Middle School Graduation

Me pointing to my 8th grade graduation photo.

This Saturday, I had the privilege to attend the dedication of a Science Lab at my old middle school. My former science teacher, Mr. Lis, was the honoree. I graduated from S.E. Gross twenty five years ago. I really enjoyed my middle school years. I had good friends and even better teachers that truly cared. It was especially neat for me to return there with my daughters and husband and share in this event with them.

Mr. Lis was simply one of those teachers you don’t forget. He was funny but you didn’t mess with him. He made science fun and not intimidating. He broke it down for you and earnestly wanted you to learn the materials. I think because he combined humor with thoughtfulness and grace is all the more reason he was honored on Saturday.

Since he taught for close to forty years (!) in the same building, he had many generations of students attend this event. He had many stand up during the presentation and share how Mr. Lis had touched their lives and was not forgotten. Isn’t that what we all want but especially in a profession such as teaching?

I was especially glad that this event happened while Mr. Lis is still with us. So many times we remember to honor those with a dedication such as this one after the honoree has passed. Although that is still all said and good, it is still lacking the person being there in person, receiving the homage that they so rightfully deserve.

To Mr. Lis: Thank you. Thank you for your service. Thank you for your patience to teach middle schoolers for so many years. Thank you for your humor in phrases like “hurry up and take your time” when we would take tests.

I thank God for the blessing that is you.

9 and 18

The end of the school year is fast approaching around here (Wednesday!) and in my family some are even graduating. While M and C are just beginning their student careers (going into 3rd grade and 4-yr preschool respectively), two of my brother’s three sons are starting a new phase in theirs. Last week both my brother’s youngest and middle graduated. One from eighth grade, the other high school. As I have been thinking of them moving on to different schools, etc., it has made me reflect on the passage of time. More specifically how quickly it has passed as seen in these two young men.

I remember exactly the day my brother’s youngest graduated from preschool. It was spring of 2004 and I was pregnant with M. I actually attended his preschool graduation with his mom and grandparents (my sister-in-law and mom and step-father). Something I hadn’t done with any of my other nieces/nephews. I remember it being a cold day. The “ceremony” was in the church basement where the preschool was held. The graduates were so cute with handmade mortar boards and tassel. My sister-in-law was a bit weepy since this was her baby now moving on to the big leagues of kindergarten. I was glad to be there and imagined a time soon where my baby would be doing this as well. This was nine years ago. How can this be? I look at M now, an almost third grader and know in my heart it won’t be long for her to be like her cousin and entering high school.

My brother’s middle son was born the summer of 1995. Today, in fact, is his birthday. He turns 18. When he was born, I was almost 21. I had just returned from  my junior year at Beloit College. My junior year had been a turning point for me. During the course of one semester, I had bought my first new car and broken up a long-term yet unhealthy relationship, in that order. I had started to explore new relationships and reconnect with friends, one such being my future husband. I remember returning home in good spirits and full of hope for new beginnings. Then a new nephew arrived. He was dark-haired and long. His older brother was blond and blue eyed. Already yin and yang. He was the only one of my brother’s sons that I actually saw in the hospital. Now that baby is eighteen and about to go to St. Ambrose for his own new beginnings. Wow.

Where does the time go? I don’t know but I am blessed to be here for the ride.

Thank Goodness No More Threes! A Birthday Interview

A couple of days ago, Miss C turned 4! Hooray! As you can tell by the title of this post, I am relieved that I no longer have three year olds in my house. Whenever people say that the twos are “terrible,” I heartedly disagree. For you see, the threes are where the “terrible” parts truly start. In their twos they might get warmed up but once they hit their threes they are running at full speed. At least this has been the case for my two girls. So yes, it is good to be FOUR!

In order to celebrate C and her birthday, I asked her some questions like I have done with her sister on her birthdays. I have delayed doing this for C until she got old enough. Well, I think four was as good a point as any to start!

