Tuesday, December 28, 2010

wicked good

In honor of their upcoming birthdays, Mary and I took the girls to see their first real theater production today at the Cadillac Palace. Wicked was amazing and totally worth the wait to see. The girls were enthralled from begining to end and moved tears at times, just like their mommy. We had a great lunch at Petterino's beforehand and lots of fun with the whole experience. It's so nice to know that they are old enough to really appreciate stuff like this - can't wait to take them to see something else!

In case you're wondering, "No one can bring me down!" was out of this world!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

egg nog fog

6 Christmas celebrations
2 puking incidents

1 round of antibiotics

too many late nights

6 days of wonderful house guests

3 tired kids

1 vow to take Christmas Day off next year!

Happy Holidays were had by all, but if I didn't learn my lesson to simplify this year, I don't think I ever will. I have already promised my kids, who begged for it on the way home Christmas night, that we would spend next year in jammies, lounging, eating, assembling and playing. I think we need to enjoy a Christmas at home with toys and no responsibilities at least once before they grow out of this whole toy thing!

Sunday, December 19, 2010


and we spend money on toys.....

Friday, December 17, 2010

pineapple classic

This week marked a first for us, a first of something I doubt we ever thought we'd do. We took Riley out of school for a gymnastics meet at the age of SIX! Some years, in order to serve all the gymnasts in the state of Illinois, meets must be scheduled on weekdays. We woke at 4:30 AM, shipped Logan off to a super helpful and understanding neighbor's home so she wouldn't miss the last day before Christmas break and headed north to Schaumburg with a two-days post antibiotics strep-recovering Riley.

While it wasn't her best meet, it was a good one. She placed 6th on vault, 8th on floor and 12th all around. The medals around her neck at the meet's end were quite impressive!

As soon as we arrived home, she broke out in hives, which continued throughout the weekend. Apparently, her strep was made of a super strong bacteria that was fighting through the meds every time she was due to have them. All we want is for her to have fun and try her best, and she continues to do that, strep and all!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

and the angels sang.....

Sunday, December 12th marked Logan's 3rd official concert with the Young Fox Valley Singers. It was an amazing show. The kids are so talented and the vocal teachers second-to-none. As a special treat, world renouned soloist Tamara Wilson, who spent her own vocal formative years with the group, returned to perform alongside the children. She moved me to tears with her rendition of "O Holy Night." This was such a treat for the audience, but more for the kids, who had the opportunity to rehearse and perform with her, ask her questions and imagine their own vocal futures through her successes.

We were so proud of Logan who learned that the show must go on when the day's blizzard ripped her headband, made for "The March of the Wooden Soldiers", from her hands never to be seen again. Her disappointment was palpable and I thought her initial frustration might prevent her from having a good time, but it didn't. When I picked her up in the warm up room after the show she said, "I have the best choir. They told me I was as cute as a doll without my headband!" And, of course, she was.

Friday, December 3, 2010

can you say "Grizzwald?"

I'm not trying to be a scrooge, but this holiday season is sputtering to start. It came out of nowhere and it seems as if everything is just a little, well, off. With a schedule boardering on - for real - unimaginable, I finally determined that tomorrow between 8 AM and noon is the only window of opportunity between now and Christmas that all of us Andersons can go get our tree. (I still haven't found a decorating timeslot.) This is earlier than I'd hoped; but probably just what the mischievous puppy, a.k.a. Dempsey Doodle, wishes for. That should be interesting.

When I say things are off, here's what I mean: plans to simplify Christmas events have already gone awry, early shopping has led to too much shopping, our house looks ridiculous with half of our garland lights out, a baby deer that won't light up and crooked and crumpled outside entry trees. What's more, each year I buy an expensive poinsettia from a neighbor as a sport's fundraiser. These plants are the most gorgeous I've seen and they last and last. I was so relieved to see it immediately change the mood to a festive one around here when it arrived last night.

After bedtime, I enjoyed my most favorite part of the day (not really), when my butt hits the corner cushion of the couch to watch some DVR'd episode of a show I love. (Last night, it was the Sons of Anarchy season finale!) After literally thirty seconds on the couch, just as I was really starting to exhale, Mike and I heard the strangest creaking noise and turned quickly toward it. In one full swoop, five of the seven huge branches of my gorgeous red poinsettia fell and dropped from the table.

All we can do is laugh! There's money well-spent! Merry Days!

Friday, November 12, 2010

lots to learn

Let me start by saying I'm not proud of this, but it's just too good to stay in my head.

In the last month, I've noticed a huge jump in Finn's vocabulary. He's using words that I'm shocked about (in a good way) each and every day. On Tuesday, we sat at the kitchen table after school talking about his day. He asked me why there are so many vegetarians at his school. Surprised that he knew the word, I asked, "Finn, do you know what a vegetarian is?"

"Yes!" he said proudly. "People with darker skin and hair."

Finn attends a Montessori school that is vastly multicultural and I've seen the the lunch specifics that include not only allergies, but multiple dietary life choices for kids of all cultures. I immediately spun into a frenzy as a result of his racially slanted comment, although I know that's not how he meant it, that's just his experience at school. Grasping my "teachable moment", I asked, "Do you know what vegetarians DO?"

"Sure. They don't eat meat," he said.

At least the intelligence component was there! I quickly assured him that people of all looks, races, colors and creeds can be vegetarians, I mean, his own mommy has spent months at a time living that lifestyle.

Makes you think about how some misunderstandings begin and makes you want to uncover them all. At four.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

down on the farm

Logan, Riley and I took a much needed trip to see our great pals in Iowa this weekend. It has been SIX months since we last got together; some kind of despicable record. We made up for it in spades with late nights, endless gab sessions and a serious dive into nature. (Oh, and we ate!) While the girls explored the woods behind the house with deer running right alongside of them, Amy and I talked about literally everything. It just filled me up to spend time with her - life has gotten so busy for us both.

