Friday, April 13, 2018

I’m sure I’ve posted about my Dad and his, ahem, “preaching”, of the Golden Rule somewhere on this blog, but it’s something I’ve come around to often as an adult and parent.  My kids and I talk about the Golden Rule a lot and how it applies to almost every single situation there is.  He used to say that the Golden Rule was his religion, that all religions were pretty much based on it anyway.  He was so right.  One thing, though, that I hope I am teaching my kids is to really appreciate its implications on a daily scale.  You see, my Dad would say it, way back when, and I would think something along the lines of “Yeah, yeah, here he goes again”, I was pretty sure he couldn’t possibly solve my situation with his cliché words.  Of course now, looking back, it did apply and I was a fool to take such wise words for granted.  Maybe, if I’m really lucky, my kids will actually HEAR what it when I say it, maybe…
My Dad’s other favorite saying involved “The Green Eyed Monster”.  Did you know Shakespeare wrote that phrase?
April 10, 2018

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Just some random pictures to share...Jo

Just some random pictures...

Joe and Jon were on their own with wrestling the next morning so Joci and I had a girls night.  We, of course, went to Target and got Starbucks while we browsed. 

Joci in the ER after having a really high fever that wouldn't go down.  Turns out it was Influenza B.  Poor baby.

Olive and Joci having a little snuggle.  When Olive isn't bouncing off the walls with energy she LOVES to snuggle!
Yes, you may have noticed there are no pictures of Joe in this installment of random photos.  Now that he's a teenager, it's gotten much trickier getting pictures of him!  I'm sure I'll post some soon.
March/April 2018

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Do Your Kids Read?

I’m wondering if this is just my kids, or is it a new phenomenon growing amongst the teens and preteens of our country?  Do your kids read?  Mine do read, they read novels, homework, and anything presented to them on Youtube.  But, do your kids read things like labels, signs, or instructions?  Mine definitely don’t.  I’ve started noticing this on and off recently and then had an epiphany.  You see, we would be out in Target (of course) and I would pick something up and inevitably one of my children would ask me what it was, even if it had a clear as day label on it.  Or, mean Mommy that I am, I will make them microwave or bake their own snack and…they won’t read the instructions, they’ll ask me how long to cook it.  They still can’t comprehend what the shampoo vs. the conditioner is for, and will very often not check to see who the package is for that was left on our steps.  How did this happen?  My hypothesis?  It’s Youtube, Google, Alexa, and Siri!  Have a question ask one of them and they get the perfect answer right away.  It could be partly me, though, too, as I may have been blindly answering them without thinking about it.  Now, after my epiphany, I am determined that my kids will be able to READ.  Really, read.  Like the kind of reading that we all have to do every single day.  Emails that you have to decipher, ingredients within food labels, or how to bake a box cake!  We all have to do this, every single day, and I am going to get them back on the path of us “old fashioned” people who still use our eyes and our brains to get through instructions, not Youtube.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  We have a couple of Echo Dots in our house that we use often, and I like to ask Google a lot of stuff.  I’ve also noticed that my attention span has really waned the last few years as there seems to be this almost constant stream of media input.  I get it.  I’m not getting rid of my tech, nor my kids’, but what I am going to do is start taking a beat when these opportunities come around and engage my kids into really reading what is going. 

There, Mom soapbox over.  Just don’t get me started on texting, spelling, and autocorrect!

Now, some obligatory pictures of my sweet babies...

My gorgeous girl having some downtime with Mom.
Joe and I had a giggle over finding a small bag of coffee at Michaels.

April 10, 2018

Monday, April 2, 2018

Happy Easter Everyone!

I hope you all had a pleasant Easter the way I did.  I got especially lucky, in that I was off both Thursday (my birthday) and Friday (Good Friday), plus the weekend.  A four day weekend is a marvelous thing, indeed!

For Easter Jon had the kids, but was really kind in asking me to join in for Easter dinner.  As usual, he didn’t disappoint in the food department, though I know he had some amazing help in the kitchen this year.  Joe made a scrumptious rib roast that turned out perfectly.  Dad would have been over the moon to see him make that!  He also made cheddar biscuits which were also delish.  Jocelyn made Jon’s family’s famous no bake cheesecake which was to die for.  It had been a long time since I had it, and it was even better than I remembered.

