Monday, October 29, 2012


I have a love-hate relationship with fall. I think I discuss this every year, but I do. I would love this season so much more if it wasn't followed by winter. I hate winter. there is no love about winter. I hate snow. I hate cold. End of story. So, it's hard for me to really love fall because I know that winter comes next, but I still try. I like the changing leaves. I like the apple cider. I like Halloween. I like the weather in terms of running.
I don't like that I'm sitting inside my house right now and I can hear the wind screaming and I can feel how cold it is through the house. I do not like this. I should only feel cold in my house because it's July and I've turned up the air conditioning.

Still, I choose to live here, so I try to make the best of this season. We ended October with a lot of fun. Saturday morning, Luke and I were invited to a pumpkin decorating event at the Fairmont Chicago. I love carving pumpkins with the boys, but I hate the stress of knives around my kids, so this was a lot of fun for me. Although I helped Luke with a few things, it was fun to sit back and let him go wild with his pumpkin. I am ridiculously craft challenged, so the thought of giving him a box of craft supplies and a bottle of glue never occurred to me, but we'll be doing this with both boys and pumpkins next year.
We also got to sample pumpkin seeds (both savory and sweet) and pumpkin cookies prepared by the Fairmont chefs. Part of the love side of things that I have with this season is anything pumpkin flavored, so we're planning on recreating the cookies to share with our family on Halloween!
Luke left with a pumpkin carving kit, a bag full of candy and this very decorated pumpkin, which he made me carry back to the car. Of course. On the drive home, Luke said, "Mom, I had a great time at that party!"

A side note about Luke, he absolutely loves hotels. So even though we weren't staying there, all I had to do was tell him that it was in a hotel and he was already hooked. Ever since we stayed at the Swissotel this August, he's been asking if we could go back and stay overnight for his birthday in February (we usually let him choose an overnight at a water park in lieu of a big birthday party). After our short visit to the Fairmont, he's now considering this an option. Why? Because they have an escalator right off the main lobby. Something tells me this is not how most people choose hotels.

Sunday morning, we went hiking at our favorite local arboretum, which is all decorated for Halloween. The boys loved the additions to the train garden.
As well as the hay maze, which Tommy tried to cheat his way through by climbing on top of the hay bales.
And then I started whining about the cold and asked if we could please go get lunch and also, how many months until summer?!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Weeklong Test Drive [GMC Acadia]

If you read my blog about a month ago, you'll know that I was pretty angry at my Focus after it ruined a weekend trip. Since I'll have it paid off in December, our plan has always been to upgrade to a bigger vehicle. Whether or not we have a third kid (and since our second kid is steadfastly refusing to sleep or potty train, that's looking less and less likely), we definitely need something with more space than a four door car. Trying to go anywhere in my car is ridiculous because with two car seats and two kids in it, there's no space left for anything else. Not to mention that, obviously, my car is not reliable.

Shortly after blogging about my car, I contacted a [wonderful, fabulous] PR person from GM about doing a possible test drive. She wrote me back quickly and said that yes, this would be a possibility and we set up dates to test drive a 2012 GMC Acadia Denali, which is one of our two top contenders as we are looking at American crossovers. This beauty was delivered to my house last week and I fell in love...

Now, keep in mind that I drive a Ford Focus, so the difference in size is like moving from a van down by the river to a mansion; however, even without this obvious difference, the interior space was excellent for our family of four. For the first time in oh, EVER, the boys didn't fight on a car ride because they weren't sitting practically on top of each other. We were able to put their things in the third row, instead of piling them on the floor at their feet.
If we had a third child and needed to utilize the third row (which has a latch system!), there would still be plenty of space to put items, as the storage space behind the third row was ample.
We took my parents for a drive and both found the third row to be comfortable as adults, which is important to us because we would like to have the option to take others in the vehicle, too. The 2nd row captain's chairs with the third row seating made this feel we had the space of a minivan but with something sportier than a minivan.

Although I'm used to driving a smaller car, I never felt like I was driving something huge. Actually, I never felt like this handled any differently than my smaller car, which was a huge plus. I had no trouble parking or navigating turns, but I felt much safer in it and I definitely enjoyed being higher up. In fact, the Acadia has a 5 star safety rating when compared to vehicles of similar size and weight.
I also loved all of the in-car safety features, like the rear vision camera system. I live in a neighborhood with a lot of small children who don't always look before they take off in a bike or on a scooter and it's an honest fear of mine that a child will dart out behind me. Having a backup camera when I was leaving my driveway each day was great, plus it made backing up in parking lots that much easier.

