Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The celebrations continue...

We have had a lot to celebrate lately, and we've been having a great time doing just that!

Last Thursday we headed back to Swedish Days with Abby, Jeff and little man CJ. We patronized our favorite food tent- the Lion's Club- of which both Abby's and my dads are members. Marin enjoyed dancing to the live music while on Jason's shoulders, and of course we stopped for ice cream before we walked back to our house for the kiddos bedtime.

The next day we celebrated Jason's Aunt Jean and Uncle Don's 40th Anniversary. They were throwing a big party the following day, but Jason and I were going to be out of town, so we decided to invite the whole gang to our house for a pre-anniversary party, party. All of Jean and Don's kids were in town with their families, plus Jean's siblings- Jason's Dad, and their Aunt Carol and Uncle Jim and other Uncle Jim. Lindsay also made it out, and we had a happy house full of Patterson's! We walked up to Swedish Days to let the kids get their faces painted and to check out (you guessed it) the ice cream shop! Jack and Ella wanted to try out this big trampoline while hooked up to bungee cords thingy, and Amy, Lindsay and I decided to do it as well. It was a little demoralizing because we had to stand on a scale before they would allow us to ride, and then later referred to us "the bigger ladies" but I guess they hadn't ever seen grown ups actually give it a try. It was a lot of fun! A few days later when my abs hurt and I couldn't figure out why, I realized it was the flips I did on that bungee ride. Now I know why it is mostly for the kids and the teenie boppers. The "bigger ladies" could barely hack it! When we arrived back home, we all enjoyed Jason's famous pork loin for dinner. And with 8 kids running around, it seemed like one if not all of them were crying at one point, but there were plenty of hands and plenty of willing aunties and uncles to hold them. My parents joined us as well, and the "adults" (which, even with some of us in our late 30's, is how we refer to our parents) all sat around laughing and recounting their wedding days. After everyone left that night, Jason, Lindsay, their Dad and I sat on our deck talking until past midnight. Cops were called for the third time, but the joke's on the borington neighbors; we didn't move a muscle.

Saturday morning Jason and I left for our friend Katie and Sean's wedding in Michigan. Marin stayed with Pappy and Aunt Lindsay and had a glorious day going to the park, out to lunch and on stroller rides. Early that evening, the three of them went to Jason's Aunt and Uncle's anniversary party together. I am told that Marin was well behaved and once again had a ball with her cousins. Jason and I had a great time toasting Katie and Sean at their beautiful wedding and reception at a Michigan vineyard. It was a gorgeous night and the wedding was straight out of InStyle Weddings. We also celebrated our friend Sarah's recent engagement to Brendan, and are looking forward to their year of fun and preparations ahead. Sarah and Brendan are absolutely soul mates- and this was only further confirmed when we got into Brendan's car this weekend and in the backseat was every piece of sports equipment except a zamboni. It was great reunion with Stephanie and Shannon, who have both since moved to Ohio. It is rare when we are all able to get together, but it always is accompanied by gut busting laughter and a lot of inside jokes about P55's, 541T, The Lunch Lady, Rodent-like devices and doing "the show".

Sunday we headed back home and were glad to hear that Pappy and Aunt Lindsay enjoyed Marin as much as Marin enjoyed them. That afternoon Marin, Jason and I met my parents at the annual Swedish Days parade to mark the festivals end. Marin loved holding her little flag and waving to the floats as they passed, saying "HIIII!!!"

It was another great weekend!

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Life Changer- For Realsies

(sidenote: Jason has since forbidden me from using the phrase "for realsies" ever again. Whatevs. Like he gets to say.)

A few weeks ago, I put all purchases on hold. Jason and I put all new projects in the backseat. I traded my impulse purchases at Target for the luxury of sitting in my pj pants just a little too long past breakfast.

I traded my pencil skirts, for colored pencils and unlimited afternoons of arts and crafts.

I quit my job.

When it came down to it, I wasn't entirely happy everyday doing what I spent more time on than anything else- and that was my job- when I was oodles of over-the-top happy when I was with Marin. And so, I decided to be happier.

That's the short of it. The long of it really is that my job has become increasingly less flexible, to the point where I have been seeing Marin for a half hour a day, and that is just for dinner, bath and bed. And that just isn't going to work. Jason and I decided that as long as I could curb my Home Goods obsession and swear off random Marin shopping (who me?!) that I could quit my job and stay home with Marin. I'm embarrassed to admit that I had to think about that for more than a second, but about a second and a half later, I had my mind made up. I've had one foot, two arms and about half my brain out the door ever since.

