Monday, April 7, 2014

Thanks Boston (and Cambridge, too)

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We are counting down to the last day in our home, Boston.  It is hard for me to leave this city.  I know it is better for our family and I am not second-guessing the move.  I love Boston and it will always feel like my home.

I’d like to take a few minutes to thank the city I have grown to love.

Thank you for four beautiful seasons.  I have not enjoyed spring and fall anywhere as much as I have enjoyed those two seasons in Boston.  Summer and winter are nice too.   All four seasons seem to be about the right length.  Just I got so sick of this winter, spring arrived!

Thank you for offering such rich history for free (or nearly free).  More than once, I enjoyed visiting Paul Revere’s home and the Old North Church.  I walked past meeting houses and churches older than the United States.  I love, love Faneuil Hall.  Even the sidewalks remind me that this city is old and full of the birth of our nation.

Thank you for Duck Tours, Trolley Tours, Charles River Boat Tours and so much more.  I have enjoyed trekking around town in vehicles that seem to defy the narrow, crowded streets of Boston.

Thank you Cambridge for giving us East End House, a wonderful community center with the BEST childcare center we could have found.  RT will grow with the foundation of love and learning that Roger and I will always remember, even if RT forgets.  We also love The Friendly Toast and the Curious George Shop. 

Thank you Boston sports.  Your hockey team invites the fervor in a vast array of fans, the like I’ve never seen.  The Celtics embrace past teammates like no other.  The Patriots bring teams that I like to the area and continue to lose when it counts.  And the Red Sox; oh, how I love Fenway Park, even in the pouring rain.  You reminded us that Boston is our f***ing city when we needed it.  You welcomed Neil Diamond whose live rendition of a city favorite “Sweet Caroline” brought cheers and joy when it was needed more than ever.  And you went from really worst to unbelievably first.  In an exceptional run with boys wearing beards playing their hearts out, not just for their World Series Rings (nice as they are), but for a city, a beloved city.  I have never seen a city need a championship like I did last October.  And I’ve never seen a city celebrate one like this either—that Duck Boat parade is something I will never forget.

Thank you Boston for simultaneously grieving with raw emotion and showing strength and resolve.  The Marathon Bombings shook this city in real way.  Thank you police, all forms, for resolving to catch the bombers whatever it took.  Thank you Governor Patrick (my new political crush/hero) for asking us to “shelter in place” for our safety; and thanks Boston for sheltering without complaint!  I have never felt as safe as I did those days last April.
Thank you for a mass transit system that worked for us.  It isn’t perfect, but we got where we needed to go.

Thank you for awesome places to eat.  And for Dunkin Donuts.

Thank you for wonderful parks and playgrounds for a growing toddler to explore and enjoy. 

Thank you for top-notch healthcare and wonderful caring doctors.

Thank you for Northeastern and CPS for a great job and a flexible view on how education should be administered.

Thank you work friends, some of whom I will miss terribly.  It is always great to work with great people!

Boston, a city where “Life is Good” the clothing store was started has truly shown me that life is good.

There are so many more places and people that I would like to thank, but in the end, Boston, thank you for welcoming me home.  I will miss you…so very much.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Ah, Reading...

I read an entire book this weekend.  If you've known me very long, that probably doesn't really surprise you.  I used to be an avid reader.  I remember many nights staying up too late reading just a little bit more.  I skipped a class to finish the Harry Potter series.  I've ready Literature and indulgent trash.  I have always thought of myself as a reader.

Last year, I read 10 books that weren't work or class related.  10!!  I was so disappointed.  I turned to my Goodreads account and looked at my "To Read" list an decided to make a commitment (again) to read again.  I started well.  I used my Nook, which allowed me to pick up any number of tablet devices and read.  I finished a book about finances in a day or so.  I was in the groove.  I started reading The Book Thief and I really liked it.  But, then the battery to my Nook died, or I'd start to read and RT would take away my device to play with it. 

The other day, I went to Barnes and Noble, dangerously located across the street from my work, to get a book and a puzzle for RT.  I saw a thick beachy paperback.  I bought it for myself.  I read it over the weekend.  I feel energized.  I started another book last night.  I want to pick it up anytime I have a few minutes.  It hit me yesterday--I love reading, yes, but I love reading BOOKS!  As much as I want to love e-readers, I don't.