Mommy: What is your favorite color?
C: Purple!
Mommy: Who is your boyfriend?
C: Davy! (a little boy from her preschool)
Mommy: What is your favorite food?
C: Marshmallow Cheerios
Mommy: What is your favorite thing to play with?
C: My dog named SnuffleBally (well-loved stuffed animal)
Mommy: What do you want to be when you grow up?
C: A Firefighter
Mommy: What do you like to play with at school?
C: Food Ice Cream – not the real one!
Mommy: What do you like about being 4?
C: Being a big girl!
Mommy: What don’t you like to eat?
C: Eating chicken when it’s not chicken nuggets
Mommy: What don’t you like?
C: Washing my hair
Mommy: Why?
C: Because I don’t like bugs
Mommy: What do you like to play with your sister?
C: Play in her bedroom.
Mommy: With what?
C: Her animal chickie

Books We Read – April 2013


Books that we have read during the month of April. (Titles with ** are our favorites for the month)



Miss M:

Miss C:


How about you? Read any good books lately? Thanks for taking the time to share.

Sometimes My Life is an Abbott & Costello Skit

Today is a beautiful Spring day in Chicagoland. After eating some lunch, I asked C (M is at school) if she would like to go for a walk. She replies that she would like to go to “Grandma’s Park” in her wagon. She also decides to bring her stuffed animal, SnuffleBally and a small library book. She tells me she wants to sit in the wagon (it is a two seater Radio Flyer) on the side that is not by the handle. “I want to see you, Mommy” she says. So off we go.

It is a lovely walk. C is talking/reading her book to her doggie and I am getting some good exercise pulling her along. I think I know what she means by “Grandma’s park” (we have four parks within walking distance from our house) so I start walking towards that one. Well, as we approach the park I think is “Grandma’s Park” she starts complaining to me that this is NOT “Grandma’s Park.” Even though I thought this would be it because it is the closest to Grandma’s house, I was wrong. So I ask her where Grandma’s park is. She says it is on “Busy Street.” I am starting to get frustrated. “There is no street called ‘Busy Street!'” I reply. She starts pointing towards the other park, so off we go.

As we approach the next park, I ask her if this is Grandma’s Park. She replies yes. Hallelujah  I asked her why this is Grandma’s park. Is it because Grandma took you here once? She doesn’t really reply. A mystery. We continue walking towards the park. She then notices babies and/or toddlers at said park. As I am about to pull the wagon into the park she tells me in an anguished voice: “There are babies there. I don’t want to go here.”

So. Yeah. We finally get to “Grandma’s Park” and what do we do? We turn around and head home. Of course we do.

Just so happened to get this book at our local library this morning…

Books We Read – March 2013

Brave Girl Jacket

Below is our monthly list of the books we enjoyed during the past month.


  • 31 Days of Faith: Finding Joy by Tracie Stier-Johnson (enjoyable; full of comfort and warmth)
  • Lying Awake: a novel by Mark Salzman (what a great book to read during Lent. would be a good book group pick too)
  • The Return by Victoria Hislop (read for book club. interesting subject on Spain Civil War but only an OK read)
  • Seven Sacred Pauses (non-fiction) by Macrina Wiederkehr (good Lenten reference/reminders to take time for God)
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (finally got around to reading this one. is youth fiction but is so powerful and dark that I think is more for 13+. sad yet very good)
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (first time read of this classic. thought it was terrific and terrifying on how very true it applies to today)
  • We the Animals: a novel by Justin Torres (quick read; interesting and holds your attention but takes an unexpected turn towards the end. good read)


M (age 8):


C (age 3½):