I really began thinking about this before Marin was born. Before we even knew if she would be a boy or a girl. Around that time, I had a snipit of this conversation with Molly over lunch at our favorite spot in the loop, equadistant from our offices. She said something that really stuck with me. She said, "I'm sure you are an excellent Lead Enrollment Rep (my current job), but I'm positive that you'll be an even better mom. And I just think we should spend our time doing the things we're best at." I have never forgotten that. How true is that? At the time though, I didn't really have an acurate, living little reminder of what I was missing. From the very first day that I returned to work, I have had that constant reminder.

I'm a little torn. I'm really gratful that I am able to stay home with Marin. And I am very excited for that oportunity. But I just think this is one of those many aspects of parenting where there is no right or wrong choice, rather just simply a choice you have to make that works for your family. And even then, you may never really know if you have made the right decision. You just have to do what you feel is right. I really see a lot of value in setting an example for children, and perhaps girls in particular, to work hard; have a career; make your own money. But I also believe in doing what you love. And what I love is being Marin's mommy.

And so yes, I'll miss the extra money. And the zen time on the train all to myself when I read non-mommy related materials (gasp!). I'll miss the work friends that I've made and the satisfaction of a good review. I'll miss the little old man that sits at the train station in Chicago every morning at his salvation army post. We smile at each other every day. I'll also miss the street performer who plays the saxaphone on the corner everyday and has the words "Sax and the City" written on his coffee can turned tip jar. And yes, of course I'll miss you, Home Goods.

But what I won't miss are Marin's giggles as she runs in the yard every day, and her sweet sleepy hugs as she wakes up from her naps. I won't miss the things she'll say and do as she grows and learns more about how life works. I won't miss a chance to take her to the park. I won't ever have to turn down a tea party for a teleconference. I won't miss an oportunity to kiss her skinned knees. I'll get to be a room mom and a field trip chaperone.

And don't get me wrong, I know that my new gig won't be easy. Need I be reminded of Marin's current temper trend of sitting right down in the street and pitching a fit when she doesn't get her way? How about how when I hold her hand to cross the street and she's unable to wriggle free, she takes her other hand and uses it to pry my hand off of hers. But as in a job, there are sacrifices and there are rewards, and I just happend to think that the rewards I'll reep while being with Marin everyday will way out weigh any that I could find in the office.

A few weeks ago, I came across an exerpt from Kristin van Ogtrop's new book "Just Let me Lie Down". Kristin is the editor of Real Simple magazine, (Laaaaaa! Can you hear the angles singing in the heavens?! I love Real Simple magazine.) The excerpt said this: "Question the idea that quitters never win. It's one thing you learned in kindergarten that is absolutely false. At a certain point, quitters really do win, especially when quitting means eliminating from your life a bad job. Let's be honest. How many of you have dreamed of writing this out-of-office email: "Having realized, after years of thankless toil, that this job/my coworkers/my measly paycheck/my crazy boss are no longer worth my valuable time, I will be out of the office for the rest of my life. If you need immediate assistance, find someone else?" If that's not a win, I don't know what is." Now, my job really wasn't that bad. For the most part, I really liked it. But when Marin was born, that, along with many other things in life, were forever changed.

I hope that I am making a decision that is a win. I hope that, as Molly said, I am going to be spending my time doing what I am best at. I hope that I don't have to resort to hiding shopping bags from Jason in my trunk. (Just kidding honey. Sortof.)

I gave a little over a months notice to my boss, but she wanted to keep it quiet for a few more weeks so she didn't have to field job inquiries just yet. It all went public today. My last day is July 9th. I have exactly eight working days left; not that I'm counting. ;)

I'm very excited to have playdoe in my hair. I can't wait to host holiday themed parties where we make take home crafts, like Valentine's for our Daddies. But I'm a little scared about the unknown. I'm a little nervous about whether or not I can hack it. I'm feeling very melancoly about this current life. But until then, I just have to dive right in feet first and do the best that I can. Lucky for me, my new boss is wonderfully kind, has a charming little toothy smile, and can't talk back yet.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Luckily, we're still in Kansas - er, Illinois!

Few of you will remember this post from a few years back when "the baby" (now Marin) survived its first tornado.

Well, yesterday Marin survived her second. I was on the Metra train on my way home from work. NOT the place you want to be when you have a baby in the basement at her daycare, a husband (and brother and sister-in-law) at the airport, a dad working at an outdoor festival and the tornado sirens are going off. We sat on the tracks for over an hour, while the conductor filled us in on the storm touching down basically all around us. There were 75mph winds, crazy rain, firetrucks everywhere and the sky was the color of an avocado.

Everyone is okay. My mom was able to rescue Marin for Kathy's basement and took shelter in their house, and everyone we love got where they needed to be without harm. But whew. That's a moment for us moms. There's a tornado and you aren't with your baby. Thank God for Grandparents!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Swedish Days!

The 61st Annual Swedish Days Festival kicked off last night, and the majority of the action is just a block from our front door.

