Category Archives: home

home is where your story begins

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Over the past 4 years, Summer and I made a home out of a fun little 2 bedroom apartment in an ok neighborhood. When we first moved in after the divorce, she was 2, me 36, and my plan was minimal – navigate through our new life in survival mode. To figure it all out on my own and to love my baby girl as deeply as my heart would let me without it exploding. To dig my feet deep into the ground and make a home for us that was safe and comfy and peaceful. To learn how to be a single parent which came surprisingly easy to me, free to live life on my own terms and create memories with my baby without someone in the shadows telling me I was doing it wrong. The past 4 years started with a ‘live life right now’ mentality but as we got grounded, a ‘make a plan for the future’ little bug started whispering to me softly.

So I did.

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moving day

I worked harder at my job than I have ever worked and it was recognized. I was given more responsibilities, I grew in my career which led to promotions and raises and new projects I was trusted with, even though I had at least 1 moment a day where I thought, “I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing.” Over the last 4 years, despite expensive legal battles over no child support and vet bills for a sick aging dog and annual rent and insurance and cable bill increases, I wore secondhand clothes and bought my underwear in bulk at the grocery store and ate more ramen noodles than I care to admit, all so my baby could have new clothes and eat nourishing meals while I built a nest egg. And 2 months ago my dream came true when I bought a beautiful townhouse surrounded by country in an amazing school district, with safe streets and playgrounds that dot every other block in our charming little neighborhood.

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It’s beautiful here. At night I sit out on the balcony with my head propped back on my shoulders in absolute awe at the hundreds of stars above me. The sky is different here – in the mornings I watch the sun throw vivid colors across the treetops through clouds that look like cotton balls. In the evenings, the sunsets are so brilliant and vast spanning across the views from my living room, dining room and kitchen windows.

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I have windows, so many windows. For the last 4 years I lived with just 2 windows and a patio door and only ever had the opportunity to see west from inside. Here I have a window every few feet in every room on every wall. My last house shared in my past life had floor to ceiling windows in the living room for sunset and the blue room faced the sunrise, but the blinds were always closed at the first hint of dusk and the bedroom windows had black out shades drawn tight most hours of the day. Yet here, I am free to let the skies pour in through the windows at all hours, I can watch the leaves rustle outside my living room windows and feel the breeze sweep through the open bedroom windows as I sleep. It’s gloriously freeing.

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breakfast at our beach, 2 minutes from home

The storms up here are incredible, stronger than anywhere I remember living before. I watch them roll in from miles away and love to hear the sideways rain pounding against my patio door begging to get in. In my past life I was always brought down to the basement to hide from the rain but here I welcome the beauty of cloud walls charging towards the house, everything turning quiet moments before the sky releases its fury. And then the storms pass leaving brilliant rose red sunsets behind; I’ve seen more rainbows in the 2 short months I’ve lived here than I have seen throughout my whole life.

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The house needs absolutely no work, which grants me lots of time to find fun projects I can do casually to satisfy my artistic urges. I’ve painted walls. I’ve given my nightstands a new finish. I’ve learned how to hang light fixtures. I’ve built an inset wall with my dad who taught me how to use a wall saw, a nail gun, how to drywall and how to hang a 60 pound tv on a bracket 3 feet over my head using a stepstool on top of an end table on top of a kitchen table. No easy feat.

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closing day

 

Summer started school last week, both of us rightfully nervous before that first day for the unknown. But almost a week in now, she and I are both happy and the anxiety has disappeared. She’s taking the bus and it’s been memory evoking watching her little backpack-adorned body climb up the steps and plop down into a seat behind the driver. The doggies and I walk her to the bus stop every morning and pick her up every afternoon, and the smile that greets me as she jumps off that last bus step is heavenly – pure bliss for my heart. I’ve made friends with the mom of the other girl at the bus stop, we’ve exchanged numbers and chat every morning for a bit after the bus pulls away. I can tell she’s going to be that one mom who leans on me and I on her, the lifeline we all desire when moving to new unchartered territory.

