Sometimes You Just Have To Laugh…

8.20.16

Ever since my first-born went off to kindergarten seven years ago, I’ve been dreading the day that my baby would follow in his footsteps. For the past month, I’ve felt depressed about sending my caboose to full-day kindergarten. Each new school year marks the passage of time in a tangible way: We are all a year older…and closer to graduation…and a quiet house (if all goes as planned).

This week, the first day of school arrived and my alarm went off at the crack of dawn; I realized that I really hadn’t slept at all: I’d had a long, restless and sad night…dreading the next morning’s drop-off and my youngest son’s first day of real school.

That morning I awoke three very tired and unhappy children. I made a big, healthy breakfast from scratch, which no one ate. I helped everyone get dressed in their stiff uniforms, combed their hair and laid out their brand new school shoes. Both boys started crying and yelling – telling me that their feet had grown or shrunk (one of each) and that the expensive school shoes no longer fit… I started seeing red and asking, “Why did you say they felt great when you tried them on in the store?”

Next, I loaded the kids into my car and the fighting never stopped… They couldn’t agree on the radio station. The kids in the back seat were arguing about trespassing across an imaginary line and invading each other’s personal space. My oldest child was upset because my youngest child was so excited for school (which was not cool). It went on and on and on…yelling…physical squabbling…loud unhappiness and bickering…

I pulled up to the front of the carpool line and looked out the window. All around me, mothers were taking photographs of their beautiful, beaming children, who were posing like perfect angels. I turned up the volume on the radio to try to drown out the angry voices around me. Then, it happened. My oldest child emitted the most horrific cloud of gas that I’ve ever smelt; I started gagging and kicked them out of my car…all three of them! My sweet little kindergartener took my daughter’s hand and walked to school with his little blue oxford shirt untucked. I thought, “Oh well, his first uniform infraction.” Then, I followed the car in front of me out of the lot. And, just like that, the moment I’d been dreading for seven years came and went in a cloud of putrid dust.

I was so thankful for the calm that surrounded me as I drove home that I forgot to be sad. I drove home with a sincere sense of peace and realized that I was grateful for that awful fart and all of the morning’s cacophony. I found myself laughing at the absurdity of the chain of events. As I look back, I see that crazy morning as a big, beautiful completely unexpected blessing. I am so thankful that God used humor and a little naughtiness to help me see that it’s okay. We are all ready for a little more independence and fresh air to breathe…

xo Kara

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180 Birthday Candles and 70 Years of Marriage

6.19.16

Last night, my family gathered to celebrate two of my favorite people and three really big accomplishments: two 90th birthdays and one 70th anniversary. As my house filled with loud, loving laughter…mixed with a little mischief, I realized that none of it would be possible without my wonderful grandparents.

For as long as I can remember, my Nana has personified love. As a child, I was given the gift of spending one week at their farm in Illinois each summer. She stocked her kitchen with all of my favorite (and forbidden) foods; I loved it when she served me ice cream sundaes for breakfast! We spent hours dressing the tiny barn kittens in doll clothes and strolling them around in a baby buggy. I loved making hollyhock dolls from the blooms in her magical garden. Each year, she’d take me on a day trip to Chicago to explore a different museum; I remember being amazed by Colleen Moore’s incredible dollhouse at the Museum of Science and Industry and begging to go back to see it again and again!

Later, my grandpa lovingly built my own cherished dollhouse. He allowed me to select the design plans and colors…wallpaper and flooring, too. It was a true labor of love: I cannot imagine how many hours went into this project. When my grandma would visit, she’d take me to Miniature World, where I’d select a small piece of furniture or whimsical accessory. Eventually my dollhouse was so overly decorated that it had seasonal decorations that I’d switch out, depending on the holiday… (Maybe, I was just a little spoiled?!?)

On the flip side, my Papa has always personified laughter. I remember him embarrassing my grandma when we were shopping at Water Tower Plaza. We came out of a store and put his hat on backwards and started walking pigeon-toed toward us, pretending that he had too much to drink. He yelled her name and waved wildly. She blushed and I giggled and giggled and giggled…

At 90, he still loves to entertain both himself and everyone around him. Just the other day, he was telling me about the identity thieves that have been targeting residents in their senior living community. They’ve been calling and pretending to be representatives of a health insurance company, hoping to get personal information. My grandpa got a phone call and the game was on. He said his name was Freddie Fudpucker. He spelled it very carefully then made up all sorts of information regarding his date of birth and address, etc. When it got to the phone number, he gave them the number for IRS Fraud line and said he’d be calling it next. He started laughing; the reply was a click. I love that my grandpa can find the humor in all situations. During another recent conversation, he was laughing about how he was on Hospice for a month last summer. He truly is a miracle and proof that attitude is everything.

My grandparents met in high school and married at age 20, after my grandpa returned from World War II. Seventy years of marriage is a great accomplishment, but being happily married for seven decades is exceptional. One of the joys of having my grandparents just down the street is that I’ve gotten to know them as an adult, myself. I often leave their apartment praying that my own mature marriage will have the same loving tenderness and patience that I witness each time I spend time with them.

My grandparents are among the people that I love and admire most. I’m so thankful for those 180 candles and 70 years of marriage. I’m lucky to be a branch on their family tree. I can only hope that I inherited some of their good stuff. To be honest, I see a lot of it in my own children. I hope that love and laughter remain dominant family traits for generations to come.