Zuzu's petals?

Monday, November 23, 2015

Friends, my mom, sister, and I want to thank all of you for making us feel like George Bailey the last 2 days! My friend Ruth, owns a wonderful store in Barrington (it's also online) and she was sponsoring a fall photo contest. My mom, myself, some friends, and some other people I don't know entered. If you know my mom, you know how much she loves her photography. She has a real talent, that I wish she would use more often. The contest ended up being one that was voted on by other people. Much to our delight, my mom was in first place on Sunday! I think she felt like a million bucks because she is not on social media so she doesn't have a huge reach.

One of my other friends who entered the contest, has a dad with 35K+ twitter followers. Naturally she asked him to tweet for her (I would've too, if my dad had twitter...and followers). So my sister and I turned to facebook and asked our friends, family, and my mom's friends to vote for her. You guys came through and she pulled ahead! Sadly for us, my friend's dad tweeted again. And you, my friends came through again! You re-posted, you shared, you voted, and some of you even brought me and my mom to tears with your sweet posts (Liza ;)). I read her your messages and shares and she couldn't believe it. Jenna's students, who obviously love her a lot voted for her. My mom pulled ahead again! But alas, my friend's dad tweeted again. We just couldn't compete with his reach. But I want you all to know that my mom asked me to thank everyone on her behalf. I love my mom so much, but one of her biggest faults is her insecurity. And over the last two days she saw how loved she is, and how loved her family is. She has zero social media presence, and yet, she gave more than 35,000 twitter followers a run for their money. For this, we are truly thankful. She may not have won, but she is the richest person around. And to quote Clarence, the angel from It's A Wonderful Life, "Remember, no man is a failure who has friends." So thank you for making my sister, me, and most of all my mom, feel loved!

Winds of Change

Sunday, September 20, 2015

This fall has been all about change. If you've spent any amount of time with me ever, you know that I hate change. This is why I love Anne Shirley so much. In her words, "Why do people have to grow up, marry, and change...I don't want any of it to change. I wish I could hold on to these days forever. I have a feeling things will never be the same again, will they?" I am entering a new chapter, a chapter that I have told Bill many times, that I did not sign up for.

Back in February we found out that our school district was switching over to all day kindergarten. While many parents were super excited, I was not one of them. I thought I had one more year left with Brendan home part time. He is such a fun kid and great company. He has so many funny things to say, and will chat my ears off. All spring I lived in denial that fall was coming and he was going to be leaving me. My last baby was going to be gone all day. Much to my dismay, fall arrived and school started. I didn't sign up for babies leaving the nest. I had only planned for the part where they were home with me. Now they are at school all day, and I am wandering about, completely without purpose. I even ended up asking if I could come in additional day at work. Who does that?

One (fateful) day I was out walking and noticed a house for sale in our subdivision. It was the same model that my friend Leslie used to live in so I was very familiar with it. We only have three bedrooms, and I have imagined that as the boys become large teenagers, they may want to move out of bunk beds. To do that in their current room, would be very cozy. This house has four good sized bedrooms so I mentioned it to Bill. To my shock, he was interested in looking at it. We looked at it, and there wasn't anything wrong with it (I had been kind of hoping it would be a dump so that moving would no longer be an option for a while). We decided to hurry and get our house on the market, while deep down I was secretly hoping someone else would snatch up that house so we wouldn't be able to buy it. Shortly after looking at the house, Bill's parents decided it was time to downsize and they approached us about buying their house. It's much larger than ours and has 5 bedrooms. We talked about it and last Thursday we agreed that we would put our house on the market in the spring and hopefully buy theirs at the beginning of June (which is when they plan to move). While it's a wonderful house and we really need the space, I am incredibly sad to leave my home. We planted lilac bushes in the back yard as soon as we moved in. My parents bought me a peach tree in honor of Faith, while I was pregnant with Rori. I had my babies here. I redid my kitchen. I made my living room into my sanctuary. It's my HOME. I know that not everyone is weird like me, but I am sentimental and sappy and clearly I don't do well with change.

