Three Kids and a Dog

Monday, November 19, 2018

The Favorite

Peyton constantly wants and craves the love and acceptance of being the favorite. Whether it's from her swim coach, camp counselor or school teacher, she's constantly telling me that she's their favorite. (We won't even get into how she begs me to tell her whose my favorite.) And, often times I'm pretty sure she's right as she knows just how to work her way into your heart with her humor, a sarcastic comment or a witty remark. And I'm not even talking about how cute she is with that blonde hair and those blue-gray eyes.

However, this past week, it's been pretty humorous to witness some adults who openly deem (verbally or non-verbally) Austen their favorite and how she reacts to this news. She complained recently about a PE teacher asking about Austen (as he now goes to middle school) and telling her class how he set the record for the pacer test at her school. Big deal, Peyton said as she recounted the tale to Austen over a snack. I got an 84, she said which was the highest for the girls. That's not true Austen said, you're in 3rd grade, you don't even get to go beyond 50. She must've forgotten that it was only last year that Austen went to that school and I'm pretty sure knew the ins and outs of the pacer test. Foiled again. That darn Austen.

Then just on Saturday, we had to attend church with Peyton's religious education class. Upon seeing our family in the pew, the head of religious education comes over to our pew, bypasses Peyton who is sitting on the end (and the required attendee), stretches across the pew and says "my man Austen!" as she gives him a fist pump. She then suddenly remembers Peyton and pats her on the shoulder. Peyton and I exchange a quick glance where Peyton scrunches up her face to indicate her irritation and rolls her eyes. I almost couldn't help but laugh. It was pretty obvious to all of us that this lady could've cared less about Peyton but was so happy to see Austen there.

Last was just tonight at our parent teacher conference for Peyton. Naturally Austen comes up in conversation - although Austen did not have Peyton's teacher for 3rd grade, he did have him for math. So her teacher tells us that he often sends her down the hall to Austen's old 5th grade teacher's class when he needs something from her because she may have declared her favorite student of all time to be Austen! Peyton says she does go on these runs and when she does, the teacher always asks about Austen. Of course she does, Peyton. Get used to it. That's what it means to be the second born. However, I'm sure you're doing just fine on your own becoming many other people's favorites. I mean how could you not be? 

Sunday, November 11, 2018

That's a Wrap on the Soccer Season

Fall soccer season has finally come to a close and I have to say that I was glad to see it end. It got cold way too quickly this year. In fact, it seems somehow we skipped fall - my favorite season.

Three of the Original Wizards with Coach Nathaniel
Hailey scored a goal in her last game of the season on what I told the other coach was a set piece (of course I was joking) because it was so perfectly executed by these U6 players it looked like something you would see from only older kids. Hailey one touches it with a strong kick to the goal off a corner kick from one of her teammates. It was so perfect, I'm not sure my U10 girls could have done it any better (I coached both girls this season but was an assistant for Peyton for the first time this year since I was coaching Hailey too).

Peyton (U10) scored in her final game as well (although I didn't get to see that one since I was coaching Hailey) but a strong kick had the ball spinning through the goalie's hands and into the net. Peyton's really had a great season and has given much more effort this year when on the field. And, she's really turned into a good goalie too.

Austen finished with a  pretty respectable season too. I don't count how many goals he has anymore as it's not unusual for him to have multiple goals in a game and/or assists. This fall he was double rostered so he played both U12 and U13 at the platinum level (the highest level for these age groups as their are multiple levels for each age category). His U12 team is strong and competitive. They played some great competition this season and held their own placing in the top half (all scores aren't in yet but they could've received 3rd or 4th place out of 9 teams). This is no easy feat to place in the top half of the platinum division especially beating an undefeated first place team 3-1 in their final game. Of course Austen scored the first goal in that game (on my birthday). And the next day he answered again playing U13 with a hat trick (3 goals) defeating another team 4-1. U13 definitely proved more challenging for him this season as they start playing 11 v. 11 and the field is bigger so that takes some getting used to but I think this year of playing at the U13 level will help him next year for sure.

Beyond the field game, the bonds that Austen has formed with his teammates (many of whom don't go to his school) are just so awesome to see. In fact, today, his first "real" soccer coach (who left the club to coach in the city closer to his house two years ago), came to watch them. It's such a special surprise when we see Coach Nathaniel show up to watch "his boys" as he still calls them. He started training these kids when they were in 1st grade at the U7/U8 level. Some have moved to different clubs but their bonds with each other and with their coach are still there. It's so sweet to see their love and admiration for him and for each other.