  • Louise the Big Cheese and the Ooh-La-La Charm School by Elise Primavera
  • Simms Taback’s Farm Animals by Simms Taback
  • Can I Play Too? by Mo Willems
  • Waterloo & Trafalgar by Oliver Tallec
  • Hide & Seek Farm by Dawn Sirett
  • Utterly Lovely One by Mary Murphy
  • Waking Dragons by Jane Yolen
  • I’m Big! by Kate McMullan
  • What a Party! by Sandy Asher
  • Poodles (non-fiction) by Mari Schuh
  • Duck & Goose, Goose Needs a Hug by Tad Hills
  • Chomp! by Heather Brown
  • The Scrambled States of America Talent Show by Laurie Keller
  • A Trip to the Bottom of the World with Mouse by Frank Viva
  • Pigs Make Me Sneeze! by Mo Willems
  • Let’s Say HI to Friends Who Fly! by Mo Willems
  • Not a Stick by Antoinette Portis
  • Perfect Square by Michael Hall

Tales from the Toilet: Potty Training Day 365

One year ago C and I started the journey from diapers to potty. My what a long and tedious road it has been! When I reflect back on this past year I see how C wasn’t really ready to be potty trained when I wanted her to be. Due to the fact that she was going to be in preschool in the fall, the push was on in my mind. And boy did I push. And boy did she push back! While we have been diaper free from that first day a year ago (and completely diaper free at night since December) this does NOT mean we have been accident-free. Not in the least bit. And that is okay. Just in the last month, yes, one month ago, did C start telling me on a regular basis that she had to go to the potty or going on her own initiative. This means that for pretty much the past year we have dealt with yucky messes and hiding and just plain grossness.

But we kept moving forward and we keep moving forward. While C still wakes up wet pretty much every morning we dry her off, change her pajamas and remind her yet again that she can get out of her bed and go to the potty at nighttime. Like she has eventually got it for the day, I am confident that she will get it for the night as well. It just takes time and patience. While I have plenty of time, it is the patience that I am constantly working on. This is what C is here to teach me (among many other things!). I am not in control. She will get there in her own due time.

So if you have a child that is just beginning potty training (or has been on the journey for quite some time) and you are at the end of your rope, just know that many have gone before you. You are not alone. They will not go to kindergarten in diapers.


Reflection and Exultation

For the past several Lenten seasons, I have given up social media. I took myself off of Facebook and Twitter and that was that. It was a good thing to do but this year I felt like it wasn’t enough. Yes, I had more time to do other things than piddle away on those websites but I was also replacing those websites with others to piddle away my time on. I was also missing out on many family photos and updates that are posted regularly on Facebook.

So this year I resolved to do something different and I did. I didn’t give anything up instead I made a resolution to get things done. Every afternoon when C would go to her room for “quiet time,” I would focus on something around the house that I had been procrastinating on and instead do it and be done with it. Some of things I did were: organize paperwork, go through the girls clothes and remove the sizes that no longer fit, call for a pickup of donated items to St. Vincent de Paul and fill up a bag to Moxie Jean to sell the girls’ “gently-used” clothes.

I felt so good when I did something that had just been waiting to get done. I would dedicate an hour to do these tasks and before I knew it, the time was up and my task was done or nearly done. Having this new way of thinking hasn’t stopped now that Lent is over and the Easter season is here. Rather it just continues on. For you see, once you start seeing all that you can do when you just say “Get ‘er done,” it. just. gets. done.

Easter 2013

Easter 2013


Referral Link to Moxie Jean – You click on it and order great gently-used kid’s clothes, you get $10 off $20 order. I then get $10 off too. Win. Win.


Books We Read – February 2013

Here are the books we were found reading in the month of February.


  • Dead Man Walking by Sister Helen PreJean (read for my church book club – have been wanting to read this for a long time and am glad I finally did. Even though is now dated 20 years is just as meaningful and powerful).
  • Splendors & Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz (Junior Fiction. Newberry Honor Book. Bit gloomy and dark but good for ages 12 and up).
  • Lincoln’s Grave Robbers by Steve Sheinkin (Youth Non-Fiction. Very informative about a topic I didn’t know really happened).
  • Calling Dr. Laura: a graphic memoir by Nicole J. Georges (Adult comic book. Strange yet enthralling. Sad and tragic. Very good).
  • Granny Torreli Makes Soup by Sharon Creech (Junior Kid Read book for our library. Quick read but such a sweet neat book).
  • The Book of Mormon Girl by Joanna Brooks (Non-Fiction. Started out slow but really enlightening, especially about Prop. 8 & Mormons and having a two religion family. Very good).
  • The Story of Jesus: Experience the life of Jesus as one seamless story (NIV) (Quick Read and perfect for Lenten reflection. Excellent. Made the Bible/New Testament very approachable and engaging).

