unicorns, rainbows, and all things pink and purple? We aren’t sure what to do with him. He’s seen as “feminine,” a wimp, a wuss. As someone who is unsure of himself or who “wants to be a girl.” Our culture seems to have built this lie that boys who like girl things should be ashamed. When, especially as children, these interests are usually nothing more than their favorites at the time.

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We bought our boys purple and pink gym shoes. Not to make a political statement or because it is against ‘the norm,’ but because that is what they like, what they chose, and what they love to run around in. I would do the same for a daughter and just as ferociously.

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My hope is to build them up so much that when the world says no, they still have the courage to say yes.

What do you think about the way things are currently marketed? Do you find this goes both ways? 

Preschool Graduation

The time has finally come (again!) for my next little Mister to say goodbye to preschool. Lucky for us, he’ll be back at this school for Kindergarten, but the preschool years are behind him. It’s crazy how quickly they grow and just how much they seem to age in the span of a school year.

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Onward to Kindergarten!

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Nature-Inspired Baby Shower

This past weekend, I was thrilled to be part of hosting a baby shower for one of my dearest friends due with a baby boy in late July. When thinking of a theme, I was immediately drawn to her love of nature and found the perfect locale – a Great Room in the school where my boys go and went – across the street from the Chapel in which she was married. Located on a Children’s Farm, the rustic setting and log cabin themed room were the perfect place to host a nature-inspired baby shower.

Woodsy Baby Shower

The shower theme was simple to put together with a little help from Target and Hobby Lobby. Everyone pitched in and the elements were nature-inspired while also keeping mom-to-be in mind.

This banner was created with elements from Target’s DollarSpot.

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I found these adorable signs that doubled as decor and will work as a great addition to baby’s room!

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Balloons at the entryway instead of outside, so as not to give our secret away.

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Little Bub – ready to meet us in just a few short months!

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Fresh flowers as centerpieces were the perfect beautiful accent throughout the room – they also made great prizes for games and for the hostesses. These additions by mom’s friend were beautiful!

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Food from Papa Joe’s – YUM!

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A calendar to guess when baby will arrive and an extra invitation since the shower was a surprise!

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The tables were cream tablecloths, burlap runners, cups with accent stickers, striped straws, favors, and hues of green, blue and beige. The floral centerpieces were the perfect POP of color (tins from IKEA).

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We asked guests to bring books to start baby’s library and I found those adorable wood block letters at Hobby Lobby – the perfect addition to this table, but also now baby’s room. And nope. I didn’t make those pom-poms – Grandma and Grandpa separated pre-bought ones out for me!

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Cute critters and soft colors were throughout the room. Let’s not forget CHEVRON!

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Adorable favors put together by grandma and auntie – Ready to Pop! filled with popcorn and with a beautiful poem about baby’s arrival.

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We also added flower seeds with fertilizer and mulch in a purple hue for guests to grow their own little bed of nature at home. These tags were the perfect addition, put together with twine!

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More poms, more burlap, and another cute sign!

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Nostalgia with adorable pictures! <3

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A beautiful day was had by all!

Have a wonderful weekend!

I Want to Be Handsome.

The walks to school can sometimes feel like an eternity and other days, they are the blip on a busy day of madness and scheduled activity. On other days, I find they are the most significant times of bonding with my boys – holding hands, shooting the breeze, and talking excitedly about the day ahead.

On this particular day, Jack and I were discussing his upcoming preschool graduation (he’s five, this is the big time!) and talked about the need for a haircut so desperately (his wayward curls need to be tamed and if it were up to him, they would be cut right off and make him grow up in one instant.

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In our hairy conversation, he muttered, “I want to be handsome. I want my hair to look handsome.”

When I asked him to elaborate, he told me about how he hopes his teachers think he does and I assured him that yes, they do. To which he replied, “I want them to tell me I am.”

And suddenly he aged ten years and we were in the throes of teenagedom wrought with insecurity, questioning, and the longing for acceptance.

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We often talk about the pressure to be something that women and girls experience every day, but through the eyes of my five-year-old son and a simple conversation, I became keenly aware of his own desire to be loved in all of his boyish glory.

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And I stopped in my tracks, looked into his eyes, and assured him that he was perfect, that he was handsome, that he was loved.

And made a vow to do that more often.

Could I instill in my boys the confidence needed to combat what the world would throw at them? Could I pass along an attitude of self-celebration that is a delicate balance of pompous and humble? What happened to placing a band-aid on a scraped knee?

Suddenly, I was reminded of just how much they need to be reminded that they are so deeply loved, just as they are. With curls or without.

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I want to raise him with such confidence that when he is finally big enough to fill this suit (which is hopefully never) that he will never wonder if someone thinks he’s handsome.

Rather that he will know that he is because I told him so.