The day after we decided to buy their house and officially move, we had to say goodbye to one of our kitties that we had adopted the day after we got home from our honeymoon. He was the one affectionately known as "dirty cat" because he had never learned to clean himself (this is one of the benefits of cats--their being self-cleaning). It was so much harder than I had ever anticipated.
good lord he was young and they were so tiny

so that's my natural hair color

 I wasn't ready to say goodbye to him, it was all very much a devastating surprise. So by Saturday I was in a deep funk. That morning I said something along the lines of, "My babies are grown up and don't need me anymore, the cat that we got when we got home from our honeymoon died, so that means our marriage is over, and now you are ripping me from my home so you can go home, so I'm never getting out of bed because what's the point." something like that. I may have a flair for the dramatic. Fortunately Bill is used to my little bit of crazy and melodramatics, so he texted my sister and asked her family to come out to help pull me out of my funk. They did and it was helpful, but it doesn't change things. Isn't that ironic? It doesn't change the fact that things are changing. The last few weeks have been more change than I've had in a long time. I don't like it, but I am aware that I need to get on board the change train before I miss out on the future. So, I am going to keep opening the doors that God puts in front of us and pray that He keeps pushing me in the direction He wants me to go, lest I get left behind.

Today's Christian Woman

Thursday, May 28, 2015

My dear friend Suzi came to visit from Croatia last summer (well they were here raising support for missions, but I will pretend it was to visit us). Suzi has always been very encouraging in my writing and she was absolutely shocked that I had never asked to write anything for publishing company (Christianity Today) that I have worked for for 13 years. She offered to write a letter to the editor asking them to let me write. It was an incredibly sweet, albeit mortifying, gesture. Word got to my friend Ashley, who knows our Croats. She was going to start working for Today's Christian Woman along with her editing job at Church Law &Tax. She told me that once she started at TCW she was going to ask me to write an article for them. I was over the moon! A month later, she quit her job to freelance (very successfully, I might add). So...crap. Since my new resolution this year was to be brave, I was going to have to put on my big girl underpants and just ask the editor myself.

After much whining and asking for encouragement from family and Ashley, I typed up an article idea and sent it to the editor along with some links to my blog. Then I curled up in the fetal position and rocked. And checked my email every five minutes. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, she works remotely so I couldn't walk past her office several times a day so that she wouldn't forget me. Being the super nice and professional person that she is, she responded pretty quickly that she was swamped but promised to get back to me. And she did! And she liked my article idea! I didn't tell many people, for fear that the article would get cut (the anxiety meds help with day to day stuff, but I still have my fear of rejection ;) ). But yesterday, my article went live, and 99% of the feedback has been very positive. I am prepared for some people to disagree with my choice, but I have developed a thicker skin in the last year--and not just from my thyroid weight, so I should be able to handle it. I am so thankful for all my friends and family that have been so supportive and encouraging and I can't tell you all how much your kind words have meant to me! Here's the link to my article if you haven't read it yet

Where I've been

Monday, May 18, 2015

So, do you remember how at the beginning of the year I said I would blog once a week? Yeah, so that didn't happen. I have been MIA for a little while for a few reasons. The first reason is this guy.

He's kind of hilarious. Every day this kid makes me laugh--he gets his energy from making people laugh. I found out that our school district is switching to full-day kindergarten in the Fall, so this is the last of my one on one time with him. tear. sniff. time, you can stop now, mkay? So we've been hanging out and playing and making the most of our time together. 