We had fun chatting, and talking about East and all the other stuff going on, coming up on the calendar etc.  When the kids and I got home, they had more Easter eggs to find and a little basket from me.

It was such a good day that the only picture I got was of the prime rib that Joseph made.  Which is funny, because Dad did that a lot, too, took pictures of his food.  I ended up not taking any pictures of the kids, or me, in our festive Easter clothes, but not to worry, I’ll get them sometime soon!

I hope you all had a beautiful day, no matter the weather in your area, and that you enjoyed your time with family and friends.

Happy Easter!

April 1, 2018

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Starbucks Date Night with the Kids

We had a fun Saturday.  Jon typically has the kids Friday nights and then we meet up on Saturday morning to exchange.  Yesterday we met at a rummage sale for the exchange and to look around, it turned out to be a sad rummage sale, but it was nice to get out and do something a little different.  The kids and I headed home afterwords and then everyone kind of did their own thing.  This has become more and more common as the kids grow older.  It makes me a little sad, but at least I know that I'm not the only one going through it!  Joe had Pokemon league in the afternoon and Joci played with a friend while I kind of picked up around the house.  Later we went to Target for a few things.  First off, though, we needed a little Starbucks pick me up, thanks to a lovely gift card from the holidays!  After a good look around Target, they are rearranging the store so you have to look in every corner, we went and had a few tacos. 
Sure, this sounds like a boring night to most people, but not to me.  My favorite times are when the kids and I just chat about what's going on in our lives, and we giggle and laugh, and joke around making silly fools of ourselves.  It's these times that I know that I am building the foundation of our futures.  I hope they see that they can talk about anything with me, that I'm not scary, that they can share their lives and not fear having those challenging conversations.

Friday, March 23, 2018


A couple of weeks ago we had a really nice family night out.  Jon typically has the kids Friday nights, but invited me to eat dinner with them.  After, Jon and the kids were going to go to the school district’s Bingo night.  I wanted to go, but it wasn’t my night for the kids, and I didn’t want to intrude on their time.  I got lucky, I was invited to go along. 

All in all it was a really fun night.  No doubt the schools made a ton of money.  The kids won a few Bingos (I won once), but we didn’t win any raffles, which is what we were really after.  Joe even put in for a NCIS prize that had photos and autographs as he believes that is his Grandma’s favorite show!  Awwww! 

Unfortunately, luck wasn’t on our side, but everyone did have fun!  It was a great opportunity, too, to show the kids that even though Mom and Dad aren’t together anymore, we are all still a family.

March 9, 2018

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Well, Hello There!

Hello There!

My goodness it’s been a very long time since I’ve posted on my blog.  I should probably apologize, but have reminded myself that it’s my blog, and there has been a lot going on that has been highly distracting.  That being said, I was showing my coworker some photos I had taken while we were in Bristol as she didn’t know who Banksy was, and also was curious about Bristol as we have an office there, too.  As I looked through the photos I was struck by a few things, mostly with how little the kids were, but also, how much I really loved it there.  I long for England.  If I could, I would be back there in a split second.  There are so many periods in our lives, I think, that people look back on and realize that it was the happiest time of their lives.  England was definitely, without doubt, mine.  I have such lovely friends there, the weather was lovely – for me-, and the atmosphere, it’s just so much more the way I’d like to live my life.  Now, it’s starting to fade.  There are times when I close my eyes and can remember the walk, with real clarity, to the schools and market.  I remember my friend’s homes and how cozy I felt there.  I remember our house and the vegetables we grew in the back.  I really loved it there.

Here, though, in the now, I am rebuilding a life that is so different.  Jon and I are separated, sharing custody of the kids, and figuring out how co-parenting works for us, and how to navigate all the things that come up in our new dynamic.  I think we do pretty well, overall, there are some prickly bits here and there, but mostly we’re working it out.  The kids are doing well, growing faster than I ever thought was possible. 

Joseph is 14!  A year past becoming a teenager, and it shows.  His moods can sometimes give me whiplash, but he’s still an amazing person, for a teenager!  He’s just finished up wrestling which is quickly becoming his sport of choice.  Joe had an amazing year for wrestling, coming in just short of going to State.  He was very dedicated and worked extremely hard, giving it his all every day to get to where he was.  I think it was great for him to see the difference his intensity made in his performance.  To me, he looks more and more like Dad, especially in the eyes, that makes me so happy.  Dad would like that.  We have been going through all of the steps for him to go to high school next year.  I do not feel like he is old enough, let alone me being old enough, for him to be going to high school.  In my heart he’s always my little guy. 