So, after we move, I'll find the closest library and get my first library card, not counting school cards, in years and years.  I have a long list of books to read.  I have my parents to supply me with second hand books.  I'll have the space to store them all.  Books, books, books...yes, please!  I am so happy with this revelation.

Tonight, I'll take a couple minutes to read Barbara Kingsolver's book on food.  And, I will enjoy every minute of it!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

On the Move...Again

We three Skophammers are moving yet again.  As much as I love Boston, I miss having family nearby.  It has been a struggle the past couple of years balancing trips to the Northern Plains with the desire to go somewhere else.  We have been a couple times to Maine and New Hampshire, but we just couldn't justify time away unless it was with family.  We've had a few visitors, but it is hard to bring large families across the country without breaking spending plans. 

So, Roger changed jobs at the beginning of the year and works from home.  He loves his position and his work.  And, he adores his time with RT!

I am able to keep my job and work virtually.  I am excited because I love this job and Northeastern and CPS. 

We found a house.  It is in Apple Valley.  It is at least three times bigger than where we currently live.  It will likely be pretty empty for awhile.  That's okay.  It leaves room for our home offices.

We lost our Tessa kitty a few weeks ago.  We saved her from a terrible life and gave her four years as the queen of our house.  She was spoiled!  We miss her, though Cookie seems to be settling into the role of the BOSS...she shares that title with RT.

RT will be leaving our beloved East End House Childcare Center.  I'm not sure he'll ever remember being there, but they have done such good work with him, they will always be a part of the boy RT becomes.  I will miss them terribly; he coordinator has become a good friend.

We will enjoy our last month in Boston.  My sister, Nikki, is coming for a visit at the end of the month.  We'll see some new places and try some delicious food.  And a couple weeks later, mid-April, we will say farewell to Jamaica Plain and Boston.  No doubt I will cry a few tears. 

But, I'll be back...and these years in Boston will always be a part of me.  Life is Good!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Parenting Alone

I admire single parents.  I do not know how they do it.  I have spent the past four days solo parenting and am exhausted.  I am ready for Roger to return, which he does this afternoon.

Parenting in general is hard work.  When Roger and I decided to try to have a child together, I knew it wouldn't be easy.  I had no idea.  The challenge of balancing my own identity with being Mom has confounded me.  I am  mom and wife and what else?  I work full time and am the IRB Coordinator, but even there, I am not me.  I am not even sure who "me" is anymore.  I realize the need to find out. 

But how do I do that?  I am not sure.  Once Roger is home again, I must try.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Being Positive

“Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behavior. Keep your behavior positive because your behavior becomes your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.” - Mahatma Gandhi

 A friend began a blog today where she plans to explore the year being positive.  And though, that is not exactly my theme of gratitude for 2014, it fits.  One of the reasons I decided to work on grace/gratitude/graciousness, etc., is because often I think about the things I want and don't get and feel disappointed.  I realized that I needed to let go of the disappointment.  To do that, I feel being gracious about what I do have (which is by far more than I really need), will help shift my attitudes.  I hope this year is the start of a permanent change in the way that I think and feel.

I have must to be grateful for and I know that.  And do I really need a lot more?  Probably not.  And perhaps being more positive and mindful in what is right in my life, is exactly what I need!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Reflections of 2013...and Looking Forward to 2014


2013 has been quite a year.  Our family has dealt with so much and has come out smiling each time.

One of my favorite things about 2013 is that we didn’t move!  Our apartment is far from ideal and Roger still has to schlep to the Laundromat every week, but it is large enough and we’ve made it pretty cozy.  It is often messy and cluttered (but clean thanks to Roger) and full of love and laughs, and even a few tears.  Cookie continues to be the fat kitty without the stairs to run up and down.  Tessa enjoys the new bathmat under the heat vent.  Our home is pretty good.

2013 has also been the year of the baby girl.  Three of my friends and one of my cousins had baby girls this year.  It has been fun to see the downstairs neighbor grow and see the others on Facebook.  The cuteness of the girls’ faces and the adorable outfits, have me happy to see the girls, but I am forever grateful and happy that I have my little boy.