The highlight of the weekend was surely our trip to Amy's friend's farm, where something like 9 horses, 22 chickens, 15 sheep, several cows, cats and a myriad of dogs welcomed us. The excitement about the animals was only surpassed by our host, Sharon, and her willingness to let us and our girls truly experience farm life. From getting the horses ready to ride, to feeding the chickens, we did it all.

Riding a horse is one of my favorite things to do in life, period. Amy let Sharon know this, and she delivered. Delivered me right to her horse, Caesar, who I familiarized myself with for several hours as she and Amy led the girls around on Bella, a good ole sway-backed mare. I seriously thought I was in heaven! At the end of our time there, Sharon and I went out on her 130 acres and not only saw the beauty of her amazing property, but cantered those horses a bit. There is nothing like that in the world.

So, with a unimaginably sore ass, I'm telling you we had an awesome weekend, one and all. Watching the kids get down and dirty chasing silly chickens, bothering horses and feeding calves made me yearn for a simple, country life. Feeling the crisp, dusty air in my face as I charged ahead atop Caesar makes everything else seem small. Reconnecting with an old friend in such an earthy way was priceless.

I am so grateful for the experience.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

mixed up

Riley brought home her first non-perfect school work the other day. On her weekly spelling test, she missed one word, meaning she did not get to participate in the Challenge Word List for the week. For our little perfectionist, this was not good news.

Here's the word she missed:

fin: as in a membranous, winglike or paddlelike organ attached to any of various parts of the body of fishes and certain other aquatic animals, used for propulsion, steering, or balancing.

I'm sure you can guess how she spelled it:

Finn: proper noun. as in a tow-headed nuisance who she couldn't love more.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Trick or Treat 2010

It was a great Halloween, filled with parties, parades, lots of trick or treating and our first-ever SCARY haunted house. Finn and Riley loved it, Logan, not so much. Nana and Tony even came along; it was Nana's first one, too!

Here are a few shots of our geisha girl, our rainbow sorceress and Snake Eyes.

good "remembers"

Man is Finn full of it this week...

He was recently asked to join a playgroup of four year old boys in our neighborhood that meets on Wednesday afternoons. He was really excited and I was happy for him; telling him about who he might know that would be there.

"I think you took a gymnastics class a long time ago with a little boy named Andrew," I reminded him, not really expecting him to remember back that far. "Do you remember him?"

"Oh, yeah!" he said not-so believably. "I think so."

A pause.

"Mom, you have really good remembers! I don't remember so good like you!"

Love that.

Monday, November 1, 2010

finn's feet bestow some wisdom

I had a few uninterrupted moments with Finn today, likely because I have such a ridiculous Halloween hangover (not alcohol-induced - Halloween activity-induced. I'm exhausted!) When I picked him up from school, all I wanted to do was lie down on the floor and hang out with him.

We did airplanes and lots of tickling and then I did this silly thing I used to do when they were really little: I sniffed his still baby-feet and put up a huge fuss like they were the stinkiest things on earth. In between his belly laughs and gasps for air, he said, "Remember that Mom? Remember when we used to do that?"

"I do, " I thought as I marveled as his near-adult like observation. "And the time I make for these moments is much too little." There is nothing like the uncontrollable laughter of your child from a good tickle. You know that at that moment, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that they are full to the brim with joy. All because of you.

What am I doing depriving myself of that?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

teachers are my heros

I'm volunteering once a month in both Logan's and Riley's classrooms and have to admit, it's harder than I thought. Today was my first time in Logan's room managing groups of ten as they measured perimeters of squares and rectangles made from rubber bands on geoboards. It sounds more complicated than it is, because 8 out of 10 in each group seemed to grasp it with ease. And then there were the "others."

As a mom, I can certainly imagine that teaching is beyond difficult and requires unheard of stamina and patience. In the one hour and fifteen minutes I was there today, I ran out. Fast.

There was the little girl I know from another walk of life that tried to make silly jokes throughout my "teaching". There was the boy that flat out refused to listen to me - he just kept spinning the globe at warp speed. I finally said "Hey you!" I know, totally inappropriate, but I didn't know his name! Logan said, "MOM! His name is Tony!" And I tried with Tony, I really did. But minutes after making his acquaintance, all I wanted to do was send him to the Principal's office. Then there was Wyatt, who refused to do the project, but created the most elaborate rubber band designs on record. None of which he got credit for because the child refused to make even one square on the stupid board.

I watched that clock tick down like it was 2:55 pm in 1989 and I was waiting for the bell so I could see my high school boyfriend. When my stint was done, I cleaned my desk and exhaled as Logan's awesome teacher sent them all away and back to their desks. As she came over and smiled, she said, "You survived!" And I said, "You're my hero. It's official!" And then, "Time to go!" I like her so much because she totally laughed. She gets it and then some.

Here's to all you teachers out there! I thought my job was hard....

birthday dinner

Don't you just love when something comes together perfectly?

After a long weekend of required activities resulting in not the best birthday on record, Mike and I took the kids to La Sorella di Francesca's on Sunday night for my birthday dinner. I mentioned to a few people that we were taking the kids and they thought us nuts. But it was perfect. They tried new foods, practiced manners and ordering and plowed through dessert with us like little celebrating gourmets.

When do we ever do something so nice? Not often, I'll tell you. While we sit together regularly, doing it in a swanky place, with delicious food and someone else cooking and cleaning up makes it a truly special occurence. From appetizers to wine and our ending cappucinos, I just kept thinking, "this is perfect."

If that's not a happy birthday, I don't know what is.