Jocelyn is 12 and all girl, super girly girl.  She has lots of friends, with lots of drama.  She loves to sing, dance, text, and do Taekwondo.  Even though she is twelve, she too, gives me teenage mood whiplash.  Though, I am lucky that I still get loads of hugs, cuddles, and giggles from her, I’m afraid those are going to be coming to an end soon as well.  Joci struggles a bit with wanting to do everything Joe can do, not understanding that there is a huge difference between the ages of 12 and 14, and let’s be honest here, maturity levels, too.  This girl is going to turn all of my hair grey, but she has a heart of gold.  She is very loving and caring, and worried that everyone is happy and well.  She reminds me a lot of me when I was her age, but she looks so much like Jon’s sister, including her gorgeous hair.  Next year she will be heading to junior high school, as they are moving the 6th grade there starting next year.  I’m happy that she is growing up in this time.  Hopefully, she will see all the changes that strong women are making now.

As for me, well, I can say I’m hanging in there.  It’s been a rough couple of years, and I feel like I am just now starting to peek out from behind the gloom.  I have a long ways to go to get back to the real me, but I will get there, someday.  I am enjoying watching the kids grow into their lives and anticipating how they’ll be when they’re older.  I’m working hard to try and keep them on a good path, while also trying to let them be themselves.  We have a new dog, Olive.  She is so different than any other dog we’ve had.  She is definitely a headstrong little shit sometimes, but she loves to play, and run, and run, and run…  She really loves her laser pointer that we play with her in the basement (finished) with.  She’s a good snuggler and bed hog, and she LOVES the kids, but not the guinea pigs so much.  We are pretty sure she is a lab mix of some sort and there’s got to be some hound in there, too, but we don’t care.  I do miss having my boxer boy, Jarvis, though.  I call her Jarvis probably about as much as I call her Olive.  Lots of new stuff going on, I love my work, my boss is amazing.  We’re looking forward to spring and growing a few plants on the patio, maybe getting a patio table and chairs so that we can eat outside now and again. 

March 22, 2018

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Valentine's Day!

So, today is Valentine’s Day.  I thought it would be hard, seeing all the couples on Facebook, the commercials, just all the people still in love. (*see below)  It does sting a little, until I realized that Jon and I haven’t really celebrated a Valentine’s Day in a very long time.  In fact, there have been many Valentines Days that he has been out of town.  Now, I see that we really should have made more of an effort at romance, even if it is a silly holiday.  I was never a big one for forced romance or spending money on trinkets when I could get something I really Even that does not upset me.  My Valentines are now, and truthfully have been for a while, my children.  Proof in point.  I got major hugs and kisses this morning from both of them, and Joci even made me a little homemade card, nothing fancy, just a little card that says “Your my Valintine Mom xoxo”.  My heart jumps for these kids.  A little chocolate would be nice, but it’s expensive and honestly, I don’t need it, my doctor would agree.  Flowers are lovely, but they only last so long.  The smiles, hugs, and devotion that my kids shower on me is eternal.  I wouldn’t trade that for anything.  As the three of us start down this little path together I feel like we are a little team.  We may argue and squabble from time to time, but the three of us are going to make it, together. 
Happy Valentine’s Day!

*I haven’t been on my blog for a long while and should probably note that Jon and I have separated.  It’s been about a month now and while I could go on and on oversharing about why we are separated, let’s just leave it at separated.  It’s not always easy, and the kids can act out pushing me a bit to see their limits, and there have been tears, but all in all things are more calm now all around.  And there’s less laundry, and that’s always good!

Thursday, March 10, 2016


I was walking to my car from the library yesterday.  Outside it was a bit grey and the weather was mild and it was raining, but in that way that is more of a mist of tiny dots of rain making everything wet but far from a sprinkle, even.  I closed my eyes in the middle of the parking lot and could imagine my walk in Milton Keynes from our house to Jocelyn's school.  The weather was the same, and it all flooded back to me.  I miss England.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas 2015!

We had such a fun Christmas this year!

Both kids had performances.  Joe had a band performance and Joci had a chorus performance.  Both were so much fun.  It doesn't get much better than watching your child perform something they worked so desperately hard on.  Their proud faces seeking you out in the crowd and smiling shyly from the stage.