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There are things I miss about the apartment – one of my best friends upstairs, the maintenance crew who became like family, the ability to call the office anytime something was wrong, the pool (although when we shed tears the day I left, the manager invited me back indefinitely which Summer and I took advantage of plenty of times this summer). Though while we left behind a pivotal chapter in our lives the day we said our goodbyes, since we’ve been in the new house we’ve experienced so much happiness and I have so many stories to tell now that we’re settled in.

After 2 short months it feels like home now. And it is good.

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Filed under divorce, home, life, Love, Parenting

buh bye 2016

This year had its ups and downs complete with some really great highs and some really shitty lows, but that’s normal I suppose. What better way to say adios to 2016 than a little video recap of the year?

This is one of Summer’s favorite songs and I always make it a point to turn down the volume or sing LAAAAAAAAAA! at the top of my lungs at the one bad word. Though I apparently haven’t been loud enough because one day listening to it in the car she said to me, “mommy it’s ok, I know what they say and I promise I’ll never say the bad word, ‘ash horns.'” Such a good girl 🙂

To view directly on YouTube, click here.

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Filed under home, Kids, life, Love

patrik

Now that I’m back in writing mode, I have so much to catch up on – I could tell you about my Portland friend staying with me for a weekend in April when we roadtripped from here down to Indiana then all the way up to Wisconsin just so she could say she’s been to 3 midwest states, or I could tell you about how I finally bit the bullet and got botox in my armpits, I could write novels about the FABULOUS <cough> life of online dating, or I could tell you about preschool face painting day when I picked up Summer and realized that her teacher has the artistic abilities of a blind monkey.

But instead, today I will tell you the tale of Patrik.

Patrik is a sweet older Croatian man with a thick accent, soft spoken, probably early 60’s, married with grown children. He has kind eyes that crinkle in the corners when he smiles his warm smile at you, a face that any grandchild would love. To give you a visual, just picture this guy, only 10 years younger:

Patrik is head of maintenance here at the apartment complex and has been working here for the last 30 something years. At one point he and his family actually lived in my exact apartment years ago where he grew a beautiful lush garden, which I’m proud to say I am meticulously maintaining. Yep, tomatoes should be coming up any day now…

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Patrik has always been super friendly, chatty with a bit of a nervous stutter, and this one time, at band camp, he went out of his way to replace the rusty bolts off of my car that my rear license plate was dangling from with shiny new ones. Then he did my front plate for good measure. He gives me his “friendly discount” on my carpet cleaning and told me not to worry about the 8 holes I drilled (fine, 13 because tape measurer what?) in the bottom of my cabinet to hang my wine glass racks even though it clearly states in the lease “DO NOT PUT ANY HOLES IN KITCHEN CABINETRY”. Psh. He said he’ll take care of it for me when I move out. What a good person to befriend, right?

So one random morning about 4 months ago, Patrik knocks on my door and hands me a paper bag and says, “these are for you!” Inside was a bottle of his homemade wine, a plate of his homemade prosciutto and pork belly, a few cheese sticks, a jar of hot peppers and a sleeve of bacon flavored ritz crackers. Fuck yes, I would have been happy with just the bacon ritz as a Christmas present. He said in the 30 years he’s worked here he has never brought any of his homemade goodies to someone until now, then he left. It was very sweet.

Seriously, put that red flag down, you’re distracting me from story telling time.

So I stuck everything in the fridge to snack on later and went back to whatever it was I was doing. A few hours later I got a knock on my door. Patrik. Apparently when he brought the food and wine, he was planning on sharing it with me which made me really happy that I didn’t smell like pig meat and bacon ritz while wiping the last remaining crumbs off my face as I opened the door, as I had not gotten this memo. So I let him in and for the next half hour we stood in my kitchen snacking on mouth watering prosciutto and sipping the sweetest red wine I’ve ever had while sharing stories about work and family and hobbies.

He thanked me for letting him share his treats with me, smiled his sweet grandpa smile and then he left.

About 3 weeks later, same thing. He came by in the morning, dropped off a bag full of deliciousness, then came back a few hours later where we stood in my kitchen for a half hour and chatted away about life – I showed him the quilt I’m making and he showed me how he gets the top wrapper onto his wine bottles with boiling water – it was my very own kind of convoluted Tuesdays with Morrie. It wasn’t a bad deal – I kept an old man company and he brought me meat.