Friday, October 22, 2010

grateful times 39

This year I'm grateful for...

39. Coffee. Especially in the winter. I still long for the best cup I ever had on August 8th of this year at Glencoe Roast Coffee. It was a vanilla latte that can never be surpassed. Wish I lived closer.

38. Living in a little bit of country. The fog through the trees and over the cornfields at sunrise is amazing. Better with coffee.

37. Writing. The real stuff. It feeds my soul.

36. The fact that shirts got longer. I'm sure they'll cycle back again, but I love hiding the belly bulge.

35. My minivan. Who would've guessed?

34. DVR. It may just be the single best invention during my motherhood. I can finally relax at bedtime on Thursday nights.

33. Our bed. Good for so many things; there is no better feeling than falling into it at night.

32. Autumn. I really do like everything about this fleeting season. From the colors to the smells, it is everything that I love.

31. Feeling proud of my kids. The effort they put into most things is admirable and they deserve to feel great about themselves. They certainly make me feel great about them.

30. Crest Advanced Whitening White Strips. Seriously, these are the best. Nothing improves the
wrinkle-scene more than brighter whites.

29. Good quotes. I'm one of those people who they truly inspire.

28. Working in the dirt. I'm just a novice, but I love it. Need a bigger gardening budget.

27. Cooking. One of the most important things I do. Complete peace comes over me when I'm deep into it. Just need to learn not to take it personally when it doesn't turn out!

26. Lindt Chocolate with a Touch of Sea Salt. MMMMM.

25. The fact that Mike likes to clean up when we entertain. It's one thing I almost never need to worry about.

24. Good dogs. I've been lucky every single time.

23. Good doctors. They're far and few between, but it's worth the research to find them.

22. The way Finn plays with two items. Whether they're cars or birds or spoons, he retreats for a few moments to his own world.

21. How doing the right thing gets easier with age. Are we just too tired of the hangover? (Whatever kind of hangover it is?)

20. Logan's unstoppable excitement. I wish I had her happy energy. It does seem to be somewhat fueled by chocolate though.

19. Our vacation to Napa Valley. Still one of my most treasured experiences. I go back in my mind often.

18. The resiliency of adults. People say kids have it, but I think they just carry everything - it's all they know. Adults have no choice but to let go.

17. Thunder Road by Bruce Springsteen. Bobby McGee by Janis Joplin. The Indigo Girls - I love they they make me think, for a moment, that my voice knows what it's doing.

16. Riley's athletic prowess. What a thrill she gives us each time we watch her compete.

15. Being blessed with both daughters and a son. I love learning about their differences, good and bad, each and every day.

14. Good friends: those lifetimers that have been along for the ride for a while, and those met only recently. Life would not be complete without any of them.

13. Family, the whole Logan - Anderson lot. The great, the good, the bad and the ugly. They're
mine, they're perfect and they're treasured.

12. Extra dirty Grey Goose Martini's with blue cheese olives.

11. Good food. Of any variety. For me, eating is one of the greatest pleasures in life!

10. Unexpected great times. We recently had a Sunday dinner with friends that turned into
what felt like an eight hour scene from The Big Chill. Great music and all.

9. Hosting Thanksgiving. My favorite holiday, hands down. Full of eating, cooking and all that's fall, it has none of the holiday hustle and bustle stress. And it's ALL about the gratitude.

8. Finn's uber cuddly-ness. He literally melts into your body and will stay for hours. I get a little anxious thinking about how I'll feel when it ends. I guess it would be weird if it didn't, huh?

7. Mike's strength. Physical and emotional, he has it all. When I wear out, he holds it together. Where would I be without him?

6. Dinner for five. Most nights, we accomplish this and don't take it for granted. As I hear rumbles about the TV going off or call them to the table for the tenth time, I do get frustrated. But once we're all seated and stories of the day are unfolding, I feel I have succeeded at something very important. I will hold on to this with both hands.

5. Logan's songs. They are a direct line to her soul and although they sometimes scare her Daddy with their adult-like topics and candor, her dedication to writing several per day is resulting in quite the little songwriter.

4. Riley's adult-understanding of most situations. It's like she knows a lot about everything.

3. The health of my kids, my husband and myself. It's true, "When you have your health..."

2. Logan, Riley, Finn and Mike. They all must sit here on one line, because without one, family, as we know it, would not exist. They are my reason, my purpose, for everything.

1. Making it this far. For all these blessings, quirks, loves and wonders bestowed on me and the many more that didn't make the page, I am grateful to the core. I am blessed, lucky, in the right energy field, whatever you want to call it. And I've made it this far!

Here's to another 39 - at least!

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Yesterday I worked like a dog. I worked like a dog; writing four articles and doing and hour of website work, all inside the three and half hours Finn was away at school, so that I could "play hookie" today. You see, my birthday is tomorrow and Finn doesn't have school on Fridays. My productivity soared under the goal of a few unencumbered moments alone this morning.

It's funny how our ideas of "me time" pare themselves down from year to year, until finally, they land at what I did today. I spent almost two blissful hours alone, un-showered, at the grocery store. I had the biggest bill I've had in months, even after saying "no" to my devilish side's urging to buy Ben and Jerry's Key Lime Pie ice cream (it's a limited edition, you know) and sharp cheddar cheese with Carr's whole wheat wafers (it's a combo you must try.) I did accomplish the first Christmas present purchase, a big ticket item on sale, a bonus.

By the time I arrived home and unpacked, I had an hour and twenty minutes left before pick up. I managed a 45 minute workout DVD (currently on day 5 of Turbo Fire by Beachbody) and a really fast shower. My face was still beet red when I pulled up in Finn's carpool line. And although my morning alone and not working was not so exciting, I must admit, it was fully satisfying.