It makes my heart happy to know that Austen has experienced this type of camaraderie with his teammates and coaches. It's something he will cherish even more as he grows older. Those are your forever friends.

Now Two Wizards, One OBSC and One Road Runner Players but Forever Friends

The U12 Wizard Pizza Party.  These are some great kids and Austen's BFFs!

Monday, November 05, 2018

Happy Halloween!

For once in Chicago it didn't rain or snow on Halloween. It seems like every year Halloween means inclement weather which of course hampers how long you trick or treat and how far you'll actually travel.

This year was the first year in about 10 years that it was a beautiful fall afternoon for trick or treating. We walked all over our neighborhood and back. The kids got a ton of candy and boy were they tired. I sure was too!

Halloween kicked off with the elementary school parade (Austen's first year not doing it since he's in middle school now). Peyton was all too happy to come home for lunch, get on her costume and get back to school for the afternoon's festivities. After the parade, I helped out in Peyton's classroom for their annual Halloween party.

After school, we dropped Austen off at his friend's house to trick or treat with a lot of other 6th graders. Despite not loving to dress up, he really enjoys seeing how much candy he can collect as he literally runs from house to house. This year he didn't come home with that many king sized candy bars as he said he gave a lot away to kids who didn't get as much as he did. I'm sure some of them were girls as somehow they always meet up with a group of girls (hey, it pays when one of your guy friends has a twin sister and her friends are hanging around too). Note this was the first year since he was really little that he didn't dress up in a sports costume!

Peyton got to trick or treat with her friends too as we met up with three of her friends and their parents. Papa came too and we sipped hot spiked cider, chatted and walked all over town trying to keep up with the 3rd graders.

Hailey held her own, keeping pace with the older ones though she didn't want to skip any houses when we would tell her to skip a house or two so she would be ahead of the older ones instead of trailing behind. In fact, at one house she ran into a group of Austen's other friends and followed them into one of their houses. She didn't seem to mind though as they said "Hi Hailey!" I think that was the point where we almost lost sight of her because we thought she was with Peyton's group and instead she went off with the boys. Good thing Papa was paying attention or our little T-rex may have dissolved into a bout of tears on the sidewalk when she realized we had left her!

All in all, a good Halloween though. The weather certainly makes the difference!

School parade!

Austen's scary Halloween costume. Good thing he didn't have his glowing red eyes in!

Our Little T-Rex!

She's a Fox!

Monday, October 29, 2018

This Is 45

I seldom write about myself. That's on purpose. Sure, I am pretty social and outgoing but I'm actually a pretty private person too. I don't like to overshare, I like my space and I really relish my own alone time. I've been like that since I was a kid. (By the way, I have a kid who is the same way and her name is Peyton). Anyway, after my last post about love and loss, I've been thinking a lot about my birthday on Friday. I'll be 45. God willing, I've probably lived about half of my life already. And maybe I could pass for 5 or even 10 years younger than how old I really am (say some) but somehow this year leading up to 45, I've made some pretty significant changes in my life.

My 20s were so much fun. Living in the city and hanging out with my friends. Getting my career off the ground. My 30s were all about getting married, buying houses, having babies and climbing the corporate ladder. By 40, I was ready to make some big changes in my life including staying home and throwing myself into volunteering - whether through school, by coaching or managing a sports team or for a philanthropic organization in my community.

This year, I think unconsciously at first, I decided to make some further changes to things in my life that impacted me directly. So starting in April, I hired a nutritionist to change the way that I ate. We don't count calories, we count macros which is protein, fat and carbs. This isn't a diet. This is developing a healthier eating lifestyle. It doesn't mean I'm never going to have a beer or a glass of wine or a piece of cake. I just know now how to work that in. And, for the first time in a very long time, like maybe before college, I weigh less than what's on my drivers license which I changed and still lied about at age 30. Ha!

The second thing I embarked on this year was Invisalign. I started to feel more and more self conscious about my teeth. My front teeth had separated years after having braces and because I never wanted to have to go through braces again I had my front teeth bonded together so you wouldn't notice the gap. Of course, 20 plus years later, the bonding started to deteriorate and I started to have nightmares (literally) about the baby tooth that I still have and never fell out, finally doing so on a really important day. It was time to get it all taken care of and stop avoiding the inevitable. So in July, I started my Invisalign treatment which will be followed by an implant replacing my baby tooth (that's still hanging in there - no pun intended - after 44 plus years!). 