Miss M’s Books:

  • Little Kids First Big Book of Why by Amy Shields / National Geographic book
  • Big Nate Strikes Again by Lincoln Peirce
  • Miss Suki is Kooky! by Dan Gutman
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling (the Harry Potter kick continues! She loves them).
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling
  • Calvin & Hobbes: There’s Treasure Everywhere by Bill Watterson
  • Archie Comic Books (various)
  • Horrid Henry Tricks the Tooth Fairy by Francesca Simon
  • Should I Share My Ice Cream? Let’s Go For a Drive by Mo Willems (read to her sister)
  • Ivy and Bean Make the Rules by Annie Barrows
  • Bad Kitty: School Daze by Nick Bruel
  • The Chicken Problem by Jennifer Oxley
  • Meg Mackintosh and the Case of the Missing Babe Ruth baseball: a solve it yourself mystery by Lucinda Landon
  • Diary of the Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw by Jeff Kinney

C’s Books: (read aloud)

  • Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox: the Great Pancake Adventure by Matt Luckhurst
  • Louise the Big Cheese and the Back-To-School Smartypants by Elise Primavera
  • More Bears! by Kenn Nesbitt
  • A Kiss Like This by Mary Murphy
  • Ginger and Petunia by Patricia Polacco (a favorite this month about a woman and her pet pig)
  • Our Marching Band by Lloyd Moss
  • Mud Puddle by Robert Munsch (another favorite about a girl and a mud puddle that keeps finding her)
  • Tarantulas: Cool Pets! by Alvin Silverstein (C loved looking at the cartoon of a tarantula eating popcorn!)
  • Glamorous Glasses by Barbara Johansen Newman (originally got this for M to look at but C quickly took it into her room. She is always saying she wants to get glasses. My response: your time will come. The odds are in your favor).
  • Animals and Their Families by Barbara Nascimbeni
  • Big Top Scooby-Doo Movie Reader
  • The Thanksgiving Mystery (Scooby-Doo)
  • Today I Will Fly! by Mo Willems
  • The Tale of Mr. Tod by Beatrix Potter (this and the next three are all “little books” that C demands to check out every week at the library).
  • The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle by Beatrix Potter
  • The Tale of Johnny Town-Mouse by Beatrix Potter

Sick Day

About two weeks ago I woke up feeling crummy. I had taken allergy meds. in the evening which had only helped my cold feel like it had invaded my entire body. It was a school/work day so J was already at work when I awoke and Miss M and C would have to be corralled with breakfast and getting dressed and the usual harriedness of a typical morning. Yuck.

So even though all my body wanted to do was crawl further under the covers and not come back out until MUCH later in the day, it wasn’t going to happen. I remarked later on to J that I so much wished I had a job that I could call in sick to. Again, not an option but wishful thinking.

This wasn’t my first and it won’t be my last time I am not at my 100% health-wise but it is a frustrating aspect of being a parent. The kids don’t really care that you are sick. They just want to be fed/clothed/taken to school, etc. You as a parent have no choice but continue to fulfill those needs even when you feel like you had been hit by a Mack Truck.

Granted that day was one that I could take both girls to school. So M was gone till 3 and C till 11am. After I dropped them both off at their respective schools, I came home and promptly returned to my bed for the next hour and a half till it was time to pick up C. I am thankful that I was able to have this time to rest.

You learn that early in this game called parenthood. Sleep when the baby sleeps or in my case, when the preschooler is at preschool. The laundry, the house cleaning, the other millions of things on your “to-do” list will wait. Your health is the most vital thing in helping you being the best person and thus, best parent you can be.