Thursday, April 28, 2011

I dare you not to laugh

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Don't Take it Personally

I've heard this phrase several times in the past few days, both directed at myself and at some of my mama friends. It's something that people say to make someone "feel better" about something negative that's happening in their lives.  It's one of those phrases that usually has the exact opposite effect of its intended meaning.  Kinda like, "With all due respect."  My brother has a translation for "with all due respect", but it would be inappropriate to post on a family blog. 

"Don't take it personally." becomes even more personal when it's said to a mother about her child(ren).  "Don't take it personally" when it comes to our kids is impossible.  Whether it's a 5th grader with too many school infractions, or a preschooler that had to sit alone to complete his work, or a 6 month old that isn't gaining weight as others think she should.  It's personal.  We are the ones responsible for them. We're responsible for their behavior, their attitudes, their growth.  When people look at a misbehaving or dirty, or inappropriately dressed child, the phrase, "Who is his mother?" often comes to mind.  Of course it is a little tongue in cheek. Of course there is (most likely) a father to blame as well- but who is it that shoulders most of the burden? The mother.
So of course we take it personally. How could we not.  People judge us by our children.   They are an extension of us.  Being a mother is the most difficult job that I've ever had the privilege of having.  It's exhausting on so many levels.  It's rewarding, joyous, fun, infuriating, and heart wrenching all at the same time.  Above all, it's personal.  It's personal right down to its core.  These children once resided in our wombs.  They are pieces of our hearts walking around outside our bodies.  They are a part of  our soul. 
I am not saying that fathers don't have some of these same connections.  They certainly do.  The father of my children is a perfect example.  He is AMAZING! He loves these boys with his heart and soul.  He would lay down his life for them in a heartbeat. But does he feel their successes and failures on the same level that I do?
His heart doesn't break when something bad happens at school.  Tears don't come to his eyes when he watches them master a new skill.  Does this mean he loves them less? Absolutely not, it just means that it's not as personal for him.  By nature, it's just not.  Have you ever heard of a "father's intuition?" 
As wonderful as my husband is, he has been guilty at times of telling me to "not take it personally." Many well-meaning husbands (and friends, and acquaintances) have been guilty of this uttering this phrase.  I don't even really blame them (usually) because they can't understand how what they're saying is completely ridiculous.  You have no idea how much I sometimes wish that I didn't take everything that happened to my kids personally.  It's a lot to feel.  It's a lot to deal with.   It doesn't help to have someone flippantly tell you, "Don't take it personally."   Okay, no problem.  Would you also like to ask me to stop blinking?  Because that's totally under my control as well. 

Yesterday was one of those days where my heart was breaking because of things happening with my kids.   I was told not to take it personally.  (Not by my husband- after nearly 5 years of this parenting business, he knows better.)  And this blog wrote itself in my mind as a result.  It's certainly not meant to hurt or offend anyone.  These are just the thoughts rolling around in my mind, and I needed to get them out. 
I guess what I am saying is.
Don't take it personally.


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Town Mouse/Country Mouse Part 2

The weekend after Chicago, we put away our city mindframes and headed out for a different kind of fun.  We finally had a beautiful day, and Matthew and I both woke up with one thing on our minds, Turkey Run.   We quickly got everything together and headed out the door with two sleepy boys. 
They perked up quickly when we arrived at the park.  It's hard not to get excited when you see the natural wonders that Turkey Run has to offer.  

In case you were wondering who was up for "Parents of the Year", I can inform you that we won't be on the list.  Who leaves home for a 3 mile hike without their child's shoes? 
We do. 
   Fortunately for us, he HAAATEESS shoes, and probably wouldn't have worn them if we'd have brought them.  That boy loved feeling the mud squish between his toes. And he had a cow if he saw any "wawa" and Matthew didn't set him down to walk through it. 

Owen scampered up those ladders like they were nothing.  Eli even climbed every one of them by himself- with a very watchful daddy ready to catch him.

Remember what I said about "Parents of the Year"?  Yeah.   Here's my kid sitting in a creek. In the first weekend of April.  Awesome.   This is nothing compared to what Owen looked like after he tried to jump into the "Punch Bowl" like his dad, slipped, and ended up soaked from the neck down.   It was 85 warm degrees on this day though- so I promise they weren't going to catch hypothemia or pneumonia or the plague or anything.

We had an AWESOME day, and Owen decided that he likes that kind of fun even more than cities and museums.  (That's our boy!)  Although, I'm not sure that even this beat that darn train!

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Town Mouse/Country Mouse

At the end of last month, we were invited to spend the night in Chicago with our Walroths.  Owen was on spring break and we were excited to get away for a couple of days to do something fun with the kiddos.  We parked the car in Hammond and the train into town.  This train ride was a serious highlight of the boys' trip.  So much so that Owen declared that the $4, dirty train ride was the best part of his trip.  Never mind the $70 in museum tickets, or the amazing architecture, or the cool landmarks, nope- the train ride trumped it all! 
When we arrived in the city we had a short walk to the hotel.  They were staying in the Hilton on Michigan Ave. Which is pretty much one of the coolest hotels that I've ever stayed in.  It's old school Chicago elegance and luxury.   And check out this view from their window. 
Not too shabby, eh?

After dropping off our stuff, we (Gessners+Sar&Allie) made our way to the  Field Museum.  Actually we made our way to the aquarium, discovered that there was a line that stretched from Chicago to the moon and back... twice- and decided that we'd go to the Field instead.  It was an excellent change of plans, and Owen declared it the "Coolest museum he's ever been to."  (Not to be confused with the coolest thing that we did in Chicago- which was obviously riding the stinky train.)

One of the boys' favorite exhibits was the Underground Adventure.  We went through a shrink chamber, and then emerged into an underground world at about 3/8 of an inch tall.  

Huge, scary, robotic  bugs were everywhere, and the boys loved every second of it. 


Another favorite was the dinosaurs.  The Field Museum is home to the most complete T Rex skeleton that has been found.  They named her Sue, after the scientist that found her.  We watched a 3D movie about her discovery and what life might have been like for her when she was alive.  It was fun, and Owen loved the "scary" parts of the movie. 

Sue, Gessners.  Gessners, Sue.

After the museum, we walked back to the hotel and got ready for dinner.  It was a teensy bit of a fiasco (on the restaurant's part), and needless to say, we had some tired kiddos on our hands before the evening was over.  
Now you'd think that trying to house 4 adults and 3 kids in one hotel room might be a bit of challenge, but after the early morning, the late night and the miles of walking, there were nothing but snores in that room by 10:30 pm.

The next morning, we had an amazing breakfast- and then we headed for "The Bean".  Real life occured there, and our photo op didn't go as planned, but we still enjoyed getting to see it.

Real Life Happening.
Back bending toddler. Check.
Sobbing four-year-old, being kept from running away by his dad's iron grip on his skull. Check.
Strollers & baby carriers. Check
 Four best friends doing the best they can with this thing called parenthood. Check.
All of the above reflected in a gigantic, bean-shaped mirror. Check.

And in case you forgot what cute looks like- here it is.  Two handsome boys loving on their sweet little Allie- all while rocking their Sue shirts. 

All-in-all, it was a super fun getaway with our favorites!

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