I guess the lesson is to remember that the most simple things can recharge and refresh us, so we should find ways to take advantage of them more often. I'm sure that I've been a better Molly all day today.

My last day at 38. I'll miss you '38'!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

I Scream

Sometimes the best laid plans... well, you know. This actually happened about a month ago, but it's too darn good to pass up.

During our trip to North Carolina this summer, my mother-in-law Mary gave me a clip from the local paper with a great at-home make-your-own ice cream recipe for kids. I immediately thought of doing this with Riley's Daisy troop, of which I'm the leader (and that's a whole other story.) Anyway, during a summer planning session with our sister Brownie troop, the one Logan belongs to, the idea was accepted and we chose this for our craft at the first meeting in September.

Allow me to set the scene: 24 girls arrive at our gorgeous neighborhood clubhouse - they have not seen each other in three months and are VERY excited. While they cartwheel and scream and laugh, I sit behind one of the kitchen counters with two other moms measuring amounts of sugar and cream, salt and ice in various sizes of ziplock bags. I realize now that I should have found some way to do this ahead of time.

I don't greet even one of the new Daisy members or their parents and as our precious hour ticks away, I have yet to complete the prep for our craft/snack combo. The girls are literally WILD. I am sweating. The room we are in has a migrane-inducing echo. Moms are throwing each other eye darts like nothing I've seen and finally.... we finish. We hand out the bags.

What ensures is nothing short of a horror movie, with the most unruly girls (who are always the same and shall remain unnamed) banging their ice-filled plastic bags over the high-end furniture, into the ping pong table, rolling it onto the couch. The idea of "kneading" seems to not have a home in their 8 and 6 year old brains. And then the bags start popping.

Salt water is EVERYWHERE - 24 bags full of it. As soon as we get one cleaned up, another pops, flooding the ping pong table, shimmering on the floor like a lawsuit waiting to happen. Some girls are laughing, others are on the verge of tears. Forty five minutes in, I'm hoarse, breathing like I've just finished an Insanity workout and I literally want to die. But even with the holes, at least half the girls are sitting and enjoying their DQ-style masterpiece, and liking it! We have a two minute break to clean before all hell breaks loose again.

While the older girls go completely bonkers on the indoor swing set (why are they on it? No one knows, but they are outside my jurisdiction), I try to wrangle my Daisies into a circle so I can at least introduce myself and my awesome co-leader, Jennie, to the girls. These sugared up 6 year olds do an amazing job of getting focused and we have a few "normal" moments together. As we walk through the 8 year old circus in the adjoining room to hand the Daisies over to their parents, I almost die of embarrassment and I'm certain they will never leave their children with me again. (As much as I hate my failure, the thought of this thrills me to the core!)

After an hour of rubbing salt water off every surface in the rooms we inhabited that afternoon, I drop my kids off with Mike and run to Jennie's house for respite and a recovery libation.

This job is driving me to drink.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

This blur called life

Where is the time going? It seems just yesterday I was blogging regularly and then mid-summer hit. Now it's already the middle of October, my calendar feels as booked as Obama's and I just realized I better get busy on Christmas lists. Ugh. Where is the fun in all this running around?

A good mother would likely go back in time and write posts for every remarkable, funny or important thing that has happened in the last several months. I guess I'm not that good of a mother. All I can do is try to recommit myself to what I consider an imperative part of my life and a story that must be told, if only for those participating in it. Someday, Logan, Riley and Finn will only have these words and their childhood memories.

In the meantime, I'll continue at warp speed, pausing only to wish my jeans were looser and my hair more often brushed. I'll deliver everyone to where they need to be, donate my time when needed, plan for the future, make sure teeth are brushed well, help them study the world's oceans, lead the Daisy troop, cheer on the athletes, work on things that might be lagging behind, write my butt off, drum up business, urge my kids to "eat a rainbow", catch my husband at some time during his 31/2 daily hours of commute, study tax requirements, cook, clean, hope and dream.

As I write this, I realize I have not posted for one reason only: the tag line of this blog. In truth, "finding good in every day" has not been something that has come easily lately. I'm sure it's pretty obvious from this Debbie Downer of a post. There's only one gal who can change this ship's course: me.

I've felt especially cheated because I hate feeling downtrodden in of all months, October. Autumn is hands-down my favorite season and I can't think of many others where I've felt so blue. But the fact is that it is just another season and soon to be over at that. Change is a comin'.

Debbie Downer signing off...for good.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Obviously this parenting thing is working...

An excerpt from a conversation with my ailing child (Riley has been sick all week, now Finn is coming down with the same thing.)

"Press PLAY!" demands Finn.

"What?" I say.

"PRESS PLAY!" Finn repeats. Louder.

"What are you missing, Finn?" I ask.

"YOU - because you need to get over here and press play!" he responds.

Glad to see all my efforts are paying off.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


I love my garden. It's twice the size of last year's and I'm already concocting plans to expand, again. I love the experience of growing something from nothing. Of seeing a tiny seed morph into a six foot plant, bursting with fruit, right before my eyes. I love witnessing the change that one good rainstorm can bring and the unbelievable growth inspired by the warmth of the sun. I love the taste of it all, whether it's a spicy Caribbean chili pepper, deep green basil or the complex burst of flavor from a tomato still warm from the sun. And I love that the kids love it. They're just as excited as I am to see a new cucumber or revel in the gargantuan blossoms of the zucchini plants. They'll pass by and pop cherry tomatoes in their mouths right in the middle of a round of tag. They'll run inside to announce the first yellow bell pepper. They're invested in it, too.

