Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Starved Rock

Our family took a little day trip to Starved Rock yesterday. It's a beautiful state park full of canyons with miles of trails through the woods and along the Illinois River. It's very dry here, so instead of waterfalls, we had empty canyons to explore, which was probably even more fun.

Was super happy to get away for a day. Everything has been very stressful lately. There just is never enough time for everything. And working nights, as any night worker will tell you, can really mess with your mind. 

So here's a rundown of recent events.
Parent-teacher conferences were in the last few weeks. They were a replay of last year, except there was no psychiatrist involved. Also, Carol is doing much, much better than a year ago.
Soccer is in the last week. The girls are doing pretty good. Especially Penny. That girls is a beast on the soccer field.
Carol joined Chess Club (seriously... ) and the Junior Gamma Phi Circus. It's a big deal to finally be allowed to join. Circus is a very big deal at Metcalf. I wonder if Carol will end up being a clown??
And that's all I can remember right now. Hopefully, work won't be psycho crazy this week and maybe I can write more. Just enjoy the pretty pics... 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Bored at work

So I guess I only blog after a) having a ridiculously awesome picture of myself to post, b) having a cute picture of the girls to post or c) when I'm bored at work.

Guess which one this?

We are SO busy now that the girls are back in school. Soccer is big at our house this year. BIG. Penny scored two, almost three, goals at her first game. She was so good, the coach moved her to defense. Steve said that's a first for a Gardner -- getting moved to defense for being TOO good.

Carol was her typical what-ev self at first. At FIRST... Before Steve bribed her with the iPad. Then she became the best soccer player on her team, scoring one of the two goals scored that game, and assisting on the other. Bummer for me, I missed that one.

School is also busy. Carol is working on a paper about the praying mantis. And Penny is this week's Friend of the Week. That's a BIG deal in first grade. Only, today, the first day of the big week, her day sort of sucked. She's sick. She didn't present anything to the class because she wanted to wait for Carol to come to her class. Carol called her stupid in front of her friends, and they laughed. All really sucky stuff.

So I bought her a smoothie at McDonalds. Because sometimes a smoothie helps.

And then our sewer exploded, but that's not really something I want to think/write/talk about. Because it's smelly. And works has been busy. Well. Not tonight. But in general.

I usually like to end with something quippy, but tonight, I'll j....

Monday, September 10, 2012


Pretty much did nothing but drink beer, eat and watch football. I justified this decision because I am almost never off on Sundays, and why not live it up... On the sofa. With a gallon of ice cream poised on my chest.

Turns out, living it up sorta makes me feel a little fat. And this picture certainly doesn't help. Reminder to self, a thumbs up rarely benefits a portrait. Especially one as awesome as this.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

A work in progress

Today is my least favorite day of all the school days. It's open house day at my kids' school. Usually, this sort of thing is exciting. Getting to meet the new teachers. Getting to hear about the fun things they're going to do this year. Sitting in tiny seats. 

But I always feel sort of overwhelmed on these days. We pick volunteer opportunites. Learn about the big dates like field trips and science project due dates. And I envision my semi-empty calendar filling with all sorts of stuff I'm likely to forget. Also, I had to shell out like $50 on a babysitter and pizza, which is not how I like to spend $50 on a Thursday night.

Both girls have very nice teachers. Penny has a teacher new to the school who seems very excited about teaching 1st graders. Carol has a 36-year veteran teacher who designs her room around whatever "theme" the class is working on. The first lesson is nature and, I kid you not, she has a life-sized tree in her classroom. Sorta makes you want to revisit the 3rd grade.  

My birthday weekend is OK. Weirdish weather. Here's Penny on Sunday, and again on Monday. Looks like she can have fun in any weather! It also looks like she has a preference for green.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Birthday awesomeness

I was not looking forward to my birthday this year. But here's just another example of how my kids and husband made this an extra special day.

Homemade card from Carol:
Dear mommy. I love you. You are the center of my eye. I hope nothing goes wrong on your birthday. You're the best mom I know. Yours truly. Carol.

Homemade card from Penny (with spelling fixed. Sheesh Penny. You're 6. Learn to spell already.):
Dear mom. Happy Birthday! What do you want to do? I want you to open the presents. If you say no, then I guess go outside. Just kidding. Guess what my present is. You don't have to. Love. Penny. 

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Gangam Style

I'm so over my birthday depression. I went for a nice run today, where I got drenched on the last mile. I'm not certain why, but I always think it's lucky when it rains on my run.

And I came up with a nice plan for the next few days. And I'm ready for a big old nap before work today.

But most of all, Steve introduced me to this new video. It's the most awesome of the awesomest videos. Please enjoy...