What I really enjoyed about this opportunity was the ability to essentially test drive a vehicle for a week straight with the kids in it, with their carseats and everything. Both of my boys were able to climb in and out on their own, which is important and not something that we would've been able to figure out just by doing a dealership test drive. I felt like this was a kid-friendly vehicle, but with the roominess and comfort for it to be adult-friendly, as well. This is something that I could see growing with our family. It works for their carseats now, but the boys will definitely still fit in it when they're teenagers and hauling sports equipment or band instruments. I liked that I can see it growing with us, which is definitely NOT something that I can see with my Ford Focus (and not just because I frequently want to drive it off a cliff).

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, this was the fully loaded Acadia Denali with a list price of $50,000, which is out of our price range (unfortunately, because this car did make me swoon). It had all the bells and whistles, to the extent that I'm still not sure what some buttons did! As I said earlier, our plan is to start car shopping in December or January and after our week with the Acadia, we will definitely be looking at Acadias, but we will be looking at the baseline models. I definitely feel like they are the best for our family in terms of space and safety. Hopefully in a few months, I'll be updating with our new car!

Although we were provided with the Acadia to test drive for a week, all opinions provided are my own.

Monday, October 22, 2012

if and only

Hi, neglected blog. There are so many days that I want to sit down and write, but I don't have the time. I really don't. I hate it. Life is just so busy. I don't understand this season. Every weekend is packed. There are Halloween parties and birthday parties and long runs and when will life slow down? And then the week days are full of work and kids and more work.

I want to tell you how Luke is doing in Kindergarten. How full day has been more of an adjustment for him than I realized. How he's reading and sounding out words and it's really precious, but how I worry for his gentle heart sometimes.

I want to tell you how Tommy is doing without his brother by his side all the time. How sweet it is when they're reunited, but also how they fight so much sometimes that it makes me absolutely crazy.

I want to tell you what work is like, how sometimes I feel like a first year teacher all over again because I'm having to learn to restructure some things I do in the classroom with Indiana's new evaluation system. That's not a bad thing, necessarily, but it can be a stressful thing. I want to tell you how I did a discussion on The TellTale Heart and it spanned two days and my students got into a real, logical argument on whether or not the narrator was actually insane. I was so proud of them.

I want to tell you how my training plan is going. I want to tell you how I've run 13 miles twice and how I've run over 13 miles twice, how I ran 15 miles last weekend and it was HARD, but I've learned to push myself through pain and sore legs and how that is not something I could ever do before. How I have learned new limits as a runner and even if I run my next half marathon in the exact same time as my last half marathon, it'll be worth it because I feel so much more stronger.

I want to tell you how I miss my husband because all of the above takes up so much time and how I so desperately wish we had more time to just go out to dinner and reconnect. Last night we watched a TV show and he rubbed my feet while I ate ice cream. It was wonderful.

I want to expand on all of this. If only there was time, but hey look, it's 3:45 and I'm off to Luke's parent-teacher conference. I'm kind of nervous. It's scary to be on the parent side of things after so many years on the teacher side of things. I want to tell you more about that feeling... if only there was time.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Seasonal Greetings

Almost two years ago, I won a blog auction for a card creation on etsy. It was right around the holidays, but I'd already created our Christmas cards. I thought about saving it for a birthday invitation, but I decided to send out a happy New Year card instead. We got a lot of compliments on the idea and after that, I tried to send a card with pictures of the boys to greet each season. Some slipped away from me because of stress or money constraints, but I still tried my hardest. I've found that some of our older relatives who aren't online love them the most because they still get relatively up-to-date photos of the boys--and who doesn't love a surprise in your mailbox, even if you are online?

This one was one of my favorites...
(That's a picture of my computer screen--excuse the poor quality.)

Since then, I've discovered that I can make postcard size prints on my MacBook, write a cute note on the back, print and order via iTunes. It's so easy! Although I'm obviously not a photographer, I'm just a mom with a DLSR who does her best.

Another favorite was the photo I took this summer. The farmer planted wheat behind our house and I managed to catch this shot at golden hour. I was so happy with it.

This was our most recent one. I wish I would've swapped them, so Tommy's face wouldn't have been in shadows... but again, mom with a camera.

Still, despite the stress of taking the photos and the cost of printing them and postage, I love it. I love when people tell me they enjoyed it or when I walk into our sitter's house and see it on top of her entertainment center or when the boys' great-grandma calls and tells us she took it with her to the hair salon. Totally worth it. I realize this reads like I'm being sponsored by Tiny Prints or Hallmark or Snapfish, but I'm not (although if any of those places would like to sponsor my seasonal postcards, please feel free). I do these completely out of my own pocket, just because who doesn't love an extra reminder that it's a fresh new season, with new smiles and new joys?