I realized the other day that working with the garden and the other plants around our home is such a great lesson in life for us all. When we arrived on this vacant lot and decided to break ground three and a half years ago, it was nothing. Now it is full of trees and shrubs and flowers and vegetables. It's alive with green life and we're thrilled to be in the middle of it. We learn from our mistakes and wait out changes in our tactics and find out what works. We test our theories and try new ideas. We see the ramifications of our actions. And things bloom, or die or multiply, just like life. How lucky we are to have this living metaphor that feeds us in so many ways.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

It's coming....

I can feel the dread slipping in just like last year... a solo plane trip on the way again, but this time for both Logan and Riley. A quick two hour ride for them to North Carolina, but the longest two hours of my life.

I learned in my debate to let Logan go or not go last summer that I just have got to let them go. One thing I can say for sure is that my children are not afraid. They are confident. They stick their necks out. They want to spread their wings. They feel free enough in their own skin to try (let's hope not) everything. From tasting something crazy to making pets out of bugs (I'll never forget my shock when Riley introduced me to her pet "spider", who in actuality was a tick named Blaze), these kids are excited about everything and searching out every new experience they can wrap their minds around. Fostering these amazing qualities is my responsibility, my desire.

This is exactly what I want for them. While I'm always up for something new, like joining a networking group, there is a notable amount of self-talk before I walk in the door. There's a little fear of rejection, a bit of worry about how I'll be perceived, some hesitation as to whether I'm good enough. I know these things aren't true and don't matter, but somehow that itsy bit of doubt sneaks in and taints my thoughts just a little.

Parenting is all about creating a life for your kids that is better than yours. I want to give them everything in terms of experience. I enourage them to follow their curiosities, dreams and passions. I want them to crave adventure and always be able to conjure up freshness in their spirits. I want worry to have no part in their futures.

So off they'll go, with no sign from me that I'm worried or hesitant. No sign other than the streaming tears, that will be certainly uncontrollable. And they'll fly off. And they'll land safely. And they'll call. And I won't be able to wait to see them again.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Fireworks through Finn's Eyes

This video from the 4th of July says it all....

Monday, July 5, 2010

Cover Girl!

How lucky am I? My upcoming article on Sports Safety will be the cover story with the best cover model of all - Riley! After a recent photo shoot by my client, little miss R landed the cover!

The magazine runs nationally in newspapers across the country and should be out later this month. I'm working hard to get more info on distribution.

And as you might have guessed, someone is pretty excited about this!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

One more...

Can't leave out the dream team!!

More catching up...

Now on to the fireworks... Happy Independence Day!

Catching Up

June, in a nutshell, has probably been the busiest month of my life. I've never felt so strapped for time, exhausted or so active. Even with so much going on, there's been much excitement and fun to be had. Here's our highlight roll and a couple of posts of pictures to get us caught up...

Logan was accepted to the Otters swim team and begins weekly meets that run into the wee hours. She's doing great and becoming an awesome swimmer.

Riley began USAG team practices and logs 7.5 hours in the gym each week.

Finn is learning to roller blade and ride his bike with training wheels.

We took our first family trip to Great America. The kids loved ALL the rides and measured up to 51 inches (Logan), 49 inches (Riley) and 40 inches (Finn). They're already excited to see what rides they'll qualify for next year. There was nothing like Finn's face as he drove those old antique cars all by himself - remember those??

Daddy, Riley and Uncle Dan participated in a family relay with Logan for her time trials meet. They were the "Dream Team"!

We've experience major summer storms and power outages, with the strongest destroying our trampoline. We're hope to get some replacement parts for next year!

Logan attended a week-long Brownie camp at Camp Dean near Sugar Grove. It was an awesome experience and she got to experience things like archery, canoeing, creek stomping, hiking and so much more.

We've been swimming almost every day.

Riley had her first visit from the tooth fairy.

Logan and Riley got their ears pierced!

We visited the Geneva Swedish Festival.

We even rode to the top of the Sears (I mean, Willis) Tower and had flaming cheese in Greektown.

Sounds like the summer of "the kid" to me!

Friday, June 11, 2010

NPR Link - Permanent Audio

Here's a link to permanent audio for today's NPR show:


National Public Radio Appearance

What a thrill! I had the honor today to participate in a discusion on NPR's On Point with Tom Ashbrook. The show focused on summer travel on a shoestring, which I was happy to talk about after this week's Shoestring Living column Summer Travel on the Cheap discussed the exact same thing. Thanks so much to the team at On Point for a wonderful experience.

Even when budgets are tight, it's so important to find ways to get out of the day-to-day and to reconnect with our loved ones. Dream vacations may have to wait a few more years for us, but we still plan to take some fun day trips here and there, as well as our annual week in North Carolina at Lake Gaston with family. While raising young kids is the most rewarding job on Earth, it's the most exausting, too. Listen to the show in the "Past Shows" section, read my article and peruse the comments on the On Point site for some great tips on getting away, one way or another, this summer.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Finn's FOUR

Our little buccaneer turned four this Saturday with a pirate-themed party and Spiderman running through his veins. It was an over sized event, more than 30 friends and family attended and another fifteen neighbor friends joined in the evening. The kids had a blast!

Finn is serious and funny and risky. He is super cuddly and loving in a way that only a boy could be. He can play cars forever and has a whole super friends dialogue going on with his "guys" at all times. He loves his good buddy, Blair. He talks like he's ten, but makes most behavior-related decisions like he's four. When he grows up, he plans to be Darth Vader and live where it's sunny all the time. His favorite sport is football (Mike's chest puffs up) and he LOVES Jesse.

I've said it before, but having a boy is truly unique. I was so blessed those four years ago.

I said, "I think it's a girl."

Mike said, "I think it's a boy."

The doctor said, "IT'S A BOY!!"