The other reason is that I have been just plain exhausted. The thought of opening up my computer and typing words, coherent words, sounded like a nightmarish chore. So now comes my PSA (Public Service Announcement). You have to advocate for yourself (or your kids) because noone else will. Since last fall, I have been tired A LOT, and I also gained about 13 pounds that I could not get off for the life of me. If you know me, you know that I enjoy exercise and I have no problem doing a lot of it. I also don't eat horribly. So, getting the weight off shouldn't be too hard. Well, after working out religiously and counting calories, the weight wasn't budging. All it was doing was making me more tired. I regularly went to bed at 9:00--and often wanted to just go to bed when we put Rori and Liam to bed, but Bill usually talked me into watching one show in bed (which sometimes I didn't make it through). Bill assumed it was from the new early rising hour for Brendan's school, but I knew I just didn't feel right. I wanted to take a nap at 10:00 in the morning, and I can't tell you how many times I laid down at 2:00 and had to set the alarm on my phone in case I fell asleep and forgot to pick Rori and Liam up from school. Brendan would want to play, and I would literally have to force myself to do it with self-guilt-talk. I completely understand the term bone-tired. I was so tired, it almost hurt.

I pressed my normal doctor to check my thyroid levels since my dad has been hypothyroid since his mid thirties. The doctor said my levels were normal, but when I googled it (I love Dr. Google) it said many doctors don't use the new ranges, they still use the old ones. With the new ones, I clearly had hypothyroidism. This was about 9 months ago. When I complained about it, I felt like everyone just assumed I was getting old and lazy. But I knew that it wasn't normal to feel like this. Everything was an effort. I didn't want to play with Brendan, I certainly didn't want to clean the house. At work, I wanted to put my head on my desk. Often I forgot things, or thought I had completed something that I hadn't. It was really affecting my life. I brought it up to my doctor again about a month ago. He said "Are you sleeping ok?" and pretty much left it at that. He told me my thyroid had been ok when he checked it in the fall, but we could check it again in 6 months. He basically implied that I'm getting older and have 3 kids, of course I'm going to get fat and be tired. So I fired him (well, not to his face. I am much too polite, or too big of a wimp for that). 

A friend who has had thyroid cancer suggested seeing a more holistic type doctor that specializes in thyroids. I did a google search of thyroid doctors and found one only 10 minutes away; it's a general practitioner that focuses on thyroids and other hormones. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to get in for months, but they were able to see me within a week. I brought along my old lab work and she immediately said I should be on thyroid hormones. She gave me a low dose to start on until she got my new blood work. My new blood work showed that my ranges were now in what even my previous doctor would have considered hypothyroid as well, but he didn't want to test me again for 6 more months. I would've been even more hypo by then. 

So we are now in the stages of balancing out my hormones and gradually increasing the thyroid medicine. Some days I feel good, and some days I still want to nap. Apparently it can take months to get everything regulated, but I am so happy that I found a doctor who listened to me, and is willing to help me get back to being me. Bill has noticed an improvement--some nights I can stay up until 11:00 now, but then others can be bad and I want to go to bed at 8:30. This has really taught me that a lot of doctors just go through an assembly line and don't want to get to the root of your problem. You have to fight for yourself, or nobody else will. So, all that being said, hopefully I will have energy back soon, and be able to pick up my blogging again! I have missed it!

The day Cary Elwes said "As You Wish" to me

Sunday, February 15, 2015

My love of all things Princess Bride is well known and well documented. It's my all time favorite movie and book. So, when Bill and I found out that it was going to be playing in a theater in Chicago on Valentine's Day, it was a no brainer. My friend, Ruth, owns an amazing shop in Barrington (check it out here ), and there is a particular line of jewelry that I love, called Lenny & Eva. They have beads and sentiments that you can mix and match. She was getting some new sentiments and was going to get one that said "As You Wish" just in time for Valentine's Day. I told her I NEEDED it or I WOULD DIE. I am pretty sure that was my exact text. She put one aside for Bill. He gave it to me a day early so that I could wear it to Rori's school party.

After the party, my friend Liza and I decided to go to Ruth's store because my mom had given me a gift certificate and I wanted new beads for my new sentiment, and Liza had never been there and had some birthday money to spend. We chatted with the manager and she asked what our plans were for Valentine's Day. I told her we were going to see the Princess Bride and how much I loved it. She told me that she thought she had just read that Cary Elwes was coming for a book signing (He wrote a book about the making of The Princess Bride--of course I already owned it, but I would be happy to get a second, if it was signed). I made a mental note to look up when and where. By the time I got home, I had forgotten.