Growing up in Geneva, Swedish Days was the greatest week of our summer. There's a carnival, elephant ears, corn dogs, the kid's parade, the real parade, live music, dancing in the streets and the ice cream shop stays open late! Plus, everyone you haven't seen since school let out is there sporting the start of their summer tans.

As an adult and a mom, I love Swedish Days for the very same reasons -including the ice cream shop staying open late. Except now I also enjoy the sales at all of the boutiques and (pending a babysitter)I have the option to enjoy the beer tents and wine tastings. The Chamber of Commerce and the History Center claim Swedish Days to be the "Granddaddy of Illinois Festivals". I haven't checked their facts, but it is definitely a favorite of our town's festivals. It's named "Swedish" Days as a nod to our towns settlers, and as Geneva celebrates its 175th anniversary this year, it's cause for extra celebration.

Jason has been out of town on business, so last night, Marin and I headed to the festivities with my parents. We all packed on the courthouse lawn with our blanket, lawn chairs and picnics and listened to a Beatles cover band. Marin was in heaven! I thought I might have to be chasing her all around the lawn, but she loved dancing to the music and eating off her small table (after she learned that it wasn't a step :)). She had never been to a picnic before, so the concept of a blanket spread out on the grass was fascinating to her. It's one of those things you don't think about as an adult- you just bring a blanket to a picnic. But to a child who is used to blankets being used at bedtime, or in the winter, it seems really silly to put a blanket on the grass and sit on it to eat. At one point Marin just laid on top of the blanket and giggled. Through out the night she kept going back to the blanket to lay on her back, just kicking her legs in the air like she was the happiest baby in the world.

We have plans to go back to Swedish Days all week. Can't wait to watch Marin take it all in!

Two other ways Marin made me smile this week:

I caught Marin dancing to the new song "California Girls" in her car seat the other day. When we pulled in our driveway I pulled out my camera to catch it on video because it was cracking me up. She was dancing along like she agreed with every word Katy Perry was singing about. Of course, once again, by the time I got the bit on film she had tamed her moves, but you still get the picture. In the end she's more interested in getting her hands on the keys in the ignition of our car than the bikini clad beaches of California.
Marin has really missed her Daddy since he's been out of town. Yesterday she saw a picture of Jason on the computer screen and she went berserk. She got SO excited and was "dadadadadadada"ing all over the place. She started squealing with excitement at the site of his face on the screen and wanted to climb up to get a closer look. When she got up close she started waving and saying, "Hiiiii!!!!! Hi Daddyyyy!!!" I think she might have thought that he was on Skype and could wave back to her. Really the only time she is in front of a computer screen, is when we are on skype, so she was waving and "hi"ing her heart out. It was so sweet!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Project Update VII:

Nothing slips past you guys. I have "What happened to the life changer" all over my email inbox and in my comments. I love it. I love that you're reading; I love that you're remembering, and I love that you're curious. I didn't know if you'd hold me to that June 18th promise date like you have. Good for you.

But I still can't tell until this Friday. And then, I truly promise I can tell. Until then, enjoy some more pictures of the project progress.

The cushions for the banquette seats are finished! I think they turned out really nicely! We love this little banquette nook. And the storage inside is a great place to store extra blankets to curl up with in the winter time. Or maybe it means that I can go shopping for something to put inside? No? Okay then. Just as well.

The anniversary party last weekend was a great catalyst for getting projects finished. Jason finished trimming out the new sliding door, inside and outside. We are both really thankful to my dad for his help on the trim inside! It looks great!

The wine bar is as done as it is going to be for a while. The beverage fridge that we have our eyes on, that will best serve our needs, requires that we save our pennies for a little bit. But it hasn't stopped us from popping corks, so we're happy to wait.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Congrats all around!

Marin had another big weekend. On Saturday, Jake, Katy, Jason and I were thrilled to throw my parents a 40th anniversary party. Can you imagine 40 years?! As I said on Saturday night, I can only hope that Jason and I have the pleasure of spending 40 plus years together. My grandparents have been married for 65 years, so 40 is old news to them. We've just coming up on six years and we think that is noteworthy.

Both Katy and I took off of work on Friday to prepare and clean and set up. Jason and Jake joined us that evening. I'd say it was a ratio of about 80% work and 20% ridiculousness. Definitely the way to do it. Jake dared me to take a shot of mustard for 20 bucks. Of course the sibling rivalry, and my "that's nothing" attitude" fueled me to jump on it. Then he changed the game. For my cockiness, he said the ante jumped up to a shot of red pepper hummus, grape jam and mayonnaise. Same reward. I did it, but not without a few gags. When I threw the shot glass into the sink in disgust at the end, Jake made sure I had finished. He showed me that too much had slipped down the drain. I didn't believe it, but I looked and sure enough, it appeared that a large amount of the horrid concoction was in the drain. Jake said that as a consolation, I had to eat a teaspoon full of horseradish. Why I was still complying at this point is a psychological study beyond me. But, I obliged none the less. And after I washed the red pepper, grape jam, mayo shot down with horseradish, and I tried to wash the remaining evidence out of the sink, and discovered that what was in the drain was not the remaining shot , but a piece of pizza. Awesome. I have been tasting red pepper yuck and horseradish for days now- and it was all for nothing. Well, except that I am up 20 bucks. If I'd had a sister, we'd have stayed up late whispering and painting each others nails. But I have a brother, so we dare each other to eat gross mixes from the fridge.