Mom was here practically the entire month of December.  She got to see the kids' performances, their birthdays, Christmas and New Years.  Her help here was undeniable, and just her prescence is so comforting.  Everyone is just that much happier and the kids just love being with her

One of my favorite tradition that we've done for so many years is Jon reading 'The Night Before Christmas' to the kids.  We have a beautiful copy that Nonnie gave us.  It is a gorgeous, intricate pop up book with the full poem within.  The kids always love seeing the pop ups and Jon loves that it's his and his alone.  I like watching him read to them.

Of course, Christmas morning the kids are terribly excited, looking forward to opening gifts and their stockings.  I love to watch each person open a present, each and every one of them.  That's why I insist that we open them all one at a time.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Joci talking with Santa.  He was lovely.  He asked her lots of questions and made her giggle.

Santa asked Joe lots of questions, as well, and I loved how easily Joe enjoyed talking with him.

One of our favorite Santas ever!  We were at a little village craft fair and he was there for visits.  Not many kids there and so we had lots of time with Santa, and he was just lovely to ours.

Making Gingerbread men!

Jon reading 'The Night Before Christmas' pop up book to the kids on Christmas Eve.

Christmas Day, 2015

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Happy Birthday to my Sweet Joseph!

Only one year left until my oldest is thirteen.  How did twelve come so fast?  I don't know where the time went.  It's only been a year, of course, since the last birthday, but it seems like he's grown up three years in that one.

Joseph loves sports now.  He finished out his football season, at the Superbowl with an unfortunate loss.  But, it was a fantastic season and after a summer of training and getting him in shape for the season, the improvements he showed were well noticed by the coaches and his teammates.  He improved ten-fold.  After football comes wrestling.  He's started out not knowing much and has made huge advances, always the coachable teammate.  Go Joe, go!

He's still as sweet as can be and straight as an arrow.  He is my rule-follower, my kindhearted hero.He's quick to tell you if you're being mean to someone, or if what you're saying is not very nice.  I love it.  I hope he stays this way forever.  Joe has a fantastic memory and recalls his Grandpa very often.  Dad would be so proud.

Joe is doing very well in school.  He could try a bit harder in writing, but all in all, he's an awesome student.  His one fault is trying to stay organized and get all his assignments in on time.  But, other than that, each teacher is happy to have him.

Personally, I've seen such growth in him this year.  Physically, mentally, he's lept ahead to this preteen boy that I'm so proud of.  I can't wait to see what this next year brings him.

We did have a bit of a small birthday party.  He got to choose what he wanted for dinner, and after we had an ice cream cake from his request.  We were so lucky that Mom was here to help celebrate, not only his birthday, but all of December as well.  It was a lovely evening and he was so happy.

Happy Birthday my darling boy!

December 16, 2015

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

School Lock-down Drill

Today both of my kids had 'lock-down' drills at their schools.  They told me about them on the ride home from gymnastics today.  They also included that they have not yet had a tornado drill yet.  When they told me that, all I could think is that it must be because the likelihood of having an armed intruder enter their school is higher than a tornado, and that literally made me sick to my stomach.

My children today practiced how to hide from armed assailants and 'hope' that they make it out okay.  Everything in me became angry that this is even a thing to be considered.  That this is a reality.  I used to be very pro-gun.  I grew up around guns, my Dad had them, they were never locked, we were taught to respect them.  After having kids, though, my views have changed.  My children's well being is more important than being able to have an arsenal in a home, and after living in England, well, there is scant gun violence there.  I felt safe there.  I NEVER worried about my kids at school, certainly not that there would be some crazy trying to get famous by killing kids while in school.  Living in England showed us that there is a more civilized way to live.

I am angry that gun violence is so prevalent in the city that I love and live so close to, Chicago.  Every week they have a tally of all the people injured or killed over the weekend and it is appalling.  My friends in England never understood how Americans could just let it go on and on.  Especially after the Sandy Hook shootings.  They wanted to know why we allow so many guns, and I realized how hard it was to explain...because we feel entitled to them...?

Our children should feel safe in their schools.  They shouldn't have to worry that some maniac, who is feeling thrown away and ignored, can come into their school and kill kids and teachers to become famous.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Parent Epiphany

While I was taking a shower this morning I had quite the epiphany (showering is usually when I have my best thoughts and ideas) about my Dad and his macaroni and cheese making.  Turns out, I could have been wrong about a few things...gasp!