The next morning (Valentine's Day), Bill and I were enjoying a lazy Saturday waiting for our hot date--dinner at 4:00 (don't ask, that's what happens when you wait to get reservations) and then the movie at 7:30. I remembered that Cary Elwes was going to be in town and I wanted to see when, so I googled. I discovered he was going to be 40 minutes away at 2:00 THAT DAY!  I took a chance and called the bookstore and they said there would still be tickets at the door and the doors opened at 1:15. It was 11:45. Bill had to go get Rori from AWANA practice at noon, so while he did that, I hopped in the shower and planned to talk him into trying to go to the signing instead of downtown. THIS WOULD BE MY DREAM! By the time I got out of the shower and dressed, I had talked myself out of it. I figured there was no way we would get there in time, and if we got there, there wouldn't be tickets left. However, my dear husband came home with Rori and said, "Let's go!" This was not like us at all. We are way more practical and not this adventurous.

We dropped the kids at Bill's parents house, and he drove as fast as he could to Naperville. The closer we got, the more sure I was that we weren't going to be able to get tickets. Bill said he could see my half full glass slowly leaking the whole drive. He knows me well. We got there at about 1:30 and Bill dropped me at the door, I ran in and was able to get a book (which came with a ticket to see the Q&A and have it signed). I was beside myself! We got amazing seats for the Q&A portion. I was bouncing in my seat and I told Bill it was the best day ever (minus our wedding day and birth of my children). I could not believe we had pulled it off. Cary was charming, funny, and humble. After the Q&A, he went out to the lobby to begin the book signing, and they played the movie for us in the theater while we waited for our number to be called. I may have stalked him in the lobby a few times, while waiting for our turn. The movie played 2 full times before we were able to get in line. The poor man had been signing for over 3 hours.

I was trying not to be the creepy stalker that couldn't wait her turn, but I am certain I have no dignity left
Before the signing, they had announced that there would be no staged pictures--everyone would have to stand in front of the table and Cary would be behind, for efficiency. I saw him come out from behind the table a handful of times--usually to take pictures with people who had babies with them. I looked for a baby to borrow, but noone would oblige. There weren't any puppies around either. I had all kind of clever things to say to him when our turn would come. However, when it was our turn, I could hardly breathe, I was still shocked about the whole thing. I told him I was going to cry and he got up from behind the table and gave me a hug and whispered, "As you wish." in my ear. I DIED! I told him I'd loved him since I was a little girl. He thanked me, and said other things, but I can't remember because he said AS YOU WISH to me--WHISPERED IN MY EAR!

His leather jacket was so soft ;) 
Then Bill asked him if Pierre Desperaux was a good or bad guy (his ambiguous character from Psych). He asked Bill if he liked that character and Bill said he loved him. Cary asked Bill if he could record him saying that for the producers. Cary pulled out his phone and Bill happily obliged. Cary is a true class act, to treat everyone as though they were the first ones to come through the line, not the 400th.

I think the reason I was so overcome was because of the crazy way this all came together. I had no time to process that I was going to get to see "Westley" in real life. It was such a gift. It's a story that I will be telling my children about forever. Rori said I've already told her a billion times, so if any of you want to hear it again, I will happily share it.

IF:Gathering 2015

Sunday, February 8, 2015

I had been looking forward to this Friday and Saturday for a year. It was the IF:Gathering. Last year was the first year of the IF:Gathering, and noone really knew what it was about; I was curious and watched it on my computer. There were several Godly women teaching and sharing their stories. Leslie and I were both really excited about it. I suggested we get some women together and watch it the next year. She is an even bigger dreamer and arranged for a hundred women to watch it together at Willow Creek church. Leslie is awesome ;)

Anyway, on Tuesday, Brendan came down with the vomits. On Wednesday it hit Rori, and Thursday it hit Liam. I could NOT miss IF!!! I prayed, I Lysoled, and I refused to kiss Bill because he could be a carrier. I told him that I could kiss him all he wanted on Saturday night, but not until then. God, in His mercy, spared me (for now) and I was able to go. 

