• Reflections on Parenting

    Mama Bear, Baby Bear

    Recently we drove the boys up to Great Smoky Mountain National Park to see the fall colors. Experiencing seasonal color changes in leaves anywhere is a wondrous thing, but going to an area where there are literally hundreds of thousands of trees en masse is magical, especially when you catch it at the right time. Jim and I never seem to hit the short “Peak Color” range of days each year we try, but the good thing about driving up into the mountains is that the change in elevation provides a pretty good shot at seeing something spectacular along the way, even if it isn’t Peak. In fact, on this…

  • Random Thoughts,  Reflections on Parenting

    For the Children

    I was at Target the other day, and for some reason my ears honed in on all the kids that were there. I heard so many statements, questions, and stories straight from the mouths of babes that I wondered if I were in some kind of Twilight Zone. It’s unusual for me to pay attention, for sure: after all, my own “kids” are 21 and 24 and the days of taking care of every single need they have are long gone. These days I’m terribly good at ignoring children (not to be mean, mind you: I just tune them out because I focus on other things). On the occasions when…

  • Family Fun,  Reflections on Parenting

    The Plan

    Being an empty nester is weird. Full disclosure: while our 23-year-old is currently living with us while he works and saves up some money for his next move, I still consider us empty nesters. Maybe THAT’S weird. Anyway, being an empty nester is weird. It’s weird because once the kids grow up and move out, it’s awesome because you’re thrilled that they are starting a new chapter in their lives and you can start a new chapter in your life, but it’s also sad because they are starting a new chapter in their lives that doesn’t include you on a constant basis, and you’re starting a new chapter in your…

  • Family Fun,  Reflections on Parenting

    To Infinity and Beyond

    I cannot think of a movie franchise that has meant more to our family over the years than Disney’s “Toy Story”. The adventures of Andy’s toys (Buzz Lightyear, Woody, and friends) were on repeat in our VCR (and later, DVD player) for years and years. In fact, here’s something that might make you feel old like I do: on this day twenty years ago, the first “Toy Story” installment, starring Tom Hanks and Tim Allen, premiered in Hollywood at the El Capitan Theatre, with nationwide release three days later. When I learned that, I had another bittersweet moment of “Wow, time really does fly, doesn’t it?” When the movie premiered,…

  • Confessions,  My Kids Have Mad Skillz,  Proud Moments,  Reflections on Parenting

    Always A Mummy.

    Disclaimer: This post is probably going to come out like one of those bittersweet ones and some of you will probably say that I should have given an advance Kleenex warning. On the contrary; this is just an observation. I don’t intend for it to be sad. I’m not sitting here crying. I’m smiling. See? *This is where I would have inserted a picture of me smiling but I’m too lazy so you’ll have to imagine it, and trust me.* Being the mom of grown kids is weird. At twenty-three and twenty, D and J are old enough to have all kinds of information stored away in their brains about…

  • Blessings,  Confessions,  Family Fun,  My Kids Have Mad Skillz,  Reflections on Parenting

    They Come Back.

    Jim and I spent today driving up to Madison, Wisconsin, grabbing a moving truck, and moving our older son back home. Nothing bad happened; it’s just that the six-month internship he took on ended (as did his lease) and he hasn’t found a new place of employment yet. Most parents probably don’t think, when they send their kids off to college (or a non-college alternative), that they’ll be back. If they did, I know there would be far fewer tears and less anxiety about the process. In an ideal world, the kids leave home, get their traditional (or non-traditional) education, find great jobs, support themselves without a problem and then…

  • Blessings,  I'm Apparently Old.,  My Kids Have Mad Skillz,  Reflections on Parenting

    Back In Time, If Only For a Moment

    I was loading up the conveyor belt with my purchases at Target earlier today when I noticed that there seemed to be a hold up with the customer ahead of me. Once I could find no more space on the belt, which hadn’t moved in a couple of minutes, I looked up to see what was going on and my heart melted. A little boy of no more than five years old was standing next to his young father, struggling to open his own adorable wallet and pull some paper bills out. I looked at the cashier in time to see her bagging a mid-sized Star Wars LEGO kit and…

  • Reflections on Parenting,  Something That Could Change Your Life

    Rosecrance’s “In My Shoes” Exhibit: Go See It!

    Last week I told you about how I’ve been doing some sponsored work for Rosecrance, one of the country’s leading teen substance abuse treatment centers, to help get some tough teen conversations started. I participated in a Twitter chat and then was all set to visit the traveling art exhibit called “In My Shoes”, currently on display at Hinsdale’s Robert Crown Center. Today, I’m reporting back!

  • My Kids Have Mad Skillz,  Proud Moments,  Reflections on Parenting,  Something That Could Change Your Life

    Preventing Substance Abuse Requires More Than One Conversation.

    Even though we have never experienced communication issues, some of the most difficult-to-begin conversations with our boys were the ones about substance abuse. As parents, the idea of our kids—actually our whole family—dealing with substance abuse was always one of our biggest fears as they got older and became more independent. The fact is, drug abuse–prescriptions and illegal substances–is rampant no matter where you are. Here in Naperville specifically, there’s a huge, scary heroin problem in addition to the “usual” stuff. Recently I was asked by the folks at Rosecrance, one of the country‚Äôs leading teen substance abuse treatment centers, to do some sponsored work in helping them spread the…