A little trip back in time...

My Dad was the primary cook in our household growing up.  Typically things were great, though, like all of us home cooks, there could be some blunders here and there, his pies are a whole story in themselves for another time.  My Grandfather was also the primary cook in his house, that I can remember, and he made the best macaroni and cheese.  He would use spaghetti instead of noodles, and there was just something wonderful about it.  My Dad's mac and cheese was good, but it was never JUST mac and cheese.  He ALWAYS had to add something to it.  We would ask what was for dinner and he would say pork, mac and cheese...yada yada yada, and we would be ready for it, until we saw the macaroni and cheese which was decidedly a casserole.  He couldn't help himself.  He HAD to add something in, typically it would include green chilies, but there was always something.  We would groan and tease him that he was incapable of making JUST macaroni and cheese and he would take it, usually laughing along, sometimes getting his feelings hurt.

I could never understand his need to add more...until this morning's shower.

I do the same thing.  I feel a desperate need to make sure that I get lots of healthy goodness into my kids' dinner.  Veggies and more veggies, vitamins, minerals, they've all got to be there.  I feel the pull to add more goodness, sometimes where it doesn't belong.  I long for ways to sneak in spinach and kale to one pot meals.  Salads always have too much stuff in them.  And, then this morning while I was contemplating macaroni and cheese with dinner, I thought it...what can I add that will make it better, and WHAM, my inner hypocrite sounded it's warning  Wasn't that Dad?  Didn't I mercilessly tease him for not being able to leave the macaroni and cheese alone?  Here I was thinking what I could add to make it more wholesome, and perhaps a one pot meal, and I.  Was.  Him.

I get it now, and I feel like I kind of owe him an apology.  I can feel him chuckling under his breath, thinking I finally got it.  You know, one of those, "when you're older you'll understand" moments.  I am a little sad that I can't call him and tell him, and make him laugh, but I do feel that he is already.

Sorry Dad!

Now...what should I add to my macaroni and cheese?

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Mom's visit to Chicago!

I'm so proud of my AWESOME Mom!  She is such an inspiration and definitely the strongest woman I know!  After Dad's passing, I admit that I thought she would be a little lost without him, and certainly there are times that she needs him and I know that she misses him every single moment of the day.  But, he would be so proud of her, making her life the one she wants to live, taking care of issues that arise, and enjoying her independence.

In July, Mom drove across country to visit family in Indiana and then proceeded to stay over a month with us.  She brought with her a magic that affected us all.  She inflated us with happines, she energized us and motivated us into getting projects done, and she was here when I had my hysterectomy.  She was a god-send!  So, when we were able to bring her back out here for a month in December/January, I was overjoyed with excitement!  Not only will she be here for the holidays, but for the kids' birthdays and their respective band and chorus performances.  I am so excited to see her again!

While she was here in July, we took a bit of a road trip down to Chicago and had loads of fun exploring the city right around the Millennium Park area.  It was an amazing day and I love that she enjoys exploring as much as we do!

At the new Millennium Park which is amazing, by the way!  Huge park and loads of fun things to climb on, slide down, or run around!

A fun little mirror garden.
Mom really loved being in downtown, and of course, any time spent with the kids is a great time for her.  
If you're in Chicago, you have to see the Bean, or as it's supposed to be known, Cloud Gate.

The kids had fun playing in the fountain.  Every so often the 'mouth' spits out a huge deluge of water and the kids all squeal in delight!

In a cute little side garden that we found and had really lush landscaping.

Hooge family photo, 2015

Famous Art Institute of Chicago's lions.

I thought this was a beautiful picture, a lovely place to relax and meditate!

I loved that they had an Urban Agriculture garden.  It was full of beautiful, bountiful food!

Buckingham Fountain.

We ate at an AMAZING Chinese restaurant in China Town.  Minghin had the most amazing Chinese food I've ever had.

As we were crossing the Millennium bridge we just happened to run into our very good friend from the UK, Simon.  I saw him walking in the opposite direction and turned to point him out to Jon, thinking surely it's not him, just when I turned, Jon called out his name.  It was like seeing someone from your hometown.  I miss England so much and to see one of our friends, it was a true blessing!
Chicago, IL July 2015