And Mike says he's never right!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Worn out from the "what-if's"

My kids are into this "what if" thing. It's like, "What if an adult ate holding their spoon like this?" or "What if someone did a cartwheel like this?" or even "What if there was poop on my spoon right now?" There are so many what-if's that they all blend together. I try to pay attention to the absurd combinations they come up with or scenarios they create, but the fact is that I'm just too tired to care about goofy cartwheels or poop on spoons most of the time.

I'm not sure what they're getting out of it or why it's so fun for them, but they are definitely having a helluva time. This goes on all day and all night and I can't even escape bedtime without being asked something like, "What if my face looked like this all the time?" Use your imagination on the goofball faces displayed.

The exhausted and running behind Mom that I am just wants to scream "What if NOTHING? What if I didn't answer you? What if I don't really care if you had a waffle as big as the house or if Whoa Whoa learned to ride a scooter?" But, of course, I don't say those things. I pretend I've heard every word and answer as if my responses are well-thought out. I'm the Mom. It's my job.

What if I didn't? Happy belated Mother's Day to all the wonderful Moms out there!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Time to Make the Corn

We had botched plans last night when a babysitter forgot about her gig and Mike and I scrambled so both of us could attend a meeting about Riley's move to team gymnastics. (Read: date night turned into cereal for dinner.)

When we finally got home and picked up the kids from our neighbor Jennie's house (I mean, "savior" Jennie), it was nine o'clock and way late for bedtime on a school night. I was yelling like a wild woman to get these three kids in bed and asleep so we could sit down and digest the amount of money requried for Riley's new endeavor.

I yelled Finn's name several times and he finally flew around the corner of Riley's doorway, where he was looking out her window onto a huge cornfeild to the side of our house. He said with all the excitement his little bod could muster," Mommy, I heard you but Daddy was showing me that farmer on his tractor and he is out there making corn RIGHT NOW!!" It was his hand motions, the inflections of his voice and the speed of his words that got me. I would have let him stay up all night so we could sit around imagining the sight of the farmer "making" corn right now.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Voices of Angels

We spent Sunday afternoon in the front row of the new Wentz Concert Hall at North Central College listening to the most beautiful children's' voices I've ever heard. Logan is a member of the Young Fox Valley Singers, which operates in conjunction with the Young Naperville Singers. The kids benefit from all the wonder of musical exposure, the incredible skills of their classically trained instructors and have loads of fun, too.

I spent the last three songs in tears. Even when I couldn't clearly make out the words, I was completely moved by the emotion tied to the soul-touching sound. I've always wondered if an opera would affect me that way. I've still never seen one, but I'm sure I would love it after experiencing this concert.

The director of the organization believes singing keeps kids' hearts soft. She wonders at what age or point in life we lose the exuberance to stand up and sing our hearts out like the children in her company. It's a shame it ever happens since music and singing take so many of us to another place, another reality, a spiritual high. As a parent, this extra-curricular activity feels so right. I don't worry that Logan is doing something too taxing or too old for her. I just feel that she is doing something wonderful and child-like that is most certainly filling her up inside. It is obviously keeping her heart soft.

Congratulations (and gratitude) for Logan on an amazing performance!!

Celebrating an AWESOME day with a HUGE strawberry shortcake at Ted's Montana Grill!!

Professional Gymnastics Shots

I had to get these amazing pictures taken of Riley at a recent meet up on the blog. It's going to be tough not to buy them every time if they turn out a good as these.

Congrats to Riley on meet number three - she earned 2nd Place All Around out of the thirteen six year olds there. It was stiff competition, but she did great!! On to the State Competition in Downers Grove on June 5th and 6th.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

all RILED up!

Holy cow are we excited for Riley, who was selected this week to join our gym's USAG team next year and will begin practicing with them 7.5 hours a week starting in June. She has worked so hard all year and is turning out to be a killer little athlete. I am living vicariously through her as my closest thing to "athlete" is my cheerleading days. Oh, and of course, INSANITY!

Riley's new gym status comes with overwhelming responsibilities for us all, but she is so totally thrilled that we'd do almost anything to make it a reality for her. It will be a stretch for sure, but worth every bit of stretching. As the youngest member of the team, I have no doubt that there's lots of work ahead. I also have no doubt that Riley's up to the challenge.

Congratulations Riley Elizabeth Anderson, how very proud of you we are! Here's to all the good things to come!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Something about a boy...

In two weeks, my youngest child will be FOUR! This is nuts. It seems I've had a baby forever. Those baby days are disappearing in the rear view mirror as we speed ahead and other than his current problem with "girly whining", my little guy is all boy.

Today was a half day and the girls shut themselves in Riley's room for an American Girl play session. I heard Finn banging at the door and heard the girls spouting off excuses for not letting him in. They almost never exclude him, so I figured they needed some girl time and ushered Finn off to help me with "something".

A little while later, I heard him banging on the door again. Heard him crying. Heard him saying something about a bloody nose. He didn't have one, but he had a runny one, which he was trying to fix with a tissue.

I helped him clean up as he told me that Riley had informed him he had boogers and would not be allowed to play American Girl with them because he was gross. I assured him he was not gross and he disappeared.

A moment later I heard him at their door again. This time he was saying, "It's me again guys! Let me in - Mom cleaned me up!"

There's something about a boy. It's all so black and white, you know? "My boogers are gone, so now I will be accepted." There's no worrying about having boogers, what people think about your boogers, whether or not you're getting a cold or wondering if you look weird with your boogers. There are certainly no hurt feelings in relation to boogers.
Boogers = can't play, no boogers=can play. Oh, the simplicity!

I love my boy!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

She Won!

Meet number two and another First Place trophy for our little gymnast. Riley did great and had her game face on as usual. (I wonder where this game face came from - must be Mike.) She's cool as a cucumber on the outside.