Stop it.

Purely innocent, the only difference this time was that as he was leaving he gave me a hug. Mkay, I’m a hugger, so yeah no big deal.

3 weeks after that, same thing. Meat in bag, company in kitchen, talks about life. This time when he left he gave me a hug. And a kiss on the cheek. Derp.

3 weeks later, meat, convo, the usual. But. This time he went for the hug. I hugged back. He went for the cheek kiss. Meh. Then as I was backing up out of the er, ew embrace? He. Leaned. In. For. A. Mouth. Kiss. And I leaned waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back.

“No,” I said.

“No?” Patrik asked.

“Um, NO.”

And as he stepped away embarrassed, I shit you not, his old man hand grazed my side-boob and he left all red-faced with his tail between his legs.

For the rest of the week my first thought in the morning and my last thought at night was, “Stupid, stupid Patrik.” I still shake my head every time I see him which is almost daily since I work from home and, you know, awkwardly he works here, too. But really. It is kinda sad that a thirty something year old woman can’t befriend a little old man without him thinking he’s gonna get some because of a little pork (stop it). Needless to say, Patrik has asked numerous times since then when I might be free again for “the good stuff”. You can keep your good stuff, you dirty dirty meat creeper.

So sad that I will never be able to hear the word prosciutto again without thinking about side-boob. And now you won’t either, muah ah ah.

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Filed under craziness, Funny, home, life, ridiculousness

oh yeah…

…blog…

Heeeeeeeey there…

It’s funny, the longer I went without blogging, the harder it was to figure out what to write about and it turned into this nasty downward blogging spiral of, “ooo that just happened, I should write about it… but well then there were those 14,234 other things I wanted to write about, too. Maybe I should do those first. But yeah, that was 3 months ago so, I… just don’t know…”

So I’m putting it all out, 1 big old lump of 3 months of living wrapped up in 1 post full of pretty pictures. Yep, that’ll do nicely.

April:

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“Momma, there’s a booger on my finger.” (I have at least 4 different pics of this same pose on different days)…

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Celebrating my bestie’s baby’s baptism, (now say that 3 times fast)…

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van Goghs making their masterpieces…

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The Nature Museum’s butterfly exhibit was really cool, but REALLY hard when you’re used to swatting at flying things near your head…

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When you work remotely, it’s a big deal to actually see the people you work with, so selfies are always in order…

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May:

School pics. Who the frack is this 15 year old and what has she done with my baby?….

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We visited a farm right down the road from us and had a blast….

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The life of preschooler knees…

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Mother’s Day…

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Brin!

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Bill!

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Brian!

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Please excuse the exclamation points, I just got to see so many work people in 1 month which is rare and makes me “!!!”

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“Mommy, can I do makeup, too?”

“Sure sweet pea, but only the eye shadow”…

Nailed it.

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June:

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This is what happens when the above rolls in….

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4th birthday celebrations with mommy and daddy, we agreed to always try to celebrate her birthday together…

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Human bubbles at ABT…

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Long Grove Strawberry Festival….

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It’s been a fun few months 🙂

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Filed under Birthday, Easter, home, Kids, life, Love, Parenting, Summer

dream home

Every day on the way home from preschool, we pass a beautiful house that I could only ever dream of buying, followed with squeals from Summer when she spots it. “Mommy, there’s our favorite green house!” she yells and points…

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Zillow. That porch. I would make out with it if the owners wouldn’t arrest me.

houseGoogle street view. That yard. Like soft, green, fluffy velvet butter.

“Someday, I’m going to buy us that house,” I tell her knowing damn well I probably won’t ever be able to considering 1) it was last on the market for $589,000, and 2) it’s, um, not actually for sale. Meh.

Details, schmeetails.