The last thing I did happened just last week. I've worn glasses since 6th grade and contacts since 9th. Both my brothers have had Lasik eye surgery and wondered why I never did. It just wasn't important to me then. But this year I had been thinking about it more and more. Again, something was pushing me to just do it. So I went for my consultation on Tuesday and on Wednesday I had the surgery. It's been a week and it feels so odd after 30 plus years not to reach for my contact case in the morning. Okay, truth is I have reached for it once. But so far I'm impressed with the results (recovery time is still one month as your vision keeps improving every day). But it was easy, virtually painless and life changing. Why did I wait so long?!

So this is 45. You can call it my midlife crisis. Who knows maybe I'll be driving a Porsche soon too...

Monday, October 22, 2018

Love and Loss

Rest in Peace Maddox LoPriore 

Today marks the third anniversary of Adler's death. Three years went by in what seemed like the blink of an eye. My kids are three years older and I now have a 2.5 year old new dog. As I reflect back on that time after losing her, my grief was so real and so raw. It felt suffocating at times like I wasn't ever going to be able to remember her without crying. Yes, I know she was a dog but she wasn't just a dog. She was a member of my family.

Time did heal and getting Sadie certainly helped too. But, it really took me almost three months to feel like I could breathe without her. To this day, I still think of her almost daily and miss her. And, yes, she was "just" a dog. I can't even imagine if it was one of my own "human" children.

Unfortunately, one of my very best friends lost her 8.5 year old child unexpectedly last week. Thinking about the pain I felt for Adler who was a dog and an old dog at that can't even come close to what she is feeling and going through. I know her son, Maddox, will be close in her thoughts every day for the rest of her life. She will miss him every day for the rest of her life. She will never be the same again for the rest of her life. This will change her. This will change her family of six - now her family of five. This will change us. Her friends. We've never had a best friend who has lost a child before. How do we take away her pain? How do we support her? How do we help her grieve? How do we not forget her child and keep his memory alive not just next week or next year but when 5 years or 10 or 20 years have passed?

These are all questions we're going to do our best to find the answers to so we can be the best support system we can for her. Because there's few people in your life who mean as much to you as your family and she's one of them.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Happy 5th Birthday to Hailey!

It’s hard to believe my baby turned 5 just last week. We celebrated her for almost a week. First, with a family Birthday Party and then we had a little celebration at school for her class.

This Birthday was all about dinosaurs. “No one is going to buy me dolls, mom,” she tells me. “They all know I like dinosaurs!” So from her invitation to her cake to the surprise walking T-Rex (aka Austen) we went full on dinosaur. Heck, even her party T-shirt had a Dino on the front and a number 5 on the back.

And, not  surprisingly many of the presents she opened were none other than dinosaurs. At school, she got to walk around the sun five times to signify that she was five years old, sharing one picture for every year of her life. She called on 5 friends to wish her some birthday fun and I was surprised she called on 3 girls. However, when it was time to choose 3 friends to sit with to eat her special birthday treat, she chose all boys. Speaking of the birthday treat, Hailey chose none other than Dino muffins (banana bread muffins but dressed like dinosaurs). I think they were a roaring hit!

Notice all the dinosaurs on her birthday cake!

A T-Rex came to my party!

Helping Ms. May prepare for her birthday celebration and walking around the sun

Hailey's table of friends with their Dino Muffins

Sunday, October 07, 2018

The Pizzelle

The Pizzelle - defined as an Italian waffle cookie has special meaning for me. I remember as a little girl watching my Italian grandmother make these deliciously, light cookies in what looked like a double waffle maker. She would stack them up on the dessert tray after dinner and I probably would eat too many of them. I especially loved eating them as a sandwich with peanut butter and jelly in between.

So imagine my surprise when I started seeing a nutritionist (because I wanted to revamp how I ate and how my family ate) and she told me that these cookies are the perfect, low carb sweet treat. I found an old love made into my new favorite dessert - of course I can't pair them with the regular peanut butter and jelly but I can get pretty close with some PB2 (powdered peanut butter packed with protein and little fat) and light/low sugar jelly.

However, my kids have really enjoyed eating pizzelles with PB&J (as kids they need the fat more than I do) as a snack after they come home from school. And, I'm enjoying remembering my grandmother and how many memories that pizzelle brings back.