Looking forward to more fun at our Flippin' Fiesta meet next weekend! Congratulations RILEY and the whole amazing GIJO Level 3 Team!!

There's meaning in the those words...

Last night, Mike and I made spaghetti and meatballs and homemade garlic bread from Jamie Oliver's awesome Food Revolution cookbook. We wanted a nice, hearty family dinner to set Riley off right for her 2nd gymnastics meet this morning. We all loved it, which is really saying something about the recipe!

While we were eating, I asked Riley how she was feeling about the meet. She freely admitted being a little nervous. Mike and I dispensed our supportive parental advice and in the midst, Logan interrupted us.

"Riley," she said in all her honest sweetness, "Just so you know, the only thing wrong with fear.... is fear itself."

Riley was clueless (she was getting TMI from the three of us), but Mike and I couldn't help but chuckle. Logan might not have gotten Roosevelt's quote verbatim, but she certainly did get it right.

GOOD LUCK SWEET RILEY! We're all behind you!!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Limits Unimagined

Those of you who are friends on Facebook might know that I have embarked on this crazy-ridiculous exercise regime called Insanity. It is hard - harder than anything I've ever done in my life. In that list are things like carry, birth and raise children, so I'm guessing you get it.


At some point every day during this insane cardio workout, I am sure I am going to die. And yet, I don't. I survive and feel great (afterwards.) The difficulty level makes this a huge commitment - 60 days of about an hour of hard core, boot camp bananas cardio that leaves me screaming at the television and makes me want to cry every time. I'm following the eating plan as well; five small meals a day. I've never done this before and I really like it - I'm never hungry. On Saturdays and Sundays I give myself a break at dinner to enjoy a little extra. It's not on the Insanity plan, but it's on mine. You gotta enjoy your life!

So here's to getting healthier and living longer. Here's to pushing myself past limits unimagined. I'm not sure how insane my results will be, but I feel like a different person already. At nearly three weeks in, I think this new way of life may become a habit. (We'll see what I say when the intensity increases in week 5!)

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Simple Surprises

Sometimes, some simple act of kindness, needs to be recognized for the something wonderful that it is. It might not seem like a big deal, but Logan's grandparents in North Carolina just did that kind of something wonderful just for her and I thought it was seriously blog worthy.

The class had an assignment of sending a "flat Stacy" out of town with hopes that she'd have some adventures and then return to tell the class about it. Mary and Alby took it to the extreme, taking Stacy on a road trip to Florida and the North Carolina coast. They stopped all over and took her picture, had adventures, collected souvenirs. Mary made a travel journal and folders for every state they traveled through, highlighted maps and gave all sorts of facts on each state.

As you might guess, not many kids in class had quite the same flat Stacy project to share with their classmates. Logan has been telling me about it for two weeks and just brought it home today. It is AMAZING - such a loving thing for them to do and a truly exceptional learning opportunity for Logan and her class. My favorite part is the pictures, which are so funny, they make me want to cry. Here are a couple...

Special thanks to Grandmom and Granddad!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Oh the Drama!

While organizing my newly painted office, I came across this piece of paper. I have no idea what it's from or how old it is. All I can tell you is that the darn drama is starting already. At EIGHT!!

Friday, April 16, 2010

From the mouths of babes

The following is an excerpt of a conversation between Finn and his classmate Brooke that I overheard while driving them to school today. Brooke's Dad has been putting together their new swing set and they're discussing what's left for him to do in order to finish it.

Finn: He still needs to put on the slide.

Brooke: And the driver thing and the telescope.

Finn: Oh yeah, and the roof. How will he get up there to put on the roof?

Brooke: My Daddy has a big ladder.

Finn: No, Brooke, my Daddy has a really big ladder.

Brooke: My Daddy's ladder is the biggest of all.

Finn: Brooke, my Daddy's ladder is the biggest in all the worlds.

Brooke pauses, then: Are you kidding me?

Finn: No, I'm serious.

I laughed all the way to school.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

hello again

Where has the time gone? I miss this blog like crazy. I'm going to try to post a short Andersonism once daily - let's see how close I can get. It's more important than ever as the kids just realized I stopped putting photographs in albums in 2004. This blog may be the only record of our existence!

Today Finn took his place among the big boys shooting hoops at the full-size basketball hoop on the street. They all snickered and teased him and I held him on my shoulders a few times until he started sinking a few. A neighbor called me over and I left him to his own devices, all thirty-some inches of them. Before I knew it, there was raucous cheering coming from under the hoop and the neighbor boys were calling me over.

"Finn got it again Molly! He's so little and he keeps doing it!!" And he did, again and again - it was amazing!

I swear, Finn grew six inches before my eyes right then. He is more boy then ever - what a ride this is! And even though he's only in the 25th percentile in height (thanks to yours truly, I'm sure) maybe this little man will cruise us all the way to the NBA! You never know.....

Sunday, February 21, 2010

First Place All Around!!!

February 7th marked one of those moments in life that just don’t come along very often. As we shuffled Riley off to her first-ever gymnastics competition, it never even dawned on us that she, the only kindergartner on the team, would place. Months earlier, we painfully forked over the extra dough required for GIJO (Greater Illinois Junior Olympics) to give Riley an idea of what competition is, and the opportunity to see if this is something she really wants to do. All we hoped for was a good experience for her.

Man did we get it. She rocked! She did awesome as the first child to compete on vault as soon as the meet started and her 9.0 totally got her fans juices flowing. Grandmom and Granddad, Nana and Tony and Grammy and Jim were all there to watch with Daddy, Logan, Finn and me. Riley even invited our good friends, the Marienthals – I think she must have known that she was going to give us a show!