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Rainy day blues

This five days a week thing is harder than I thought. My main excuse is I'm, like, clinically depressed. My birthday is coming up. I'm feeling overworked and under appreciated. I'm feeling like the only thing I have to look forward to is more hard work, and then death.

So, basically, what I'm feeling is life.

Today we watched, "West Side Story," in a failed effort to cheer myself up. A Romeo and Juliet story. What's not cheery about that?!?! There was one bright spot, before Tony is gunned down in the playground after having killed his love's brother. And I thought my week was bad.

Tony says, "Good night," and Maria responds, "Buenos noches." And Carol says, "Like he knows what THAT means." I guess it sort of cheered me up.

Gotta go now. The dogs are trying to eat the children. Getting really close to running away from home.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

6-8 sentences... easy peasy

Since I've been working 12-13 hours a shift for the last three nights, I have very little to write about that's not protected by HIPPA. I was lucky enough today to sleep during a beautiful rainy day and am happy to report 8 hours of sleep. 8!!!!

The girls and Steve have been doing the town up in my absense. The zoo. Barnes and Noble. The library The Normal corn festival. A rock wall (which Carol climbed all the way to the top. Woot woot!) and a cotton candy booth. I guess, they were mostly home today, which is sort of surprising because I slept through whatever ruckus they were making. I love me some rainy days.

Back to the grind tomorrow. For them. I will be eating breakfast with my co-workers and then coming home to a quiet house for a few hours of sleep before I head back to work for my fourth and final day. Whew...

Saturday, August 25, 2012

School days... With homework

School's back in session. The lovely Gardner girls are adjusting to their new grades.

Penny is in first grade, so she has explained that there is very little free time for playing. Except on Fridays, which are either Free play Fridays or Free fun Fridays. I don't remember. It also means a locker... To decorate. Also, she said her neck hurt from sitting at a desk all day.

For Carol, it means going to classes on a whole different floor. A combination lock for her locker. And sneakers just for gym, which I forgot to buy and then spent WAY too much money on at Von Maur. It also means a morning journal. When I asked Carol what was in it, she said, "It's private." When I asked if her teacher would read it, she said, "Just barely, to make sure we're doing it and the words make sense. But just barely."

I told her about this blog and how it was sort of like my journal. I asked what she wrote about, and she said whatever. "Just whatever I'm thinking about then." I told her I didn't write much on my blog anymore. She said I should. I agreed. So I told her I'd write 5 days a week, just like she does.

Then I asked how much she had to write. She said six to eight sentences. Hmmm. I can do that... I think...

Friday, August 03, 2012

Beach days

As I sit here thinking about my four-day work stretch (woe is me) and listening to the girls moan about having to go to summer camp rather than lie around in their pajamas all day ( Penny just now walked into the living room and threw herself very dramatically on the couch in protest), I like to focus on my still slightly burned skin and remember the extra fun beach trip this week. We were a little too stretched to go for more than a day, but it was, according to Carol, "A-maaazzzz-ing."

Thursday, July 26, 2012


Brought to you by the series "Ivy and Bean." Frankly, I'm not sure I get the big attraction about the adventure of two little girls. But, I am looking forward to book club.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Picture time

For whatever reason, the only photos I take these days are of the girls in sunglasses.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Black eye blues

Carol got kicked in the face at the pool today. She had a series of little hormonal-like breakdowns today over this event.

And sometimes, the most comforting embrace doesn't come from mom.

Friday, July 13, 2012

And that's how you make mom cry

This has been a busy summer. We've been riding bikes around town. Going to the pool. Hanging out in the backyard. Obviously, we've been much, MUCH too busy to peruse the internets.

But I just had to write about a package Carol received this week. It was soft, so I figured she left a jacket or some pants or something of a clothy nature at a friend's house, and they politely mailed them back to her. I didn't open it until she got home.

In the package was two stuffed rats. I'll admit. I didn't so much like where this was going. Who is sending rats to my daughter in the mail?!?! Because that's just weird.

But inside was a letter from Carol's librarian (the most wonderful teacher in the world) at Metcalf (the most wonderful school in the world). I can't possibly convey the message without just quoting it here.

Dear Carol,
I remember one day how you were so gentle and caring when others were saying how bad rats were. You are a lot like me when I was a little girl. You have a wonderful heart. I hope you always choose to be wise and careful but continue to see the possibility for beauty in all things. In honor of your kind heart, please give a good home to two of my creatures. Choose one and share one with you little sister.
And that, my friends, is how you make mom cry.