But then when we get home to our cozy little space and I look around, I know we have everything we could ever possibly need and then some. Two bedrooms, two full bathrooms, a small kitchen (because really, how much room does one actually need in order to cook chicken nuggets and have kitchen dance parties?), a decent dining room and comfy colorful living room, a patio, no maintenance, no mowing the lawn, no HOA fees, no having to buy a new appliance if one breaks…. and we’re happy. While there’s always something to complain about (ahem no in-unit laundry), there’s always a silver lining (shared laundry room means being able to do 6 loads of laundry at the same time in under an hour). There’s no garage parking which royally sucks in the middle of a Chicago winter (boo), but there’s a pool and playground right outside our door (can I get an amen!). I have weird neighbors who get crazy eyes as they turn and run (not even kidding in the slightest) from my terrifying ginormous rabid attack dogs…

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…but I have others who bring me platefuls* of cookies and bags of bread, there’s Drunk John across the hall who always flashes his award-winning beer-soaked smile, and I have my kindred spirit mama and her daughter right upstairs.

*side note – platefuls just sounds wrong, like it should be plates-ful instead, like brothers-in-law, no?

It’s not our permanent home, but it’s our for-a-little-while home and I love it. It’s as perfect as any beautiful, 32,000 square foot box of gorgeousness sitting on 3/4ths of an acre with beautiful finishes and a basement big enough to hold 15 washers and dryers and a small aircraft. Plus with a house that size I’d have to hire a housekeeper and then I’d just feel bad every time she picked up my dirty underoos off the bathroom floor. So yeah… maybe someday, maybe not.

After we passed our favorite green house yesterday and I told her we’re going to buy it someday, she asked me, “when we buy the house how will we get it home from the store?”

“With the world’s largest shopping cart, sweet pea. They just haven’t made it yet…”

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Filed under doggies, home, Kids, life, Parenting, Suburbs

things a happenin’

Thanksgiving came and went in a blink and Christmas is officially peeking around the corner at me as I pretend that I’ve bought all of my presents while secretly hiding the sweat that’s pooling in the waistband of my underroos knowing damn well I haven’t bought a thing. So for now to get my mind off of it, here are a few photos of what’s been going on in these here parts lately… IMG_0401 babies Jumping on Auntie Jaime’s bed is the best! p.s.Owl City’s Good Time gets the highest jumps out of 3-year-olds… bed jumping sleeping beauty For the 5th year in a row I participated in the annual Weddingbee ornament exchange. This year I was given Mrs. Glasses and for weeks I worried about how I was going to make a handmade ornament that looked like a pair of glasses. And then it hit me…duh, a bee with glasses for a bee with glasses… bee adalyn My boss came into town and fed us lots of food while we dared him to ice skate on the rink behind this tree. He wasn’t having it. Note to self – feed boss man more wine before trying to get him to strap sharp blades to his feet and glide around like a delicate swan…. Bill birthday card Exact words spoken before snapping the greatest picture in the history of ever: “Mommy, there’s a booger on my finger and it’s freaking me out…” booger caleb A fun time was had by all at work playing the open-the-vending-machine-press-the-button-and-catch-the-flying-can-before-it-hits-you-in-the-crotch game…. catch the can shrek My car has officially sprouted its annual antlers from Dollar Tree… DSC03823 DSC03824 I wondered for days while the snow was melting why on earth the slush running off my patio table was a sick yellowish color. Then all of the snow melted to reveal a present from the squirrels with teeth marks in it. An hour later it was gone. We’re just all going to agree that it’s a piece of chocolate. Squirrel=3, Me=0. Asshole. chocolate dad Doggie torture…. doggie torture Brother-in-law torture (don’t let that face fool you, he always looks like that when I see him)… IMG_0367 I am officially 100% Hunger Games obsessed. I ended up going to see the third in the theater by myself because I was super impatient and couldn’t wait for my Hunger Games partner in crime to join me…and now I’m dying for the 4th…damn you Mockingjay 1 for ending where you did! hunger games IMG_0359 And for the best song to add to your Christmas kitchen dance party playlist (why yes we do have one of those that we danced to for 2 hours last night, we’ll surely be adding more songs to it nightly)…

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Filed under Christmas, Family, home, Kids, life, Love, Office Jaime, Parenting, Photography, ridiculousness, Thanksgiving

my love

I hadn’t made one of these for a while…

It’s been one hell of a year my sweet, this one’s for you Summer bear:

to view directly on YouTube, click here

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Filed under home, Kids, life, Love, Parenting, Summer