As soon as she completed floor, her third event, I figured I’d tally up the scores. She had the second highest scores on vault and beam, so I wondered if she might be in the running for anything. I think I went into some kind of shock when I realized that she was neck in neck with two other girls, with one event left. When she put up an awesome vault and her 9.3 was displayed, I knew.

This was the craziest thing ever. I am not a nutty gym mom. I don’t sit there gossiping about other kids or pay for private lessons. I really just want Riley to have fun and as long as she’s having fun, we’ll make it happen for her. But I have to say I lost all my faculties when I realized my pipsqueak daughter, who turned only 6 one week before the meet, took all around first place for 6 to 8 year olds at her level. This must be what it feels like to win the lottery or something. I know that’s totally over the top, but it’s true!

I turned to Mike and whispered what I thought just happened, and he couldn’t even comprehend initially. By the time the news got around to her other fans in the crowd, most of us were crying. And ten minutes later when the scores were tallied and the trophies awarded, a very shocked pipsqueak was called to the top of the podium to accept her trophy for the Sweetheart Classic. For real, it was one of the most exciting moments of my life.

I’m sure it was for Riley, too, but she’s so reserved you’d never know. Three days later she told me in confidence that it was pretty awesome, but that was the extent of her outpouring. From the moment we arrived home that day, she continues to practice and perfect, but doesn’t talk about it much. It’s no big deal to her you see – she just loves it!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Robert Joseph Hajicek

My earliest memories of my Uncle Bob are of a kind of nerdy teenager who came to visit us in Omaha with my Grandma and Grandpa. He was lots of fun, at only thirteen years my senior, how could he not be? I loved his visits and was so happy as he married and had a family; my big kid status allowed me to spend a lot of time with them in those early days.

There was one point I gave up liking him for about a year. It's true. When I had become the akward 'tween, he jokingly pulled out my chair from under me at a family holiday dinner. He thought it was hilarious, and in hindsight, it was. But then, not so much!

My uncle had a crazy work ethic and loved his family. He was a whiz with tools and I'm thrilled to have a hutch he built in my dining room. He was so wonderful with my kids, always happy to have them on a knee or to listen to his latest joke. He was political, let me tell you! When he believed in something, there was no wavering. He never drank, never smoked. He was strong and he was a good man who left us too young.

My Uncle Bob lost his three year battle with brain cancer last night at the age of 51. We're told he is the longest-lived survivor of his type of cancer on record. I am sure I know why. Uncle Bob was a man so solid in his faith that I have no doubt it kept him going. He truly believed that he would be okay, no matter what happened, because he knew that God would take care of him. And He did. He was blessed to die peacefully at home with loved ones.

He will be missed by so many, his wife Dawn who took such good care, his children, his family and friends, co-workers and the Knights of Columbus, his church community. But more than all the missing him we'll do, there will be welcoming up above. Surely the heavens are rejoicing his arrival. Surely his suffering is over and his body and mind are in peak condition. Surely he's having breakfast with Grandpa and catching up on so much lost time. Surely.

I love you Uncle Bob.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Super at SIX!

All day on Saturday I thought about how, six years ago, I labored away under the guise that I'd actually deliver a baby on January 3oth. I couldn't have been more wrong. I didn't even start pushing until 5 am on the 31st, only to be ushered in for c-section number two at around 8:30 am. It was with utter relief that gave up hopes of VBAC success. I'm sure most moms don't feel this way in a c-section, but it was so nice to have something happening after all those hours of pushing that it seemed the baby was ready to come out in seconds. At 9:05 they announced, "I see wide shoulders!!" And then, "It's a girl!" I knew it all along.

The best part about Riley's delivery was naming her. Not even in our top three choices, she told me her name the very first second that I saw her. I instantly wondered what Mike would say since it wasn't on the short list. But she told Mike, too. We both said it at the same time. It was magic!

And magic is what it has always been with this strong-willed, sweet, old soul, athletic girl of ours. Riley doesn't demand much; she's officially low maintenance, unless you're expecting her to walk on her feet like the rest of us. From about eighteen months, she's been upside down in yoga positions. It changed to somersaults and then cartwheels and then walkovers and now handsprings. She watches TV while hanging upside down from our ottoman. If we're watching TV, it's through her round-offing legs. She never tires and never gives up on a new skill until she's got it. She has a physical determination beyond my imagination.

She couldn't be more easy going and seems to have this adult like understanding that if she accepts us saying "no" occasionally, we'll want to say "yes" more often. She understands other things too, like what kind of day it's been, why she should make healthy food choices, that this might not be the best time to ask for something, what might be the real reason someone feels bad. It's funny, but she really is an old soul. I love this about her because it's so unique, but also because her "roll with it" attitude makes being her mom a breeze!

She's so smart, but seems to have a special aptitude for math. She likes the challenge and is constantly trying to do Logan's homework. She's reading great and couldn't have more raves from her teachers. To quote a dear friend, "smart girls rock!" She loves her friends and classmates, strives so hard to impress her teachers, and even has a secret crush on a pal at school. His mom recently told me of a conversation they had about Riley.

She said to her son, "Riley's so nice and she's really pretty!"

Her son said, "Yeah, but she tackles me every single day!" (Guess she's got to learn to tame that athletic prowess!)

Lastly, this amazing girl of ours is sensitive, too. She'll never tell you, but she needs everyone a lot. She revels in the traditions of a kissing hand before she jumps the school bus or goes to bed. She can't sleep without certain stuffed animals and a good old tucking in. She is a wonderful big sister to Finn and adores Logan while maintaining her own identity. She keeps lots in, but I'm proud to say she lets me see that secret stuff - and I hope she never stops. She is really the coolest little chic I know and I can't imagine the world without her.

So as this cool chickadee turns six, I'm in shock, I'm in love, I'm full of pride. This little Riley is my girl, my daughter. Happy Birthday Riley!