Oh my goodness, what an amazing, incredible, energizing, exhausting, uplifting experience. I played hookey from church today to decompress. I am an introvert, so spending the last two days as an extrovert took all of my energy. The thought of being around more people--even if they are wonderful Godly people, just makes me want to hide in my bed or rock in the corner. So Bill took the kids to church and I was able to sit and re-watch some of the speakers from the weekend. 

I came away with some amazing thoughts. I still have no idea where God wants me to be, but I know that it's ok to figure out my interests, pursue them, and see if I am good at them. What is important is that I take steps and move forward. I have always been very vocal that I am happy with the status quo. I don't like change. It terrifies me. But, what terrifies me more, is the thought of going to Heaven and God showing me a slide show of what I missed because I didn't take that first step out in faith--that I was scared and stayed in the past and refused to move into new seasons of life. 

I think the reason that I enjoy the past is because I am scared of the future, scared that my gifts aren't big enough. That they don't do enough for the Kingdom. Angie Smith taught me that it's ok if my talents aren't the same as my mom, Jenna, Leslie, Laura, Liza, Ruth, Yvonne, Sonja, or any of the other amazing women with a heart for Jesus that I know. It's ok if I am not the leader, the visionary, the dreamer. I can be just a cheerleader. I can be just an encourager. And that is enough. 

Lynn Hybels shared that what is important is that Rori sees me doing what God put in my heart. That I find out what is mine to do for the Kingdom, not what belongs to someone else. I need to give her permission to find what is hers and encourage her to walk her path. And frankly, I think it's important for me to show my boys as well. They will be able to encourage their wives to follow God's path for their lives as well.  

If you have time today (they are only going to be posted through today), I encourage you to check out some of the speakers--I highly recommend Jen Hatmaker, Christine Caine, Angie Smith, and Lynn Hybels. Be encouraged, 
Joshua 1:9  Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

My secret flaw

Friday, January 23, 2015

I am getting this post in under the wire for my one post a week resolution. I believe that I did give a disclaimer that I stink at resolutions, but one would hope I could make it until at least February before I fail. Last year I joined a book club...well sort of...I have only read 3 of the books and there's one each month. So...par for the course for me. In this book club, I have learned that I am alone in something that I do. I thought everyone does this. But I was wrong.

I am here to confess...I read the end of books. I read the end of books shortly after reading the beginning, and before I have read the middle. Apparently everyone else reads the beginning, middle, and then the end. I HAVE to find out what happens, I CAN'T wait. It could be DAYS before I finish and who can wait that long to find out who dunnit, or who dies, or if they get together? I have ALWAYS been like this, and it's not just books. I do it with movies and television shows. I don't think I told Bill this, but the series finale of Burn Notice was on while he was playing basketball. We agreed we would watch it together when he got home. However, I heard that a main character was going to die. There was no way that I could sit through the whole finale and be worried about my beloved characters. I wouldn't be able to enjoy it. I would be stressed out the whole time. So, I fast-forwarded through the episode until I found out who died. Then I was able to relax and enjoy watching it with Bill. I also just did this with the series finale of White Collar. We have like 6 episodes on the DVR, but the finale was on TV the other day...just the end...and I watched it...I had to know and it was RIGHT THERE in front of me. Sometimes, when there is a movie out, that looks to be particularly suspenseful, I google the ending so that I can be prepared. Phew. This feels good to get off my chest.

The first book we read for book club, I was able to get on my Kindle. I distinctly remember telling Bill that reading on a Kindle made it much harder to skip to the end. He said he was glad because he hates that I have no willpower. I resolved to read the book in the order the author intended. A day later, I explained to him that while it's harder to skip to the end, it turns out, it's not impossible. sigh. fail. The girls in my Book Club were horrified. Fortunately they like me anyway and did not kick me out. So we can still be friends, right?