My little boy, who is not so little anymore, continues to give my life new meaning.  I find myself drawn to his smile and I long to hear his sweet giggles.  Somehow he went from baby to little boy this past year.  He has battled viruses and asthma; he had ear tubes replaced.  He is flourishing.  His language skills continue to improved daily.  I think he grows inches daily, too.  I enjoy looking into his face and seeing the marriage of my family with Roger’s family.  He is definitely a Skophammer boy, but he is also a Kristianson and a Schmid.  He loves to help his mommy and daddy with any project.  He loves to build things and tear them down.  He loves trains and cars and Charlie Brown.  He has mastered the iPad and we need to go to him when we need help!  He is a delight on the train and in the car.  I cannot ever imagine a life without him. 

My job has stayed the same.  I enjoy working for Northeastern and with my teams.  I work with good people and have made some nice friendships.  I love the short commute time and I am able to spend at least a few minutes outside every day, which I love.  I walk and walk all over this city.  I do manage to drive to a few places, very few places.  I love Boston and feel like it is home.

Roger had the biggest change this year.  For a number of reasons, he left the Museum of Science and stays home with RT.  He has begun a new job where he works from home and is enjoying the challenges and the opportunities to both work and stay home with RT.  RT does still go to school twice a week, giving Roger some needed quiet time at home to work.  After the holidays are over (so on Wednesday!) we will be rearranging our apartment to make space for Roger’s home office.  We can do it, though it may be tight.  I think secretly, or not so secretly, that Roger just really loves rearranging furniture!  Maybe he isn’t so happy we didn’t move last year!

Looking forward, I have decided to adopt a theme for 2014.  2014 will be a year of gratitude for me.  I often find myself longing for what I don’t have and want to take the next year and make it a priority to be thankful for what I do have, which is a lot!    I think I’ll start the new year being thankful for warm coats—it’s going to be COLD!

I hope that when you all look back on 2013, you find much joy, as we have.  Happy New Year!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Cooking!!

I am so excited to be cooking again.  Sometimes life gets too busy for me to cook and I find when that happens I really miss it.  I've been scouring cookbooks, websites and pinterest looking for recipes.  We keep trying new ones.

Tonight I made a new recipe for wings.  They smell delicious!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Holiday Time

This is a strange year for our family for the holidays.  We won't be spending any of it with our family.  I am looking forward to quiet holidays, but will miss family.

We've made a conscious decision to cut down on the gifts.  We are buying very, very few gifts.  We are always spoiled by generous parents and family members.  RT is spoiled by everyone!  We are spending time.  Right now, we are watching Kinky Boots at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV.  I love that RT is dancing along with all the drag queens!!  Roger and RT are on the floor putting together the Charlie Brown Christmas puzzle for the hundredth time (or so) this week.  Brunch is in the oven.  This time is precious and so fleeting.

RT has changed so much since even August.  I want to enjoy every minute with him.  There are days when I am at work and ache to see him.  It is a strange feeling to love someone this much in this way.  Time is the most important thing we can give RT.

Soon we will be making our pumpkin pudding and jambalaya for our special Thanksgiving.  We have planned a couple outings this weekend, but very little real shopping.  Boston doesn't allow stores to open today, but we will not be at Target at 1 a.m. either.  Life without the frantic shopping for gifts is so nice this year!

So, it is.  The holidays are here.  I am excited and pensive thinking about family.  I am awaiting Santa's arrival at the parade, which still in my mind marks the beginning of the Christmas season.

I will be taking the holidays off from Facebook.  I need the break and to focus my time and energies elsewhere.  Don't be surprised if you receive a text or phone call out of the blue.

Happy Holidays to all we love and hold dear.  Happy holidays to all who just need the kindness.  I wish everyone my three favorite things...love, peace and joy!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Nostalgia

Lately, I've been thinking about people I have lost in my life.  From grandparents to friends, I have lost many special people in my life.

I've made a few rounds of Grandma Sadie's barbeques, which are different from any sloppy joes I've had before.  Every time I make them, I also make corn, which my Grandpa Helmer loved.  I've been trying to buy grass fed beef for burgers, because in my mind, they taste like farm burgers.  I remember the little white packages of frozen beef in my granparents' car trunk, often covered with the tan/gray square blanket that was made my Grandma.  There are a couple places in Boston that still use coal heat and that smell brings me back to the Kristianson farm.  I miss it.  The farm is still there, but it hasn't been Grandpa and Grandma's farm for 30 years.  Yet, sometimes it seems like just a few weeks ago that we were pulling out the sofabed in the den and warming Bob and Jen's donuts in the upper oven (that was NOT a microwave).  And every time I make toast, I wish it were made from Grandma's homemade bread.  Sometimes when RT runs into our room and jumps into bed with us, I think about when Nikki and I were little and we would jump into Grandma and Grandpa's bed to snuggle before starting the day.  I miss my grandparents.  For some reason when the weather starts to turn colder, I think of them.