Friday, May 25, 2012


Felt very proud of myself, getting from point a to b of the Chicago subway. Seeing almost all the most famous pictures at the art institute before the girls begged me to leave. And the to Millennium Park instead of the girls' vote for Navy Pier.

And everybody was happy.

My road to the art museum

Is full of compromise.

Made it

After a breakfast of muffins, Pepsi and Doritos, we made it. I am for sure parent of the year!


I'm blogging live today from Chicago. Where I'm taking the girls for their first day of summer break. On the train. By myself. Eekkk....

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


I recently got the girls these letter wall decals do they could write stuff on their walls. This is what carol wrote. I love this girl.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Happy Anniversary. For reals.

How the people of Pinterest see an 11th wedding anniversary. 

How the Normal Gardners see it.

Happy anniversary Steve. Now... go get some sleep.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Code sad

When a girl attends her first code blue, and that code is also her patient, and her preceptor happens to be at lunch and it sort of feels like the code is my, ummm, her fault even though it probably, almost definitely wasn't...

There's only one thing to do. Think about the kindergarten concert. Think about my awesome dog who is very badly behaved. Think about our upcoming day trip to Chicago to see the art museum. On the train!!!

Much better than thinking about tomorrow and that bad, stinky, mean ICU. Yes. Best not to think about that.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Learning about life

I screwed Carol over not once, but twice this weekend. First, I had the wrong time of her soccer match and she missed half the game. Then, I briefly told her about how kids from First Communion could wear their fancy outfits to church this Sunday. She said she didn't want to, and I didn't press her on it, but then those kids got to go the front of the church, got applause and helped crown Mary.

I felt really bad about both things.

To the soccer game issue, Carol was fine. It was like 85 degrees and I think she was secretly happy not to play a whole game.

To the second, I think she did feel a little bad. But she said, "Don't worry mom. I don't care. All they got was a better view of Mary."

This from a girl I scream at, like, twice a day for much lesser offenses. God love this girl, going out of her way to make me feel better when I screwed up.

Maybe I can learn a thing or two about being a good person from this lovely girl. Thanks Carol, for being the best kid ever.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Oh holy moly

Carol had her first communion this weekend. I should write more about it, but to be honest, I just don't feel like it. It's a rainy, bleak day and it's sorta affecting my usual chipper disposition. Goo thing the only person who has to deal with this rottenness is Jake, and he doesn't seem to mind. Mostly because he's napping.

But I do love this picture. Maybe I should ask Carol to pray for my happiness. Looks like she's got this holy thing down.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Thursday, April 26, 2012


So... Have I mentioned we got a dog? No? Well. We did. His name is Jake. He's a year old. He's been at the Humane Society off and on for about six months. I'm not sure why this is because he's obviously the best dog in the world.

Saturday, March 17, 2012


First off, there is no Tony Packos in Toledo, Spain. And while that's a little disappointing, the ancient city had a lot to offer, even if that something does not involve hot dogs.

I actually liked the arts and crafts there a lot. We got some ceramic and a lovely little gold plate specific to the region.

And the cathedral. Holy moly. It made Segovia look like a dinky neighborhood chapel. Although, Carol preferred Segovia, the one in Toledo was truly remarkable.

And that's it for our travels. Perhaps I'll reflect more on our travels, and travels with children, in the future, but for now I'm going to drink my $6 bottle of wine (a pretty steep price in Spain, God bless cheap European wine) and watch this Jackie Chan movie dubbed in Spanish.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Bad habits

We definitely picked up some bad habits in Spain. We eat, like, 10 times a day. We drink beer and wine every time we eat.

Oh... And apparently, Carol picked up smoking. Nice


These blog posts have been lame. Totally lame. I apologize for that. I also apologize for my lack of interest in trying to correct the situation.

Today, we took a metro, a high speed rail and a bus to Segovia, Julia's typical commute. But we loved Segovia. Carol was super interested in praying at the old church. We saw a castle and meandered down the ancient, winding road, which pedestrians shared with cars. Segovia has a working aqueduct, built like 2,000 years ago. And Restaurante Socorro (probably named after my awesome mom-in-law) was a delightful find.

And we ate a tiny, baby pig. Who doesn't love that!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Eating worms

Steve and I ate gulas yesterday during our date night. not exactly worms. More like little eels. Because that's so much better.

We had a bust couple of days. Went to the Museo Del Prado today. Penny really enjoys that sort of thing. She told me when we go home, "I realized I need to do my best and then I can hang my pictures on wall at Home."

A fancy art museum, right in our house at Normal! Still eating and drinking a lot. Perhaps too much drinking last night. But the Cana is so little. And do tasty. An so cheap.