But I digress... The party came and went on Saturday in what seemed like a blink. All of my parent's closest friends piled into our house for a celebration of them and everything that they have accomplished and been through together in the past 40 years. It was a wonderful tribute to their lives together thus far, and many stories of the past were shared.

Saturday morning, Marin and I made a quick stop at our neighbor's 2nd birthday party in the park. Marin loved seeing her little friends and it was a gorgeous afternoon to spend a little time at the playground. Then we went home and finished preparing for the party. Before the guests arrived, Erica came to take pictures of all seven of us and she stayed to take pictures of the party. We are so grateful that she gave up a Saturday night with her family to do this for us. Erica is always so much fun, and this picture really shows that. I barely was able to take any pictures myself, and I know that Erica's will be much better than I could have captured.

My sister-in-law, Holly, on Jason's side, makes gorgeous cakes, and the cake she made for this occasion was exactly that. I always remember my mom talking about how she loves the stephanotis flowers that were at she and my dad's wedding. Holly made them a beautiful cake covered in stephanotis flowers, with a pink banner that matched the color of my mom's bridesmaid's dresses. Since Holly lives in Indiana, Jake drove on Saturday to meet her halfway and brought the cake back. They both really went out of their way, and I really appreciate it. I wanted the cake to be really special, and it definitely was!

We made a lot of food and served plenty of beverages. Pictures of my parent's wedding and through out the years that followed were displayed. A crowd favorite was a picture of the four of us dressed up like pirates that we took during a trip to Disney World circa 1988. And the picture of my parent's on the night that they were engaged showed how young they were when they decided to be together forever. We also asked people to share their favorite memories of the past 40 years with my mom and dad in a book. Those stories got increasingly better as the night when on.
We took a few minutes in the middle of the night to publicly congratulate my parents and say a few words about what an excellent example they have set for us on how to love each other. We feel so lucky to have shared all that we have together, and we wish them many more years of happiness and health ahead. Marin wandered from person to person saying "Hi" and staring down their plates of food. She figured out how to play the crowd for optimum cookie and dessert eating. She stayed up until her eyes were completely glazed over. That girl is a party girl at heart!

The party ironically fell on the eve of Jake and Katy's one year anniversary. We kidded them that they had a little catching up to do, and reflected on the parallel between having just completed your first married year together, and that of 40 years together.

We celebrated into the morning, and Sunday came earlier than we considered the night before when we all agreed to one more drink. Marin, Jason and I kicked Father's Day off with a family bike ride at Jason's request. We rode along the river and ended our ride at Molly's graduation party. Marin was so proud to celebrate her Auntie Molly's graduation for Northwestern's Kellogg, where she got her MBA! We could only stay for a little bit, however, because from there we headed to my Aunt and Uncle's house for a Father's Day celebration with my family. It was a gorgeous day at the lake and Marin especially enjoyed the boat ride. She loved to reach over the side of the boat to splash in the water. We had to really hold on to her tightly, because she wanted to dive in head first! Marin and I are so grateful for not only her amazing Daddy, but for her Grandpa, and her Pappy and her two Great Grandpas. They are not only great dads, but amazing men. And we are so lucky to have them in our lives. I'm especially partial to Marin's daddy. He's kind of a hunk. And he cooks!

We ended the day with just the three of us and a walk to the ice cream store. I decided to treat Jason and Marin to ice cream with my red pepper hummus, grape jam, mayo and horseradish winnings. We are exhausted today, but once again we are thankful to be at the end of a wonderful weekend full of family and friends. We are so thankful for my parents- for all that they give and share with us and others. Our house packed full of laughter and the buzzing of stories from both old friends and new was a true testament to how great of a couple they are, and how FUN they are! We will be excited to be one of those people at Jake and Katy's 40th anniversary in 39 years. Marin could be there with her own family by then!
Nothing is better than a Saturday in the park with good friends, and we wish Parker a great 3rd year ahead! And of course we are proud of Auntie Molly! I know that she will always be a great example for Marin that no goal is too great, nor dream too big. She'll also come in handy when Marin asks a math question that mommy has loooong forgotten how to answer.

Congrats all around!