Of course Grandma Schmid's birthday is a week away.  I actually have no idea how old she would be...I don't know if she ever really knew how old she was.  I see pictures of my cousin Bobby's daughter, Gretchen Agnes, and I am reminded of Grandma immediately.  RT has a few mannerisms similar to Grandma.  He will probably have good taste like her (and me!), which means we'll never be able to afford what RT wants!  And it is the World Series time and in the words of my Grandpa, "The Mets stink" and they do!  He would tell stories of World War II in a way that even at a young age I knew was not a good time.  War is always awful; I learned that from my Grandpa Schmid.  But travel is the best, which is another lesson I learned from him.  He liked to go anywhere.  He had a great spirit of adventure. 

I hate that RT won't meet my grandparents.  They were all wonderful people to me.  I miss them all.  I also miss Uncle Frank and My Olga, who were grandparents to me in their own ways.  I am so fortunate.

Every once in awhile I wonder what they would think of my family.  Olga met Roger and thought he was pretty good.  I think they'd love that I have a little boy.  They would be in awe of his cuteness and his puzzle solving skills.  They would lavish him with love, I am quite sure.

So, I am nostalgic for a time and place that can never be revisited.  I am happy that my memories are good ones.  And my tears are happy tears, tears of gratitude. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Baseball, Babies and Blurbs

The World Series arrives in Boston today.  Last fall the Red Sox were the worst team in baseball.  It is so great to see what a year, some heart and beards does for a team.  This past season has been one of many ups and downs.  One of the biggest impacts on the city and the Sox was the Marathon bombings.  That even really brought the city together.  Ortiz's speech and Neil Diamond's in person rendition of Sweet Caroline really brought not only the pain of the city, but also the determination of a tough city to Fenway Park.  I was able to attend a game at Fenway in the cold rain and there was such spirit in the dugout.  I was cold and wet and energized!

Even if I weren't in Boston, I'd still be rooting for the Red Sox.  I can't stand the Cardinals.  I am sure it is a holdover from my dad's dislike of Tony La Russa.  I also can't cheer for a team would hire Mark McGwire.  I can't stand that guy.

So, we will cheer along with RT, who because of the influence of his daycare providers is a huge Red Sox fan.  I think we'll have hotdogs and Cracker Jacks for supper tonight!

I have been on baby watch for a few weeks.  The first one was born yesterday, a baby girl.  Our downstairs neighbors didn't find out the sex of the baby so it was a big surprise and I love that.  There are so few true surprises in life.  I think they thought they were having a boy...I get that.  I was sure RT was going to be a girl, but I was very wrong...and I love that.  There is something special about little boys.  I adore mine!  I have a couple girls entering the world in the next six weeks or so and another friend's daughter who is due in the spring (I kind of hope Crissy has a boy!).  Ah, I love baby watch.  It reminds me of the love of becoming a mom...as well as the tiredness and hard work.  I am quite content with RT being my only child.  We have so much more with Elise and the grandkids.  And we can spoil our boy as much as possible!

I started physical therapy for my neck.  I was amazed at how little strength I have right now in my left arm and hand.  I have the exercises and may get traction next week.  I hope it helps.  She will show me things to do in the future to try to stop this from happening again.  Sounds good to me.

I think winter is around the corner in Boston.  It smells like snow today.  It isn't supposed to be cold enough to snow, but...

Life is full and wonderful.  I am so fortunate to have such a wonderful family...here and in the Midwest.  Everything else in life will be resolved one way or another.  Sometimes it is a challenge to remain positive, and it doesn't always happen, but I keep on trying.

So tonight, sing along with RT, "Root, root, root for the RED SOX.  If they don't win its a SHAME.  It's ONE, TWO, THREE strikes you're OUT at the old BALL GAME!!"